Imágenes de páginas


tant bell was heard ; the fisherman listened attentively--then, turning towards

“Pray excuse me, sir,” said he; this is the hour at which, every day, I go to pray on the tomb of my child."

The old man went out, and knelt down before a small wooden cross, and I left the cottage with a heavy heart.

Two years later, as I passed again through Boulogne, my first visit was to the cottage of Wimille, but, alas ! I only found a few scattered stones and two wooden crosses, one by the side of the other.


BY PERCY B. ST. JOHN.* THERE never was a great national movement which met with a more hearty and universal response than the late revolutionary act of our neighbours across the Channel. In all quarters of Europe popular sympathy has gone along with those men whose energy and patriotism has overthrown the despotic principle which has for many years crushed the spirit of independence in France. Indeed, we have heard but few voices raised against the dethronement of Louis Philippe, whose actions no one has ventured to defend. The crowned heads of the Continent have looked on with trembling, not daring to interfere. A lesson has been read to them which they will not easily forget ; they have seen how far a people's honour may be trified with, how

long a king may venture to turn a deaf ear to the solicitations of his subjects for reform, and to what extent the forbearance of a nation, trampled on and insulted, will suffer constitutional rights to be violated.

The little volume which has suggested these observations promises to be among the most popular of all the works on the late insurrection. Mr. Percy St. John is well known as possessing a vigorous and easy style, readily adapting itself to the various forms of diction, and eminently fitted to chronicle the events which have, within a comparatively few days, convulsed the French metropolis, and drenched its streets in blood. In flowing and pleasing language he presents us with a complete history of the revolution, preceded by a short review of the course of events which hurried the royalty of France to utter, and we venture to hope, irretrievable ruin. We have no tedious reflection, no lengthy dissertation on the policy or impolicy of the movement. Mr. Percy St. John suffers events to speak for themselves. His history is written rapidly and vigorously. Every incident of the late insurrection, which has enveloped the capital of France in a blaze of glory, is brought out into bold and striking relief before the mind's eye. Every event is narrated, from the first muttering of the storm to the moment of its bursting and overwhelming the monarchy of France in one tremendous ruin. We regret that space will not allow us to touch at length on the various scenes depicted in the present work. We could dwell, were it possible, as long as our readers' patience would hold out, on the gradual gathering of crowds on Sunday, the 28th,on the systematicand deliberate arming of the people, ofthe spread and inflammation of popular indignation, on the first petty conflicts between the people and the Municipal Guards, on the inhuman conduct of that body, on the increase of the ferment, the alarm of the ministry, the first growth and dissemination of rumours, the increase of the armed force in the streets, the erecting of the first barricade, composed of an omnibus and two cabs, and the first serious collision of the troops and the people of Paris. Through all these scenes we are hurried with rapidity, without the absence of minuteness.

Mr. Percy St. John is enthusiastic, and imparts a large share of enthusiasm to the language of the present narrative. He seems to have entered like a Frenchman into the popular feeling which rendered necessary the display of so vast a military force as encamped in the streets of Paris on the nights of the 22nd and 23rd. He accompanied the insurrectionists everywhere, witnessed the sudden and simultaneous erection of the barricades, the first desperate conflicts between the people and the Municipal Guards, the gentle charges of the dragoons, and the rise and spread of popular indignation. By turns we accompany him into every street where the principal scenes of the great revolutionary drama were enacted-leads us to the summit of the rude but formidable defences, bearing the red flag of the people, and then takes us to the window of his own dwelling, before which some of the most remarkable incidents ever recorded were witnessed.

* Bentley


We share in the excitement of, and sympathise fully with the movement in the French metropolis by the time our author has reached that portion of his narrative wherein is described the few hours after the first beating of the rappel in the streets of Paris. From that moment it might have been fully foreseen what turn events would take. In less than twenty-four hours after the tocsin bells swung in every tower and steeple, and sent forth their deep notes to swell and echo over all the city.

The first tremendous charge of cuirassiers, in which so many of the people of France fell, is considered by Mr. Percy St. John as the event which sealed the fate of the tottering monarchy. Seventeen dead bodies, pale and ghastly with wounds, were borne on a truck away from the fatal spot. All around, as the melancholy procession, guarded by pikemen, moved along the streets, thousands of men, women, and children thronged, lighted by the glare of torches, and

all uttering, as with one voice, a cry of vengeance on the hated monarchy of July. The news spread with inconceivable swiftness over the whole city, and even reached distant towns. Monster trains in a short time poured forth streams to swell the deluge of population which now surged in the streets of Paris, and from which an unchanging and incessant murmur rose, that of a demand for vengeance on the assassins of the innocent and brave men who had fallen in the late murderous attack of the Municipal troops.

Speedy and terrible retaliations would indeed have fallen on the devoted Municipals, but for the humanity and courage of M. Arragot, whose conduct on this occasion cannot be too highly complimented. Fifty of these men, who had rendered themselves so obnoxious to the citizens of Paris, took refuge in a house in the Rue Bourg St. Abbé. The building was surrounded by thousands of armed people, and the destruction of its inmates deemed inevitable. A tremendous cry for vengeance now arose. M. Arragot came forward and appealed to the generosity and chivalry of the Frenchmen, in behalf of the besieged soldiers. His words were heard, and a stipulation was entered into, in which the vanquished Municipals were imperiously ordered to retire without arms, and with uncovered heads. After some hesitation the troop defiled out of the house in a single line. At the sight of them all promises of pardon were forgotten for the instant-a stupendous shout rose from the multitude, as with one voice they demanded that the murderers of the people should die. M. Arragot remained cool and firm. After much difficulty the soldiers were saved, when their deliverer exacted from them a solemn promise that they would not again take up arms against the people. “ And," as Mr. Percy St. John remarks, “it is consoling to believe that not one of the muskets turned against M. Arragot at the storming of the Palais Royal, was in the hands of any of those soldiers whose lives he had preserved the evening before at the risk of his own.”

Space will only permit us to present our readers with one extract. The vigour and energy with which this is written, howe er, is a fạir specimen of the whole work.

“ The soldiers withdrew within the doors of the Palais Royal, and stationed themselves at the windows and on the terrace. A general move took place to the different corners of the square-a few lads made a rush at the Palais Royal gate, still closed. The garrison of the Chateau d'Eau at once levelled their guns, and fired a murderous volley on armed and unarmed. I saw one fall within two yards of me, while those who had muskets replied to their fire; I and many others who were unarmed, retreated to the corner of the Rue du Muséeanywhere, in fact, where a little shelter could be found.

“ The scene from this forward was of the most terrible description, as soon as I could look around me, I saw that the whole Place was empty, while at the corners, behind, before the barricades, kneeling down, standing up, at windows, on the house tops, were the people. Volley after volley was discharged. The garrison fired several times with the utmost military precision. The people answered. Every now and then a small party having loaded, would rush out in the middle of the Place, and fire at the windows of the post, never failing to leave dead and wounded in the square. Those who think there was not much bloodshed, should have witnessed this scene.

“ Fresh crowds arrived every minute. I could see the combatants rushing down the Rue de Valois, reinforcing the people, or filling the place left vacant by the dead. At the end of a quarter of an hour, we heard firing in the direction of the Tuileries ; then was a pause, then the discharges became more rapid. The drums beat a charge-on both sides the firing was terrible.

" At the corner of the Rue de Musée we were about twenty. Already one dead body lay at our feet ; it was carried into a baker's shop, and deposited on chairs. Another and another fell, and in half an hour the boulangene became an ambulance. In half an hour, four were lying dangerously wounded, beside the dead man; while three others were shot through the arm. Never again do I wish to see so murderous a fight. Not an instant did the firing cease--each moment the people, more furious as they saw so many victims fall, redoubled in boldness, Etienne Arragot advanced into the middle of the Place, and fired at the post'; he then moved down to encourage those at the corner where I was, and then returned to the Rue de Valois to join Hocar, who commanded that position. An episode which I have but scarce noticed, is thus vividly described :- :- A child, one of those admirable enfans de Paris, of which this capital alone supplies a type, and which the people have baptised by the name of titis, flew about the Place, animating the people, and provoking the soldiers. Etienne saw him alternately to his right, to his left, and despite the gravity of his present position, he admired, from the bottom of his heart, the careless courage, the bold heart of the heroic child, whose shoulder had been cut by a bayonet or a ball—whose shirt was all bloody, and who in the van, in the most perilous post, armed only with a sabre, and in a shower of balls, came to have new wounds, or an almost certain death ; and all this because he had a heart—because the smell of powder was as a loadstone-because in fine, he was an enfant de Paris.'

“ Another anecdote is worthy of being recorded. At the commencement of the attack, and shortly after the interview of Lamoriciere with Arragot, the company of grenadiers of the second legicn of the National Guard, commanded by Captain Barnere, endeavoured to take possession of the post amicably, with Lamoriciere at their head. The company was without ammunition, while on both sides a heavy fire was kept up. The captain hesitated to advance, when a young enfant de Paris, aged twelve or thirteen, presented himself, and said

I will stay the fire of the insurgents, or be killed.' He immediately rushed into the Place, and called on the insurgents to cease firing. At the end of a moment they acquiesced, and the lad came back, saying, 'I have kept my promise,' and at the same time he showed his shoulder shattered by a musket ball. The effort was, however, vain.

“ Meanwhile, by the Café de la Régence, a dense crowd, utterly heedless of the proximity of the balls, which seldom wounded save mortally, poured an unceasing fire, so loud, continued, and so frequent, as to be absolutely stunning. " To add to the confusion, a number of royal carriages, taken

from the stables of the Tuileries, were dragged out on the Place, and, by aid of mattrasses, thrown out to the people from the windows, were fired. The example was

most contagious. The group amongst whom I was, knocked at once at the door of a small house which was occupied in the building of the post by a watercarrier; he came out with his wife and daughter, trembling and terrified. The people assisted them into the baker's shop, and then, having brought out his principal valuables, piled faggots from the baker's upon the straw mattrasses and fired it all.

“Up rose a hot flame, and a loud cry from the people for the soldiers to surrender, for that resistance was now madness. The garrison replied by a still more tremendous discharge, which added to the exasperation of the multitude, who, from behind the blazing carriages, from barricade and window, from the Palais Royal, now captured, poured volley for volley. Here might be seen a boy of twelve with a musket too heavy for him to carry, marching down and firing from a cart; here, peer, peasant, deputy, National Guard, journeyman and master, English, French, Poles, hustled together, all with one object--that of insuring a popular victory.

“ Among the most daring of the combatants was a young man respectably dressed, who, with a musket, advanced continually to the middle of the Place, and endeavoured to lead a charge against the post at the point of the bayonet. Presently during one of these attempts, he fell, shot through the breast ; I and others assisted in removing him, senseless, into the baker's shop, where he was lain down by the side of his other companions in misfortune. On washing his wound, it was found that he had been shot through and through the right breast.

“ He soon came to himself, and the first words he uttered were in English.

6. Mr. St. John, I believe,' he said, with a clearness and distinctness which to me seemed a good sign.

“Yes,' I replied, perhaps more astonished than I ever was before during my whole life ; but how do you know me ?'

“I am a printer; I worked for Mr. in London, where you often called to correct proofs of your writings.'

“ I had now some slight recollection of his face, and asked him how he came to be concerned in the revolution. He told me that he had turned out with others during the night, and had fought hitherto without hurt, and hoped that he was not very badly wounded. I begged him to be of good cheer, and then went out again amongst the combatants.*

“ The scene was tremendous, the carriages had made a vast burning barricade, from behind which hundreds of men poured their volleys on the post, which, though the soldiers must now have been half choked with smoke, replied with even more fury than ever. The Place was obscured by dense clouds of vapour; where I stood, within four feet of the post, the heat was awful, I could scarcely stand—the air was hot like the blast of a furnace, while a smell of gunpowder filled the nostrils.

“ From the carriages rose up numerous volumes of flame, ardent and red, like the blood which ran upon the pavement beneath, while several beaps of straw and wood were burning against the post itself, which had caught fire in two places. In the dim light which prevailed, the day being closed, the smoke of fire and gunpowder, the ten thousand heads of the people might be seen crowding the place in blouses, uniforms, coats, armed and unarmed, while swords, bayonets, and guns flashed in the lurid glare; the ears were deafened by the tremendous discharges from both sides ; from the Valois barricade—from the Rohen barricade from the Rue de Chartres—from where I stood—from the windows—from the Place—from the Palace Royal—from the Corps de Garde, where still the already turning soldiers kept up a discharge, all were firing

* I never saw him again, his wound was mortal ; I made continual inquiries for him, and only found out when too late to see him, that he had been removed to the Hospital of Charity, where he died on Saturday, 26th. His name was Good, and he was buried with the other victims.


“Who games is felon of his wealth,

His time, his liberty, his health ;
Virtue forsakes his sordid mind,
And Honour scorns to stay behind.”—Cotton.

EARLY in the autumn of 183-, I found myself domiciled in an old château in the romantic town of D, in the Cote du nord. My apartments looked into what is now a wilderness of fruit and flowers, but what must have been, in the days of its ancient lords, a beautiful hanging garden, and across that into the lovely valley of the Rance, long celebrated in the poetic and romantic annals of Bretagne.

It was a study for a painter; whether the mist of morning enveloped the valley like a sea, and, slowly dispersing, gradually unveiled its deep glens and wooded heights, its green knolls and sparkling waters, with the fortification and embattled walls of the town, church spires and ivied gateways, and towers standing on the overhanging cliffs, all half hidden by the wreaths of vapour which hung round them, or the eye wandered over the fair scene, in the splendour of an autumnal day, with that clear, cloudless sky which we so seldom see in England.

The season for the gay balls at the fountain was over. No longer coloured lamps, hanging from the thick branches of the trees, mingled their lights with the pale beams of the moon, while groups of all ranks glided through the mazy dance, and the echoes of the valley resounded with the voice of mirth. It was all silent now, and the evening song of the birds was alone heard, as we sometimes made our way through a precipitous path which, winding down the side of the mountain, amidst thickets of odoriferous shrubs, conducts into that part of the valley in which is situated the fountain des eaux minérales. At other times we took more extensive rambles in the surrounding country, and visited several of the romantic ruins that lay scattered around.

The château we inhabited was an extensive pile of buildings, once the point of re-union to the many noble families who formerly resided in that part of Bretagne, but several of whom had lost their name and place in society during the civil wars which had so long devastated France, and still more recently, in the revolutionary struggles, while others, returning with diminished fortunes to the abodes of their ancestors, contented themselves with living in privacy and retirement.

This château had long passed away from its ancient possessors, and on the parquetted floor of the salle à manger were still to be seen the impressions made by the horses' hoofs in the time of the revolution, when it was occupied as a barrack by a party of républican cavalry. Many a tale its old walls could have told of the deeds of chivalry of Bertrand du Gueselin and Olivier de Clisson, of De Laval, De Rohan, De Beaumanoir, and De Dinan; of fair princesses and noble dames, with legends of those days when the Dukes of Bretagne, and still later the good Duchess Anne, kept their court in the lofty donjon of the town and darker histories of bloodshed, captivity, and death. But those days were long gone by, and strangers now dwelt peacefully within its walls, sometimes examining with curiosity the sombre passages and secret chambers, where fancy might paint some unhappy proscribed noble, secreted for years or gaily assembled round the piles of wood which blazed on the antique hearth, talking over the occurrences of more peaceful times.

A melancholy circumstance which had occurred a short time before my arrival was then the topic of conversation among both the French and English

« AnteriorContinuar »