François de Chateaubriand
Translated by A. S. Kline © 2005 All Rights Reserved.
This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.
The decrees, dated the
25th of July, were published in the Moniteur
on the 26th. The secret had been so well kept that neither the Marshal Duke of Ragusa, Major-General of the Guard, who was
in command, nor Monsieur Mangin, Prefect of
Police, were appraised of it. The Prefect
At last the Duke of Ragusa received word from Monsieur de Polignac:
‘Your Excellency is aware of the extraordinary measures which the King, in his wisdom and his feelings of affection for his people, has judged necessary to maintain the rights of the Crown and public order. In these vital circumstances, His Majesty counts on your zeal to ensure order and calm in the whole area under your command.’
This audacity displayed by the weakest of men, against a force which was about to crush an empire, could never be explained except as a kind of hallucination, resulting from the advice of a miserable clique who are never to be found when danger threatens. The newspaper editors, having consulted Messieurs Dupin, Odilon Barrot, Barthe, and Mérilhou, resolved to publish their papers without clearance, in order to be arrested and then plead the illegality of the decrees. They met at the offices of the National: Monsieur Thiers drafted a protest which was signed by forty-four journalists, and which appeared, on the morning of the 27th, in the National and Le Temps.
At the end of the day a
handful of Deputies met at the house of Monsieur Laborde. They agreed to meet the following
day at Monsieur Casimir Périer’s. There
appeared, for the first time, one of the three powers which would occupy the
scene: the Monarchy was located in the Chamber of Deputies, the Usurpation at
the Palais-Royal, and the Republic at the Hôtel de Ville. In the evening,
crowds assembled at the Palais-Royal; they threw stones at Monsieur de
Polignac’s carriage. When the Duke of Ragusa saw the King at Saint-Cloud, on
his return from Rambouillet, the King asked him the news from
The 27th had begun
badly. The King had invested the Duke of Ragusa
with command of
In 1823, Monsieur Coste ran Les Tabelettes universelles: accused by his collaborators of having sold the paper, he fought a duel and received a sword-thrust. Monsieur Coste was presented to me at the Foreign Ministry; speaking to him of the freedom of the Press, I said: ‘Monsieur, you know how much I love and respect that freedom; but how do you expect me to defend it to Louis XVIII when every day you attack royalty and religion! I beg you, in your own interest and to preserve my forces intact, do not sap the ramparts which are three parts demolished, and which in truth a brave man would be ashamed to attack. Let us do a deal: no longer attack a few weak old men whom the throne and the sanctuary barely protect: I will hand myself over to you in exchange. Attack me day and night; say what you will of me, I will never complain; I will thank you for your legitimate and constitutional attack on a Minister, and for keeping the King out of it.’
Monsieur Coste retained from this interview a measure of esteem for me.
A confrontation regarding the constitution took place at the office of Le Temps between Monsieur Baude and a Police commissioner.
The Attorney-General issued forty-four warrants against the signatories to the journalists’ protest.
Around , the Revolution’s monarchist party met at Monsieur Périer’s, as they had agreed to do the day before: nothing was concluded. The Deputies adjourned the meeting till the following day, the 28th, at Monsieur Audry de Puyraveau’s house. Monsieur Casimir Périer, a man of order and means, did not wish to fall into the hands of the people; he still cherished hopes of coming to terms with the Legitimacy; he said sharply to Monsieur de Schonen: ‘You are ruining us by flouting the law; you are losing us a superb position.’ This spirit of legality ruled everywhere; it appeared during two contrasting meetings, one at Monsieur Cadet-Gassicourt’s, the other at General Gourgaud’s. Monsieur Périer belonged to that middle class which appointed itself heir to the people and the army. He had courage, and fixity of purpose; he flung himself bravely athwart the revolutionary torrent to damn it; but he was over-pre-occupied with his health and too careful of his wealth. ‘What can you do with a man,’ said Monsieur Decazes to me, ‘who is always inspecting his tongue in the mirror?’
The crowd grew and began to arm, and the Commander of the Gendarmerie came to warn the Duke of Ragusa that he had insufficient men and was fearful of being overwhelmed. The Marshal then made his military dispositions.
It was already on the afternoon of the 27th, before the barracks received orders to take up arms. The Paris Gendarmerie, supported by a few Guards detachments, tried to re-open the Rue Richelieu and the Rue Saint-Honoré. One of these detachments was assailed in the Rue du Duc-de-Bordeaux (Rue du Vingt-Neuf-Jeuillet) by a shower of stones. The leader of this detachment was holding fire, when a shot rang out from the Hôtel Royal on the Rue des Pyramides, and decided the matter: it seems that a certain Mr Folks, staying at this hotel, had armed himself with his shooting-piece, and fired at the Guards from his window. The soldiers replied with a volley towards the house, and Mr Folks and two servants were killed. This is the way that these English, who live a sheltered life in their island, transport revolution elsewhere; you find them mixed up in quarrels which are no concern of theirs, in the four corners of the world: if they can sell a piece of calico what matter if it plunges a nation into endless calamities. What right had this Mr Folks to shoot at French soldiers? Had Charles X violated the British Constitution? If anything could tarnish the struggles of July it would be for them to have been started by an English bullet.
The first battles, which did not begin until about five in the afternoon of the 27th ended at dusk. The gunsmiths handed their weapons to the crowd, the street-lamps were either broken or remained unlit; the tricolour flag was hoisted in the darkness on the towers of Notre Dame: the storming of the guard-houses, the taking of the Arsenal and the powder-magazines, and the disarming of the militiamen, was completed without opposition on the morning of the 28th, and by eight everything was over.
The Revolution’s democratic and proletarian party in smocks or half-naked was under arms; it did not spare its rags and poverty. The people, represented by electors chosen from various groupings, managed to call a meeting at Monsieur Cadet-Gassicourt’s.
The party of Usurpation
had not yet shown itself: its leader,
Monsieur de Polignac took himself to Saint-Cloud
and at five in the morning on the 28th persuaded the King to sign the decree
On the 28th the crowds
re-grouped in greater numbers; with the cry of ‘Long live, the Charter!’ which could still be heard, were already
mingled cries of ‘Long live,
The Duke of Ragusa wrote to the King saying that it was
essential to bring about calm, and that by the next day, the 29th, it would be
too late. A messenger from the Prefect of Police came to ask the Marshal if it
was true that
No orders having arrived from Saint-Cloud, at nine in the morning on the 28th, when there was no longer time to retain anything, but there was time to recapture everything, the Marshal ordered the troops, who had already shown themselves the day before, from barracks. No precaution had been taken to lay in provisions at the Headquarters in the Carrousel. The storehouse, which they had forgotten to guard adequately, was taken. The Duke of Ragusa, a man of intellect and merit, a brave soldier, and a wise but unlucky general, proved for the thousandth time that military ability is insufficient to handle civil disturbance; any police officer would have had a better idea than the Marshal as to what should be done. Perhaps his thoughts were paralysed by memories; he remained as if stifled by the weight of fatality associated with his name.
The Marshal, who had only a handful of men with him, devised a plan which would have needed thirty thousand soldiers for its execution. Columns were deployed over vast distances, while one was ordered to occupy the Hôtel de Ville. The troops, having completed their operations to restore order everywhere, were to converge on the municipal building. The Carrousel became the headquarters: orders emerged from it, and information ended up there. A Swiss battalion, pivoting on the Marché des Innocents, was charged with opening communications between the forces of the centre and those which covered the circumference. The soldiers from the Popincourt Barracks prepared to descend by various routes on positions from which they could be deployed. General Latour-Mauborg was lodged in the Invalides. When he saw things were going badly, he proposed to house the regiments in Louis XIV’s edifice; he claimed he could feed them, and defy the Parisians to take it. Not for nothing had he left a limb on the Imperial field of battle, and the Borodino redoubts knew how he kept his word. But what did the courage and experience of a crippled veteran count for? They ignored his advice.
Under the command of the
Comte de Saint-Chamans, the first
Guards column left the Madeleine to follow the boulevards as far as the
Bastille. After a few paces a squad commanded by Monsieur Sala was attacked; the Royalist officer repelled
the attack in a lively manner. As they advanced, the communication posts
established en route, being too weakly defended and too far apart, were
isolated by the mob, and separated from one another by fallen trees and barricades.
There was a bloody business at the
The column entrusted with occupying the Hôtel-de-Ville followed the Quais des Tuileries, du Louvre, and de l’École, crossed the Pont Neuf to its mid-point, took the Quai de l’Horlogue, and the Flower Market, and reached the Place de Grève by the Pont Notre-Dame. Two platoons of Guards created a diversion by making for the new suspension bridge. A battalion of the 15th Light Infantry supported the Guards, and was to leave two platoons at the Flower Market.
The passage of the
A barricade was raised at the entrance to the Rue du Mouton; a brigade of Swiss Guards carried this barricade; the people, rushing from adjacent streets, retook the position with loud cries. The barricade ultimately remained in the hands of the Guards.
In all those poor
working-class districts the people fought spontaneously without ulterior
motives: French recklessness, mocking, intrepid and joyful, had filled
everyone’s head; for our nation, glory possesses the effervescence of
In the wealthy districts a totally different spirit prevailed. The National Guard, having resumed the uniforms that had previously been taken from them, assembled in vast numbers at the Mairie of the 1st Arrondissement to maintain order. In encounters the Guards suffered more than the mob, being exposed to fire from enemies concealed in the houses. Others can name the drawing-room heroes who recognising various Guards officers amused themselves by shooting them down, from the safety of a shutter or a chimney-stack. In the street, animosity between workman and soldier barely went beyond striking a blow: when wounded, they helped each other. The people rescued several of their victims. Two officers, Monsieur de Goyon and Monsieur Rivaux, after a heroic defence, owed their lives to the generosity of their conquerors. A Guards captain, Kaumann, was struck on the head by an iron bar: stunned and with blood-filled eyes, he beat up with his sword the bayonets of his soldiers who were taking aim at the workman responsible.
The Guard was full of
Bonaparte’s grenadiers. Several officers lost their lives, among them
Lieutenant Noirot, a man of exceptional
courage, who had received the cross of the Legion of Honour from Prince Eugène in 1813 for a feat of arms
performed in one of the redoubts at Caldiera.
Colonel de Pleinneselve, mortally
wounded at the Porte Saint-Martin, had fought in the Empire’s wars in
At night-fall, a junior
officer in disguise brought an order for the troops at the Hôtel de Ville to
fall back on the Tuileries. The retreat was made hazardous by the wounded they
would not abandon, and the artillery which had to be manoeuvred with difficulty
through the barricades. However it was completed without incident. When the
troops returned from the various districts of
It is not true, as is said, that the Hôtel de Ville had been taken from the people by the Guard, and was taken back by the people from the Guard. When the Guard arrived, they experienced no resistance, since there was no one there, even the Prefect had left. These boasts lessen and cast doubt on the real dangers. The Guard was badly deployed in winding streets; the advance, first by its stance of neutrality, and then through defection, completed the evil that the deployment, fine in theory but hardly executable in practice, had begun. The 50th of the Line arrived, during the engagement, at the Hôtel de Ville; dropping with fatigue, they hastened to withdraw within the defences of the Hotel, and gave their weary comrades their unused and useless cartridges.
The Swiss battalion still at the Marché des Innocents was extricated by a second Swiss battalion; they both ended up at the Quai de l’École, and stationed themselves at the Louvre.
Now the barricades are sanctuaries that belong to Parisian invention: they have appeared during all our disturbances, from the days of Charles V to our own.
‘The people seeing the forces deployed through the streets,’ says L’Estoile, ‘began to rouse themselves, and built barricades in the manner everyone knows of: several Swiss, who went to earth in a ditch in the square in front of Notre Dame, were killed; the Duc de Guise being on his way through the streets, whoever was there shouted: “Long live Guise!” and he, doffing his large hat, said: “My friends, enough; gentlemen, you go too far; you must shout Long live the King!”’
Why have these recent barricades of ours, whose effect has been so powerful, been so little spoken of, while the barricades of 1588, which delivered almost nothing, are so interesting to read about? Therein lies the difference in century and personalities: the sixteen century had all before it; the nineteenth has left all behind: Monsieur de Puyraveau is not Le Balafré.
If you ignore the fighting, the civil and political revolution ran parallel to the military one. The soldiers detained at the Abbaye were set at liberty; the debtors imprisoned at Saint-Pélagie escaped, and those condemned for political errors were freed: a revolution is a jubilee; it absolves all crimes and permits greater ones.
The Ministers took council at headquarters: they decided to arrest, as the ring-leaders of the movement, Messieurs Lafitte, Lafayette, Gérard, Marchais, Salverte and Audry de Puyraveau; the Marshal gave the order; but when they were sent to him later as representatives, he thought it beneath his honour to execute his own order.
A meeting of the monarchist party composed of Peers and Deputies took place at Monsieur Guizot’s: the Duc de Broglie was there; Messieurs Thiers and Mignet, who had re-emerged, and Monsieur Carrel, though of a different opinion, arrived. It was there that the party of Usurpation pronounced the name of the Duc d’Orléans for the first time. Monsieur Theirs and Monsieur Mignet went to see General Sébastiani to talk to him about the Prince. The General replied in an evasive way; the Duc d’Orléans, he assured them, had never entertained any such ideas and had authorised nothing.
Around , still on the 28th, the general meeting of
Deputies took place at Monsieur Audry de Puyraveau’s residence. Monsieur de
Lafayette, leader of the Republican Party, had returned to
At Monsieur de Puyraveau’s they discussed a planned protest against the decrees. This more than moderate protest evaded the main issues entirely.
Monsieur Casimir Périer advised that someone should hasten to see the Duke of Ragusa; while the five Deputies chosen to do so were getting ready to leave, Monsieur Arago was already at the Marshal’s: he had decided, following a message from Madame de Boigne, to anticipate the representatives. He suggested to the Marshal the need to put an end to the disturbances in the capital. The Duke of Ragusa went to discuss it at Monsieur de Polignac’s; the latter, informed of the troops’ reluctance, declared that if they went over to the people, they should be fired on as insurgents. General Tromelin, who was a witness to this conversation, lost his temper with General d’Ambrugeac. Then the deputation arrived. Monsieur Lafitte spoke for them: ‘We come,’ he said, ‘to ask you to stop the letting of blood. If the struggle continues, it will not only result in disastrous cruelty, but utter revolution.’ The Marshal confined himself to the question of military honour, maintaining that the people must be the first to cease fighting. He added however this postscript to a letter he wrote to the King: ‘I think it urgent that Your Majesty profit without delay from the overtures that have been made.’
The Duke of Ragusa’s aide de camp, Colonel Komierowski, escorted to the King’s office at Saint-Cloud, handed him the letter; the King said: ‘I will read the letter.’ The Colonel withdrew and awaited orders; finding that they did not arrive, he begged Monsieur le Duc de Duras to go and ask them of the King. The Duke replied that, according to etiquette, it was impossible to enter the office. At last, summoned by the King, Monsieur Komierowski was told to urge the Marshal to stand firm.
General Vincent, for his part, hastened to Saint-Cloud; having forced open the door which had been refused him, he told the King that all was lost: ‘My dear sir,’ Charles X replied, ‘you are a fine general, but you do not understand any of this.’
The 29th saw the
appearance of fresh combatants: the students of the École Polytechnique, in
collaboration with one of their old comrades, Monsieur Charras, forced the issue and sent four of
their number, Messieurs Lothon, Berthelin, Pinsonnière and Tourneux, to offer their services to
Messieurs Lafitte, Périer and Lafayette. These young men,
distinguished in their studies, were already known to the Allies, when they
presented themselves before
The order of the day published on the morning of the 29th offended the Guard: it announced that the King, wishing to show his satisfaction with his brave servants, granted them a month and a half’s pay; an unseemly action which the French soldiers resented: it valued them like the English who would not march, or rebelled, if they had not received their money.
During the night of the
28th, the people had stripped the paving stones from the streets for twenty
yards on either side and the next day, at day-break, four thousand barricades had
been erected in
The Palais-Bourbon was guarded by troops of
the Line, the Louvre by two Swiss battalions, the Rue de la Paix, the Place
Vendôme, and the Rue Castiglione by the 5th and 53rd of the Line. Nearly twelve
hundred infantrymen arrived from
The military position improved: the troops were more concentrated, and they had to cross large empty spaces to reach each other. General Exelmans, who had judged these deployments well, arrived, at to place his courage and experience at the disposition of the Duke of Ragusa, while for his part General Pajol presented himself to the Deputies in order to take command of the National Guard.
The Ministers had the
idea of convoking the
While, according to the Royalist reports, everything was going well, the defection of the 5th and 53rd regiments of the Line was announced, who joined forces with the people.
The Duke of Ragusa
proposed a suspension of the fighting: it was carried out in some places and
not executed in others. The Marshal had sent for one of the two Swiss
battalions stationed at the Louvre. He was sent the battalion which was
garrisoning the colonnade. The Parisians, seeing the colonnade deserted,
approached the walls and entered via the imitation doors which led to the inner
Garden of the Infanta; they gained the crossroads and fired on the battalion
stationed in the courtyard. Terrified by the memory of the 10th of August, the
Swiss rushed from the palace and threw themselves among their third battalion
which was situated facing the Parisians outposts, but was observing the
suspension of fighting. The people, who had reached the Gallerie Musée of the
Louvre, began to fire, from amidst masterpieces, on the lancers lined up in the
Carrousel. The Parisians outposts, carried away by their example, broke the
armistice. Driven beneath the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, the Swiss pushed
the lancers into the portico of the Pavillon de l’Horlogue and emerged
pell-mell into the
The crowd, with
Messieurs Thomas, Bastide, and Guinard
entered the Tuileries by means of the wicket-gate at the Pont Royal. A
tricolour flag was planted on the Pavillon de l’Horloge, as in Bonaparte’s
time, apparently in memory of freedom. The furniture was torn apart, the paintings
hacked by sabre blows; in the armoury the diary of the King’s hunts was found
and that of the fine slaughter executed on partridges: an old custom of the
royal gamekeepers. A corpse was placed on the empty throne in the Throne Room:
that would be dreadful if the French, these days, were not always indulging in
Then the Duke of Ragusa quitted headquarters, leaving behind a
hundred and twenty thousand francs in sacks. He left by the Rue de Rivoli and
went to the
Arriving at l’Étoile, Marmont received a letter: it announced to him that the King had appointed Monsieur le Dauphin commander-in-chief of the troops, and that he, the Marshal, was to serve under his command.
A company of the 3rd Guards Regiment had been overlooked in the house of a hatter on the Rue de Rohan; after lengthy resistance the house was taken. Captain Meunier, struck by three bullets, leapt from a third-floor window, fell onto the roof below, and was carried to the Gros-Caillou hospital: he survived. The Babylone barracks, attacked between noon and one by three students from the École Polytechnique, Vaneau, Lacroix and D’Ouvrier, was only defended by a depot of Swiss recruits about a hundred strong; Major Dufay, of French origin commanding: for thirty years he had served with us; he had been an actor in the highest dramas of the Republic and Empire. Called on to surrender, he refused to accept any conditions and shut himself in the barracks. Young Vaneau perished. Incendiaries set fire to the barrack-room doors; the door collapsed; immediately, Major Dufay emerged through this flaming maw, followed by his mountaineers with fixed bayonets; he fell to musket-fire from the keeper of an inn nearby: his death saved his Swiss recruits; they regained the various corps to which they belonged.
Monsieur le Duc de Mortemart arrived at Saint-Cloud on Wednesday the 28th, at ten in the evening, to take up his post as Captain of the Cent-Suisses: he was unable to see the King until the following day. At on the 29th he made a tentative approach to Charles X urging him to repeal the decrees; the King said: ‘I do not wish to ride in a tumbril with my brother; I will not retreat a step.’ A little while later, he had retreated from a kingdom.
The Ministers arrived: Messieurs de Sémonville, d’Argout, and Vitrolles were there, Monsieur de Sémonville recounts that he had a long conversation with the King; and that he only managed to weaken his resolution by stirring his heart in speaking of the risk to Madame la Dauphine. He said: ‘Tomorrow, at there will no longer be a King, a Dauphin, or a Duke of Bordeaux.’ And the King replied: ‘You will surely give me till one.’ I don’t believe a word of all that. Bragging is a fault of ours: question a Frenchman and listen to his tales, he will always have done everything. The Ministers went in to see the king behind Monsieur de Sémonville; the decrees were revoked, the government dissolved, and Monsieur de Mortemart was named President of the new Council.
In the capital, the Republican Party had at last found a home. Monsieur Baude (the gentlemen involved in the struggle at the offices of Le Temps), while traversing the streets, found the Hôtel de Ville only occupied by a couple of individuals, Monsieur Dubourg and Monsieur Zimmer. He immediately claimed to be the envoy of the provisional government which was about to be installed. He called together the employees of the Prefecture; he ordered them to set to work, as if Monsieur de Chabrol were present. When government has become automatic, the wheels are soon in motion; everyone hastened to secure the empty seats: who would be secretary general, who head of division, who would make himself agreeable, who would appoint staff and distribute the staff amongst his friends; there were those who slept there in order not to be wrong-footed, and to be ready to immediately seize any position that might become vacant. Monsieur Dubourg, nicknamed the General, and Monsieur Zimmer, were deemed to be leaders of the military section of the provisional government. Monsieur Baude, representing the civil side of this previously unknown government, made the decisions and issued the proclamations. However posters emanating from the Republican Party had been seen, spelling out the formation of an alternative government, comprising Messieurs de Lafayette, Gérard and Choiseul. It is difficult to associate the last name with the other two; as Monsieur Choiseul has himself protested. That aged Liberal, who, to stay alive, had held himself stiff as a corpse, as an émigré shipwrecked at Calais, found nothing left of his paternal home, on returning to France, but a box at the Opera.
At three in the evening,
there was fresh confusion. An order of the day called a meeting of the
The Deputies met again
at Monsieur Lafitte’s. Monsieur de
Lafayette, resuming where he left off in 1789, declared that he would resume
command of the National Guard as well. He was applauded, and went off to the
Hôtel de Ville. The Deputies appointed a municipal commission composed of five
members, Messieurs Casimir Périer,
Lafitte, de Lobau, de Schonen, and Audry de Puyraveau. Monsieur Odilon Barrot was elected secretary of this
commission, which installed itself at the Hôtel de Ville as had Monsieur de
Lafayette. All this sat awkwardly with Monsieur Dubourg’s provisional
government. Monsieur Mauguin, sent on a
mission to the commission, stayed
there. The friend of
The meeting at Monsieur Lafitte’s having learnt of what had gone on at Saint Cloud Monsieur Lafitte signed a pass for Monsieur de Mortemart, adding that the Deputies assembled at his house would wait for him until one in the morning. The noble Duke failing to arrive, the Deputies withdrew.
Monsieur Lafitte, with
only Monsieur Thiers remaining,
concerned himself with the Duc d’Orléans
and the proclamations to be issued. Fifty years of revolution in
The day of the 29th,
following my return to
I then wrote to Charles X at
Repulsed by Charles X,
my thoughts turned to the Chamber of Peers; it could, as a sovereign court,
invoke proceedings and judge disputes. If it was unsafe to convene in
Aristocratic assemblies rule gloriously when they are a sovereign power, alone invested with its rights and machinery: they offer the strongest security; but in collaborative government, they lose their value, and are useless when major crises erupt…powerless against the King, they will not prevent despotism; powerless against the people, they will not stop anarchy. In public disturbances, they only buy their continued existence at the cost of perjury or subservience. Did the House of Lords save Charles I? Did it save Richard Cromwell, to whom it had sworn an oath? Did it save James II? Will it save the Hanoverian Princes now? Can it even save itself? A presumed aristocratic counterweight only upsets the balance and sooner or later is thrown out of the pan. An ancient and wealthy aristocracy accustomed to public business, has only one means of holding onto power when it is slipping away: that is, to pass from the Capitol to the Forum, and set itself at the head of the new movement, unless it thinks itself not strong enough to risk civil war.
While I was awaiting the
return of Monsieur de Givré, I was busy defending my quarter of the city. The
suburbanites and quarrymen of Montrouge flowed through the Barrière d’Enfer.
The latter resembled those quarrymen of
The Municipal Commission, established at the Hôtel de Ville, named Baron Louis as provisional Commissioner for Finance, Monsieur Baude to the Interior, Monsieur Mérilhou to Justice, Monsieur Chardel to Postal Services, Monsieur Marchal to Telegraphic Services, Monsieur Bavoux to the Police, and Monsieur de Laborde to the Prefecture of the Seine. Thus the volunteer provisional government was in reality destroyed by Monsieur Baude’s promotion, which made him a member of the government. The shops re-opened; and public services renewed their course.
During the meeting at Monsieur Lafitte’s it had been agreed that the Deputies would assemble at , in the Palais de la Chambre: there they found themselves sixty or so strong, presided over by Monsieur Lafitte. Monsieur Bérard announced that he had met Messieurs d’Argout, de Forbin-Janson and de Mortemart, who had gone to Monsieur Lafitte’s, thinking to find the Deputies there; he had invited the gentlemen to follow him to the Chamber, but Monsieur le Duc de Mortemart, dropping with fatigue, had gone off to see Monsieur de Sémonville. Monsieur de Mortemart, according to Monsieur Bérard, had said that he had a free hand and that the King consented to everything.
In fact, Monsieur de
Mortemart was carrying five decrees about with him: instead of communicating
them to the Deputies immediately, his tiredness obliged him to return as far as
Monsieur Bérard being in the process, as I have said, of providing an explanation to the Chamber, a discussion arose as to whether to admit Monsieur de Mortemart or no. General Sébastiani insisted on the affirmative; Monsieur Mauguin declared that if Monsieur de Mortemart were present, he would demand that he be heard, but that matters were pressing and they could not await Monsieur de Mortemart’s good pleasure.
But a little later the
Comte de Sussy was introduced into the
Elective Chamber. Monsieur de Mortemart had entrusted him with presenting the
decrees to the Deputies. Addressing the Assembly he said: ‘In the absence of
Monsieur the Chancellor, a small number of Peers met at my house; Monsieur le
Duc de Mortemart handed us this letter, addressed to Monsieur le General Gérard or Monsieur Casimir Périer. I
ask your permission to read it.’ This is the letter; ‘Monsieur, leaving
Monsieur le Duc de
Mortemart had left
‘I cannot prevent myself,’ he said, ‘from noting here a lack of frankness: Monsieur de Mortemarte, who arrived at Monsieur Lafitte’s this morning while I was with him, told me formally that he was on his way here.’
The five decrees were read out, the first repealing the decrees of the 25th of July, the second summoning the Chambers for the 3rd of August, the third naming Monsieur de Mortemart Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of the Council, the fourth granting General Gérard the War Ministry, the fifth granting Monsieur Casimir Périer the Finance Ministry. When I finally found Monsieur de Mortemart at the residence of the Grand Referendary, he assured me that he had been forced to halt at Monsieur de Sémonville’s, because while returning on foot from Saint Cloud, he had been forced to make a detour and enter the Bois de Boulogne through a gap: his boot or shoe had blistered his heel. It is to be regretted that before producing the royal ordinances, Monsieur de Mortemart did not try to see the influential men inclined to the royal cause. The decrees suddenly emerged in front of Deputies who had not been forewarned, no one daring to declare himself. They attracted this lethal response from Benjamin Constant: ‘We know in advance what the Chamber of Peers will say, that they accept the revocation of the previous decrees purely and simply. For my part, I can make no positive pronouncement on the question of the dynasty; I will only say that it would be all too convenient for a King to open fire on his subjects and then be quit of it by claiming: He did nothing.’
Would Benjamin Constant,
who could make no positive pronouncement on the matter of the
dynasty, have ended his sentence in this manner if one had spoken to him
beforehand in terms tailored to his talents and his own ambition? I feel
sincerely sorry for a man of courage and honour like Monsieur de Mortemart,
when I reflect that the Legitimacy was overthrown perhaps because the Minister
entrusted with the King’s powers failed to find two Deputies in Paris, and
that, wearied with covering three leagues on foot, he had a blistered heel. The
decree nominating him Ambassador to
On the morning of the
30th, having received a note from the Grand Referendary
inviting me to the meeting of Peers, at the
On the Pont-Neuf, the
statue of Henri IV, held a
tricolour flag, like a standard-bearer of the League. Gazing at the bronze King,
someone in the crowd said: ‘You would never have done anything so stupid, you
old rascal.’ Groups of people were
gathered on the Quai de l’École; in the distance I made out a general
accompanied by two aides de camp all on horseback. I went in that direction. As
I pushed through the crowd, I kept my eyes on the general: across his coat he
wore a tricolour sash, and his hat was reversed and cocked to one side. He saw
me in turn and called out: ‘Heavens, it’s the Vicomte!’ And I, with surprise,
recognised Colonel or Captain Dubourg,
my companion in
Thus, proudly ensconced, there parted from me that Diomedes of the Hôtel de Ville, moreover a man of courage and wit. I have seen men who, taking the events of 1830 seriously, blushed at this story, because it assailed their heroic credulity. I myself was ashamed to see the comic side of the most serious revolutions and how easily one can mock the people’s good faith.
Monsieur Louis Blanc, in the first volume of his excellent Histoire de dix ans, published after the
material I have just written, confirms my tale: ‘A man,’ he says, ‘in a
General’s uniform, of medium height, with an expressive face, was crossing the
Marché des Innocents, followed by a considerable number of armed men. It was from
Monsieur Évariste Dumoulin, journalist on
the Constitutionnel, that this
individual had received his uniform, taken from an old-clothes shop; and the
epaulets he wore had been given to him by Perlet
the actor: they came from the property-room of the Opéra-Comique. ‘Who is that
General?’ everyone asked. And when those around him replied: ‘It is General
Dubourg’, the crowd who had never heard his name before cried: ‘Long live,
General Dubourg!’ (I received a letter, on the 9th of January of this year,
1841, from Monsieur Dubourg: which contained the following: ‘How I have longed
to see you again since our meeting on the Quai du Louvre! How often I have
wished to pour into your heart the sorrows which lacerate my soul! How wretched
it is to love one’s country, honour, goodness, glory, with passion when one
lives at such a time! …Was I wrong, in 1830, to refuse to submit to what was
being enacted? I clearly saw the odious future they were preparing for
A little further on, another sight met my eyes: a ditch had been dug in front of the Colonnade of the Louvre; a priest, in surplice and stole, was praying beside the ditch: the dead were being laid to rest there. I took off my hat and made the sign of the cross. The crowd watched this ceremony, which would have meant nothing if religion had not appeared in it, in respectful silence. So many thoughts and memories came to mind that I remained in a state of immobility. Suddenly I felt the crowd around me; someone shouted: Long live, the defender of Press freedom!’ I had been recognised by the way my hair was dressed. Some young men immediately grasped me, saying: ‘Where are you going, we’ll carry you there?’ I had no idea what to answer; I thanked them: I struggled: I begged them to let me go. The time fixed for the meeting in the Chamber of Peers had not yet arrived. The young men continued shouting: ‘Where are you going? Where are you going?’ I replied at random: ‘All right then, to the Palais-Royal!’ I was immediately escorted there to shouts of: ‘Long live, the Charter! Long live, the liberty of the Press! Long live, Chateaubriand!’ In the Cour des Fontaines, Monsieur Barba, the bookseller, emerged from his house to embrace me.
We arrived at the Palais-Royal; I was bundled into a café, and under its wooden arcade. I was dying from the heat. I reiterated my plea for remission of glory, with clasped hands: no result: the young people refused to let me go. There was a man in the crowd wearing a jacket with turned-up sleeves, with dirty hands, a sinister face, and burning eyes, the sort I had often seen at the start of the Revolution: He was continually trying to approach me, and the young men kept pushing him away. I learnt neither his name nor what he wished of me.
In the end I was forced to say I was going to the Chamber of Peers. We left the café; the cheering recommenced. In the courtyard of the Louvre various cries rang out: some shouted: ‘To the Tuileries! To the Tuileries!’ others; ‘Long live, the First Consul!’ apparently wishing to make me heir to the Republican, Bonaparte. Hyacinthe, who was with me, received his own share of handshakes and embraces. We crossed the Pont des Arts and went along the Rue de Seine. People rushed to see us go by; they crowded the windows. I found all these honours painful, as my arms were being pulled from their sockets. One of the young men pushing me on from behind suddenly put his head between my legs and lifted me onto his shoulders. Fresh cheering; they called out to the spectators in the street and at the windows: ‘Hats off! Long live, the Charter’ and I replied: ‘Yes Gentlemen, long live the Charter, but above all long live the King!’ My cry was not repeated, but it failed to provoke any anger. And that is how the game was lost! Everything could still have been arranged, but it was essential only to present popular men to the people: in revolutions, fame achieves more than an army.
I implored my young
friends so feelingly that they at last set me down. In the Rue de
The noise I left behind
me contrasted with the silence which reigned in the vestibule of the
The five Deputy
Commissioners arrived. General Sébastiani
began with his usual phrase: ‘Gentlemen, it’s a serious matter.’ Then he
eulogised Monsieur le Duc de Mortemart’s noble moderation; he spoke of the
danger to Paris, pronounced a few words in praise of His Royal Highness
Monseigneur le Duc d’Orléans, and concluded with the impossibility of
considering the decrees. I and Monsieur Hyde de Neuville were the only Peers of a
contrary opinion. I was allowed to speak: ‘Gentlemen, Monsieur le Duc de
Broglie, has told us, that he has walked through the streets, and that he has
seen hostile demonstrations everywhere: I also have traversed Paris, three
thousand young people escorted me to the courtyard of this palace: you may have
heard their shouts: are they, who thus saluted one of your colleagues,
thirsting for your blood? They were shouting: ‘Long live, the Charter!’ I replied: ‘Long live, the King!’ They showed no anger and have deposited me
amongst you safe and sound. Is this evidence of public opinion so threatening?
I maintain, myself, that nothing is lost, that we can accept the decrees. The
question is not one of considering whether there is any danger or no, but of
keeping the oaths we have taken to that King from whom we derive our dignity
and some among us their fortunes. His Majesty, in withdrawing his decrees and
replacing his government, has done everything that he should: let us in turn do
as we should. What? In the course of our whole lives a single day presents
itself on which we are obliged to enter the field of battle, and shall we refuse
to fight? Let us show
No one replied; they hastened to close the session. There was an impatience, amongst that gathering, to perjure themselves which made fear intrepid; all wished to preserve their scrap of life, as if time was not about to tear off our old skins, tomorrow, for which a sensible broker would not give a brass farthing.
The three parties began to organise themselves and act against one another: the Deputies who supported a monarchy of the elder branch were the strongest legally; all who were for order rallied to their cause; but, morally, they were the weakest: they hesitated, they failed to take decisions: it became obvious, through the Court’s tergiversation, that they would accept a usurpation rather than see themselves swallowed up by the Republicans.
The latter had a placard
designed which read; ‘
This placard summarised the only valid element of Republican opinion; a fresh assembly of Deputies would have decided whether it was good or bad to cede to that wish, no more royalty; everyone could have made their case, and the election of a new government by a National Congress would have possessed the character of legality.
On another Republican poster of that same day, the 30th of July, you could read in large letters: ‘No more Bourbons…That is the key to greatness, peace, public prosperity, liberty.’
At length an address appeared from the members of the Municipal Commission composing a provisional government; it demanded: ‘That no proclamation be issued naming a leader, while the very form of government was not yet determined; and that the provisional government would remain in operation until the wishes of the majority of the French people were known; all other measures being untimely and unacceptable.’
This address emanating from members of a commission nominated by a large number of citizens, from the various districts of Paris, was signed by Messieurs Chevalier, as President, Trélat, Teste, Lepelletier, Guinard, Hingray, Cauchois-Lemaire, etc.
In this popular meeting, it was proposed, by acclamation, to turn the presidency of the Republic over to Monsieur de Lafayette; they relied on the principles that the representative Chamber of 1815 had proclaimed on dissolution. Various printers refused to publish these proclamations, saying they had been forbidden to do so by Monsieur le Duc de Broglie. The Republic brought to earth Charles X’s throne; it feared the interdictions of Monsieur de Broglie, who was spineless.
I have told you that, on the night of the 29th, Monsieur Lafitte with Messieurs Thiers and Mignet, were all set to draw public attention to Monsieur le Duc d’Orléans. On the 30th appeared proclamations and addresses, the fruits of those discussions: ‘Let us avoid a Republic,’ they said. Then came references to the feats of arms at Jemmapes and Valmy, and they assured us that Monsieur le Duc d’Orléans was no Capet, but a Valois.
However when Monsieur Thiers, sent by Monsieur Lafitte, rode to Neuilly with Monsieur Scheffer, His Royal Highness was not there. There was a flurry of words between Mademoiselle d’Orléans and Monsieur Thiers: it was agreed that they should write to Monsieur le Duc d’Orleans to persuade him to rally to the Revolution. Monsieur Thiers wrote a note to the Prince himself, and Madame Adélaïde promised to pre-empt his family in Paris. Orléanism had made progress, and from the evening of that very day the question of conferring the powers of Lieutenant-General on Monsieur le Duc d’Orléans was discussed.
Monsieur de Sussy, with the decrees from Saint-Cloud, had been even less well-received at the Hôtel de Ville than in the Chamber of Deputies. Furnished with a receipt by Monsieur de Lafayette, he sought out Monsieur de Mortemart who cried: ‘You have done more than save my life; you have saved my honour.’
The Municipal Commission issued a proclamation in which it declared that the crimes of his reign (Charles X) were over, and that the people would have a government that owed its origin to itself (the people): an ambiguous phrase that one could interpret as one wished. Messieurs Lafitte and Périer did not sign this act. Monsieur de Lafayette, somewhat late in his alarm at the idea of an Orléanist monarchy, sent Monsieur Odilon Barrot to the Chamber of Deputies to announce that the people, the authors of the July revolution, would not agree to it ending in a simple change of leader, and that the blood spilt merited some display of liberty. There was a question of a proclamation by the Deputies inviting His Royal Highness the Duke of Orléans to return to the capital; after communicating with the Hôtel de Ville, this idea of a proclamation was abandoned. They drew lots nevertheless to select a deputation of twelve members to go and offer the Lord of Neuilly the Lieutenant-General-ship which had not found its way into a proclamation.
In the evening, the
Grand Referendary gathered the Peers
together at his residence; his letter through negligence or political
expediency reached me too late. I hastened to make the rendezvous; they opened
the gate in the Allée de l’Observatoire for me; I crossed the
I left the troops, on
the 29th, falling back on Saint-Cloud. The bourgeois of Chaillot and Passy attacked them, killed a captain of carabineers,
and two officers, and wounded a dozen soldiers. Lemotheux,
the captain of the guard, was struck by a shot from a child whom he chose to
spare. This captain had given in his resignation at the time when the decrees
were published; but, seeing the fighting on the 27th, he rejoined his corps to
share in his comrades’ danger. Never, to the glory of
The children, bold because they were unaware of danger, played a melancholy role during the Three Days: sheltering behind their youth, they fired at point-blank range on the officers who would have considered themselves dishonourable in firing back. Modern weapons place death at the disposal of the weakest of hands. Ugly and sickly monkeys, libertines before possessing the power to be so, cruel and perverse, those little heroes of the Three Days gave themselves over to assassination with all the abandon of innocence. Let us beware, through imprudent praise, of generating the emulation of evil. The children of Sparta went out hunting Helots.
Monsieur le Dauphin received the soldiers at the
gate of the
Saint-Cloud was guarded by four companies of Bodyguards. A battalion of students from Saint-Cyr had arrived: out of rivalry, and in contrast to the École Polytechnique, they had embraced the Royal cause. The exhausted troops, returning from a three day battle, wounded as they were and in a sorry state, spoke of nothing but their astonishment at the titled, gilded and sated domestics who ate at the King’s table. No one thought of cutting the telegraph lines; couriers, travellers, mail-coaches and carriages passed freely on the roads, showing the tricolour flag which stirred the villages they traversed to insurrection. Attempts to bribe the soldiers to desert, by means of money and women, began. The proclamations of the Paris Commune were hawked here and there. The King and his Court did not wish to be persuaded that they were yet in danger. In order to show that they scorned the actions of a few mutinous bourgeois, and that there was no Revolution, they allowed everything to continue: the hand of God was visible in it all.
At nightfall on July 30th, about the same hour that the commission of Deputies was leaving for Neuilly, an aide, a major, announced to the troops that the decrees had been repealed. The soldiers shouted: ‘Long live, the King!’ and went cheerfully to their quarters; but this announcement of the aide’s, initiated by the Duke of Ragusa, had not been communicated to the Dauphin, who a great amateur disciplinarian, entered in a rage. The King said to the Marshal: ‘The Dauphin is unhappy: go and explain to him.’
The Marshal could not find the Dauphin at his residence, and waited for him in the billiard-room with the Duc de Guiche and the Duc de Ventadour, aides de camp to the Prince. The Dauphin re-appeared: seeing the Marshal he reddened to the eyes, crossed his ante-chamber with those giant strides of his, which were so singular, arrived at his salon and said to the Marshal: ‘Enter!’ The door closed once more: a great row could be heard; the volume of his voice increased; the Duc de Ventadour, anxiously opened the door; the Marshal emerged, pursued by the Dauphin, who called him doubly traitorous. ‘Give me your sword! Give me your sword!’ and, throwing himself upon him, wrested away his sword. The Marshal’s aide de camp, Monsieur Delarue, wanted to intervene between him and the Dauphin, but was restrained by Monsieur de Montgascon; the Prince tried hard to break the Marshal’s sword and cut his hands. He shouted: ‘To me, Bodyguards! Arrest him!’ The Bodyguards rushed in; if the Marshal had not moved his head, their bayonets would have touched his face. The Duke of Ragusa was led to his apartment, under arrest.
The King resolved the matter as best he could, it being all the more regrettable in that the participants inspired no great interest. When Le Balafré’s son killed Saint-Pol, Marshal of the League, that sword blow evidenced the pride and race of the Guise; but when Monsieur le Dauphin, a more powerful lord than a Prince of Lorraine, wished to cleave Marshal Marmont in two, what did that signify? If the Marshal had killed Monsieur le Dauphin, it would only have been a little strange. Caesar, the descendant of Venus, and Brutus, great-nephew of Junius, might pass in the street and no one would notice. Nothing is great these days, because nothing is noble.
That is how the monarchy’s last hour was spent at Saint-Cloud: that pallid monarchy, disfigured and blood-stained, resembled the portrait d’Urfé paints for us of a great person dying: ‘His eyes were wild and sunken; the lower jaw, clothed only by a little skin, seemed to have shrunken; the beard bristling, the complexion yellow, the gaze wandering, the breath laboured. From his mouth there now no longer issued human words, but oracles.’
Monsieur le Duc d’Orléans had the desire, throughout his life, that all high-born spirits have for power. That desire varies according to character: impetuous and aspiring, or weak and insidious; imprudent, overt, assertive in some, circumspect, hidden, bashful and humble in others: one, in order to rise, may indulge in every crime; another, to climb, may descend to any baseness. Monsieur le Duc d’Orléans belonged to the latter class of ambitious men. Examine this Prince’s life, and he never says or does anything fully, always leaving the door open to evasion. During the Restoration, he flatters the Court and encourages liberal opinion; Neuilly is a rendezvous for dissatisfaction and malcontents. They sigh, they shakes hands while raising their eyes to the heavens, but fail to pronounce a single word important enough to be mentioned in high places. If a member of the opposition dies, they add their carriage to the procession, but the carriage is empty; their livery is admitted at every door and grave. If, at the time of my disgrace at Court, I find myself on the same path as Monsieur le Duc d’Orléans at the Tuileries, and he has to salute me from the right-hand side in passing, I being on the left, he does it in such a manner as to turn his shoulder away. It will be noticed, and it is sufficient.
Did Monsieur le Duc d’Orléans know about the July decrees in advance? Was he told by someone who had the secret from Monsieur Ouvrard? What did he think? What were his hopes and fears? Had he conceived a plan? Did he urge Monsieur Lafitte to do what he did, or merely allow him to do so? From Louis-Philippe’s character one would assume that he made no decisions, and his political timidity, shrouded in duplicity, waited on events as a spider waits for a fly to be caught in its web. He allowed the moment to conspire; he himself only conspired in his desires, which he probably feared.
Monsieur le Duc d’Orléans had two courses of action open to him: the first, and most honourable, was to hasten to Saint-Cloud, and interpose himself between Charles X and the nation, in order to save the Crown for the one, and liberty for the other; the second was to hurl himself onto the barricades, tricolour flag in hand, and place himself at the head of the popular movement. Philippe had a choice between being an honest man and a great man: he preferred to conjure away the King’s crown and the people’s liberty. A criminal, during the disturbance and misfortune of a fire, will quietly rob the burning palace of its most precious contents, without hearing the cries of a child surprised in its cradle by the flames.
Once the rich prize had been trapped, it was necessary to set the dogs on the quarry: then all the old corruptions of previous regimes appeared, those receivers of stolen goods, foul toads half-crushed, on which one has stamped a hundred times, and which live on, flattened though they may be. Yet these are the men they praise, whose cleverness is lauded! Milton thought otherwise when he wrote this passage from a sublime letter: ‘Whatever the Deity may have bestowed upon me in other respects, he has certainly inspired me, if any ever were inspired, with a passion for the good and the beautiful…Hence, I feel an irresistible impulse to cultivate the friendship of him, who, despising the prejudiced and false conceptions of the vulgar, dares to think, to speak, and to be that which the highest wisdom has in every age taught to be the best. But if my disposition or my destiny were such that I could without any conflict or any toil emerge to the highest pitch of distinction and of praise; there would nevertheless be no prohibition, either human or divine, against my constantly cherishing and revering those, who have either obtained the same degree of glory, or are successfully labouring to obtain it.’
Charles X’s blinkered mind never knew where it was or who it was dealing with: they could have summoned Monsieur le Duc d’Orléans to Saint-Cloud, and it is probable that in the heat of the moment he would have obeyed; they could have removed him from Neuilly on the day of the decrees: they took neither course.
being given the information Madame de Bondy carried
to him at
have told you that, on the morning of the 30th of July, Monsieur Thiers failed
to find the Duc d’Orléans at Neuilly; but Madame la Duchesse d’Orleans sent someone to
look for His Royal Highness; Monsieur le Comte Anatole de Montesquiou was charged
with the message. Arriving at Raincy, Monsieur de Montesquiou had endless
trouble persuading Louis-Philippe to return to
Finally, persuaded by the knight of honour to the Duchess of Orleans, Louis-Philippe entered his carriage. Monsieur de Montesquiou went in advance; at first he travelled quite swiftly; but when he looked behind he saw that His Royal Highness’s calash had stopped and turned back on the way to Raincy. Monsieur de Montesquiou returned in haste, and implored his future majesty, who was hastening to hide himself in the wilderness like those illustrious Christians who once fled the burdensome dignity of the episcopate: the loyal servant won a last unhappy victory.
the evening of the 30th, the deputation of a dozen members of the Chamber of
Deputies, who were to offer the Lieutenant-General-ship of the Kingdom to the
Prince, brought him a message at
The deputation of twelve Deputies presented itself at the Palais-Royal. They demanded that the Prince accept the Lieutenant-General-ship of the Kingdom; the reply was awkward: ‘I have come among you to share your dangers….I need to reflect. I must consult with various people. The mood at Saint-Cloud is not hostile; the King’s presence imposes duties on me.’ So Louis-Philippe replied. His words were repeated among the deputation as they waited: after retiring for half an hour, he re-appeared bearing a proclamation by virtue of which he accepted the functions of Lieutenant-General of the Kingdom, a proclamation ending with this declaration: ‘From now on the Charter will be a reality.’
Carried to the Elective Chamber, the proclamation was received with fifty-year old revolutionary enthusiasm: they responded with a further proclamation drafted by Monsieur Guizot. The Deputies returned to the Palais-Royal; the Prince was moved, accepted anew, and could not prevent himself bemoaning the deplorable circumstances which obliged him to become Lieutenant-General of the Kingdom.
The Republic, stunned by the blows directed towards it, sought to defend himself; but its real leader, General Lafayette, had effectively deserted it. He delighted in the clamour of adulation which surrounded him on all sides; he breathed in the perfume of revolution; he was charmed by the idea that he was France’s arbiter, who could at will, with a tap of his foot, create republics or monarchies on earth; he liked to delude himself with that state of uncertainty which pleases minds that fear decisions, because instinct warns them that when matters are finished they will be nothing.
The other Republican leaders were doomed in advance in various ways: eulogies of the Terror, by reminding the French of 1793, made them recoil. The re-establishment of the National Guard simultaneously eliminated the principle and power of insurrection in the combatants of July. Monsieur de Lafayette did not realise that while day-dreaming of a Republic he had armed three million gendarmes against it.
Be that as it may, ashamed of being taken for dupes later, the young men attempted to resist. They retaliated by means of proclamations and posters displaying the proclamations and those of the Duc d’Orléans. They informed him that though the Deputies had demeaned themselves by begging him to accept the Lieutenant-General-ship of the Kingdom, the Chamber of Deputies, nominated under an aristocratic law, did not possess the right to declare the will of the people. They reminded Louis-Philippe that he was the son of Louis-Philippe-Joseph; that Louis-Philippe-Joseph was the son of Louis-Philippe I; that Louis-Philippe I was the son of Louis, who was the son of the Regent, Philippe II; that Philippe II was the son of Philippe I who was Louis XIV’s brother: so that Louis-Philippe himself was a Bourbon and a Capet, not a Valois. Monsieur Lafitte nevertheless continued to regard him as being of the race of Charles IX and Henri III, and said: ‘Thiers knows all that.’
Later on, the Lointier Group proclaimed that the nation was armed to maintain its rights by force. The central committee of the twelfth district declared that the people had not been consulted on a form of Constitution; that the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Peers, holding their powers from Charles X, had fallen with him; that they could not, in consequence, represent the nation; that the twelfth arrondissement did not recognize this Lieutenant-General; that the provisional government remained in office, under the presidency of Lafayette, until a Constitution had been discussed and decided as the fundamental basis of government.
On the morning of the 30th, it was a question of proclaiming a Republic. A handful of determined men threatened to stab the Municipal Commission to death if they did not hang on to power. Should they not also attack the Chamber of Peers? They were furious at its audacity. The audacity of the Chamber of Peers! Certainly, that was the last outrage and last injustice it might have expected to experience from public opinion.
A plan was hatched: twenty of the most ardent young men would hide in ambush in a little street leading to the Quai de la Ferraille, and fire at Louis-Philippe, as he was returning from the Palais-Royal to the Maison de Ville. They were stopped from doing so when someone said: ‘At the same time you will kill Laffite, Pajol and Benjamin Constant.’ Finally they wished to abduct the Duke of Orléans and put him on board ship at Cherbourg: a strange meeting it would have been, if Charles X and Philippe had found themselves on the same vessel, in the same harbour, the one despatched to a foreign shore by the bourgeois, the other by the Republicans!
The Duke of Orléans having decided to have his title confirmed by the tribunes at the Hôtel de Ville, arrived in the courtyard of the Palais-Royal, surrounded by eighty-nine Deputies in their caps, rounded hats, morning dress, frock coats. The Royal candidate was mounted on a white horse; he was followed by gouty Monsieur Lafitte and lame Benjamin Constant in a sedan chair jolted along by two Savoyards. Messieurs Méchin and Viennet, covered in sweat and powder, marched along between the future monarch’s white horse and the Deputies’ equipage, quarrelling with the two crotchety ones about keeping the required distance between them. A semi-drunken drummer beat a tattoo at the head of the procession. Four ushers served as lictors. The most enthusiastic Deputies lowed: ‘Long live, the Duke of Orléans!’ At the Palais-Royal these shouts met with some success; but the nearer they came to the Hôtel de Ville, the more the spectators either mocked them or fell silent. Philippe pranced about on his triumphal charger, and kept placing himself under Monsieur Lafitte’s protection, receiving from him, along the way, words of reassurance. He smiled at General Gérard, made communicative gestures towards Monsieur Viennet and Monsieur Méchin, begging for the crown by taking a collection from the people with his hat which was adorned with a yard of tricolour ribbon, holding his hand out to whoever wished to place their charity in that hand as he passed by. The travelling monarchy arrived at the Place de Grève, where it was welcomed with cries of: ‘Long live, the Republic!’
the royal subject for election entered the Hôtel de Ville, more threatening
murmurs met the postulant: some zealous followers within who shouted his name
welcomed the grasping ones. He entered the Throne Room; there the combatants
and casualties from three days of fighting were crowded together: a general
exclamation of: ‘No more Bourbons! Long
then, clip, clop! Louis-Philippe’s white horse and the Deputies’ litter returned
half-cursed, half-blessed, from the politic-making of the Place de Grève to the
Palais-Marchand. ‘On the very same day,’ says Monsieur Louis Blanc once more (the 31st of July), ‘not far
from the Hôtel de Ville, a boat moored to the steps of the Morgue, carrying a
black flag, was taking on board the corpses laid out on stretchers. The corpses
were stacked in layers and covered with straw; and the crowd, gathered along
the parapets of the
Regarding the States of the League and the making of a king, Palma-Cayet cried: ‘I beg you to imagine what response might have been made by that little gentleman Maître Matthieu Delaunay and by Monsieur Boucher, priest of Saint-Benoît, and others of that ilk, if anyone had told them they were to be involved in installing a king of France at their own whim?....a true Frenchman has always scorned a method of electing kings that makes them at once masters and servants.’
Philippe was not yet at the end of his trials; he had yet more hands to shake, and more accolades to receive; he had yet to bestow many more kisses, salute the passers-by most humbly, return many times, at the caprice of the crowd, to sing the Marseillaise on the balcony of the Tuileries.
A number of Republicans met on the morning of the 31st at the offices of the National: when they were certain that the Duc d’Orléans had been appointed as Lieutenant-General of the Kingdom, they wished to discover the opinions of this man destined to become king despite them. Messieurs Bastide, Thomas, Joubert, Cavaignac, Marchais, Degousée and Guinard were led to the Palais-Royal by Monsieur Thiers: The prince started by saying some very fine things regarding liberty: ‘You are not king yet’, Bastide replied ‘listen to the truth; you will have no lack of flatterers soon.’ ‘Your father’, added Cavaignac, ‘was a regicide like mine; that distinguishes you from the rest somewhat.’ Mutual congratulations regarding regicide, but Philippe nevertheless made this judicious remark, that there are things one must retain the memory of in order not to repeat them.
Republicans who had not been at the National meeting entered. Monsieur Trélat said to Philippe: ‘The people are your master. Your appointment is provisional; the people must express their will: will you consult them, yes or no?’
Monsieur Thiers tapped
Monsieur Thomas on the shoulder and interrupted this dangerous speech:
‘Monseigneur, have we not a fine colonel here?’ – ‘Indeed’, Louis Philippe
replied. ‘What was that he said,’ they cried. ‘Does he take us for a crew to be
bought?’ and a confused conflict of words arose on all sides: ‘It’s like the
Then Monsieur de Lafayette arrived at the Palais-Royal: the citizen had to suffer suffocation in his sovereign’s embrace. The whole palace swooned with delight.
There were jackets in the post of honour, caps in the salons, workmen’s blouses at table with the Princes and Princesses; in the council chamber were chairs and not armchairs; anyone who wished could speak; Louis-Philippe, seated between Monsieur de Lafayette and Monsieur Lafitte, an arm round each man’s shoulder, overflowed with equality and good cheer.
I would have liked to add more gravity to my description of these scenes which initiated a grand revolution, or to speak more correctly, these scenes by which a transformation of society was expedited; but I witnessed them; the Deputies who were actors in them could not hide a measure of confusion, in recounting the way in which, on the 31st of July, they went about making – a king.
Objections were made to Henri IV, a non-Catholic, which did not debase him and which even accorded with the elevation of the throne: he was told: ‘that Saint Louis had not been canonised at Geneva but in Rome; that if the King would not become a Catholic, he could not hold the supreme place among Christian kings; that it would not be well if the King prayed in one manner and his people in another; that the king could not be crowned at Rheims and could not be interred in Saint-Denis if he were not a Catholic.’
What objection was made to Philippe before allowing him to pass the final test? The objection was made that he was not enough of a patriot.
Now that the revolution is complete, it is regarded as an offence if one dares to recall what went on at the start; there is a fear of weakening the solidity of the position that has been won, and whoever fails to discover the gravity of the accomplished reality in its initial beginnings is a detractor.
When a dove descended to
bring Clovis the sacred oil, when
long-haired kings were elevated on shields, when Saint Louis trembled with
anticipatory virtue at his coronation on swearing to use his authority purely
for the glory of God, and his people’s well-being, when Henri IV, on his entry
into Paris, went to prostrate himself at Notre Dame, where a handsome child was
seen, or thought to have been seen, at his right hand protecting him, who was
taken to be his guardian angel, I consider the crown was sacred; the Oriflamme remained in the tabernacle of
heaven. But since a sovereign, in a public place, his hair trimmed, his hands
behind his back, has bowed his head beneath the blade to the sound of a drum;
since another sovereign, surrounded by the mob, has gone to beg votes for his election, to the sound of the same drum,
in another public place, who can retain the least illusion about the Crown? Who
believes that this royalty, bruised and soiled can still impose itself on
society? Who, feeling their heart still beat, could sip the power in that
chalice of shame and disgust, that Philippe has emptied at one gulp, without
vomiting? European monarchy would have continued to survive if
End of Book XXXII