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HISTORY
OF
THE COMMUNE OF 1871




THE REFORMERS' BOOKSHELF.

_Large crown 8vo., cloth, 3s. 6d. each._

1. THE ENGLISH PEASANT: His Past and Present. By RICHARD
HEATH.

2. THE LABOUR MOVEMENT. By L. T. HOBHOUSE, M.A.
Preface by R. B. HALDANE, M.P.

3 & 4. SIXTY YEARS OF AN AGITATOR'S LIFE: George Jacob
Holyoake's Autobiography. 2 vols.

5 & 6. BAMFORD'S PASSAGES IN THE LIFE OF A RADICAL. Edited,
and with an Introduction by HENRY DUNCKLEY ("Verax"). 2 vols.

7. RICHARD COBDEN AND THE JUBILEE OF FREE TRADE. By P.
LEROY-BEAULIEU, HENRY DUNCKLEY ("Verax"), Dr. THEODOR BARTH,
the Right Hon. LEONARD COURTNEY, M.P., and the Right Hon.
CHARLES VILLIERS, M.P.

8 & 9. THE ECONOMIC INTERPRETATION OF HISTORY: Lectures on
Political Economy and its History, delivered at Oxford,
1887-1888. By Professor THOROLD ROGERS. Third edition. 2 vols.

10 & 11. THE INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
By Professor THOROLD ROGERS. 2 vols.

12. THE GLADSTONE COLONY. By JAMES FRANCIS HOGAN, M.P.

13 & 14. CHARLES BRADLAUGH: A Record of His Life and Work.
By His Daughter, HYPATIA BRADLAUGH BONNER. 2 vols.

15 & 16. THE INNER LIFE OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. Selected
from the Writings of WILLIAM WHITE, with a Prefatory Note by
his Son, and an Introduction by JUSTIN MCCARTHY, M.P.

17. POLITICAL CRIME. By LOUIS PROAL.

18 & 19. THE LIFE OF RICHARD COBDEN. By JOHN MORLEY. 2 vols.

LONDON: T. FISHER UNWIN.




HISTORY
of
THE COMMUNE OF 1871




FROM THE FRENCH OF
LISSAGARAY




[Illustration]




LONDON
T. FISHER UNWIN
1902




CONTENTS.


PROLOGUE.
PAGE
HOW THE PRUSSIANS GOT PARIS AND THE RURALS FRANCE 1


CHAPTER I.

FIRST ATTACKS OF THE COALITION AGAINST PARIS - THE BATTALIONS
OF THE NATIONAL GUARD FEDERALISE AND SEIZE THEIR CANNON - THE
PRUSSIANS ENTER PARIS 58


CHAPTER II.

THE COALITION OPENS FIRE ON PARIS - THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE
CONSTITUTES ITSELF - M. THIERS ORDERS THE ASSAULT 69


CHAPTER III.

THE EIGHTEENTH OF MARCH 78


CHAPTER IV.

THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE CONVOKES THE ELECTORS - THE MAYORS OF
PARIS AND DEPUTIES OF THE SEINE TURN AGAINST IT 88


CHAPTER V.

THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE AFFIRMS ITSELF, REORGANISES THE PUBLIC
SERVICES, AND HOLDS PARIS 101


CHAPTER VI.

THE MAYORS, THE DEPUTIES, THE JOURNALISTS, THE ASSEMBLY
COMBINE AGAINST PARIS - THE REACTION MARCHES ON THE PLACE
VENDÔME, AND IS PUNISHED 108


CHAPTER VII.

THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE TRIUMPHS OVER ALL OBSTACLES AND
CONSTRAINS THE MAYORS TO CAPITULATE 116


CHAPTER VIII.

PROCLAMATION OF THE COMMUNE 126


CHAPTER IX.

THE COMMUNE AT LYONS, ST. ETIENNE, AND CREUZOT 131


CHAPTER X.

THE COMMUNE AT MARSEILLES, TOULOUSE, AND NARBONNE 142


CHAPTER XI.

THE COUNCIL OF THE COMMUNE WAVERS FROM ITS FIRST SITTINGS
- THE MAYORS AND ADJUNCTS ELECTED DESERT EN MASSE 153


CHAPTER XII.

SORTIE OF THE THIRD APRIL - THE PARISIANS ARE REPULSED
EVERYWHERE - FLOURENS AND DUVAL ARE KILLED - THE VERSAILLESE
MASSACRE SOME PRISONERS 162


CHAPTER XIII.

THE COMMUNE IS VANQUISHED AT MARSEILLES AND NARBONNE 171


CHAPTER XIV.

THE GREAT RESOURCES OF THE COMMUNE - THE GREAT WEAKNESS OF
THE COUNCIL - NOMINATION OF CLUSERET - DECREE CONCERNING THE
HOSTAGES - THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE - THE BANK 182


CHAPTER XV.

THE FIRST COMBATS OF NEUILLY AND ANSNIÈRES - ORGANISATION AND
DEFEAT OF THE CONCILIATORS 190


CHAPTER XVI.

THE MANIFESTO OF THE COUNCIL - THE COMPLIMENTARY ELECTIONS OF
THE 16th APRIL SHOW A MINORITY WITHIN THE COUNCIL - FIRST
DISPUTES - THE GERMS OF DEFEAT 199


CHAPTER XVII.

OUR PARISIENNES - SUSPENSION OF ARMS FOR THE EVACUATION OF
NEUILLY - THE ARMY OF VERSAILLES AND THAT OF PARIS 207


CHAPTER XVIII.

THE PUBLIC SERVICES - FINANCE - WAR - POLICE - EXTERIOR - JUSTICE
- EDUCATION - LABOR AND EXCHANGE 217


CHAPTER XIX.

THE FREEMASONS JOIN THE COMMUNE - THE FIRST EVACUATION OF THE
PART OF ISSY - CREATION OF THE COMMITTEE OF PUBLIC SAFETY 236


CHAPTER XX.

ROSSEL REPLACES CLUSERET - THE RIVALRIES - THE DEFENCE OF THE
FORT OF ISSY 246


CHAPTER XXI.

PARIS IS BOMBARDED - THE FORT OF ISSY SUCCUMBS - THE COUNCIL
ELECTS A NEW COMMITTEE OF PUBLIC SAFETY - ROSSEL FLIES 254


CHAPTER XXII.

THE CONSPIRACIES AGAINST THE COMMUNE 265


CHAPTER XXIII.

M. THIERS' POLICY WITH REGARD TO THE PROVINCES - THE EXTREME
LEFT BETRAYS PARIS 271


CHAPTER XXIV.

THE IMPOTENCE OF THE SECOND COMMITTEE OF PUBLIC SAFETY -
EVACUATION OF THE FORT OF VANVES AND OF THE VILLAGE OF ISSY
- THE MANIFESTO OF THE MINORITY - THE EXPLOSION IN THE AVENUE
RAPP - FALL OF THE VENDÔME COLUMN 288


CHAPTER XXV.

PARIS ON THE EVE OF DEATH 293


CHAPTER XXVI.

THE VERSAILLESE ENTER PARIS ON SUNDAY, 21ST MAY, AT THREE
O'CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON - THE COUNCIL OF THE COMMUNE
DISSOLVES 304


CHAPTER XXVII.

MONDAY 22ND - THE VERSAILLESE INVADE THE QUARTERS OF THE
EAST - PARIS RISES 313


CHAPTER XXVIII.

TUESDAY 23RD - MONTMARTRE IS TAKEN - THE WHOLESALE MASSACRES
- WE LOSE GROUND - PARIS ON FIRE - THE LAST NIGHT OF THE
HÔTEL-DE-VILLE 326


CHAPTER XXIX.

WEDNESDAY 24TH - THE MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL EVACUATE THE
HÔTEL-DE-VILLE - THE PANTHÉON IS TAKEN - THE VERSAILLESE SHOOT
THE FEDERALS BY HUNDREDS - THE FEDERALS SHOOT SIX HOSTAGES -
THE NIGHT OF THE CANNON 339


CHAPTER XXX.

THURSDAY 25TH - THE WHOLE LEFT BANK FALLS INTO THE HANDS OF
THE TROOPS - DELESCLUZE DIES - THE BRASSARDIERS STIMULATE THE
MASSACRE - THE MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL EVACUATE THE MAIRIE OF
THE ELEVENTH ARRONDISSEMENT 353


CHAPTER XXXI.

THE RESISTANCE CENTRES IN BELLEVILLE - FRIDAY, FORTY-EIGHT
HOSTAGES ARE SHOT IN THE RUE HAXO - SATURDAY 27TH, THE WHOLE
TWENTIETH ARRONDISSEMENT IS INVADED - THE PÈRE LACHAISE IS
TAKEN - SUNDAY 28TH, THE BATTLE ENDS AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK IN THE
MORNING - MONDAY 29TH, THE FORT OF VINCENNES IS SURRENDERED 365


CHAPTER XXXII.

THE VERSAILLESE FURY - THE SLAUGHTER-HOUSES - THE PREVOTAL
COURTS - THE DEATH OF VARLIN - THE BURIALS 382


CHAPTER XXXIII.

THE CONVOYS OF PRISONERS - THE ORANGERIE - THE ARRESTS - SATORY
- THE DENUNCIATORS - THE PRESS - THE LEFT INSULTS THE
VANQUISHED - DEMONSTRATIONS IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES 395


CHAPTER XXXIV.

THE PONTOONS - THE FORTS - THE PRISONS - THE FIRST TRIALS 408


CHAPTER XXXV.

THE COURTS-MARTIAL - THE EXECUTIONS - BALANCE-SHEET OF THE
CONDEMNATIONS 424


CHAPTER XXXVI.

NEW CALEDONIA - EXILE - BALANCE-SHEET OF BOURGEOIS VENGEANCE
- THE LIBERAL CHAMBER AND THE AMNESTY 445


APPENDIX 467




HISTORY OF THE COMMUNE.

PROLOGUE.

"Osons, ce mot renferme toute la politique de cette
heure." - _Rapport de St. Just à la Convention._

HOW THE PRUSSIANS GOT PARIS AND THE RURALS FRANCE.


_August 9, 1870._ - In six days the Empire has lost three battles. Douai,
Frossart, MacMahon have allowed themselves to be isolated, surprised,
crashed. Alsace is lost, the Moselle laid bare. The dumbfoundered
Ministry has convoked the Chamber. Ollivier, in dread of a
demonstration, denounces if beforehand as "Prussian." But since eleven
in the morning an immense agitated crowd occupies the Place de la
Concorde, the quays, and surrounds the Corps Législatif.

Paris is waiting for the _mot d'ordre_ of the deputies of the Left.
Since the announcement of the defeats they have become the only moral
authority. Bourgeoisie, workingmen, all rally round them. The workshops
have turned their army into the streets, and at the head of the
different groups one sees men of tried energy.

The Empire totters - it has now only to fall. The troops drawn up before
the Corps Législatif are greatly excited, ready to turn tail in spite of
the decorated and grumbling Marshal Baraguay d'Hilliers. The people cry,
"To the frontier." Officers answer aloud, "Our place is not here."

In the Salle des Pas Perdus well-known Republicans, the men of the
clubs, who have forced their way in, roughly apostrophise the
Imperialist deputies, speak loudly of proclaiming the Republic. The
pale-faced Mamelukes steal behind the groups. M. Thiers arrives and
exclaims, "Well, then, make your republic!" When the President,
Schneider, passes to the chair, he is received with cries of
"Abdication!"

The deputies of the Left are surrounded by delegates from without. "What
are you waiting for? We are ready. Only show yourselves under the
colonnades at the gates." The honourables seem confounded, stupefied.
"Are you numerous enough? Were it not better to put it off till
to-morrow?" There are indeed only 100,000 men ready. Some one arrives
and tells Gambetta, "There are several thousands of us at the Place
Bourbon." Another, the writer of this history, says, "Make sure of the
situation to-day, when it may still be saved. To-morrow, having become
desperate, it will be forced upon you." But these brains seem paralysed;
no word escapes these gaping mouths.

The sitting opens. Jules Favre proposes to this base Chamber, the
abettor of our disasters, the humus of the Empire, to seize upon the
government. The Mamelukes rise up in dudgeon, and Jules Simon, hair on
end, returns to us in the Salle des Pas Perdus. "They threaten to shoot
us," he shrieks; "I descended into the midst of the hall and said,
'Well, shoot us.'" We exclaim, "Put an end to this." "Yes," says he, "we
must make an end of it," - and he returns to the Chamber.

And thus ended their "damnable faces." The Mamelukes, who know their
Left, recover their self-assurance, throw Ollivier overboard and form a
_coup-d'état_ Ministry. Schneider precipitately breaks up the sitting in
order to get rid of the crowd. The people, feebly repulsed by the
soldiers, repair in masses to the bridges, follow those who leave the
Chamber, expecting every moment to hear the Republic proclaimed. M.
Jules Simon, out of reach of the bayonets, makes a heroic discourse, and
convokes the people to meet the next day at the Place de la Concorde.
The next day the police occupy all the approaches.

Thus the Left abandoned to Napoleon III. our two last armies. One effort
would have sufficed to overthrow this pasteboard Empire.[1] The people
instinctively offered their help to render the nation unto herself. The
Left repulsed them, refused to save the country by a riot, and,
confining their efforts to a ridiculous motion, left to the Mamelukes
the care of saving France. The Turks in 1876 showed more intelligence
and elasticity.

During three weeks it was the story of the Bas-Empire all over
again, - the fettered nation sinking into the abyss in the face of its
motionless governing classes. All Europe cried, "Beware!" They alone
heard not. The masses, deceived by a braggart and corrupt press, might
ignore the danger, lull themselves with vain hopes; but the deputies
have, must have, their hands full of crushing truths. They conceal them.
The Left exhausts itself in exclamations. On the 12th M. Gambetta cries,
"We must wage Republican war" - and sits down again. On the 13th Jules
Favre demands the creation of a Committee of Defence. It is refused. He
utters no syllable. On the 20th the Ministry announces that Bazaine has
forced three army corps into the quarries of Jaumont; the next day the
whole European press related, on the contrary, that Bazaine, three times
beaten, had been thrown back upon Metz by 200,000 Germans. And no deputy
rises to interpellate the liars! Since the 26th they have known
MacMahon's insane march upon Metz, exposing the last army of France, a
mob of 80,000 conscripts, and vanquished, to 200,000 victorious Germans.
M. Thiers, again restored to favour since the disasters, demonstrates in
the committees and in the lobbies that this march is the way to utter
ruin. The extreme Left says and bruits about that all is lost and of all
these responsible persons seeing the state ship tempest-tossed, not one
raises his hand to seize the helm.

Since 1813 France had seen no such collapse of the governing classes.
The ineffable dastardliness of the Cent-jours pales before this superior
cowardice; for here Tartuffe is grafted upon Trimalcion. Thirteen months
later, at Versailles, I hear, amidst enthusiastic applause, the Empire
apostrophised, "Varus, give us back our legions." Who speaks, who
applauds thus? The same great bourgeoisie, which, for eighteen years
mute and bowed to the dust, offered their legions to Varus. The
bourgeoisie accepted the Second Empire from fear of Socialism, even as
their fathers had submitted to the first to make an end of the
Revolution. Napoleon I. rendered the bourgeoisie two services not
overpaid by his apotheosis. He gave them an iron centralisation and sent
to their graves 15,000 wretches still kindled by the flame of the
Revolution, who at any moment might have claimed the public lands
granted to them. But he left the same bourgeoisie saddled for all
masters. When they possessed themselves of the parliamentary government,
to which Mirabeau wished to raise them at one bound, they were incapable
of governing. Their mutiny of 1830, turned into a revolution by the
people, made the belly master. The great bourgeois of 1830, like him of
1790, had but one thought - to gorge himself with privileges, to arm the
bulwarks in defence of his domains, to perpetuate the proletariat. The
fortune of his country is nothing to him, so that he fatten. To lead, to
compromise France, the parliamentary king has as free license as
Bonaparte. When by a new outburst of the people the bourgeoisie are
compelled to seize the helm after three years, spite of massacre and
proscription, it slips out of their palsied hands into those of the
first comer.

From 1851 to 1869 they relapse into the same state as after the 18th
Brumaire. Their privileges safe, they allow Napoleon III. to plunder
France, make her the vassal of Rome, dishonour her in Mexico, ruin her
finances, vulgarise debauchery. All-powerful by their retainers and
their wealth, they do not risk a man, a dollar, for the sake of
protesting. In 1869 the pressure from without raises them to the verge
of power; a little strength of will and the government is theirs. They
have but the velleity of the eunuch. At the first sign of the impotent
master they kiss the rod that smote them on the 2nd December, making
room for the plebiscite which rebaptizes the Empire.

Bismarck prepared the war, Napoleon III. wanted it, the great
bourgeoisie looked on. They might have stopped it by an earnest gesture.
M. Thiers contented himself with a grimace. He saw in this war our
certain ruin; he knew our terrible inferiority in everything; he could
have united the Left, the _tiers-parti_, the journalists, have made
palpable to them the folly of the attack, and, supported by this
strength of opinion, have said to the Tuileries, to Paris if needs be,
"War is impossible; we shall combat it as treason." He, anxious only to
clear himself, simply demanded the despatches instead of speaking the
true word, "You have no chance of success."[2] And these great
bourgeois, who would not have risked the least part of their fortunes
without the most serious guarantees, staked 100,000 lives and the
milliards of France on the word of a Leboeuf and the equivocations of
a Grammont.[3]

And what then is the small middle-class doing meanwhile? This lean
class, which penetrates everything - industry, commerce, the
administration - mighty by encompassing the people, so vigorous, so ready
in the first days of our Hegira, will it not, as in 1792, rise for the
common weal? Alas! it has been spoilt under the hot corruption of the
Empire. For many years it has lived at random, isolating itself from the
proletariat, whence it issued but yesterday, and whither the great
barons of Capital will hurl it back again to-morrow. No more of that
fraternity with the people, of that zeal for reform, which manifested
themselves from 1830 to 1848. With its bold initiative, its
revolutionary instinct, it loses also the consciousness of its force.
Instead of representing itself, as it might so well do, it goes about in
quest of representatives among the Liberals.

The friend of the people who will write the history of Liberalism in
France will save us many a convulsion. Sincere Liberalism would be folly
in a country where the governing classes, refusing to concede anything,
constrain every honest man to become a revolutionist. But it was never
anything else than the Jesuitism of liberty, a trick of the bourgeoisie
to isolate the workmen. From Bailly to Jules Favre, the moderantists
have masked the manoeuvres of despotism, buried our revolutions,
conducted the great massacres of proletarians. The old clear-sighted
Parisian sections hated them more than the down right reactionists.
Twice Imperial despotism rehabilitated them, and the small middle-class,
soon forgetting their true part, accepted as defenders those who
pretended to be vanquished like themselves. The men who had made
abortive the movement of 1848 and paved the way for the 2nd December
thus became during the darkness which followed it the acclaimed
vindicators of ravished liberty. At the first dawn they appeared what
they had ever been - - the enemies of the working-class. Under the
Empire the Left never condescended to concern itself with the interests
of the workmen. These Liberals never found for them a word, a
protestation, even such as the Chambers of 1830-1848 sometimes
witnessed. The young lawyers whom they had affiliated to themselves soon
revealed their designs, rallying to the Liberal Empire, some openly,
like Ollivier and Darimon, others with prudence, like Picard. For the
timid or ambitious they founded the "open Left," a bench of candidates
for public office; and in 1870 a number of Liberals indeed solicited
official functions. For the "intransigeants" there was the "closed
Left," where the irreconcilable dragons Gambetta, Crémieux, Arago,
Pelletan guarded the pure principles. The chiefs towered in the centre.
These two groups of augurs thus held every fraction of bourgeois
opposition - the timorous and the intrepid. After the plebiscite they
became the holy synod, the uncontested chiefs of the small middle-class,
more and more incapable of governing itself, and alarmed at the
Socialist movement, behind which they showed it the hand of the Emperor.
It gave them full powers, shut its eyes, and allowed itself to drift
gradually towards the parliamentary Empire, big with portfolios for its
patrons. The thunderbolt of the defeats galvanised it into life, but
only for a moment. At the bidding of the deputies to keep quiet, the
small middle-class, the mother of the 10th August, docilely bent its
head and let the foreigner plunge his sword into the very bosom of
France.

Poor France! Who will save thee? The humble, the poor, those who for six
years contended for thee with the Empire.

While the upper classes sell the nation for a few hours of rest, and the
Liberals seek to feather their nests under the Empire, a handful of men,
without arms, unprotected, rise up against the still all-powerful
despot. On the one hand, young men who form the bourgeoisie have gone
over to the people, faithful children of 1789, resolved to continue the
work of the Revolution; on the other hand, working-men unite for the
study and the conquest of the rights of labor. In vain the Empire
attempts to split their forces, to seduce the working-men. These see the
snare, hiss the professors of Cæsarian socialism, and from 1863, without
journals, without a tribune, affirm themselves as a class, to the great
scandal of the Liberal sycophants, maintaining that 1789 has equalized
all classes. In 1867 they descend into the streets, make a manifestation
at the tomb of Manin, and, despite the bludgeons of the sbirri, protest
against Mentana. At this appearance of a revolutionary socialist party
the Left gnashes its teeth. When some working-men, ignorant of their own
history, ask Jules Favre if the Liberal bourgeoisie will support them on
the day of their rising for the Republic, the leader of the Left
impudently answers, "Gentlemen workmen, you have made the Empire; it is
your business to unmake it." And Picard says, "Socialism does not exist,
or at any rate we will not treat with it."

Thus set right for the future, the working-men continue the struggle
single-handed. Since the re-opening of the public meetings they fill the
halls, and, in spite of persecution and imprisonment, harass, undermine
the Empire, taking advantage of every accident to inflict a blow. On the
26th October 1869 they threaten to march on the Corps Législatif; in
November they insult the Tuileries by the election of Rochefort; in
December they goad the Government by the _Marseillaise_; in January,
1870, they go 200,000 strong to the funeral of Victor Noir, and, well
directed, would have swept away the throne.

The Left, terrified at this multitude, which threatens to overwhelm
them, brands their leaders as desperadoes or as police agents. They,
however, keep to the fore, unmasking the Left, defying them to
discussion, keeping up at the same time a running fire on the Empire.
They form the vanguard against the plebiscite. At the war rumors they
are the first to make a stand. The old dregs of Chauvinism, stirred by
the Bonapartists, discharge their muddy waters. The Liberals remain
impassible or applaud; the workingmen stop the way. On the 15th July, at
the very same hour when Ollivier from the tribune invokes war with a
light heart, the revolutionary socialists crowd the boulevards crying,
"Vive la paix!" and singing the pacific refrain -

"Les peuples sont pour nous des frères
Et les tyrans des ennemis."

From the Château d'Eau to the Boulevard St. Denis they are applauded,
but are hissed in the Boulevards Bonne Nouvelle and Montmartre, and come
to blows with certain bands shouting for war.

The next day they meet again at the Bastille, and parade the streets,
Ranvier, a painter on porcelain, well known in Belleville, marching at
their head with a banner. In the Faubourg Montmartre the
sergents-de-ville charge them with drawn swords.

Unable to influence the bourgeoisie, they turn to the working-men of
Germany, as they had done in 1869: - "Brothers, we protest against the
war, we who wish for peace, labour, and liberty. Brothers, do not listen
to the hirelings who seek to deceive you as to the real wishes of
France." Their noble appeal received its reward. In 1869 the students of
Berlin had answered the pacific address of the French students with
insults. The working-men of Berlin in 1870 spoke thus to the working-men
of France: "We too wish for peace, labour, and liberty. We know that on
both sides of the Rhine there are brothers with whom we are ready to die
for the Universal Republic." Great prophetic words! Let them be
inscribed on the first page of the Golden Book just opened by the



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