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The battle summer: being transcripts from personal observation in Paris, during the year 1848 online

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was distinguished for the grace and finish of its articles. It
wore, more than any of its cotemporaries, an air of honesty.
Shortly after the Presidential election it became merged in
the Presse.

The Reprtsentant du Peuple was at once the strongest and
most vehement of all respectable representatives of the Red
Republic. Prudhon was its establisher, owner, and chief con-
tributor. It is avowedly the advocate of Labor, as opposed to
Capital. The great revolution by which capital shall be
overturned, and made subordinate to the influence of labor,
has in his view yet to be accomplished ; and to the attainment
of this end, he devotes, with all the ardor of a fanatic, 110
mean powers.

Prudhon is a logical reasoner, of quick wit, and most keen
satire. His articles remind one not unfrequently of the
drollery of Rabelais. He is as low, and he is as pointed.

He has been subjected to fines without number ; his jour-
nal has been suspended, suppressed ; and finally, he himself
is imprisoned.

He has a shuffling gait — a heavy German face, encircled by
coarse, stiff whiskers, shaved well back on face and throat,
— a huge mouth, turned up slightly at the corners, with a

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Newspapers. 183

lurking humor ; he wears enormous round-eyed spectacles, a
seedy hat, coarse, ill-fitting clothes — in short, you would
sooner suspect him of being a marchand d' habits from the
Temple, than the writer of such sharp, caustic paragraphs, as
used to appear morning after morning, in the little penny
journal of The People.

But we have scarcely begun with the new journals. There
was the Vieux Cordelier of poor Demoulins revived — not
now with his acuteness — and bearing for motto, this amiable
menace — Tremblez Bourgeois /

The Pere du Chine was taken from the tomb of '93, and
resuscitated with all the fury that belonged to the paper of
Hebert/ The Cause du Peuple, edited for a time by
George Sand, was soon merged in the True Republic, under
guidance of Barbes and Pierre Leroux.

There was beside, the Mire Duch&ne, and the Voix des
Femmes, each living a short life,— each succeeded by some-
thing more violent, or absurd.

A hundred and more of such were scattered over Paris, du-
ring the three months that followed the February revolt.
They can be found now, only in the vast receptacle of
the National Library or the portfolios of curious collectors.

We have given these extended notices, since the influence of
Paris Journals upon popular feeling is vast. Nor is this in-
fluence created or sustained, so much by any acquired repu-
tation which may belong to particular Journals, as by the
spirit and force of special articles. A brilliant and vigorous

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134 The Battle Summer.

appeal will be felt in every Cafe* — will be talked of in every
Salon. Impulsive Parisian nature is not acted upon so much
by memory of past dignity, as fervor of present action.

Hence it is, that talent of the first order, finds an arena
worthy of itself in the columns of the daily Journal. To be
a Journalist — successful, applauded, admired, is not second to
any French reputation whatever. The first of French States-
men, the first in the Church, the spectacled scholars of
the Academy, the keen professors at the Sorbonne, are
contributors to the daily newspapers. The Editor, if dis-
tinguished in his profession, is courted; he makes a group
about him, in corners of princely salons ; his pen will startle

Hence too, it is, that the wealth of Paris, journals is di-
verted from the channels of mere news-gathering — where it
naturally runs with a commercial people like Americans —
and goes to secure the highest talent of the country. No
premium is too 'great for an accomplished paragraphia^
Fifty, seventy, or one hundred dollars are not unfrequently
the prices for a single newspaper article.

Such vehicle of influence as a Paris press had its weight
with the new-born Republic. Without its support, all would
have been lost ; and its varying tone and complex discus-
sions have kept definitiveness of issue at bay. The suppres-
sion of a journal is equal to the suppression of an army.

Bourgeois wealth had early secured the men of talent to
the Bourgeois cause. Labor, and Labor-organisations fought

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Palace of the Luxembourg. 135

at disadvantage. Single pens, like those of Prudhon, and
Louis Blanc, and even Geo. Sand, and indefatigable Lamen-
nais, grew feeble with excess of effort. No strong corps of
Academicians behind the scenes, relieved the intensity of
their labor.

We shall find them wearying, and worrying into vehe-
mence and rancor.

The Bourgeois journals, meantime, with consummate art,
are arraying every faculty, whether of brilliant feuilletonist,
or sagacious generalize!*, or acute special pleader, to moderate
the issues of Revolution, and to warp even the enthusiasm
of the time, into respect for property, and for all vested


Palace of the Luxembourg.

IN the old Palace of the Peers — in their splendid, semi-
circular Assembly Hall, is met, not long after this Feb-
ruary Revolution, a very different company. The white
heads, and gold-tipped canes, and gentlemanly air of Peers
—Peers by birth, and Peers by adoption, are no longer to be
seen at those luxurious desks.

In their place is met, an earnest, ill-dressed, Hi-satisfied corps
of working-men's Deputies. In the speaker's chair, high and
throne-like — under shadow of the tall statues of Colbert and

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186 The Battle Summer.

d'Agousseau, is seated the small, blue-eyed man, whom we
have already seen in a book-shop of the Rue de Seine.

Busts of warriors along the frieze, and painted Gods in the
plafond of the ceiling, seem to regard with strange eyes, this
strange workingman's Assembly.

Along the desks, were to be seen brawny arms, uncovered
by blouse, and heavy shoulders stooping with the labor of
years ; artisans of every character ; coachmen, lookingly un-
easily in their place ; and smutty coal-heavers ; and lank
Seine boatmen; and velveteen-jacketted porters; and bluff
water-carriers ; and intelligent pale-faced, journeyman print-
ers. And the blue-eyed man, who addresses them, in meas-
ured words, and in silver-toned voice, wears a face innocent
of all labor, except the most harassing of labors ; and his hand
has known no implement of handicraft, except the smallest,
the most powerful, the most dangerous of implements — a pen.
It was theory instructing practice : a pigmy in a parliament
of giants.

Even bonnetted milliner-women were not absent, but looked
intently at the fair forehead of the speaker — won more by the
grace of his appearance, than by the force of his reasoning.

There are present too, Socialist teachers of nearly every
faith ; — Raspail, and Prudhon, and Leroux, eager to see what
will be consummated under the auspices of Louis Blanc.

Nor was his reasoning on the occasion of that first as-
semblage, either vain, or incomplete. It was in favor of
reducing the time of day-labor ; — in order first — says he, —
that those without work may be provided with work; and

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second, that the laborer may have one hour — at least one a
day, to give to his minds-life, and to his heart.

He farther advised, and planned a system of association, by
which rates of remuneration migljt be agreed upon, and estab-
lished — not as formerly, by police — but by a committee of
artisans themselves. This first sitting was a triumph for .
Lords Blanc.

Yet at the same time, while this commission of Labor is in
session, — a crowd of boisterous workmen is at the doors, vo-
ciferating, and crying, because not admitted to a parliament
of its own advocates, — a parliament already too full for any
successful details of business. — So strange, and so unreasonable
are the demands of ignorant, infuriated masses !

But is Louis Blanc, are his delegates, and his co-operating
workers satisfied with this naming of Labor Commission ? Has
the Republic, and the Provisional Power given them what
they wish, in placing them in the magnificent Chamber of
the Luxembourg ; — in putting Royal huissiers at their dis-
posal ; — in permitting them to serve their table as they
choose ; and giving them opportunity to discuss, bug as they
choose, and with whom they choose, the doctrines so long
bruited, of helping the Labor estate ?

Not at all : the Government has given them all this, it is
true, but it has placed no special funds at their disposal. It
has not given Treasury, and Luxembourg together. A man
so thoroughly the advocate of a theory as Louis Blanc, is
never satisfied with half-measures.

Already his Commission of the Luxembourg grows jealous of

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138 The Battle Summer.

the National workshops, organised by the Provisional Power
at large, and placed under the direction of a man, haying
little claim to the position, except a loud tongue, a good ap-
pearance, and a vociferous Republicanism, — Emile Thomas.

Yet to those Public shops, gorged with the failing treasures
of the State come thronging all the unemployed, and all the
idle blouse-wearers of Paris, and the Banlieu. Brigades were
organized, and they worked by companies, at such work as
could be easiest procured. There was a rate for in-door
workers, and a rate for out-door workers ; a rate for those
who did nothing, and a rate for those busied with small wheel-
barrow loads of earth. It was all jovial, and spicy ; work*
men sang together, drank together, and danced together.

These public-shops had indeed cleared Paris streets of those
turbid night-singers of Marseillaise ; but they were schooling
them for a new, and more terrible Marseillaise.

The Government had satisfied its promise ; Labor was se-
cured ; Labor was organized : at least if public shop, and the
Commission at the Luxembourg might be called organization.
The Faubourgs were appeased ; but how long will they re-
main appeased ?

The History of that Commission at the Luxembourg may
thus early, in the history of the French Republic, be termi-
nated. The Commission was the origin of a few voluntary
associations of workmen,* which are not without their utility,
and which still exist. For the rest, it was the arena for
strong, complex, angry, philosophic discussion, which the hos-

* Jlppd aux HoimtUt Qm*. Par Louie Blanc. 1849.

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The Clubs of April. 139

tOity of the rival disputants, and the antagonism of their plans
rendered utterly unavailing. No grand scheme was nearer
adoption, at the close of its labors, than at the beginning.

The laboring people, whom the pompous title of the Com-
mission, and the august place of its sittings, and the variety,
and ability of its delegates, had led to hope great things, were
destined to reap from the measure, only most miserable dis-

So ended the magnificent organization of Labor, that

was to spring from the Luxembourg Commission !


The Clubs op April.

THE election for those representatives of the people, who
are to make for France a Constitution, approaches. It
forms the topic of talk in Cafe, in Salon, in Journal, but most
of all, in Clubs. Early in April, no less than forty are
organized, holding their night sittings in the old Church of the
Assumption — opposite the Halle an B16, — in the Salle Mon-
tesquieu, — in the Hall of Spectacles y — at Montmartre, and in
the Cite.

Not like any other clubs are French clubs ; the quick, im-
pulsive nature of the people, luxuriates in the informality, the
license, and the blazing passion of those evening sessions.

The French Lecturer, at the Sorbonne, or Conservatory, is
the quietest of Lecturers ; and his audience the quietest of

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140 The Battle Summer.

audiences. His fame and knowledge will secure to him al-
most breathless auditors. Yet he takes no pompous airs ; his
dress is plain to a fault ; he steals in at a little side-door by
the desk, and looks over his apparatus, his bones, his bottles,
or his jars, as if he were but a boy-assistant ; he makes a
slight, graceful, but only half-noticeable inclination to the
audience ; — he rubs his hands, and commences, as if he were
chatting with a party of friends.

He goes on softly, currently, easily as a stream — never
rustled, never disturbed, — warming here and there into a
charming bit of eloquent episode, as deftly, and carelessly
thrown in, as the sunbeam that steals through a chink of the
waving curtain ; — pauses, — looks at his watch, — runs on for a
moment, — bows, — is done.

The Paris club is the reverse in every particular of Paris
lecture-room. Here the audience consists of so many lectur-
ers, all eager, because all competent to instruct. The chair-
man is clanging his bell ; the speaker pounding the desk in
passion ; the listeners, arguing side-questions nearly as vo-
ciferously as the orator.

The election-laws, the candidates, the claims, the issues
are bruited from desk to gallery, and the inflamed, divided
mass, whose shallow political opinions are only disturbed, and
muddied by the session, goes home at one in the morning,
bawling unmeaning street-cries.

The difference between Paris Club, and American political
meeting, is eminently typical of the difference between the
two people: — The one, fresh in political discussion, — the

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The Clubs op April. 141

other, old : the one disposed to be philosophic, searching, —
the other, practical, utilitarian : the one dealing with dogmas
on which all political society is supposed to rest, — the other,
debating every day, matters of finance and trade : the pa-
triotism of-the first, gratifies itself in utterance of noisy sen-
timent, — that of the other, in imposing array of statistics.

Finance, tariff, judicial questions, even those of police re-
gulation have little to do with Paris Club-talk ; these are all
subordinate ; at the Clubs they affect deeper inquiry. Free-
mens' rights (meaning, by a pleasant club-instituted metono-
my, French rights,) relations of man to man,— -of Capital .to
Labor, — these are the engrossing themes, the elements of
Club action ; which being settled, — and God only knows how
long French Clubs will be in their settlement — and finance,
police, justice, order, follow on, as legal and infallible sequi-

Sometimes, it is true, in some Paris Clubs, where went
such as Arago, — as Lacordaire the Dominican, — Chevallier,
the old disciple of Enfantin, — Lamennais, the erudite seceder
from Church and State, these questions are discussed with a
nicety, a discriminating exactitude, that fatigue the mind, and
which would drive away most American audiences in despair.

In others, the wild, eloquently-uttered sentiments, succeed-
ing each other in the crowded arena, like blazes of lightning
flashing over a sultry August earth, would entrance and be-
wilder ; and you would no longer wonder at the enthusiasm
which sent hordes of $a4ra singers, tramping through bril
liant Paris streets tOl midnight.

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143 The Battle Summer.

Among the most disorderly, and yet strongest of the Clubs,
was that organized and directed by Blanqui, and Bernard ;
the orators chiefly old political prisoners.

Blanqui was its soul, — a man born a conspirator. In 1839
he had been condemned to death, for his participation in the
conspiracy of the 12th of May ; but the sentence had been
commuted, by efforts of friends, to imprisonment for life.

Born in the south, he had by nature a fiery, ungovernable,
irascible spirit ; and he had squandered a large patrimonial in-
heritance by acts of noble generosity, and in affairs of reck-
less intrigue. Full of life and action, ten years of dungeon
confinement had in reducing fearfully his physical powers,
only rendered more febrile and excitable his keen and rest-
less intellect.

He burst upon the Paris world of February, from the
grave of his prison house, haggard, pale, — his eye restless, his
hair fallen away, his cheeks cavernous, his breath fetid, his
limbs emaciated, his mind unstrung by reverie and self-con-
templation, — yet still impatient, furious, ungovernable.

His health lay in his madness ; the crazier his plans, the
more regular his action; the wilder the impossibility, the
more superhuman were his efforts. His suffering and appear-
ance won upon popular sympathy. The people remembered
that a great estate, and the luxuries of wealth had been his :
— they remembered how youth, and youthful triumph had
been exchanged for the silence, and desolation of a dungeon ;
they listened with eagerness to that voice grown tremulous at

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Election Week. 143

forty, and his unnatural fervor enchained them. — He was
the most dangerous man of the time.

But other Clubs were not wanting either force or friends ; —
Clubs too, jealous of this Blanqui Club.

The party, which in the early days had been clamorous
before the Hotel de Ville for the red banner, was working in
secret. Neither Labor Commission, nor public shop, nor
universal suffrage had satisfied the more violent of Club-men.
They scowled in their St. Antoine wine-shops, and whispered
each other that twenty thousand heads must fall !

And he must have been a keen prophet, who could have
foretold in that time, whether they would, or would not.


Election Week.

THE strife that Clubs were breeding between Bourgeois,
and Blouse has, by the 16th of April, ripened into
premature demonstration. The Government was before the
Club-leaders ; the National Guard musketted kept pace with
array of incited working men. The cries — Death to Cabet,
Death to Blanqui ! ran fearfully over the armed Bourgeois

But the elections were coming. The Provisional Power,
rejoicing in its escape, had organized a sort of Fraternal Fete
to precede the election. The Guard were to pass in review

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144 The Battle Summer.

before the Executive Power, and banners were to be dis-

That day, — those who saw it, will not easily forget.
Every great thoroughfare of Paris was streaming with bayo-
nets ; two hundred thousand soldiers were marching with ban-
ners and music. The Champs Elys£es were thronged ; the
Great Arch of Triumph was waving with banners. High
tribunes on either side, were brilliant, with the most brilliant
of Paris beauties. At night, every house along the Boule-
vard glittered with blazing lampions, while the streaming
troops with lighted tapers on their muskets, made the whole
length of street seem a river of waving stars.

Cries rise like hoarse gusts of wind, and rustle mile by
mile, along through the shining houses — Long live the Repub-
lic ! and — long live the Army !

The walks throng with men, women and children, follow-
ing fast as they can the mass of shouting civic soldiers ;
every window and balcony has its burden of lookers-on, who
catch the cry, and echo it from roof to roof, and send it down
in huzza of triumph to approaching soldier-columns. The
city was drunk with the clamor, and the light ; — Paris was
reeling in unnatural glee.

The election followed. Nothing could be freer than the
new suffrage. Every French citizen of one and twenty,
whether white, red, or black, if only not subject to judicial
sentence, was voter. Young men of twenty-five years, could
be candidates for Representatives.

Paris walls grow white with placards ; — placards addressed

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Election Week. 145

to Republicans, to Socialists, to Moderates, to Lyonnaise, to
Capitalists, to Workmen, to Patriots, to People, and to

With such electioneering, the vote draws near. The Pro-
vinces are here and there disturbed by passing gusts of dis-
satisfaction, or revolt, but in the end all passes tranquilly.

On the evening of the 29th April, an eager, anxious, tu-
multuous crowd is gathered under the principal windows of
the Hotel de Ville. Men with flambeaux have mounted
upon the columns, and others appear at the little loop-holes of
the entresol. The light flared over blouses and bayonets, —
even as far as the river and the Pont Michel. The guard
who encircled the Square bore torches, and enclosed the
place with a line of fire.

Presently a member of the Provisional Power appears, and
announces, in such silence as such crowd can keep, the names
of the successful candidates for the Department of the Seine.
First, is the name of Lamartine, having 259,800 votes.
After him, comes Dupont (de l'Eure,) 245,983.

Then follow Arago, Garnier Pages, Marrast, Marie, Cre-
mieux, Beranger, Carnot, the General Cavaignac, book-sell-
ing Pagnerre, strange, philosophic Buchez, astute Cormenin,
Caussidiere, workman Albert, thetand. His thoughtful
forehead rests upon his finger. The blaze of life, long strong
in him, is growing faint.

Magnificent ideas have wrought themselves into words, in
that brain of his, that have gone forth wherever French
speech is known. Magnificent ideas are struggling there
still — a tempestuous struggle — to end in broken faith, wild
speculation, an irregular love of humanity, and an intense

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Fourth of May. 159

yearning of soul, and labor of such body as is left, toward the

It is the Abbe Lamennais, — a lank old wolf in lamb's skin.

Another noticeable man is near them, whose interest in the
events of the day appears intense. He is stout as a smith :
his arms and stature brawny ; his face round, full, and bronze-
colored. Heavy, curling hair lies tossed carelessly to one
.side of his head. An eye, wearing sinister expression, is
looking out fixedly from under a heavy brow. A thick mous-
tache conceals the expression on his lip, and adds a rueful
cast to his features.

In his hand he holds, half triumphantly, an enormous
steeple-crowned hat, the like of which you may see upon the
police agents of the Prefect. He wears red sash and Robes-
pierre waistcoat.

If this man, whose name is Caussidiere, were as strong of
mind as of body, and if his penetration were as quick as his
passions, Reactionists might tremble.

Nature has in him wonderfully assimilated soul to sense.
You would — knowing the Paris world — look for just such face,
form, and carriage in corner wine-shop of city, or at domino
table of Provincial Cafe. — He possesses those mental facul-
ties which would shine, and shine only, in corner wine-snop,
or at table of Provincial Cafe Blunt, gross, direct, not
without a rude, uncultured wit, he can laugh, joke, smoke,
declaim together. Boastful, ignorant, ambitious, not without a
native kindness, and an intense hate of tyranny, he watches the

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160 The Battle Summer.

grouping members with apprehension — looks patronizingly on
bewildered provincials, — feels that he is Prefect of Police.

Another, though he does not appear to-day in Assem-
bly, will soon have his place upon the Mountain ; and his por-
trait is so essential to the group, that we anticipate his coming.

With shaggy, disordered hair, half hiding his face,

and tumbling upon the collar of his dirty, dusty palletot,
Pierre Lerouz squints curiously across the chamber, with a
keen, gray eye.

Under his thin arm, he pinches his book — the work of his
soul, and that soul the strangest ; he lives in a world of ideas,
and those ideas the wildest.

He preaches association, and more intimate community of
mind ; yet judging from His dress and air, you would say that
he knew nothing of Association, and nothing of Community.
He teaches social reorganization in close-writ pages, and lives
forever in his pages. His Community is all in his philosophy ;
his Socialism all in his reveries ; his equality all in his dress ; his
Democracy all in his thoughts, and his speeches all in his books.

Once he was leagued with St. Simonians — a good St. Si-
monian he must have made ; after it, and now, he is leagued
with Geo. Sand, — a bear leashed with a leopard !

Yet he has force, penetration, great logical acumen. Not
a man of them all will review their projected constitution with
more causticity, and 'astuteness of remark ; not a man of
them all is less fit to graft upon it — what they most need —

The sympathies of all these, and of a vast many more,

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Fourth of May. 161

counting RoHin, and Flocon, and Albert, of the just expiring

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Online LibraryDonald Grant MitchellThe battle summer: being transcripts from personal observation in Paris, during the year 1848 → online text (page 8 of 16)