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soon as he has uttered them. He is virtually fright-
ened at his own frankness, and his mind knows no rest
afterwards, lest these words should go forth to the
world. He is aware that the eminent Englishman to
whom he has revealed his inmost thoughts keeps a
diary, and for the rest of his life the dread of this diary
being published, and by its revelations overtoppHng his
fabric of deception, haunts him by day and night.
Almost every Englishman with whom Thiers comes in
contact during that period is cross-examined to that
effect. For hypocrite though he be, face to face with
himself he cherishes no illusions as to the degree of

My Paris Note-Book. 245

confidence with which he inspires the various dynastic
factions in France. He may and does attempt to
traverse the charges of mendacity and plotting preferred
against him by Frenchmen, by charging them in his
turn with interested motives ; he may even do this with
exalted personages, such as the Princess Metternich
and the Prince de Joinville, but he feels that such a
counter-accusation would absolutely fail against the
eminent professor of political economy at Oxford,
whom every one of note in France knows to be an
absolutely impartial observer, and incapable of distort-
ing facts and statements. For six months after the
death of Mr. Senior, which happened in 1864, Thiers
was in a most violent state of excitement, which never
subsided entirely ; but the publication of the dreaded
* ' Conversations' ' was spared to him after all, for they
appeared only a twelvemonth after his death.

Enough. I have been led into penning an indictment
when I only intended to write some anecdotal notes, and
it is too late to repair the mistake with regard to the man
who, to use the words of Lamartine, ' ' had sufficient salt-
petre in him to blow up ten governments ; who carried
the contempt of his own party to a length surprising in
so young a politician. ' ' (This was said in the spring of
1 830. ) ' ' For that contempt, ' ' added the poet, ' ' comes,
as a rule, only with old age. ' '

I mean to sketch Thiers as President of the Republic
amidst his surroundings at the Prefecture at Versailles,
and at the Elysee-Bourbon ; meanwhile I append the
promised particulars of his family history.

Louis- Adolphe Thiers was born in Marseilles on the
15th April 1797, of parents who were apparently in a
good position, for the civil register describes the father,


246 My Paris Note-Book.

Pierre-Louis-Marie Thiers, as a proprietaire (anglic^^
an owner of landed or household property). On the
face of it, this looks probable enough, seeing that
Thiers' maternal grandfather was an advocate to the
provincial parliament, and keeper of the Marseilles
archives. Thiers' mother, whose name was Marie-
Madaleine Amic, was the daughter of a notable mer-
chant of the same city, who for some time occupied
the important post of what at present we should term
the President of the Marseilles Chamber of Commerce
at Constantinople, where he married the maternal aunt
of the poets Joseph and Andr6 Chenier. Hence the
legends about Thiers' obscure and humble origin are
simply so much fiction.

But though Thiers' parentage is by no means envel-
oped in mystery, Thiers' father would not have been
out of place as the hero of a novel, or better still, of an
extravagant melodrama, such as our grandparents loved
to see. At the birth of his son, Pierre-Louis-Marie
Thiers, proprietaire, is absent from Marseilles. In
those days the law required that the new-born child
should testify to its own existence by being taken to
the Mairie, accompanied by its father and two wit-
nesses. In this instance, citizen Marie-Simeon Rostan,
officier de sante— read surgeo7i, as distinct from physician
— takes the father's place, and presents the babe to the
official charged with registering its birth. In fact,
neither the son nor mother sets eyes on or hears
from Pierre-Louis-Marie Thiers for more than thirty
years. It is only after 1830, when Thiers has started
on his political career, that ''papa" presents himself
one fine morning, and in a scene which reminds one
of that of Les Saltimbanques of Dumersan and Varin,
claims relationship.

My Paris Note-Book. 247

What had become of Pierre-Louis-Marle Thiers dur-
ing those thirty years ? In 1879, consequently two years
after the death of the famous historian, M. Achille Gas-
taldy of Mentone, whose mother was first-cousin to M.
Thiers on the father's side, tried to tell us in a brochure,
dedicated to the historian's widow. But the author had
frequently to confess himself at a loss, and was probably
compelled to put a curb on his pen, seeing to whom he
dedicated his little book. It would appear, though, that
Thiers senior travelled a great deal during those thirty
years, and was engaged in many speculations, good and
bad, mostly bad. So far M. Gastaldy. If during that
time Thiers pere did not increase his store, he at any
rate increased his progeny, to the discomfort of his fa-
mous son, who subsequently seems to have had all of
them on his hands. Not that he provided very royally
for them or for his mother, but, nevertheless, they, the
brothers and sisters, gave him considerable trouble. In
' ' An Englishman in Paris, ' ' there is an account of one
of these sisters who, in the forties, opened a table-d' hote
on the Boulevards, and proclaimed far and wide her
relationship to the statesman. That was Mme. Ripert,
who claimed to be the legitimate daughter of Pierre-
Louis-Marie Thiers by an Italian lady, whom he, her
father, had married at Bologna. Mme. Ripert was un-
doubtedly a match for le petit bonhomme, for though she
failed to draw money from him — a feat which all those
who knew him voted to be almost impossible — the sign-
board of the table-d' hSte, on which the relationship was
duly set forth, disappeared after a little while, and she
and her husband were provided with snug berths — of
course under Government. Mme. Brunet, another half-
sister, but by a different mother, did not fare quite so well.
During the life of her half-brother, the Government gave

248 My Paris Note-Book.

her a small tobacco shop ; but in 1883, when she herself
was past eighty, she was very poor ; nevertheless the
very rich Mile. Dosne, the heiress, I believe, to most of
Thiers' property, positively refused to come to her as-
sistance. A long correspondence ensued in the papers,
and Mme. Brunet proved conclusively, at any rate some-
what too conclusively to be pleasant to Thiers' ungener-
ous sister-in-law, that she was Thiers' half-sister. Her
mother was a demoiselle Eleonore Euphrasie Chevalier,
cousin to the well-known deputy Dupont (de I'Eure).

The two half-brothers, Germain and Louiset Thiers,
were the fruits of the marriage (?) of Pierre-Louis-Marie
Thiers with the Italian lady. Germain, though I do not
find it stated anywhere, must have been the non-com-
missioned officer who, in 1822, divulged the plot of
Colonel Caron for the deliverance of the prisoners im-
plicated in the conspiracy of two years previously against
the Bourbon monarchy, which conspiracy is known as
the ' ' Conspiracy of Belfort. ' ' At any rate, I feel certain
that this non-commissioned officer's name was Germain
Thiers. Whether he was known at that time to his half-
brother, Adolphe, I am unable to say ; but later on he
was appointed Chief Secretary to the French consulate
at Ancona.

Louiset was not quite so useful a member of society.
He had inherited his father's taste for travelling, and
followed the occupation of a courier — that is, when he
could get an engagement. When unemployed, he wor-
ried his brother for money. His visits were paid in the
early morning. But Thiers himself was the early worm,
who refused to be caught loosening his purse-strings by
no matter how early a bird, for he generally rose before
five. Louiset managed, however, to squeeze a few louis
out of him now and then.

My Paris Note-Book. 249

In the last paragraph but one I have placed a mark
of interrogation behind the word marriage. Was Thiers
senior really married to the Italian lady ? Was he also
married to the cousin of Dupont (de 1' Eure) ? I have
an idea he had gone through the ceremony of marriage
with both women, else his famous son would not have
assisted his father's offspring, even to the small extent
he did. Thiers senior seems to have practised matri-
monially what his son practised politically. He espoused
any — every woman who gave him a chance, with the
mental reservation of throwing her over when con-
venient, just as Thiers junior espoused every regime
which afforded him a chance of revelling in power.
The father was a profligate carnally, the son a profligate

A far different man was Thiers' immediate successor
in oflice. When endeavouring to point out the motives
that swayed Thiers, Grevy, and Carnot in their accept-
ance of the presidential dignity, I was bound to admit
that, practically, Mac-Mahon had no motive at all, either
personal or patriotic. He was not influenced by mone-
tary considerations, albeit that he was comparatively a
poor man. At his resignation his modest fortune was
found to be seriously impaired, for he gave with a lavish
hand ; and during his tenancy of the Elys^e, the expenses
far exceeded the presidential income. Though by no
means a profound thinker or a brilliant talker, Mac-
Mahon had his fair share of sound common-sense — in
the somewhat narrow meaning of the word, perhaps —
and he fostered no illusions with regard to his poten-
tiality of regenerating France, at any rate politically.
After that, the reader may well ask why Marie- Patrice
de Mac-Mahon did not decline the honour conferred
upon him.

250 My Paris Note-Book.

It was either Colbert or Louvois who refused to give
a certain nobleman the governorship of a province, on
the ground that he was incapable of ruling his own wife.
Part of the suffrages that made Mac-Mahon President
of the Third Republic were given on the not altogether
groundless assumption that in all but military matters
Madame la Marechale ruled her husband. It was pretty-
well the last attempt in France to import ' * petticoat
influence' ' into politics, and the attempt — I cannot too
much insist upon it, in view of what I have already said
— was not due to the Republicans. The Duchesse de
Magenta is a daughter of the house of Castries, whose
militant Legitimism and ostentatious religious observ-
ance go hand-in-hand. The partisans of the late Comte
de Chambord were distinctly under the impression that
in the Duchesse they had found another Jeanne d' Arc
who this time would rid their country peaceably of their
native enemies, as the peasant girl of Domr^my had
endeavoured to drive out the alien. It is a moot-point
with those who profess to know, whether Madame la
Duchesse herself did not inspire the Legitimists with
that idea. Such Republicans as voted for the Marshal,
because almost the entire Left abstained from voting,
formed a more correct estimate of the soldier's character.
There was no doubt in their minds of his innate honesty.
They knew that they had not elected a Cromwell, but
they also knew that they had not elected a Monk, and
that, "come what might," the Duchesse' s influence
over her husband, however great, would fail to make a
cat's-paw of him for the restoration either of a Bourbon,
a d' Orleans, or a Bonaparte.

They knew that, placed in a position of trust, his ob-
stinate uprightness would get the better of his dynastic
sentiments ; and General Fleury first, and the Comte de

My Paris Note-Book. 251

Chambord afterwards, found to their cost how correct
the Rep ubH can's judgment had been. The erstwhile
Master of the Horse to Napoleon III. was, to use the
right expression, ' ' sent away with a flea in his ear' ' when
he came to propose an Imperialist movement. The post-
humous son of the Due de Berry {I' enfant du miracle)
was treated even more unceremoniously, for, after wait-
ing for three days at the Comte de Vaussay's in Ver-
sailles, he had to return whence he came without as
much as a glimpse of the President. * ' These things are
as yet not written in the chronicles of nineteenth-century
France. ' ' Nor is it generally known that it was then, and
not until then, that ''the Henri V. whom Mac-Mahon
spoilt in the making" penned his modern version of
the fable of "The Sour Grapes" in the shape of a
manifesto entitled " The White Flag." Such was the
result of Mac-Mahon' s passive obstinacy, lined with un-
swerving honesty. And here we must try to distinguish
between passive obstinacy and active will-power. Mac-
Mahon had a good deal of the former, very little of the
latter even in his young days, and none in his old age.
It was his obstinacy that made him hold the MalakofF
against overwhelming odds when he had planted his flag
on it ; it was the lack of active will-power that made
him, a Legitimist, vote for the life- Presidency of Louis
Napoleon in 1852. He himself told the story to the
Emperor fifteen years later at Oran, on the very spot
where he recorded his vote. ' ' I intended to vote
against you, sire, but I was to vote the last, ' ' he said.
" The infantry came up and voted for you to a man ;
the cavalry followed, and there were a few sparse votes
against you ; the artillery increased the number of ad-
verse votes ; and the punishment battalion, which
brought up the rear, voted unanimously ' No. ' I could

252 My Paris Note-Book.

not very well go with the worst behaved part of my
army, so I voted ' Yes. ' " It was this same lack of
active will-power, which lack must have been very
patent to the Duchesse de Magenta, that made her cast
her chivalrous husband for the part of a second-rate
monk in a drama, the final act of which was a ballet-
like apotheosis of the Third Republic. I am referring
to the fHes ' ' decreed' ' by Gambetta and Co. at the
opening of the Exhibition of 1878, which fetes ^ to all
intents and purposes, have been continued ever since —
though with less ^clat — on the 14th July of every year.
It was this same lack of active will-power that caused
the descendant of Patrick Mac-Mahon of Torrodile' to

=t I append an authentic record of the family of Marshal Mac-
Mahon from the capitulation of Limerick to the battle of Magenta.
It may prove interesting to English and ^n^erican readers : —
" Patrick Mac-Mahon, of Torrodile, in the county of Limerick, was
married to Margaret, daughter of John O'Sullivan, in the county
of Cork, of the House of O'Sullivan Beare. Honourably identified
with the cause of the last of the Stuarts, he sheathed his sword at
the Treaty of Limerick, and retired with his wife — a lady of the
rarest beauty and virtue — to the friendly shores of France. Here
his son, John Mac-Mahon, of Autun (in the Department of the
Saone-et-Loire), married an heiress, and was created Count
d'Equilly. On the 28th September 1794, the Count applied to the
Irish Government of that day, accompanying his application with
the necessary fees, &c., for the officers of 'Ulster King-at-Arms,'
to have his genealogy, together with the records, &c., of his family,
duly authenticated, collected, and recorded, with all necessary
verification, in order that his children and their posterity in France
might have all-sufficient proof of the proud fact that they were
Irish. All this was accordingly done, as may be seen in the
records in Birmingham Tower, Dublin Castle, countersigned by
the then Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and the various other requi-
site signatures. In those records he is described as of ' the noble
family, paternally, of Mac-Mahon of Clonderala (in Clare) and
maternally of the noble family of O'Sullivan of Beare.' He was
the grandfather of the Marshal, Duke of Magenta. The Count's
genealogy commences in the middle of the fifteenth century, and

My Paris Note-Book. 253

become for some time the tool of the BrogHes Fourtons,
and finally, more or less of a political warming-pan for the

traces him through eight generations as follows : Terence Mac-
Mahon, proprietor of Clonderala, married Helena, daughter of
Maurice Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare, died 1472, and was interred
in the monastery of Ashelin, in Munster, He was succeeded by
his son Dotiatus Mac-Mahon, who married Honora O'Brien, of the
noble family of Thomond ; and his son Terence Mac-Mahon, Esq.,
married Joanna, daughter of John MacNamara, Esq., of Dohagh-
tin, commonly styled ' MacNamara Reagh,' and had a son, Ber-
nard Mac-Mahon, Esq., whose wife was Margarita, daughter of
Donatus O'Brien, of Daugh. Mortogh Mac-Mahon, son of Ber-
nard, married Eleonora, daughter of William O'Nelan, of Emri,
colonel of a regiment of horse in the army of Charles I., and was
father of Maurice Mac-Mahon, Esq., whose wife, Helena, was
daughter of Maurice Fitzgerald, Esq., of Ballinoe, Knight of Glinn.
Mortogh Mac-Mahon, son of Maurice, married Helena, daughter of
Emanuel MacSheehy, Esq., of Ballylinan, and was father of the
above-named Patrick Mac-Mahon, who married Margarita, daugh-
ter of John O'Sullivan, Esq., mother of John, first Count d'Equilly,
The descent of Count Mac-Mahon, maternally, through the O'Sul-
livans, is as follows : Mortogh O'Sullivan Beare, of Bantry, in the
county of Cork, married Maryann, daughter of James, Lord Des-
mond, and dying, was interred, 1541, in the Convent of Friars
Minors, Cork. His son, John O'Sullivan, of Bantry, married Jo-
anna, daughter of Gerald de Courcey, Baron of Kinsale, and died
1578, leaving Daniel O'Sullivan, Esq., his son, who married Anna,
daughter of Christopher O'Driscoll, of Baltimore, in the county
of Cork, and died at Madrid, leaving his son, John O'Sullivan, of
Bantry, Esq., who married Margaret, daughter of James O' Dono-
van, of Rosecarbery, Esq. Bartholomew O'Sullivan, son of John,
was colonel in the army of James H. at the siege of Limerick,
and married Helena, daughter of Thomas Fitzmaurice, Baron of
Kerry, by whom he had Major John O'Sullivan, of Bantry, who
married Honoria, daughter of Robert MacCarthy, of ' Castro
Leonino' (Castlelyons), in the county of Cork, Esq., grandson of
Daniel MacCarthy, Lord of Glancare, and Margaret, his wife,
daughter of Donogh, Lord Desmond, and died 1731. Their
daughter was Margarita, who married Patrick Mac-Mahon, Esq.,
of Torrodile.^'—Bjtrlracl from one oj the series of articles pub-
lished by " The Nation,'''' in June 1859, on the occasion of the battle
of Magenta.

254 ^Y Paris Note-Book.

Republicans, with Gambetta at their head — Gambetta,
"Ce Monsieur," as Marshal Mac-Mahon called him,
who could no more judge a man of Mac-Mahon' s
stamp than ' ' General' ' Booth could judge of a John

I am not exaggerating in saying that Mac-Mahon
finally became the warming-pan for the Republicans ; it
would be no exaggeration to call Mac-Mahon the virtual
founder of the Third Republic, the founder in spite of
himself, for a republic was a form of government he
detested even more than he despised the so-called in-
carnation of it in the form of a Gambetta. Lest my
statement as to his being virtually the founder of the
Third Republic should seem a mere flippant assertion
for the sake of eifect, I quote textually the conclusion
of a conversation between the late M. Eugene Pelletan,
the father of M. Camille Pelletan (C16menceau's lieu-
tenant) — who was one of the staunchest and most up-
right Republicans that ever lived — and the Comte
Henry d' Ideville, one of the staunchest, most upright,
and able Royalists it has ever been my lot to meet.
The conversation took place one May morning, in the
year 1878, on the Quai Voltaire.

'* I can well understand your being violently irritated,
nay, exasperated, with that poor man (Mac-Mahon),"
said the Republican ; * ' but we, there is no doubt of it,
appreciate him exceedingly. Of course, you, from
your point of view, are justified in judging him very
severely, for he has disappointed all your hopes. But
as far as we RepubHcans are concerned, we could not
wish for a more respectful and docile functionary at the
head of the Republic. Thanks to him, our Govern-
ment enjoys the consideration and esteem of foreign
nations, and the world's opinion, recovered from its

My Paris Note-Book. 255

fright, is gradually accepting our new institutions. In
short, Mac-Mahon is the most marvelious pioneer we
could possibly wish for. Without the least ambition,
without the slightest will of his own, without the faint-
est prestige, he allows his ministers and M. Dufoure to
govern in his name, and does not raise the smallest ob-
stacle to the working of the Constitution. In that way
he is acclimatising the Republic in France better than
any of us could have done. We could not wish for a
better man, and assuredly when the years of the Sep-
tennate shall have expired, we will renew the mission of
the illustrious Marshal.

'' Nay, I'll go further still, and say, that if M. Thiers
had remained in power, he, with his great individuality,
despotic temperament, and impatience of contradiction,
could not have failed to provoke conflicts with the
Chamber, and would have given umbrage to many.
What would have happened then ? I'll tell you. One
fine morning there would have been the great danger
that the former minister of Louis Philippe, finding it im-
possible to rule the Republicans according to his will, to
make them dance to his fiddling, feeling himself grow-
ing old, and seeing his influence on the wane, would
have brought back the monarchy among us out of sheer
spite. How grateful we ought to be, then, to the reac-
tionaries for having overthrown and replaced him by
this Marshal, whom we can never praise sufficiently."

''Without the least ambition, without the slightest
will of his own, without the faintest prestige," said Pel-
letan. The words summed up the whole of Mac-Ma-
hon' s character better than a hundred pages of psycho-
logical analysis could have done. The lack of will-
power I have already touched upon ; the lack of ambi-
tion was equally conspicuous. I am not at all certain

256 My Paris Note-Book.

that Mac-Mahon was greatly elated when he had his
dukedom bestowed upon him in '59. From the gene-
alogy I have appended, it will be evident that no title,
however lofty, could enhance his social status. It must
be remembered also by whom the title was conferred — by
Louis Napoleon, the bugbear of the greater part of the
Faubourg St. Germain, to which Mac-Mahon had never
ceased to belong, first, by reason of his own inclinations
and birth ; secondly, in virtue of his marriage with Mile.
d$ Castries. The title was, moreover, the ostensible
reward for Mac-Mahon' s share in the successful initial
moves of a policy the final aim of which must have been
as patent to the most short-sighted Legitimists as it was
repulsive to all, Mac-Mahon included, namely, the event-
ful spoliation of the Holy Father. No amount of assur-
ance to the contrary from Napoleon IIL could allay the
fears of, or deceive, the Legitimists on that point, even
if it deceived the Emperor himself, which is quite pos-
sible, for subsequent events proved that he spoke in
good faith when he declared that no Italian army, how-
ever victorious, should ever proceed further than the
gates of Rome as long as he lived. His purely military
advancement must, of course, have been gratifying to
Mac-Mahon, although not later than six years and a
half ago I was given to understand inferentially — mind,
I repeat, inferentially, and lay great stress on the word '
— that he would willingly have declined the great hon-
our, which meant also a terrible responsibility for the
simple-minded soldier, who, in spite of himself, was pitch-
forked into politics ; this gentleman, sans peur et sans

I In November 1887 I had an interview with General Trochu at
his residence in the Rue Traversiere, at Tours. I pledged my word
that not a word of what transpired between us should be revealed
until after his death. The old soldier spoke most kindly of the
Marshal, but I cannot say more.

My Paris Note-Book. 257

reprocke, who, beneath a somewhat stern exterior, was
kindness itself to every one around him, was modest be-
yond compare, so modest, in fact, as to have seriously
embarrassed those paid trumpeters of fame, yclept jour-
nalists, in the hour of his greatest triumph. I remem-
ber perfectly all the events of the year '59, for, though
I was but a lad of seventeen, I was an assiduous reader
of newspapers. There were a great many particulars

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