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Title: Diary of the Besieged Resident in Paris
Author: Labouchere, Henry, 1831-1912
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Diary of the Besieged Resident in Paris" ***

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Second Edition, Revised.


_The Right of Translation is Reserved_.


|Transcriber's note: In this book there are inconsistencies in|
|accentation and capitalisation; these have been left as in   |
|the original. This book contains two chapters labeled XVII.  |


The publishers of these letters have requested me to write a preface. In
vain I have told them, that if prefaces have not gone out of date, the
sooner they do, the better it will be for the public; in vain I have
despairingly suggested that there must be something which would serve
their purpose, kept in type at their printers, commencing, "At the
request of--perhaps too partial--friends, I have been induced, against
my own judgment, to publish, &c., &c., &c.;" they say that they have
advertised the book with a preface, and a preface from me they must and
will have. Unfortunately I have, from my earliest childhood, religiously
skipped all introductions, prefaces, and other such obstructions, so
that I really do not precisely know how one ought to be written; I can
only, therefore, say that--

These letters are published for the very excellent reason that a
confiding publisher has offered me a sum of money for them, which I was
not such a fool as to refuse. They were written in Paris to the _Daily
News_ during the siege. I was residing there when the war broke out;
after a short absence, I returned just before the capitulation of
Sedan--intending only to remain one night. The situation, however, was
so interesting that I stayed on from day to day, until I found the
German armies drawing their lines of investment round the city. Had I
supposed that I should have been their prisoner for nearly five months,
I confess I should have made an effort to escape, but I shared the
general illusion that--one way or the other--the siege would not last a

Although I forwarded my letters by balloon, or sent them by messengers
who promised to "run the blockade," I had no notion, until the armistice
restored us to communications with the outer world, that one in twenty
had reached its destination. This mode of writing, as Dr. William
Russell wittily observed to me the other day at Versailles, was much
like smoking in the dark--and it must be my excuse for any inaccuracies
or repetitions.

Many of my letters have been lost _en route_--some of them, which
reached the _Daily News_ Office too late for insertion, are now
published for the first time. The reader will perceive that I pretend to
no technical knowledge of military matters; I have only sought to convey
a general notion of how the warlike operations round Paris appeared to a
civilian spectator, and to give a fair and impartial account of the
inner life of Paris, during its isolation from the rest of Europe. My
bias--if I had any--was in favour of the Parisians, and I should have
been heartily glad had they been successful in their resistance. There
is, however, no getting over facts, and I could not long close my eyes
to the most palpable fact--however I might wish it otherwise--that their
leaders were men of little energy and small resource, and that they
themselves seemed rather to depend for deliverance upon extraneous
succour, than upon their own exertions. The women and the children
undoubtedly suffered great hardships, which they bore with praiseworthy
resignation. The sailors, the soldiers of the line, and levies of
peasants which formed the Mobiles, fought with decent courage. But the
male population of Paris, although they boasted greatly of their
"sublimity," their "endurance," and their "valour," hardly appeared to
me to come up to their own estimation of themselves, while many of them
seemed to consider that heroism was a necessary consequence of the
enunciation of advanced political opinions. My object in writing was to
present a practical rather than a sentimental view of events, and to
recount things as they were, not as I wished them to be, or as the
Parisians, with perhaps excusable patriotism, wished them to appear.

For the sake of my publishers, I trust that the book will find favour
with the public. For the last three hours I have been correcting the
proofs of my prose, and it struck me that letters written to be
inserted in separate numbers of a daily paper, when published in a
collected form, are somewhat heavy reading. I feel, indeed, just at
present, much like a person who has obtained money under false
pretences, but whose remorse is not sufficiently strong to induce him to
return it.



PARIS, _September 18th._

No one walking on the Champs Elysées or on the Boulevards to-day would
suppose that 300,000 Prussians are within a few miles of the city, and
intend to besiege it. Happy, said Laurence Sterne, in his "Sentimental
Journey," the nation which can once a week forget its cares. The French
have not changed since then. To-day is a fête day, and as a fête day it
must be kept. Every one seems to have forgotten the existence of the
Prussians. The Cafés are crowded by a gay crowd. On the Boulevard,
Monsieur and Madame walk quietly along with their children. In the
Champs Elysées honest mechanics and bourgeois are basking in the sun,
and nurserymaids are flirting with soldiers. There is even a lull in the
universal drilling. The regiments of Nationaux and Mobiles carry large
branches of trees stuck into the ends of their muskets. Round the statue
of Strasburg there is the usual crowd, and speculators are driving a
brisk trade in portraits of General Uhrich. "Here, citizens," cries one,
"is the portrait of the heroic defender of Strasburg, only one sou--it
cost me two--I only wish that I were rich enough to give it away."
"Listen, citizens," cries another, "whilst I declaim the poem of a lady
who has escaped from Strasburg. To those who, after hearing it, may wish
to read it to their families, I will give it as a favour for two sous."
I only saw one disturbance. As I passed by the Rond Point, a very tall
woman was mobbed, because it was thought that she might be a Uhlan in
disguise. But it was regarded more as a joke than anything serious. So
bent on being happy was every one that I really believe that a Uhlan in
the midst of them would not have disturbed their equanimity. "Come what
may, to-day we will be merry," seemed to be the feeling; "let us leave
care to the morrow, and make the most of what may be our last fête day."

Mr. Malet, the English secretary, who returned yesterday from Meaux, had
no small difficulty in getting through the Prussian lines. He started on
Thursday evening for Creil in a train with a French officer. When they
got to Creil, they knocked up the Mayor, and begged him to procure them
a horse. He gave them an order for the only one in the town. Its
proprietor was in bed, and when they knocked at his door his wife cried
out from the window, "My husband is a coward and won't open." A voice
from within was heard saying, "I go out at night for no one." So they
laid hands on the horse and harnessed it to a gig. All night long they
drove in what they supposed was the direction of the Prussian outposts,
trumpeting occasionally like elephants in a jungle. In the morning they
found themselves in a desert, not a living soul to be seen, so they
turned back towards Paris, got close in to the forts, and started in
another direction. Occasionally they discerned a distant Uhlan, who rode
off when he saw them. On Friday night they slept among the
Francs-tireurs, and on the following morning they pushed forward again
with an escort. Soon they saw a Prussian outpost, and after waving for
some time a white flag, an officer came forward. After a parley Mr.
Malet and his friend were allowed to pass. At three o'clock they arrived
at Meaux. Count Bismarck was just driving into the town; he at once
recognised Mr. Malet, whom he had known in Germany, and begged him to
call upon him at nine o'clock. From Mr. Malet I know nothing more. I
tried to "interview" him with respect to his conversation with Count
Bismarck, but it takes two to make a bargain, and in this bargain he
declined to be the number two. About half an hour afterwards, however, I
met a foreign diplomatist of my acquaintance who had just come from the
British Embassy. He had heard Mr. Malet's story, which, of course, had
been communicated to the Corps Diplomatique, and being slightly
demoralised, without well thinking what he was doing, he confided it to
my sympathising ear.

Mr. Malet, at nine o'clock, found Count Bismarck seated before a table
with wine and cigars. He was in high spirits and very sociable. This I
can well believe, for I used to know him, and, to give the devil his
due, he is one of the few Prussians of a sociable disposition. The
interview lasted for more than two hours. Count Bismarck told Mr. Malet
that the Prussians meant to have Metz and Strasburg, and should remain
in France until they were obtained. The Prussians did not intend to
dismantle them, but to make them stronger than they at present are. "The
French," he said, "will hate us with an undying hate, and we must take
care to render this hate powerless." As for Paris, the German armies
would surround it, and with their several corps d'armée, and their
70,000 cavalry, would isolate it from the rest of the world, and leave
its inhabitants to "seethe in their own milk." If the Parisians
continued after this to hold out, Paris would be bombarded, and, if
necessary, burned. My own impression is that Count Bismarck was not such
a fool as to say precisely what he intended to do, and that he will
attack at once; but the event will prove. He added that Germany was not
in want of money, and therefore did not ask for a heavy pecuniary
indemnity. Speaking of the French, Count Bismarck observed that there
were 200,000 men round Metz, and he believed that Bazaine would have to
capitulate within a week. He rendered full justice to the courage with
which the army under Bazaine had fought, but he did not seem to have a
very high opinion of the French army of Sedan. He questioned Mr. Malet
about the state of Paris, and did not seem gratified to hear that there
had been no tumults. The declaration of the Republic and its peaceful
recognition by Paris and the whole of France appeared by no means to
please him. He admitted that if it proved to be a moderate and virtuous
Government, it might prove a source of danger to the monarchical
principle in Germany.

I do trust that Englishmen will well weigh these utterances. Surely they
will at last be of opinion that the English Government should use all
its moral influence to prevent a city containing nearly two million
inhabitants being burnt to the ground in order that one million
Frenchmen should against their will be converted into Germans. It is our
policy to make an effort to prevent the dismemberment of France, but the
question is not now so much one of policy as of common humanity. No one
asks England to go to war for France; all that is asked is that she
should recognise the _de facto_ Government of the country, and should
urge Prussia to make peace on terms which a French nation can honourably

General Vinoy, out reconnoitering with 15,000 men, came to-day upon a
Prussian force of 40,000 near Vincennes. After an artillery combat, he
withdrew within the lines of the forts. There have been unimportant
skirmishes with the enemy at several points. The American, the Belgian,
the Swiss, and the Danish Ministers are still here. Mr. Wodehouse has
remained to look after our interests. All the secretaries were anxious
to stay. I should be glad to know why Mr. Falconer Atlee, the British
Consul at Paris, is not like other consuls, at his post. He withdrew to
Dieppe about three weeks ago. His place is here. Neither a consul, nor a
soldier, should leave his post as soon as it becomes dangerous.

Victor Hugo has published an address to the nation. You may judge of its
essentially practical spirit by the following specimen:--"Rouen, draw
thy sword! Lille, take up thy musket! Bordeaux, take up thy gun!
Marseilles, sing thy song and be terrible!" I suspect Marseilles may
sing her song a long time before the effect of her vocal efforts will in
any way prevent the Prussians from carrying out their plans. "A child,"
say the evening papers, "deposited her doll this afternoon in the arms
of the statue of Strasburg. All who saw the youthful patriot perform
this touching act were deeply affected."

_September 19th._

I don't know whether my letter of yesterday went off or not. As my
messenger to the post-office could get no authentic intelligence about
what was passing, I went there myself. Everybody was in military
uniform, everybody was shrugging his shoulders, and everybody was in the
condition of a London policeman were he to see himself marched off to
the station by a street-sweeper. That the Prussian should have taken the
Emperor prisoner, and have vanquished the French armies, had, of course,
astonished these worthy bureaucrats, but that they should have ventured
to interfere with postmen had perfectly dumbfounded them. "Put your
letter in that box," said a venerable employé on a high stool. "Will it
ever be taken out?" I asked. "Qui sait?" he replied. "Shall you send off
a train to-morrow morning?" I asked. There was a chorus of "Qui sait?"
and the heads disappeared still further with the respective shoulders to
which they belonged. "What do you think of a man on horseback?" I
suggested. An indignant "Impossible" was the answer. "Why not?" I asked.
The look of contempt with which the clerks gazed on me was expressive.
It meant, "Do you really imagine that a functionary--a postman--is going
to forward your letters in an irregular manner?" At this moment a sort
of young French Jefferson Brick came in. Evidently he was a Republican
recently set in authority. To him I turned. "Citizen, I want my letter
to go to London. It is a press letter. These bureaucrats say that they
dare not send it by a horse express; I appeal to you, as I am sure you
are a man of expedients." "These people," he replied, scowling at the
clerks, "are demoralised. They are the ancient valets of a corrupt
Court; give me your letter; if possible it shall go, 'foi de citoyen.'"
I handed my letter to Jefferson, but whether it is on its way to
England, or still in his patriotic hands, I do not know. As I passed out
through the courtyard I saw postmen seated on the boxes of carts, with
no horses before them. It was their hour to carry out the letters, and
thus mechanically they fulfilled their duty. English Government
officials have before now been jeered at as men of routine, but the most
ancient clerk in Somerset House is a man of wild impulse and boundless
expedient compared with the average of functionaries great and small
here. The want of "shiftiness" is a national characteristic. The French
are like a flock of sheep without shepherds or sheep-dogs. Soldiers and
civilians have no idea of anything except doing what they are ordered to
do by some functionary. Let one wheel in an administration get out of
order, and everything goes wrong. After my visit to the post-office I
went to the central telegraph office, and sent you a telegram. The clerk
was very surly at first, but he said that he thought a press telegram
would pass the wires. When I paid him he became friendly. My own
impression is that my twelve francs, whoever they may benefit, will not
benefit the British public.

From the telegraph-office I directed my steps to a club where I was
engaged to dine. I found half-a-dozen whist tables in full swing. The
conversation about the war soon, however, became general. "This is our
situation," said, as he dealt a hand, a knowing old man of the world, a
sort of French James Clay: "generally if one has no trumps in one's
hand, one has at least some good court cards in the other suits; we've
got neither trumps nor court cards." "Et le General Trochu?" some one
suggested. "My opinion of General Trochu," said a General, who was
sitting reading a newspaper, "is that he is a man of theory, but
unpractical. I know him well; he has utterly failed to organise the
forces which he has under his command." The general opinion about Trochu
seemed to be that he is a kind of M'Clellan. "Will the Garde Nationale
fight?" some one asked. A Garde National replied, "Of course there are
brave men amongst us, but the mass will give in rather than see Paris
destroyed. They have their families and their shops." "And the Mobiles?"
"The Mobiles are the stuff out of which soldiers are made, but they are
still peasants, and not soldiers yet." On the whole, I found the tone in
"fashionable circles" desponding. "Can any one tell me where Jules Favre
has gone?" I asked. Nobody could, though everybody seemed to think that
he had gone to the Prussian headquarters. After playing a few rubbers, I
went home to bed at about one o'clock. The streets were absolutely
deserted. All the cafés were shut.

Nothing in the papers this morning. In the _Figaro_ an article from that
old humbug Villemessant. He calls upon his fellow-citizens in Paris to
resist to the death.

"One thing Frenchmen never forgive," he says,--"cowardice."

The _Gaulois_ contains the most news. It represents the Prussians to be
all round Paris. At Versailles they have converted the Palais into a
barrack. Their camp fires were seen last night in the forest of Bondy.
Uhlans have made their appearance at St. Cloud. "Fritz" has taken up his
quarters at Ferrières, the château of Baron Rothschild. "William"--we
are very familiar when we speak of the Prussian Royal family--is still
at Meaux. "No thunderbolt," adds the correspondent, "has yet fallen on
him." The Prussian outposts are at the distance of three kilometres from
St. Denis. Near Vitry shots have been heard. In the environs of
Vincennes there has been fighting. It appears General Ambert was
arrested yesterday. He was reviewing some regiments of Nationaux, and
when they cried, "Vive la République" he told them that the Republic did
not exist. The men immediately surrounded him, and carried him to the
Ministry of the Interior, where I presume he still is. The _Rappel_
finds faults with Jules Favre's circular. Its tone, it says, is too
humble. The _Rappel_ gives a list of "valets of Bonaparte, _ce coquin
sinistre_," who still occupy official positions, and demands that they
shall at once be relieved from their functions. The _Rappel_ also
informs its readers that letters have been discovered (where?) proving
that Queen Victoria had promised before the war to do her best to aid

Butler of a friend of mine, whose house is close by the fortifications,
and who has left it in his charge, has just been to see me. The house is
a "poste" of the National Guard. Butler says the men do not sleep on the
ramparts, but in the neighbouring houses. They are changed every
twenty-four hours. He had rather a hard time of it last night with a
company from the Faubourg St. Antoine. As a rule, however, he says they
are decent, orderly men. They complain very much that their business is
going to rack and ruin; when they are away from their shops, they say,
impecunious patriots come in to purchase goods of their wives, and
promise to call another day to pay for them. On Saturday night the
butler reports 300 National Guards were drawn up before his master's
house, and twenty-five volunteers were demanded for a service of danger.
After some time the twenty-five stepped forward, but having heard for
what they were wanted, eighteen declined to go.

A British coachman just turned up offers to carry letters through--seems
a sharp plucky fellow. I shall employ him as soon as the Post-office is
definitely closed. British coachman does not think much of the citizen
soldiers in Paris. "Lor' bless you, sir, I'd rather have 10,000
Englishmen than the lot of them. In my stable I make my men obey me, but
these chaps they don't seem to care what their officers says to them. I
seed them drill this morning; a pretty green lot they was. Why, sir,
giving them fellow Chassepots is much like giving watches to naked

The Breton Mobiles are making pilgrimages to the churches. I hope it may
do them good. I hear the curés of Paris have divided the ramparts
between them, and are on the fortifications--bravo! curés. By-the-bye,
that fire-eater, Paul de Cassagnac, has not followed the example of his
brother Imperial journalists. He enlisted as a Zouave, fought well, and
was taken prisoner at Sedan. He is now employed by his captors in making
bread. I hope his bread will be better than his articles.

1.30 P.M.

Been sitting with a friend who commands a company of National Guards.
The company is now outside the fortifications. Friend tells me that the
men in his company are mostly small shopkeepers. At first it was
difficult to get them to come to drill, but within the last few days
they have been drilling hard, and he is convinced that they will fight
well. Friend tells me that a large number of National Guards have run
away from Paris, and that those who remain are very indignant with them.
He requests me to beg my countrymen, if they see a sturdy Monsieur
swelling it down Regent Street, to kick him, as he ought to be defending
his country. I fulfil his request with the greatest pleasure and endorse
it. I have just seen a Prussian spy taken to prison. I was seated before
a café on the Boulevard des Capucines. Suddenly there was a shout of "un
Prussien;" every one rushed towards the Place de l'Opéra, and from the
Boulevard Haussmann came a crowd with a soldier, dressed as an
artilleryman, on a horse. He was preceded and followed by about one
hundred Mobiles. By his side rode a woman. No one touched them. Whether
he and his "lady friend" were Germans I do not know; but they certainly
looked Germans, and extremely uncomfortable.

3 P.M.

Been to Embassy. Messenger Johnson arrived this morning at 12 o'clock.
He had driven to Rouen. At each post station he was arrested. He drove
up to the Embassy, followed by a howling mob. As he wore an unknown
uniform they took him for a Prussian. Messenger Johnson, being an old
soldier, was belligerently inclined. "The first man who approaches," &c.
The porter of the Embassy, however, dragged him inside, and explained to
the mob who he was. He had great difficulty in calming them. One man
sensibly observed that in these times no one should drive through Paris
in a foreign uniform, as the mass of the people knew nothing of Queen's
messengers and their uniforms. Messenger Johnson having by this time got
within the Embassy gates, the mob turned on his postilion and led him
off. What his fate has been no one has had time to ask.

When I went upstairs I found Wodehouse sitting like patience on a stool,
with a number of Britons round him, who wanted to get off out of Paris.
Wodehouse very justly told them that Lord Lyons had given them due
notice to leave, and that they had chosen at their own risk to remain.
The Britons seemed to imagine that their Embassy was bound to find them
a road by which they might safely withdraw from the town. One very
important Briton was most indignant--"I am a man of wealth and position.
I am not accustomed to be treated in this manner. What is the use of
you, sir, if you cannot ensure my safe passage to England? If I am
killed the world shall ring with it. I shall myself make a formal
complaint to Lord Granville," said this incoherent and pompous donkey.
Exit man of position fuming; enter unprotected female. Of course she was
a widow, of course she had lost half-a-dozen sons, of course she kept
lodgings, and of course she wanted her "hambassader" generally to take
her under his wing. I left Wodehouse explaining to her that if she went
out of Paris even with a pass, she might or might not be shot according
to circumstances. I will say for him that I should not be as patient as
he is, were I worried and badgered by the hour by a crowd of shrieking
women and silly men.

4 P.M.

Fighting is going on all round Paris. There are crowds on the Boulevard;
every one is asking his neighbour for news. I went to one of the Mairies
to hear the bulletins read. The street was almost impassable. At last I
got near enough to hear an official read out a despatch--nothing
important. The commanders at Montrouge and Vincennes announce that the
Prussians are being driven back. "Et Clamart?" some one cries. "A bas
les alarmistes," is the reply. Every one is despondent. Soldiers have
come back from Meudon demoralised. We have lost a position, it is
whispered. I find a friend, upon whose testimony I can rely, who was
near Meudon until twelve o'clock. He tells me that the troops of the
line behaved badly. They threw away their muskets without firing a shot,
and there was a regular _sauve qui peut_. The Mobiles, on the other
hand, fought splendidly, and were holding the position when he left. I
am writing this in a café. It is full of Gardes Nationaux. They are
saying that if the troops of the line are not trustworthy, resistance is
hopeless. A Garde National gives the following explanation of the
demoralisation of the army. He says that the Imperial Government only
troubled itself about the corps d'élite; that the object in the line
regiments was to get substitutes as cheaply as possible; consequently,
they are filled with men physically and morally the scum of the nation.
Semaphore telegraphs have been put up on all the high public buildings.
There are also semaphores on the forts. I see that one opposite me is
exchanging signals. The crowd watch them as though by looking they would
discover what they mean. "A first success," says a National next to me,
"was absolutely necessary for us, in order to give us confidence." "But
this success we do not seem likely to have," says another. The attempt
to burn down the forests seems only partially to have succeeded. The
Prussians appear to be using them, and the French to the last carrying
on war without scouts.

6 P.M.

Evening papers just out. Not a word about Clamart. The _Liberté_ says
the Minister of the Interior refers journalists to General Trochu, who
claims the right to suppress what he pleases. When will French
Governments understand that it is far more productive of demoralisation
to allow no official news to be published than to publish the worst?
Rochefort has been appointed President of a Committee of Barricades, to
organise a second line of defence within the ramparts.

7 P.M.

The cannon can be distinctly heard. The reports come from different
quarters. Jules Favre, I hear from a sure source, is at the Prussian

7.30 P.M.

I live _au quatrième_ with a balcony before my room. I can see the
flashes of cannon in the direction of Vincennes. There appears to be a
great fire somewhere.

12 P.M.

Have driven to the Barrière de l'Enfer. Nothing there. On the Champ de
Mars I found troops returned from Clamart. They complain that they never
saw their officers during the engagement, that there were no scouts in
the Bois de Clamart, and that the Prussians succeeded by their old game
of sticking to the cover. At first they fell back--the French troops
pressed on, when they were exposed to a concentric fire. From the Champs
Elysées I drove to the Buttes de Montmartre. Thousands of people
clustered everywhere except where they were kept off by the Nationaux,
who were guarding the batteries. The northern sky was bright from the
reflection of a conflagration--as the forest of St. Germain was burning.
It was almost light. We could see every shot and shell fired from the
forts round St. Denis. At ten o'clock I got back to the Boulevard des
Italiens. Every café was closed. It appears that at about nine o'clock
the Café Riche was full of Gardes Mobiles, officers, and _lorettes_.
They made so much noise that the public outside became indignant, and
insisted on their giving up their orgie. The National Guard joined in
this protest, and an order was sent at once to close every café. Before
the Maison Dorée I saw a few _viveurs_, gazing at its closed windows as
though the end of the world had come. This café has been opened day and
night for the last twenty years. From my balcony I can no longer hear
the cannon; the sky, however, is even brighter from the conflagration
than it was.

_September 20th._

The firing has recommenced. We can hear it distinctly. General Ambert
has been cashiered. _Figaro_ announces that Villemessant has returned.
We are given a dozen paragraphs about this humbug of humbugs, his
uniform, &c., &c. I do not think that he will be either killed or
wounded. The latest telegram from the outer world announces that "Sir
Campbell"--médecin Anglais--has arrived at Dieppe with despatches to the
Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Marine.

11 A.M.

Paris very quiet and very despondent. Few soldiers about. The Line is
reviled, the Mobile extolled. From all accounts the latter seem to have
behaved well--a little excited at first, but full of pluck. Let the
siege only last a week and they will be capital soldiers, and then we
shall no longer be called upon, to believe the assertions of military
men, that it takes years of drill and idling in a barrack to make a

My own impression always has been that Malet brought back a written
answer from Bismarck offering to see Jules Favre. Can it be that, after
all, the Parisians, at the mere sound of cannon, are going to cave in,
and give up Alsace and Lorraine? If they do, I give them up. If my
friends in Belleville descend into the streets to prevent this ignominy,
I descend with them.

4 P.M.

I got, about an hour ago, some way on the road to Charenton, when I was
turned back, and a couple of soldiers took possession of me, and did not
leave me until I was within the city gate. I could see no traces of any
Prussians or of any fighting. Two English correspondents got as far as
St. Denis this morning. After having been arrested half-a-dozen times
and then released, they were impressed, and obliged to carry stones to
make a barricade. They saw no Prussians. I hear that a general of
artillery was arrested last night by his men. There is a report, also,
that the Government mean to decimate the cowards who ran away yesterday,
_pour encourager les autres_. The guns of the Prussians which they have
posted on the heights they took yesterday it is said will carry as far
as the Arc de Triomphe.

There have been two deputations to the Hôtel de Ville to interview the
Government with respect to the armistice. One consisted of about 100
officers of the National Guard, most of them from the Faubourgs of St.
Antoine and the Temple. They were of course accompanied by a large
crowd. Having been admitted into the Salle du Trône, they were received
by the Mayor of Paris and M. Jules Ferry. The reply of the latter is not
very clear. He certainly said that no shameful peace should be
concluded; but whether, as some assert, he assured the officers that no
portion of French soil should be ceded is not equally certain. Shortly
after this deputation had left, another arrived from the Republican
clubs. It is stated that M. Jules Ferry's answer was considered
satisfactory. The walls have been placarded with a proclamation of
Trochu to the armed force. He tells them that some regiments behaved
badly at Clamart; but the assertion that they had no cartridges is
false. He recommends all citizens to arrest soldiers who are drunk or
who propagate false news, and threatens them with the vigorous
application of the Articles of War. Another proclamation from Kératry
warns every one against treating soldiers or selling them liquor when
they already have had too much. I went to dine this evening in an
estaminet in the Faubourg St. Antoine. It was full of men of the
people, and from the tone of their observations I am certain that if M.
Jules Favre concludes an armistice involving any cession of territory,
there will be a rising at once. The cafés are closed now at 10 o'clock.
At about 11 I walked home. One would have supposed oneself in some dull
great provincial town at 3 in the morning. Everything was closed. No
one, except here and there a citizen on his way home, or a patrol of the
National Guard, was to be seen.

_September 21st._

I suppose that you in England know a good deal more of what is passing
at the Prussian headquarters than we do here. M. Jules Favre's departure
was kept so close a secret, that it did not ooze out until yesterday.
The "ultras" in the Government were, I understand on good authority,
opposed to it, but M. Jules Favre was supported by Picard, Gambetta, and
Kératry, who, as everything is comparative, represent the moderate
section of our rulers. We are as belligerent and cheery to-day as we
were despondent on Monday evening. When any disaster occurs it takes a
Frenchman about twenty-four hours to accustom himself to it. During this
time he is capable of any act of folly or despair. Then follows the
reaction, and he becomes again a brave man. When it was heard that the
heights at Meudon had been taken, we immediately entered into a phase of
despair. It is over now, and we crow as lustily as ever. We shall have
another phase of despondency when the first fort is taken, and another
when the first shells fall into the town; but if we get through them, I
really have hopes that Paris will not disgrace herself. Nothing of any
importance appears to have taken place at the front yesterday. The
commanders of several forts sent to Trochu to say that they have fired
on the Prussians, and that there have been small outpost engagements.
During the day the bridges of St. Cloud, Sèvres, and Billancourt were
blown up. I attempted this morning to obtain a pass from General Trochu.
Announcing myself as a "Journaliste Anglais," I got, after some
difficulty, into a room in which several of his staff were seated. But
there my progress was stopped. I was told that aides-de-camp had been
fired on, and that General Trochu had himself been arrested, and had
been within an inch of being shot because he had had the impudence to
say that he was the Governor of Paris. I suggested that he might take me
with him the next time he went out, and pointed out that correspondents
rode with the Prussian staffs, but it was of no use. From Trochu I went
to make a few calls. I found every one engaged in measuring the distance
from the Prussian batteries to his particular house. One friend I found
seated in a cellar with a quantity of mattresses over it, to make it
bomb-proof. He emerged from his subterraneous Patmos to talk to me,
ordered his servant to pile on a few more mattresses, and then
retreated. Anything so dull as existence here it is difficult to
imagine. Before the day is out one gets sick and tired of the one single
topic of conversation. We are like the people at Cremorne waiting for
the fireworks to begin; and I really do believe that if this continues
much longer, the most cowardly will welcome the bombs as a relief from
the oppressive ennui. Few regiments are seen now during the day marching
through the streets--they are most of them either on the ramparts or
outside them. From 8 to 9 in the morning there is a military movement,
as regiments come and go, on and off duty. In the courtyard of the
Louvre several regiments of Mobiles are kept under arms all night, ready
to march to any point which may be seriously attacked. A good many
troops went at an early hour this morning in the direction of St. Cloud.

The weather is beautiful--a lovely autumn morning. They say that
Rochefort and his friends are busily employed at Grenelle.

1.30 _o'clock_.

The cannonade has been audible for the last half-hour. It is getting
every moment louder. The people are saying that Mont Valérien _donne_. I
am going up to the Avenue de l'Impératrice, where I shall be able to see
what is going on.

2.30 _o'clock_.

Come back; heavy firing--but I could not make out whether it came from
Mont Valérien. Jules Favre has returned. They say the Prussians will
only treat in Paris. Just seen an American who tried to get with a
letter to General Sheridan. He got into the Prussian lines, but could
not reach headquarters. On his return he was nearly murdered by the
Mobiles; passed last night in a cell with two drunkards, and has just
been let out, as all his papers were found _en règle_.


_September 22nd._

I sent off a letter yesterday in a balloon; whether it reaches its
destination, or is somewhere in the clouds, you will know before I do.
The difficulties of getting through the lines are very great, and will
become greater every day. The Post-office says that it tries to send
letters through, but I understand that the authorities have little hope
of succeeding. Just now I saw drawn up in the courtyard of the Grand
Hotel a travelling carriage, with hampers of provisions, luggage, and an
English flag flying. Into it stepped four Britons. Their passports were
viséd, they said, by their Embassy, and they were starting for England
_viâ_ Rouen. Neither French nor Prussians would, they were convinced,
stop them. I did not even confide a letter to their hands, as they are
certain, even if they get through the French outposts, to be arrested by
the Prussians and turned back. Yesterday on the return of Jules Favre he
announced that the King of Prussia required as a condition of Peace the
cession of Alsace and Lorraine, and as the condition of an armistice
immediate possession of Metz, Strasburg, and Mont Valérien. The
Government immediately met, and a proclamation was at once posted on the
walls signed by all the members. After stating it had been reported that
the Government was inclined to abandon the policy to which it owed its
existence, it goes on in the following words:--"Our policy is this.
Neither an inch of our territory nor a stone of our fortresses. The
Government will maintain this until the end."

Yesterday afternoon we "manifested" against peace. We "manifest" by
going, if we are in the National Guard, with bouquets at the ends of our
muskets to deposit a crown of _immortelles_ before the statue of
Strasburg. If we are unarmed, we walk behind a drum to the statue and
sing the "Marseillaise." At the statue there is generally some orator on
a stool holding forth. We occasionally applaud him, but we never listen
to him. After this we go to the Place before the Hôtel de Ville, and we
shout "Point de Paix." We then march down the Boulevards, and we go home
satisfied that we have deserved well of our country. As yesterday was
the anniversary of the proclamation of the First Republic, we were in a
very manifesting mood. M. Gambetta issued proclamations every half hour,
calling upon us, in more or less flowery language, to die for our
country. M. Arago, the Mayor, followed suit, heading his manifestoes
with the old, rallying cry, "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité." I suppose
the French are so constituted that they really cannot exist without
processions, bouquets to statues, and grand phrases. Notwithstanding all
this humbug, a large portion of them mean, I am sure, to fight it out.
They have taken it into their heads that Paris can be successfully
defended, and if it is not, they are determined that it shall not be
their fault. It is intended, I understand, to keep well beneath the
cover of the forts, not to risk engagements more than is
necessary--gradually to convert the splendid raw material of the Mobiles
into good soldiers, by accustoming them to be under fire, and then, if
things go well, to fall on one or other of the Prussian armies. It is
hoped, too, that the Prussian communications will be menaced. Such is
the plan, and every one pretends to believe that it will succeed;
whether they are right or wrong time will show.

The Government, an ex-diplomatist, who has been talking to several of
its members this morning, tells me, is a "unit." There was a party ready
to accept the dismantling of Metz and Strasburg, but as this concession
will not disarm the Prussians, they have rallied to the "not a stone of
one fortress" declaration.

Of course I cannot be expected to give aid and comfort to our besiegers
by telling them, if they seize this letter, what is being done inside to
keep them out. But this I think it will do them no harm to know. The
National Guard man the ramparts. In the angles of the bastions there are
Mobiles. At points close by the ramparts there are reserves of Mobiles
and National Guards, ready at a moment's notice both by day and night to
reinforce them. In the centre of the town there are reserves under arms.
Outside the gates, between the forts and the ramparts, troops are massed
with artillery, and the forts are well garrisoned. A gentleman who has
lately been under a cloud, as he was the inventor of the Orsini bombs,
has several thousand men at work on infernal machines. This magician
assures me that within a week he will destroy the German armies as
completely as were the Assyrians who besieged Samaria under Sennacherib.
He is an enthusiast, but an excellent chemist, and I really have hopes
that he will before long astonish our friends outside. He promises me
that I shall witness his experiments in German corpore vili; and though
I have in mind a quotation about being hoisted with one's own petard, I
shall certainly keep him to his word. On the whole the King of Prussia,
to use Mr. Lincoln's phrase, will find it a big job to take Paris if the
Parisians keep to their present mood. Mr. Washburne told me yesterday
that he does not think he shall leave. There is to be a consultation of
the Corps Diplomatique to-morrow, under the presidency of the Nuncio,
to settle joint action. I admire the common sense of Mr. Washburne. He
called two days ago upon the Government to express his sympathy with
them. Not being a man of forms and red tape, instead of going to the
Foreign-office, he went to the Hôtel de Ville, found a Council sitting,
shook hands all round, and then withdrew. I have serious thoughts of
taking up my quarters at the English Embassy. It belongs to me as one of
the nation, and I see no reason why I should not turn my property to
some account.

Yesterday's papers contained an official announcement that a company of
mutual assurance against the consequences of the bombardment has been
formed. Paris is divided into three zones, and according to the danger
proprietors of houses situated in each of them are to be admitted into
the company on payment of one, two, or three per cent. It comforts me,
comparatively, to find that I am in the one per cent. zone, and, unless
my funds give way, I shall remain there.

Spies are being arrested every half hour. Many mistakes are made from
over zeal, but there is no doubt that a good many Germans are in the
town disguised in French uniforms. The newspapers ask what becomes of
them all, and suggest that they should be publicly shot. It is beautiful
weather, and as I sit writing this at my open window I have great
difficulty in believing that we are cut off from the rest of the world
by a number of victorious armies, who mean to burn or starve us out. M.
John Lemoinne in the _Journal des Débats_ this morning has a very
sensible article upon the position of the Government. He says that
between the first and the second of these two ultimatums there is a vast
difference, and he exhorts the Government to stand by the first, but not
to refuse peace if it can be obtained by the dismantling of Metz and
Strasburg. The _Temps_ of this evening takes the same view of the
proclamation. The ultra Republican journals, on the other hand, support
the policy of the Government. M. Felix Pyat, in his organ, _Le Combat_,
urges war to the death, and proposes that we should at once have Spartan
banquets, at which rich and poor should fare alike. A proposal has been
made to start a national subscription for a musket of honour to be given
to the man who shoots the King of Prussia. There are already 2,000
subscribers of one sou each to the testimonial. The latest proclamation
I have seen on the walls is one from the Mayor of Paris, informing the
public that the coachmen of Paris are not to be ill-treated by their
fares because they are not on the ramparts. As the coachmen of Paris are
usually excessively insolent, I shall not be sorry to hear that they
have at length met with their deserts. A coachman who was driving me
yesterday told me in the strictest confidence that he was a man who
never meddled in politics, and, consequently, it was a matter of
absolute indifference to him whether Napoleon or a "General Prussien"
lived in the Tuileries; and this, I suspect, is the view that many here
take, if they only dared say it.

It is amusing to observe how every one has entered into the conspiracy
to persuade the world that the French nation never desired war--to hear
them, one would suppose that the Rhine had never been called the
national frontier of France, and that the war had been entered into by
Badinguet, as they style the late Emperor, against the wishes of the
army, the peasantry, and the bourgeoisie. Poor old Badinguet has enough
to answer for already, but even sensible Frenchmen have persuaded
themselves that he, and he alone, is responsible for the war. He is
absolutely loathed here. I sometimes suggest to some Gaul that he may
possibly be back again some day; the Gaul immediately rolls his eyes,
clenches his fists, and swears that if ever Badinguet returns to Paris
he (the Gaul) will himself shoot him.

An American, who took an active part in the Confederate defence of
Richmond, has just been in to see me. He does not believe that the town
will hold out long, and scoffs at the mode in which it is being
defended. I reserve my opinion until I have seen it under fire.
Certainly they "do protest too much." The papers contain lists of
citizens who have sworn to die rather than surrender. The bourgeois,
when he goes off to the ramparts, embraces his wife in public, and
assumes a martial strut as though he were a very Curtius on the way to
the pit. Jules is perpetually hugging Jacques, and talking about the
altar of his country on which he means to mount. I verily believe that
the people walking on the Boulevards, and the assistants of the shops
who deal out their wares, in uniform, are under the impression that they
are heroes already, perilling life and limb for their country. Every
girl who trips along thinks that she is a Maid of Saragossa. It is
almost impossible for an Englishman to realise the intense delight which
a Frenchman has in donning a uniform, strutting about with a martial
swagger, and listening to a distant cannonade. As yet the only real
hardships we have suffered have been that our fish is a little stale,
and that we are put on short allowance of milk. The National Guards on
the ramparts, I hear, grumble very much at having to spend the night in
the open air. The only men I think I can answer for are the working men
of the outer faubourgs and a portion of the Provincial Gardes Mobiles.
They do mean to fight. Some of the battalions of the National Guards
will fight too, but I should be afraid to trust the greater portion of
them, even behind earthworks. "Remember," says the _Figaro_ to them
to-day, "that you have wives and children; do not be too venturesome."
This advice, I think, was hardly needed. As for the regular troops, they
are not to be trusted, and I am not sorry to think that there are 10,000
sailors in the forts to man the guns.

We have been manifesting again to-day. I was in hopes that this nonsense
was over. On the Place de la Concorde there was a crowd all the
afternoon, applauding orators, and companies of National Guards were
bringing bouquets to the statue of Strasburg. At the Hôtel de Ville a
deputation of officers of the National Guards came to urge the
Government to put off the elections. After a short parley this was
promised. Another demonstration took place to urge the Government not to
make peace, to accept as their colleagues some "friends of the people,"
and to promise not to re-establish in any form a police force. An
evasive answer was given to these demonstrators. It seems to me that the
Government, in its endeavours to prevent a collision between the
moderates and the ultras, yield invariably to the latter. What is really
wanted is a man of energy and determined will. I doubt if Trochu has

The bold Britons who tried to run the blockade have returned. They
managed to get over the bridge of Neuilly, but were arrested a few yards
beyond it and brought back to General Ducrot. One of them was taken in
with the passports of the five. "I cannot understand you English," the
General said; "if you want to get shot we will shoot you ourselves to
save you trouble." After some parley, General Ducrot gave them a pass to
go through the French lines, but then he withdrew it, and said he must
consult General Trochu. When the spokesman emerged, he found his friends
being led off by a fresh batch of patriots for having no passports, but
they at length got safely back to the Grand Hotel. Their leader, who is
an intelligent man in his way, gives a very discouraging account of what
he saw outside. The Mobiles were lying about on the roads, and everyone
appeared to be doing much what he pleased. This afternoon I went up to
the Trocadero to look at the heights on which they say that there are
already Prussian guns. They appear most uncomfortably near. Those who
had telescopes declared that they could see both guns and Prussians. We
were always told until within a few days that Mont Valérien would
protect all that side of Paris. How can the engineers have made such a

This evening I went to call upon one of the chiefs of '48, and had an
interesting conversation with him. He says that many think that he and
his friends ought to be in the Government, and that eventually they all
will be; he added "the Reds are determined to fight, and so long as the
Government does not make a humiliating peace they will support it." I
tried to get out what he considered a humiliating peace, but he rather
fenced with the question. He tells me that at the Folies Bergères, the
headquarters of the ultras, great dissatisfaction is felt with the
Committees of the "Clubs" for having gone yesterday to the Hôtel de
Ville, and endeavoured to force the Government to declare that it would
not treat with the Prussians whilst they were on French soil, and to
allow them to establish a "Commune" as an _imperium in imperio_. "The
army of the Loire," said my friend, "will soon fall on the rear of the
Prussians; we have only to hold out for a few weeks, and this, depend
upon it, we shall do." Now, to the best of my belief, the army of the
Loire only exists on paper, but here was a sensible man talking of it as
though it consisted of some 200,000 seasoned troops; and what is more
strange, he is by no means singular in his belief. A fortnight ago it
was the army of Lyons, now it is the army of the Loire. How reasonable
men can allow themselves to put their faith in these men of buckram, I
cannot imagine.

_September 23rd._

Firing has been going on since three o'clock this morning. The
newspapers contain accounts more or less veracious respecting fights
outside the forts, in which great numbers of Prussians have been killed.
M. Jules Favre publishes an account of his interview with Count Bismarck
in the _Journal Officiel_. M. Villemessant in the _Figaro_ informs the
world that he has left his wife outside, and would willingly allow one
of his veins to be opened in exchange for a letter from her. We are
still engaged in our old occupation--vowing to die for our country. I
hear that there has been serious fighting in the neighbourhood of St.
Denis. This morning I saw another of the '48 Republicans--he seemed
inclined to upset the Government more on the ground that they are
incapable than because he differs with them in politics. I give this
letter to a friend who will get it into the balloon, and go off to the
Trocadero, to see how things are getting on.

The Solferino Tower on the Buttes Montmartre has been pulled down. No
one is to be allowed to hoist the Geneva flag unless the house contains
at least six beds for wounded. We have now a bread as well as a meat

_September 24th._

We are as despondent to-day as we were jubilant yesterday. The success
at the front seems to have dwindled down to an insignificant artillery
combat. The _Electeur Libre_ gives the following account of it. On the
previous evening 8,000 Prussians had taken the redoubt of _Villejuif_.
At one in the morning some regiments advanced from there towards Vitry,
and occupied the mill of Saqui, while on the left about 5,000
established themselves on the plateau of Hautes-Bruyères. The division
of General Maud'huy re-took these positions. At five o'clock in the
morning the Prussians tried to occupy them a second time, but failed,
and at half-past seven o'clock they fell back. At nine they attacked
again, when a column of our troops, issuing from the Porte d'Italie,
arrived. The fray went on until ten o'clock, when the Prussians
retreated towards Sceaux. This tallies to a great extent with what I was
told by an officer this morning who had taken part in the engagement.

The _Gazette Officielle_ contains a decree cashiering M. Devienne,
President of the Cour de Cassation, and sending him to be judged by his
own court, for having been the intermediary between Badinguet and his
mistress, Marguerite Bellanger. Two letters are published which seem to
leave no doubt that this worthy judge acted as the go-between of the two

Mr. George Sanders, whilom United States Consul in London, and one of
the leaders of the ex-Confederacy, is here; he is preparing plans for a
system of rifle pits and zigzags outside the fortifications, at the
request of General Trochu. Mr. Sanders, who took an active part in the
defence of Richmond, declares that Paris is impregnable, if it be only
well defended. He complains, however, that the French will not use the

4 _o'clock_ P.M.

We have been in a state of wild enthusiasm all this afternoon. At about
1 o'clock it was rumoured that 20,000 Prussians and 40 cannon had been
taken. There had been a heavy firing, it was said, this morning, and a
Prussian force had approached near the forts of Ivry and Bicêtre.
General Vinoy had issued forth from Vincennes, and, getting behind them,
had forced them under the guns of the forts, where they were taken
prisoners. The Boulevards immediately were crowded; here a person
announcing that he had a despatch from the front, here another vowing he
had been there himself. Wherever a drum was heard there was a cry of
"Here come the prisoners!" Tired of this, at about 4 o'clock I drove to
Montrouge. It is a sort of Parisian Southwark. I found all the
inhabitants lining the streets, waiting, too, for news. A regiment
marched in, and there was a cry that it had come from the front; then
artillery filed by out of the city gate. I tried myself to pass, and had
got half-way through before I was stopped, then I was turned back. The
prisoners here, close by the scene of action, had dwindled down to
5,000. Imagine Southwark, with every man armed in it, and a battle going
on at Greenwich, and you will have an idea of the excitement of

6 _o'clock_ P.M.

The Boulevards almost impassable; the streets before the Mairies
absolutely impassable; no official confirmation of the victory. Everyone
who is not inventing news is waiting for it. A proclamation has been
issued by General Trochu conceived in a very sensible spirit, telling
the National Guard that the moment is ill chosen for pacific
demonstrations, with crowns and bouquets. I hear that some of the
soldiers who ran away at Clamart have been shot.

Some of the papers discovered in the Tuileries are published. There is a
letter from Jecker to Conti, in which he says that De Morny had promised
him to get the Mexican Government to pay his claims on condition of
receiving 30 per cent. of profits. A letter signed Persigny complains
that an _employé_ in the Cabinet Noir is in want, and ought to be given
money to prevent his letting out secrets. A letter from the Queen of
Holland tells Napoleon that if he does not interfere in Germany his own
dynasty will suffer. A note of the Emperor, without date, says, "If
France boldly places itself on the terrain of the nationalities, it is
necessary to prove that the Belgian nationality does not exist. The
Cabinet of Berlin seeming ready to enter into negotiations, it would be
well to negotiate a secret _acte_, which would pledge both parties. This
act would have the double advantage of compromising Prussia and of being
for her a pledge of the sincerity of the Emperor." The note then goes on
to say that it is necessary to dissipate the apprehensions of Prussia.
"An _acte_ is wanted," it continues; "and one which would consist of a
regulation of the ulterior fate of Belgium in concert with Prussia
would, by proving at Berlin that the Emperor desires the extension which
is necessary to France since the events which have taken place in
Germany, be at least a relative certainty that the Prussian Government
would not object to our aggrandisement towards the North."

I drove this morning through the fighting faubourgs with a member of the
Barricade Committee. Barricades are being erected everywhere, and they
are even stronger than the outer fortifications. There are, too, some
agreeable little chemical surprises for the Prussians if ever they get
into the town. In reply to some suggestions which I made, my friend
said, "Leave these people to form their own plans. They understand
street fighting better than any one in the world." At La Villette,
Crenelle, and other faubourgs inhabited by the blouses, there is no lack
of patriotism, and they will blow themselves and their homes up rather
than yield.

The bold Britons started again in their Derby turn-out yesterday.
Nothing has been heard of them since. We do not know whether they have
been imprisoned or what has become of them. I have already entrusted my
letters to balloons, boatmen, peasants, and Americans, but I do not know
whether they have reached you or not. The last balloon was pursued by a
Prussian one, the newspapers say!

Yesterday the Nuncio called together all the diplomatists still here,
and they determined to try to communicate with Bismarck. They seem to
imagine that a twenty-four hours' notice will be given before a
bombardment commences, when they will have time to get out. I send this
letter by a Government balloon. I shall send a copy to-morrow by a
private balloon, if it really does start as announced.

The _Gazette Officielle_ "unites with many citizens in asking Louis
Blanc to go to England, to obtain the sympathies of the English nation
for the Republic." This is all very well, but how is he to get there?

_September 25th._

No news of any importance from the front. It is a fête day, but there
are few holiday makers. The presence of the Prussians at the gates, and
the sound of the cannon, have at last sobered this frivolous people.
Frenchmen, indeed, cannot live without exaggeration, and for the last
twenty-four hours they have taken to walking about as if they were
guests at their own funerals. It is hardly in their line to play the
_justum et tenacem_ of Horace. Always acting, they are now acting the
part of Spartans. It is somewhat amusing to see the stern gloom on the
face of patriots one meets, who were singing and shouting a few days
ago--more particularly as it is by no means difficult to distinguish
beneath this outward gloom a certain keen relish, founded upon the
feeling that the part is well played. One thing, however, is certain,
order has at length been evolved from disorder. Except in the morning,
hardly any armed men are to be seen in the streets, and even in the
central Boulevards, except when there is a report of some success or
during an hour in the evening, there are no crowds. In the fighting
faubourgs there is a real genuine determination to fight it out to the
last. The men there have arms, and they have not cared to put on
uniforms. Men, women, and children are all of one mind in the quarters
of the working men. I have been much struck with the difference between
one of these poor fellows who is prepared to die for the honour of his
country, between his quiet, calm demeanour, and the absurd airs, and
noisy brawls, and the dapper uniforms of the young fellows one meets
with in the fashionable quarters. It is the difference between reality
and sham, bravery and bombast.

The newspapers are beginning to complain of the number of Chevaliers of
the Red Cross, who are daily becoming more numerous. Strong men, they
say, should not enrol themselves in a corps of non-combatants. It is
said, also, that at Clamart these chevaliers declined to go under fire
and pick up the wounded, and that the ambulances themselves made a
strategic movement to the rear at the commencement of the combat. The
flag of the Convention of Geneva is on far too many houses. From my
window I can count fifteen houses with this flag floating over them.

We have most wonderful stories about the Prussians, which, although they
are generally credited, I take leave to doubt. Villagers who have
slipped through the lines, and who play the part of the intelligent
contraband of the American Civil War, are our informants. They represent
the Prussian army without food, almost without clothing, bitterly
repenting their advance into France, demoralised by the conviction that
few of their number will be again in their homes. We are treated every
day, too, to the details of deeds of heroism on the part of Mobiles and
Nationaux, which would make Achilles himself jealous. There is, we are
told, a wonderful artilleryman in the fort before St. Denis, the
perfection of whose aim carries death and destruction into the Prussian

I am not sorry to learn that the sale of the ultra papers is not large.
M. Blanqui's office was yesterday broken into by some National Guards,
who made it clear to this worthy that he had ill chosen his moment to
attack the Government. I have not myself the slightest dread of a
general pillage. The majority of the working men no doubt entertain
extreme Socialist ideas, but any one of them who declined to make any
distinction between his property and that of his richer neighbours would
be very roughly handled. So long as the Government sticks to its policy
of no surrender, it will be supported by the faubourgs; if, however, it
attempts to capitulate upon humiliating terms, it will be ejected from
the Hôtel de Ville. A sharp bombardment may, perhaps, make a change in
public opinion, but I can only speak of the opinion of to-day. The
Government declares that it can never run short of ammunition; but it
seems to me that we cannot fire off powder and projectiles eternally,
and that one of these mornings we shall be told that we must capitulate,
as there is no more ammunition. Americans who are here, complain very
much of the Parisians for not using the spade more than they do.
Earthworks, which played so large a part in the defence both of
Sebastopol and Richmond, are unknown at Paris. Barricades made of paving
stones in the streets, and forts of solid masonry outside, are
considered the _ne plus ultra_ of defensive works. For one man who will
go to work to shovel earth, you may find a thousand who will shoulder a
musket. "Paris may be able to defend itself," the Americans say, "but it
is not defending itself after what our generals would consider the most
approved method." We have no intelligence of what is passing in France
beyond our lines. We presume that a great army is forming beyond the
Loire; but yesterday a friend of mine, who received this assurance from
M. Gambetta, could not discover that he had any reason to believe it,
except the hope that it was true.

It is a somewhat singular thing that Rochefort, who was regarded even by
his friends as a vain, mad-brained demagogue, has proved himself one of
the most sensible and practical members of the Government. He has
entirely subordinated his own particular views to the exigencies of the
defence of the capital; and it is owing to his good sense that the
ultras have not indulged in any revolutionary excesses.

I have already endeavoured to forward to you, by land, water, and air,
copies of the Tuileries papers which have been published. That poor old
pantaloon, Villemessant, the proprietor and editor of the _Figaro_, who
is somewhat roughly handled by them, attempts to defend himself in his
paper this morning, but utterly fails to do so. His interested
connection with the Imperial Government is proved without the shadow of
a doubt, and I trust that it will also prove the death of his newspaper,
which has long been a disgrace to the press of France. I went to look
after the proprietor of another paper yesterday, as he had promised me
that, come what may, he would get his own and my letters through the
Prussian lines. My friend, I found, had taken himself off to safe
quarters before the last road was closed. For my part I despise any
Parisian who has not remained here to defend his native city, whether he
be Imperialist or Republican, noble or merchant.

_Evening (Sunday)._

They could stand it no longer; the afternoon was too fine. Stern
patriotism unbent, and tragic severity of demeanour was forgotten. The
Champs Elysées and the Avenue de la Grande Armée were full of people.
Monsieur shone by his absence; he was at the ramparts, or was supposed
to be there; but his wife, his children, his _bonne_, and his kitchen
wench issued forth, oblivious alike of dull care and of bombarding
Prussians, to enjoy themselves after their wont by gossiping and lolling
in the sun. The Strasburg fetish had its usual crowd of admirers. Every
bench in the Champs Elysées was occupied. Guitars twanged, organs were
ground, merry-go-rounds were in full swing, and had it not been that
here and there some regiment was drilling, one would have supposed
oneself in some country fair. There were but few men; no fine toilets,
no private carriages. It was a sort of Greenwich-park. At the Arc de
Triomphe was a crowd trying to discover what was going on upon the
heights above Argenteuil. Some declared they saw Prussians, while others
with opera glasses declared that the supposed Prussians were only trees.
In the Avenue de l'Impératrice was a large crowd gazing upon the Fort
of Mont Valérien. This fort, because I presume it is the strongest for
defence, is the favourite of the Parisians. They love it as a sailor
loves his ship. "If I were near enough," said a girl near me, "I would
kiss it." "Let me carry your kiss to it," replied a Mobile, and the pair
embraced, amid the cheers of the people round them. At Auteuil there
were _fiacres_ full of sightseers, come to watch the Prussian batteries
at Meudon, which could be distinctly seen. Occasionally, too, there came
a puff of smoke from one of the gunboats.

_September 26th._

Do the Prussians really mean to starve us out? The Government gave out a
fortnight ago that there was food then within the city for two months'
consumption for a population of two millions. It is calculated that,
including the Mobiles, there are not above 1,500,000 mouths at present
to feed, so that with proper care the supplies may be made to last for
three months. Prices are, however, already rising. We have a bread and a
meat maximum, but to force a butcher to sell you a cutlet at the tariff
price, one has to go with a corporal's guard, which cannot always be
procured. The _Gazette Officielle_ contains a decree regulating the sale
of horse-flesh. I presume if the siege lasts long enough, dogs, rats,
and cats will be tariffed. I have got 1000 francs with me. It is
impossible to draw upon England; consequently, I see a moment coming
when, unless rats are reasonable, I shall not be able to afford myself
the luxury of one oftener than once a week. When I am at the end of my
1000 francs, I shall become an advocate for Felix Pyat's public tables,
at which, as far as I understand his plan, those who have money pay, and
those who have not, eat.

Yesterday was a quiet day. The forts occasionally fired to "sound the
enemy's lines," but that was all. But how is it all to end? In a given
time the Parisians will eat themselves out and fire themselves out. The
credulity of the public is as great as ever. We are told that "France is
rising, and that in a few weeks three armies will throw themselves on
the Prussians, who are already utterly disorganised." In vain I ask,
"But what if these three armies do not make their appearance?" I am
regarded as an idiot for venturing to discredit a notorious fact. If I
dared, I would venture to suggest to some of my warlike friends that a
town which simply defends itself by shutting its gates, firing into
space, and waiting for apocryphal armies, is not acting a very heroic

M.F. Pyat announces in the _Combat_ that the musket of honour which is
to be given to the man who shoots the King of Prussia is to have
inscribed upon it the word "Peacemaker." We have taken it into our heads
that the German army, Count Bismarck, the Crown Prince, and all the
Generals of the Corps d'Armée are in favour of peace, and the only
obstacle to its being at once concluded lies in the obstinacy of the
Monarch, whom we usually term "that mystic drunkard."

The _Rappel_ contains the report of a meeting which was held last night
of all the Republican Committees. Resolutions were adopted blaming the
Government for putting off the municipal elections. The adjournment,
however, of these elections is, I am convinced, regarded as a salutary
measure by a majority even of the ultras.

I dropped into the English Embassy this morning to see what was doing
there. Mr. Wodehouse, I understand, intends to leave before the
bombardment commences. He is a civilian, and cannot be blamed for this
precautionary measure. I cannot, however, but suppose that the military
attaché, who is a colonel in the army, will remain. There is a notion
among the members of the Corps Diplomatique that the Prussians before
they bombard the town will summon it to surrender. But it seems to me
very doubtful whether they will do so. Indeed, I for one shall not
believe in a general bombardment before I see it. To starve us out seems
to me their safest game. Were they to fire on the town, the public
opinion of the civilised world would pronounce against them.

The Mobiles, who receive 1 franc 50 centimes a day, complain that they
are unable to support themselves on this pittance. The conduct of these
peasants is above all praise. Physically and morally they are greatly
the superiors of the ordinary run of Parisians. They are quiet, orderly,
and, as a rule, even devout. Yesterday I went into the Madeleine, where
some service was going on. It was full of Mobiles listening to the
prayers of the priest. The Breton regiments are accompanied by their
priests, who bless them before they go on duty. If the Parisians were
not so thoroughly conceited, one might hope that the presence of these
villagers would have a beneficial effect upon them, and show them that
the Frenchmen out of Paris are worth more than those within it. The
generation of Parisians which has arrived at manhood during the
existence of the Empire is, perhaps, the most contemptible that the
world has ever seen. If one of these worthies is rich enough, his dream
has been to keep a mistress in splendour; if this has been above his
means, he has attempted to hang on to some wealthy _vaurien_. The number
of persons without available means who somehow managed to live on the
fat of the land without ever doing a single day's honest work had become
enormous. Most of them have, on some pretext or other, sneaked out of
Paris. One sees now very few ribbons of the Legion of Honour,
notwithstanding the reckless profusion with which this order was
lavished. The Emperor's flock, marked with the red streak, have

We have received news through a carrier pigeon that one of the postal
balloons has reached Tours. I trust that it will have carried my letter
to you. I intend henceforward to confide my letter to the post every
second day, and as I have got a copying machine, to send copy by any
messenger who is attempting to run the blockade. We are told that
balloons are to leave every evening; but as the same announcement
informs us that they will not only take letters but officials appointed
to functions in the provinces, I am afraid that there is almost too much
promised to render it likely that the programme will be carried out.


I have just made an attempt to see what is going on between the forts
and the ramparts, which has been a failure. I had obtained an order to
circulate for the necessities of the defence from a member of the
Government, and with this in my pocket I presented myself at several of
the gates. In vain I showed my pass, in vain I insisted upon the serious
consequences to Paris in general, and to the officer whom I was
addressing in particular, if I were not allowed to fulfil my circulating
mission. I had to give it up at last, and to content myself with
circulating inside the ramparts. On them, however, I managed to get,
thanks to a tradesman with whom I had often dealt, who was in command. I
was told that a member of the Government, his name no one seemed to
know, had addressed the "poste" yesterday, and urged the men to resist
until one or other of the armies which were forming in the provinces
could arrive and crush the enemy. Everything appeared, where I was,
ready for an attack. The sentinels were posted at short intervals, the
artillerymen were lying about near their guns, and in the Rue des
Remparts there were several hundred National Guards. They seemed to be
taking things easily, complained that the nights were a little chilly
and that business at home was at a standstill. In the course of my walk
I saw a great many barricades in process of formation. Eventually, I
presume, we shall have a second line of defences within the outer walls.
This second line has already been divided, like the ramparts, into nine
sections, each with a separate commander. I met at least a dozen
_soi-disant_ Prussian spies being conducted to prison. Each of them was
surrounded by twelve men, with bayonets fixed. Coming home I saw nine
French soldiers with placards bearing the inscription, "Miserable
cowards." Of course, the usual crowd accompanied them. I heard that they
were on their way to be shot.

The newspapers of this afternoon make a good deal of noise about the
exploits of the gunboat in the bend of the Seine between Point du Jour
and Boulogne. They claim that its gun has dismounted the Prussian
batteries on the terrace of Meudon, and that it successfully engaged
several field batteries which fired upon it from the Park of St. Cloud.
This may or may not be true. We are also called upon to believe that
five shots from Fort Ivry destroyed the Prussian batteries at Choisy le

The latest proclamation issued is one from General Trochu, in which he
says that it was the fault of no one that the redoubts which were in
course of construction when the Prussians arrived before the town were
not finished, and that they were abandoned for strategical reasons.

The latest Ultra paper publishes the account of a meeting which was
remarkable, it observes, for the "excellent spirit which animated it,
and the serious character of the speeches which were delivered at it."
This is one of these serious orations--"The Citizen Arthur de Fonvielle
recommends all citizens to exercise the greatest vigilance as regards
the manoeuvres of the police, and more especially those of the Préfet of
the Police. This Ministry has passed from the hands of a Corsican into
those of one of the assassins of the Mexican Republic." I derive
considerable amusement from the perusal of the articles which are daily
published reviling the world in general for not coming to the aid of
Paris. I translate the opening paragraphs of one of them which I have
just read:--"In the midst of events which are overwhelming us, there is
something still more melancholy than our defeat: it is our isolation.
For a month the world has looked on with an impassibility, mingled with
shame and cynicism, at the ruin of a capital which possesses the most
exquisite gifts of sociability, the principal jewel of Europe, and the
eternal ornament of civilisation." Nothing like having a good opinion of


I hear of some one going to try to-morrow to get through the lines, so I
give him a copy of this letter. My last letter went off--or rather did
not go off--by a private balloon. The speculator rushed in, just as I
expected him to be off, and said, "Celestine has burst." To my horror I
discovered that he was speaking of the balloon. He then added,
"Ernestine remains to us," and to Ernestine I confided my letter. I have
not seen the speculator since; it may be that Ernestine has burst too.

The latest _canard_ is that 10,000 Prussians are in a wood near
Villejuif, where they have been driven by the French. As they in the
most cowardly manner decline to come out of it, the wily Parisian braves
are rubbing the outer circle of trees over with petroleum, as a
preparatory step to burn them out. This veracious tale is believed by
two-thirds of Paris.


_September 27th,_ 8 A.M.

I have sent you numerous letters, but I am not aware whether you have
received them. As very probably they are now either in the clouds or in
the moon, I write a short resume of what has passed since we have been
cut off from the outer world, as I believe that I have a very good
chance this morning to communicate with you.

When the town was first invested the greatest disorder existed. For a
few days officers, even generals, were shot at by regiments outside the
fortifications; the National Guards performed their service on the
ramparts very reluctantly, and, when possible, shirked it. The Mobiles
were little better than an armed mob of peasants. The troops of the line
were utterly demoralised. The streets were filled with troopers
staggering about half drunk, and groups of armed Mobiles wandering in
ignorance of the whereabouts of their quarters and of their regiments.
The Government was divided into two parties--one supported by the
Moderates, and anxious to make peace on reasonable terms; the other
supported by the Ultras, and determined to continue the contest at all
hazards. The Ministers were almost in despair at finding the utter
disorder in which everything had been left by their predecessors. Little
by little this condition of things has mended for the better. Since the
failure of the mission of M. Jules Favre, and the exorbitant demands
which were then put forward by Count Bismarck, both Moderates and Ultras
have supported the men who are in power. It is felt by all that if Paris
is to be defended with any prospect of success, there must be absolute
union among its defenders. The Deputies of Paris are not thought,
perhaps, to be endowed with any very great administrative ability, but
Mr. Lincoln's proverb respecting the difficulty of a person changing his
horse whilst he is crossing a stream is acted on, and so long as they
neither commit any signal act of folly, nor attempt to treat with
Prussia either for peace or a capitulation, I think that no effort will
be made to oust them. They are, I believe, doing their best to organise
the defence of this city, and if they waste a little time in altering
the names of the streets, and publishing manifestoes couched in grand
and bombastic phrases, it must be remembered that they have to govern
Frenchmen who are fond of this species of nonsense. With respect to the
military situation, the soldiers of all sorts are kept well together,
and appear to be under the command of their officers. The National
Guard, although it still grumbles a little, does its duty on the
ramparts. The soldiers of the line are kept outside the town. The
Mobiles have passed many hours in drill during the last ten days; they
are orderly and well conducted, and if not soldiers already, are a far
more formidable force than they were at the commencement of the siege.
Whether they will ever become available for operations in the open field
is, perhaps, questionable, for their regiments would probably be thrown
into confusion if called upon to act together. Within the line of the
forts, however, there is no reason to suppose that they will not fight
well. The forts are manned by sailors, who are excellent artillerists,
and the guns are formidable ones. On the Seine there is a flotilla of
gunboats. The city has food and ammunition for two months. Paris,
therefore, ought to be able to hold out for these two months. She has
her own population, a large portion of which consists of the working
men, who have never been backward in fighting. The provinces have been
drained of their best blood, which has been brought up to the capital.
All that remains of the French army is here. At the lowest average the
armed force in Paris amounts to 450,000 men, and there are about 500,000
more from which this force can recruit itself. If, then, the capital
does not hold out for two months, she will deserve the contempt of the
world--if she does hold out for this period, she will at least have
saved her honour, and, to a certain extent, the military reputation of

The newspapers are still pursuing the very questionable policy of
exaggerating every little affair of the outposts into a victory, and
assuring those who read their lucubrations that powerful armies are on
the march to raise the siege. The only real military event of any
consequence which has taken place has resulted in a Prussian success.
The French were driven back from some half-finished redoubts at
Chatillon, and the Prussians now occupy the heights between Sèvres and
Meudon, from whence, if they establish batteries, they will be able to
shell a portion of the town. In the second affair which took place,
absurd stories have been repeated respecting the advantages gained by
the French; but they are, to say the least, extremely apocryphal, and
even were they true they are of small importance. For the last few days
the forts have fired upon any Prussian troops that either were or were
supposed to be within shot; and the gunboats have attempted to prevent
the erection of batteries on the Sèvres-Meudon plateau. In point of
fact, the siege has not really commenced; and until it is seen how this
vast population bears its hardships, how the forts resist the guns which
may be brought to bear upon them, and how the armed force conducts
itself under fire, it is impossible to speculate upon results.

Considering the utter stagnation in trade, the number of working men out
of employment, and the irritation caused by defeat, it must be admitted
that the Parisians of all classes are behaving themselves well. The rich
residents have fled, and left to their poorer neighbours the task of
defending their native city. There have been no tumults or disorders,
except those caused by the foolish mania of supposing every one who is
not known must necessarily be a spy. Political manifestations have taken
place before the Hôtel de Ville, but the conciliatory policy adopted by
the Government has prevented their degenerating into excesses. Public
opinion, too, has pronounced against them. From what I have heard and
observed, I am inclined to think that the majority of the bourgeoisie
are in favour of a capitulation, but that they do not venture to say so;
and that the majority of the working men are opposed to peace on any
terms. They do not precisely know themselves what would be the result of
holding out, but they vaguely trust to time, and to the chapter of
accidents. In the middle and upper classes there are also many who take
the same view of the situation. "Let us," they say, "hold out for two
months, and the condition of things will in all probability be altered,
and if so, as we cannot be worse off, any change must be to our

Shut up with the Parisians in Paris, I cannot help feeling a good deal
of sympathy for them, notwithstanding their childish vanity, their
mendacity, and their frivolity. I sincerely trust, therefore, if they do
seriously resist their besiegers, that the assurances of the Government
that there are ample supplies of food and of ammunition, are not part of
the system of official lying which was pursued by their predecessors;
and I hope that the grandiloquent boasts and brave words that one hears
from morning to night will be followed by brave deeds.

This morning Messenger Johnson was sent off with despatches to England
from the British Embassy. He was provided with a safe-conduct, signed by
General Trochu, and a letter to the Commandant of the Fort of Vanves,
enjoining him to forward Mr. Johnson under a flag of truce to the
Prussian lines. At half-past nine Messenger Johnson, arrayed in a pair
of high boots with clanking spurs, the belongings, I presume, of a
Queen's messenger, stepped into his carriage, with that "I should like
to see any one touch me" air which is the badge of his tribe. His
coachman being already drunk, he was accompanied by a second man, who
undertook to drive until Jehu had got over the effect of his potations.
I myself have always regarded Queen's messengers as superior beings, to
be addressed with awe, and whose progress no one would venture to
arrest. Such, however, was not the opinion of the National Guards who
were on duty at the gate through which Messenger Johnson sought to leave
this beleagured town. In vain Messenger Johnson showed his pass; in vain
he stated that he was a free-born Briton and a Queen's messenger. These
suspicious patriots ignored the pass, and scoffed at the _Civis
Romanus_. In fact, I tremble as I write it, several of them said they
felt somewhat inclined to shoot any Briton, and more particularly a
Queen's Messenger, whilst others proposed to prod Messenger Johnson with
their bayonets in his tenderest parts. Exit under these circumstances
was impossible. For some time Messenger Johnson sat calm, dignified, and
imperturbable in the midst of this uproar, and then made a strategical
retreat to the Ministry of War. He was there given an officer to
accompany him; he again set forth, and this time he was more fortunate,
for he got through the gate, and vanished from our horizon. I called at
the Embassy this afternoon, and found our representative, Mr.
Wodehouse, confident that Messenger Johnson would arrive at his
destination. Mr. Wodehouse when I left him was engaged in pacifying a
lunatic, who had forced his way into the Embassy, and who insisted that
he was the British Ambassador. I was surprised to learn that there are
still at least 3000 of our countrymen and women in Paris. Most of them
are in a state of absolute destitution, some because they have no means,
others because they are unable to draw upon the funds in England. Mr.
Herbert has established a species of soup kitchen, so they will not
starve until we all do. Mr. Wallace, the heir of Lord Hertford, who had
already given the munificent donation of 12,000l. to the Ambulance fund,
has also provided funds for their most pressing wants.

In to-day's _Journal des Débats_ M. John Lemoinne points out to his
readers that M. Bismarck, in his remarks to M. Jules Favre, expressed
the opinion of Germany, and that the expression of his views respecting
the necessity of Germany annexing Alsace and Lorraine is not necessarily
an insult to France. The war, says M. Lemoinne, never was a war of
monarchs, but a war of nations. France as well as the Emperor is
responsible for it. It must continue to be, he continues, a war _à
outrance_ between two races. The terms of peace proposed by M. Bismarck
cannot be accepted by France. The moderate tone and dignified melancholy
of this article contrast favourably with that of almost all the leaders
in the other papers, and more particularly in those of the
ultra-Republican press. In _La France_, a moderate and well-conducted
journal, I find the following remarks:--"Paris is the capital of France
and of the world. Paris besieged is a beautiful, a surprising spectacle.
The sky is blue, the atmosphere is pure, this is a happy augury, fifteen
days of patience on the part of the Parisians, fifteen days to arm in
the provinces, and the German army will be irreparably compromised. It
will then be unable to cut its way out of the circle of fire which will
surround it." When journals of the standing of _La France_ deal in this
sort of nonsense it is not surprising that the ex-Imperialist organs,
which are endeavouring to curry favour with the mob, are still more
absurd. The _Figaro_ concludes two columns of bombast with the following
flight:--"But thou, O country, never diest. Bled in all thy veins by the
butchers of the North, thy divine head mutilated by the heels of brutes,
the Christ of nations, for two months nailed on the cross, never hast
thou appeared so great and so beautiful, Thou neededst this martyrdom, O
our mother, to know how we love thee. In order that Paris, in which
there is a genius which has given her the empire of the world, should
fall into the hands of the barbarians, there must cease to be a God in
heaven. As God she exists, and as God she is immortal. Paris will never
surrender." When it is remembered that this ignorant, vain, foolish
population has for nearly twenty years been fed with this sort of stuff,
it is not surprising that even to this hour it cannot realise the fact
that Paris is in any danger of being captured. The ultra-Republican
press is becoming every day more virulent. M. Blanqui, in his organ, _La
Patrie en Danger_, after praising the act of a person of the name of
Malet, who last February shot an officer who refused to shout "Vive la
République," thus continues:--"I was reminded of this when the other day
I saw defile on the boulevards a regiment of rustic peasants. I raised
my hat to salute these soldiers of liberty, but there was no response
from them. Malet would have raised the kepi of one of the captains with
a bullet, and he would have done well. Let us be without pity. Vive
Marat! We will do justice ourselves...." The ultra-Republicans, of the
stamp of M. Blanqui and M. Felix Pyat, seem to be under the impression
that it is far more important to establish a Republican form of
Government in France than to resist the Prussians. In the meetings which
they hold every evening they clamour for the election at once of a
municipality, because they hope to become themselves members of it, and
then to absorb all the power which is now wielded by the Provisional
Government. Beyond discrediting themselves by these attempts to disturb
the harmony within the walls, which is of such vital importance at the
present moment, I do not think that they will do much. I have talked to
many working men, and whatever may be their political opinions, they are
far too sensible to play the game of the Prussians by weakening the
existing Government. After the Prussians perhaps the deluge; but as long
as they are before Paris, and the Provisional Government does not
capitulate, I do not dread any political disorders. What we may come to,
are bread riots. There is already an immense deal of misery, and, as the
siege continues and provisions rise in price, it will of course

I was talking this morning to a gentleman who used at one time to play a
very important part in public life, who is well acquainted with most of
the members of the Government, and who is a man of calm judgment. I was
anxious to obtain his opinion upon the situation, and this is a _résumé_
of what he told me. "When Jules Favre," he said, "went to Bismarck, he
was prepared to agree to the dismantlement of the fortresses of Alsace
and Lorraine, the cession of half the fleet, the payment of an indemnity
of eighty millions of pounds, and an agreement for a term of years not
to have a standing army of more than 200,000 men. A Constituent Assembly
would have ratified these terms. The cession of a portion of the fleet
is but tantamount to the payment of money. The conscription is so
unpopular that a majority of the nation would have been glad to know
that the standing army would henceforward be a small one. As for the
fortresses, they have not been taken, and yet they have not arrested the
Prussian advance on Paris; consequently their destruction would not
seriously weaken the defences of the country." I asked whether Paris
would now consent to these terms. "No," he said, "if the Government
offered them there would be a revolution. Paris, rightly or wrongly,
believes that she will be able to hold out for two months, and that
during this time there will be a _levée en masse_." "And do you share
this opinion?" I asked. "I am not of a very sanguine character" he
replied; "but I really am now inclined to believe that the Prussians
will never enter Paris unless they starve us into a surrender." "Then,"
I said, "I suppose they will starve us out." "I am an old man," he said,
"and I always remember Philip's saying, 'Time and I are two,' In two
months many things may happen. Winter is coming on. The Prussian army is
composed of men engaged in business at home and anxious to return; the
North does not love the South, and divisions may arise. The King of
Prussia is an old man, and he may die. Without absolutely counting upon
a French army raising the siege, there are _levées_ forming in Lyons and
elsewhere, and the Germans will find their communications seriously
menaced. Russia, too, and Austria may interfere, so I think that we are
wise to resist as long as we can." "But if you have to capitulate, what
will happen?" I asked. "If we do capitulate, our disaster will be
complete," he answered. "I do not anticipate disorders; the population
of Paris is an intelligent one, it wishes the Government to resist as
long as it can, but not to prolong an impossible situation. Paris must
do her part in defending the country, she can do no more." "Well," I
said, "supposing that the Prussians were to withdraw, and peace were to
be concluded on reasonable terms, what do you think would take place?"
"Gambetta, Jules Favre, and the majority of the Parisian Deputies would
call a Constituent Assembly as soon as possible, and resign power into
its hands. They are moderate Republicans, but between a Red Republic and
a Constitutional Monarchy they would prefer the latter. As practical
men, from what I know of them, I am inclined to think that they would be
in favour of the Orleanist family--either the Comte de Paris or the Duc
d'Aumale." "And would the majority of the Constituent Assembly go with
them?" I asked. "I think it would" he replied. "The Orleanist family
would mean peace. Of late years Frenchmen have cared very little for
military glory; their dream has been to save money. One advantage of our
disasters is that it has limited the number of pretenders to the Throne,
for after the capitulation of Sedan, neither the army nor the peasants
will support a Bonaparte. There will be two parties--the
ultra-Republicans, and the advocates of a Constitutional Monarchy under
a Prince of the House of Orleans. Unless the friends of the Orleans
Princes commit some great fault, they are masters of the situation."

I went down this morning to the Halles Centrales. There was very little
going on. _Bonnes_ were coming to market, but most of the booths were
untenanted, and the price of vegetables, eggs, and butter was
exorbitant. "Why do you complain of me?" said a dealer to a
customer--"is it my fault? Curse Badinguet and that wretch of a
Bismarck; they choose to fight, so you must pay double for these
carrots" The butchers yesterday published an appeal against the maximum;
they said that the cost of animals is so great that they positively are
losing upon every joint which they sell. A new proclamation of the Mayor
has just been issued, announcing that 500 oxen and 4,000 sheep will
daily be slaughtered and sold to the butchers at a price to enable them
to gain 20 per cent, by retailing meat at the official tariff. I find
that, come what may, we have coffee and sugar enough to last many
months, so that provided the bread does not fail, we shall take some
time to starve out.

This afternoon a dense column of smoke was seen rising in the air in the
direction of La Villette, and it gradually covered the town with a dark
cloud. The pessimists among the Boulevard quidnuncs insisted that the
town had been set on fire by the Prussians; the optimists were convinced
that the 10,000, who for some reason or other are supposed to be in a
wood, patiently waiting to be roasted, were being burnt. It turns out
that some petroleum in the Buttes de Chaumont caught fire. After burning
about two hours, the fire was put out by heaping dirt on it.

The Prussians still occupy the plateau of Meudon, and despatches from
the forts say that troops are supposed to be concentrating between
Meudon and Sèvres. We have come to the conclusion that as the Prussians
do not fire upon Grenello and Auteuil, they have neither Krupp nor siege
guns. I trust this may prove true. News has been received from Tours; it
was brought by an officer who ran the blockade. We are much elated to
learn that the result of M. Jules Favre's interview has been posted up
throughout France. We believe that the effect of this measure "will be
equal to an army." The Post Office informs the public that a regular
system of balloons has been organised, and that letters will be received
and forwarded to the provinces and abroad, provided they do not weigh
above four grammes. A deputation of English and American correspondents
waited to-day on M. Jules Favre, to ask him to give them facilities to
send their letters by the balloons. This he promised to do. He also half
promised to let all correspondents have a pass, on stating who they are.
The worst of a pass is, that it is no protection against arrest, for,
say your captors, "Prussian spies are so cunning that they would be
precisely the persons to have papers, either forged or stolen." Another
trouble is, that if you are arrested, you are generally shut up, with
half-a-dozen thieves and drunkards, for about twenty-four hours, before
a Commissary condescends to inquire into your case. No one as yet has
ever troubled me; but the spy mania certainly does not add to the charm
of the residence of a stranger in Paris just now. I would rather run the
chance of being hit during a bombardment, than affront the certainty of
twenty-four hours in a filthy police cell. Suspicion is, no doubt,
carried to a ridiculous excess; but it is equally true that
unquestionable spies are arrested every day under every sort of
disguise. Mr. Washburne told me yesterday that he saw a _soi-disant_
"Invalide" arrested, who turned out to be a regular "spectacled

_September 28th._

Nothing new at the front. We suppose that the enemy are concentrating
troops on the Sèvres-Meudon plateau, and that they intend to attack on
that side. We are confident that the guns of Mont Valérien will prevent
the success of this attack. On the opposite side of Paris they are
endeavouring to erect batteries; but they are unable to do so on account
of the fire of Fort Nogent. It seems to me that we are shouting before
we are quite out of the wood; but we are already congratulating
ourselves upon having sustained a siege which throws those of Saragossa
and Richmond into the shade. If we have not yet been bombarded, we have
assumed "an heroic attitude of expectation;" and if the Prussians have
not yet stormed the walls, we have shown that we were ready to repel
them if they had. Deprived of our shepherd and our sheep-dogs, we civic
sheep have set up so loud a ba-ba, that we have terrified the wolves who
wished to devour us. In the impossible event of an ultimate capitulation
we shall hang our swords and our muskets over our fire-places, and say
to our grandchildren, "I, too, was one of the defenders of Paris." In
the meantime, soldiers who have run away when attacked are paraded
through the streets with a placard on their breasts, requesting all good
citizens to spit upon them. Two courts-martial have been established to
judge spies and marauders, and in each of the nine sections there is a
court-martial to sit upon peccant National Guards. "The sentence," says
the decree, "will at once be executed by the detachment on duty." We are
preparing for the worst; in the Place of the Panthéon, and other
squares, it is proposed to take up the paving stones, because they will,
if left, explode shells which may strike them. The windows of the Louvre
and other public edifices are being filled with sand bags. This morning
I was walking along the Rue Lafayette, when I heard a cry "A bas les
cigares!" and I found that if I continued to smoke, it was thought that
I should set light to some ammunition waggons which were passing.

Yesterday evening there was a report, which was almost universally
credited, that a revolution had broken out in London, because the
English Government had refused to aid Paris in driving back the
Prussians. The Parisians find it impossible to understand that the world
at large can see little distinction between a French army entering
Berlin and a Prussian army entering Paris. Their capital is to them a
holy city, and they imagine that the Christian world regards the
Prussian attack upon it much as the Mahometan world would regard a
bombardment of Mecca. No doubt it will be a shocking thing to bombard a
city such as this, filled with women and children; still, being an
Englishman, I cannot see that it would be worse than to bombard London.
The newspapers of this morning contain a _précis_ of a letter from "our
Fritz" to William "the mystic drunkard." Our Fritz writes to his papa to
say that he ought to have accepted peace when it was proffered by Jules
Favre. How the contents of the letter are known in Paris is not stated.
But here we know everything. We know that at a council of war held two
days ago at Versailles a majority declared that it was impossible to
take Paris. We know that the German soldiers are dying of starvation and
clothed in rags. We know that they are forced by their officers, against
their will, to attack their French brothers. Did not yesterday a
National Guard himself take five Prussian prisoners? They were starving,
and thankfully accepted a piece of bread. They had a wounded companion
in a wheelbarrow, who continually shook his fist in the direction of the
"mystic drunkard," and plaintively moaned forth the only French word he
knew, "Misérable, misérable!" Did not another National Guard go into a
house recently occupied by "Bavarians," and find the following words
written on a shutter--"Poor Frenchmen, we love you: they force us to
fight against you?" I believe all this, and many other strange facts,
because I see them in print in the newspapers. Can it possibly be that I
am over-credulous? Am I wrong, too, in believing that France is rising
_en masse_, that Moltke did not understand his business in advancing on
Paris, and that he will be crushed by the armies of the Loire and a
dozen other places--if, indeed, our gallant heroes congregated in Paris
give their brethren outside time to share in the triumph of defeating
him? _En attendant_, we eat, drink, and are reasonably merry; our
defenders mount guard, and drill when they are off guard. Our wary
Mobiles outside not only refuse to allow Prussians to pass, but such is
their vigilance, they generally arrest officers of any regiment except
their own who come within their ken. These worthy fellows will, I
believe, fight with bravery. The working men, too, are engaged in
heaping up barricades, and are ready to allow themselves to be killed
and their landlords' houses to be blown up rather than surrender. The
sailors in the forts are prepared to hold them like ships against all
comers. The "infantry of the marine" is commanded by an old tar who
stands no nonsense. A few days ago he published an order complaining
that the marines "undulated under fire." Some of his officers went to
him as a deputation to protest against this slur on them and their men;
but he cut their remonstrances short by immediately cashiering the
spokesman. To-day he announces that if his men are supplied with drink
within the limits of his command he will burn down all the pothouses. It
is greatly to be deplored that the determined spirit of this Admiral
does not animate all his brother commanders; they are perpetually
engaged in discussing with those who are under their orders, and appear
to be afraid to put down insubordination with a high hand. If ever they
venture upon any act of rigour, they are called upon by the Ultra press
to justify it, and they generally do so in a lengthy letter.

I have been, as the Americans say, much exercised of late respecting
certain persons whom I have seen strolling about the streets, avoiding
as much as possible their species. Whenever anyone looked at them they
sneaked away with deprecating glances. They are dressed in a sort of
pea-jacket, with hoods, black trousers, and black caps, and their
general appearance was a cross between a sailor and a monk. I have at
length discovered with surprise that these retiring innocents are the
new sergents-de-ville of M. Kératry, who are daily denounced by the
Ultras as ferocious wolves eager to rend and devour all honest citizens.
If this be true, I can only say that they are well disguised in sheep's

Letters from Paris, if ever they do get to London, must necessarily be
so dull, that they can hardly repay the trouble of reading them. Life
here is about as lively as life on board a ship. The two main subjects
of conversation, the military preparations within the town, and the
amount of food, are in honour tabooed to correspondents. With respect to
the former I will only say, that if the Prussians do carry the forts and
the enceinte, they will not have taken Paris; with regard to the latter,
I can state that we shall not be starved out for some time. Besides the
cattle which have been accumulated, we have 90,000 horses; and although
a cab horse may not taste as good as Southdown mutton, I have no doubt
that Parisian cooking will make it a very palatable dish for hungry men;
there are, too, a great many dogs, and the rats have not yet left the
sinking ship. As for coffee and sugar we have enough to last for six
months; and, unless the statistics of the Government are utterly
worthless, come what may we shall not lack bread for many a day.

The Rump of the Corps Diplomatique has held a second meeting, and a
messenger has been sent to Bismarck to know--1st, whether he means to
bombard the city; 2nd, whether, if he does, he intends to give the usual
twenty-four hours' notice. Diplomates are little better than old women
when they have to act on an emergency. Were it not for Mr. Washburne,
who was brought up in the rough-and-ready life of the Far West, instead
of serving an apprenticeship in Courts and Government offices, those who
are still here would be perfectly helpless. They come to him at all
moments, and although he cannot speak French, for all practical purposes
he is worth more than all his colleagues put together. Lord Lyons would,
I believe, have remained, had he not been over persuaded by timid
colleagues, who were ordered to do as he did. It is a great pity that he
did not act according to his own judgment; but Republics, we know, are
not in good odour with courtiers. As for that poor creature Metternich,
he was utterly demoralized. He was more of a Chamberlain of Badinguet
than an Ambassador, and, of course, when his friend disappeared, he
took the earliest opportunity to follow his example.

_September 29th._

We still are cut off from the outer world, but neither "the world
forgetting," nor, we imagine, "by the world forgot." The inhabitants of
the "Mecca of civilization" are still, like Sister Anne, looking out for
some one to come to their assistance. I am utterly sick and tired of the
eternal brag and bombast around me. Let the Parisians gain some success,
and then celebrate it as loudly as they please: but why, in the name of
common sense, will they rejoice over victories yet to come? "We are
preserving," they say, "a dignified expectative attitude." Mr. Micawber
put the thing in more simple vernacular when, he said that he was
waiting for something to turn up. "First catch your hare" is a piece of
advice which our patriots here would scoff at. They have not yet caught
the Prussians, but they have already, by a flight of imagination, cooked
and eaten them. Count Moltke may as well--if I am to believe one quarter
of what I hear--like the American coon, come down. In a question of
military strategy between the grocers of Paris and the Prussian generals
I should have thought that the odds were considerably in favour of the
latter, but I am told that this is not so, and that in laying siege to
Paris they are committing a mistake for which a schoolboy would be
deservedly whipped. If you eliminate the working-class element, which
has not been corrupted by the Imperial system, the population of this
town is much what I imagine that of Constantinople to have been when it
was taken by the Turks. They are Greeks of the lower empire. Monsieur
sticks his kepi on one side of his head, and struts and swaggers along
the Boulevard as though he were a bantam cock. We have lost the _petits
crevés_ who formed so agreeable an element in society, but they have
been replaced by the military dandy, a being, if possible, still more
offensive. This creature mounts some sorry screw and parades the
Boulevard and the Champs Elysées, frowning dismally upon the world in
general, and twirling his moustache with the one hand, whilst he holds
on to the saddle with the other. His sword is of the longest, his waist
is of the tightest, and his boots are of the brightest. His like is only
to be seen in England when the _Battle of Waterloo_ is played at
Astley's, but his seat is not as good as that of the equestrian warriors
of that establishment. As he slowly paces along he gazes slyly to see
how many people are looking at him, and it must be owned that those who
do see him, vastly admire him. What manner of beings these admirers are
may be imagined from their idol. No contrast can be greater than that
which exists between the Parisian Bobadils and the Provincial Mobiles.
The latter are quiet and orderly, eager to drill and without a vestige
of bluster--these poor peasants are of a very different stuff from the
emasculated, conceited scum which has palmed itself off on Europe as
representative Frenchmen. The families with whom they lodge speak with
wonder of their sobriety, their decency, and their simple ways, and in
their hearts almost despise them because they do not ravish their
daughters or pillage their cellars; and neither swear every half-hour to
die for their country, nor yell the "Marseillaise." If Paris be saved,
it will be thanks to them and to the working men of the capital. But it
will be the old _sic vos non vobis_ story; their brave deeds and
undemonstrative heroism will be forgotten, and Jules and Alphonse, the
dandies and braggarts of the Boulevard, will swear to their own heroism.
I trust that the Prussians will fail to take Paris, because I think that
the French are right to fight on rather than submit to the dismemberment
of their country; and because I prefer a Republic to a Monarchy where a
King reigns by right divine. But when I read the bombastic articles in
the newspapers--when I see the insane conceit and the utter ignorance of
those with whom I am thrown--when I find them really believing that they
are heroes because they are going, they say, to win battles, it is
difficult to entertain any great sympathy for them. How utterly must
poor old Badinguet, before whom they cringed for years--who used them,
bought them, and made his market out of their vanity, their ignorance,
and their love of theatrical claptrap, despise them, as he dreams again
through life's dream in the gardens of his German prison. They call him
now a "sinister scoundrel" and a "lugubrious stage player." But he was
their master for many a long year, and they owe their emancipation from
his yoke to Prussian arms and not to themselves.

A committee of "subsistence" has been established. The feud between the
butchers and the public still continues, and most of the meat stalls are
closed. The grocers, too, are charging absurd prices for their goods.
_La Liberté_ suggests that their clients should do themselves justice,
and one of these mornings, unless these gentry abate their prices, some
grocer will be found hanging before his door. Although provisions are
plentiful, the misery is very great. Beggars increase in number every
day--they are like one of the plagues of Egypt. I was taking a cup of
coffee this morning before a café, and I counted twenty-three beggars
who asked me for money whilst I was sitting there. We still derive much
comfort from caricaturing Badinguet, William, and Bismarck. The latest
effort represents Badinguet and William as Robert Macaire and Bertrand.
Another represents Badinguet eating an eagle. "Coquin," says William,
"what are you doing with your eagle?" "Eating it," replies Badinguet;
"what else can I do with it?" Little statuettes, too, of the "two
friends," Badinguet and William, are in great request. William, with an
immense moustache, scowls at Badinguet, who humbly kneels before him.

M. Jules Favre, in reply to the English press deputation, sent last
night to say that each correspondent must make a personal application to
General Trochu. I know what that means already. All I ask is that my
letters should be put up in a balloon. As for passes, I have one
already, and it has not been of the slightest service to me. _Les
Nouvelles_ heads an article "English Spies," and proposes that to
simplify the question of whether they are spies or not, all English in
Paris should at once be shot. I cannot say that I personally have found
any ill-feeling to exist against me because I am an Englishman.
Yesterday afternoon I was in a crowd, and some one suggested that I was
a spy; I immediately mounted on a chair and explained that I was a
"journaliste Anglais," and pointed out to my friends that they ought to
be obliged to me for remaining here. "If any one doubts me," I added,
"let us go to the nearest commissary." No one did doubt me, and fifty
patriots immediately shook hands with me. The French people are apt to
form hasty judgments sometimes, and to act on them still more hastily,
but if one can get them to listen for a moment, they are reasonable, and
soon their natural good nature asserts itself. The zealous but
well-intended Mobiles are the most dangerous, for they shoot you first
and then apologise to your corpse. An order is placarded to-day of
Governor Trochu's, announcing that anyone trying to pass the lines will
be sent before the Courts Martial, or if he or she runs away when
ordered to stop, will be shot on the spot. This latter clause allows a
very great latitude for zeal, more particularly as the "lines" just now
are little more than a geographical expression. Their Emperor is a
prisoner, the enemy is thundering at their gates, they are shut up here
like rats in a hole; they have been vanquished in the only engagement
they have had with their besiegers, and yet the Parisians believe that,
compared with them, the Germans are an inferior race, and, like the
slave before Marius, will shrink abashed before the majesty of Paris.
"If we," say their newspapers, "the wisest, the best, the noblest of
human beings, have to succumb to this horde of barbarians that environ
us, we shall cease to believe in the existence of a Providence."

The movement on the part of the "Ultras" to elect at once a municipality
is gaining strength. Yesterday several chiefs of the faubourg battalions
of the National Guard interviewed Jules Ferry on the subject. Ledru
Rollin has declared himself in favour of it, and this morning there are
evidences that the Government is inclined to give way to the pressure,
for a decree is published in the _Journal Officiel_ ordering a
registration of voters. The worst of Frenchmen is that, no matter how
patriotic each one may be, he is convinced that the interests of his
country require that he should be one of its rulers. The men of '48 who
have returned from exile are surprised that they are almost forgotten by
the present generation, which regards them as interesting historical
relics, and puts its faith in new gods. At the clubs every evening the
Government is denounced for refusing to admit into its ranks this or
that patriot, or adjourning the municipal elections, and for not sending
revolutionary agents into the provinces. A newspaper this morning makes
the excellent suggestion that M. Blanqui, M.F. Pyat, and their principal
adherents should be invited to proceed at once to the provinces in a
balloon, invested with the rank of Government agents. "They cannot," it
adds, "do so much harm there as they are doing here; and then, too, the
balloon may burst." Personally, I should be glad to see a moderate
Republic established here, for I regard a Court as a waste of public
money; but it seems to me that Republicans should remember that it is
for the nation, and not for them, to decide what shall henceforward be
the form of government.


_September 30th._

We are still beating our tom-toms like the Chinese, to frighten away the
enemy, and our braves still fire off powder at invisible Uhlans. The
Prussians, to our intense disgust, will not condescend even to notice
us. We jeer at them, we revile them, and yet they will not attack us.
What they are doing we cannot understand. They appear to have withdrawn
from the advanced positions which they held. We know that they are in
the habit of making war in a thoroughly ungentlemanly manner, and we
cannot make up our minds whether our "attitude" is causing them to
hesitate, or whether they are not devising some new trick to take us by
surprise. That they are starving, that their communications with Germany
are cut off, that their leaders are at loggerheads, that the Army of the
Loire will soon be here to help us to demolish them, we have not the
slightest doubt. The question is no longer whether Paris will be
taken--that we have solved already--it is whether the Prussians will be
able to get back to the Rhine. We are thankful that Bismarck did not
accept Jules Favre's offer of a money indemnity. We would not give a
hundred francs now to ensure peace or an armistice. I went this morning
into a shop, the proprietor of which, a bootmaker, I have long known,
and I listened with interest to the conversation of this worthy man
with some of his neighbours who had dropped in to have a gossip, and to
congratulate him on his martial achievements, as he had been on guard in
a bastion. We first discussed why the Army of the Loire had not arrived,
and we came to the conclusion that it was engaged in rallying Bazaine.
"I should like to read your English newspapers now," said one; "your
_Tims_ told us we ought to cede Alsace and Lorraine, but its editor must
now acknowledge that Paris is invincible." I told him that I felt
convinced that he did so regularly every morning. "No peace," shouted a
little tailor, who had been prancing about on an imaginary steed,
killing imaginary Prussians, "we have made a pact with death; the world
knows now what are the consequences of attacking us." The all-absorbing
question of subsistence then came up, and some one remarked that beef
would give out sooner than mutton. "We must learn," observed a
jolly-looking grocer, "to vanquish the prejudices of our stomachs. Even
those who do not like mutton must make the sacrifice of their taste to
their country." I mildly suggested that perhaps in a few weeks the
stomachs which had a prejudice against rats would have to overcome it.
At this the countenance of the gossips fell considerably, when the
bootmaker, after mysteriously closing the door, whispered, "A secret was
confided to me this morning by an intimate friend of General Trochu.
There is a tunnel which connects Paris with the provinces, and through
it flocks and herds are entering the town." This news cheered us up
amazingly. My bootmaker's wife came in to help him off with his military
accoutrements; so, with a compliment about Venus disarming Mars, I
withdrew in company with an American, who had gone into the shop with
me. This American is a sort of transatlantic Bunsby. He talks little,
but thinks much. His sole observation to me as we walked away was this,
"They will squat, sir, mark my words, they will squat." I received this
oracular utterance with respect, and I leave it to others to solve its
meaning, I am myself a person of singular credulity, but even I
sometimes ask myself whether all I hear and read can be true. Was there
really, as all the newspapers this morning inform me, a meeting last
Sunday at London of 400,000 persons, who were addressed by eminent
M.P's, and by the principal merchants and owners of manufactories in
England, at which resolutions were adopted denouncing the Queen, and
calling upon Mr. Gladstone either to retire from office, or to declare
war against Prussia?

The Tuileries correspondence, of which I gave a short summary yesterday,
reveals the fact that both M. de Cassagnac and Baron Jerome David were
regular pensioners on the Civil List. The cost of the Prince Imperial's
baptism amounted to 898,000fr. The cousins, male and female, of the
Emperor, received 1,310,975fr. per annum; the Duc de Persigny received
in two months, 60,000fr.; Prince Jablonowyski, Countess Gajan, Madame
Claude Vignon, Le General Morris, and many other ladies and gentlemen
who never did the State any service, are down for various sums. Among
other items is one of 1,200fr. to General de Failly for sugar plums. The
Duchess of Mouchy, whose name continually appears, received 2,000,000fr.
as a marriage portion. The son of the American Bonaparte had a pension
of 30,000fr.; Madame Ratazzi of 24,000fr.; her sister, Madame Turr, the
same; Marquis Pepoli, 25,000fr. But the poor relations do not appear to
have been contented with their pensions, for on some pretext or other
they were always getting extra allowances out of their rich cousin. As
for Prince Achille Murat, the Emperor paid his debts a dozen times.
Whatever he may have been to the outer world, poor old Badinguet seems
to have been a Providence to his forty-two cousins and to his personal
friends. He carried out Sidney Smith's notion of charity--put his hand
into someone else's pocket, and gave away what he stole liberally.

_Figaro_, with its usual good taste, recommends the battalions of the
National Guard to choose celebrities of the _demi-monde_ for their
vivandières. From what I hear every day, I imagine that the battalions
will be far more likely to hang the editor of this facetious paper than
to take his advice. I am told by the kiosque women that its sale is
falling off daily.

The clubs and their organs have announced that the municipal elections
are to take place, with or without the consent of the Government, on
October 2, and that not only the inhabitants of Paris, but the Gardes
Mobiles and the peasants who have taken refuge within the walls of the
city are to vote. In the working men's quarters there is undoubtedly a
strong feeling in favour of these elections being held at once. But the
working men do not attend the clubs. I have dropped into several of
them, and the audience appeared to me principally to be composed of
strongminded women and demagogues, who never did an honest day's work in
their lives. The Government has, however, been "interviewed" on the
subject of the municipal elections by the chiefs of the battalions of
the National Guards of the Faubourgs, and, if only some men of position
can be found to put themselves at the head of the movement, it will
cause trouble. As yet, Ledru-Rollin is the only known politician who
avowedly favours it. The Government is, I believe, divided upon the
expediency of holding the elections at once, or rather I should say,
upon the possibility of putting them off without provoking disturbances.
I am inclined to think that, as is usually the case, the Moderates will
yield on this point to their Ultra colleagues. Very possibly they may
think that, if ever a capitulation becomes necessary, it will be as well
to make the nominees of the Faubourgs share in the responsibility. As
Jules Favre said of Rochefort, they are perhaps safer in the Government
than outside of it.

The column of the Place Vendôme is daily bombarded by indignant
patriots, who demand that it should be razed to the ground, and the
metal of which it is composed be melted down into cannon. The statue of
Napoleon I., in the cocked hat and great-coat, which used to be on its
summit, was removed a few years ago to a pedestal at the end of the
Avenue de la Grande Armée. It has been concealed to preserve it from the
iconoclasts. There has been a lull of late in M. Gambetta's
proclamations. Within the last twenty-four hours, not above two fresh
ones have appeared. The newspapers are beginning to clamour for a
sortie. Why, they ask, are we to allow ourselves to be besieged by an
army which does not equal in numbers our own? Why are we to allow them
quietly to establish their batteries? There is a certain amount of sense
in these complaints, though the vital question of how regiments, which
have never had an opportunity of being brigaded together, will be able
to vanquish in the open field the disciplined troops of Germany, is the
unknown [Greek: x] in the problem which has yet to be solved. It is
evident, however, that the question must be tested, unless we are to
remain within the fortifications until we have digested our last omnibus
horse. If the enemy attacks, there is fair ground to suppose that he
will be repelled; but then, perhaps he will leave us to make the first
move. Without entering into details, I may say that considerable
engineering skill has been shown of late in strengthening the defences,
that the Mobiles and the National Guard, if their words mean anything,
which has yet to be proved, are full of fighting, and that the armed
force at our disposal has at length been knocked into some sort of
shape. Every day that the Prussian attack is delayed diminishes its
chance of success. "If they do carry the town by assault," said a
general to me yesterday, "it will be our fault, for, from a military
point of view, it is now impregnable." What the effect of a bombardment
may be upon the morale of the inhabitants we have yet to see. In any
case, however, until several of those hard nuts, the forts, have been
cracked, a bombardment can only be partial.

There was heavy firing last night, and it increased in intensity this
morning. At about one o'clock I saw above 100 wounded being brought to
the Palais de l'Industrie, and on going to Montrouge I found the church
near the fortifications full of them. The following is the official
account of what has happened:

     Our troops in a vigorous sortie, successively occupied Chevilly and
     l'Hay, and advanced as far as Thiais and Choisy-le-Roi. All these
     positions were solidly occupied, the latter with cannon. After a
     sharp artillery and musketry engagement our troops fell back on
     their positions with a remarkable order and _aplomb_. The Garde
     Mobile were very firm. _En somme journée très honorable_. Our
     losses have been considerable. Those of the enemy probably as
     considerable.                                        TROCHU.

I need not add that as usual we have had rumours all day of a great
victory and a junction with the Army of the Loire. General Trochu's
despatch, dated 10-30, Bicêtre, reduces matters to their real

_October 1st._

Although the Government statistics respecting the amount of food in
Paris have been published, and are consequently, in all probability, in
the hands of the Prussians, I do not like to give them myself. It can,
however, do no harm to explain the system which is being adopted by the
authorities to make our stores hold out as long as possible. Every
butcher receives each morning a certain amount of meat, calculated upon
his average sales. Against this meat he issues tickets in the evening
to his customers, who, upon presentation of the ticket the next morning,
receive the amount for which they have inscribed themselves at the price
fixed by the tariff of the week. When tickets have been issued by the
butcher equivalent to the meat which he is to receive, he issues no
more. Yesterday a decree was promulgated, ordering all persons having
flour on sale to give it up to the Government at the current price. It
will, I presume, be distributed to the bakers, like the meat to the
butchers. As regards meat, the supply does not equal the demand--many
persons are unable to obtain tickets, and consequently have to go
without it. Restaurants cannot get enough for their customers. This
evening, for instance, at seven o'clock, on going into a restaurant, I
found almost everything already eaten up. I was obliged to "vanquish the
prejudices of my stomach," and make a dinner on sheeps' trotters,
pickled cauliflower, and peaches. My stomach is still engaged in
"vanquishing its prejudice" to this repast, and I am yet in the agonies
of indigestion. In connection, however, with this question of food,
there is another important consideration. Work is at a standstill.
Mobiles and Nationaux who apply _formâ pauperis_ receive one franc and a
half per diem. Now, at present prices, it is materially impossible for a
single man to buy sufficient food to stave off hunger for this sum, how
then those who depend upon it for their sustenance, and have wives and
families to support out of it, are able to live, it is difficult to
understand. Sooner or later the population will have to be rationed like
soldiers, and, if the siege goes on, useless mouths will have to be
turned out. It was supposed that the peasants in the neighbourhood of
Paris, who were invited to take refuge within its walls, would bring
more than enough food with them for themselves and their families, but
they preferred to bring their old beds and their furniture. Besides our
stores of flour, of sheep, and of oxen, we have twenty-two million
pounds of horse-flesh to fall back upon, so that I do not think that we
shall be starved out for some time; still the misery among those who
have no money to buy food will, unless Government boldly faces the
question, be very great. Everything, except beef, mutton, and bread, is
already at a fancy price. Ham costs 7fr. the kilo.; cauliflowers,
1.50fr. a head; salt butter 9fr. the kilo, (a kilo, is about two
pounds); a fat chicken 10fr.; a thin one, 5fr.; a rabbit, 11fr.; a duck,
9fr.; a fat goose, 20fr.

Rents, too, are as vexed a question as they are in Ireland. In a few
days the October term comes due. Few can pay it; it is proposed,
therefore, to allow no landlord to levy it either before the close of
the siege or before December.

General Trochu, in his Rapport Militaire of yesterday's proceedings,
expands his despatch of yesterday evening. The object, he says, was, by
a combined action on both banks of the Seine, to discover precisely in
what force the enemy was in the villages of Choisy-le-Roi and Chevilly.
Whilst the brigade of General Giulham drove the enemy out of Chevilly,
the head of the column of General Blaise entered the village of Thiais,
and seized a battery of cannon, which, however, could not be moved for
want of horses. At this moment the Prussians were reinforced, and a
retreat took place in good order. General Giulham was killed. General
d'Exea, while this combat was going on, marched with a brigade on
Creteil, and inflicted a severe loss with his mitrailleuses on the
enemy. This report contrasts favourably with the florid, exaggerated
accounts of the engagement which are published in this morning's papers.
I am glad to find that France possesses at least one man who tells the
truth, and who can address his fellow-citizens in plain language. The
credulity of the Parisians, and their love of high-flown bombast, amount
to a disease, which, if this city is not to sink into a species of
Baden Baden, must be stamped out. Mr. O'Sullivan recently published an
account of his expedition to the Prussian headquarters in the _Electeur
Libre_. Because he said that the Prussians were conducting themselves
well in the villages they occupied, the editor of the paper has been
overwhelmed with letters reviling him for publishing such audacious
lies. Most Frenchmen consider anyone who differs from them to be either
a knave or a fool, and they fabricate facts to prove their theories. An
"intelligent young man" published a letter this morning saying that he
had escaped from Versailles, and that already 700 girls have been
ravished there by the Prussians. This intelligent young man's tale will
be credited, and Mr. O'Sullivan will be disbelieved by nine-tenths of
this population. They believe only what they wish to believe.

M. Rochefort has issued a "poster" begging citizens not to construct
private barricades. There must, he justly observes, be "unity in the
system of interior defences." The _Réveil_ announces that the Ultras do
not intend to proceed to revolutionary elections of a municipality
to-morrow, because they have hopes that the Government intend to yield
on this question. The Prefect of the Police is actively engaged in an
attempt to throw light upon Pietri's connection with the plots which
periodically came to a head against the Empire. Documents have been
discovered which will show that most of these plots were got up by the
Imperial police. Pietri, Lagrange, and Barnier, a _juge d'instruction_,
were the prime movers. A certain Bablot received 20,000fr. for his
services as a conspirator.

The complaints of the newspapers against the number of young men who
avoid military duty by hooking themselves on in some capacity or other
to an ambulance are becoming louder every day. For my part I confess
that I look with contempt upon any young Frenchman I meet with the red
cross on his arm, unless he be a surgeon. I had some thoughts of making
myself useful as a neutral in joining one of these ambulances, but I was
deterred by what happened to a fellow-countryman of mine who offered his
services. He was told that thousands of applicants were turned away
every day, and that there already were far more persons attached to
every ambulance than were necessary.

Dr. Evans, the leading spirit of the American ambulance, the man whose
speciality it was to have drawn more royal teeth, and to have received
more royal decorations than any other human being, has left Paris. Mr.
Washburne informs me that there are still about 250 Americans here, of
whom about forty are women. Some of them remain to look after their
homes, others out of curiosity. "I regard," said an American lady to me
to-day, who had been in a southern city (Vicksburg, if I remember
rightly), when it was under fire, "a bombardment as the finest and most
interesting effort of pyrotechnical skill, and I want to see if you
Europeans have developed this art as fully as we have, which I doubt."

_October 2nd._

I wrote to General Trochu yesterday to ask him to allow me to accompany
him outside the walls to witness military operations. His secretary has
sent me a reply to-day regretting that the General cannot comply with my
request. The correspondent of the _Morning Post_ interviewed the
secretary yesterday on the same subject, but was informed that as no
_laisser passer_ was recognised by the Mobiles, and as General Trochu
had himself been arrested, the Government would not take upon itself the
responsibility of granting them. This is absurd, for I hear that neither
the General nor any of his staff have been fired upon or arrested during
the last week. The French military mind is unable to understand that the
world will rather credit the testimony of impartial neutrals than
official bulletins. As far as correspondents are concerned, they are
worse off under the Republic than even under the Empire.

M. Louis Blanc's appeal to the people of England is declamatory and
rhetorical in tone, and I am inclined to think that the people of
England are but a Richard Doe, and that in reality it is addressed to
the Parisians. M. Blanc asks the English in Paris to bear witness that
the windows of the Louvre are being stuffed with sandbags to preserve
the treasures within from the risks of a bombardment. I do so with
pleasure. I cannot, however, bear him out in his assertions respecting
the menacing calm of Paris, and the indomitable attitude of its National
Guards. M. Blanc, like most of his countrymen, mistakes the wish for the
will, words for deeds, promises for performance. What has happened here,
and what is happening? The forts are manned with sailors, who
conscientiously fire off their cannon. A position has been lost. Two
sorties consisting of troops and armed peasants have been driven back.
The National Guards do duty on the ramparts, drill in the streets, offer
crowns to the statue of Strasburg, wear uniforms, and announce that they
have made a pact with death. I sincerely trust that they may distinguish
themselves, but they have not had an opportunity to do so. Not one of
them has as yet honoured his draft on death. Behind their forts, their
troops, their crowd of peasants, and their ramparts, they boast of what
they will do. If they do really bury themselves beneath the ruins of
their capital they will be entitled to the admiration of history, but as
yet they are civilians of the present and heroes of the future. Noisy
blusterers may be brave men. I have no doubt there are many in Paris
ready to die for their country. I can, however, only deal with facts,
and I find that the Parisians appear to rely for safety upon everything
except their own valour. One day it is the Army of the Loire; another
day it is some mechanical machine; another day dissensions among the
Prussian generals; another day the intervention of Russia or Austria. In
the meantime, clubs denounce the Government; club orators make absurd
and impracticable speeches, the Mayor changes the names of streets, and
inscribes Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité on the public buildings. The
journals of all colours, with only one or two exceptions, are filled
with lies and bombast, and the people believe the one and admire the
other. The Minister of the Interior placards the walls with idle
proclamations, and arrests Bonapartists. Innocent neutrals are mobbed as
Prussian spies, and the only prisoners that we see are French soldiers
on their way to be shot for cowardice. Nothing is really done to force
the Prussians to raise the siege, although the defenders exceed in
number the besiegers. How can all this end? In a given time provisions
and ammunition will be exhausted, and a capitulation must ensue. I wish
with all my heart that the hosts of Germany may meet with the same fate
as befell the army of Sennacherib; but they are not likely to be killed
or forced to retreat by speeches, pacts with death, sentimental appeals,
and exaggerated abuse.

The _Temps_ calculates that our loss on Friday amounted to about 500
wounded and 400 killed. The object of the sortie was to blow up a bridge
over the Seine, and to rouse the courage of the Parisians by obtaining a
marked success at a point where the Prussians were not supposed to be in
force. Neither end was attained, and consequently we are greatly
depressed. Count Bismarck has not condescended to send a reply to the
Corps Diplomatique, requesting to be allowed to establish postal
communication with their Governments, much to the disgust of that
estimable body.

The result of the pryings of the Government into the papers of their
predecessors has as yet only disclosed the facts, that most of the
conspiracies against the Empire were got up by the police, and that the
Emperor bribed porters and postmen to open letters. His main object
seems to have been to get hold of the letters of his Ministers to their
mistresses. The fourth livraison of the Tuileries papers contains the
report of a spy on the doings of the Russian Military Attaché. This
gentleman lost some document, and observes that it can only be his
Prussian colleague who took it from him. Such is diplomacy. The weather
is beautiful. Women and children are making holiday in the streets. The
inner line of barricades is nearly finished.


The news of the fall of Strasburg and Toul was received by the
Government here this morning, and has just been made public. "In
falling," says M. Gambetta, "they cast a glance towards Paris to affirm
once more the unity and indivisibility of the Republic; and they leave
us as a legacy the duty to deliver them, the honour to revenge them."
The Boulevards were crowded, and everyone seemed as much astonished as
if they had never believed this double disaster to be possible. Many
refused to credit the news. _L'Electeur Libre_ proposes to meet the
emergency by sending "virile missionaries into the provinces to organise
a _levée en masse_, to drive from our territory the impious hordes which
are overrunning it." These missionaries would, I presume, go to their
posts in balloons. It never seems to occur to anyone here that the
authority of a Parisian dropping down from the clouds in a parachute in
any province would be contested. The right of Paris to rule France is a
dictum so unquestioned in the minds of the Parisians, that their
newspapers are now urging the Government to send new men to Tours to
oust those who were sent there before the commencement of the siege. It
strikes no one that the thirty-eight million of Frenchmen outside Paris
may be of opinion that the centralization of all power in the hands of
the most corrupt and frivolous capital in the universe has had its share
in reducing France to her present desperate condition, and may be
resolved to assert their claim to have a voice in the conduct of public
affairs. The Parisians regard all provincials as helots, whose sole
business it is to hear and to obey. If the result to France of her
disasters could be to free her at once from the domination of the
Emperor and of Paris, she would in the end be the gainer by them.

I hear that General Vinoy expresses himself very satisfied with the
soldierly bearing of the Mobiles who were under fire on Friday. It was
far better, he says, than he expected. He ascribes the failure of his
sortie to the forts having forewarned the Prussians by their heavy
firing between three and four o'clock in the morning. M. de Rohan,
"delegate of the democracy of England," has written a long letter to M.
Jules Favre informing him that a friend who has arrived from London (!)
has brought news of an immense meeting which has been held in favour of
France, and that this meeting represents the opinion of the whole of
England. M. Jules Favre, in his reply, expresses his sincere thanks "for
the sentiments which have been so nobly expressed in the name of the
English nation." The correspondence occupies two columns in the _Journal
Officiel_. M. de Rohan's residence in England is, I should imagine, in
the vicinity of Tooley-street.

_October 3rd._

The _Journal Officiel_ contains a decree ordering the statue of
Strasburg, on the Place de la Concorde, to be replaced by one in bronze.
No war news.


_October 5th._

From a military, or rather an engineering point of view, Paris is
stronger to-day than it was two weeks ago. The defences have been
strengthened. With respect, however, to its defenders, they are much
what they were. The soldiers of the line and the marines are soldiers;
the Mobiles and the Nationaux, with some few exceptions, remain armed
citizens. Each battalion is an _imperium in imperio_. The men ignore
every one except their own officers, and these officers exercise but
little influence except when they consent to act in strict accordance
with the feelings of those whom they are supposed to command. Some of
the battalions appear to be anxious to fight, but it unfortunately
happens that these are the very ones which are most undisciplined. The
battalions of the _bourgeois_ quarters obey orders, but there is no go
in them. The battalions of the artizan Faubourgs have plenty of go, but
they do not obey orders. General Trochu either cannot, or does not,
desire to enforce military discipline. Outside the enceinte, the hands
of the Mobiles are against every man, but no notice is taken when they
fire at or arrest officers of other corps. The Courts-martial which sit
are a mere farce. I see that yesterday a Franc-tireur was tried for
breaking his musket when ordered to march. He was acquitted because the
court came to the conclusion that he was "un brave garçon." The
application of military law to the Nationaux is regarded by these
citizens as an act of arbitrary power. Yesterday several battalions
passed the following resolution:--"In order to preserve at once
necessary discipline and the rights of citizens, no man shall
henceforward be brought before a council of war, or be awarded a
punishment, except with the consent of the family council of his

I am not a military man, but it certainly does appear to me strange that
the Prussians are allowed quietly to entrench themselves round the city,
and that they are not disturbed by feints and real sorties. We can act
on the inner lines, we have got a circular railroad, and we have armed
men in numbers. General Trochu has announced that he has a plan, the
success of which he guarantees; he declines to confide to a soul any of
its details, but he announces that he has deposited it with his notary,
Maître Duclos, in order that it may not be lost to the world in the
event of his being killed. As yet no one has fathomed this mysterious
plan; it appears to contemplate defensive rather than offensive

Mont Valérien now fires daily. Its commander has been changed; its
former one has been removed because the protests against the silence of
this fort were so loud and strong. His successor, with the fate of his
predecessor before him, bangs away at every Uhlan within sight. For the
commanders of forts to be forced to keep up a continual fire in order to
satisfy public opinion, is not an encouraging state of things. The
assertion of the Government, that no reports of what is going on in
France have been received from Tours, is discredited. They have got
themselves in a mess by their former declarations that communications
with the exterior were kept up; for if they know nothing, it is asked
what can these communications have been worth. Our last news from
outside is derived from a Rouen newspaper of the 29th ult., which is
published to-day.

A few days ago it was announced that all pledges below the value of
20fr. would be returned by the Mont-de-Piété without payment. Since then
everyone has been pledging articles for sums below this amount, as a
second decree of the same nature is expected. It is not a bad plan to
give relief in this manner to those in want. As yet, however, there is
no absolute destitution, and as long as the provisions last I do not
think that there will be. So long as flour and meat last, everyone with
more or less trouble will get his share. As the amount of both these
articles is, however, finite, one of these days we shall hear that they
are exhausted. The proprietors have been deprived of their power to sue
for rents, consequently a family requires but little ready money to rub
on from hand to mouth. My landlord every week presents me with my bill.
The ceremony seems to please him, and does me no harm. I have pasted
upon my mantlepiece the decree of the Government adjourning payment of
rent, and the right to read and re-read this document is all that he
will get from me until the end of the siege. Yesterday I ordered myself
a warm suit of clothes; I chose a tailor with a German name, so I feel
convinced that he will not venture to ask for payment under the present
circumstances, and if he does he will not get it. If my funds run out
before the siege is over I shall have at least the pleasure to think
that this has not been caused by improvidence.

Some acquaintances of mine managed in the course of yesterday to get out
to Villejuif without being arrested. I have not been so fortunate. I
have charged the _barrières_ three times, and each time have had to
retire discomfited. My friends describe the soldiers of the line in the
front as utterly despising their allies the Mobiles. They camp out
without tents, in order to be ready at any moment to resist an attack.

_October 7th._

Paris would hardly be recognised under its present aspect by those
citizens of the Far West who are in the habit of regarding it as a place
where good Americans go when they die. In the garden of the Tuileries,
where _bonnes_ used to flirt with guardsmen, there is an artillery camp.
The guns, the pickets of horses, the tents, the camp-fires, and the
soldiers in their shirt-sleeves, have a picturesque effect under the
great trees. On the Place de la Concorde from morning to evening there
is a mob discussing things in general, and watching the regiments as
they defile with their crowns before the statue of Strasburg. In the
morning the guns of the forts can be heard heavily booming; but the
sound has now lost its novelty, and no one pays more attention to it
than the miller to the wheel of his mill. In the Champs Elysées there
are no private carriages, and few persons sitting on the chairs. The
Palais de l'Industrie is the central ambulance; the Cirque de
l'Impératrice a barrack. All the cafés chantants are closed. Some few
youthful votaries of pleasure still patronise the merry-go-rounds; but
the business cannot be a lucrative one. Along the quays by the river
side there are cavalry and infantry regiments under tentes d'abri. The
Champ de Mars is a camp. In most of the squares there are sheep and
oxen. On the outer Boulevards lines of huts have been built for the
Mobiles, and similar huts are being erected along the Rue des Remparts
for the Nationaux on duty. Everywhere there are squads of Nationaux,
some learning the goose-step, others practising skirmishing between the
carts and fiacres, others levelling their guns and snapping them off at
imaginary Prussians. The omnibuses are crowded; and I fear greatly that
their horses will be far from tender when we eat them. The cabbies,
once so haughty and insolent, are humble and conciliatory, for Brutus
and Scævola have taught them manners, and usually pay their fares in
patriotic speeches. At the Arc de Triomphe, at the Trocadero, and at
Passy, near the Point du Jour, there are always crowds trying to see the
Prussians on the distant hills, and in the Avenue de l'Impératrice (now
the Avenue Uhrich), there are always numerous admirers of Mont Valérien
gazing silently upon the object of their worship. In the Faubourg St.
Antoine workmen are lounging about doing nothing, and watching others
drilling. In the outer faubourgs much the same thing goes on, except
where barricades are being built. Round each of these there is always a
crowd of men and women, apparently expecting the enemy to assault them
every moment. At the different gates of the town there are companies of
Mobiles and National Guards, who sternly repel every civilian who seeks
to get through them. On an average of every ten minutes, no matter where
one is, one meets either a battalion of Nationaux or Mobiles, marching
somewhere. The asphalt of the boulevards, that sacred ground of dandies
and smart dresses, is deserted during the daytime. In the evening for
about two hours it is thronged by Nationaux with their wives; Mobiles
who ramble along, grinning vaguely, hand in hand, as though they were in
their native villages; and loafers. There, and in the principal streets,
speculators have taken advantage of the rights of man to stop up the
side walks with tables on which their wares are displayed. On some of
them there are kepis, on others ointment for corns, on others statuettes
of the two inseparables of Berlin, William and his little Bismarck, on
others General Trochu and the members of the Government in gilt
gingerbread. The street-hawkers are enjoying a perfect carnival--the
last editions of the papers--the Tuileries' papers--the caricatures of
Badinguet--portraits of the heroic Uhrich, and infallible cures for the
small-pox or for worms, are offered for sale by stentorian lungs.
Citizens, too, equally bankrupt alike in voice and in purse, place four
lighted candles on the pavement, and from the midst of this circle of
light dismally croak the "Marseillaise" and other patriotic songs. As
for beggars, their name is legion; but as every one who wants food can
get it at the public cantines, their piteous whines are disregarded.
Lodgings are to be hired in the best streets for about one-tenth part of
what was asked for them two months ago, and even that need not be paid.
Few shops are shut; but their proprietors sit, hoping against hope, for
some customer to appear. The grocers, the butchers, and the bakers, and
the military tailors, still make money; but they are denounced for doing
so at the clubs as bad patriots. As for the hotels, almost all of them
are closed. At the Grand Hotel, there are not twenty persons. Business
of every kind is at a standstill. Those who have money, live on it;
those who have not, live on the State: the former shrug their shoulders
and say, "Provided it does not last;" the latter do not mind how long it
lasts. All are comparatively happy in the thought that the eyes of
Europe are on them, and that they have already thrown Leonidas and his
Spartans into the shade.

The Government has placarded to-day a despatch from Tours. Two armies
are already formed, we are told--one at Lyons, and the other at----. The
situation of Bazaine is excellent. The provinces are ready. The
departments are organising to the cry of "Guerre à outrance, ni un pouce
de terrain, ni une pierre de nos forteresses!" I trust that the news is
true; but I have an ineradicable distrust of all French official
utterances. A partial attempt is being made to relieve the population.
At the Mairies of the arrondissements, tickets are delivered to heads of
families, giving them the right to a certain portion of meat per diem
until January. The restaurants are still fairly supplied; so that the
system of rationing is not yet carried out in its integrity.

I am not entirely without hopes that the trial through which France is
passing will in the end benefit it. Although we still brag a good deal,
there is within the last few days a slight diminution of bluster. Cooped
up here, week after week, the population must in the end realise the
fact that the world can move on without them, and that twenty years of
despotism has enervated them and made other nations their equals, if not
their superiors. As Sydney Smith said of Macaulay, they have occasional
flashes of silence. They sit, now and then, silent and gloomy, and mourn
for the "Pauvre France." "Nous sommes bien tombés." This is a good sign,
but will it outlive a single gleam of success? Shall we not in that case
have the Gallic cock crowing as lustily as ever? The French have many
amiable and engaging qualities, and if adversity would only teach them
wisdom, the country is rich enough to rise from the ruin which has
overtaken it. M. Jules Simon has published a plan of education which he
says in twenty years will produce a race of virile citizens; but this is
a little long to wait for a social regeneration. At present they are
schoolboys, accustomed to depend on their masters for everything, and
the defence of Paris is little more than the "barring out" of a girls'
school. They cannot, like Anglo-Saxons, organise themselves, and they
have no man at their head of sufficient force of character to impose his
will upon them. The existing Government has, it is true, to a certain
extent produced administrative order, but they have not succeeded in
inspiring confidence in themselves, or in raising the spirit of the
Parisians to the level of the situation. The Ultras say justly, that
this negative system cannot last, and that prompt action is as much a
political as it is a military necessity.

The sixth livraison of the Tuileries papers has just appeared. Its
contents are unimportant. There is a receipt from Miss Howard, the
Emperor's former mistress, showing that between 1850 and 1855 she
received above five million francs. This sum was not, however, a
sufficient remuneration in her opinion, for her services, as in July,
1855, she writes for more, and says "the Emperor is too good to leave a
woman whom he has tenderly loved in a false position." This and several
other of her letters are addressed to the Emperor's Secretary, whose
functions seem to have been of a peculiarly domestic character. Indeed,
the person who fulfilled them would everywhere, except at a Court, have
been called something less euphonious than "secretary." A report from M.
Duvergier, ex-Secretary-General of the Police, is published respecting
the _Cabinet Noir_. It is addressed to the then Minister of the
Interior. It is lengthy, and very detailed. It appears that occasionally
the Emperor's own letters were opened.

I went to the Hôtel de Ville this afternoon, to see whether anything was
going on there. Several battalions passed by, but they did not
demonstrate _en passant_. The place was full of groups of what in
England would be called the "dangerous classes." They were patiently
listening to various orators who were denouncing everything in general,
and the Government in particular. The principal question seemed to be
that of arms. Frenchmen are so accustomed to expect their Governments to
do everything for them, that they cannot understand why, although there
were but few Chassepots in the city, every citizen should not be given
one. It is indeed necessary to live here and to mix with all classes to
realise the fact that the Parisians have until now lived in an ideal
world of their own creation. Their orators, their statesmen, and their
journalists, have traded upon the traditions of the First Empire, and
persuaded them that they are a superior race, and that their
superiority is universally recognised. Utterly ignorant of foreign
languages and of foreign countries, they believe that their literature
is the only one in the world, and that a Frenchman abroad is adored as
something little less than a divinity. They regard the Prussians round
their city much as the citizens of Sparta would have regarded Helots,
and they are so astonished at their reverses, that they are utterly
unable to realise what is going on. As for trying to make them
comprehend that Paris ought to enjoy no immunity from attack which
Berlin or London might not equally claim, it is labour lost. "The
neutrals," I heard a member of the late Assembly shouting in a café,
"are traitors to civilisation in not coming to the aid of the Queen of
Europe." They did their very best, they declare, to prevent Napoleon
from making war. Yet one has only to talk with one of them for half an
hour to find that he still hankers after the Rhine, and thinks that
France wishes to be supreme in Europe.

_October 8th._

Yesterday I happened to be calling at the Embassy, when a young English
gentleman made his appearance, and quietly asked whether he could take
any letters to England. He is to start to-day in a balloon, and has paid
5,000f. for his place. I gave him a letter, and a copy of one which I
had confided on Wednesday to an Irishman who is trying to get through
the lines. I hear that to-morrow the Columbian Minister is going to the
Prussian Headquarters, and a friend of mine assures me that he thinks if
I give him a letter by one o'clock to-day this diplomatist will take it.
The Corps Diplomatique are excessively indignant with the reply they
have received from Count Bismarck, declining to allow any but open
despatches through the Prussian lines. They have held an indignation
meeting. M. Kern, the Swiss Minister, has drawn up a protest, which has
been signed by himself and all his colleagues. The Columbian Minister
is to be the bearer of it. It bombards Bismarck with copious extracts
from Puffendorf and Grotius, and cites a case in point from the siege of
Vienna in the 15th century. It will be remembered that Messenger
Johnson, at the risk of his life and at a very great expense to the
country, brought despatches to the Parisian Embassy on the second day of
the siege. I recommend Mr. Rylands, or some other M.P. of independent
character, to insist upon Parliament being informed what these important
despatches were. The revelation will be a curious one.

Yesterday afternoon I made an excursion into the Bois de Boulogne under
the convoy of a friend in power. We went out by the Porte de Neuilly.
Anything like the scene of artificial desolation and ruin outside this
gate it is impossible to imagine. The houses are blown up--in some
places the bare walls are still standing, in others even these have been
thrown down. The Bois itself, from being the most beautiful park in the
world, has become a jungle of underwood. In the roads there are large
barricades formed of the trees which used to line them, which have been
cut down. Between the ramparts and the lake the wood is swept clean
away, and the stumps of the trees have been sharpened to a point. About
8,000 soldiers are encamped in the open air on the race-course and in
the Bois. Near Suresnes there is a redoubt which throws shell and shot
into St. Cloud. We are under the impression that the firing from this
redoubt, from Valérien, Issy, and the gunboat Farcy, which took place on
Thursday morning, between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m., has destroyed the batteries
and earthworks which the Prussians were erecting on the heights of St.
Cloud and Meudon-Clamart. You, however, are better informed respecting
the damage which was done than we are. When I was in the Bois the
redoubt was not firing, and the sailors who man it were lounging about,
exactly as though they had been on board ship. Occasionally
Mont-Valérien fired a shot, but it was only a sort of visiting card to
the Prussians, for with the best glasses we could see nothing of them.
Indeed, the way they keep under cover is something wonderful. "I have
been for three weeks in a fort," said the aide-de-camp of one of the
commanders of a southern fort, "every day we have made reconnaissances,
and I have not seen one single Prussian."

From what I learn, on good authority, the political situation is this.
The Government consists mainly of Orleanists. When they assumed the
direction of public affairs, they hoped to interest either Austria or
Russia in the cause of France. They were, therefore, very careful to
avoid as much as possible any Republican propagandism either at home or
abroad. Little by little they have discovered that if France is to be
saved it must be by herself. Some of them, however, still hanker after a
Russian intervention, and do not wish to weaken M. Thiers' prospects of
success at St. Petersburg. They have, however, been obliged to yield to
the Republicanism of the Parisian "men of action," and they have
gradually drifted into a Government charged not only with the defence of
the country, but also with the establishment of a Republic. As is usual
in all councils, the extreme party has gained the ascendancy. But the
programme of the Ultras of the "ins" falls far short of that of the
Ultras of the "outs." The latter are continually referring to '93, and
as the Committee of Public Safety then saved France, they are unable to
understand why the same organisation should not save it now. Their
leaders demand a Commune, because they hope to be among its members. The
masses support them, because they sincerely believe that in the election
of a Commune Paris will find her safety. The Government is accused of a
want of energy. "Are we to remain cooped up here until we are starved
out?" ask the Ultras. "As a military man, I decline to make a sortie,"
replies General Trochu. "We are not in '93. War is waged in a more
scientific manner," whispers Ernest Picard. The plan of the Government,
if plan it has, appears to be to wear out the endurance of the besiegers
by a defensive attitude, until either an army from the provinces cuts
off their communications, or the public opinion of Europe forces them to
raise the siege. The plan of the Ultras is to save Paris by Paris; to
make continual sorties, and, every now and then, one in such force that
it will be a battle. I am inclined to think that theoretically the
Government plan is the best, but it ignores the material it has to do
with, and it will find itself obliged either to adopt the policy of the
Ultras, or to allow them to elect a "Commune," which would soon absorb
all power. The position appears to me to be a false one, owing to the
attempt to rule France from Paris through an occasional despatch by
balloon. What ought to have been done was to remove the seat of
Government to another town before the siege commenced, and to have left
either Trochu or some other military man here to defend Paris, as Uhrich
defended Strasburg. But the Government consisted of the deputies of
Paris; and had they moved the seat of Government, they would have lost
their _locus standi_. Everyone here sees the absurdity of Palikao's
declaration, that Bazaine was commander-in-chief when he was invested in
Metz, but no one seems to see the still greater absurdity of the supreme
civil and military Government of the whole country remaining in Paris
whilst it is invested by the German armies. Yesterday, for instance, a
decree was issued allowing the town of Roubaix to borrow, I forget how
much. Can anything be more absurd than for a provincial town to be
forced to wait for such an authorisation until it receives it from
Paris? It is true that there is a delegation at Tours, but, so long as
it is nothing but a delegation, it will be hindered in its operations by
the dread of doing anything which may conflict with the views of its
superiors here. Paris at present is as great an incubus to France as the
Emperor was. Yesterday M. Gambetta started in a balloon for Tours, and
in the interests of France I shall be glad to see his colleagues one and
all follow him. The day before a balloon had been prepared for him, but
his nerves failed him at the last moment, and he deferred his departure
for twenty-four hours.

M. Rochefort was "interviewed" yesterday by a deputation of women, who
asked to be employed in the hospitals instead, of the men who are now
there. He promised to take their request into consideration. I was down
yesterday at the headquarters of the Ambulance Internationale, and I
cannot say that I think that the accusations of the Ultra-press
respecting the number of young Frenchmen there, is borne out by facts.
There have been, however, a vast number of _petits crevés_ and others
who have shirked military service by forming themselves into amateur
ambulances. The "sergents de ville" have received orders to arrest
anyone wearing the Red Cross who is unable to produce his certificate as
an _infirmier_. This has thrown the _petits crevés_--the pets of priests
and old ladies--those youths who are best described by the English
expression, "nice young men for a small tea-party"--into consternation.
I saw yesterday one of these emasculated specimens of humanity arrayed
in a suit of velvet knickerbockers, with a red cross on his arm, borne
off to prison, notwithstanding his whining protests.

Another abuse which has been put an end to is that of ladies going about
begging for money for the "wounded." They are no longer allowed to do so
unless they have an authorisation. I have a lively recollection of an
old grandaunt of mine, who used to dun every one she met for a shilling
for the benefit of the souls of the natives of Southern Africa, and as I
know that the shillings never went beyond ministering to the wants of
this aged relative, warned by precocious experience, I have not allowed
myself to be caught by the "ladies."

A singular remonstrance has been received at the British Embassy. In the
Rue de Chaillot resides a celebrated English courtezan, called Cora
Pearl, and above her house floats the English flag. The inhabitants of
the street request the "Ambassador of England, a country the purity and
the decency of whose manners is well known," to cause this bit of
bunting, which is a scandal in their eyes, to be hauled down. I left Mr.
Wodehouse consulting the text writers upon international law, in order
to discover a precedent for the case. Colonel Claremont is doing his
best to look after the interests of his fellow-countrymen. I had a
prejudice against this gentleman, because I was unable to believe that
any one hailing from the Horse Guards could under any circumstances make
himself a useful member of society. I find, however, that he is a man of
energy and good common sense, with very little of the pipeclay about

From Monday next a new system of the distribution of meat is to come
into force. Between 450 and 500 oxen and 3,500 sheep are to be daily
slaughtered. This meat is to be divided into twenty lots, one for each
arrondissement, the size of each lot to be determined by the number of
the inhabitants of the particular arrondissement. The lot will then be
divided between the butchers in the arrondissement, at twenty centimes
per kilogramme below the retail price. Each arrondissement may, however,
adopt a system of rations. I suspect most of the beef I have eaten of
late is horse; anyhow, it does not taste like ordinary beef. To obtain a
joint at home is almost impossible. In the first place, it is difficult
to purchase it; in the second place, if, when bought, it is spotted by
patriots going through the street, it is seized upon on the ground that
any one who can obtain a joint for love or money must be an aristocrat
who is getting more than his share. I met a lady early this morning, who
used to be most fashionable. She was walking along with a parcel under
her shawl, and six dogs were following her. She asked me to drive them
away, but they declined to go. I could not understand their sudden
affection for my fair friend, until she confided to me that she had two
pounds of mutton in her parcel. A tariff for horse-flesh is published
to-day; it costs--the choice parts, whichever they may be--1f 40c. the
kilo.; the rest, 80c. the kilo.

_Figaro_ yesterday published a "correspondence from Orleans." The
_Official Gazette_ of this morning publishes an official note from the
Prefect of Police stating that this correspondence is "a lie, such as
those which the _Figaro_ invents every day."


I have just returned from the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville. When I got
there at about two o'clock six or seven thousand manifesters had already
congregated there. They were all, as is the nature of Frenchmen in a
crowd, shouting their political opinions into their neighbours' ears.
Almost all of them were Nationaux from the Faubourgs, and although they
were not armed, they wore a kepi, or some other distinctive military
badge. As well as I could judge, nine out of ten were working men. Their
object, as a sharp, wiry artizan bellowed into my ear, was to force the
Government to consent to the election of a Commune, in order that the
Chassepots may be more fairly distributed between the bourgeois and the
ouvriers, and that Paris shall no longer render itself ridiculous by
waiting within its walls until its provisions are exhausted and it is
forced to capitulate. There appeared to be no disposition to pillage;
rightly or wrongly, these men consider that the Government is wanting in
energy, and that it is the representative of the bourgeoisie and not of
the entire population. Every now and then, some one shouted out "Vive
la Commune!" and all waved their caps and took up the cry. After these
somewhat monotonous proceedings had continued about half an hour,
several bourgeois battalions of National Guards came along the quay, and
drew up in line, four deep, before the Hôtel de Ville. They were not
molested except with words. The leading ranks of the manifesters
endeavoured by their eloquence to convince them that they ought not to
prevent citizens peacefully expressing their opinions; but the grocers
stood stolidly to their arms, and vouchsafed no reply. At three o'clock
General Trochu with his staff rode along inside the line, and then
withdrew. General Tamisier then made a speech, which of course no one
could hear. Shortly afterwards there was a cry of "Voilà Flourens--Voilà
nos amis," and an ouvrier battalion with its band playing the
Marseillaise marched by. They did not halt, notwithstanding the
entreaties of the manifesters, for they were bound, their officers
explained, on a sacred mission, to deposit a crown before the statue of
Strasburg. When I left the Place the crowd was, I think, increasing, and
as I drove along the Rue Rivoli I met several bourgeois battalions
marching towards the Hôtel de Ville. I presume, therefore, that General
Trochu had thought it expedient to send reinforcements. "We will come
back again with arms," was the general cry among the ouvriers, and
unless things mend for the better I imagine that they will keep their
word. The line of demarcation between the bourgeois and the ouvrier
battalions is clearly marked, and they differ as much in their opinions
as in their appearance. The sleek, well-fed shopkeeper of the Rue
Vivienne, although patriotic, dreads disorder, and does not absolutely
contemplate with pleasure an encounter with the Prussians. The wild,
impulsive working man from Belleville or La Villette dreads neither
Prussians without, nor anarchy within. If he could only find a leader he
would blow up himself and half Paris rather than submit to the
humiliation of a capitulation. Anything he thinks is better than this
"masterly inactivity." Above the din of the crowd the cannon could be
heard sullenly firing from the forts; but even this warning of how near
the foe is, seemed to convey no lesson to avoid civil strife. Unless
General Trochu is a man of more energy than I take him to be, if ever
the Prussians do get into the town they will find us in the condition of
the Kilkenny cats.

_October 9th._

The representative of the Republic of Columbia, to whom I had given my
letter of yesterday, has returned it to me, as he was afraid to cross
the lines with it. The Briton who has paid for a place in a balloon is
still here, and he imagines that he will start to-morrow, so I shall
give him my Columbian letter and this one. I understand that any one who
is ready to give assurances that he will praise everything and every one
belonging to the Government, is afforded facilities for sending out
letters by the Post-office balloons, but I am not prepared to give any
other pledge except that I shall tell the truth without fear or favour.

The _Journal Officiel_ of this morning, and the Moderate papers, boast
that the Ultra manifestation of yesterday was a complete failure. As
usual, they cry before they are out of the wood. After I left the Place
it appears that there was a counter manifestation of bourgeois National
Guards, who arrived in military order with their arms. Jules Favre
addressed them. Now as far as I can make out, these battalions went to
the Hôtel de Ville on their own initiative. No one, however, seems to
see any incongruity in the friends of the Government making an armed
demonstration as a protest against armed and unarmed demonstrations in
general. The question of the municipal elections will lie dormant for a
few days, but I see no evidence that those who were in favour of it have
altered their minds. As far as yesterday's proceedings were concerned,
they only go to prove the fact, which no one ever doubted, that the
bourgeoisie and their adherents are ready to support the Government, but
they have also proved to my mind conclusively that the working men as a
body have entirely lost all confidence in the men at the head of

On the pure merits of the question, I think that the working men have
reason on their side. They know clearly what they want--to make sorties
and to endeavour to destroy the enemy's works; if this fails--to make
provisions last as long as possible by a system of rationing--and then
to destroy Paris rather than surrender it. The Government and their
adherents are waiters on Providence, and, except that they have some
vague idea that the Army of the Loire will perform impossibilities, they
are contented to live on from day to day, and to hope that something
will happen to avert the inevitable catastrophe. I can understand a
military dictatorship in a besieged capital, and I can understand a
small elected council acting with revolutionary energy; but what I
cannot understand is a military governor who fears to enforce military
discipline, and a dozen respectable lawyers and orators, whose sole idea
of Government is, as Blanqui truly says, to issue decrees and
proclamations, and to make speeches. The only practical man among them
is M. Dorian, the Minister of Public Works, M. Dorian is a hard-headed
manufacturer, and utterly ignoring red tape, clerks, and routine; he has
set all the private ateliers to work, to make cannon and muskets. I have
not yet heard of his making a single speech, or issuing a single
proclamation since the commencement of the siege, and he alone of his
colleagues appears to me to be the right man in the right place. I do
not take my views of the working men from the nonsense which is printed
about them in official and semi-official organs. They are the only class
here which, to use an Americanism, is not "played out." The Government
dreads them as much as the Empire did; but although they are too much
carried away by their enthusiasm and their impulsiveness, they are the
only persons in Paris who appear to have a grain of common sense. "As
for the Army of the Loire," said one of them to me this morning, "no
one, except a fool or a Government employé, can believe that it will
ever be able to raise the siege, and as for all these bourgeois, they
consider that they are heroes because once or twice a week they pass the
night at the ramparts; they think first of their shops, then of their
country." "But how can you imagine that you and your friends would be
able to defeat the Prussians, who are disciplined soldiers?" I asked.
"We can at least try," he replied. I ventured to point out to my friend
that perhaps a little discipline in the ouvrier battalions might not be
a bad thing; but he insisted that the indiscipline was caused by their
distrust of their rulers, and that they were ready to obey their
officers. "Take," he said "Flourens' battalions. They do not, it is
true, march as regularly as the bourgeois, and they have nothing but
kepis and old muskets; but, as far as fighting goes, they are worth all
the bourgeois put together." I do not say that Trochu is not wise to
depend upon the bourgeois; all I say is, that as the Empire fell because
it did not venture to arm any except the regular soldiers, so will Paris
render itself the laughing stock of Europe, if its defence is to depend
upon an apocryphal Army of the Loire, marines from the Navy, peasants
from the provinces, and the National Guards of the wealthy quarters. To
talk of the heroic attitude of Paris, when the Parisians have not been
under fire, is simply absurd. As long as the outer forts hold out, it is
no more dangerous to "man the ramparts" than to mount guard at the
Tuileries. I saw to-day a company of mounted National Guards exercising.
Their uniforms were exquisitely clean, but I asked myself of what
earthly use they were. Their commander ordered them to charge, when
every horse butted against the one next to him. I believe a heavy gale
of wind would have disconnected all these warriors from their chargers.
I fully recognise the fact that the leaders of the ouvriers talk a great
deal of nonsense, and that they are actuated as much by personal
ambition as by patriotism; but it is certain that the individual working
man is the only reality in this population of corrupt and emasculated
humbugs; everyone else is a windbag and a sham.

A decree has been issued, informing all who have no means of subsistence
that they will receive a certain amount of bread per diem upon
application at their respective mairies. We are also told that if we
wish to make puddings of the blood of oxen, we must mix pigs' blood with
it, otherwise it will be unwholesome.

It has been showery to-day, and I never have witnessed a more dismal
Sunday in Paris. A pigeon from. Gambetta's balloon has returned, but
this foolish bird lost _en route_ the message which was attached to its


_October 10th._

It is very curious how close, under certain conditions of wind and
temperature, the cannonade appears to be, even in the centre of the
town. This morning I was returning home at about two o'clock, when I
heard a succession of detonations so distinctly, that I literally went
into the next street, as I imagined that a house must be falling down
there. It is said that the palace of St. Cloud has been destroyed.

As well as I can learn, General Burnside came into Paris mainly to
discuss with Mr. Washburne the possibility of the American families who
are still here being allowed to pass the Prussian lines. He saw Jules
Favre, but, if he attempted any species of negotiation, it could have
led to nothing, as we are so absolutely confident that the Army of the
Loire will in a few days cut off the Prussian supplies, and we are so
proud of our attitude, that I really believe if Jules Favre were to
consent to pay a war indemnity as a condition of peace, he and his
friends would be driven from power the next day.

Having nothing particularly to boast of to-day, the newspapers request
the world to be good enough to turn its eyes upon Gambetta traversing
space in a balloon. A nation whose Minister is capable of this heroic
feat must eventually drive the enemy from its soil. The _Figaro_, in
fact, hints that in all probability peace will be signed at Berlin at no
very distant date. The _Gaulois_, a comparatively sensible newspaper,
thus deals with this aërial voyage:--"As the balloon passed above the
Prussian armies, amid the clouds and the birds, the old William probably
turned to Bismarck and asked, 'What is that black point in the sky?' 'It
is a Minister,' replied Bismarck; 'it is the heroic Gambetta, on his way
to the Loire. In Paris he named prefects; on the Loire he will assemble
battalions.' Favourable winds wafted the balloon on her course; perhaps
Gambetta landed at Cahors, his natal town, perhaps somewhere
else--perhaps in the arms of Crémieux, that aged lion. To-morrow the
provinces will resound with his voice, which will mingle with the
rattling of arms and the sound of drums. Like a trumpet, it will peal
along the Loire, inflaming hearts, forming battalions, and causing the
manes of St. Just and Desmoulins to rise from their graves."

Yesterday a battalion of the National Guard was drawn up before the
Hôtel de Ville, but there was no demonstration of the Ultras. M. Arago,
the Mayor of Paris, made a few speeches from a window, which are
described as inflaming the hearts of these heroic soldiers of the
country. The rain, however, in the end, sent the heroic soldiers home,
and obliged M. Arago to shut his window. A day never passes without one
or more of our rulers putting his head out of some window or other, and
what is called "delivering himself up to a fervid improvisation." The
Ultra newspapers are never tired of abusing the priests, who are
courageously and honestly performing their duty. Yesterday I read a
letter from a patriot, in which he complains that this caste of crows
are to decree the field of battle, and asks the Government to decree
that the last moments of virtuous citizens, dying for their country,
shall not be troubled by this new Horror. To-day a citizen writes as
follows:--"Why are not the National Guards installed in the churches?
Not only might they find in these edifices dedicated to an extinct
superstition, shelter from the weather, but orators might from time to
time in the pulpits deliver speeches. Those churches which are not
required by the National Guard might serve as excellent stables for the
oxen, the sheep, and the hogs, which are now parked out in the open

Next to the priests and the churches, the streets named after members
and friends of the late Imperial family excite the ire of patriots. The
inhabitants of the quartier Prince Eugène, have, I read to-day, decided
that the Boulevard Prince Eugène shall henceforward be called the
Boulevard Dussault, "the noble child of the Haute Vienne, who was
murdered by the aides of the infamous Bonaparte."

We are not, as you might perhaps suppose, wanting in news. The French
journalists, even when communications with the rest of the world were
open, preferred to evolve their facts from their moral consciousness--their
hand has not lost its cunning. Peasants, who play the part here of the
intelligent contraband of the American civil war, bring in daily the most
wonderful stories of the misery which the Prussians are suffering, and the
damage which our artillery is causing them--and these tales are duly
published. Then, at least three times a week we kill a Prussian Prince,
and "an army" relieves Bazaine. A few days ago a troop of 1500 oxen marched
into our lines, "they were French oxen, and they were impelled by their
patriotism." This beats the ducks who asked the old woman to come and kill

The clubs appear to be divided upon the question of the "commune." In
most of them, however, resolutions have been passed reaffirming their
determination to hold the elections with or without the consent of the
Government. Rochefort to-day publishes a sensible reply to Flourens, who
called upon him to explain why he does not resign. "I have," he says,
"descended into the most impenetrable recesses of my conscience, and I
have emerged with the conviction that my withdrawal would cause a
conflict, and this would open a breach to the Prussians. You will say
that I am capitulating with my convictions; if it be so, I do not
necessarily capitulate with the Prussians. I silence my political
instincts; let our brave friends in Belleville allow theirs to sleep for
a time." I understand that in the council which was held to decide upon
the advisability of adjourning these elections, Rochefort, Simon, Ferry,
and Arago voted against the adjournment, and Pelletan, Garnier Pagés,
Picard, and Favre in favour of it. Trochu then decided the question in
the affirmative by a threat that, if the elections were allowed to take
place, he would resign.

_October 11th._

The notions of a Pall Mall dandy respecting Southwark or the Tower
Hamlets are not more vague than those of the Parisian bourgeois or the
Professional French journalist respecting the vast Faubourgs peopled by
the working men which encircle this city. From actual observation they
know nothing of them. They believe them to be the homes of a dangerous
class--communistic and anarchical in its tendencies, the sworn foes
alike of law, order, and property. The following are the articles of
faith of the journalist:--France is the world. Paris is France. The
boulevards, the theatres, some fifty writers on the press, and the
bourgeoisie of the fashionable quarters of the city, are Paris. Within
this narrow circle he may reason justly, but he never emerges from it,
and consequently cannot instruct others about what he does not know
himself. Since the fall of the Emperor, the Parisian bourgeois has
vaguely felt that he has been surrounded by two hostile armies--the
Prussian without the walls, and the working men within. He has placed
his trust in Trochu, as twenty years ago he did in Cavaignac. The siege
had not lasted a week before he became convinced that the Prussians were
afraid of him, because they had not attacked the town; and within the
last few days he has acquired the conviction, upon equally excellent
grounds, that the working men also tremble before his martial attitude.
On Friday last he achieved what he considers a crowning triumph, and he
is now under the impression that he has struck terror into the breasts
of the advocates of the Commune by marching with his battalion to the
Hôtel de Ville. "We"--and by "we" he means General Trochu and
himself--"we have shown them that we are not to be trifled with," is his
boast from morning to night. Now, if instead of reading newspapers which
only reflect his own views, and passing his time, whether on the
ramparts or in a café, surrounded by men who share his prejudices, the
worthy bourgeois would be good enough to accompany me to Belleville or
La Villette, he would perhaps realise the fact that, as usual, he is
making himself comfortable in a fool's paradise. He would have an
opportunity to learn that, while the working men have not the remotest
intention to pillage his shop, they are equally determined not to allow
him and his friends to make Paris the laughing-stock of Europe. With
them the "Commune" is but a means to an end. What they want is a
Government which will carry out in sober earnest M. Jules Favre's
rhetorical figure that "the Parisians will bury themselves beneath the
ruins of their town rather than surrender." The lull in the
"demonstrations" to urge the Government either to carry out this
programme, or to associate with themselves men of energy who are ready
to do so, will not last long; and when next Belleville comes to the
Hôtel de Ville, it will not be unarmed. The bourgeois and the working
man worship different gods, and have hardly two ideas in common. The
bourgeois believes in the Army of the Loire; believes that in
sacrificing the trade profits of a few months, and in catching a cold by
keeping guard occasionally for a night on the ramparts, he has done his
duty towards his country, and deserves the admiration of all future
ages. As for burying himself, beneath, the ruins of his shop, it is his
shop as much as his country that he is defending. He is gradually
wearying of the siege; the pleasure of strutting about in a uniform and
marching behind a drum hardly compensates for the pecuniary losses which
he is incurring. He feels that he is already a hero, and he longs to
repose upon his laurels. When Bazaine has capitulated, and when the
bubble of the Army of the Loire has burst, he will, if left to himself,
declare and actually believe that Paris has surpassed in heroism and
endurance Troy and Saragossa; and he will accept what is inevitable--a
capitulation. The working man, on the other hand, believes in no Army of
the Loire, troubles himself little about Bazaine, and has confidence in
himself alone. Far from disliking the siege, he delights in it. He lives
at free quarters, and he walks about with a gun, that occupation of all
others which is most pleasing to him. He at least is no humbug; he has
no desire to avoid danger, but rather courts it. He longs to form one in
a sortie, and he builds barricades, and looks forward with grim
satisfaction to the moment when he will risk his own life in defending
them, and blow up his landlord's house to arrest the advance of the
Prussians. What will be the upshot of this radical divergence of opinion
between the two principal classes which are cooped up together within
the walls of Paris, it is impossible to say. The working men have, as
yet, no leaders in whom they place confidence, and under whose guidance
they would consent to act collectively. It may be that this will prevent
them from giving effect to their views before the curtain drops; they
are strongly patriotic, and they are disinclined to compromise the
success of the defence by internal quarrels. Very possibly, therefore,
they will be deceived by promises on the part of the Government, and
assurances that Paris will fight it out to the last ditch, until the
moment to act has passed. As for the bourgeois and the Government, their
most powerful ally is the cry, "No division; let us all be united." They
are both, however, in a radically false position. They have called upon
the world to witness how a great capital can die rather than surrender;
and yet, if no external agency prevents the surrender, they have no
intention to fulfil their boast of dying. Any loophole for escape from,
the alternative in which they have thrust themselves they would welcome.
"Our provisions will last three months," they say; "during this time
something must happen to our advantage." "What?" I inquire. "The Army of
the Loire will advance, or Bazaine will get out of Metz, or the
Prussians will despair of success, or we shall be able to introduce
convoys of provisions." "But if none of these prophecies are
realised.--what then?" I have asked a hundred times, without ever
getting a clear answer to my question. By some strange process of
reasoning in what, as Lord Westbury would say, they are pleased to call
their minds, they appear to have arrived at the conviction that Paris
never will be taken, because they are unable to realise the possibility
of an event which they seem to consider is contrary to that law of
nature, which, has made her the capital and the mistress of the world. A
victorious army is at their gates; they do not dare even to make a
formidable sortie; there is no regular army in the field outside; their
provisions have a limit; they can only communicate with the rest of the
world by an occasional balloon; and yet they regard the idea of a
foreign occupation of Paris much as we do a French invasion of
England--a thing so improbable as to be barely possible.

Yesterday there were a few groups on the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, but
they were rather curious spectators than "manifesters." At about two
o'clock the rappel was beaten in the Place Vendôme, and several
battalions of the National Guard of the quartier marched there and
broke up these groups. M. Jules Ferry's head then appeared from the
window, and he aired his eloquence in a speech congratulating the
friends of order on having rallied to the defence of the Government. It
is a very strange thing that no Frenchman, when in power, can understand
equal justice between his opponents and his supporters. The present
Government is made up of men who clamoured for a Municipal Council
during the Empire, and whose first step upon taking possession of the
Hôtel de Ville was to decree the immediate election of a "Commune."
Since then, yielding to the demands of their own supporters, they have
withdrawn this decree, and now, if I go unarmed upon the Place de
l'Hôtel de Ville and cry "Vive la Commune," I am arrested; whereas if
any battalion of the National Guard chooses, without orders, to go there
in arms and cry, "à bas la Commune," immediately it is congratulated for
its patriotism by some member of the Government.

Nothing new has passed at the front since yesterday. I learn from this
morning's papers, however, that Moltke is dead, that the Crown Prince is
dying of a fever, that Bismarck is anxious to negotiate, but is
prevented by the obstinacy of the King, that 300 Prussians from the
Polish provinces have come over to our side, and that the Bavarian and
Wurtemberg troops are in a state of incipient rebellion. "From the fact
that the Prussian outposts have withdrawn to a greater distance from the
forts," the _Electeur Libre_, tells me, "it is probable that the
Prussians despair of success, and in a few days will raise the siege."
Most of the newspapers make merry over the faults in grammar in a letter
which has been discovered and published from the Empress to the Emperor,
although I doubt if there is one Frenchman in the world who could write
Spanish as well as the Empress does French.


It appears that yesterday the cheques signed by M. Flourens were not
recognised by the Etat Major of his "secteur." On this he declared that
he would beat the "generale" in Belleville and march on the Hôtel de
Ville. The quarrel was, however, patched up--no disturbance occurred.
For some reason or other M. Flourens, until he gave in his resignation,
commanded five battalions of the National Guard; he has been told that
he can be re-elected to the command of any one of them, but that he
cannot be allowed to be at the head of more than one. This man is an
enthusiast, and, I am told, not quite right in his head. In personal
appearance he is a good-looking gentlemanly fellow. As long as
Belleville acts under his leadership there is no great fear that any
danger will arise, because his own men distrust, not his good faith, but
his sense.

Gambetta has sent a despatch from Montdidier, by a pigeon. He says,
"Everywhere the people are rising; the Government of the National
Defence is universally acclaimed."

The Papal Nuncio is going to try to get through on Thursday. He says he
is anxious about the Pope--no wonder.

_October 12th._

"What is truth?" said jesting Pilate, and would not wait for an answer;
the Parisians of 1870 are as indifferent about truth as this unjust
Roman judge was. It is strange that their own want of veracity does not
lead them to doubt that of others; they are alike credulous and
mendacious. A man comes into a café, he relates every detail of an
action in which he says he was engaged the day before; the action has
never taken place, but every one believes him; one of the auditors then
perhaps says that he has passed the night in a fort, and that its guns
destroyed a battery which the enemy was erecting; the fort has never
fired a shot, but the first speaker goes off convinced that a battery
has been dismounted. For my part I have given up placing the least faith
in anything I hear or read. As for the newspapers they give currency to
the most incredible stories, and they affect not only to relate every
shot that has been fired, but the precise damage which it has done to
the enemy, and the number of men which it has killed, and wounded. They
have already slain and taken prisoner a far greater number of Prussians
than, on any fair calculation, there could have been in the besieging
army at the commencement of the siege. Since the commencement of the war
the Government, the journalists, the generals, and the gossips have been
engaged apparently in a contest to test the limits of human credulity.
Under the Republic the game is still merrily kept up, and although the
German armies are but a few miles off, we are daily treated to as many
falsehoods respecting what goes on at the front as when they were at
Sedan, or huddled together in those apocryphal quarries of Jaucourt. "I
saw it in a newspaper," or "I was told it by an eye-witness," is still
considered conclusive evidence of the truth of no matter what fact.
To-day, I nearly had a dispute with a stout party, who sat near me as I
was breakfasting in a café, because I ventured, in the mildest and most
hesitating manner, to question the fact that an army of 250,000 men was
at Rouen, and would in the course of this week attack the Prussians at
Versailles. "It is here, sir," he said indignantly pointing to his
newspaper; "a peasant worthy of belief has brought the news to the
Editor; are we to believe no one?" There were a dozen persons
breakfasting at the same time, and I was the only one who did not
implicitly believe in the existence of this army. This diseased state of
mind arises mainly, I presume, from excessive vanity. No Parisian is
able to believe anything which displeases him, and he is unable not to
believe anything which flatters his _amour propre_. He starts in life
with a series of delusions, which all he has read and heard until now
have confirmed. No journal dares to tell the truth, for if it did its
circulation would fall to nothing. No Parisian, even if by an effort he
could realise to himself the actual condition of his country, would dare
to communicate his opinion to his neighbour, for he would be regarded as
a traitor and a liar. The Bostonians believe that Boston is the "hub of
the universe," and the Parisian is under the impression that his city is
a species of sacred Ark, which it is sacrilege to touch. To bombard
London or Berlin would be an unfortunate necessity of war, but to fire a
shot into Paris is desecration. For a French army to live at the expense
of Germany is in the nature of things; for a German army to live at the
expense of Frenchmen is a barbarity which the civilised world ought to
resent. If the result of the present campaign is to convince Frenchmen
that, as a nation, they are neither better nor worse than other nations,
and to convince Parisians that Paris enjoys no special immunity from the
hardships of war, and that if it sustains a siege it must accept the
natural consequences, it will not have been waged in vain, but will
materially conduce to the future peace of the world. As yet--I say it
with regret--for I abominate war and Prussians, and there is much which
I like in the French--this lesson has not been learnt. Day by day I am
becoming more convinced that a lasting peace can only be signed in
Paris, and that the Parisians must be brought to understand by hard
experience that, if victory means an accession of military glory, defeat
means humiliation, and that the one is just as possible as the other. If
the siege were raised to-morrow, the occupation of Alsace and Lorraine
by an enemy would be disbelieved within six months by this vain,
frivolous populace; and even if the German army does ever defile along
the Boulevards, I shall not be surprised if we are told, as soon as they
have withdrawn, that they never were there. Shut up in this town with
its inhabitants, my sympathies are entirely on their side, but my reason
tells me that Bismarck is right in insisting upon treating in Paris. Let
him, if he can, come in here; let him impose upon France such a war
indemnity, that every man, woman, and child in the country will curse
the folly of this war for the next fifty years; and let him give up his
scheme of annexation, and he will then have acted in the interests of
Europe, and ultimately in those of France herself. Prussia, after the
battle of Jena, was as low as France is now. Napoleon stripped her of
her provinces, and she acceded to the treaty of her spoliation, but at
the first favourable opportunity she protested her signature, and the
world has never blamed her for so doing. France, if she is deprived of
Alsace, will do the same. If she signs the treaty, it will only be
binding on her until she is strong enough to repudiate it. A treaty of
territorial spoliation imposed by force never has and never will bind a
nation. The peace of Europe will not be lasting if France hawks about
her alliance, and is ready to tender it to any Power who wishes to carry
out some scheme of aggrandisement, and who will aid her to re-conquer
the provinces which she has lost. I have always regarded the Prussians
as a disagreeable but a sensible nation, but if they insist upon the
annexation of Alsace, and consider that the dismemberment of France will
conduce to the unity of Germany, I shall cease to consider them as more
sensible than the Gauls, with whom my lot is now cast. The Austrians
used to say that their defensive system rendered it necessary that they
should possess the Milanese and Venetia; but the possession of these two
Italian provinces was a continual source of weakness to them, and in the
end dragged them into a disastrous war. The Prussians should meditate
over this, and over the hundred other instances in history of
territorial greed overreaching itself, and they will then perhaps be
more inclined to take a fair and impartial view of the terms on which
peace ought to be made. "Moderation in success is often more difficult
to practise than fortitude in disaster," says the copy-book. My lecture
upon European politics is, I am afraid, somewhat lengthy, but it must be
remembered that I am a prisoner, and that Silvio Pellico, under similar
circumstances, wrote one of the most dreary books that it ever was my
misfortune to read and to be required to admire. I return to the recital
of what is passing in my prison house.

Last night and early this morning I had an opportunity to inspect the
bars of the cage in which I am confined. I happened to say before a
superior officer that I was very desirous to see what was going on on
the ramparts and in the forts at night, but that I had as yet been
foiled in my endeavours to do so, when he told me that he would take me
to both, provided in any account that I might give of them I would not
mention localities, which might get him into trouble, or in general
anything which might afford aid and comfort to the enemy. Of course I
accepted his offer, and at eleven o'clock P.M. we started on horseback.
We soon struck the Rue des Remparts, and dismounted. Along the top of
the ramparts there was a line of sentinels. They were so numerous in
some places that they almost touched each other. Every few minutes the
cry, "Sentinelles, prenez gardé à vous," went along. Behind them grandes
gardes and other patrols were continually passing, and we could hardly
move a step without being obliged to give the password, with a bayonet
in close proximity to our chests. The National Guards were sleeping, in
some places in tents, in others in huts, and I found many more in the
neighbouring houses. Here and there there was a canteen, where warm
coffee and other such refreshments were sold, and in some places
casemates were already built. In the bastions there were camps of
Artillerymen, Mobiles, and Nationaux. All was very quiet, and I was
agreeably surprised to find with what order and method everything was
conducted. At about four o'clock this morning we passed through one of
the gates, outside there were patrols coming and going, and I could see
numerous regiments on each side of the road, some in tents, others
sleeping in the open air, or trying to do so, for the nights are already
very chilly. We were stopped almost every two minutes, and my friend had
to explain who and what he was. At last we reached a fort. Here we had a
long parley before we were admitted. When we got in, the day was
breaking. We were taken into the room of the Commandant, with whom my
friend had some business to transact. He was a sailor, and from his cool
and calm demeanour, I am convinced that he will give a good account of
himself if he is attacked. In the fort there were Mobiles and soldiers,
and by the guns stood the sailors. I talked to several of them as they
leant against their guns, or walked up and down as though they were
keeping watch on deck. None of them had left the fort for the last three
weeks, and they seemed to have no particular desire to go "on shore," as
they called Paris. Their fire, they said, had, they believed, done
considerable damage to the works which the Prussians had tried to erect,
within their range. The Commandant now came out with some of his
officers, and we tried to search with telescopes the distant woods which
were supposed to conceal the enemy. I confess that I saw absolutely
nothing except trees and some houses, which were in ruins, "Throw a
shell into those houses," cried the Commandant, and off went one of the
great guns. It fell wide. "Try again," he said. This time we could see
through the glasses that the house had been hit, for a portion of one of
the walls toppled over, and a column of dust arose. No Prussians,
however, emerged. A few shots were then fired promiscuously into the
woods, in order to sound the lines; and then Commandant, officers,
friend and I, withdrew to breakfast. I was, of course, cautious in my
conversation, and all that was said I do not care to repeat--the general
feeling, however, seemed to be that the prospects of Paris defending
itself successfully were considerably weakened by the "lot of lawyers"
who interfered with matters about which they knew nothing. The National
Guards, who I hear are to occupy the forts, were laughed at by these
warriors; as for the Mobiles, it was thought that in two months they
might become good soldiers, but that their discipline was most
defective. "When we get them in here," said a gruff old Captain, "we do
not stand their nonsense; but outside, when they are alone with their
officers, they do very much what they please." The soldiers of the
regular army, I was told, had recovered their _morale_, and if well led,
might be depended upon. As was natural, the sailors were greatly
extolled, and I think they deserved it; the best come from Brittany; and
like Joe Bagstock, they are tough, sir, very tough--what are called in
French, "wolves of the sea." Breakfast over, we returned to Paris in
company with two or three officers, who had been given leave of absence
for the day. This afternoon, hearing that egress was allowed at the
Barrière de Neuilly, I started out in a fiacre, to see what was to be
seen in that direction. Along the Avenue de Neuilly there were
encampments of soldiers of the line and Mobiles. At the bridge of
Neuilly my fiacre was stopped, but having explained to the commander of
the picket that I wanted to take a walk, and shown my papers, for some
reason best known to himself, he allowed me to go forward on foot. In
Courbevoie all the houses were shut up, except those occupied by troops,
and the windows of these were filled with sandbags. Right and left trees
were being cut down, and every moment some old poplar was brought to the
ground. I passed through Courbevoie, as no one seemed to notice me, and
held on to the right until I struck Asnières. It is a species of French
Greenwich, full of hotels, tea-gardens, and restaurants. The last time I
had been there was on a Sunday, when it was crowded with Parisian
bourgeois, and they were eating, drinking, dancing, and making merry.
The houses had not been destroyed, but there was not a living soul in
the place. On the promenade by the river the leaves were falling from
the trees under which were the benches as of old. The gay signs still
hung above the restaurants, and here and there was an advertisement
informing the world that M. Pitou offered his hosts beer at so much the
glass, or that the more ambitious Monsieur Some One Else was prepared to
serve an excellent dinner of eels for 2fr., but I might as well have
expected to get beer or eels in Palmyra as in this village where a few
short weeks ago fish, flesh, and fowl, wine and beer were as plentiful
as at Greenwich and Richmond during the season. Goldsmith's "Deserted
Village," I said to myself, and I should have repeated some lines from
this admirable poem had I remembered any; as I did not, I walked on in
the direction of Colombes, vaguely ruminating upon Pompeii, Palmyra,
fish dinners at Greenwich, and the mutability of human things. I had
hardly left Asnières, however, and was plodding along a path, when I was
recalled to the realities of life by half-a-dozen Mobiles springing up
from behind a low wall, and calling upon me to stop, while they enforced
their order by pointing their muskets at my head. I stood still, and
they surrounded me. I explained that I was an Englishman inhabiting
Paris, and that I had come out to take a walk. My papers were brought
out and narrowly inspected. My passport, that charter of the Civis
Romanus, was put aside as though it had been a document of no value. A
letter from one of the authorities, which was a species of unofficial
_laisser passer_, was read, and then a sort of council of war was held
about what ought to be done with me. They seemed to be innocent and well
meaning peasants; they said that they had orders to let no one pass, and
they were surprised that I had got so far without being stopped. I told
them that they were quite right to obey their _consigne_, and that I
would go back the way I had come. One of them suggested that I might be
a spy, but he accepted my assurance that I was not. Another proposed to
keep me as a captive until some officer passed; but I told them that
this was contrary to all law, human and divine, civil and military.
"Well, gentlemen," I at last said, "I will now wish you good day, my
mother will be anxious about me if I do not return, otherwise I should
have been happy to remain in such good society;" and with this speech I
turned back and went towards Asnières; they did not follow me, but
remained with their mouths open, utterly unable to grasp the idea why an
Englishman should be taking a walk in the neighbourhood of Paris, and
why he should have an aged mother anxiously awaiting his return in the
city. (N.B.--If you want to inspire a Frenchman with a sort of
sentimental respect, always talk of your mother; the same effect is
produced on a German by an allusion to your bride.) At the bridge of
Neuilly the guard had been changed, and I had a lengthy discussion
whether I ought to be imprisoned or allowed to pass. I was inclined to
think that I owe the latter motion being carried, to a very eloquent
speech which I threw off, but this may perhaps be vanity on my part, as
Mont Valérien was also discoursing at the same time, and dividing with
me the attention of my auditors.

M. de Kératry has resigned his post of Prefect of the Police, and has
been succeeded by M. Edmond Adam, who is said to be a man of energy.
Yesterday M. Jules Ferry went down to Belleville, and delivered several
speeches, which he informs us to-day in a letter were greatly
applauded. The _Official Gazette_ contains an intimation that M.
Flourens is to be prosecuted, but I greatly question whether it is more
than _brutum fulmen_. The Council of War has condemned five of the
soldiers who ran away at the fight of Chatillon. Several others who were
tried for the same offence have been acquitted. It is reported that an
engagement took place this afternoon at Villejuif, but no details are
yet known. There is no doubt that the Prussians have enlarged their
circle round Paris, and that they have massed troops near Choisy-le-Roi.
What these two manoeuvres portend, we are all anxiously discussing.

Several balloons went off this morning. I have deluged the Post-office
with letters, but I doubt if they ever get any farther. Mr. Hore, the
naval attaché of the British Embassy, also left this morning for Tours.
As the Parisian fleet consists of one gunboat, I presume that he
considers that his valuable services may be utilised elsewhere.

_October 13th._

Frenchmen have none of that rough and tumble energy which enables
Anglo-Saxons to shake themselves, no matter under what circumstances,
into some sort of shape. Left to themselves they are as helpless as
children, it takes a certain time to organize them, and to evolve order
from chaos, but when once the process is effected, they surpass us in
administrative mechanism, and in readiness to fall into new ways. The
organization of Paris, as a besieged city, is now in good working trim,
and it must be admitted that its results are more satisfactory than a
few weeks ago could have been anticipated. Except when some important
event is taking place at the front, there are no crowds in the streets,
and even the groups which used to impede circulation are now rare. The
National Guards go in turn to the ramparts, like clerks to their office.
In the morning the battalions are changed, and those who come off duty
march to their respective "quartiers" and quietly disband. Unless there
is some extraordinary movement, during the rest of the day and night
there is little marching of troops. In the evening the Boulevards are
moderately full from eight to ten o'clock, but now that only half the
number of street lamps are lit--they look gloomy even then--at half-past
ten every _café_ and shop is closed, and half-an-hour later every one
has gone home. There are no quarrels and no drunkards. Robberies
occasionally occur, but they are rare. "Social evils" have again made
their appearance, but they are not so insolently conspicuous as they
were under the paternal rule of the Empire. Paris, once so gay, has
become as dull as a small German capital. Its inhabitants are not in the
depths of despair, but they are thoroughly bored. They are in the
position of a company of actors shut up in a theatre night and day, and
left to their own devices, without an audience to applaud or to hiss
them. "What do you think they are saying of us in England?" is a
question which I am asked not less than a hundred times every day. My
interrogator usually goes on to say, that it is impossible that the
heroism of the population has not elicited the admiration of the world.
It seems to me that if Paris submits to a blockade for another month,
she will have done her duty by France; but I cannot for the life of me
see that as yet she has done anything to entitle her to boast of having
set the world an example of valour.

Yesterday, it appears by the official report, there was a reconnaissance
in force under General Ducrot in the direction of Bougival and Rucil.
The Mobiles, we are told, behaved well, but the loss on either side was
insignificant. Our amateur strategists are divided as to the expediency
of taking Versailles, with the whole Prussian quartier-général, or
reopening communications with the provinces by the way of Orleans. The
relative advantages of these two schemes is hotly debated in the
newspapers and the pothouses. A more practical suggestion to form
mobilised regiments of National Guards by taking the most active men
from the existing battalions is being seriously considered by the
Government. This is all the news, except that a battalion of Amazons is
in course of formation. They are to wear trousers, kepis, and blouses,
and to be armed like the National Guard. The walls are covered with
large placards inviting enlistments. It is reported that the Government
are in possession of evidence to show that many of those female
ornaments of the Imperial Court who were called cocodettes, and who
spent in dress every year three times the annual income of their
husbands, were in the pay of Bismarck. This intelligent and unscrupulous
gentleman also, it is said, has a corps of spies recruited from all
nations, consisting of good-looking men of pleasant address and of a
certain social standing, whose business it was to insinuate themselves
into the good graces of the beauties of Parisian society, and then
endeavour to pick up the secrets of their husbands and friends. I am
inclined to think that there is a good deal of truth in this latter
allegation, because for several years I have known fascinating
foreigners who used to frequent the clubs, the Bois, and the salons of
the great world, and lead a joyous life without having any recognised
means of existence. I have been struck more than once with the anxiety
of these gentry to hook themselves on to the train of any lady who was
either the relative of a man in power or who was supposed to be on
intimate terms with a minister or a courtier. Every man, said Sir Robert
Walpole, has his price, and Bismarck might be justified in making the
same reflection as far as regards what is called European good society.

The eighth _livraison_ of the Tuileries papers has appeared; it contains
two letters from General Ducrot to General Frossard, a despatch from the
French Foreign-office to Benedetti, a report on France by Magne, and a
letter from a prefect to Pietri. From the few papers of any importance
which have been discovered in the Imperial palaces, our friend Badinguet
must have had an inkling when he last left Paris that he might not
return, and must have put his papers in order, _i.e._, in the



I am very much afraid that it will be some time before my letters reach
you, if indeed they ever do. I had entrusted one to Lord Lyons' butler,
a very intelligent man, who was to accompany Mr. Hore, our naval
attaché, to Tours; but, alas, they did not get further than the Prussian
lines at Epinay, and they are back again at the Embassy. Mr. Hore had
with him a letter from the Nuncio to the Crown Prince, but the officer
in command of the outpost declined to take charge of it. The Columbian
Minister, too, who was charged with the protest of the Corps
Diplomatique to Bismarck on account of his refusal to allow their
despatches to go out, has also returned, to re-peruse Grotius and
Puffendorf, in order to find more precedents with which to overwhelm
Bismarck. The Greek Minister has managed to run the blockade. A son of
Commodore Lynch made an attempt to get out, but after being kept twelve
hours at the Prussian outposts, and fired on by the French, he has
returned to share our imprisonment. This morning I read in one of the
papers a wonderful account of what Mr. Lynch had seen when with the
Prussians. Meeting him this evening, I asked him whether it was true. He
told me that he had already been to the newspaper to protest against its
appearance, as every statement in it was destitute of foundation. He
could, however, get no redress; the editor or his _locum tenens_ told
him that one of their reporters had given it him, and that he knew
nothing more about it. This is an instance of the reckless mode in which
the business of journalism is conducted here.

I made two visits this afternoon, one to a pothouse in Belleville, the
other to a countess in the Faubourg St. Germain. I went to the former in
order to find out what the Bellevillites thought of things in general. I
found them very discontented with the Government, and divided in opinion
as to whether it would be more in the interests of the country to turn
it out at present, or to wait, until the Prussians were defeated, and
then do so. They are all very angry at the counter-manifestation of the
bourgeois against them in the Commune. "The Government," said one of
them to me, "is weak and incapable, it means to deceive us, and is
thinking more of bringing back the Comte de Paris than of defending the
town. We do not wish it to be said that we compromise the success of the
defence by agitation, but either it must show more energy, or we will
drive it from the Hôtel de Ville." I quoted to my friend Mr. Lincoln's
saying, about the mistake of changing a horse when half-way over a
river. "That is all very well," replied a citizen, who was discussing
some fiery compound at a table near me, "but we, unfortunately, have
only an ass to carry us over, and he will be swept away down the stream
with us on his back." Somebody now asked me what I was doing in Paris. I
replied that I was the correspondent of an English newspaper. Several
immediately shook me by the hand, and one of them said to me, "Pray tell
your countrymen that we men of Belleville are not what the bourgeois and
their organs pretend. We do not want to rob our neighbours; all we ask
is, to keep the Prussians out of Paris." He said a good deal more which
it is needless to repeat, but I willingly fulfil his request, to give
my testimony that he, and thousands like him, who are the bugbear of the
inhabitants of the richer districts of the city, are not by any means as
black as they are painted. They are impulsive and somewhat inclined to
exaggerate their own good qualities and the faults of others; they seem
to think that anyone who differs from them must be a knave or a fool,
and that the form of government which they prefer ought at once to be
established, whether it obtains the suffrages of the majority or not;
their knowledge, too, of the laws of political and social economy is, to
say the least, vague; but they are honest and sincere, mean what they
say, do not mistake words for deeds, and after the dreary inflated
nonsense one is compelled to listen to from their better educated
townsmen, it is refreshing to talk with them. From the Belleville
pothouse I went to the Faubourg St. Germain. In this solemn abode of a
fossil aristocracy I have a relative--a countess. She is, I believe, my
cousin about sixteen times removed, but as she is the only person of
rank with whom my family can claim the most distant relationship, we
stick to the cousinship and send her every year cheap presents, which
she reciprocates with still more meretricious _bonbons_. When I was
ushered into her drawing-room, I found her taking afternoon tea with two
old gentlemen, also a mild young man, and a priest. A "Lady of the
Faubourg," who has any pretensions to beauty, but who is of Cornelia's
mood, always has two or three old gentlemen, a mild young man, and a
priest, who drop in to see her almost every afternoon. "Are you come to
congratulate us?" said my cousin, as I entered. I kissed her hand.
"What," she continued, "have you not heard of the victory?" I opened my
eyes. "Madame," said one old gentleman, "alludes to the taking of Choisy
le Roy." I mildly hinted that the news of this important event had not
reached me. "Surprising!" said he, "I saw Vinoy myself yesterday." "It
does not follow," I suggested, "that he has taken Choisy to-day."
"Monsieur, perhaps, is not aware," jeered old gentleman No. 2, "that
60,000 men have broken through the Prussian lines, and have gone to the
relief of Bazaine." "I have not the slightest doubt of the fact; it is
precisely what I expected would occur," I humbly observed. "As for the
victory," struck in the mild young man, "I can vouch for it; I myself
have seen the prisoners." "Surely," added my cousin, "you must have
heard the cannon; ah! you English are all the same; you are all
Prussians, your Queen, your _'Tims'_, and all of you." I took refuge in
a cup of tea. One old gentleman came and stood before me. I knew well
what was coming--the old, old question. "Well, what does England think
of our attitude now?" I said that only one word could properly qualify
it--sublime. "We are sacrificing our lives," said the mild young man. I
looked at him, and I greatly fear that I smiled--"that is to say," he
continued, "we are prepared to sacrifice them." "Monsieur is in the
Garde Nationale?" I asked. "Monsieur is the only son of a widow," put in
my cousin. "But I mean to go to the ramparts for all that," added the
orphan. "You owe yourself to your mother," said the priest--"and to your
country," I suggested, but the observation fell very flat. "It is a
grand sight," observed one old gentleman, as he put a third lump of
sugar in his tea, and another into his pocket, "a glorious spectacle, to
see a population that was supposed to be given up to luxury, subsisting
cheerfully week after week upon the simplest necessaries of existence."
"I have not tasted game once this year, and the beef is far from good,"
sighed old gentleman No. 2; "but we will continue to endure our
hardships for months, or for years if need be, rather than allow the
Prussians to enter Paris." This sort of Lacedemonian twaddle went on
during the whole time of my visit, and my cousin evidently was proud of
being surrounded by such Spartans. I give a specimen of it, as I think
these worthies ought to be gratified by their heroic sacrifices being
made public. "I'd rough it in a campaign as well as any linesman," said
the cornet of her Majesty's Life Guards; "give me a pint of claret and a
chicken every day, or a cut at a joint, and I would ask for nothing
more;" and the Belgravian knight's idea of the discomforts of war is
very like that of the beleaguered Gaul. Want may come, but as yet never
has a large city enjoyed greater abundance of bread and meat. The poor
are nourished by the State. The rich have, perhaps, some difficulty in
getting their supply of meat, but this is the fault of a defective
organization; in reality they are only deprived of those luxuries the
habitual use of which has impaired the digestions of half of them. It is
surely possible to exist for a few weeks on beef, mutton, flour,
preserved vegetables, wine, milk, eggs, and every species of sauce that
cook ever contrived. At about seven, provisions at the restaurants
sometimes run short. I dined to-day at a bouillon at six o'clock for
about half-a-crown. I had soup, salt cod, beef (tolerable, but perhaps a
shade horsey), rabbit, French beans, apple fritters, grapes, and coffee.
This bill of fare is a very long way from starvation.

_October 14th._

According to the official account of yesterday's proceedings, General
Trochu was anxious to discover whether the Prussians were in force upon
the plateau of Chatillon, or had withdrawn from that position. The
villages of Chatillon, Bagneux, and Clamart, were consequently attacked,
and after an artillery and musketry engagement, the Prussian reserves
were brought up, thus proving that the report that they had withdrawn
was unfounded. The retreat then commenced under the fire of the forts.
About 100 prisoners were taken; in the evening they were brought to the
Place Vendôme. The newspapers are one and all singing peans over the
valour of the Mobiles--those of the Côte d'Or most distinguished
themselves. Although the whole thing was little more than a
reconnaissance, its effect has been electrical. The battalions of the
National Guard sing the Marseillaise as of old, and everyone is full of
confidence. Some of the officers who were engaged tell me that the
Mobiles really did show coolness under fire, and that they fought well
with the bayonet in the village of Bagneux. Between carrying an advanced
post and forcing the Prussian army to raise the siege, there is of
course a slight difference, but I see no reason why these strong,
healthy peasants should not become excellent troops. What they want are
commanders who are old soldiers, and would force them to submit to
regular discipline. The _Official Gazette_ contains the following
decree: "Every officer of the National Guard whose antecedents are of a
nature to compromise the dignity of the epaulette, and the consideration
of the corps in which he has been elected, can be revoked. The same
punishment may be inflicted upon those officers who render themselves
guilty of continuous bad conduct, or of acts wanting in delicacy. The
revocation will be pronounced by the Government upon a report of the
Minister of War." If the Government has enough determination to carry
out this decree, the National Guard will greatly profit by it.

Yesterday evening at the Folies Bergères a demonstration was made
against the Princes of the Orleans family, who are said to be in command
of an army at Rouen. It was determined to send a deputation to the
Government on the subject. This move is important, as the Folies
Bergères is rather the rendezvous of the Moderate Republicans than of
the Ultras.

A letter from Havre, dated October 4, has been received, in which it is
stated that the ex-Emperor has issued an address to the nation. I do not
know what his chances of restoration are in the provinces, but here
they are absolutely hopeless. The Napoleonic legend was founded upon
victories. Since the name of Napoleon has been coupled with the
capitulation of Sedan, it is loathed as much as it once was adulated.
Apart from his personal following, Napoleon III. has not 100 adherents
in Paris.

_October 15th._

Colonel Loyd Lindsay arrived here yesterday morning with £20,000 for the
ambulances, and leaves to-morrow with the Comte de Flavigny, the
President of the Ambulance Internationale. Mr. Herbert is getting
anxious respecting the future of the destitute English still here; and
with all due respect to our charitable friends at home, it appears to me
that Paris is rich enough to look after its own wounded. The flag of the
Cross of Geneva waves over several thousand houses, and such is the
desire of brave patriots to become members of an ambulance corps, that
the services of neutrals are declined.

_October 16th._

We are told that the ex-Emperor has issued a proclamation, _urbi
orbique_, and that his agents are engaged in London and elsewhere in
intriguing in his behalf. I cannot believe that they have any chance of
gaining adherents to their master's cause in England. That halo of
success which blinded a portion of the English press to the iniquities
which were concealed beneath the Imperial purple has now disappeared.
The publication of the papers discovered in the Tuileries has stripped
despotism of its tinsel, and has revealed the vile and contemptible arts
by which a gallant nation has been enslaved. The Government of Napoleon,
as Mr. Gladstone said of that of Bomba, "was a negation of God upon
earth." His councillors were bold bad men, ever plotting against each
other, and united alone in a common conspiracy to grow rich at the
expense of their country, _creverunt in exitio patriæ_. His court was
the El Dorado of pimps and parasites, panders and wantons. For eighteen
long years he retained the power, which he had acquired through perjury
and violence, by pandering to the baser passions of his subjects, and by
an organized system of fraud, mendacity, and espionnage. Beneath his
blighting rule French women only sought to surpass each other in
reckless extravagance, and Frenchmen lost the courage which had half
redeemed their frivolity. Honest citizens there were, indeed, who
protested against these Saturnalia of successful villany and rampant
vice, but few listened to their warnings. They were jeered at by the
vulgar, fined, imprisoned, or banished by Ministers and Magistrates. All
that was good, noble, and generous in the nation withered in the
uncongenial atmosphere. The language of Pascal and of Corneille became
the medium of corrupting the minds of millions. The events of the day
were some actress who had discovered a new way to outrage decency, or
some new play which deified a prostitute or an adulteress. Paris became
the world's fair, to which flocked the vain, the idle, and the debauched
from all corners of the globe. For a man to be rich, or for a woman to
find favour in the eyes of some Imperial functionary, were ready
passports to social recognition. The landmarks between virtue and vice
were obliterated. The Court lady smiled in half-recognition on the
courtezan, and paid her homage by endeavouring to imitate her dress and
her manners. Cardsharpers and stockjobbers, disreputable adventurers and
public functionaries were intimate friends. No one, able to insult
modest industry by lavish ostentation, was asked how he had acquired his
wealth. Honour and honesty were prejudices of the past. What has been
the consequence? It is a comment upon despotism, which I hope will not
be lost upon those who extol the advantages of personal government, and
who would sacrifice the liberty of all to the concentrated energy of
one. The armies of France have been scattered to the winds; the
Emperor, who knew not even how a Cæsar should die, is a prisoner; his
creatures are enjoying their booty in ignoble ease, not daring even to
fight for the country which they have betrayed. The gay crowd has taken
to itself wings; an emasculated bourgeoisie, grown rich upon fashionable
follies, and a mob of working men, unused to arms, and distrustful even
of their own leaders, are cowering beneath the ramparts of Paris,
opposing frantic boasts, pitiful lamentations, unskilled valour, to the
stern discipline of the legions of Germany, whose iron grasp is
contracting closer and closer every day round the vaunted capital of
modern civilization. You know better than we do what is passing in the
provinces, but I can answer for it that the Parisians, low as they have
fallen, are not so lost to every impulse of honour as to be ready to
welcome back in triumph the prime cause of their degradation, the man of
December and of Sedan. Titania, in the _Midsummer Night's Dream_,
idealizes the weaver, and invests him with every noble attribute, and
then as soon as she regains her senses, turns from him with disgust and
exclaims, "Oh, how mine eyes do loathe thee now." So it was and so it is
with Paris and Napoleon, "None so poor to do him honour now."

The Government is daily becoming more and more military, and the
Parisian Deputies are becoming little more than lay figures. M.
Gambetta, the most energetic of them, has left for the provinces. MM.
Jules Favre, Picard, and Pelletan are almost forgotten. Rochefort
devotes himself to the barricades, and M. Dorian, a hard-headed
manufacturer, is occupying himself in stimulating the manufacture of
cannon, muskets, and munitions of war. These gentlemen, with the
exception of the latter, are rather men of words than of action. They do
neither harm nor good. Of General Trochu, into whose hands, by the mere
force of circumstances, all civil and military authority is
concentrating, _Bonum virum, facile dixeris, magnum libenter_. He is, I
believe, a good general and a good administrator. Although he awakens no
enthusiasm, confidence is felt by the majority in his good sense. It is
thought, however, that he is wanting in that energy and audacity which
are requisite in a leader, if victory is to be wrested from the Germans.
He forgets that time is not his ally, and that merely to hold Paris
until that surely inevitable hour arrives when the provisions are
exhausted will neither save France nor her capital. He is a man slow to
form a plan, but obstinate in his adherence to it; unwilling to move
until he has his forces perfectly under control, and until every
administrative detail is perfected--better fitted to defend Troy for ten
years than Paris for a few months--in fact, a species of French

We are now in a position, according to our military authorities, to hold
out as long as our provisions last. If Paris does this, without being so
heroic as her citizens imagine that she already is, she will have done
her duty by France. Nicholas said, when Sebastopol was besieged, that
winter was his best ally; and winter will soon come to our aid. The
Prussians are a long way from their homes; if the provinces rise it will
be difficult for them to keep their lines of communication open, and to
feed their troops. It may also be presumed that they will be harassed by
the 300,000 armed men who are cooped up here, and who are acting on the
inner circle. Cannon are being cast which, it is expected, will render
the sorties far more effective. On the other hand, the question has not
yet been solved whether the Parisians will really support the hardships
of a siege when they commence, and whether there will not be internal
dissensions. At present the greatest confidence is felt in ultimate
success. The Parisians cannot realise to themselves the possibility of
their city being taken; they are still, in their own estimation, the
representative men of "la grande nation," and they still cite the
saying of Frederick the Great that, were he King of France, not a sword
should be drawn without his permission, as though this were a dictum
that a sage had uttered yesterday. They feed every day on the vaunts and
falsehoods which their newspapers offer them, and they digest them
without a qualm. While they expect the provinces to come to their aid,
they are almost angry that they should venture to act independently of
their guidance. They are childishly anxious to send out commissaries to
take the direction of affairs in Normandy and Touraine, for the
provincials are in their eyes slaves, born to serve and to obey the
capital. Indeed, they have not yet got over their surprise that the
world should continue to move now that it is deprived of its pivot. All
this folly may not prevent their fighting well. Fools and braggarts are
often brave men. The Parisians have an indomitable pride, they have
called upon the world to witness their achievements, and the thought of
King William riding in triumph along the Boulevards is so bitter a one,
that it may nerve them to the wildest desperation. If, however, Bazaine
capitulates, and the armies of the Loire and of Lyons are only the
figments of their own brains, it may be that they will bow to what they
will call destiny. "Heaven has declared against us," is an expression
that I already hear frequently uttered. It is indeed as impossible to
predicate here, as it is in London, what may be the mood of this fickle
and impulsive population a week hence. All I can positively say is, that
at the present moment they are in "King Cambyses' vein." We ought not to
judge a foreign nation by our own standard, but it is impossible not to
re-echo Lord Bolingbroke's "poor humanity" a hundred times a day, when
one reads the inflated bombast of the newspapers, and hears the nonsense
that is talked by almost everyone; when one sees the Gaul marching off
to the ramparts convinced, because he wears a kepi and a sword, that he
is a very Achilles; when regiments solemnly crown a statue with laurel
crowns, and sign round robins to die for their country. All these antics
ought not to make one forget that these men are fighting for the holiest
of causes, the integrity of their country, and that the worst of
Republics is better than the best of feudal monarchies; but I confess I
frequently despair of their ever attaining to the dignity of free men,
until they have been further tried in the school of adversity.

Yesterday M. Jules Favre, in reply to a deputation from the Club of the
Folies Bergères, stated that he was not aware that the Orleans Princes
were in France. "If the army of succour," he said, "comes to us, we will
extend our hands to it; but if it marches under the Orleans banner, the
Government will not recognise that banner. As a man, I deplore the law
which proscribes this family; as a citizen and a politician, I maintain
it. Even if these Princes were to abdicate their dynastic pretensions,
the Government will remember Bonaparte, and how he destroyed the
Republic in 1851, and energetically protest against their return." This
reply when reported to the Club was greatly applauded. Probably none of
its members had ever heard the proverb that beggars ought not to be

The event of the day has been the arrest of M. Portales, the editor of
the _Vérité_. This newspaper, after asserting that the Government has
received news from the provinces, asks a series of questions. In the
afternoon the editor was arrested, and this morning the _Official
Gazette_ thus replies to the queries: No news has been concealed. The
last official despatch received is one from Gambetta, announcing his
safe arrival at Montdidier. The Government has received an old copy of
the _Standard_, but this journal, "notoriously hostile to France,"
contained sensational intelligence, which appeared absolutely untrue.
To-day it has received a journal of Rouen of the 12th, and it hastens to
publish the news derived from this source. Bismarck never proposed an
armistice through Burnside. The General only unofficially informed
Trochu that Bismarck's views were not altered since he had met Favre at
Ferrières, when he stated that "if he considered an armistice realizable
for the convocation of an Assembly, he would only grant it for
forty-eight hours; he would refuse to include Metz, or to permit
provisions to enter Paris, and exclude from the Assembly our brave and
unhappy compatriots of Alsace and Lorraine." The _Official Gazette_ then
gives extracts from the Rouen paper, which are very contradictory. Our
newspapers, however, in commenting on them, come to the conclusion that
there are two armies in the field well equipped, and that they have
already achieved important successes. The situation also of Bazaine is
proved to be excellent. _Quem Dem, &c._

Two of the mayors have ordered all crucifixes to be removed from the
ambulances in their arrondissements. Their conduct is almost universally
blamed. The enlistment of the Amazons, notwithstanding the efforts of
the Government, still continues. The pretty women keep aloof from the
movement; the recruits who have already joined are so old and ugly that
possibly they may act upon an enemy like the head of Medusa.

_October 17th._

The newspapers to-day almost universally blame the arrest of M.
Portales. This gentleman, with M.E. Picard, started, just before the
siege commenced, a paper called _L'Electeur Libre_. It was thought that
M. Picard's position as a member of the Government rendered it
impossible for him to remain the political director of a newspaper, so
he withdrew, but appointed his brother as his successor. This did not
please M. Portales, who with most of the staff left the _Electeur
Libre_, and founded _La Vérité_. It is, therefore, somewhat suspicious
that this new paper should be the only one whose editor has been
imprisoned for circulating "falsehoods." In the first place, almost
every French newspaper of any circulation trades upon lies; in the
second place, it appears that in this particular case the _Vérité_ only
put in the sensational form of questions a letter from the _Times_'
correspondent at Tours. This letter it publishes to-day, and appeals to
the public to judge between M. Portales and M. Picard. The fact is that
this population can neither tell nor hear the truth. The English papers
are one and all in bad odour because they declined to believe in the
Emperor's victories, and if a _Daily News_ comes in here with an account
of some new French reverse, I shall probably be imprisoned. Government
and people have laid down this axiom, "bad news false news." General
Trochu again appears in print in a long circular letter to the
commandants of the corps d'armée and the forts. He desires them each to
send him in a list of forty men who have distinguished themselves, and
their names and no others will appear in the order of the day. "We
have," says the General, "to cause this grand thought, which monarchies
decline to recognise but which the Republic should hold sacred, to
penetrate into the minds of our officers and soldiers--opinion alone can
worthily recompense the sacrifice of a life; remember that if you make a
bad choice of the men you recommend, you will gravely compromise your
responsibility towards me, and at the same time the great principle
which I would have prevail." The General is a very copious writer, and
it seems to me that he would do well to remember that if he can only
drive away the Prussians, he will have time enough afterwards to
introduce his "grand thoughts" into the army. Two things, says Thiers,
impose upon Frenchmen--military glory and profound silence. Trochu has
the first to win, and he apparently scorns the latter. He is a species
of military doctrinaire, and he finds it difficult to avoid lecturing
soldiers or civilians at least once a day. I was looking at him the
other day, and I never saw calm, serene, self-complacency more clearly
depicted upon the human countenance. Failure or success will find him
the same--confident in himself, in his plans, and his grand thoughts. If
he eventually has to surrender, he will console himself by coupling with
the announcement of his intention many observations--very wise, very
beautiful, very lengthy, and very stale.

Mr. Herbert tells me that there are more English here than he had
imagined. He estimates their number at about 4000, about 800 of whom are
destitute. The funds at his disposal for them would have already run
short had not Mr. Wallace again largely contributed to them. They are
fed with rice and Liebig, but the great difficulty has been to find fat
to add to this mess. The beasts that are killed are so lean that it is
almost impossible to obtain it except at an extravagant price. Tallow
candles have been seriously suggested, but they too are scarce. The
English, as foreigners, cannot claim rations, and were it not for the
kindness of Mr. Herbert and Mr. Wallace, they would, I am afraid, really
starve. All their rich fellow-countrymen, with the exception of Mr.
Wallace, have left Paris, and even if they were here they would not be
able to do anything unless they had money with them, as it is impossible
to draw on London. Winter is coming on, and clothes and fuel as well as
food will be wanted. I would suggest to the charitable in England to
send contributions to Mr. Herbert. I can hardly suppose that Count
Bismarck would decline to let the money pass through the Prussian lines.
I hear that Mr. Washburne has obtained a half permission to send his
countrymen out of the town, if so, I think it would be well if the poor
English were also to leave; but this, of course, will require money.

The Nuncio has managed to get away; he declined to take letters with
him. E. Washburne, United States Minister, Lopez de Arosemana, Chargé
d'Affaires of Honduras, Duke Aquaviva, Chargé d'Affaires of Monaco, and
the other members of the Corps Diplomatique still here, have signed and
published a protest against the refusal of Count Bismarck to let their
despatches to their respective Governments leave Paris sealed. That Mr.
Washburne should be indignant I can well understand; but although I do
not personally know either Lopez de Arosemana, or Aquaviva, Chargé
d'Affaires of Monaco, I can understand Count Bismarck not being
absolutely satisfied with the assurance of these potent signors that
nothing except official despatches should pass under their seal. That
the Prince of Monaco should be debarred for a few months from receiving
communications from his representative in Paris, may perhaps be
unpleasant to him, but must be a matter of the most profound
indifference to the rest of the world.

It is somewhat amusing to observe how justice is administered when any
dispute arises in the streets. The sergents-de-ville immediately
withdraw, in order not to prejudice the question by their presence. A
sort of informal jury is impanelled, each disputant states his case, and
the one who is thought by the tribunal to be in fault, is either taken
off to prison, or cuffed on the spot. I have bought myself a sugar-loaf
hat of the First Republic, and am consequently regarded with deference.
To-day a man was bullying a child, and a crowd gathered round him; I
happened just then to come up, room was immediately made for me and my
hat, and I was asked to give my opinion as to what ought to be done with
the culprit. I suggested kicking, and as I walked away, I saw him
writhing under the boots of two sturdy executioners, amid the applause
of the spectators. "The style is the man," said Buffon; had he lived
here now he would rather have said "the hat is the man." An English
doctor who goes about in a regulation chimney-pot has already been
arrested twenty-seven times; I, thanks to my revolutionary hat, have
not been arrested once. I have only to glance from under its brim at any
one for him to quail.

_October 18th._

A decree has been issued ordering a company of 150 men to be mobilised
in each battalion of the National Guard. Three of these companies are
together to form a mobilised battalion, and to elect their commander.
The _Journal Officiel_ contains two long reports upon the works of
defence which have been executed since the commencement of the siege.
They give the number of guns on each bastion, and the number of rounds
to each gun, the number of cartridges, and the amount of powder in
store. Unless these reports be patriotic fictions, it seems strange to
publish them in the newspapers, as they must inevitably fall into the
hands of the Prussians. Be this as it may, I do not feel at liberty to
quote from them. General Ducrot publishes a letter protesting against a
statement of the German journals that he escaped from Pont-à-Mousson
when on parole. He asserts that his safe-conduct had been given up, and
that he consequently was free to get away if he could. His evasion is
very similar to that of F. Meagher from Australia. M. Jules Favre
publishes a circular to the French Diplomatic Agents abroad, in reply to
Count Bismarck's report of the meeting at Ferrières. You will probably
have received it before you get this letter. It is more rhetorical than
logical--goes over the old ground of the war having been declared
against Napoleon rather than against the French nation, and complains
that "the European Cabinets, instead of inaugurating the doctrine of
mediation, recommended by justice and their own interests, by their
inertness authorise the continuation of a barbarous struggle, which is a
disaster for all and an outrage on civilization." M. Jules Favre cannot
emancipate himself from the popular delusions of his country, that
France can go to war without, if vanquished, submitting to the
consequences, and that Paris can take refuge behind her ramparts without
being treated as a fortified town; at the same time he very rightly
protests against the Prussian theory of the right of conquest implying a
moral right to annex provinces against the wishes of their inhabitants.

Few have been in Paris without having driven through the Avenue de
l'Impératrice. What has been done there to render it impregnable to
attack will consequently give an idea what has been done everywhere. At
the Bois de Boulogne end of the avenue the gate has been closed up by a
wall and a moat; behind them there is a redoubt. Between this and the
Arc de Triomphe there are three barricades made of masonry and earth,
and three ditches. Along the grass on each side of the roadway, the
ground has been honey-combed, and in each hole there are pointed stakes.
In every house Nationaux are billeted; in two of them there are
artillerymen. In the Avenue de Neuilly, and in many other parts of the
town, the preparations against an assault are still more formidable.
Bagatelles, the villa of the late Lord Hertford, has been almost gutted
by 2,000 Mobiles, who make it their headquarters. We are exceedingly
proud of having burnt down St. Cloud, and we say that if this does not
convince the Prussians that we are in earnest, we will burn down
Versailles. I wonder whether the proverb about cutting off one's nose to
spite one's face has an equivalent in French.


_October 19th._

A despatch is published this morning from M. Gambetta, giving a very
hopeful account of things in the provinces. As, however, this gentleman
on his arrival at Tours issued a proclamation in which he announced that
there were one-third more guns in Paris than it is even pretended by the
Government that there are, I look with great suspicion upon his
utterances. The latest declaration of the Government differs essentially
from that which was made at the commencement of the siege. A friend of
mine pointed out to one of its members this discrepancy, when he replied
that the Government had purposely understated their resources at first.
This may be all very fair in war, but it prevents a reasonable person
placing the slightest confidence in anything official. Dr. Johnson did
not believe in the earthquake at Lisbon for one year after the news
reached London, and I shall not believe in the resources of the
provinces until they prove their existence by raising the siege. I am
very curious to discover what is thought of Paris by the world. There is
but one step from the sublime to the ridiculous. If really by holding
out for several months the situation can be altered for the better, the
Parisians are right to do so, but if the Government is only humbugging
them with false intelligence, if they are simply destroying their own
villages in the neighbourhood, and exhausting their resources within
the town, whilst a Prussian army is living at the cost of their country,
it seems to me that they are acting like silly schoolboys rather than
wise men, and that there really is something in the sneer of Bismarck
that the Deputies of Paris are determined, _coûte qui coûte_, to
preserve the power with which the hazards of a revolution invested them.

The newspapers this morning are full of articles lauding M. Jules
Favre's circular, and reviling the proposals of Bismarck. The following
extract from the _Liberté_ will serve as an example of their usual
tone:--"A word of gratitude to the great citizen, to Jules Favre. Let
him know that his honest, eloquent, and brave words give us strength,
dry our tears, and cure our wounds. Poor and dear France! Provinces
crushed and towns blockaded, populations ruined, and thou, O Paris, once
the city of the fairies, now become the city of the grave times of
antiquity, raise thy head, be confident, be strong. It is thy heart that
has spoken, it is thy soul unconquered, invincible, the soul of thy
country that has appealed to the world and told it the truth." The
_Liberté_, after this preliminary burst, goes on to say, that it knew
before that Bismarck was everything that was bad, but that it has now
discovered that, besides possessing every other vice, he is a liar, and
if there is one thing that France and the _Liberté_ cannot endure, it is
a man who does not tell the truth. If the Prussians are not driven out
of France by words, it certainly will be a proof that mere words have
very little effect in shaping the destinies of nations.

Each person now receives 100 grammes of meat per diem, the system of
distribution being that every one has to wait on an average two hours
before he receives his meat at the door of a butcher's shop. I dine
habitually at a bouillon; there horse-flesh is eaten in the place of
beef, and cat is called rabbit. Both, however, are excellent, and the
former is a little sweeter than beef, but in other respects much like
it; the latter something between rabbit and squirrel, with a flavour all
its own. It is delicious. I recommend those who have cats with
philoprogenitive proclivities, instead of drowning the kittens, to eat
them. Either smothered in onions or in a ragout they are excellent. When
I return to London I shall frequently treat myself to one of these
domestic animals, and ever feel grateful to Bismarck for having taught
me that cat served up for dinner is the right animal in the right place.

I went last night to the Theatre of the Porte St. Martin; it has become
the rendezvous of the optimists, and speeches were delivered to prove
that everything was for the best in the best of worlds, and poetry was
recited to prove that the Prussians must eventually be defeated. The
chair was taken by M. Coquerel, who with great truth said that Paris had
fallen so low that the siege might be considered almost a blessing, and
that the longer it lasted, the more likely was it to aid in the work of
regeneration, which alone can make this world a globe of honourable men
and honest women. It will, indeed, do the Parisians all the good in the
world to keep guard on the ramparts instead of doing nothing but gossip
till one or two in the morning at cafés.

General Trochu, that complete letter-writer, to-day replies to General
Ducrot, telling him that his proclamation respecting his evasion from
Pont-à-Mousson is most satisfactory.

The military events of this week have been unimportant. The forts have
continued silent, and reconnaissances have been made here and there. The
faubourgs, too, have been quiet. Everything is being done to make the
siege weigh as little upon the population as possible. Thus, for
instance, few lamps are lit in the streets, but the shops and cafés are
still a blaze of light; they close, however, early. Here is rather a
good story; I can vouch for its truth. The Government recently visited
the Tuileries. They were received by the governor, whom they found
established in a suite of apartments. He showed them over the palace,
and then offered them luncheon. They then incidentally asked him who had
nominated him to the post he so ably filled. "Myself," he replied; "just
by the same authority as you nominated yourselves, and no less." There
was heavy firing all through the night in the direction of Vannes.

M. Mottu, the mayor of the 11th arrondissement, who had entered into a
campaign against crucifixes, has been removed. The Government were
"interviewed" last night by the chiefs of thirty battalions of Gardes
Nationales of the 11th arrondissement on the subject. The deputation was
assured that M. Mottu would be reinstated in his mairie if he would
promise to moderate his zeal.

_October 20th._

"The clients of M. Poiret are informed that they can only have one plate
of meat," was the terrible writing which stared me on the wall, when I
went to dine at my favourite bouillon--and, good heavens, what a portion
it was! Not enough for the dinner of a fine lady who has previously
gorged herself at a private luncheon. If meat is, as we are told, so
plentiful that it will last for five weeks more, the mode in which it is
distributed is radically bad. While at a large popular restaurant, where
hundreds of the middle classes dine, each person only gets enough cat or
horse to whet his appetite for more; in the expensive cafés on the
Boulevards, feasts worthy of Lucullus are still served to those who are
ready to part with their money with the proverbial readiness of fools.
Far more practical, my worthy Republicans, would it be to establish
"liberté, égalité, fraternité" in the cook shops, than to write the
words in letters of gold over your churches. In every great city there
always is much want and misery; here, although succour is supposed to be
afforded to all who require it, many I fear are starving owing to that
bureaucrat love of classification which is the curse of France. After my
meagre dinner, I was strolling along the quays near the river,
_l'estomac_ as _leger_ as M. Ollivier's heart, when I saw a woman
leaning over the parapet. She turned as I was passing her, and the lamp
from the opposite gate of the Tuileries shone on her face. It was honest
and homely, but so careworn, so utterly hopeless, that I stopped to ask
her if she was ill. "Only tired and hungry'" she replied; "I have been
walking all day, and I have not eaten since yesterday." I took her to a
café and gave her some bread and coffee, and then she told me her story.
She was a peasant girl from Franche Comté, and had come to Paris, where
she had gone into service. But she had soon tired of domestic servitude,
and for the last year she had supported herself by sewing waistcoats in
a great wholesale establishment. At the commencement of the siege she
had been discharged, and for some days she found employment in a
Government workshop, but for the last three weeks she had wandered here
and there, vainly asking for work. One by one she had sold every article
of dress she possessed, except the scanty garments she wore, and she had
lived upon bread and celery. The day before she had spent her last sou,
and when I saw her she had come down to the river, starving and
exhausted, to throw herself into it. "But the water looked so cold, I
did not dare," she said. Thus spoke the grisette of Paris, very
different from the gay, thoughtless being of French romance, who lives
in a garret, her window shrouded with flowers, is adored by a student,
and earns enough money in a few hours to pass the rest of the week
dancing, gossiping, and amusing herself. As I listened to her, I felt
ashamed of myself for repining because I had only had one plate of meat.
The hopeless, desolate condition of this poor girl is that of many of
her class to-day. But why should they complain? Is not King William the
instrument of Heaven, and is he not engaged in a holy cause? That Kings
should fight and that seamstresses should weep is in the natural order
of things. Frenchmen and Frenchwomen only deserve to be massacred or
starved if they are so lost to all sense of what is just as to venture
to struggle against the dismemberment of their country, and do not
understand how meet and right it is that their fellow-countrymen in
Alsace should be converted into German subjects.

General Vinoy, who was in the Crimea, and who takes a somewhat larger
view of things than the sententious Trochu, has been good enough to
furnish me with a pass, which allows me to wander unmolested anywhere
within the French outposts. "If you attempt to pass them," observes the
General, "you will be shot by the sentinels, in obedience to my orders."
A general order also permits anyone to go as far as the line of the
forts. Yesterday I chartered a cab and went to Boulogne, a village on
the Seine, close by the wood of the same name. We drove through a
portion of the Bois; it contained more soldiers than trees. Line and
artillerymen were camped everywhere, and every fifty yards a group was
engaged in skinning or cutting up a dead horse. The village of Boulogne
had been deserted by almost all the inhabitants. Across some of the
streets leading to the river there were barricades, others were open. In
most of the houses there were soldiers, and others were in rifle-pits
and trenches. A brisk exchange of shots was going on with the Prussians,
who were concealed in the opposite houses of St. Cloud. I cannot
congratulate the enemy upon the accuracy of their aim, for although
several evilly disposed Prussians took a shot at my cab, their bullets
whistled far above our heads, and after one preliminary kick, the old
cab-horse did not even condescend to notice them. As for the cabman, he
was slightly in liquor, and at one of the cross-streets leading to the
river he got off his box, and performed a war-dance to show his contempt
for the skill of the enemies of his nation. In the Grand Place there was
a long barricade, and behind it men, women, and children were crouching
watching the opposite houses, from which every now and then a puff of
smoke issued, followed by a sharp report. The soldiers were very orderly
and good-natured; as I had a glass, some of them took me up into the
garrets of a deserted house, from the windows of which we tried in vain
to espy our assailants. My friends fired into several of the houses from
which smoke issued, but with what effect I do not know. The amusement of
the place seemed to be to watch soldiers running along an open road
which was exposed to fire for about thirty yards. Two had been killed in
the morning, but this did not appear in any way to diminish the zest of
the sport. At least twenty soldiers ran the gauntlet whilst I was there,
but not one of them was wounded. As well as I could make out, the damage
done to St. Cloud by the bombs of Mont Valérien is very inconsiderable.
A portion of the Palace and a few houses were in ruins, but that was
all. There is a large barrack there, which the soldiers assured me is
lit up every night, and why this building has not been shelled, neither
they nor I could understand. The newspapers say that the Prussians have
guns on the unfinished redoubt of Brinborion; it was not above 1,000
yards from where I was standing, but with my glass I could not make out
that there were any there. Several officers with whom I spoke said that
it was very doubtful. On my return, my cabman, who had got over his
liquor, wanted double his fare. "For myself," he said, "I am a
Frenchman, and I should scorn to ask for money for running a risk of
being shot by a _canaille_ of a German, but think of my horse;" and then
he patted the faithful steed, whom I may possibly have the pleasure to
meet again, served up in a sauce piquante. The newspapers, almost
without exception, protest against the mediation of England and Russia,
which they imagine is offered by these Powers. "It is too late," says
the organ of M. Picard. "Can France accept a mediation which will snatch
from her the enemy at the moment when victory is certain?"

_October 25th._

Has General Trochu a plan?--if so, what is it? It appears to me, as Sir
Robert Peel would have said, that he has only three courses to pursue:
first, to do nothing, and to capitulate as soon as he is starved out;
this would, I reckon, bring the siege to an end in about two months:
secondly, to fight a battle with all his disposable forces, which might
be prolonged for several days, and thus risk all upon one great venture:
thirdly, to cut his way out of Paris with the line and the Mobiles. The
two united would form a force of about 150,000 men, and supported by 500
cannon, it may reasonably be expected that the Prussian lines would be
pierced. In this case a junction might be effected with any army which
exists in the provinces, and the combined force might throw itself upon
the enemy's line of communications. In the meantime Paris would be
defended by its forts and its ramparts. The former would be held by the
sailors and the mobilized National Guards of Paris, the latter by the
Sedentary Garde Nationale. Which of these courses will be adopted, it is
impossible to say; the latter, however, is the only one which seems to
present even a chance of ultimate success. With respect to the second, I
do not think that the Mobiles could stand for days or even for hours
against the artillery and musketry force of their opponents. They are
individually brave, but like all raw troops they become excited under
fire, shoot wildly, then rush forward in order to engage in a
hand-to-hand encounter, and break before they reach the Prussian lines.
In this respect the troops of the line are not much better. The
Prussian tactics, indeed, have revolutionized the whole system of
warfare, and the French, until they have learnt them, will always go to
the wall.

Every day that this siege lasts, convinces me more and more that General
Trochu is not the right man in the right place. He writes long-winded
letters, utters Spartan aphorisms, and complains of his colleagues, his
generals, and his troops. The confidence which was felt in him is
rapidly diminishing. He is a good, respectable, honest man, without a
grain of genius, or of that fierce indomitable energy which sometimes
replaces it. He would make a good Minister of War in quiet times, but he
is about as fit to command in the present emergency as Mr. Cardwell
would be. His two principal military subordinates, Vinoy and Ducrot, are
excellent Generals of Division, but nothing more. As for his civilian
colleagues, they are one and all hardly more practical than Professor
Fawcett. Each has some crotchet of his own, each likes to dogmatize and
to speechify, and each considers the others to be idiots, and has a
small following of his own, which regards him as a species of divinity.
They are philosophers, orators, and legists, but they are neither
practical men nor statesmen. I understand that General Trochu says, that
the most sensible among them is Rochefort.

We want to know what has become of Sergeant Truffet. As the Prussians
are continually dinning it into Europe that the French fire on their
flags of truce, the following facts, for the truth of which I can vouch,
may, perhaps, account for it; if, indeed, it has ever occurred. A few
days ago, some French soldiers, behind a barricade a little in advance
of the Moulin Saqui, saw a Bavarian crawl towards them, waving a white
flag. When he stopped, the soldiers called to him to come forward, but
he remained, still waving his flag. Sergeant Truffet then got over the
barricade, and went towards him. Several Germans immediately rushed
forward, and sergeant, flag, and Germans, disappeared within the enemy's
lines. The next day, General Vinoy sent an officer to protest against
this gross violation of the laws of war, and to demand that the sergeant
should be restored. The officer went to Creteil, thence he was sent to
Choisy le Roi, where General Jemplin (if this is how he spells his name)
declined to produce the sergeant, who, he said, was a deserter, or to
give any explanation as to his whereabouts. Now Truffet, as his
companions can testify, had not the remotest intention to desert. He was
a good and steady soldier. He became a prisoner, through a most odious
stratagem, and a Prussian general, although the facts have been
officially brought before him, has refused to release him. The Germans
are exceedingly fond of trumping up charges against the French, but they
have no right to expect to be believed, until they restore to us our
Truffet, and punish the Bavarians who entrapped him by means of a false
flag of truce.

The subscription for the 1500 cannon hangs fire. The question, however,
whether both cannon and Chassepots can be made in Paris is solved, as
the private workshops are making daily deliveries of both to Government.
At the commencement of the siege it was feared that there would not be
enough projectiles; these, also, are now being manufactured. For the
last week, the forts have been firing at everything and anything. The
admirals in command say that the sailors bore themselves so, that they
are obliged to allow them to fire more frequently than is absolutely

I have been endeavouring to form an estimate of the absolute cost in
money of the siege, per diem. The National Guard receive in pay
24,000l., rations to themselves and families amount to about 10,000l.,
the Mobiles do not cost less than 30,000l. Unproductive industries
connected with the war, about 15,000l. Rations to the destitute, 5000l.
When, in addition to these items, it is remembered that every
productive industry is at a standstill, it is no exaggeration to say
that Paris is eating its head off at the rate of 200,000l. per diem.

Flourens has been re-elected commander-in-chief of five battalions of
Belleville National Guards. The Government, however, declines to
recognize this cumulative command. The "Major" writes a letter to-day to
the _Combat_ denouncing the Government, and demanding that the Republic
"should decree victory," and shoot every unsuccessful general. Blanqui
says that he lost his election as commander of a battalion, through the
intrigues of the Jesuits. It was proposed on Saturday, at a club, to
make a demonstration before the Hôtel de Ville, in favour of M. Mottu,
the Mayor of the eleventh arrondissement, who was dismissed on account
of his crusade against crucifixes. An amendment, however, was carried,
putting it off until famine gives the friends of a revolution new
adherents. Crucifixes were denounced by an orator in the course of the
evening, as "impure nudities, which ought not to be suffered in public
places, on account of our daughters."

The great meat question is left to every arrondissement to decide
according to its own lights. As a necessary consequence of this, while
in one part of Paris it takes six hours to get a beef-steak, in others,
where a better system of distribution prevails, each person can obtain
his ration of 100 grammes without any extraordinary delay. Butter now
costs 18fr. the pound. Milk is beginning to get scarce. The "committee
of alimentation" recommends mothers to nourish their babies from what
Mr. Dickens somewhere calls "nature's founts."

I had a conversation yesterday with one of the best writers on the
French press, and I asked him to tell me what were the views of the
sensible portion of the population respecting the situation. He replied,
"We always were opposed to the Empire; we knew what the consequences
eventually would be. The deluge has overtaken us, and we must accept the
consequences. In Paris, few who really are able to form a just estimate
of our resources, can expect that the siege can have any but a
disastrous termination. Everyone, however, has lost so much, that he is
indifferent to what remains. We feel that Paris would be disgraced if at
least by a respectable defence she does not show that she is ready to
sacrifice herself for France." "But," I said, "you are only putting off
the inevitable hour at a heavy cost to yourself." "Perhaps," he replied,
"we are not acting wisely, but you must take into consideration our
national weaknesses; it is all very well to say that we ought to treat
now, and endeavour to husband our resources, so as to take our revenge
in twenty years, but during that twenty years we should not venture to
show ourselves abroad, or hold up our heads at home." "In the end,
however, you must treat," I said. "Never," he replied. "Germany may
occupy Alsace and Lorraine, but we will never recognise the fact that
they are no longer French." "I hardly see," I said, "that this will
profit you." "Materially, perhaps not," he answered, "but at least we
shall save our honour." "And what, pray, will happen after the
capitulation of Paris?" "Practically," he replied, "there is no
Government in France, there will not be for about two years, and then,
probably, we shall have the Orleans princes." The opinions enunciated by
this gentleman are those of most of the _doctrinaires_. They appear to
be without hope, without a policy, and without any very definite idea
how France is to get out of the singularly false position in which the
loss of her army, and the difficulty of her people to accept the
inevitable consequences, have placed her. My own impression is, that the
provinces will in the end insist upon peace at any cost, as a
preliminary step towards some regular form of government, and the
withdrawal of the German troops, whose prolonged occupation of
department after department must exhaust the entire recuperative
resources of the country.

_October 27th._

At an early hour yesterday morning, about 100 English congregated at the
gate of Charenton _en route_ for London. There were with them about 60
Americans, and 20 Russians, who also were going to leave us. Imagine the
indignation of these "Cives Romani," when they were informed that, while
the Russians and the Americans would be allowed to pass the Prussian
outposts, owing to the list of the English wishing to go not having
reached Count Bismarck in time, they would have to put off their journey
to another day. The guard had literally to be turned out to prevent them
from endeavouring to force their way through the whole German army. I
spoke this morning to an English butler who had made one of the party.
This worthy man evidently was of opinion that the end of the world is
near at hand, when a butler, and a most respectable person, is treated
in this manner. "Pray, sir, may I ask," he said, with bitter scorn,
"whether her Majesty is still on the throne in England?" I replied, "I
believed that she was." "Then," he went on, "has this Count Bismarck, as
they call him, driven the British nobles out of the House of Lords?
Nothing which this feller does would surprise me now." Butler, Chargé
d'Affaires, and the other _cives_, are, I understand, to make another
start, as soon as the "feller" condescends to answer a letter which has
been forwarded to him, asking him to fix a day for their departure.

We are daily anticipating an attack on the Southern side of the city.
The Prussians are close into the forts on their line from Meudon to
Choisy-le-Roi. Two days ago it was supposed that they were dragging
their siege guns to batteries which they had prepared for them,
notwithstanding our fire, which until now we proudly imagined had
rendered it impossible for them to put a spade to the ground. Our
generals believe, I know not with what truth, that the Prussians have
only got twenty-six siege guns. If they are on the plateau of Meudon,
and if they carry, as is asserted, nine kilometres, a large portion of
the city on the left bank of the Seine will be under fire. On our side
we have approached so close to the villages along the Prussian line in
this direction that one side or the other must in self-defence soon make
an attack. The newspapers of yesterday morning having asserted that
Choisy-le-Roi was no longer occupied by the enemy, I went out in the
afternoon to inspect matters. I got to the end of the village of Vitry,
where the advanced posts, to whom I showed my pass, asked me where I
wanted to go. I replied, to Choisy-le-Roi. A corporal pointed to a house
at some distance beyond where we were standing. "The Prussians are in
that house," he said. "If you like, you can go forward and look at them;
they are not firing." So forward I went. I was within a hundred yards of
the house when some Francs-tireurs, hid in the field to the right of
the road, commenced firing, and the Fort d'Ivry from behind opened fire.
The Prussians on their side replied with their needle-guns. I got behind
a tree, feeling that my last hour was come. There I remained about half
an hour, for whenever I moved a bullet came whizzing near me. At last a
thought, a happy thought, occurred to me. I rolled myself into a ditch,
which ran alongside the road, and down this ditch I crept until I got
close to the barricade, over which I climbed with more haste than
dignity. The soldiers were greatly amazed at my having really believed a
statement which I had read in the newspapers, and their observations
respecting the Parisians and their "organs" were far from complimentary.
On my way back by Montrouge, I stopped to gossip with some Breton
Mobiles. They, too, spoke with the utmost scorn of the patriots within
the walls. "We are kept here," they said, "to defend these men, all of
whom have arms like us; they live comfortably inside the ramparts,
whilst the provinces are being ravaged." These Breton Mobiles are the
idols of the hour. They are to the Republic what the Zouaves were to the
Empire. They are very far, however, from reciprocating the admiration
which the Republicans entertain for them. They are brave, devout,
credulous peasants, care far more for Brittany than they do for Paris,
and regard the individuals who rule by the grace of Paris with feelings
the reverse of friendly. The army and the Mobiles, indeed, like being
cooped up here less and less every day, and they cannot understand why
the 300,000 National Guards who march and drill in safety inside the
capital do not come outside and rough it like them. While I was talking
to these Bretons one of them blew his nose with his handkerchief. His
companions apologised to me for this piece of affectation. "He is from
Finisterre," they said. In Finisterre, it appears, luxury is enervating
the population, and they blow their noses with handkerchiefs; in other
parts of Brittany, where the hardy habits of a former age still prevail,
a more simple method is adopted.

The volunteering from the National Guard for active service has been a
failure. 40,000 men were required; not 7,000 have sent in their names.
The Ultras say that it is a scheme to get rid of them; the bourgeoisie
say nothing, but volunteer all the less. The fact is, the siege as far
as regards the Parisians has been as yet like hunting--all the pleasure
of war, with one per cent. of the danger; and so long as they can help
it they have no intention to increase that per-centage. As for the 1,500
cannon, they have not yet been made; but many of them have already been
named. One is to be called the "Jules Favre," one the "Populace," "We
already hear them thunder, and see the Prussians decimated," says the
_Temps_, and its editor is not the first person who has counted his
chickens before they are hatched.

All yesterday afternoon and evening the Fort of Issy, and the battery of
the Bois de Boulogne, fired heavily on Brinborion and Meudon, with what
result no one knows. Yesterday morning the _Combat_ announced that
Marshal Bazaine was treating for the surrender of Metz in the name of
Napoleon. The Government was interviewed, and denied the fact. In the
evening the _Combat_ was burnt on the Boulevards. The chief of General
Ducrot's staff has published a letter protesting against the assertions
of certain journals that the fight at Malmaison produced no results. On
the contrary, he says it gained us sixty square kilometres of ground in
the plain of Genevilliers.


_October 28th._

I see at a meeting of the mayors, the population of Paris is put down at
2,036,000. This does not include the regular army, or the Marines and
Mobiles outside and within the lines. The consumption of meat,
consequently, at the rate of 100 grammes per diem, must amount to
between 400,000 and 500,000lbs. per diem. Although mutton according to
the tariff is cheaper than beef, I rarely see any at the restaurants.
This tells its own tale, and I imagine that in three weeks from now at
the very latest fresh meat will have come to an end.

I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that there is no more fight in
the working men than in the bourgeois. The National Guard in Montmartre
and Batignolles have held an indignation meeting to protest against
their being employed in the forts. A law was passed on August 10 calling
under arms all unmarried men between 25 and 40. In Paris it has never
been acted on; it would, however, be far better to regularly enrol this
portion of the National Guard as soldiers than to ask for volunteers. As
long as these "sedentary" warriors can avoid regular service, or
subjecting themselves to the discipline and the hardships of real
soldiers, they will do so. Before the Panthéon, the mayor of an
arrondissement sits on a platform, writing down the names of volunteers.
Whenever one makes his appearance, a roll of drums announces to his
fellow-citizens that he has undertaken to risk his valuable life outside
the ramparts. It really does appear too monstrous that the able-bodied
men of this city should wear uniforms, learn the goose-step, and refuse
to take any part in the defence within shot of the enemy. That they
should object to be employed in a campaign away from their homes, is
hardly in accordance with their appeal to the provinces to rise _en
masse_ to defend France, but that they should decline to do anything but
go over every twelve days to the ramparts, is hardly fighting even for
their own homes. Surely as long as the siege lasts they ought to
consider that the Government has a right to use them anywhere within the
lines of investment They make now what they call military promenades,
that is to say, they go out at one gate, keep well within the line of
the forts, and come in at another gate. Some of the battalions are ready
to face the enemy, although they will not submit to any discipline. The
majority, however, do not intend to fight outside the ramparts. I was
reading yesterday the account of a court-martial on one of these heroes,
who had fallen out with his commanding officer, and threatened to pass
his sword through his body. The culprit, counsel urged, was a man of an
amiable, though excitable disposition; the father of two sons, had once
saved a child from drowning, and had presented several curiosities to a
museum. Taking these facts into consideration, the Court condemned him
to six days' imprisonment, his accuser apologised to him, and shook
hands with him. What is to be expected of troops when military offences
of the grossest kind are treated in this fashion? I know myself officers
of the Garde Nationale, who, when they are on duty at the ramparts,
quietly leave their men there, and come home to dinner. No one appears
to consider this anything extraordinary. Well may General Trochu look up
to the sky when it is overcast, and wish that he were in Brittany
shooting woodcocks. He has undertaken a task beyond his own strength,
and beyond the strength of the greatest general that ever lived. How can
the Parisians expect to force the Prussians to raise the siege? They
decline to be soldiers, and yet imagine that in some way or other, not
only is their city not to be desecrated by the foot of the invader, but
that the armies of Germany are to be driven out of France.

_October 30th._

We really have had a success. Between the north-eastern and the
north-western forts there is a plain, cut up by small streams. The high
road from Paris to Senlis runs through the middle of it, and on this
road, at a distance of about six kilometres from Paris, is the village
of Bourget, which was occupied by the Prussians. It is a little in
advance of their lines, which follow a small river called the Morée,
about two kilometres in the rear. At 5 A.M. last Friday Bourget was
attacked by a regiment of Francs-tireurs and the 9th Battalion of the
Mobiles of the Seine. The Prussians were driven out of it, and fell back
to the river Morée. During the whole of Friday the Prussian artillery
fired upon the village, and sometimes there was a sharp interchange of
shots between the advanced posts. On Friday night two attacks in
considerable force were directed against the position, but both of them
failed. At nine on Saturday morning, after a very heavy artillery fire
from the batteries at Stains and Dugny, which was replied to from the
forts of Aubervilliers and l'Est, La Briche and St. Denis, heavy masses
of infantry advanced from Staines and Gonesse. When they approached the
village the fire which was concentrated on them was so heavy that they
were obliged to fall back. At about twelve o'clock I went out by the
gate of La Villette. Between the ramparts and the Fort of Aubervilliers
there were large masses of troops held in reserve, and I saw several
battalions of National Guards among them, belonging, I heard, to the
Volunteers. I pushed on to an inn situated at the intersection of the
roads to Bourget and Courneuve. There I was stopped. It was raining
hard, and all I could make out was that Prussians and French were busily
engaged in firing, the former into Bourget, the latter into Stains and
Dugny. It appears to have been feared that the Prussians would make an
attack from Bourget upon either St. Denis or Aubervilliers; it was
discovered, however, that they had no batteries there. Whether we shall
be able to hold the position, or whether, if we do, we shall derive any
benefit from it beyond having a large area in which to pick up
vegetables, time alone will prove. On returning into Paris I came across
in the Rue Rivoli about 200 patriots of all ages, brandishing flags and
singing patriotic songs. These were National Guards, who had been
engaged in a pacific demonstration at the Hôtel de Ville, to testify
their affection to the Republic, and to demonstrate that that affection
should be reciprocated by the Republic in the form of better arms,
better pay, and better food. They had been harangued by Rochefort and
Arago. I see by this morning's paper that the latter requested them to
swear that not only would they drive the Prussians out of France, but
that they would refuse to treat with any Government in Germany except a
Republican one.

A decree of General Trochu converts the Legion of Honour into a military
decoration. The journalists of all colours are excessively indignant at
this, for they all expect, when the party which they support is in
power, to be given this red ribbon as a matter of course. It has been so
lavishly distributed that anyone who has not got it is almost obliged to
explain why he is without it, in the way a person would excuse himself
if he came into a drawing-room without a coat.

The theatres are by degrees reopening. In order not to shock public
opinion, the programmes of their entertainments are exceedingly dull.
Thus the Comédie Française bill of fare for yesterday was a speech, a
play of Molière's without costumes, and an ode to Liberty. I can
understand closing the theatres entirely, but it seems to me absurd
increasing the general gloom, by opening them in order to make the
audiences wish that they were closed. Fancy, for an evening's
entertainment, a speech from Mr. Cole, C.B.; the play of _Hamlet_ played
in the dresses of the present century; and an ode from Mr. Tupper.

A few days ago the newspapers asserted that M. Thiers had entered Paris,
having been provided with a safe conduct by the King of Prussia. It is
now said that he is not here yet, but that he shortly will be. Of course
if Count Bismarck allows him to come in, he does so rather in the
interests of Prussia than of France. I cannot believe myself that,
unless Prussia has given up the idea of annexing Alsace and Lorraine to
Germany, negotiation will be productive of good results. If Metz can be
taken, if the armies of the provinces can be defeated, and if the
provisions within the city become less plentiful than they are now, then
perhaps the Parisians will accept the idea of a capitulation. At
present, however, the very large majority believe that France must
eventually conquer, and that the world is lost in wonder and admiration
of their attitude. The siege is one long holiday to the working classes.
They are as well fed as ever they were, and have absolutely nothing to
do except to play at soldiers. Although the troops are unable to hold
the villages within the fire of their forts, they are under the delusion
that--to use the favourite expression--the circle in which we are
inclosed is gradually but surely being enlarged. I was this morning
buying cigars at a small tobacconist's. "Well," said the proprietor of
the shop to me, "so we are to destroy the Prussians in twenty days."
"Really," I said. "Yes," he replied, "I was this morning at the Mairie;
there was a crowd before it complaining that they could not get meat. A
gentleman--a functionary--got upon a stool. 'Citizens and citizenesses,'
he said, 'be calm; continue to preserve the admirable attitude which is
eliciting the admiration of the world. I give you my honour that
arrangements have been made to drive the Prussians away from Paris in
twenty days.' Of course," added my worthy bourgeois, "this functionary
would not have spoken thus had the Government not revealed its plans to
him." At this moment a well dressed individual entered the shop and
asked for a subscription for the construction of a machine which he had
invented to blow up the whole Prussian army. I expected to see him
handed over to a policeman, but instead of this the bourgeois gave him
two francs! What, I asked, is to be expected of a city peopled by such
credulous fools?

A dispute is going on as to the relative advantages of secular and
religious education. The Mayor of the 23rd arrondissement publishes
to-day an order to the teachers within his domains, forbidding them to
take the children under their charge to hear mass on Sundays. The
municipality has also published a decree doubling the amount contributed
by the city to the primary schools. Instead of eight million francs it
is to be henceforward sixteen millions. This is all very well, but
surely it would be better to put off questions affecting education until
the siege is over. The alteration in the nomenclature of the streets
also continues. The Boulevard Prince Eugène is to be called the
Boulevard Voltaire, and the statue of the Prince has been taken down, to
be replaced by the statue of the philosopher; the Rue Cardinal Fesch is
to be called the Rue de Chateaudun. The newspapers also demand that the
Rue de Londres should be rebaptised on the ground that the name of
Londres is detested even more than Berlin. "If Prussia" (says one
writer) "wages against us a war of bandits and savages, it is England
which, in the gloom of its sombre country houses, pays the Uhlans who
oppress our peasants, violate our wives, massacre our soldiers, and
pillage our provinces. She rejoices over our sufferings."

The headquarters of the Ambulance Internationale are to move to-morrow
from the Palais de l'Industrie to the Grand Hotel. In the Palais it was
impossible to regulate the ventilation. It was always either too hot or
too cold. Another objection to it which was urged by the medical men
was, that one-half of it served as a store for munitions of war.

4 P.M.

So we have been kicked neck and crop out of Bourget. I have got such a
cold that I have been lying up to-day. A friend of mine has just come
in, and tells me that at eight this morning a regiment on their way to
Bourget found the Mobiles who were in it falling back. Some Prussian
troops appeared from between Stains and Courneuve, and attempted to cut
off the retreat. Whether we lost any cannon my friend does not know. He
thinks not. Some of our troops were trapped, the others got away, and
fell back on the barricades in front of Aubervilliers. My friend
observes that if it was not a rout, it was extremely like one. He thinks
that we were only allowed to get into Bourget in order to be caught like
rats in a trap. When my friend left the forts were firing on Pierrefitte
and Etains, and the Prussians were established in front of Bourget. My
friend, who thinks he has a genius for military matters, observes that
we ought to have either left Bourget alone, or held it with more troops
and more artillery. The Mobiles told him that they had been starving
there for forty-eight hours, and only had two pieces of 12, two of 4,
and one mitrailleuse. The Prussians had brought up heavy guns, and
yesterday they established a battery of twenty-one cannon, which
cannonaded the village.

_October 31st._

Yesterday evening until eleven o'clock--a late hour now for Paris;--the
Boulevards were crowded. Although the news that Bourget had been retaken
by the Prussians had been _affiché_ at the Mairies, those who asserted
it were at first treated as friends of Prussia. Little by little the
fact was admitted, and then, every one fell to denouncing the
Government. To-day the official bulletin states that we retreated in
good order, leaving "some" prisoners. From what I hear from officers who
were engaged, the Mobiles fought well for some time, although their
ammunition was so wet that they could only fire twelve shots with their
cannon, and not one with their mitrailleuse. When they saw that they
were likely to be surrounded, there was a stampede to Aubervilliers and
to Drancy, the latter of which was subsequently evacuated. To-day we
have two pieces of news--that M. Thiers entered Paris yesterday, and
that Metz has fallen. The _Journal des Débats_ also publishes copious
extracts from a file of provincial papers up to the 26th, which it has

I hear that M. Thiers advises peace on any terms. The Government of
Paris is in a difficult position. It has followed in the course of
Palikao. By a long _suggestio falsi et suppressio veri_ it has led the
population of this city to believe that the position of France has
bettered itself every day that the siege has lasted. We have been told
that Bazaine could hold out indefinitely, that vast armies were forming
in the provinces, and would, before the middle of November, march to the
relief of Paris; that the investing army was starving, and that it had
been unable to place a single gun in position within the range of the
forts; that we had ample provisions until the month of February, and
that there would not be the slightest difficulty in introducing convoys.
Anyone who ventured to question these facts was held up to public
execration. General Trochu announced that he had a "plan," and that if
only he were left to carry it out, it must result in success. All this
time the General and the members of the Government, who were at
loggerheads with each other, privately confessed to their friends that
the situation was growing every day more critical.

The attempt to obtain volunteers from the population of the capital for
active service outside the gates has resulted in a miserable failure,
and the Government does not even venture to carry out the law, which
subjects all between twenty-five and thirty-five to enrolment in the
army. With respect to public opinion, all are opposed to the entry of
the Prussians into Paris, or to a peace which would involve a cession of
territory; but many equally object to submitting either to real hardship
or real danger. They hope against hope that what they call their
"sublime attitude" will prevent the Prussians from attacking them, and
that they may pass to history as heroes, without having done anything
heroic. I had thought that the working men would fight well, but I think
so no longer. Under the Empire they got high wages for doing very
little. Since the investment of the capital, they have taken their 1fr.
50c. and their rations for their families, and done hardly anything
except drill, gossip, and about once a week go on the ramparts. So fond
they are of this idle existence, that although workshops offer 6fr. a
day to men, they cannot obtain hands. With respect to provisions, as yet
the poorer classes have been better off than they ever were before.
Every one gets his 50 or 100 grammes of meat, and his share of bread.
Those persons alone who were accustomed to luxuries have suffered from
their absence. Meat of some kind is, however, to be obtained by any
person who likes to pay for it about twice its normal value. So afraid
is the Government of doing anything which may irritate the population,
that, contrary to all precedent, the garrison and the wounded alone are
fed with salt meat. What the result of M. Thiers' mission will be, it
is almost impossible to say. The Government will be anxious to treat,
and probably it will put forward feelers to-morrow to see how far it may
dare go. Some of its members already are endeavouring to disconnect
themselves from a capitulation, and, if it does take place, will assert
that they were opposed to it. Thus, M. Jules Favre, in a long address to
the mayors of the banlieus yesterday, goes through the old arguments to
prove that France never desired war.

This gentleman is essentially an orator, rather than a statesman. When
he went to meet Count Bismarck at Ferrières, he was fully prepared to
agree to the fortresses in Alsace and Lorraine being rased; but when he
returned, the phrase, "_Ni un pouce du territoire, ni une pierre des
forteresses_," occurred to him, and he could not refrain from
complicating the situation by publishing it.

To turn for a moment to less serious matters. I never shall see a donkey
without gratefully thinking of a Prussian. If anyone happens to fall out
with his jackass, let me recommend him, instead of beating it, to slay
and eat it. Donkey is now all the fashion. When one is asked to dinner,
as an inducement one is told that there will be donkey. The flesh of
this obstinate, but weak-minded quadruped is delicious--in colour like
mutton, firm and savoury. This siege will destroy many illusions, and
amongst them the prejudice which has prevented many animals being used
as food. I can most solemnly assert that I never wish to taste a better
dinner than a joint of a donkey or a _ragout_ of cat--_experto crede_.

_November 1st._

We have had an exciting twenty-four hours. The Government of the
National Defence has in the course of yesterday been deposed,
imprisoned, and has again resumed the direction of public affairs. I
went yesterday, between one and two o'clock, to the Hôtel de Ville. On
the place before it there were about 15,000 persons, most of them
National Guards from the Faubourgs, and without arms, shouting, "Vive la
Commune! Point d'armistice!" Close within the rails along the façade
there were a few Mobiles and National Guards on duty. One of the two
great doorways leading into the hotel was open. Every now and then some
authority appeared to make a speech which no one could catch; and at
most of the windows on the first floor there was an orator
gesticulating. The people round me said that the mayors of Paris had
been summoned by Arago, and were in one room inside deliberating, whilst
in another was the Government. I managed to squeeze inside the rails,
and stood near the open door. At about 2.30 the Mobiles who guarded it
were pushed back, and the mob was forcing its way through it, when
Trochu appeared, and confronted them. What he said I could not hear. His
voice was drowned in cries of "A bas Trochu!" Jules Simon then got on a
chair, to try the effect of his eloquence; but in the midst of his
gesticulations a body of armed men forced their way through the
entrance, and with about 300 of the mob got inside the Hotel. Just then
three or four shots were fired. The crowd outside scampered off, yelling
"Aux armes!" and running over each other. I thought it more prudent to
remain where I was. Soon the mob returned, and made a rush at both the
doors; for the one which had been open had been closed in the interval.
This one they were unable to force, but the other, winch leads up a
flight of steps into the great covered court in the middle of the
building, yielded to the pressure, and through it I passed with the
crowd; whilst from the windows above slips were being thrown out with
the words "Commune décrétée--Dorian president" on them. The covered
court was soon filled. In the middle of it there is a large double
staircase leading to a wide landing, from which a door and some windows
communicate with a long salle.

This, too, was invaded, and for more than two hours I remained there.
The spectacle was a curious one--everybody was shouting, everybody was
writing a list of a new Government and reading it aloud. In one corner a
man incessantly blew a trumpet, in another a patriot beat a drum. At one
end was a table, round which the mayors had been sitting, and from this
vantage ground Felix Pyat and other virtuous citizens harangued, and, as
I understood, proclaimed the Commune and themselves, for it was
impossible to distinguish a word. The atmosphere was stifling, and at
last I got out of a window on to the landing in the courtyard. Here
citizens had established themselves everywhere. I had the pleasure to
see the "venerable" Blanqui led up the steps by his admirers. This
venerable man had, _horresco referens_, been pushed up in a corner,
where certain citizens had kicked his venerable frame, and pulled his
venerable white beard, before they had recognised who he was. By this
time it appeared to be understood that a Government had been
constituted, consisting of Blanqui, Ledru-Rollin, Delescluze, Louis
Blanc, Flourens, and others. Flourens, whom I now perceived for the
first time, went through a corridor, with some armed men, and I and
others followed him. We got first into an antechamber, and then into a
large room, where a great row was going on. I did not get farther than
close to the door, and consequently could not well distinguish what was
passing, but I saw Flourens standing on a table, and I heard that he was
calling upon the members of the Government of National Defence, who were
seated round it, to resign, and that Jules Favre was refusing to do so.
After a scene of confusion, which lasted half an hour, I found myself,
with those round me, pushed out of the room, and I heard that the old
Government had been arrested, and that a consultation was to take place
between it and the new one. Feeling hungry, I now went to the door of
the Hôtel to get out, but I was told I could not do so without a
permission from the citizen Blanqui. I observed that I was far too
independent a citizen myself to ask any one for a permit to go where I
liked, and, as I walked on, the citizen sentinel did not venture to stop
me. As I passed before Trochu's headquarters at the Louvre I spoke to a
captain of the Etat-Major, whom I knew, and whom I saw standing at the
gate. When he heard that I had just come from the Hôtel de Ville, he
anxiously asked me what was going on there, and whether I had seen
Trochu. General Schmitz, he said, had received an order signed by the
mayors of Paris to close the gates of the town, and not on any pretext
to let any one in or out. At the Louvre he said all was in confusion,
but he understood that Picard had escaped from the Hôtel de Ville, and
was organizing a counter-movement at the Ministry of Finance. Having
dined, I went off to the Place Vendôme, as the generale was beating. The
National Guards of the quarter were hurrying there, and Mobile
battalions were marching in the same direction. I found on my arrival
that this had become the headquarters of the Government; that an officer
who had come with an order to Picard to go to the Hôtel de Ville, signed
by Blanqui, had been arrested. General Tamisier was still a prisoner
with the Government. Soon news arrived that a battalion had got inside
the Hôtel de Ville and had managed to smuggle Trochu out by a back door.
Off I went to the Louvre. There Trochu, his uniform considerably
deteriorated, was haranguing some battalions of the Mobiles, who were
shouting "Vive Trochu!" Other battalions were marching down the Rue
Rivoli to the Hôtel de Ville. I got into a cab and drove there. The
Hôtel was lit up. On the "place" there were not many persons, but all
round it, in the streets, were Mobiles and Bourgeois National Guards,
about 20,000 in all. The Hôtel was guarded, I heard, by a Belleville
battalion, but I could not get close in to interview them. This lasted
until about two o'clock in the morning, when the battalions closed in,
Trochu appeared with his staff, and in some way or other, for it was so
dark, nothing could be seen, the new Government was ejected; M. Jules
Favre and his colleagues were rescued. M. Delescluze, who was one of the
persons there, thus describes what took place: "A declaration was signed
by the new Government declaring that on the understanding that the
Commune was to be elected the next day, and also the Provisional
Government replaced by an elected one, the citizens designed at a public
meeting to superintend these elections withdrew." This was communicated
first to Dorian, who appears to have been half a prisoner, half a
friend; then to the members of the old Government, who were in
honourable arrest; then to Jules Ferry outside. A general sort of
agreement appears then to have been made, that bygones should be
bygones. The Revolutionists went off to bed, and matters returned to the
point where they had been in the morning. Yesterday evening a decree was
placarded, ordering the municipal elections to take place to-day, signed
Etienne Arago; and to-day a counter-decree, signed Jules Favre,
announces that this decree appeared when the Government was _gardé à
vue_, and that on Thursday next a vote is to be taken to decide whether
there is to be a Commune or not.

To-day the streets are full of National Guards marching and
counter-marching, and General Tamisier has held a review of about 10,000
on the Place Vendôme. Mobile battalions also are camped in the public
squares. I went to the Hôtel de Ville at about one o'clock, and found
Mr. Washburne there. We both came to the conclusion that Trochu had got
the upper hand. Before the Hôtel de Ville there were about 5,000
Mobiles, and within the building everything appeared quiet. Had General
Trochu been a wise man he would have anticipated this movement, and not
rendered himself ridiculous by being imprisoned with his council of
lawyers and orators for several hours by a mob. The working men who
performed this feat seemed only to be actuated by a wild desire to fight
out their battle with the Prussians, and not to capitulate. They wished
to be led out, as they imagine that their undisciplined valour would be
a match for the German army. They showed their sense by demanding that
Dorian should be at the head of the new Government. He is not a
Demagogue, he has written no despatches, nor made any speeches, nor
decreed any Utopian reforms after the manner of his colleagues. But,
unlike them, he is a practical man of business, and this the working men
have had discernment enough to discover. They are hardly to be blamed if
they have accepted literally the rhetorical figures of Jules Favre. When
he said that, rather than yield one stone of a French fortress, Paris
would bury itself beneath its ruins, they believed it. I need hardly say
that neither the Government nor the bourgeoisie have the remotest
intention to sacrifice either their own lives or their houses merely in
order to rival Saragossa. They have got themselves into a ridiculous
position by their reckless vaunts, and they have welcomed M. Thiers, as
an angel from heaven, because they hope that he will be able to save
them from cutting too absurd a figure. He left yesterday at three
o'clock, and I understand he has full powers to negotiate an armistice
upon any terms which will save the _amour-propre_ of the Parisians. I
should not be surprised, however, if the Government continues to resist
until the town is in real danger or has suffered real privations. If the
Parisians take it into their heads that they will be able to palm
themselves off as heroes by continuing for a few weeks longer their
passive attitude of opposition, they will do so. What inclines them to
submit to conditions now, is not so much the capitulation of Bazaine,
as the dread that by remaining much longer isolated they will entirely
lose their hold on the Provincials. That these Helots should venture to
express their opinions, or to act except in obedience to orders from the
capital, fills them with indignation.

_November 2nd._

The Government has issued the following form, on which a vote is to be
taken to-morrow: "Does the population of Paris maintain, Yes or No, the
powers of the Government of National Defence?"

The Ultras bitterly complain that the members of the Government agreed
to the election of a Commune, on the recommendation of all the mayors,
and that now they are going back from their concession, and are
following in the steps of the Empire and taking refuge in a Plebiscite.
They, therefore, recommend their friends to abstain from voting. The
fact is, that the real question at issue is, whether Paris is to resist
to the end, or whether it is to fall back from the determination to do
so, which it so boldly and so vauntingly proclaimed. The bourgeois are
getting tired of marching to the ramparts, and making no money; the
working-men are thoroughly enjoying themselves, and are perfectly ready
to continue the _status quo_. I confess I rather sympathise with the
latter. They may not be over wise, but still it seems to me that Paris
ought to hold out as long as bread lasts, without counting the cost. She
had invited the world to witness her heroism, and now she endeavours to
back out of the position which she has assumed. I have not been down to
Belleville to-day, but I hear that there and in the other outer
Faubourgs there is great excitement, and the question of a rising is
being discussed. Flourens and some other commanders of battalions have
been cashiered, but they are still in command, and no attempt is being
made to oblige them to recognise the decree. Rochefort has resigned his
seat in the Government, on the ground that he consented to the election
of the Commune. The general feeling among the shopkeepers seems to be to
accept an armistice on almost any terms, because they hope that it will
lead to peace. We will take our revenge, they say, in two years. A
threat which simply means that if the French army can fight then, they
will again shout "_à Berlin_!" M. Thiers is still at Versailles. There
appears to be a tacit truce, but none knows precisely what is going on.
A friend of mine saw General Trochu yesterday on business, and he tells
me that this worthy man was then so utterly prostrated, that he did not
even refer to the business which he had come to transact. Never was a
man more unfit to defend a great capital. "Why do you not act with
energy against the Ultras?" said my friend. "I wish," replied Trochu,
"to preserve my power by moral force." This is all very well, but can
the commander of a besieged town be said to have preserved his power
when he allows himself to be imprisoned by a mob for six hours, and then
does not venture to punish its leaders? Professor Fustel de Coulanges
has written a reply to Professor Mommsen. He states the case of France
with respect to Alsace very clearly. "Let Prussia double the war-tax she
imposes on France, and give up this iniquitous scheme of annexation,"
ought to be the advice of every sincere friend of peace. In any case, if
Alsace and Lorraine are turned with the German Rhine Provinces into a
neutral State, I do hope that we shall have the common sense not to
guarantee either its independence or its neutrality. If we do so, within
ten years we shall infallibly be dragged into a Continental war. We have
a whim about Belgium, one day it will prove a costly one; we cannot,
however, afford to indulge in many of these whims.


_November 3rd._

The vote is being taken to-day whether the population of Paris maintains
in power the Government of National Defence. On Saturday each of the
twenty arrondissements is to elect a Mayor and four adjuncts, who are to
replace those nominated by the Government. Of course the Government will
to-day have a large majority. Were it to be in the minority the
population would simply assert that it wishes to live under no
Government. This plebiscite is in itself an absurdity. The real object,
however, is to strengthen the hands of the depositories of power, and to
enable them to conclude an armistice, which would result in a
Constituent Assembly, and would free them from the responsibility of
concluding peace on terms rather than accept which they proudly asserted
a few weeks ago they would all die. The keynote of the situation is
given by the organs of public opinion, which until now have teemed with
articles calling upon the population of the capital to bury itself
beneath its ruins, and thus by a heroic sacrifice to serve as an example
to the whole of France. To-day they say, "It appears that the provinces
will not allow Paris to be heroic. They wish for peace; we have no right
to impose upon them our determination to fight without hope of victory."
The fact is that the great mass of the Parisians wish for peace at any
price. Under the circumstances I do not blame them. No town is obliged
to imitate the example of Moscow. If, however, it intends after
submitting to a blockade, to capitulate on terms which it scouted at
first, before any of its citizens have been even under fire, and before
its provisions are exhausted, it would have done well not to have called
upon the world to witness its sublimity. My impression is that on one
point alone the Parisians will prove obstinate, and that is if the
Prussians insist upon occupying their town; upon every other they will
only roar like "sucking doves." Rather than allow the German armies to
defile along the Boulevards, they would give up Alsace, Lorraine, and
half a dozen other provinces. As regards the working-men, they have far
more go in them than the bourgeois, and if the Prussians would oblige
them by assaulting the town, they would fight well in the streets; but
with all their shouts for a sortie, I estimate their real feelings on
the matter by the fact that they almost unanimously, on one pretext or
another, decline to volunteer for active service outside the ramparts.

The elections on Saturday, says M. Jules Favre, will be a "negation of
the Commune." By this I presume he means that the elected Mayors and
their adjuncts will only exercise power in their respective
arrondissements, but that their collective action will not be
recognised. As, however, they will be the only legally elected body in
Paris, and as, undoubtedly, they will frequently meet together, it is
very probable that they will be able to hold their own against the
Government. The word "Commune" is taken from the vocabulary of the first
Revolution. During the Reign of Terror the Municipality was all
powerful, and it styled itself a "Commune." By "Commune," consequently,
is simply meant a municipality which is strong enough to absorb tacitly
a portion of the power legally belonging to the Executive.

The Government now meets at one or other of the ministries. At the
Hôtel de Ville Etienne Arago still reigns. Being a member of the
Government himself, he cannot well be turned out by his own colleagues,
but they distrust him, and do not clearly know whether he is with them
or against them. Yesterday, several battalions were stationed round the
hotel. Arago came out to review them. He was badly received, and the
officers let him understand that they were not there to be reviewed by
him. Soon afterwards General Tamisier passed along the line, and was
greeted with shouts of "A bas la Commune!"

I am sorry for Trochu; he is a good, honourable, high-minded man;
somewhat obstinate, and somewhat vain; but actuated by the best
intentions. He has thrust himself into a hornet's nest. In vain he now
plaintively complains that he has made Paris impregnable, that he cannot
make sorties without field artillery, and that he is neither responsible
for the capitulation of Metz, nor the rout the other day at Bourget.
What, then, say his opponents with some truth, was your wonderful plan?
Why did you put your name to proclamations which called upon us, if we
could not conquer, at least to die? Why did you imprison as calumniators
those who published news from the provinces, which you now admit is
true? It is by no means easy for him or his colleagues to reply to these

General Bellemare has been suspended. He, it appears, is to be the
scapegoat of the Bourget affair. I hear from the Quartier-Général that
the real reason why the artillery did not arrive in time to hold this
position was, not because Bellemare did not ask for it, but because he
could not get it. Red tape and routine played their old game. From St.
Denis none could be sent, because St. Denis is within the "territorial
defence of Paris," and Bourget is not. In vain Bellemare's officers went
here and there. They were sent from pillar to post, from one aged
General to another, and at eleven o'clock on the day when Bourget was
taken, after the troops had been driven out of it, the artillery, every
formality having been gone through, was on its way to the village. It is
pleasant, whilst one is cut off from the outer world, to be reminded by
these little traits of one's native land, its War-Office and its

I was out yesterday afternoon along our southern advanced posts. A few
stray shots were occasionally fired by Francs-tireurs; but there seemed
to be a tacit understanding that no offensive operations should take
place. The fall of the leaves enables us to distinguish clearly the
earthworks and the redoubts which the Prussians have thrown up. I am not
a military man, but my civilian mind cannot comprehend why Vanves and
Montrouge do not destroy with their fire the houses occupied on the
plateau of Chatillon by the Prussians. I asked an officer, who was
standing before Vanves, why they did not. He shrugged his shoulders, and
said, "It is part of the plan, I suppose." Trochu is respected by the
troops, but they have little confidence in his skill as a commander. In
the evening I went to the Club Rue d'Arras, which is presided over by
the "venerable" Blanqui in person, and where the Ultras of the Ultras
congregate. The club is a large square room, with a gallery at one end
and a long tribune at the other. On entering through a baize door one is
called upon to contribute a few sous to the fund for making cannon. When
I got there it was about 8.30. The venerable Blanqui was seated at a
table on the tribune; before him were two assessors. One an unwholesome
citizen, with long blond hair hanging down his back, the other a most
truculent-looking ruffian. The hall was nearly full; many were in
blouses, the rest in uniform; about one-fifth of the audience was
composed of women, who either knitted, or nourished the infants, which
they held in their arms. A citizen was speaking. He held a list in his
hand of a new Government. As he read out the names some were applauded,
others rejected. I had found a place on a bench by the side of a lady
with a baby, who was occupied, like most of the other babies, in taking
its supper. Its food, however, apparently did not agree with it, for it
commenced to squall lustily. "Silence," roared a hundred voices, but the
baby only yelled the louder. "Sit upon it," observed some energetic
citizens, looking at me, but not being a Herod, I did not comply with
their order. The mother became frightened lest a _coup d'état_ should be
made upon her offspring, and after turning it up and solemnly smacking
it, took it away from the club. By this time orator No. 1 had been
succeeded by orator No. 2. This gentleman, a lieutenant in the National
Guard, thus commenced. "Citizens, I am better than any of you.
(Indignant disapproval.) In the Hôtel de Ville on Monday I told General
Trochu that he was a coward." (Tremendous shouts of "You are a liar,"
and men and women shook their fists at the speaker.) Up rose the
venerable Blanqui. There was a dead silence. "I am master here," he
said; "when I call a speaker to order he must leave the tribune, until
then he remains." The club listened to the words of the sage with
reverential awe, and the orator was allowed to go on. "This, perhaps, no
one will deny," he continued. "I took an order from the Citizen Flourens
to the public printing establishment. The order was the deposition of
the Government of National Defence"--(great applause)--and satisfied
with his triumph the lieutenant relapsed into private life. After him
followed several other citizens, who proposed resolutions, which were
put and carried. I only remember one of them, it was that the Jesuits in
Vaugirard (a school) should at once be ejected from the territories of
the Republic. At ten o'clock the venerable Blanqui announced that the
sitting was over, and the public noisily withdrew. An attempt has been
made by the respectable portion of the community to establish a club at
the Porte St. Martin Theatre, where speakers of real eminence nightly
address audiences. I was there a few evenings ago, and heard A. Coquerel
and M. Lebueier, both Protestant pastors, deliver really excellent
speeches. The former is severe and demure, the latter a perfect
Boanerges. He frequently took up a chair and dashed it to the ground to
emphasise his words. This club is usually presided over by M. Cernuschi,
a banker, who was in bad odour with the Imperial Government for having
subscribed a large sum for the electoral campaign against the
Plebiscite. Another club is held at the Folies Bergères, an old
concert-hall, something like the Alhambra. The principal orator here is
a certain Falcet, a burly athlete, who was, I believe, formerly a
professional wrestler. Here the quality of the speeches is poor, the
sentiments of the speakers mildly Republican. At the Club Montmartre the
president is M. Tony Reveillon, a journalist of some note. The assessors
are always elected. A person proposes himself, and the President puts
his name to the audience. Generally a dozen are rejected before the two
necessary to make the meeting in order are chosen. Every time I have
been there an old man--I am told an ex-professor in a girls' school--has
got up, and with great unction blessed the National Guards--the "heroic
defenders of our homes." Sometimes he is encored several times; and were
his audience to let him, I believe that he would continue blessing the
"heroic defenders" until the next morning. The old gentleman has a most
reverent air, and I should imagine in quiet times goes about as a blind
man with a dog. He was turned out of the school in which he was a
professor--a profane disbeliever in all virtue assures me--for being
rather too affectionate towards some of the girls. "I like little
girls--big ones, too," Artemus Ward used to say, and so it appears did
this worthy man. Besides the clubs which I have mentioned, there are
above 100 others. Most of them are kept going by the sous which are
collected for cannon, or some other vague object. Almost all are
usually crowded; the proceedings at most of them are more or less
disorderly; the resolutions carried more or less absurd, and the
speeches more or less bad. With the exception of the Protestant pastors,
and one or two others, I have not heard a single speaker able to talk
connectedly for five minutes. Wild invectives against the Prussians,
denunciations against Europe, abuse of every one who differs from the
orator, and the very tallest of talk about France--what she has done,
what she is doing, and what she will do--form the staple of almost all
the speeches.


I went down to Belleville this afternoon. Everything was quiet. The
people, as usual, in the streets doing nothing. If you can imagine the
whole of Southwark paid and fed by the Government, excused from paying
rent, arrayed in kepis and some sort of uniform, given guns, and passing
almost all the time gossiping, smoking, and idling, you will be able to
form a correct notion of the aspect of Belleville and the other outer
faubourgs. The only demonstration I have heard of has been one composed
of women, who marched down the Rue du Temple behind a red flag, shouting
"Vive la Commune." As far as is yet known, about one-seventh of the
population have voted "No." The army and the Mobiles have almost all
voted "Yes." A friend of mine, who was out driving near Bobigny, says he
was surrounded by a Mobile regiment, who were anxious to know what was
passing in Paris. He asked them how they had voted. "For peace," they
replied. "If the National Guards wish to continue the war, they must
come out here and fight themselves." Many battalions have issued
addresses to the Parisians saying that they will not fight for a
Commune, and that the provinces must have a vote in all decisions as to
the future destinies of France. General Vinoy also has issued an order
to the 13th Corps d'Armée, declaring that if the peace of Paris is
disturbed he will march at its head to put down disorders.

_November 5th._

That Paris is prudent to seize upon the first loophole to get out of the
position into which she has inconsiderately thrust herself is most
certain. Never for a moment did I believe that the Parisians,
indifferent to all but honour, would perish to the last man rather than
give up one inch of territory, one stone of a fortress. Heroic constancy
and endurance under misfortune are not improvised. A population,
enervated by twenty years of slavery, corruption, and luxury, is not
likely to immolate itself for country, like the Spartans at Thermopylæ.
People who mean to die do not sign a preliminary round-robin to do so.
Real fighting soldiers do not parade the streets behind half-a-dozen
fantastically dressed _vivandières_. When in a town of 2,000,000
inhabitants not above 12,000 can be found ready to submit to military
discipline, and to go outside an inner line of fortifications, it is
ridiculous to expect a defence like that of Saragossa. We are under the
impression to-day that an armistice will be signed to-morrow. No one
affects even to doubt that the word means peace. The bourgeoisie are
heartily tired of playing at soldiers, the game has lost its novelty,
and the nights are too cold to make an occasional pic-nic to the
fortifications agreeable any longer. Besides, business is business, and
pleasant as it may be to sit arrayed in uniform behind a counter, in the
long run customers are more remunerative, if not so glorious. The cry
for peace is universal, the wealthy are lusting after the flesh-pots of
Egypt, the hotel-keepers are eagerly waiting for the rush of sightseers,
and the shopkeepers are anxious to make up for lost time by plundering
friend and foe. The soldiers, although Trochu is popular with them,
have neither faith nor confidence in his generalship. The Mobiles and
peasants recently from their villages wish to go home, and openly tell
the Parisians that they have no intention to remain out in the cold any
longer on salt beef, whilst the heroic citizens are sleeping quietly in
their houses, or in barracks, and gorging themselves with fresh
provisions. As for the working-men, they are spoiling for a fight in the
streets, either with the Prussians, or, if that cannot be, with anyone
else. They are, however, so thoroughly enjoying themselves, doing
nothing, and getting paid for doing it, that they are in too good a
temper to be mischievous. The new Prefect of the Police has arrested
Felix Pyat and other leaders of the riot of last Monday. Flourens and
the venerable Blanqui are only not in prison because they are in hiding.
The mayors of the different arrondissements are being elected to-day,
but no one seems to trouble himself about the election.

The vote of Thursday has somewhat surprised the bourgeoisie. That
one-seventh of the population should have registered their deliberate
opinion that they prefer no Government to that under which they are
living is by no means a reassuring fact, more particularly when this
seventh consists of "men of action," armed with muskets, and provided
with ammunition. As long as the Line and the Mobiles remain here, Trochu
will be able, if he only acts with firmness, to put down all tendencies
to disorder; but were there to be a fight between the friends of the
Government among the Garde Nationale and its opponents, I am not certain
that the former would have the upper hand. As it is, the Hôtel de Ville
and the Louvre are guarded by Breton battalions of the Mobile, and Vinoy
has announced that if there is a disturbance he will at once march to
the aid of the Government at the head of his division. Many complaints
are made about the mode in which the vote was taken on Thursday; some
of them appear to me to be just. The fact is, that Frenchman have not
the most elementary notion of fair play in an election. No matter what
body of men are in power, they conceive that they have a perfect right
to use that power to obtain a verdict in their favour from their
fellow-citizens. Tried by our electioneering code, every French election
which I ever witnessed would be annulled on the ground of "intimidation"
and "undue influence."


No news yet about the armistice. I hear that it is doubtful whether it
will be signed, but no doubt respecting it seems to disquiet the minds
of the Parisians. I cannot help thinking that they have got themselves
again into a fool's paradise. Their newspapers tell them that the
Neutral Powers are forcing Prussia to be reasonable, and that Bismarck
is struck with awe at the sight of our "heroic attitude." As for his not
accepting any terms which we may put forward, the idea does not enter
the mind of any one. I must say, however, that there is a vague feeling
that perhaps we are not quite so very sublime as we imagine. Even to pay
a war indemnity seems to be a concession which no one anticipated. For
the first time since I have known the Parisians, they are out of conceit
with themselves. "If Prussia forces us to make peace now, in five years
we will crush her," is the somewhat vague threat with which many console
themselves. Others say that on the conclusion of peace they will leave
France; but whether this is intended to punish France, Prussia, or
themselves, I do not know. Others boldly assert that they are prevented
from immolating themselves by the Neutral Powers. It is the old story of
"hold me back, don't let me get at him." One thing, however, is certain,
that the capture of Bazaine, the disaster at Bourget, the row at the
Hôtel de Ville, the Prussian cannon on the heights of Meudon, and the
opportune arrival of Thiers, have made this population as peaceful
to-day, as they were warlike a few weeks ago.

I really am sorry for these vain, silly, gulled humbugs among whom I am
living. They have many amiable qualities, although, in trying to be
Spartans, they have mistaken their vocation. They are, indeed, far too
agreeable to be Spartans, who in private life must have been the most
intolerable of bores. It is a sad confession of human weakness, but, as
a rule, persons are not liked on account of their virtues. Excessively
good people are--speaking socially--angular. Take, for instance, the
Prussians; they are saints compared with the French. They have every
sort of excellence: they are honest, sober, hard-working,
well-instructed, brave, good sons, husbands, and fathers; and yet all
this is spoilt by one single fault--they are insupportable. Laugh at the
French, abuse them as one may, it is impossible to help liking them.
Admire, respect the Prussians as one may, it is impossible to help
disliking them. I will venture to say that it would be impossible to
find 100 Germans born south of the Main who would declare, on their
honour, that they prefer a Prussian to a Frenchman. The only Prussian I
ever knew who was an agreeable man was Bismarck. All others with whom I
have been thrown--and I have lived for years in Germany--were proud as
Scotchmen, cold as New Englanders, and touchy as only Prussians can be.
I once had a friend among them. His name was Buckenbrock. Inadvertently
I called him Butterbrod. We have never spoken since. A Prussian
lieutenant is the most offensive specimen of humanity that nature and
pipeclay have ever produced. Apart from all political considerations,
the supremacy of this nation in Europe will be a social calamity, unless
France, like vanquished Greece, introduces the amenities of society
among these pedants, squires, and martinets.

What, however, is to be done for the French? Nothing, I am afraid. They
have brought their troubles on their own heads; and, to use an
Americanism, they must face the music. Even at this late moment they
fail to realise the fact that they ever will be called upon to endure
any real hardships, or that their town ever really will be bombarded. I
was watching the crowd on the Boulevards this afternoon. It was
dispirited because it had for twenty-four hours set its heart upon
peace, and was disappointed like a child who cannot get the toy it
wants; but I will venture to say, not one person in his heart of hearts
really imagined that perhaps within a week he might be blown up by a
bomb. They either will not or cannot believe that anything will happen
which they do not desire. Facts of this kind must be palpably brought
home to them before they will even imagine that they are possible.

The army has been re-organized by that arch organizer Trochu. According
to this new plan, the whole armed force is divided into three armies.
The first comprises the National Guards; the second, under General
Ducrot, is what may be called the active army; it consists of three
corps, commanded respectively by Generals Vinoy, d'Exea, and Renault.
The third comprises all the troops in the forts, in the cottages
adjacent to the forts, which have to be occupied for their defence, and
the fourth commanded by Trochu. The second army will have four cannon to
each thousand men, and will be used to effect a sortie, if possible.
This new arrangement is not well received by military men. Both among
soldiers and officers, General Vinoy is far more popular than any other
general; he is a sort of French Lord Clyde. Until now he had a
coordinate command with Ducrot. That he should be called upon to serve
under him is regarded as an injustice, more particularly because Ducrot
is an intimate personal friend of Trochu. Ducrot and Trochu believe in
themselves, and believe in each other; but no one else believes in
them. They certainly have not yet given the slightest evidence of
military capacity, except by criticising what has been done by others.
Now, at last, however, Trochu will have an opportunity to carry out his
famous plan, by which he asserts that he will raise the blockade in
fourteen days, and of which he has given the fullest details in his
will. Ridicule kills in France--and since this eminent General, as an
evidence that he had a plan, appealed to the will which he had deposited
with his lawyer, he lost all influence. I need not say that this
influence has not been restored by the absurd arrest to which he was
subjected by Messrs. Flourens and Blanqui.

_November 6th._

So we have declined the armistice. The Government deliberated exactly
five minutes over the question. The _Journal Officiel_ says:--"Prussia
expressly refused to entertain the question of revictualment, and only
admitted under certain reserves the vote of Alsace and Lorraine." No
further details are given. An opportunity has been lost, which may never
recur. Public opinion was disposed to accept a cessation of the siege on
almost any terms. General Trochu, however, and his colleagues had not
the civic courage to attach their names to a document which would
afterwards have been cast in their teeth. A friend of mine, a military
man, saw Trochu late last night. He strongly urged him to accept the
armistice, but in vain. "What do you expect will occur? You must know
that the position is hopeless," said my friend. "I will not sign a
capitulation," was all he could get from Trochu. This worthy man is as
obstinate as only weak men can be; his colleagues, as self-seeking as
only French politicians can be. The news that the armistice had been
rejected, fell like a thunderclap upon the population. I never remember
to have witnessed a day of such general gloom since the commencement of
the siege. The feeling of despair is, I hear, still stronger in the
army. Were the real condition of things outside known, I am certain that
the Government would be forced to conclude an armistice, on no matter
what terms. I happened to come across to-day a file of English
newspapers up to the 22nd ult., and I fully realised how all
intelligence from without has been distorted by the Government to serve
its own purposes. Now a few days ago, these very papers had been lent to
Trochu. He read them, kept them two days to show some of his colleagues,
and then returned them. One single extract was published by the _Journal
Officiel_--a German report upon the defences of Paris. No man in the
House of Commons is more fond of special pleading than Sir Roundell
Palmer. When anyone complains of it, the reply is, that he teaches some
children their catechism on Sundays. So, when anyone ventures to
question the veracity of Trochu, one is told that he has adopted his
brother's children.

According to measurements which have been made, the Prussian batteries
at Sèvres and Meudon will carry to the Champ de Mars. From Montretout
their guns would throw shells into the Champs Elysées; but we think that
Valérien will silence them as soon as they open. Meat is getting more
and more scarce every day. That great moralist, Dr. Johnson, said that
he should prefer to dine with a Duke than the most agreeable of
Commoners. I myself at present should prefer to dine with a leg of
mutton than the most agreeable of human beings--Duke or Commoner. I
hear, on what I believe to be good authority, that we shall see the end
of our fresh meat on or about the 20th of this month.

Yesterday, all the hidden stores which had been hoarded up with an eye
to a great profit were thrown on the market. To-day they have again
disappeared. Lamb is, however, freely offered for sale, and curiously
enough, at the same time, live dogs are becoming scarce.

Several Ultras have been elected mayors of the different
arrondissements; among them Citizen Mottu, who was turned out of his
mayorship about a fortnight ago because he refused to allow any child to
attend a place of worship except with his own consent. It is all very
well for M. Jules Favre to say that the election of mayors is a negation
of a Commune. As I understand it, a Commune is but a council of elected
mayors. If the Government loses its popularity, the new mayors will
become a Commune. The more, however, the majority desire peace, the less
likely will they be to throw themselves into the arms of Citizen Mottu
and his friends, who are all for war _à outrance_.

_Monday, November 7th._

The newspapers of to-day, with the exception of the Ultra organs, are
loud in their expressions of regret that the armistice has not been
agreed to. The Government gives no further details, but yesterday
afternoon M. Jules Favre informed several members of the press who
"interviewed" him, that Prussia refused to allow the introduction of
provisions into Paris during the duration of the armistice. I have long
ceased believing any assertion of a member of the French Government,
unless supported by independent evidence. But if this be really true, I
must say that Count Bismarck has been playing a game with the Neutral
Powers, for it can hardly be expected that Paris would consent to
suspend all military operations against the Prussians, whilst their
process of reducing the town by starvation was uninterrupted. Besides,
as such a condition would have amounted practically to a capitulation,
it would have been more frank on the part of Count Bismarck to have
submitted the question in that form. I anticipate very shortly a sortie
in force. An attempt will be made with the Second Army to pierce the
Prussian lines. There appears no reason to doubt that it will fail, and
then the cry for peace will become so strong that the Government will
be obliged to listen seriously to it.

General Trochu's new organization is severely criticised. I hear from
military men that he elaborated it himself with his personal friends. So
secret was it kept, that the Minister of War knew nothing about it until
it appeared in the _Journal Officiel_ yesterday. After the scene of last
Monday General Vinoy reproached Trochu for having tamely submitted to
arrest and insult by a mob for several hours, and strongly hinted that a
French general owed it to his cloth not to allow his decorations to be
torn from his breast. It is said by General Vinoy's friends that those
observations are mainly the cause why he has been deprived of his
independent command, and placed under the orders of General Ducrot, with
respect to whose evasion from Sedan many French officers shake their

I cannot help thinking that the result of the vote of the army on
Thursday last is only relatively correct. Line, Mobile, and Marines do
not amount to 250,000 men, unless I am very much mistaken. The Second
Army, under Ducrot, will number about 110,000 men.

The English at last are about to leave. They are very indignant at
having been, as they say, humbugged so long, and loud in their
complaints against their Embassy. I do not think, however, that the
delay has been the fault either of Colonel Claremont or of Mr.
Wodehouse. These gentlemen have done their best, but they were unable to
get the Prussian and French authorities to agree upon a day for the
exodus. On the one hand, to send to Versailles to receive an answer took
forty-eight hours; on the other, from the fact that England had not
recognized the Republic, General Trochu could not be approached
officially. Colonel Claremont happens to be a personal friend of his,
and it is, thanks to his exertions, coupled with those of Mr. Washburne,
that the matter has at length been satisfactorily arranged. I need
hardly observe that the Foreign-office has done its best to render the
question more complicated. It has sent orders to Mr. Wodehouse to
provide for the transport of British subjects, without sending funds,
and having told Lord Lyons to take the archives with him, it perpetually
refers to instructions contained in despatches which it well knows are
at Tours.

Mr. Washburne remains. He has done his utmost to induce the Government
to agree to an armistice, and has clearly told them that they ought not
to sacrifice Paris without a prospect of a successful issue. He is in
despair at their decision, and anticipates the worst. In the interests
of humanity it is greatly to be regretted that Lord Lyons should have
received orders to quit Paris. The personal consideration in which he
was held, and the great influence which it gave him, would have been
invaluable during the negotiations of the last few days.

_November 8th._

I was once in love. The object of my affections had many amiable
qualities. I remember I thought her an angel; but when she was crossed,
she used to go up into her room and say that she would remain there
without eating until I yielded the point at issue between us. As I was
invariably right and she was invariably wrong, I could not do this; but,
pitying the weakness of her sex, and knowing its obstinacy, I usually
managed to arrange matters in a way which allowed her to emerge from her
retreat without any great sacrifice of _amour propre_. The Parisians
remind me of this sentimental episode of my existence; they have mounted
a high pedestal, and called upon the world to witness that no matter
what may be the danger to which they are exposed, they will not get off
it, unless they obtain what they want; that they will obtain it, they
find is most improbable, and they are anxiously looking around for some
one to help them down, without being obliged absolutely "to swallow
their own words." They had hoped that the armistice which was proposed
by the neutrals would in some way get them out of their difficulty; and,
as the siege still continues, they are exceedingly indignant with their
kind friends. "They have," say the papers, "loosened our mainspring of
sacrifice. We had fully determined to perish, rather than yield; if we
do not, it will be the fault of Russia, Austria, and England." Be the
cause what it may, the "mainspring of sacrifice" most assuredly is not
only loosened, but it has run down, and, unless some wonderful success
occurs shortly, it will never be wound up again. As long as it could be
supposed that cannon and musketry would only do their bloody work
outside the exterior forts, and that Paris might glory in a "heroic
attitude" without suffering real hardships or incurring real danger, the
note of defiance was loud and bold. As it is, the Government is obliged
to do its utmost to keep their courage up to the sticking point. These
foolish people really imagined that, like them, the world regarded their
city as a species of sacred Jerusalem, and that public opinion would
never allow the Prussians either to bombard it, or to expose the high
priests of civilization who inhabit it to the realities of war. It is
necessary to live here to understand the strength of this feeling. In
England, little attention is paid to the utterances of French
newspapers, but the Parisians, more profoundly ignorant of foreign
politics than the charity school boys of an English village, were under
the flattering delusion that we, in common with every other nation,
lived alone to merit their favourable opinion. They find now, to their
profound astonishment, that beyond a barren sympathy, founded upon a
common humanity, no one regards Paris as different to any other great
city, and that, if they choose to convert it into an intrenched camp for
their armies, they must meet the consequences. Either they must accept
the victor's terms of peace or they must fight the Prussians. The
reality of the situation is by degrees coming home to them. From the
general tone of the conversations I hear, I am inclined to think that,
in their hearts, they admit that Alsace, if not Lorraine, is
irretrievably lost. Words have a great influence over them, and they
find consolation for this loss of territory in the phrase that Alsace
will annex a portion of Germany, and not be annexed to Germany. It is
admitted also that sooner or later, an indemnity must be paid in money
to Prussia. The newspapers, who were the loudest in their praises of M.
Jules Favre's language at Ferrières, now complain that nothing is to be
gained by bombast, and that it is ridiculous of him to talk about
"France" proposing "conditions of peace" which must be unacceptable to
Prussia. The main grounds for continued resistance are the personal
ambition of the members of the Government, who well know that if they
sign an armistice, which is tantamount to peace, they will hereafter be
made scapegoats, and be told that the Parisians were balked of their
desire to perish to the last man; the mulish obstinacy of Trochu; and
the dread of the capital losing its supremacy over the Provinces. Of
course, there are some who wish to fight on to the bitter end. The
"Ultras" hope to found on a war _à outrance_ a democratic republic, and
dream of the successes of the First Revolution. The politicians hardly
know what they want. Their main idea is to keep up for their own
purposes that centralization which has so long been the bane of this
country. If they agree to terms before Paris has given France an example
of heroism, they fear that her supremacy will be compromised; if they
allow the insulation to continue, they fear that the Provinces will
accustom themselves to independent action; if a Constituent Assembly be
elected whilst free communication between Paris and the rest of France
is interrupted, they fear that this Assembly will consist of local
candidates rather than those, as has heretofore been the case in all
French Legislative Chambers, who are imposed upon the departments by a
central organization in the capital.

The position of the Government is a singular one. They obtained last
Thursday a large majority on their plebiscite, because it was fully
understood that "oui" meant peace; indeed, on many bulletins, the words
"and peace" were added to the "oui." They have imprisoned the leaders of
those who revolted to the cry of "no armistice!" Their friends the
bourgeois trusted to them to put off the municipal elections until after
the war, and they rallied to their defence to the cry of "no Commune!"
In each arrondissement a mayor and two adjuncts have been elected, and
these mayors and adjuncts have only to meet together in order to assume
that right to interfere in public affairs which converts a municipality
into a commune. In Belleville the elected mayor is a prisoner, and his
two adjuncts, Flourens and Milliere, are in hiding. In the nineteenth
arrondissement M. Delescluze, by far the most able of the Ultras, is
mayor. Contrary to the wishes, consequently, of the voters of "oui," we
are to have no armistice, and we probably shall have a commune. The
Ultras are persecuted, but their programme is adopted.

There appears to be a tacit truce between all parties within the city
until Trochu has made some attempt to carry out his famous plan. For the
last fortnight the Government has not published any news which it may
have received from the Provinces. M. Thiers has either made no report
upon their condition, or it has been concealed. M. Jules Favre, in his
despatch to the envoys abroad, enters into no details, and confines
himself to the simple announcement, that the armistice was not concluded
because Count Bismarck would not allow Paris to be revictualled during
the twenty-five days which it was to last. Our anxiety for news
respecting what is passing outside has to be satisfied with the
following words, which fell from the lips of M. Thiers: "I have seen the
Army of the Loire and the Prussian Guard; man to man I prefer the
former." The _Débats_ and some other journals contain extracts from the
English newspapers up to the 22nd ult. I observe that everything which
tells against France is suppressed, and what is published is headed with
a notice, that as the source is English the truth is questionable. Thus
does the press, while abusing the Government for keeping back
intelligence, fulfil its mission.

The plan for the redistribution of the troops, and their change from one
corps to another, which was announced on Sunday in a decree signed
Trochu, has not yet been carried out. Its only effect has been as yet to
render confusion twice confounded. Its real object, I hear, was to place
General Ducrot in command of the left bank of the Seine, instead of
General Vinoy, because it is expected that the fighting will be on that
side of the river. So indignant is General Vinoy at being placed under
the orders of General Ducrot, that he threatens to give in his
resignation on the ground that by military law no officer can be called
to serve under a general who has capitulated, and who has not been tried
before a court-martial. The dispute will, I imagine, in some way or
other, be arranged, without its coming before the public. General
Vinoy's retirement would produce a bad effect on the army; for, both
with officers and men, he is far more popular than either Ducrot or
Trochu. He passes as a fighting general; they pass as writing generals.
As for Trochu, to write and to talk is with him a perfect mania. "I have
seen him on business," said a superior officer to me, "a dozen times,
but I never have been able to explain what I came for; he talked so
incessantly that I could not put in a word."

I was out this morning along the Southern outposts, the forts were
firing intermittently. At Cachan there was a sharp interchange of shots
going on between the Prussian sentinels and Mobiles. It is a perfect
mystery to me how the Prussians have been allowed to establish
themselves at Clamart and at Chatillon, which are within range of the
guns of three forts. Our famous artillerists do not appear to have
prevented them from establishing batteries exactly where they are most
dangerous to us. General Trochu has not confided to me his celebrated
plan, but I am inclined to think, that whatever it may have been, he
will do well to put it aside, and to endeavour to dislodge the enemy in
Chatillon and the adjacent villages, before their batteries open fire. I
suggested this to an officer, and he replied that the troops, thanks to
the decree of Sunday, hardly knew who commanded them, or where they were
to be stationed--"On paper," he added, "I and my battalion are at La
Malmaison." As for the sortie, which is to revictual Paris, by forcing
the Prussian lines, it is simply absurd to talk of it. If Trochu
attempts it, the result must be disastrous, and _coûte qui coûte_, the
political exigences of the situation render it absolutely necessary that
at least apparent success must crown our next encounter with the enemy.
The next thing would be to hold our own, as long as the provisions last,
and trust to the chapter of accidents; but this is impossible in the
present temper of both soldiers and citizens. General Trochu has
insisted so loudly that, if not interfered with, he would not only keep
the enemy out of Paris, but raise the siege--that he must do something
to redeem his pledge.

We have almost forgotten our troubles, in hearing that King William, "to
recompense his soldiers and reward their valour," has made his son and
his nephew Field Marshals. We wish to know whether, if his army takes
Paris, he will reward the men by declaring himself infallible, and
giving "our Fritz" a few million francs. With fear and trembling we ask
whether the success of the Bavarians will be recognized by their
monarch being allowed to inflict on us the operas of his friend Wagner.

A new industry has sprung up in Paris. A manufactory has been
discovered, in which Prussian casques and sabres were being made. It was
at first thought that the owner was engaged in a dark conspiracy, but,
upon being arrested, he confessed that he was endeavouring to meet the
demand for trophies from the fields of battle. In one room of the house
of this ingenious speculator, a large number of forged letters were
found, from mothers, sisters, and brides, to their relations in the army
before Paris: these, he explained, were to be sold, warranted from the
pocket of a German corpse.

Has Gambetta contracted with a London firm for a loan of 250 millions at
42? The financial world here is in a state of the greatest agitation
about a statement to this effect, which has been discovered in an
English newspaper. The Government officially declares that it knows
nothing about the matter. It is a curious sign of the universal belief
of any one in official utterances, that this denial is regarded as very
questionable evidence against the loan having been made. What puzzles us
is, that the Rente is at 53--why then was this new loan issued at 42? An
attempt has been made to oblige those persons left in charge of houses
occupied by foreigners here, to pay the tax upon absents. An energetic
protest, however, of Mr. Washburne, has saved Americans from this


_Wednesday, November 9th._

I bought a dozen newspapers this morning. Every one of them, with the
exception of the _Gaulois_, in more or less covert language, insists
upon peace upon any terms. Our "mainspring" not only has run down, but
is broken. The complaints, too, against the Government for concealing
all news it has received from the provinces, and for giving no details
respecting the negotiations with respect to the armistice, are most
outspoken. M. Edmond About, in the _Soir_ of last night, insists that we
ought to have agreed to the armistice, even without a revictualment; and
such appears to be the opinion of almost everyone. Poor M. Jules Favre,
who a few weeks ago was lauded to the skies for having so nobly
expressed the ideas of his countrymen, when he said that rather than
yield one foot of territory, one stone of a fortress, they would all
perish, is now abused for having compromised the situation, and made it
difficult to treat, by his mania for oratorical claptrap. In the
_Figaro_, Villemessant blunders through three columns over being again
disappointed in his expectations of embracing his wife, and plaintively
tells "William" that though he may not be anxious to see "his Augusta,"
this is no reason why he, Villemessant, should not be absolutely wild to
see Madame. A more utter and complete collapse of all "heroism" I never
did witness.

General Trochu has, with his usual intelligence, seized this moment to
issue a decree, mobilizing 400 men from each battalion of the National
Guard. First, volunteers; secondly, unmarried men, between 25 and 35
years; thirdly, unmarried men, between 35 and 45; fourthly, married men
between 25 and 35; fifthly, married men, between 35 and 45, are
successively to be called upon to fill up the contingent. The Vinoy
affair has been settled by the appointment of the General to the command
of the Third Army. The following statistics of the annual consumption of
meat by Paris will give some idea of the difficulty of revictualling
it:--oxen, 156,680; bulls, 66,028; cows, 31,095; calves, 120,275; sheep,
916,388. Meat is now distributed every three days. I hear that on the
present scale of rationing there is enough for five more distributions.
We shall then fall back on horses, and our own salt provisions; the
former will perhaps last for a week, as for the latter it is impossible
to give any accurate estimate. We have, however, practically unlimited
supplies of flour, wine, and coffee; if consequently the Parisians are
ready to content themselves with what is absolutely necessary to support
existence, the process of starving us out will be a lengthy one.

_November 14th._

"Wanted, 10,000 Parisians ready to allow themselves to be killed, in
order that their fellow-citizens may pass down to posterity as heroes!"
The attempt to obtain volunteers having miserably failed, and fathers of
families having declined to risk their valuable lives whilst one single
bachelor remains out of reach of the Prussian guns, the Government has
now issued a decree calling to arms all bachelors between the age of 25
and 35. If this measure had been taken two months ago it might have been
of some use, but it is absurd to suppose that soldiers can be improvised
in a few days. I must congratulate my friends here upon the astounding
ingenuity which they show in discovering pretexts to avoid military
service. It is as difficult to get them outside the inner ramparts as it
is to make an old fox break cover. In vain huntsman Trochu and his first
whip, Ducrot, blow their horns, and crack their whips; the wily reynard,
after putting his nose outside his retreat, heads back, and makes for
inaccessible fastnesses, with which long habit has made him familiar.
That General Trochu will be able to beat the Prussians no one supposes;
but if he can manage to get even 5,000 of the heroes who have for the
last two months been professing a wish to die for the honour of their
country under fire, he will have accomplished a most difficult feat.

For the last few days the newspapers, one and all, have been filled with
details of the negotiations which were supposed to be going on at
Versailles. Russia, it was said, had forwarded an ultimatum to the King
of Prussia, threatening him with a declaration of war in case he
persisted in besieging Paris, or in annexing any portion of French
territory. Yesterday morning the _Journal Officiel_ contained an
announcement that the Government knew absolutely nothing of these
negotiations. The newspapers are, however, not disposed to allow their
hopes of peace to be destroyed in this manner, and they reply that "it
being notorious that no member of the Government can speak the truth,
this official denial proves conclusively the contrary of what it
states." It is indeed difficult to know who or what to believe; all I
know for certain is, that M. Jules Favre assured Mr. Washburne on
Saturday night that since M. Thiers had quitted Paris he had had no
communication with the outer world, and did not even know whether the
Tours delegation was still there. Men may lie for a certain time, and
yet be believed, but this "arm of war" has been so abused by our rulers,
that at present their most solemn asseverations meet with universal
incredulity--not, indeed, that the Parisians are cured of their mania
for crediting every tale which comes to them from any other
source--thus, for instance, every newspaper has contained the most
precise details from eye-witnesses of a conflict which took place two
nights ago before the battery of Hautes-Bruyères, in which our "braves
Mobiles" took between two and three thousand prisoners, and slew
hecatombs of the enemy. Now, I was both yesterday and the day before
yesterday at the Hautes-Bruyères, and I can certify myself that this
pretended battle never took place.

It is impossible to predict what will occur during the next fortnight.
_Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas._ General Trochu has this
morning issued a lengthy address to the inhabitants of the city,
informing them that, had it not been for their riotous conduct on Oct.
31 the armistice would have been concluded; and that now all that
remains for them to do, is to "close their ranks and to elevate their
hearts." "If we triumph, we shall have given our country a great
example; if we succumb, we shall have left to Prussia an inheritance
which will replace the First Empire in the sanguinary annals of conquest
and violence; an inheritance of hatred and maledictions which will
eventually prove her ruin." The great question which occupies all minds
now is "the sortie." General Trochu and General Ducrot insist upon at
least making an attempt to pierce the Prussian lines. All the other
generals say that, as it cannot succeed, it is wrong to sacrifice life
to no good purpose. This is how the matter is regarded by officers and
soldiers. As for the National Guard, they distinctly say that they will
be no parties to any such act of folly. Even in the councils of the
Government there is a strong feeling against it; but General Trochu
declines to allow the question, which he says is a purely military one,
to be decided by the lawyers who are his colleagues. They, on their
side, complain that the General never quits the Louvre, has surrounded
himself with a number of clerical dandies as his aides-de-camp, whose
religious principles may be sound, but whose knowledge of war is nil;
and that if he wished to make a sortie, he should not have waited until
the Prussians had rendered its success impossible by completing their
lines of investment. It is said that the attempt will be made along the
post road to Orleans, it being now considered impossible, as was at
first intended, to open communications by the Havre railroad. The
general impression is either that the troops engaged in it will be
driven back under the forts in confusion, or that some 50,000 will be
allowed to get too far to return, and then will be netted like sparrows.
It is not, however, beyond the bounds of possibility that the Prussians
will not wait until our great administrator has completed his
preparations for attack, but will be beforehand with him, and open fire
upon the southern posts from their batteries, which many think would
effectually reduce to silence the guns of Vanves, Issy, and of the
advanced redoubts. These Prussian batteries are viewed with a mysterious
awe. We fire on them, we walk about within less than a mile of them, and
they maintain an ominous silence. On the heights of Chatillon it is said
at the advanced posts that there are 108 siege guns in position; some of
them we can actually distinguish without a glass, and yet not a shot
comes from them. Yesterday, the gates of the Bois de Boulogne were
opened, and a crowd of several thousand persons walked and drove round
the lake. Over their heads one of the bastions was throwing shells into
Montretout, but it seemed to occur to no one that Montretout might
return the compliment, and throw a few shells, not over their heads, but
into their midst. One of the most curious phases in this remarkable
siege is, that the women seem to consider the whole question a political
one, which in no way regards them--they neither urge the men to resist,
nor clamour for peace. _Tros Tyriusque_ seems much the same to them; a
few hundreds have dressed themselves up as vivandières, the others
appear to regret the rise in the price of provisions, but to trouble
their heads about nothing else. If they thought that the cession of
Alsace and Lorraine would reduce the price of butchers' meat, they would
in a sort of apathetic way be in favour of the cession; but they are so
utterly ignorant of everything except matters connected with their
toilettes and M. Paul de Kock's novels, that they confine themselves to
shrugging their shoulders and hoping for the best, and they support all
the privations to which they are exposed owing to the siege without
complaint and without enthusiasm. The word armistice being beyond the
range of their vocabulary, they call it "l'amnistie," and imagine that
the question is whether or not King William is ready to grant Paris an
amnesty. As Æneas and Dido took refuge in a cave to avoid a shower, so I
for the same reason found myself with a young lady this morning under a
porte cochère. Dido was a lively and intelligent young person, but I
discovered in the course of our chance conversation that she was under
the impression that the Russians as well as the Prussians were outside
Paris, and that both were waging war for the King of Spain. Sedan, I
also learnt, was in the neighbourhood of Berlin.

The _Temps_ gives the following details of our provisions--Beef will
fail in a week, horse will then last a fortnight; salt meat a further
week; vegetables, dried fruits, flour, &c., about three weeks more. In
this calculation I think that the stock of flour is understated, and
that if we are contented to live on bread and wine we shall not be
starved out until the middle of January. The ration of fresh meat is now
reduced in almost all the arrondissements to thirty grammes a head.
There is no difficulty, however, in obtaining for money any quantity of
it in the restaurants. In the bouillons only one portion is served to
each customer. Cats have risen in the market--a good fat one now costs
twenty francs. Those that remain are exceedingly wild. This morning I
had a salmis of rats--it was excellent--something between frog and
rabbit. I breakfasted with the correspondents of two of your
contemporaries. One of them, after a certain amount of hesitation,
allowed me to help him to a leg of a rat; after eating it he was as
anxious as a terrier for more. The latter, however, scornfully refused
to share in the repast. As he got through his portion of salted horse,
which rejoiced in the name of beef, he regarded us with horror and
disgust. I remember when I was in Egypt that my feelings towards the
natives were of a somewhat similar nature when I saw them eating rat.
The older one grows the more tolerant one becomes. If ever I am again in
Africa I shall eat the national dish whenever I get a chance. During the
siege of Londonderry rats sold for 7s. each, and if this siege goes on
many weeks longer, the utmost which a person of moderate means will be
able to allow himself will be an occasional mouse. I was curious to see
whether the proprietor of the restaurant would boldly call rat, rat in
my bill. His heart failed him--it figures as a salmi of game.

_November 15th._

We have passed from the lowest depths of despair to the wildest
confidence. Yesterday afternoon a pigeon arrived covered with blood,
bearing on its tail a despatch from Gambetta, of the 11th, announcing
that the Prussians had been driven out of Orleans after two days'
fighting, that 1,000 prisoners, two cannon, and many munition waggons
had been taken, and that the pursuit was still continuing. The despatch
was read at the Mairies to large crowds, and in the _cafés_ by
enthusiasts, who got upon the tables. I was in a shop when a person came
in with it. Shopkeeper, assistants, and customers immediately performed
a war dance round a stove; one would have supposed that the war was over
and that the veracity of Gambetta is unimpeachable. But as though this
success were not enough in itself, all the newspapers this morning tell
us that "Chartres has also been retaken," that the army of Kératry has
effected a junction with that of the Loire, and that in the North
Bourbaki has forced the Prussians to raise the siege of Amiens. Everyone
is asking when "they" will be here. Edmond About, in the _Soir_, eats
dirt for having a few days ago suggested an armistice.

At the Quartier-Général I do not think that very great importance is
attached to Gambetta's despatch, except as an evidence that the
provinces are not perfectly apathetic. It is considered that very
possibly the Prussians may have concentrated their whole available force
round Paris, in order to crush our grand sortie when it takes place.
General Trochu himself takes the most despondent view of the situation,
and bitterly complains of the "spirit" of the army, the Mobiles, and the
Parisians. This extraordinary commander imagines that he will infuse a
new courage in his troops by going about like a monk of La Trappe,
saying to every one, "Brother, we must die."

Mr. Washburne received yesterday a despatch from his Government--the
first which has reached him since the commencement of the
siege--informing him that his conduct in remaining at Paris is approved
of. With the despatch there came English newspapers up to the 3rd.
Extracts from them will, I presume, be published to-morrow. I passed the
afternoon greedily devouring the news at the American Legation. It was a
curious sight--the Chancellerie was crowded with people engaged in the
same occupation. There were several French journalists, opening their
eyes very wide, under the impression that this would enable them to
understand English. A Secretary of Legation was sitting at a table
giving audiences to unnumbered ladies who wished to know how they could
leave Paris; or, if this was impossible, how they could draw on their
bankers in New York. Mr. Washburne walked about cheerily shaking
everyone by the hand, and telling them to make themselves at home. How
different American diplomatists are to the prim old women who represent
us abroad, with a staff of half-a-dozen dandies helping each other to do
nothing, who have been taught to regard all who are not of the craft as
their natural enemies. At the English Embassy Colonel Claremont and a
porter now represent the British nation. The former, in obedience to
orders from the Foreign Office, is only waiting for a reply from Count
Bismarck to his letter asking for a pass to leave us. Whether the
numerous English who remain here are then to look to Mr. Washburne or to
the porter for protection, I have been unable to discover.

M. Felix Pyat has been let out of prison. He says that he rather prefers
being there than at liberty, for in his cell he can "forget that he is
in a town inhabited by cowards," and devote himself to the works of M.
Louis Blanc, which he calls the "Bibles of democracy."

Although Trochu is neither a great general nor a great statesman, he is
a gentleman. I am therefore surprised that he allows obscene caricatures
of the Empress to be publicly sold in the streets and exhibited in the
kiosks. During the time that she occupied the throne in this most
scandal-loving town, no scandal was ever whispered against her. She was
fond, it is true, of dress, but she was a good mother and a good wife.
Now that she and her friends are in exile, "lives of the woman
Bonaparte" are hawked about, which in England would bring their authors
under Lord Campbell's statute. In one caricature she is represented
stark naked, with Prince Joinville sketching her. In another, called
"the Spanish cow," she is made a sort of female Centaur. In another she
is dancing the Can-can, and throwing her petticoats over her head,
before King William, who is drinking champagne, seated on a sofa, while
her husband is in a cage hung up to the wall. These scandalous
caricatures have not even the merit of being funny, they are a
reflection upon French chivalry, and on that of Trochu. What would he
say if the Government which succeeds him were to allow his own wife to
be insulted in this cowardly manner?

Anything more dreary than the Boulevards now in the evening it is
difficult to imagine. Only one street lamp in three is lighted, and the
_cafés_, which close at 10.30, are put on half-allowance of gas. To mend
matters, everyone who likes is allowed to put up a shed on the side walk
to sell his goods, or to collect a crowd by playing a dirge on a fiddle.
The consequence is that the circulation is rendered almost impossible. I
suggested to a high authority that the police ought at least to
interfere to make these peripatetic musicians "move on," but he told me
that, were they to do so, they would be accused of being "Corsicans and
Reactionaries." These police are themselves most ludicrous objects;
anyone coming here would suppose that they are members of some new sect
of peripatetic philosophers; they walk about in pairs, arrayed in pea
jackets with large hoods; and when it is wet they have umbrellas. Their
business appears to be, never to interfere with the rights of their
fellow-citizens to do what they please, and, so helpless do they look,
that I believe if a child were to attack them, they would appeal to the
passers-by for protection.

I see in an English paper of the 3rd that it is believed at Versailles
that we have only fresh meat for twelve days. We are not so badly off as
that. How many oxen and cows there still are I do not know; a few days
ago, however, I counted myself 1,500 in a large pen. The newspapers
calculate that at the commencement of the siege there were 100,000
horses in Paris, and that there are now 70,000; 30,000 will be enough
for the army, consequently 40,000 can be eaten. The amount of meat on
each horse averages 500 lb., consequently we have twenty million pounds
of fresh horse-flesh, a quantity which will last us for more than three
months at the present rate of the meat consumption. These figures are, I
think, very much exaggerated. I should say that there are not more than
40,000 horses now in Paris. The _Petites Voitures_ (Cab) Company has
8,000, and offered to sell them to the Government a few days ago, but
that proposal was declined. As regards salt meat, the Government keep
secret the amount. It cannot, however, be very great, because it is only
derived from animals which have been killed since the siege commenced.
The stock of flour, we are told, is practically unlimited, and as no
attempt is made to prevent its waste in pasty and fancy cakes, the
authorities are acting apparently on this assumption.

The health of Paris is far from satisfactory, and when the winter
weather regularly sets in there will be much sickness. No one is
absolutely starving, but many are without sufficient nourishment. The
Government gives orders for 10c. worth of bread to all who are in want,
and these orders are accepted as money by all the bakers. In each
arrondissement there are also what are called cantines économiques,
where a mess of soup made from vegetables and a small quantity of meat
can be bought for five centimes. Very little, however, has been done to
distribute warm clothing among the poor, and when it is considered that
above 100,000 persons have come into Paris from the neighbouring
villages, most of whom are dependent upon public or private charity, it
is evident that, even if there is no absolute want, there must be much
suffering. Count Bismarck was not far wrong when he said that, if the
siege be prolonged until our stock of provisions is exhausted, many
thousands in the succeeding weeks will die of starvation. I would
recommend those charitable persons who are anxious to come to the aid of
this unfortunate country to be ready to throw provisions into Paris as
soon as communications with England are reopened, rather than to
subscribe their money to ambulances. All things considered, the wounded
are well tended. In the hotel in which I am residing the Société
Internationale has established its headquarters. We have now 160 wounded
here, and beds are prepared for 400. The ambulance occupies two stories,
for which 500 francs a day are paid; and an arrangement has been made
with the administration of the hotel to feed each convalescent for 2.50
francs per diem. As in all French institutions, there appear to me to be
far too many officials; the corridors are pervaded with young healthy
men, with the red cross on their arms, who are supposed to be making
themselves useful in some mysterious manner, but whose main object in
being here is, I imagine, to shirk military service. The ambulance which
is considered the best is the American. The wounded are under canvas,
the tents are not cold, and yet the ventilation is admirable. The
American surgeons are far more skilful in the treatment of gun-shot
wounds than their French colleagues. Instead of amputation they practise
resection of the bone. It is the dream of every French soldier, if he is
wounded, to be taken to this ambulance. They seem to be under the
impression that, even if their legs are shot off, the skill of the
Æsculapii of the United States will make them grow again. Be this as it
may, a person might be worse off than stretched on a bed with a slight
wound under the tents of the Far West.

The French have a notion that, go where you may, to the top of a pyramid
or to the top of Mont Blanc, you are sure to meet an Englishman reading
a newspaper; in my experience of the world, the American girl is far
more inevitable than the Britisher; and, of course, under the Stars and
Stripes which wave over the American tents she is to be found, tending
the sick, and, when there is nothing more to be got for them, patiently
reading to them or playing at cards with them. I have a great weakness
for the American girl, she always puts her heart in what she is about.
When she flirts she does it conscientiously, and when she nurses a most
uninviting-looking Zouave, or Franc-tireur, she does it equally
conscientiously; besides, as a rule, she is pretty, a gift of nature
which I am very far from undervaluing.

_November 16th._

It is reported in "official circles" that a second pigeon has arrived
with intelligence from the French Consul at Bâle, that the Baden troops
have been defeated, and that some of them have been obliged to seek
refuge in Switzerland. The evident object of Trochu now is to get up the
courage of our warriors to the sticking point for the grand sortie which
is put off from day to day. The newspapers contain extracts from the
English journals which came in the day before yesterday. By a process,
in which we are adepts at believing everything which tells for us, and
regarding everything which tells against us as a fabrication of
perfidious Albion, we have consoled ourselves with the idea that "the
situation is far better than we supposed." As for Bazaine, we cannot
make up our minds whether we ought to call him a traitor or a hero. We
therefore say as little about him as possible.

I have just come back from the southern outposts. The redoubts of Moulin
Saqui and Hautes Bruyères were firing heavily, and the Prussians were
replying from Chatillon. Their shrapnell, however, fell short, just
within our advanced line. From the sound of the guns, it was supposed
that they were only using field artillery. The sailors insist that the
enemy has been unable to place his siege-guns in position, and that our
fire knocks their earthworks to pieces. I am inclined to think that
behind these earthworks there are masked batteries, for surely the
Prussian Engineer Officers cannot be amusing themselves with making
earthworks for the mere pleasure of seeing them knocked to pieces.
Anyhow they are playing a deep game, for, as far as I can hear, they
have not fired a single siege-gun yet, either against our redoubts or

_November 19th._

Burke, in his work on the French Revolution, augured ill of the future
of a country the greater number of whose legislators were lawyers. What
would he have said of a Government composed almost exclusively of these
objects of his political distrust? When history recounts the follies of
the French Republic of 1870, I trust that it will not forget to mention
that all the members of the Government, with the exception of one; six
ministers; 13 under-secretaries of State; the Préfet of Police; 24
prefets and commissaries sent into the provinces; and 36 other high
functionaries; belonged to the legal profession. The natural consequence
of this is that we cannot get out of "Nisi prius." Our rulers are unable
to take a large statesmanlike view of the situation. They live from hand
to mouth, and never rise above the expedients and temporizing policy of
advocates. They are perpetually engaged in appealing against the stern
logic of facts to some imaginary tribunal, from which they hope to gain
a verdict in favour of their clients. Like lawyers in England, they
entered public life to "get on." This is still the first object of each
one of them; and as they are deputies of Paris, they feel that, next to
themselves, they owe allegiance to their electors. To secure the
supremacy of Paris over the provinces, and of their own influence over
Paris, is the Alpha and Omega of their political creed. With an eye to
the future, each of them has his own journal; and when any decree is
issued which is not popular, the public is given to understand in these
semi-official organs, that every single member of the Government voted
against it, although it passed by a majority.

It is somewhat strange that the military man who, by the force of
circumstances, is the President of this Devil's own Government is by
nature more of a lawyer than even if he had been bred up to the trade.
His colleagues own in despair that he is their master in strength of
lungs, and that when they split straws into two he splits them into
four. In vain they fall back on their pens and indite letters and
proclamations, their President out-letters and out-proclaims them.
Trochu is indeed a sort of military Ollivier. He earned his spurs as a
military critic, Ollivier as a civil critic. Both are clever, and
eminently respectable in their private relations, and both are verbose,
unpractical, and wanting in plain common sense. Ollivier had a plan, and
so has Trochu. Ollivier complained when his plan failed, that it was the
fault of every one except himself, and Trochu is already doing the same.
Both protested against the system of rule adopted by their predecessors,
and have followed in their steps. Both were advocates of publicity, and
both audaciously suppressed and distorted facts to suit their
convenience. Ollivier is probably now writing a book to prove that he
was the wisest of ministers. Trochu, as soon as the siege is over, will
write one to prove that he was the best of generals. Ollivier insisted
that he could found a Liberal Government upon an Imperial basis, and
miserably failed. Trochu declares that he, and he alone, can force the
Prussians to raise the siege of Paris. When his plan has failed, as fail
it in all probability will, he still, with that serene assurance which
is the attribute of mediocrity, will insist that it ought to have
succeeded. "_Victrix causa Diis placuit, sed victa Catoni._" Those who
knew him in Brittany tell me that long before he became a personage, "le
plan de Trochu" was a standing joke throughout that province. The
General, it appears, is fond of piquet; whenever he sat down to play he
said, "j'ai mon plan." When he got up after losing the game, as was
usually the case, he went away muttering, "Cependant, mon plan était
bon." He seemed to have this word "plan" on the brain, for no one who
ever played with him could perceive in his mode of handling the cards
the slightest trace of a plan. The mania was harmless as long as its
exhibition was confined to a game in which a few francs were to be won
or lost, but it becomes most serious in its consequences when the
destinies of a country are subordinated to it. At the commencement of
the siege, General Trochu announced that he not only had a "plan," but
that he had inscribed it in his will, which was deposited with his
notary. An ordinary man would have made use of the materials at his
command, and, without pledging himself to success, would have
endeavoured to give the provinces time to organize an army of succour by
harassing the Prussians, and thus preventing them from detaching troops
in all directions. Instead of this, with the exception of some two or
three harmless sorties, they have been allowed slowly to inclose us in a
net of circumvallations. Our provisions are each day growing more
scarce, and nothing is done except to heap up defensive works to prevent
the town being carried by an assault, which there is no probability that
the besiegers mean to attempt. Chatillon and Meudon were ill guarded,
but ditches were cut along the Avenue de l'Impératrice. The young
unmarried men in Paris were not incorporated until the 50th day of the
siege, but two or three times a week they were lectured on their duties
as citizens by their leader. If there is really to be a sortie,
everything is ready, but now the General hesitates--hints that he is not
seconded, that the soldiers will not fight, and almost seems to regret
at last his own theoretical presumption. "He trusted," said one of his
generals to me, "first to the neutrals, then to the provinces, and now
he is afraid to trust to himself." Next time a general is besieged in a
town I should recommend him not to announce that he has a plan which
must ensure victory, unless indeed it be a German town, where nothing
which an official can do is considered ridiculous.

Benjamin Constant said of his countrymen that their heads could never
contain more than one idea at once. A few days ago we were full of our
victory at Orleans. Then came the question whether or not Bazaine was a
traitor. To-day we have forgotten Bazaine and Orleans. The marching
battalions of the National Guard are to have new coats, and we can talk
or think of nothing else. The effect as yet of these marching battalions
has been to disorganise the existing battalions. Every day some new
decree has been issued altering their mode of formation. Perhaps the new
coats will settle everything, and convert them into excellent soldiers.
Let us hope it.

We are by no means satisfied with the news which has reached us through
the English papers up to the 3rd. Thus the _Liberté_, after giving
extracts from numbers of the _Pall Mall Gazette_, the _Daily News_, the
_Daily Telegraph_, the _Sun_, the _Times_, and the _Standard_,
accompanies them with the following reflections:--"We feel bound to
protest in favour of the English press against the assertions of those
who would judge the opinions of a great liberal nation by the wretched
specimens which are under our eyes. Heaven be praised. The civilized
world is not so degenerate that the ignoble conduct of Prussia fails to
elicit universal reprobation." We have had two more pigeons, but
Gambetta either cannot or will not let us know anything of importance.
These two messengers confirm the news of the "victory of Orleans," and
inform us that public opinion is daily pronouncing in favour of France,
and that the condition of affairs in the provinces is most satisfactory.
Such is the universal distrust felt now for any intelligence which
emanates from an official source, that if Gambetta were to send us in an
account of a new victory to-morrow, and if all his colleagues here were
to swear to its truth, we should be in a wild state of enthusiasm for a
few hours, and then disbelieve the whole story.

Small-pox is on the increase. The deaths last week from this disease
amounted to 419; the general mortality to 1885--a number far above the
average. The medical men complain of the amount of raw spirits which is
drunk--particularly at the ramparts, and ascribe much of the ill health
to this cause.

By the bye, the question of the treason of Bazaine turns with us upon
what your correspondent at Saarbruck meant by the word "stores," which
he says were discovered in Metz. If munitions of war, we say that
Bazaine was a hero; if food, that he was a traitor.

If sieges were likely to occur frequently, the whole system of
ambulances, as against military hospitals, would have to be ventilated.
There are in Paris two hundred and forty-three ambulances, and when the
siege commenced, such was the anxiety to obtain a _blessé_, that when a
sortie took place, those who brought them in were offered bribes to take
them to some house over which the flag of Geneva waved. A man with a
broken leg or arm was worth thirty francs to his kind preservers. The
largest ambulance is the International. Its headquarters are at the
Grand Hotel. It seems to me over-manned, for the number of the healthy
who receive pay and rations from its funds exceeds the number of the
wounded. Many, too, of the former are young unmarried men, who ought to
be serving either in the ranks of the army, or at least of the Garde
Nationale. The following story I take from an organ of public opinion of
to-day's date:--A lady went to her Mairie to ask to be given a wounded
soldier to look after. She was offered a swarthy Zouave. "No," she said,
"I wish for a blonde, being a brunette myself"--nothing like a


_November 29th._

From morning to evening cannon were rolling and troops were marching
through the streets. Since Saturday night the gates of the town had been
rigidly closed to all civilians, and even those provided with passes
from headquarters were refused egress. It was known that the grand
effort which is to make or mar us was to be made the next morning, and
it was hoped that the Prussians would be taken unawares. The plan, in
its main details, was confided to me by half a dozen persons, and,
therefore, I very much question whether it is a secret to the enemy.
Most of those who take an interest in the war have, I presume, a map of
Paris. If they consult it, they will see that the Marne from the east,
and the Seine from the south, unite about a mile from the south-eastern
corner of the enceinte. Two miles before the junction of the two rivers
the Marne makes a loop to the south, in this way running parallel with
the Seine for about three miles. On the north of the Marne towards Paris
lies the wood of Vincennes, and beyond the loop there are the villages
of Joinville, Nogent, and Brie. The line is defended by the forts of
Vincennes and Nogent and the redoubt of La Faisanderie. To the south,
between the loop and the Seine, is the fort of Charenton; a little
farther on the village of Creteil; beyond it, just outside the loop, is
Montmesly, where the Prussians have heavy batteries. On the north side
of the loop is the village of Champigny, which is situated on a plateau
that extends from there to Brie. On the south of Paris, between the
Seine and Meudon, are first a line of forts, then a line of redoubts,
except where Chatillon cuts in close by the Fort of Vanves. Beyond this
line of redoubts is a plain, that slopes down towards the villages of
L'Hay, Chevilly, Thiais, and Choisy-le-Roi, which is situated on the
Seine about five miles from Paris. By Monday evening about 100,000 men
and 400 cannon were massed under General Ducrot in the Bois de Vincennes
and in the adjacent villages. About 15,000 men, under General Vinoy,
were behind the southern line of redoubts close by the village of
Villejuif. Troops were also placed near St. Denis and in the peninsula
of Genevilliers to distract the attention of the enemy. It was arranged
that early in the morning General Vinoy should push forward in the
direction of L'Hay and Choisy, and then, when the Prussian reserves had
been attracted to the south by this demonstration, Ducrot should throw
bridges over the Marne and endeavour to force his way through the lines
of investment by the old high road of Bâle. At one in the morning a
tremendous cannonade from all the forts and redoubts round Paris
commenced. It was so loud that I imagined that the Prussians were
attempting an assault, and I went off to the southern ramparts to see
what was happening. The sight there was a striking one. The heavy
booming of the great guns, the bright flash each time they fired, and
the shells with their lighted fusees rushing through the air, and
bursting over the Prussian lines, realised what the French call a "feu
d'enfer." At about three o'clock the firing slackened, and I went home,
but at four it recommenced. At six o'clock General Vinoy's troops
advanced in two columns, one against L'Hay, and the other against La
Gare aux Boeufs, a fortified enclosure, about a mile above Choisy-le-Roi.
The latter was speedily occupied, a body of sailors rushing into it,
and carrying all before them, the Prussians falling back on Choisy. At
L'Hay the attacking column met with a strenuous resistance. As soon as
it had passed the barricade at the entrance of the village, a heavy fire
was poured into it from the houses at both sides of the main street. A
hand-to-hand encounter then took place with the Prussian Guard, which
had been brought up as a reinforcement. While the fight was progressing
an order arrived from General Trochu to retreat. The same order was sent
to the Gare aux Boeufs, and by ten o'clock the troops to the south of
Paris had fallen back to the positions they occupied the previous
evening. General Vinoy, during the engagement, was with his staff on the
bridge which crosses the Seine near Charenton. A battalion of National
Guards were drawn up near him. A chance shell took off the legs of one
of these heroes, his comrades fled in dismay--they were rallied and
brought back with difficulty. A little later they were engaged in
cooking their food, when some tin pans fell against each other. Thinking
it was a bomb, they again scattered, and the General was obliged to ride
along the line shouting "Courage, courage; it is the soup, my children."
In the meantime a terrible mishap had occurred on the north of the
Marne. On Monday evening, General Trochu and General Ducrot slept at
Vincennes. The latter had issued an address, in which he informed his
troops that he meant either to conquer or die. During the night an
exchange of shots had taken place across the river between the French
and Prussian sharp-shooters. Towards morning the latter had withdrawn.
At break of day the troops were drawn up ready to cross the river as
soon as the engagement on the southern lines had diverted the attention
of the enemy. The bridges were there ready to be thrown across, when it
was discovered that the Marne had overflown its bed, and could not be
crossed. Whether it be true or not that the Prussians had cut a dam, or
whether, as sometimes occurs with literary generals, the pontoons were
too few in number, is not yet clear. Whatever the cause, the effect was
to render it impossible to carry out to-day the plan which was to take
General Ducrot and his troops down to Orleans, and at the present moment
he and they are still at Vincennes, waiting for the river to go down. At
twelve o'clock I managed to get through the gate of Vanves. Outside the
walls everything was quiet. Troops were massed in all sheltered places
to resist any attack which might be made from the plateau of Chatillon.
None of the officers seemed to know what had occurred. Some thought that
Choisy had been taken, others that Ducrot had got clear away. I was
walking along the outposts in advance of Vanves, when a cantankerous
officer, one of those beings overflowing with ill-regulated zeal, asked
me what I was doing. I showed my pass. My zealous friend insisted that I
had come in from the Prussian lines, and that I probably was a spy. I
said I had left Paris an hour ago. He replied that this was impossible,
as no civilian was allowed to pass through the gate. Things began to
look uncomfortable. The zealot talked of shooting me, as a simple and
expeditious mode of solving the question. To this I objected, and so at
length it was agreed that I should be marched off to the fort of Vanves.
We found the Commandant seated before his fort with a big stick in his
hand, like a farmer before his farm yard. In vain the zealot endeavoured
to excite his ire against me. The Commandant and I got into conversation
and became excellent friends. He, too, knew nothing of what had
occurred. He had been bombarding Chatillon, he said, and he supposed he
should soon receive orders to recommence. What seemed to surprise him
was that the Prussians during the whole night had not replied either
from Chatillon, Sèvres, or Meudon to the French guns. From Vanves I went
to Villejuif, where a temporary ambulance had been erected, and the
surgeons were busy with the wounded. As soon as their wounds were
dressed, they were taken in ambulance carts inside the town. The
officers and soldiers, who had not yet learnt that General Ducrot had
failed to cross the Marne, were in a very bad humour at having been
ordered to withdraw at the very moment when they were carrying
everything before them. They represented the Prussians as having fought
like devils, and declared that they appeared to take a fiendish pleasure
in killing even the wounded. Within the town the excitement to know what
had passed is intense. The Government has posted up a notice saying that
everything is happening as General Trochu wished it. Not a word is said
about Ducrot's failure. The _Liberté_, which gives a guarded account of
what really took place, has been torn to pieces on the Boulevards. I
have just been talking with an officer on the headquarters staff. He
tells me that Trochu is still outside, very much cast down, but
determined to make a desperate effort to retrieve matters to-morrow.

We have received to-day some English newspapers, and you may imagine how
far behind the age we are from the fact that we learn for the first time
that Prince Gortschakoff has put his finger into the pie. Good heavens!
I have invested my savings in Turkish Five per cents., and it gives me a
cold shiver to think at what figure I shall find these Oriental
securities quoted on the Stock Exchange when I emerge from my enforced
seclusion and again find myself in communication with the outer

_December 2nd._

For the last three days the public within the walls of Paris has been
kept in profound ignorance of what has been passing outside. General
Trochu has once or twice each day published a despatch saying that
everything is happening as he anticipated, and the majority of those
who read these oracular utterances religiously believe in them as though
they had never been deceived. On the Boulevards there are crowds who
question any soldier who is seen passing. "Tout va bien" is the only
answer which they get; but they seem to be under the impression that the
siege is already over, and that the Prussian lines have been forced.
Along the road inside the ramparts, and at the gates, there are dense
masses listening to the cannon, and on every mound from which a distant
view of the smoke can be obtained men, women, and children are
congregated. I have managed to get every day into the horse-shoe at the
mouth of which the fighting was going on, and yesterday afternoon, when
there was a semi-suspension of arms to bury the dead, I went with the
ambulances on the debateable land between the two armies. The whole
horse-shoe is full of artillery. The bombs and shells from the forts and
batteries pass over the French, and explode within the Prussian lines. A
little behind, every house is filled with wounded, who are taken, as
soon as their wounds are dressed, inside the town. One or two batteries
occasionally open fire, and occasionally those of the Prussians respond.
Trochu and Ducrot ride about, and, as far as I can see, the latter
commands, while the former makes speeches. Yesterday afternoon we had
slightly gained ground, beyond however an occasional discharge from our
forts and batteries, there was no fighting. Before our lines a very
large number of Prussian dead were lying. There were burying parties out
on both sides, but they were getting on very slowly with their work, and
were perpetually fired on. At 4 A.M. this morning the Prussians made a
rush at our lines from Champigny to Brie, and the Mobiles and line,
taken by surprise, hastily fell back. One or two regiments of Mobiles
were literally charged by squadrons of gendarmerie, to force them back.
Reinforcements came up, and by nine o'clock the positions had been
regained--the Prussians being unable to withstand the fire of our forts,
redoubts, and siege-guns. The battle then went on till about three
o'clock, when it died out. Towards Villiers, I should say we had gained
about three-quarters of a mile, and at Champigny we had lost about a
third of the village. At about five o'clock I got back to my hotel,
which is the headquarters of the Ambulance Internationale. Until eleven
o'clock wounded were being brought in. It is quite full now. About 460
French, and 30 Germans--almost all Saxons. Many died during the night.
In the room, next to mine, Franchetti, the commander of the Eclaireurs
of the Seine, is lying--a portion of his hip has been blown away by a
shell, and the doctor has just told me that he fears that he will not
recover, as the wound is too high up for an operation. In the room
beyond him is a young lieutenant of Mobiles, who has had his leg
amputated, and his right arm cut open to extract a portion of the bone,
and who still has a ball in his shoulder. Most of the soldiers in here
are wounded either in the leg or in the arm. There is a great dearth of
doctors, and many wounded who were brought here last night had to wait
until this morning before their turn came to be examined. The American
Ambulance and several others are also, I hear, full. I go in
occasionally to see the Germans, as I can talk their language, and it
cheers them to hear it. I see in the newspapers that wounded Bavarians
and Saxons are perpetually crying "Vive la France!" I can only say that
those here do nothing of the kind. They do not seem to be particularly
downcast at finding themselves in the hands of their enemies. They are
treated precisely as the French are, and they are grateful for this.

It is said this evening that the troops will be withdrawn and return to
the Bois de Vincennes. Some say that we have left 20,000 men at Villiers
and Champigny; but I take it that our loss does not exceed 6,000 men.
The general idea seems to be, that to-morrow we are to try to get out in
another direction, either by Chatillon or Malmaison. A pigeon came in
this morning from Bourbaki, with a despatch dated Nov. 30, stating that
he is advancing, and among the soldiers this despatch has already become
an official notice that he is at Meaux. All I know for certain is that
the ambulances are ordered out for eight o'clock to-morrow morning, and
that I am now going to bed, so as to be ready to start with them. I hear
that there has been fighting both yesterday and to-day near Bondy; but
not being able to be in two places at once, I cannot tell what really
occurred. To my civilian judgment it appears that as our object was to
force the line of heights on the south-east of Paris, which constitute
the Prussian lines of investment in that direction, and as we have not
done so, we can hardly be said to be in a better position than we were
last Monday. At a heavy cost of life we have purchased the knowledge
that our new artillery is better than was expected, and that Line and
Mobiles will stand under fire with tolerable steadiness until their
officers are bowled over, when they break. The National Guards were not
engaged. General Trochu and General Pisani tried to get some of their
battalions over the Marne, but found it impossible. After a long speech
from Trochu, Pisani shouted, "Vive la France!" To this they responded;
but when he added, "Vive Trochu!" they remained silent, and their
commanders declared that this involved political considerations with
regard to which they and their men "make certain reservations." They
are, however, very proud of having been within two miles of a battle
field, and Trochu congratulates them, in an order of the day, upon
giving a "moral support" to the army. This is precisely what every one
is willing to do. Moral support will not, however, get the Prussians
away from Paris.

Food is becoming more scarce every day. Yesterday all our sausages were
requisitioned. We have still got the cows to fall back on, but they are
kept to the last for the sake of their milk. They are fed on oats, as
hay is scarce. So you see the mother of a calf has many advantages over
its uncle. All the animals in the Zoological Gardens have been killed
except the monkeys; these are kept alive from a vague and Darwinian
notion that they are our relatives, or at least the relatives of some of
the members of the Government, to whom in the matter of beauty nature
has not been bountiful. In the cellar of the English Embassy there are
three sheep. Never did the rich man lust more after the poor man's ewe
lamb than I lust after these sheep. I go and look at them frequently,
much as a London Arab goes to have a smell at a cookshop. They console
me for the absence of my ambassador. Some one has discovered that an
excellent jelly can be made out of old bones, and we are called upon by
the mayors to give up all our bones, in order that they may be submitted
to the process. Mr. Powell is, I believe, a contractor in London. I do
not know him; but yesterday I dined with a friend who produced from a
tin some Australian mutton, which he had bought of Mr. Powell before the
commencement of the siege. Better I never tasted, and out of gratitude I
give the worthy Powell the benefit of a gratis advertisement. If we only
had a stock of his meat here, we could defy the Prussians. As it is, I
am very much afraid that in a very few weeks William will date his
telegrams to Augusta from the Tuileries.

_December 3rd._

I wrote to you in a great hurry last night in order to catch a balloon
which was to have gone this morning, but whose departure has been
deferred as the wind was not favourable. I am now able to give some more
accurate details respecting the affair of Friday, as I have had an
opportunity of talking with several of the officers who were on the
staffs of the different generals engaged. After the Prussians at 4 A.M.
had surprised the whole of the French line from Brie to Champigny, they
pushed forward a heavy column between, the latter place and the Marne,
thus outflanking their opponents. The column advanced about half-way up
the horse-shoe formed by the bend in the river, and would have got as
far as the bridges at Joinville, had not General Favé opened fire upon
it from a small redoubt which he had built in advance of Joinville, with
forty field guns which he rapidly placed in position. Reinforcements
were then brought up under General Blanchard, and the column was at
length forced back, fighting hard to Champigny. To-day most of the
troops in the horse-shoe crossed over the river, and are now either in
the wood of Vincennes or in other portions of the line between the forts
and the enceinte. General Trochu has returned to the Louvre, and General
Ducrot, I hear, yesterday evening expressed his regret that he had
published that foolish manifesto, in which he declared that if he did
not conquer he would die; for, not having done either, he felt the
awkwardness of re-entering the city. Both Ducrot and Trochu freely
exposed themselves; the latter received a slight wound in the back of
the head from a piece of a shell which struck him. All the officers were
obliged to keep well in advance of their soldiers in order to encourage
them. The brunt of the fighting fell to the Line; the Mobiles, as a
rule, only behaved tolerably well; the Vendeans, of whom much was
expected, badly. The only battalion of the National Guards engaged was
that from Belleville, and it very speedily fell back. I have always had
my doubts about the valour of the Parisians. I found it difficult to
believe in men who hunt for pretexts to avoid military service--who are
so very fond of marching behind drums and vivandières inside a town, and
who, in some way or other, manage either to avoid going out of it, or
when forced out, avoid all danger.

The population is in profound ignorance of the real state of affairs
outside. It still believes that the Prussian lines have been forced, and
that the siege will be over in a few days. I presume that Trochu will
make a second sortie in force. Unless, however, his operations are
powerfully aided by the armies of the provinces, it is difficult to
believe that the result will be anything beyond a useless sacrifice of
life. On Friday, it is estimated that our loss amounted to 4,500
wounded, and 600 killed. That of the Prussians must have been very
heavy, to judge from the number of dead bodies that were lying about in
the fields and woods.

The ambulances were ordered out this morning, and at seven o'clock some
300 victims rendezvoused with the carriages on the Quai, near the Place
de la Concorde. After freezing there for about two hours, it was
suggested that a messenger should be sent to General Trochu, to ask him
whether we were really wanted. The reply was that no attack would be
made to-day, and consequently we went off home to thaw. If wars really
must be made, I do hope that we shall fall back upon the old system of
carrying on military operations in summer. When the thermometer is below
zero, I feel like Bob Acres--all my valour oozing out at my fingers'
ends. The doctors tell me that many slight wounds have gangrened owing
to the cold. When a battle lasts until evening the mass of the wounded
cannot be picked up until the next morning, and their sufferings during
the night must be terrible. I saw several poor fellows picked up who
appeared literally frozen.

The _Journal Officiel_ of to-day contains a letter from Monseigneur
Bauer, protesting against the Prussians having shot at him when he went
forward with a flag of truce and a trompette. The fact is vouched for
by, among others, a journalist who remained during the night of Friday
outside the walls. I can easily believe it, for the Prussians are not a
chivalrous enemy. They are perpetually firing on ambulances: and, when
it suits their own purposes, raising the white flag. If, indeed,
one-tenth part of the stories which I hear of their treacheries be true,
they ought to be exterminated like wolves. This Monseigneur Bauer is a
character. He began life as a German Jew, and he is now a Frenchman and
a Christian Bishop. During the Empire he was chaplain to the court, and
confessor of the Empress. He is now chaplain of the Ambulances de la
Presse, and has under his orders 800 "Frères Chrétiens," who dress as
priests, but are not in holy orders. Both he and they display the
greatest courage. The Frères Chrétiens are the foremost in picking up
the wounded; going forward long before the firing is over. The Bishop
prances about on his horse, dressed in a soutane and long boots, the
Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour on his breast, a golden crucifix
hanging from his neck, and a huge episcopal ring on his finger, outside
his gloves. Sometimes he appears in a red cloak, which, I presume, is a
part of his sacerdotal gear. I am told, by those who know him, that
"Monseigneur" is a consummate humbug, but he is very popular with the
soldiers, as he talks to them in their own language, and there certainly
is no humbug about his pluck. He is as steady under fire as if he were
in a pulpit. He was by the side of Ducrot when the general's horse was
killed under him.

The events of the past week prove that General Trochu's sole available
force for resisting the enemy consists of the Line and the Mobiles. As
for the population of Paris, they are more than useless. They eat up the
provisions; they are endowed with a mixture of obstinacy and conceit,
which will very probably enable them to endure considerable hardships
rather than surrender; fight, however, they will not, although I am
convinced that, to the end of their lives, they will boast of their
heroic valour, and in the legend which will pass muster as history of
the siege of Paris, our grandchildren will be taught that in 1870, when
the French troops were all prisoners of war, the citizens of the French
capital "covered themselves with honour," and for nearly three months
held their town against the furious onslaughts of the victorious German
armies. The poor soldiers and the Mobiles, who do all the real fighting,
will experience the eternal truth of Virgil's _Sic vos non vobis_. But
there is no use being angry at what will happen in one hundred years,
for what does it signify to any who are now alive either in Paris or out
of Paris?

_December 5th._

A proclamation has been issued by the Government, announcing that the
troops have retired across the Marne, as the enemy has had time to
collect such a force in front of Villiers and Champigny, that further
efforts in this direction would be sterile. "The loss of the enemy
during the glorious days of the 29th and 30th November, and December
2nd, has been so great that, struck down in its pride of power, it has
allowed an army which it attacked the day before, to cross a river under
its eyes, and in the light of day," continues this manifesto. Now,
considering that the crossing took place at Joinville, and that the
river at that point is under the fire of three forts and two redoubts,
it appears to me that General Trochu might as well take credit to
himself for crossing the Seine opposite the Place de la Concorde. I will
say for the Government of to-day, that in any attempt to beat its
predecessor in mendacity it had a hard task, but it has worked with a
will, and completely succeeded. The military attachés who are still
here, consider that the French loss during the three days cannot be less
than 10,000 in killed and wounded. It is very unlikely that the
Government will admit a loss of above 2,000 or 3,000. That of the
Prussians is, we are told, far larger than ours. Without accepting this
assertion as gospel, it must have been very heavy. A friend of mine
himself counted 500 dead bodies in one wood. We have a certain number of
prisoners. With respect to the wounded Germans in our hands, I find that
there are about 30 in my hotel, as against above 400 French. In the
American ambulance, out of 130 only two are Germans. Colonel Claremont,
who had put off his departure, witnessed the fight in the redoubt which
General Favé had built opposite Joinville. He was nearly killed several
times by bombs from La Faisanderie, which was behind him, bursting

The Parisians are somewhat taken aback at the victory resulting in a
retreat. They appear, however, to be as ignorant of the environs of
their own capital as they are of foreign countries, and they never
condescend to consult a map. While some of them shake their heads in
despair of success, the majority are under the impression that Villiers
and Champigny are far beyond the range of the guns of our forts, and
that as the ground near them is still occupied by our troops, something
which will lead to the speedy retreat of the Prussians has been done. We
are two millions, they say; we will all die rather than surrender: and
they appear to be under the impression that if they only say this often
enough, Paris never will be taken. The Ultra-Democrats in the clubs have
a new theory to account for their refusal to fight. "We are," observed
an orator, a few nights ago, "the children of Paris, she has need of us;
can we leave her at such a moment?" Some of these heroes, indeed, assert
that the best plan would be to allow the Prussians to enter and then
convert them to the doctrines of Republicanism. I think it was St.
Augustine who did not despair of the devil eventually turning over a new
leaf; in the same way I heard an ardent patriot express the hope of
being able to convert "William" himself to the creed of the Universal
Republic. At the club where these fraternal sentiments were expressed
there is a lady who sits on the platform. When anyone makes what she
considers a good speech she embraces him on both cheeks. She is by no
means ugly, and I had serious thoughts of making a few observations
myself in view of the reward. That bashfulness, however, which has been
my bane through life, prevented me. The lady occasionally speaks
herself, and is fond of giving her own experiences. "I was on my way to
this club," she said, "the other evening, when I observed a man
following me. 'What dost thou want?' I asked, sternly eyeing him. 'I
love you,' replied the vile aristocrat. 'I am the wife of a citizen,' I
answered, 'and the mother of the Gracchi.' The wretch sneaked away,
abashed to seek other prey. If he addresses himself to some princess or
duchess he will probably find a victim." The loudest applause greeted
this "experience," and several very unclean-looking patriots rushed
forward to embrace the mother of the Gracchi, in order to show her how
highly they appreciated her noble conduct.

The newspapers are already beginning to dread that possibly some doubts
may be cast upon the heroism of everyone during the last week. The
_Figaro_ contains the following:--"No matter what certain
correspondents--better known than they suppose--may say, and although
they are preparing to infect foreign countries with their
correspondence, our Bretons did not run away on Thursday. It is true
that when they saw the Saxons emerging from their holes and shouting
hurrah, our Bretons were a little troubled by this abrupt and savage
joke, but"--then follows the statement of several of the heroes
themselves that they fought like lions. The fact is, as I have already
stated in my letter of yesterday, the Mobiles fought only tolerably
well, and some of their battalions rather the reverse of well. The Line,
for young troops, behaved very fairly; and the reckless courage of the
officers, both of the Line and Mobile, was above all praise. It is,
however, a military axiom that when an undue proportion of officers are
killed in a battle their troops have hung back. Good soldiers cannot be
made in two months, and it is absurd to expect that raw lads, who were
taken from the plough a few weeks ago, would fight as well as trained
and hardened warriors. This however, we are called upon, in defiance of
facts, to believe, because "the soil of France produces soldiers."

It is difficult to guess what will happen now. The generals must be
aware that unless one of the armies of the provinces takes the Prussians
in the rear, a fresh sortie will only result in a fresh butchery; but
then, on the other hand, the Parisians will not be satisfied until all
the Line and the Mobiles outside the walls have been killed, in order
that it may be said that the resistance of Paris was heroic. If I were
Trochu, I should organize a sortie exclusively of National Guards, in
order to show these gentry what a very different thing real fighting is
to parading about the streets of the capital and wearing a uniform.

The following is a list of the prices of "luxuries:"--Terrines of
chicken, 16f; of rabbit, 13f; a fowl, 26f; a rabbit, 18f; a turkey, 60f;
a goose, 45f; one cauliflower, 3f; one cabbage, 4f; dog is 2f. a lb.; a
cat skinned costs 5f.; a rat, 1f., if fat from the drains, 1f. 50c.
Almost all the animals in the Jardin d'Acclimatation have been eaten.
They have averaged about 7f. a lb. Kangaroo, however, has been sold for
12f. the lb. Yesterday I dined with the correspondent of a London paper.
He had managed to get a large piece of mufflon, an animal which is, I
believe, only found in Corsica. I can only describe it by saying that it
tasted of mufflon, and nothing else. Without being absolutely bad, I do
not think that I shall take up my residence in Corsica, in order
habitually to feed upon it.


[Footnote 1: A balloon letter, dated November 30, giving, it is
presumed, an account of the military operations on that day, suffered so
much _in transitu_, that it is illegible.]


_December 6th._

I am by no means certain that I should be a hero at the Equator, but I
am fully convinced that I should be an abject coward at the North Pole.
Three mornings ago I stood for two hours by the Ambulances de la Presse,
and my teeth have not ceased to chatter ever since. I pity the
unfortunate fellows who had to keep watch all night on the plateau of
Villiers more than those who were put out of their misery the day
before. When it is warm weather, one views with a comparative
resignation the Prussian batteries, and one has a sort of fanatical
belief that the bombs will not burst within striking distance; when the
thermometer is below zero, one imagines that every cannon within four
miles is pointed at one's head. I do not know how it may be with others,
but on me cold has a most unheroic effect. My legs become as wilful as
those of Mrs. Dombey's titled relative, and it is only by the strongest
effort of mind over matter that I can prevent them carrying me beyond
the reach of cannon-balls, bullets, and shells. I have a horrible vision
of myself lying all night with a broken leg in a ditch, gradually
freezing. On a warm summer's day I do not think very much of the courage
of those who fight well; on a cold winter's day, however, any man who
does not run away and take shelter by a fire deserves well of his

We are by no means a very happy family. General Ducrot and General
Blanchard have "had words." The latter, in the course of the dispute,
said to the former, "If your sword were as long as your tongue, you
would be a wonderful warrior indeed." Ducrot and Trochu are the literary
Generals; Vinoy and Blanchard the fighting Generals. It is reported also
that General Favé is to be superseded, though why I cannot learn, as his
redoubt may be said to have saved the army from a greater disaster.
While, however, the military men differ among themselves, they are all
agreed in abusing the National Guards, whom they irreverently call "Les
Charcutiers"--the pork butchers. When La Gare aux Boeufs was carried by
Admiral Pothuan and his sailors, two battalions of these heroes followed
in the rear. The Admiral and the sailors were somewhat astonished to
find that in the order of the day hardly anything was said of those who
really did all the fighting, but that the "pork butchers" were lauded to
the skies. General Trochu on this wrote a letter to the Admiral,
informing him that it was necessary for political reasons to encourage
the National Guard. Whilst the battle was going on at Villiers and
Champigny, the marching battalions of the National Guard were drawn up
almost out of shot. An order came to form them into line. Their
commander, General Clément Thomas, replied that this would be
impossible, as they would imagine that they were about to be taken into
action. Notwithstanding this, General Trochu congratulates them upon the
"moral support" which they afforded him. It is not surprising that the
real soldiers should feel hurt at this system of humbug. They declare
that at the next sortie they will force the Parisians to fight by
putting them in front, and firing on them if they attempt to run away.
It must be remembered that these fighting battalions consist of young
unmarried men, and if Paris is to be defended, there is no reason why
they should not be exposed to danger. The inhabitants of this city seem
to consider themselves a sacred race; they clamour for sorties, vow to
die for their country, and then wish to do it by procuration. I am
utterly disgusted with the difference between their words and their
deeds. The Mobiles and the Line have as yet done all the righting, and
yet, to read the Paris newspapers, one would suppose that the National
Guards, who have kept well out of all danger, have "covered themselves
with glory." Since the siege commenced they have done nothing but
swagger about in uniforms, and go in turns on the ramparts. They have
learnt to knock a penny off a cork at a distance of ten yards, and they
have carried on a very successful campaign against the sparrows.

A fresh order was issued yesterday, suppressing all passes until further
notice. I have a pass _en règle_ from General Vinoy; but even with this,
the last time I went out of the town I was turned back at two gates
before I got through at the third. A good deal of discussion has taken
place among the foreign correspondents respecting the fairness of going
out with an ambulance under guise of the Geneva flag. I see myself no
objection to it, provided the correspondent really does make himself
useful in picking up the wounded. In the Prussian camp a correspondent
has a recognised position; here it is different, and he must use all
legitimate means to obtain intelligence of what is passing. My pass, for
instance, does not describe me as a correspondent, but as an Englishman
accredited by the British Embassy. At the commencement of the siege I
begged Mr. Wodehouse to give me a letter of introduction to M. Jules
Ferry, one of the members of the Government. This I did not deliver, but
at General Vinoy's headquarters I showed it to prove that I was not a
Prussian spy, but that I was known by my natural guardian. An
aide-de-camp then gave me a pass, and, not knowing precisely what to
call me, described me as "accredited by the British Embassy." I move
about, therefore, as a mysterious being--perhaps an Ambassador, perhaps
an Ambassador's valet. A friend of mine, who is an authority with the
Ambulance de la Presse, and who owns a carriage, has promised to call
for me when next the ambulances are sent for; but, as I have already
said, all my energy oozes out of me when the thermometer is below zero;
and unless the next battle is fought on a warm day, I shall not witness
it. As a matter of fact, unless one is riding with the staff of the
general who commands, one cannot form an idea of what is going on by
hanging about, and it is a horrible sight to look with an opera-glass at
men and horses being massacred. When knights charged each other with
lances there was a certain chivalry in war; but there is nothing either
noble or inspiriting in watching a quantity of unfortunate Breton
peasants, who cannot even speak French, and an equal number of Berlin
grocers, who probably ask for nothing better than to be back in their
shops, destroying each other at a distance of two or three miles with
balls of lead and iron, many of them filled with explosive materials. I
confess that I pity the horses almost as much as the men. It seems a
monstrous thing that in order that the Alsacians should be forced into
becoming subjects of King William of Prussia, an omnibus horse, who has
honestly done his work in the streets of Paris, should be taken outside
the walls of the town to have his head blown off or to stump about on
three legs until he dies of cold and hunger. Horses have a way when they
are wounded of making desperate efforts to get up, and then letting
their heads fall with a bang on the soil which is very horrible to

Everybody in authority and out of it seems to have a different opinion
as to when the siege will end. I cannot think that when a town with two
million inhabitants is reduced to such expedients as this is now, it can
hold out very long. The rations, consisting alternately of horse and
salt fish, are still distributed, but they are hardly sufficient to keep
body and soul together. Unless we make up our minds to kill our
artillery horses, we shall soon come to the end of our supply. The
rumour to-day is that the Prussians have evacuated Versailles, and that
Frederick Charles has been beaten in a battle on the Loire, but I cannot
say that I attach great credit to either story. No pigeon has arrived
for the last three days, owing, it is supposed, to the cold; and until
we know for certain what d'Aurelles de Paladine is doing, we are unable
to form an accurate opinion of the chances of the siege being raised.
All that can be said is that, left to ourselves, we shall not be able to
break through the lines of investment, and that when we have eaten up
all our food, we shall have to capitulate.

_December 7th._

When this war commenced the Parisians believed in the bulletins which
their own Government issued, because they thought it only natural that
their arms should be successful, and they disbelieved in any foreign
newspaper which ventured to contest their victories. At present they are
incredulous alike of everything that comes from friend and foe.
Nine-tenths of them are under the impression that Count Moltke, in
announcing the defeat of the Army of the Loire, is guilty of a
deliberate falsehood; the other tenth supposes that he has grossly
exaggerated a slight mishap, and that the occupation of Orleans only
proves that Orleans was not defended by a large body of troops. It takes
about three days for any information which is not in accordance with the
wishes of this extraordinary population to obtain credit, no matter what
amount of evidence there may be to prove its truth. If really the Army
of the Loire has been put _hors de combat_, sooner or later the fact
will be admitted; then, although we shall still pin our faith to Kératry
or Bourbaki, the disaster will no doubt tend to produce a certain
degree of discouragement, more particularly as it is coupled with the
retreat of Ducrot's forces from the south bank of the Marne. French
politicians will insist upon dressing up their facts in order to meet
the requirements of the moment, and they never seem to consider that so
soon as the real state of things comes out there must be an inevitable
reaction, which will be far more depressing than if the truth had been
fairly told at once. I hear that when Count Moltke's letter arrived, two
of the members of the Government of National Defence were inclined to
accept his offer to verify what had occurred on the Loire, but that
General Trochu stated that he intended to resist until the last, and
that consequently, whether Orleans had fallen, or not, was a matter of
no importance. If Trochu really thinks that a further resistance and a
further sacrifice of life will materially advance the interests of his
country, of course he is right to hold out; but if, disregarding facts,
he simply wishes to oblige the Prussians to continue the siege, for no
purpose except to prove his own tenacity, he cannot be regarded either
as a good patriot or a sensible man. When the vote on the Plebiscite was
taken, his majority consisted of "Ouis" which were given because it was
supposed that he was about to treat. Since then we have gone on from day
to day vaguely hoping that either the Neutral Powers or the armies of
the provinces would get us out of the mess in which we are, or, even if
these failed us, that by a sortie the town would be revictualled. At
present none believe in the intervention of the Neutrals; few in the
success of a sortie; but all still cling, as drowning men do to a straw,
to the armies of the provinces. To destroy this belief it will be
necessary for the Prussians to obtain a substantial advantage not only
at Orleans, but over the armies of Kératry and Bourbaki. When once we
find that we are entirely left to our own resources, and that it is
impossible for us to penetrate the lines of investment, I cannot help
thinking that we shall yield to the force of circumstances. At present
all the newspapers are for fighting on as long as we have a crust,
regardless of the consequences; but then, as a rule, a besieged town is
never so near surrendering as when it threatens to hang the first man
who speaks of surrender. The majority would even now take a practical
view of matters if they dared, but Trochu is their man, and Trochu, much
to their secret sorrow, refuses to hear of a capitulation.

Some German officers who are prisoners on parole have been insulted in a
restaurant, and for their own safety it has been found necessary to
confine them in La Roquette. I am not surprised at this. French officers
are, of course, incapable of this contemptible conduct, and it must be
owned that the majority of the Parisians have not, under the trying
circumstances in which they find themselves, lost that courtesy which is
one of the peculiar attributes of the nation. But there is a scum, who
lived from hand to mouth during the Empire, and which infests the
restaurants and the public places. Some of them wear the uniform of the
National Guard; others have attached themselves to the ambulances; and
all take very good care not to risk their precious lives. I was
peaceably dining last night in a restaurant; a friend with whom I had
been talking English had left me, and I found myself alone with four of
these worthies, who were dining at a table near me. For my especial
benefit they informed each other that all strangers here were outlaws
from their own country, and that the Americans and Italians who have
established ambulances were in all probability Prussian spies. As I took
no notice of these startling generalities, one of them turned to me and
said, "You may look at me, sir, but I assert before you that Dr. Evans,
the ex-dentist of the Emperor, was a spy." I quietly remarked, that not
having the honour to know Dr. Evans, and being myself an Englishman,
whilst the Doctor is an American, I was not responsible for him. "You
are a Greek," observed another; "I heard you talk Greek just now." I
mildly suggested that his knowledge of foreign tongues was, perhaps,
somewhat limited. "Well, if you are not a Greek," he said, "I saw you
the other morning near the Ambulance of the Press, to which I belong,
and so you must be a spy." "If you are an Englishman," cried his friend,
"why do you not go back to your own country, and fight Russia?" I
replied that the idea was an excellent one, but that it might, perhaps,
be difficult to pass through the Prussian lines. "The English Ambassador
is a friend of mine, and he will give you a pass at my request,"
answered the gentleman who had mistaken English for Greek. I thanked
him, and assured him that I should esteem it a favour if he would obtain
from his friend Lord Lyons this pass for me. He said he would do so, as
it would be well to rid Paris of such vermin as myself and my
countrymen. He has not yet, however, fulfilled his promise. Scenes such
as these are of frequent occurrence at restaurants; bully and coward are
generally synonymous terms; any scamp may insult a foreigner now with
perfect impunity, for if the foreigner replies he has only to denounce
him as a spy, when a crowd will assemble, and either set on him or bear
him off to prison. While, as I have already said, nothing can be more
courteous than the conduct of French officers, French gentlemen, and,
unless they are excited, the French poorer classes, nothing can be more
insolent than that of the third-class dandies who reserve their valour
for the interior of the town, or who, if ever they venture outside of
its fortifications, take care to skulk beneath the protection of the
cross of Geneva.

The _Journal Officiel_ contains a decree breaking up the battalion of
Belleville. These warriors, says their own Commander, ran away in the
presence of the enemy, refused the next day to go to the front, and
commenced fighting with their neighbours from La Villette. M. Gustave
Flourens, who is the hero of these men of war, and who, although
exercising no official rank in the battalion, insisted upon their
accepting him as their chief, is to be brought before a Council of War.

My next-door neighbour, Franchetti, died yesterday, and was buried
to-day. He was a fine, handsome young man, well off, happily married,
and, as the commander of the Eclaireurs of the Seine, has done good
service during the siege. As he was an Israelite, he was followed to the
grave by the Rothschilds and many other of his co-religionists.

_December 8th._

M. de Sarcey, in the _Temps_ of to-day, enters into a lengthy argument
to prove that the Parisians are heroic. "Heroism is positive and
negative," he says, "and we have, for the sake of our country, deprived
ourselves during several months of the power to make money, and during
this time we have existed without many of the comforts to which we are
accustomed." Now, I by no means wish to undervalue the sacrifices of the
Parisians, but heroism is not the word for them. So long as there are
enough provisions in the town to enable every one to live without
feeling the pangs of hunger, they have no opportunity to show negative
heroism. So long as the town is not assaulted, and they do not take part
in sorties, they cannot be said to be actively heroic. A blockade such
as the Prussians have instituted round Paris, is no doubt most
disagreeable to its inhabitants. In submitting to it, undoubtedly they
show their patriotism and their power of passive endurance. Heroism is,
however, something more than either patriotism or endurance--it is an
exceptional quality which is rarely found in this world. If the
Parisians possessed it, I should admire them; because they do not, no
one has a right to blame them.

The newspapers have now proved to their own complete satisfaction that
Count Moltke's assertion respecting the defeat of the Army of the Loire
can only refer to its rearguard, and although no news from without has
been received for several days, they insist that the greater portion of
this army has effected its junction with that of Bourbaki. A French
journalist, even when he is not obliged to do so, generally invents his
facts, and then reasons upon them with wonderful ingenuity. I do not
know whether the Paris journals get to you through the Prussian lines;
if they do not, you have little idea how much excellent advice you lose.
One would think that just at present a Parisian would do well to keep
his breath to cool his own porridge; such, however, is not his opinion.
He thinks that he has a mission to guide and instruct the world, and
this mission he manfully fulfils in defiance of Prussians and Prussian
cannon. It is true that he knows rather less of foreign countries than
an intelligent Japanese Daimio may be supposed to know of Tipperary, but
by some curious law of nature, the less he knows of a subject the more
strongly does he feel impelled to write about it. I read a very clever
article this morning, pointing out that, if we are not on our guard, our
empire in India will come to an end by a Russian fleet attacking it from
the Caspian Sea; and when one thinks how very easy it would have been
for the author not to write about the Caspian Sea, one is at once
surprised and grateful to him for having called our attention to the
danger which menaces us in that quarter of the globe.

M. Gustave Flourens has been arrested and is now in prison. The clubs of
the Ultras are very indignant at the Government having accused the
braves of Belleville of cowardice. They feel convinced that the "Jesuit"
Trochu must have introduced some _mouchards_ into the band of heroes,
who received orders to run away, in order to discredit the whole
battalion. I was in the "Club de la Délivrance" this evening. It holds
its sittings in the Salle Valentino--a species of Argyle Rooms in
normal times. I held up my hand in favour of a resolution to call upon
the Government to inscribe upon marble tablets the names of the National
Guards who have died in the defence of Paris. The resolution was carried
unanimously. No National Guard has, indeed, yet been good enough to die;
but of course this fact was regarded as irrelevant. The next resolution
was that the concubines of patriots should enjoy the same right to
rations as legitimate wives. As the Club prides itself upon the stern
severity of its morals, this resolution was not carried. An orator then
proposed that all strangers should be banished from France. He was so
exceedingly lengthy that I did not wait until the end of his speech; I
am, therefore, unable to say whether his proposal was carried. The Club
de la Délivrance is by far the most reputable public assembly in Paris.
Those who take part in its proceedings are intensely respectable, and as
intensely dull and prosy. The suppression of gas has been a heavy blow
to the clubs. The Parisians like gas as much as lazzaroni like sunshine.
The grandest bursts of patriotic eloquence find no response from an
audience who listen to them beneath half-a-dozen petroleum lamps. It is
somewhat singular, but it is not the less certain, that the effect of a
speech depends very much upon the amount of light in the room in which
it is delivered. I remember once I went down to assist a friend of mine
in an electioneering campaign in a small borough. His opponent was a
most worthy and estimable squire, who resided in the neighbourhood. It
was, of course, my business to prove that he was a despicable knave and
a drivelling idiot. This I was engaged in doing at a public meeting in
the town-hall. The Philippics of Demosthenes were milk and water in
comparison with my denunciations--when just at the critical moment--as I
was carrying conviction into the breasts of the stolid Britons who were
listening to me, the gas flickered and went out. Three candles were
brought in. I recommenced my thunder; but it was of no use. The candles
utterly destroyed its effect, and two days afterwards the squire became
an M.P., and still is a silent ornament of St. Stephen's.

I trust that England never will be invaded. But if it is, we shall do
well to profit by the experience of what is occurring here. There must
be no English force, half citizen half soldier. All who take part in the
national defence must submit to the strict discipline of soldiers. A
vast amount of money has been laid out in equipping the National Guard.
Their pay alone amounts to above 20,000fr. per diem, and, as far as the
defence of Paris is concerned, they might as well have remained quietly
by their own firesides. There are, no doubt, brave men among them, but
as their battalions insist upon being regarded as citizens even when
under arms, they have no discipline, and are little better than an armed
mob. The following extract from an article in the last number of the
_Revue des Deux Mondes_ gives some interesting details respecting their
habits when on duty behind that most useless of all works of defence,
the line of the Paris fortifications:--"On the arrival of a battalion,
the chief of the post arranges the hours during which each man is to be
on active duty. After this, the men occupy themselves as they please.
Some play at interminable games of _bouchon_; others, notwithstanding
orders to the contrary, turn their attention to écarté and piquet;
others gossip over the news of the day with the artillerymen, who are
keeping guard by the side of their cannon. Some go away on leave, or
disappear without leave; they make excursions beyond the ramparts, or
shut themselves up in the billiard-room of some café. Many make during
the course of the day frequent visits to the innumerable canteens, which
succeed each other almost without interruption along the Rue des
Ramparts. Here old women have lit a few sticks under a pot, and sell,
for a penny the glass, a horrible brew called 'petit noir,' composed of
sugar, eau de vie, and the grains of coffee, boiled up together. Behind
there is a line of cook shops, the proprietors of which announce that
they have been commissioned to provide food. These speculators offer for
sale greasy soup, slices of horse, and every species of alcoholic drink.
Each company has, too, its cantinière, and round her cart there is
always a crowd. It seldom happens that more than one-half of the men of
the battalion are sober. Fortunately, the cold of the night air sobers
them. Between eight and nine in the evening there is a gathering in the
tent. A circle is formed in it round a single candle, and whilst the
flasks go round tale succeeds to song, and song to tale, until at length
all fall asleep, and are only interrupted in their slumbers until
morning by the corporal, who, once every hour, enters and calls out the
names of those who are to go on the watch. The abuse of strong drink
makes shameful ravages in our ranks, and is productive of serious
disorder. Few nights pass without false alarms, without shots foolishly
fired upon imaginary enemies, and without lamentable accidents. Every
night there are disputes, which often degenerate into fights, and then
in the morning, when explanations take place, these very explanations
are an excuse for recommencing drinking. Rules, indeed, are not wanting
to abate all this, but the misfortune is that they are never executed.
The indiscipline of the National Guard contrasts strangely with the
patriotism of their words. Most of the insubordination may be ascribed
to drunkenness, but the _mauvaise tenue_ which is so apparent in too
many battalions is due also to many other causes. The primary
organisation of the National Guard was ill-conceived and ill-executed,
and when the enrolments had been made, and the battalions formed, day
after day a fresh series of orders were promulgated, so diffuse, so
obscure, and so contradictory, that the officers, despairing to make
head or tail of them, gave up any attempt to enforce them."

The attempt at the last hour to form marching battalions out of these
citizen soldiers, by obliging each sedentary battalion to furnish 150
men, has not been a very successful one. The marching battalions, it is
true, have been formed, but they have not yet been engaged with the
enemy; and it certainly is the opinion of military men that it will be
advisable, for the credit of French arms, to "keep them in reserve"
during any future engagement which may take place. General Clément
Thomas has issued a series of general orders, from the tenor of which it
would appear that the system of substitutes has been largely practised
in these battalions. I have myself no doubt of the fact. The fault,
however, lies with the Government. When these battalions were formed,
the respective categories of unmarried and married men between 25 and
35, and between 35 and 45, were only to be drawn upon in case a
sufficient number of volunteers were not forthcoming. It became,
consequently, the interest of the men in these categories to encourage
volunteering, and this was done on a large and liberal scale. The
Government, if it wanted men, should have called to arms all between 25
and 35, and have allowed no exemptions. These new levies should have
been subjected to the same discipline as the Line and the Mobiles. It
must now accept the consequences of not having ventured to take this
step. For all operations beyond the enceinte General Trochu's force
consists of the Line and the Mobiles. All that he can expect from the
Parisians is a "moral support."

_December 9th._

Nothing new. If the Government has received any news from without, it
carefully conceals it. A peasant, the newspapers say, has made his way
through the Prussian lines, and has brought the information that the
armies of the Loire and of Bourbaki are close to Fontainebleau. The cry
is still that we will resist to the last, and for the moment every one
seems to have forgotten that in a few weeks our provisions will all have
been consumed. If we wait to treat until our last crust has been eaten,
the pinch will come after the capitulation; for with the railroads and
the high roads broken up, and the surrounding country devastated, a
fortnight at least must elapse before supplies, in any quantity, can be
thrown into the town.

I hear that the Prussian officers who were (says the _Journal Officiel_)
insulted in a café, have been exchanged. A friend of mine, an ex-French
diplomatist, was present when the scene occurred, and he tells me that
the officers, who were all young men, were, to say the least of it,
exceedingly indiscreet. Instead of eating their dinner quietly, they
indulged in a good deal of loud, and by no means wise conversation, and
their remarks were calculated to offend those Frenchmen who heard them.

_December 15th._

Still no news from the outer world. I trust that M. Jansen, who was
dispatched the other day in a balloon to witness the eclipse of the sun,
will be more fortunate in his endeavours to discover what is going on in
that luminary, than we are in ours to learn what is happening within
twenty miles of us. Search has been made to find the peasant who
announced that he had seen a French army at Corbeil, but this remarkable
agriculturist is not forthcoming. Persons at the outposts say that they
heard cannon in the direction of Fontainebleau, when they put their ears
to the ground, but none believe them. Four officers, who were taken
prisoners on the 12th of the month near Orleans, have been sent in, as
an exchange for the Prussian officers who were insulted at a restaurant,
but they are so stupid that it has been impossible to glean anything
from them except that their division was fighting when they were taken
prisoners. A dead, apathetic torpor has settled over the town. Even the
clubs are deserted. There are no groups of gossips in the streets. No
one clamours for a sortie, and no one either blames or praises Trochu.
The newspapers still every morning announce that victory is not far off.
But their influence is gone. The belief that the evil day cannot be far
off is gradually gaining ground, and those who are in a position to know
more accurately the precise state of affairs, take a still more hopeless
view of them than the masses. The programme of the Government seems to
be this--to make a sortie in a few days, then to fall back beneath the
forts; after this to hold out until the provisions are eaten up, and
then, after having made a final sortie, to capitulate. Trochu is
entirely in the hands of Ducrot, who, with the most enterprising of the
officers, insists that the military honour of the French arms demands
that there should be more fighting, even though success be not only
improbable but impossible. The other day, in a council of war, Trochu
began to speak of the armies of the provinces. "I do not care for your
armies of the provinces," replied Ducrot. Poor Trochu, like many weak
men, must rely upon some one. First it was the neutrals, then it was the
armies of the provinces, and now it is Ducrot. As for his famous plan,
that has entirely fallen through. It was based, I understand, upon some
impossible manoeuvres to the north of the Marne. The members of the
Government of National Defence meddle little with the direction of
affairs. M. Picard is openly in favour of treating at once. M. Jules
Favre is very downcast; he too wishes to treat, but he cannot bring
himself to consent to a cession of territory. Another member of the
Government was talking yesterday to a friend of mine. He seemed to fear
that when the people learn that the stock of provisions is drawing to a
close, there will be riots. The Government dares not tell them the
truth. Several members of the Government, I hear, intend to leave
shortly in balloons, and Trochu, as military Governor of Paris, will be
left to his own devices. He himself says that he never will sign a
capitulation, and it is suggested that when there is no more food, the
Prussians shall be allowed to enter without opposition, without any
terms having been previously agreed to. The Parisians are now contending
for their supremacy over the provinces, and they seem to think that if
they only hold out until famine obliges them to give in, that supremacy
will not hereafter be disputed.

It is impossible to give precise data respecting the store of provisions
now in Paris, nor even were I able would it be fair to do so. As a
matter of private opinion, however, I do not think that it will be
possible to prolong the resistance beyond the first week in January at
the latest. Last Sunday there were incipient bread-riots. By one o'clock
all the bakers had closed their shops in the outer faubourg. There had
been a run upon them, because a decree had been issued in the morning
forbidding flour to be sold, and requisitioning all the biscuits in
stock. Government immediately placarded a declaration that bread was not
going to be requisitioned, and the explanation of the morning's decree
is that flour and not corn has run short, but that new steam-mills are
being erected to meet the difficulty. _La Vérité_, a newspaper usually
well informed, says that for some days past the flour which had been
stored in the town by M. Clément Duvernois has been exhausted, and that
we are now living on the corn and meal which was introduced at the last
moment from the neighbouring departments. It gives the following
calculation of our resources--flour three weeks, corn three months, salt
meat fifteen days, horse two months. The mistake of all these
calculations seems to be that they do not take into account the fact
that more bread or more corn will be eaten when they become the sole
means of providing for the population. Thus the daily return of flour
sold in Paris is about one-third above the average. The reason is
simple, and yet it seems to occur to no one. French people, more
particularly the poorer classes, can exist upon much less than
Englishmen; but the prospect for any one blessed with a good appetite is
by no means reassuring. In the Rue Blanche there is a butcher who sells
dogs, cats, and rats. He has many customers, but it is amusing to see
them sneak into the shop after carefully looking round to make sure that
none of their acquaintances are near. A prejudice has arisen against
rats, because the doctors say that their flesh is full of trichinæ. I
own for my part I have a guilty feeling when I eat dog, the friend of
man. I had a slice of a spaniel the other day, it was by no means bad,
something like lamb, but I felt like a cannibal. Epicures in dog flesh
tell me that poodle is by far the best, and recommend me to avoid bull
dog, which is coarse and tasteless. I really think that dogs have some
means of communicating with each other, and have discovered that their
old friends want to devour them. The humblest of street curs growls when
anyone looks at him. _Figaro_ has a story that a man was followed for a
mile by a party of dogs barking fiercely at his heels. He could not
understand to what their attentions were due, until he remembered that
he had eaten a rat for his breakfast. The friend of another journalist,
who ate a dog called Fox, says that whenever anyone calls out "Fox" he
feels an irresistible impulse which forces him to jump up. As every
Christmas a number of books are published containing stories about dogs
as remarkable as they are stale, I recommend to their authors these two
veracious tales. Their veracity is guaranteed by Parisian journalists.
Can better evidence be required?

We are already discussing who will be sent to Germany. We suppose that
the army and the Mobiles, and perhaps the officers of the National
Guard will have to make the journey. One thing, I do hope that the
Prussians will convey across the Rhine all the Parisian journalists, and
keep them there until they are able to pass an elementary examination in
the literature, the politics, the geography, and the domestic economy of
Germany. A little foreign travel would do these blind leaders of the
blind a world of good, and on their return they would perhaps have
cleared their minds of their favourite delusion that civilization is
co-terminous with the frontiers of France.

How M. Picard provides for the financial requirements of his colleagues
is a mystery. The cost of the siege amounts in hard cash to about
£20,000,000. To meet the daily draw on the exchequer no public loan has
been negotiated, and nothing is raised by taxation. The monthly
instalments which have been paid on the September loan cannot altogether
amount to very much, consequently the greater portion of this large sum
can only have been obtained by a loan from the bank and by _bons de
trésor_ (exchequer bills). What the proportion between the bank loan and
the _bons de trésor_ in circulation is I am unable to ascertain. M.
Picard, like all finance ministers, groans daily over the cost of the
prolongation of the siege, and it certainly appears a very doubtful
question whether France will really benefit by Paris living at its
expense for another month.

Military matters remain _in statu quo_. The army is camped in the wood
of Vincennes. The forts occasionally fire. The Prussians seem to be of
opinion that our next sortie will be in the plain of Genevilliers, as
they are working hard on their fortifications along their lines between
St. Denis and St. Cloud, and they have replaced the levies of the
smaller States by what we call here "real" Prussians. Our engineer
officers consider that the Prussians have three lines of investment, the
first comparatively weak, the second composed of strategical lines, by
which a force of 40,000 men can be brought on any point within two
hours; the third consisting of redoubts, which would prevent artillery
getting by them. To invest a large town, say our officers, is not so
difficult a task as it would appear at first sight. Artillery can only
move along roads, and consequently all that is necessary is to occupy
the roads solidly. General Blanchard has been removed from his command,
and is to be employed in the Third Army under Vinoy. His dispute with
Ducrot arose from a remark which the latter made respecting officers who
did not remain with their men after a battle; and as Blanchard had been
in Paris the day before, he took this general stricture to himself.
Personalities of a very strong nature were exchanged between the two
warriors, and it was thought well that henceforward they should, as much
as possible, be kept apart. General Favé also, who commanded the redoubt
near Joinville, which arrested the advance of the Prussians on the
second battle of Villiers, has "had words." It appears that he declined
to obey an order which was forwarded to him, on the ground of its
absurdity, saying that he was responsible to his conscience.
Indiscipline has been the curse of the French army since the
commencement of the war, and it will continue to be so to the end.
During the siege there have been many individual traits of heroism, but
the armed force has been little better than a mob, and Trochu has not
had the moral courage to enforce his will on his generals. Ducrot says
that he is determined to take the war battalions of the National Guards
under fire at the next sortie, but whether he will succeed remains to be
seen. In these marching battalions there are undoubtedly many brave men,
but both officers and soldiers are inexperienced, and when they see men
falling before them, struck down by an invisible enemy, they lose all
presence of mind.

I do not think, as far as regards the Parisians, Count Bismarck is right
in his opinion that the French will for many years to come attempt to
reverse the verdict of the present war. The Parisian bourgeois is fond
of saving money. As long as war meant a military promenade of the army
across the Rhine, followed by a triumphal entry into Paris, he was by no
means averse to it, for he considered that a French victory reflected
itself on him, and made him a hero in the eyes of the world. Now,
however, that he has discovered that there is a reverse to this picture,
and that it may very possibly mean ruin to himself, he will be very
cautious before he again risks the hazard of the die. Should the
disasters of France result in the emancipation of the provinces from the
rule of Paris, they will be a positive benefit to the nation. If the
thirty-eight million Frenchmen outside Paris are such fools as to allow
themselves to be ruled by the two million amiable, ignorant, bragging
humbugs who are within it, France will most deservedly cease to be a
power of Europe. If this country is to recover from the ruin in which it
is overwhelmed it is absolutely essential that Paris should cease to be
its political capital, and that the Parisians should not have a greater
share in moulding its future policy than they are numerically entitled


_December 18th._

Prisoners have before now endeavoured to while away their long hours of
captivity by watching spiders making their webs. I can understand this.
In the dreary monotony of this dreariest of sieges a spider would be an
event. But alas, the spider is outside, and we are the flies caught in
his toils. Never did time hang so heavily on human beings as it hangs on
us. Every day seems to have twice the usual number of hours. I have
ceased to wind up my watch for many a week. I got tired of looking at
it; and whether it is ten in the morning or two in the afternoon is much
the same to me; almost everyone has ceased to shave; they say that a
razor so near their throats would be too great a temptation. Some have
married to avoid active service, others to pass the time. "When I knew
that there was an army between my wife and myself," observed a cynic to
me yesterday, "I rejoiced, but even the society of my wife would be
better than this." There is a hideous old woman, like unto one of
Macbeth's witches, who makes my bed. I had a horrible feeling that some
day or other I should marry her, and I have been considerably relieved
by discovering that she has a husband and several olive branches. Here
is my day. In the morning the boots comes to call me. He announces the
number of deaths which have taken place in the hotel during the night.
If there are many he is pleased, as he considers it creditable to the
establishment. He then relieves his feelings by shaking his fist in the
direction of Versailles, and exit growling "Canaille de Bismarck." I get
up. I have breakfast--horse, _café au lait_--the _lait_ chalk and
water--the portion of horse about two square inches of the noble
quadruped. Then I buy a dozen newspapers, and after having read them,
discover that they contain nothing new. This brings me to about eleven
o'clock. Friends drop in, or I drop in on friends. We discuss how long
it is to last--if friends are French we agree that we are sublime. At
one o'clock get into the circular railroad, and go to one or other of
the city gates. After a discussion with the National Guards on duty,
pass through. Potter about for a couple of hours at the outposts; try
with glass to make out Prussians; look at bombs bursting; creep along
the trenches; and wade knee deep in mud through the fields. The
Prussians, who have grown of late malevolent even toward civilians,
occasionally send a ball far over one's head. They always fire too high.
French soldiers are generally cooking food. They are anxious for news,
and know nothing about what is going on. As a rule they relate the
episode of some _combat d'avantposte_ which took place the day before.
The episodes never vary. 5 P.M.--Get back home; talk to doctors about
interesting surgical operations; then drop in upon some official to
interview him about what is doing. Official usually first mysterious,
then communicative, not to say loquacious, and abuses most people except
himself. 7 P.M.--Dinner at a restaurant; conversation general; almost
everyone in uniform. Still the old subjects--How long will it last? Why
does not Gambetta write more clearly? How sublime we are; what a fool
everyone else is. Food scanty, but peculiar. At Voisins to-day the bill
of fare was ass, horse, and English wolf from the Zoological Garden. A
Scotchman informed me that this latter was a fox of his native land,
and patriotically gorged himself with it. I tried it, and not being a
Scotchman, found it horrible, and fell back upon the patient ass. After
dinner, potter on the Boulevards under the dispiriting gloom of
petroleum; go home and read a book. 12 P.M.--Bed. They nail up the
coffins in the room just over mine every night, and the tap, tap, tap,
as they drive in the nails, is the pleasing music which lulls me to
sleep. Now, I ask, after having endured this sort of thing day after day
for three months, can I be expected to admire Geist, Germany, or Mr.
Matthew Arnold? I sigh for a revolution, for a bombardment, for an
assault, for anything which would give us a day's excitement.

I enclose you Gambetta's latest pigeon despatch. His style is so
grandiloquently vague that we can make neither head nor tail of it. We
cannot imagine what has become of Aurelles de Paladine and of the army
of Kératry. The optimists say that Gambetta means that Bourbaki and
Chanzy have surrounded Frederick Charles; the pessimists, that Frederick
Charles has got between them. The general feeling seems to be that the
provinces are doing more than was expected of them, but that they will
fail to succour us. Here some of the newspapers urge Trochu to make a
sortie, in order to prevent reinforcements being sent to Frederick
Charles, others deprecate it as a useless waste of life. General Clément
Thomas, who succeeded Tamisier about a month ago in the command of the
National Guards, seems to be the right man in the right place. He is
making great efforts to convert these citizens into soldiers, and stands
no nonsense. Not a day passes without some patriotic captain being tried
by court-martial for drunkenness or disobedience. If a battalion
misbehaves itself, it is immediately gibbeted in the order of the day.
The newspapers cry out against this. They say that Clément Thomas
forgets that the National Guards are his children, and that dirty linen
ought to be washed at home. "If this goes on, posterity," they complain,
"will say that we were little more than a mob of undisciplined
drunkards." I am afraid that Clément Thomas will not have time to carry
out his reforms; had they been commenced earlier, there is no reason why
Paris should not have had on foot 100,000 good troops.

Mr. Herbert tells me that there are now above 1,000 persons on the
English fund, and that every week there are about 30 new applications.
Unknown and mysterious English emerge from holes and corners every day.
Mr. Herbert thinks that there cannot be less than 3,000 of them still in
Paris, almost all destitute. The French Government sold him a short time
ago 30,000 lbs. of rice, and this, with the chocolate and Liebig which
he has in hand will last him for about three weeks. If the siege goes on
longer it is difficult to know how all these poor people will live.
Funds are not absolutely wanting, but it is doubtful whether even with
money it will be possible to buy anything beyond bread, if that. Mr.
Herbert thinks that it would be most desirable to send, if possible, a
provision of portable food, such as Liebig's extract of meat, as near to
Paris as possible; so that, whenever the siege ceases, it may at once be
brought into the town, as otherwise it is very probable that many of
these English will die of starvation before food can reach them. It does
seem to me perfectly monstrous that for years we should have, in
addition to an Embassy, kept a Consul here, and that he should have been
allowed to go off on leave to some watering place at the very moment at
which his services were most required. When the Embassy left, a sort of
deputy-consul remained here; but with a perfect ingenuity of stupidity,
the Foreign-office officials ordered this gentleman to withdraw with Mr.
Wodehouse, the secretary. Heine said of his fellow-countrymen, "they are
born stupid, and a bureaucratic education makes them wicked." Had he
been an Englishman instead of a Prussian he would have said the same,
and with even more truth, of certain persons who, not for worlds would I
name, but who do not reside 100 miles from Downing-street.

_December 21st._

When the Fenians in the United States meditate a raid upon Canada, they
usually take very great care to allow their intentions to be known. Our
sorties are much like these Hibernian surprises. If the Prussians do not
know when we are about to attack, they cannot complain that it is our
fault. The "Après vous, Messieurs les Anglais," still forms the
chivalrous but somewhat naïf tactics of the Gauls. On Sunday, as a first
step to military operations, the gates of the city were closed to all
unprovided with passes. On Monday a grand council of generals and
admirals took place at the Palais Royal. Yesterday, and all last night,
drums were beating, trumpets were blowing, and troops were marching
through the streets. The war battalions of the National Guard, in their
new uniforms, spick and span, were greeted with shouts, to which they
replied by singing a song, the chorus of which is "Vive la guerre,
Piff-Paff," and which has replaced the "Marseillaise." As the ambulances
had been ordered to be ready to start at six in the morning, I presumed
that business would commence at an early hour, and I ordered myself to
be called at 5.30. I was called, and got out of my bed, but, alas for
noble resolutions! having done so, I got back again into it and remained
between the sheets quietly enjoying that sleep which is derived from the
possession of a good conscience, and a still better digestion, until the
clock struck nine.

It was not until past eleven o'clock that I found myself on the outside
of the gate of La Villette, advancing, as Grouchy should have done at
Waterloo, in the direction of the sound of the cannon. From the gate a
straight road runs to Le Bourget, having the Fort of Aubervilliers on
the right, and St. Denis on the left. Between the fort and the gate
there were several hundred ambulance waggons, and above a thousand
"brancardiers," stamping their feet and blowing on their fingers to keep
themselves warm. In the fields on each side of the road there were
numerous regiments of Mobiles drawn up ready to advance if required. Le
Bourget, everyone said, had been taken in the morning, our artillery was
on ahead, and we were carrying everything before us, so towards Le
Bourget I advanced. About a mile from Le Bourget, there is a cross-road
running to St. Denis through Courneuve. Here I found the barricade which
had formed our most advanced post removed. Le Bourget seemed to be on
fire. Shells were falling into it from the Prussian batteries, and, as
well as I could make out, our forts were shelling it too. Our artillery
was on a slight rise to the right of Le Bourget, in advance of Drancy;
and in the fields between Drancy and this rise, heavy masses of troops
were drawn up in support. Officers assured me that Le Bourget was still
in our possession, and that if I felt inclined to go there, there was
nothing to prevent me. I confess I am not one of those persons who snuff
up the battle from afar, and feel an irresistible desire to rush into
the middle of it. To be knocked on the head by a shell, merely to
gratify one's curiosity, appears to me to be the utmost height of
absurdity. Those who put themselves between the hammer and the anvil,
come off generally second best, and I determined to defer my visit to
the interesting village before me until the question whether it was to
belong to Gaul or Teuton had been definitely decided. So I turned off to
the left and went to St. Denis.

Here everybody was in the streets, asking everybody else for news. The
forts all round it were firing heavily. On the Place before the
Cathedral there was a great crowd of men, women, and children. The
sailors, who are quartered here in great numbers, said that they had
carried Le Bourget early in the morning, but that they had been obliged
to fall back, with the loss of about a third of their number. Most of
them had hatchets by their sides, and they attack a position much as if
they were boarding a ship. About 100 prisoners had been brought into the
town in the morning, as well as two Frères Chrétiens, who had been
wounded, and for whom the greatest sympathy was expressed. Little seemed
to be known of what was passing. "The Prussians will be here in an
hour," shouted one man; "The Prussians are being exterminated," shouted
another. "What is this?" cried the crowd, as Monseigneur Bauer, the
bishop _in partibus infidelium_ of some place or other, now came riding
along with his staff. He held up his two fingers, and turned his hand
right and left. His pastoral blessing was, however, but a half success.
The women crossed themselves, and the men muttered "farceur." The war
which is now raging has produced many oddities, but none to my mind
equal to this bishop. His great object is to see and be seen, and most
thoroughly does he succeed in his object. He is a short, stout man,
dressed in a cassock, a pair of jack-boots with large spurs, and a hat
such as you would only see at the opera. On his breast he wears a huge
star. Round his neck is a chain, with a great golden cross attached to
it; and on his fingers, over his gloves, he wears gorgeous rings. The
trappings of his horse are thickly sprinkled with Geneva crosses. By his
side rides a standard-bearer, bearing aloft a flag with a red cross.
Eight aides-de-camp, arrayed in a sort of purple and gold fancy uniform,
follow him, and the _cortége_ is closed by two grooms in unimpeachable
tops. In this guise, and followed by this état major, he is a
conspicuous figure upon a field of battle, and produces much the same
effect as the head of a circus riding into a town on a piebald horse,
surrounded by clowns and pets of the ballet. He was the confessor of the
Empress, and is now the aumônier of the Press; but why he wears
jack-boots, why he capers about on a fiery horse, why he has a staff of
aides-de-camp, and why he has two grooms, are things which no one seems
to know. He patronises generals and admirals, doctors and commissariat
officers, and they submit to be patronised by him. Half-priest,
half-buffoon, something of a Friar Tuck and something of a Louis XV.
abbé, he is a sort of privileged person, who by the mere force of
impudence has made his way in the world. Most English girls in their
teens fall in love with a curate and a cavalry officer. Monseigneur
Bauer, who combines in himself the unctuous curate and the dashing
dragoon, is adored by the fair sex in Paris. He knows how to adapt his
conversation to the most opposite kind of persons, and I should not be
surprised if he becomes a Cardinal before he dies.

The arrival of Dr. Ricord was the next event. He was in a basket
pony-chaise, driving two ponies not much larger than rats. A pole about
twelve feet high, bearing the flag of the Geneva Cross, was stuck beside
him, and it was knocking against the telegraph wires which ran along the
street. The eminent surgeon was arrayed in a long coat buttoned up to
his chin and coming down to his feet. On his head was a kepi which was
far too large for him. He looked like one of those wooden figures of
Noah, when that patriarch with his family is lodged in a child's ark.
Having inspected the bishop and the doctor with respectful admiration,
and instituted a search for some bread and wine, I thought it was time
to see what was going on outside. On emerging from St. Denis everything
except the guns of the forts appeared quiet. I had not, however, gone
far in the direction of Le Bourget, which was still burning, when I was
stopped by a regiment marching towards St. Denis, some of the officers
of which told me that the village had been retaken by the Prussians--the
artillery, too, which I had left on the rise before Drancy, had
disappeared. At a farmyard close by Drancy I saw Ducrot and his staff.
The General had his hood drawn over his head, and both he and his
aide-de-camp looked so glum, that I thought it just as well not to
congratulate him upon the operations of the day. In and behind Drancy
there were a large number of troops, who I heard were to camp there
during the night. None seemed exactly to know what had happened. The
officers and soldiers were not in good spirits. On my return into Paris,
however, I found the following proclamation of the Government posted on
the walls:--"2 p.m.--The attack commenced this morning by a great
deployment from Mont Valérien to Nogent, the combat has commenced and
continues everywhere, with favourable chances for us.--Schmitz." The
people on the Boulevards seem to imagine that a great victory has been
gained. When one asks them where? They answer "everywhere." I can only
answer myself for what occurred at Le Bourget. I hear that Vinoy has
occupied Nogent, on the north of the Marne; the resistance he
encountered could not, however, have been very great, as only seven
wounded have been brought into this hotel, and only one to the American
ambulance. General Trochu announced this morning that 100 battalions of
the National Guards are outside the walls, and I shall be curious to
learn how they conduct themselves under fire. Far be it from me to say
that they will not fight like lions. If they do, however, it will
surprise most of the military men with whom I have spoken on the
subject. As yet all they have done has been to make frequent "pacts with
death," to perform unauthorised strategical movements to the rear
whenever they have been sent to the front, to consume much liquor, to
pillage houses, and--to put it poetically--toy with Amaryllis in the
trench, or with the tangles of Nearas' hair. Their General, Clément
Thomas, is doing his best to knock them into shape, but I am afraid that
it is too late. There are cases in which, in defiance of the proverb, it
is too late to mend.

Officers in a position to know, assure me that no really serious sortie
will be made, but that after two or three days of the sham fights, such
as took place to-day, the troops will quietly return into Paris. The
object of General Trochu is, they say, to amuse the Parisians, and if he
can by hook or by crook get the National Guard under the mildest of
fires, to celebrate their heroism, in order that they may return the
compliment. I cannot, however, believe that no attempt will be made to
fight a battle; the troops are now massed from St. Denis to the Marne;
within two hours they can all be brought to any point along this line,
and I should imagine that either to-morrow or the next day, something
will be done in the direction of the Forest of Bondy. Trochu, it is
daily felt more strongly, even by calm temperate men, is not the right
man in the right place. He is a respectable literary man, utterly unfit
to cope with the situation. His great aim seems now to be to curry
favour with the Parisian population by praising in all his proclamations
the National Guards, and ascribing to them a courage of which as yet
they have given no proof. This, of course, injures him with the Line and
the Mobiles, who naturally object to their being called upon to do all
the fighting, whilst others are lauded for it. The officers all swear by
Vinoy, and hold the military capacity both of Trochu and Ducrot very
cheap. In the desperate strait to which Paris is reduced, something more
than a man estimable for his private virtues, and his literary
attainments is required. Trochu, as we are frequently told, gave up his
brougham in order to adopt his nephews. Richard III. killed his; but
these are domestic questions, only interesting to nephews, and it by no
means follows that Richard III. would not have been a better defender of
Paris than Trochu has proved himself to be. His political aspirations
and his military combinations are in perpetual conflict. He is ever
sacrificing the one to the other, and, consequently, he fails both as a
general and as a statesman.

In order to form an opinion with regard to the condition of the poorer
classes, I went yesterday into some of the back slums in the
neighbourhood of the Boulevard de Clichy. The distress is terrible.
Women and children, half starved, were seated at their doorsteps, with
hardly clothes to cover them decently. They said that, as they had
neither firewood nor coke, they were warmer out-of-doors than in-doors.
Many of the National Guards, instead of bringing their money home to
their families, spent it in drink; and there are many families, composed
entirely of women and children, who, in this land of bureaucracy, are
apparently left to starve whilst it is decided to what category they
belong. The Citizen Mottu, the Ultra-Democratic Mayor, announced that in
his arrondissement all left-handed marriages are to be regarded as
valid, and the left-handed spouses of the National Guards are to receive
the allowance which is granted to the legitimate wives of these
warriors. But a new difficulty has arisen. Left-handed polygamy prevails
to a great extent among the Citizen Mottu's admirers. Is a lady who has
five husbands entitled to five rations, and is a lady who only owns the
fifth of a National Guard to have only one-fifth of a ration? These are
questions which the Citizen Mottu is now attempting to solve. As for the
future, he has solved the matrimonial question by declining to celebrate
marriages, because, he says, this bond is an insult upon those who
prefer to ignore it. As regards marriage, consequently--and that
alone--his arrondissement resembles the kingdom of heaven. I went to
see, yesterday, what was going on in the house of a friend of mine in
the Avenue de l'Impératrice, who has left Paris. The servant who was in
charge told me that up there they had been unable to obtain bread for
three days, and that the last time that he had presented his ration
ticket he had been given about half an inch of cheese. "How do you live,
then?" I asked. After looking mysteriously round to see that no one was
watching us, he took me down into the cellar, and pointed to some meat
in barrel. "It is half a horse," he said, in the tone of a man who is
showing some one the corpse of his murdered victim. "A neighbouring
coachman killed him, and we salted him down and divided it." Then he
opened a closet in which sat a huge cat. "I am fattening her up for
Christmas-day, we mean to serve her up surrounded with mice, like
sausages," he observed. Many Englishmen regard it as a religious duty to
eat turkey at Christmas, but fancy fulfilling this duty by devouring
cat. It is like an Arab in the desert, who cannot wash his hands when he
addresses his evening prayer, and makes shift with sand. This reminds me
that some antiquarian has discovered that in eating horse we are only
reverting to the habits of the ancient Gauls. Before the Christian
religion was introduced into the country, the Druids used to sacrifice
horses, which were afterwards eaten. Christianity put an end to these
sacrifices, and horse-flesh then went out of fashion.

_La France_ thus speaks of the last despatch of Gambetta:--"At length we
have received official news from Tours. We read the despatch feverishly,
then we read it a second time with respect, with admiration, with
enthusiasm. We are asked our opinion respecting it. Before answering, we
feel an irresistible impulse to take off our hat and to cry 'Vive la
France.'" The _Electeur Libre_ is still more enraptured with the
situation. It particularly admires the petroleum lamp, so different, it
says, to those orgies of light, which under the tyrant, in the form of
gas, gave a fictitious vitality to Paris. The _Combat_ points out that
no fires have broken out since September 4--a coincidence which is
ascribed to the existence since that date of a Republican form of
government. I recommend this curious phenomenon to insurance companies.
The newspapers, one and all, are furious, because they hear that the
Prussians contest our two victories at Villiers. "How singular,"
observes the _Figaro_, with plaintive morality, "is this rage, this
necessity for lying." It is notorious that, having gained two glorious
victories, we returned into Paris to repose on our laurels, and I must
beg the Prussians not to be so mean as to contest the fact.

_December 23rd._

Since Wednesday the troops--Line, Mobiles, and marching battalions of
the National Guard--have remained outside the enceinte. There has been a
certain amount of spade work at Drancy, but beyond this absolutely
nothing. The cold is very severe. This afternoon I was outside in the
direction of Le Bourget. The soldiers had lit large fires to warm
themselves. Some of them were lodged in empty houses, but most of them
had only their little _tentes d'abri_ to shelter them. The sentinels
were stamping their feet in the almost vain endeavour to keep their
blood in circulation. There have been numerous frost-bitten cases. When
it is considered that almost all of these troops might, without either
danger to the defence, or without compromising the offensive operations,
have been marched back into Paris, and quartered in the barracks which
have been erected along the outer line of Boulevards, it seems monstrous
cruelty to keep them freezing outside. The operations, however, on
Wednesday are regarded as very far short of a success. General Trochu
does not venture, in the state of public opinion, to bring the troops
back into Paris, and thus confess a failure. The ambulances are ordered
out to-morrow morning; but I cannot help thinking that the series of
operations which were with great beating of drums announced to have
commenced on Wednesday, will be allowed gradually to die out, without
anything further taking place. The National Guards are camped in the
neighbourhood of Bondy and Rosny. They have again, greatly to the
disgust of the Mobiles and Line, been congratulated in a general order
upon their valorous bearing. As a matter of fact, there was a panic
among these braves which nearly degenerated into a rout. Several
battalions turned tail, under the impression that the Prussians were
going to attack them. One battalion did not stop until it had found
shelter within the walls of the town. General Trochu's attempt, for
political ends, to force greatness upon these heroes, is losing him the
goodwill of the army. On Wednesday and Thursday several regiments of the
Line and of the Mobiles bitterly complained that they should always be
ordered to the front to protect not only Paris but the National Guards.
The marching battalions are composed of unmarried men between
twenty-five and thirty-five, and why they should not be called upon to
incur the same risks, and submit to the same discipline as the Mobiles,
it is difficult to understand. We may learn from the experience of this
siege that in war, armed citizens who decline to submit to the
discipline of soldiers are worse than useless. The lesson, however, has
not profited the Parisians. The following letter appears in the
_Combat_, signed by the "adjoint" of the 13th arrondissement. The
defence on the part of this municipal functionary of a marching
battalion, which, at the outposts, broke into a church, and there
parodied the celebration of the mass, is a gem in its way:--

"The marching companies of this battalion left Paris on the morning of
the 16th to go to the outposts at Issy. The departure was what all
departures of marching battalions must fatally be--copious and
multiplied libations between parting friends, paternal handshakings in
cabarets, patriotic and bacchic songs, loose and indecent choruses--in a
word, the picturesque exhibition of all that arsenal of gaiety and
courage which is the appanage of an ancient Gallic race. The old
troopers, who pretend to govern us by the sword, do not approve of this
joyous mode of regarding death; and all the writers whose pens are
dipped in the ink of reaction and Jesuitism are eager to discover any
eccentricity in which soldiers who are going under fire for the first
time permit themselves to indulge. The Intendance, with that
intelligence which characterises our military administrations, had put
off the departure of the battalion for several hours. What were the men
to do whilst they were kept waiting, except drink? This is what these
brave fellows did. Mars, tired of Venus, sung at the companionship of
Bacchus. If the God of Wine too well seconded the God of War, it is only
water drinkers who can complain; it is not for us, Republicans of the
past and of the future, to throw stones at good citizens in order to
conceal the misconduct of the old Bonapartist Administration which still
is charged with the care of our armies."

General Blaise has been killed at Villa Evrard. The buildings, which go
by this name, were occupied on Wednesday by General Vinoy's troops. In
the night a number of Prussians, who had concealed themselves in the
cellars, emerged, and a hand-to-hand fight took place. Some of the
Prussians in the confusion got away, and some were killed. Several
French officers who ran away and rushed in a panic into the presence of
General Vinoy, who was at Fort Rosney, announcing that all was lost, are
to be tried by Court Martial. The troops when they heard this were very
indignant; but old Vinoy rode along the line, and told them that they
might think what they pleased, but that he would have no cowards serving
under him. Pity that he is not General-in-Chief.

A curious new industry has sprung up in Paris. Letters supposed to be
found in the pockets of dead Germans are in great request. There are
letters from mothers, from sisters, and from the Gretchens who are, in
the popular mind, supposed to adore warriors. Unless every corpse has
half a dozen mothers, and was loved when in the flesh by a dozen
sweethearts, many of these letters must be fabricated. They vary in
their style very little. The German mothers give little domestic details
about the life at home, and express the greatest dread lest their sons
should fall victims to the valour of the Parisians, which is filling the
Fatherland with terror and admiration. The Gretchens are all
sentimental; they talk of their inner feelings like the heroines of
third-rate novels, send the object of their affections cigars and
stockings knitted by their own fair hands, and implore him to be
faithful, and not forget, in the toils of some French syren, poor
Gretchen. But what is more strange is that in the pocket of each corpse
a reply is found which he has forgotten to post. In this reply the
warrior tells a fearful tale of his own sufferings, and says that
victory is impossible, because the National Guards are such an
invincible band.

The number of the wounded in my hotel has considerably diminished owing
to the deaths among them. For the Société Internationale to have made it
their central ambulance was a great mistake. Owing to the want of
ventilation the simplest operations are usually fatal. Four out of five
of those who have an arm or a leg amputated die of pyæmia. Now, as in
the American tents four out of five recover; and as French surgeons are
as skilful as American surgeons, the average mortality in the two
ambulances is a crucial proof of the advantage of the American tent
system. Under their tents there is perfect ventilation, and yet the air
is not cold. If their plan were universally adopted in hospitals, it is
probable that many lives which are now sacrificed to the gases which
are generated from operations, and which find no exit from buildings of
stone or brick, would be saved. "Our war," said an American surgeon to
me the other day, "taught us that a large number of cubic inches of air
is not enough for a sick man, but that the air must be perpetually
renewed by ventilation."

_December 24th._

The papers publish extracts from German newspapers which have been found
in the pockets of the prisoners who were taken on Wednesday. The news
from the provinces is not considered encouraging. Great stress is laid
upon a proclamation addressed by King William to his troops on December
6, in which it is considered that there is evidence that the Prussians
are getting tired of the war. We hear now, for the first time, that
Prussia has "denounced" the Luxemburg Treaty of '67, and forgetting that
the guarantee of neutrality with respect to these lotus-eaters was
collective, and not joint and several, we anxiously ask whether England
will not regard this as a _casus belli_. "As soon as Parliament
assembles," says _La Vérité_, "that great statesman Disraeli will turn
out Mr. Gladstone, and then our old ally will be restored to us." The
_Gaulois_ observes that "the English journalists residing at Paris keep
up the illusion that Paris must fall by sending to their journals false
news, which is reproduced in the organs of Prussia." "These
journalists," adds the _Gaulois_, "who are our guests, fail in those
duties which circumstances impose upon them." Every correspondent
residing abroad must be the guest, in a certain sense, of the country
from which he is writing; but that this position should oblige him to
square his facts to suit the wishes of his hosts appears to me a strange
theory. Had I been M. Jules Favre, I confess that I should have turned
out all foreign journalists at the commencement of the siege. He,
however, expressed a wish that they should remain in Paris, and his
fellow-citizens must not now complain that they decline to endorse the
legend which, very probably, will be handed down to future generations
of Frenchmen as the history of the siege of Paris. The Prussians will
not raise the siege for anything either French or English journalists
say. The Parisians themselves must perceive that the attempt to frighten
their enemies away by drum-beating and trumpet-blowing has signally
failed. Times have altered since Jericho. It is telling the Prussians
nothing new to inform them that the National Guard are poor troops. For
my part, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to learn some
morning that the German armies round Paris had met with the fate which
overwhelmed Sennacherib and his hosts. I should be delighted to be able
to hope that the town will not eventually be forced to capitulate; but I
cannot conceal from myself the truth that, if no succour comes from
without, it must eventually fall. I blame the French journalists for
perpetually drawing upon their imagination for their facts, and in their
boasts of what France will do, not keeping within the bounds of
probability; but I do not blame them for hoping against hope that their
armies will be successful. I am ready to admit that the Parisians have
shown a most stubborn tenacity, and that they have disappointed their
enemies in not cutting each other's throats; but this is no reason why I
should assert that they are sublime. After all, what is patriotism? The
idea entertained by each nation that it is braver and better and wiser
than the rest of the world. Does not every Englishman feel this to be
true of his own countrymen? It is consequently not absurd that Frenchmen
should think the same of themselves. The French are intensely
patriotic--country with them is no abstraction. They moan over its ruin
as though it were a human being, and far then be it from me to laugh at
them for doing so. When, however, I find persons dressing themselves up
in all the paraphernalia of war, visiting tombs and statues in order to
register with due solemnity that they intend to die rather than yield,
and when, after all this nonsense, these same persons decline to take
their share in the common danger on the score that they have a mother,
or a sister, or a wife, or a child, dependent upon them, and when month
after month they drum and strut up and down the Boulevards, I consider
that they are ridiculous, and I say so. When a man does a silly thing it
is his own fault--not that of the person who chronicles it. Was it wise,
for instance, of General Ducrot to announce a fortnight ago that he was
about to lead his soldiers against the enemy, and that he himself
intended either to conquer or die? Was it wise of General Trochu six
weeks ago to issue a proclamation pledging himself to force the
Prussians to raise the siege of Paris. The Prussians will have read
these manifestoes, and they will form their own estimate respecting
them. That I call them foolish does not "keep up illusions in Germany."
The other day the members of an Ultra club, in the midst of a discussion
respecting the existence of a divinity, determined to decide the
question by a general scrimmage. I think that these patriots might have
been better employed. It does not follow, however, that I do not regret
that they were not better employed. The siege of Paris is in the hands
of General Moltke, and the _Gaulois_ may depend upon it that this wary
strategist is not at all likely to give up the task by any number of
journalists informing him that he is certain to fail.

I have got a cold, so I have not been out this morning. I hear that some
of the troops have come in from Aubervilliers, and several regiments
have marched by my windows. At Neuilly-sur-Marne and Bondy, it is said,
earthworks are being thrown up; and it is supposed that Chelles will, as
the Americans say, be the objective point of any movement which may take
place in that direction. The _Patrie_ has been suspended for three days
for alluding to military operations. It did more than allude, it
ventured to doubt the wisdom of our generals. As many other journals
have done the same I do not understand why the _Patrie_ should have been
singled out for vengeance.


_December 25th._

Real Christmas weather--that is to say, the earth is as hard as a
brickbat, and the wind freezes one to the very marrow. To the rich man,
with a good coal fire in his grate, turkey, roast beef, plum pudding,
and mince pies on his table, and his family gorging themselves on the
solid eatables, a frost at Christmas is very pleasant. Poor people
cowering in their rags before the door of a union, cold, hungry, and
forlorn, or munching their dry bread in some cheerless garret, may not
perhaps so fully appreciate its advantages; but then we all know that
poor people never are contented, and seldom understand the fitness of
things. Here in Paris, the numbed soldiers out in the open fields, and
the women and children, who have no fires and hardly any food, bitterly
complain of the "seasonable" weather. With plenty of money, with warm
clothes, and a good house, a hard frost has its charms, without them it
is not quite so agreeable. For my part I confess that I never have seen
a paterfamilias with his coat tails raised, basking himself before his
fire, and prating about the delights of winter, and the healthy glow
which is caused by a sharp frost, without feeling an irresistible desire
to transplant him stark naked to the highest peak of Mont Blanc, in
order to teach by experience what winter means to thousands of his
fellow-creatures. We are not having a "merry Christmas," and we are not
likely to have a happy new year. Christmas is not here the great holiday
of the year, as it is in England. Still, everyone in ordinary times
tries to have a better dinner than usual, and usually where there are
children in a family some attempt is made to amuse them. Among the
bourgeoisie they are told to put their shoes in the grate on
Christmas-eve, and the next morning some present is found in them, which
is supposed to have been left during the night by the Infant Jesus.
Since the Empire introduced English ways here, plum-pudding and
mincepies have been eaten, and even Christmas-trees have flourished.
This year these festive shrubs, as an invention of the detested foe,
have been rigidly tabooed. Plum-puddings and mincepies, too, will appear
on few tables. In order to comfort the children, the girls are to be
given soup tickets to distribute to beggars, and the boys are to have
their choice between French and German wooden soldiers. The former will
be treasured up, the latter will be subjected to fearful tortures. Even
the midnight mass, which is usually celebrated on Christmas-eve, took
place in very few churches last night. We have, indeed, too much on our
hands to attend either to fasts or festivals, although in the opinion of
the _Univers_, the last sortie would have been far more successful had
it taken place on the 7th of the month, the anniversary of the
promulgation of the Immaculate Conception. Among fine people New
Year's-day is more of a fête than Christmas. Its approach is regarded
with dark misgivings by many, for every gentleman is expected to make a
call upon all the ladies of his acquaintance, and to leave them a box of
sugarplums. This is a heavy tax upon those who have more friends than
money--300fr. is not considered an extraordinary sum to spend upon these
bonbonnières. A friend of mine, indeed, assured me that he yearly spent
1000fr., but then he was a notorious liar, so very possibly he was not
telling the truth. "Thank Heaven," says the men, "at least we shall get
off the sugarplum tax this year." But the ladies are not to be done out
of their rights this way, and they throw out very strong hints that if
sugarplums are out of season, anything solid is very much in season. A
dandy who is known to have a stock of sausages, is overwhelmed with
compliments by his fair friends. A good leg of mutton would, I am sure,
win the heart of the proudest beauty, and by the gift of half-a-dozen
potatoes you might make a friend for life. The English here are making
feeble attempts to celebrate Christmas correctly. In an English
restaurant two turkeys had been treasured up for the important occasion,
but unfortunately a few days ago they anticipated their fate, and most
ill-naturedly insisted upon dying. One fortunate Briton has got ten
pounds of camel, and has invited about twenty of his countrymen to aid
him in devouring this singular substitute for turkey. Another gives
himself airs because he has some potted turkey, which is solemnly to be
consumed to-day spread on bread. I am myself going to dine with the
correspondent of one of your contemporaries. On the same floor as
himself lives a family who left Paris before the commencement of the
siege. Necessity knows no law; so the other day he opened their door
with a certain amount of gentle violence, and after a diligent search,
discovered in the larder two onions, some potatoes, and a ham. These,
with a fowl, which I believe has been procured honestly, are to
constitute our Christmas dinner.

It is very strange what opposite opinions one hears about the condition
of the poor. Some persons say that there is no distress, others that it
cannot be greater. The fact is, the men were never better off, the women
and children never so badly off. Every man can have enough to eat and
too much to drink by dawdling about with a gun. As his home is cold and
cheerless, when he is not on duty he lives at a pothouse. He brings no
money to his wife and children, who consequently only just keep body and
soul together by going to the national cantines, where they get soup,
and to the Mairies, where they occasionally get an order for bread.
Almost all their clothes are in pawn, so how it is they do not
positively die of cold I cannot understand. As for fuel even the wealthy
find it difficult to procure it. The Government talks of cutting down
all the trees and of giving up all the clothes in pawn; but, with its
usual procrastination, it puts off both these measures from day to day.
This morning all the firewood was requisitioned. At a meeting of the
Mayors of Paris two days ago, it was stated that above 400,000 persons
are in receipt of parish relief.

The troops outside Paris are gradually being brought back inside. A
trench has been dug almost continuously from Drancy to Aubervilliers,
and an attempt has been made to approach Le Bourget by flying sap. The
ground, is, however, so hard, that it is much like attempting to cut
through a rock. To my mind the whole thing is merely undertaken in order
to persuade the Parisians that something is being done. For the moment
they are satisfied. "The Prussians," they say, "have besieged us; we are
besieging the Prussians now." What they will say when they find that
even these operations are suspended, I do not know. The troops have
suffered terribly from the cold during these last few days. Twelve
degrees of frost "centigrade" is no joke. I was talking to some officers
of Zouaves who had been twenty hours at the outposts. They said that
during all this time they had not ventured to light a fire, and that
this morning their wine and bread were both frozen. In the tents there
are small stoves, but they give out little warmth. Even inside the
deserted houses it is almost as cold as outside. The windows and the
doors have been converted into firewood, and the wind whistles through
them. The ambulance waggons of the Press alone have brought in nearly
500 men frost-bitten, or taken suddenly ill. From the batteries at Bondy
and Avron there has been some sharp firing, the object of which has been
to oblige the Prussians to keep inside the Forest of Bondy, and to
disquiet them whenever they take to digging anywhere outside it. The
plain of Avron is a very important position as it commands the whole
country round. The end of Le Bourget, towards Paris appears entirely
deserted. An ambulance cart went up to a barricade this morning which
crosses the main street, when a Prussian sentinel emerged and ordered it
to go back immediately. Behind Le Bourget, a little to the right, is a
heavy Prussian battery at Le Blanc Mesnel which entirely commands it.
The Line and the Mobiles bitterly complain that they, and not the
marching battalions, are exposed to every danger. The soldiers, and
particularly those of the Mobiles, say that if they are to go on
fighting for Paris, the Parisians must take their fair share in the
battles. As for the marching battalions, they are, as soldiers, worth
absolutely nothing. The idea of their assaulting, with any prospect of
success, any positions held by artillery, is simply ludicrous. The
system of dividing an army into different categories, is subjected to a
different discipline, is fatal for any united offensive operations. It
is to be hoped that Trochu will at last perceive this, and limit his
efforts to keeping the Prussians out of Paris, and harassing them by
frequent and partial sorties. I hear that General Ducrot wanted to
attempt a second assault of Le Bourget, but this was overruled at a
council of war which was held on Thursday.

_December 26th._

The _Journal Officiel_ announces that military operations are over for
the present, owing to the cold, and that the army is to be brought
inside Paris, leaving outside only those necessary for the defence. This
is a wise measure, although somewhat tardily taken. The Parisians will
no doubt be very indignant; for if they do not like fighting themselves,
they insist that the Line and the Mobiles should have no repose.

M. Felix Pyat gives the following account of Christmas in
England:--"Christmas is the great English fête--the Protestant
Carnival--an Anglo-Saxon gala--a gross, pagan, monstrous orgie--a Roman
feast, in which the vomitorium is not wanting. And the eaters of 'bif'
laugh at us for eating frogs! Singular nation! the most Biblical and the
most material of Europe--the best Christians and the greatest gluttons.
They cannot celebrate a religious fête without eating. On Holy Friday
they eat buns, and for this reason they call it Good Friday. Good,
indeed, for them, if not for God. They pronounce messe mass, and boudin
pudding. Their pudding is made of suet, sugar, currants, and tea. The
mess is boiled for fifteen days, sometimes for six months; then it is
considered delicious. No pudding, no Christmas. The repast is sacred,
and the English meditate over it for six months in advance--they are the
only people who put money in a savings'-bank for a dinner. Poor families
economise for months, and take a shilling to a publican every Saturday
of the year, in return for which on Christmas Day they gorge themselves,
and are sick for a week after. This is their religion--thus they adore
their God." M. Pyat goes on to describe the butchers' shops before
Christmas; one of them, he says, is kept by a butcher clergyman, and
over his door is a text.

The _Gaulois_ gives an extract of a letter of mine from a German paper,
in which I venture to assert that the Parisians do not know that
Champigny is within the range of the guns of their forts, and
accompanies it with the following note:--"The journal which has fallen
into our hands has been torn, and consequently we are unable to give the
remainder of this letter. What we have given is sufficient to prove
that our Government is tolerating within our walls correspondents who
furnish the enemy with daily information. What they say is absurd,
perhaps, but it ought not to be allowed." Does the _Gaulois_ really
imagine that the German generals would have raised the siege in despair
had they not learnt that, as a rule, the Parisians do not study the map
of the environs of the city?

Old Vinoy has issued an order of the day denouncing the conduct of the
soldiers and officers who ran away when the Prussians issued from the
cellars at Villa Evrard. It requires a great deal of courage just now to
praise the Line, and to find fault with the National Guard. But General
Vinoy is a thorough soldier, and stands no nonsense. If anything happens
to Trochu, and he assumes the command-in-chief, I suspect the waverers
of the National Guard will have to choose between fighting and taking
off their uniforms. The General is above seventy--a hale and hearty old
man; sticks to his profession, and utterly ignores politics. He has a
most unsurrendering face, but I do not think that he would either hold
out vain hopes to the Parisians, or flatter their vanity. He would tell
them the truth, and with perfect indifference as to the consequences. He
is a favourite both with the soldiers and the officers, and hardly
conceals his contempt for the military capacity of Trochu, or the
military qualities of Trochu's civic heroes.

_December 28th._

The proverbial obstinacy of the donkey has been introduced into our
systems, owing to the number of these long-eared quadrupeds which we
have eaten. We "don't care" for anything. We don't care if the armies of
the provinces have been beaten, we don't care if we have been forced to
suspend offensive operations, we don't care if the Prussians bombard us,
we don't care if eventually we have to capitulate. We have ceased to
reason or to calculate. We are in the don't-care mood. How long this
will last with so impulsive a people it is impossible to say. Our
stomachs have become omnivorous; they digest anything now; and even if
in the end they be invited to digest the leek, as we shall not be called
upon to eat this vegetable either to-morrow or the next day, we don't
care. The cold is terrible, and the absence of firewood causes great
suffering. The Government is cutting down trees as fast as possible, and
by the time it thaws there will be an abundance of fuel. In the meantime
it denounces in the _Official Journal_ the bands of marauders who issue
forth and cut down trees, park benches, and garden palings. I must say
that I don't blame them. When the thermometer is as low as it is now,
and when there is no fire in the grate, the sanctity of property as
regards fuel becomes a mere abstraction. Yesterday the Prussians
unmasked several batteries, and opened fire against the plateau of Avron
and the eastern forts. They fired above 3000 shells, but little damage
was done. We had only thirty-eight killed and wounded. One shell fell
into a house where eight people were dining and killed six of them. The
firing is going on to-day, but not so heavily. The newspapers seem to be
under the impression that we ought to rejoice greatly over this
cannonade. Some say that it proves that the Prussians have given up in
despair the idea of reducing us by famine; others that it is a clear
evidence that Prince Frederick Charles has been beaten by General
Chanzy. On Monday, Admiral La Roncière received a letter from a general
whose name could not be deciphered about an exchange of prisoners. In
this letter there was an allusion to a defeat which our troops in the
North had sustained. But this we consider a mere wile of our insidious

The _Gaulois_ continues its crusade against the English Correspondents
in Paris. They are all, it says, animated by a hostile feeling towards
France. "We give them warning, and we hope that they will profit by it."
Now, we know pretty well what French journalists term a hostile feeling
towards their country. We were told at the commencement of the war that
the English press was sold to Prussia, because it declined to believe in
the Imperial bulletins of victories. That a correspondent should simply
tell the truth, without fear or favour, never enters into the mind of a
Gaul. For my part, I confess that my sympathies are with France; and I
am glad to hear, on so good authority, that these sympathies have not
biassed my recital of events. Notwithstanding the denunciations of the
_Gaulois_, I have not the remotest intention to describe the National
Guards as a force of any real value for offensive operations. If, as the
_Gaulois_ insists, they are more numerous and better armed than the
Prussians, and if the French artillery is superior to the Prussians,
they will be able to raise the siege; and then I will acknowledge that I
have been wrong in my estimate of them. As yet they have only blown
their own trumpets, as though this would cause the Prussian redoubts,
like the walls of Jericho, to fall down. I make no imputation on their
individual courage; but I say that this siege proves once more the truth
of the fact, that unless citizen soldiers consent to merge for a time
the citizen in the soldier, and to submit to discipline, as troops they
are worthless. The _Gaulois_ wishes to anticipate the historical romance
which will, perhaps, be handed down to future generations. Posterity
may, if it pleases, believe that the Parisians were Spartans, and that
they fought with desperate valour outside their walls. I, who happen to
see myself what goes on, know that all the fighting is done by the Line
and the Mobiles, and that the Parisians are not Spartans. They are
showing great tenacity, and suffering for the sake of the cause of their
country many hardships. That General Trochu should pander to their
vanity, by telling them that they are able to cope outside with the
Prussians, is his affair. I do not blame him. He best knows how to deal
with his fellow-countrymen. I am not, however, under the necessity of
following his example.

The usual stalls which appear at this season of the year have been
erected on the Boulevards. They are filled with toys and New Year's
gifts. But a woolly sheep is a bitter mockery, and a "complete farmyard"
in green and blue wood only reminds one painfully of what one would
prefer to see in the flesh. The customers are few and far between. I was
looking to-day at a fine church in chalk, with real windows, price 6fr.,
and was thinking that one must be a Mark Tapley to buy it, and walk home
with it under one's arm under present circumstances. Many of the
stallkeepers have in despair deserted the toy business, and gone in for
comforters, kepis, and list soles.

Until the weather set in so bitterly cold, elderly sportsmen, who did
not care to stalk the human game outside, were to be seen from morning
to night pursuing the exciting sport of gudgeon-fishing along the banks
of the Seine. Each one was always surrounded by a crowd deeply
interested in the chase. Whenever a fish was hooked, there was as much
excitement as when a whale is harpooned in more northern latitudes. The
fisherman would play it for some five minutes, and then, in the midst of
the solemn silence of the lookers-on, the precious capture would be
landed. Once safe on the bank, the happy possessor would be patted on
the back, and there would be cries of "Bravo!" The times being out of
joint for fishing in the Seine, the disciples of Isaac Walton have
fallen back on the sewers. The _Paris Journal_ gives them the following
directions how to pursue their new game:--"Take a long, strong line, and
a large hook, bait with tallow, and gently agitate the rod. In a few
minutes a rat will come and smell the savoury morsel. It will be some
time before he decides to swallow it, for his nature is cunning. When
he does, leave him five minutes to meditate over it; then pull strongly
and steadily. He will make convulsive jumps; but be calm, and do not let
his excitement gain on you, draw him up, _et voilà votre dîner_."

_December 29th._

So we have withdrawn from the plateau of Avron. Our artillery, says the
_Journal Officiel_, could not cope with the Krupp cannons, and,
therefore, it was thought wise to withdraw them. The fire which the
Prussians have rained for the last two days upon this position has not
been very destructive of human life. It is calculated that every man
killed has cost the Prussians 24,000lbs. of iron. We are still
speculating upon the reasons which induced the Prussians at last to
become the assailants. That they wished to drive us from this plateau,
which overlooks many of their positions, is far too simple an
explanation to meet with favour. The _Vérité_ of this morning contains
an announcement that a Christmas Session of the House of Commons has
turned out Mr. Gladstone by a hostile vote, and that he has been
succeeded by a "War Minister." We are inclined to think that the
Prussians, being aware of this, have been attempting to terrify us, in
order that we may surrender before Sir Disraeli and Milord Pakington
come to our rescue. The Parisians, intelligent and clever as they are,
are absolutely wanting in plain common sense. I am convinced that if 500
of them were boiled down, it would be impossible to extract from the
stew as much of this homely, but useful quality, as there is in the
skull of the dullest tallow-chandler's apprentice in London.

The vital question of food is now rarely alluded to in the journals. The
Government is, however, called to task for not showing greater energy,
and the feeling against the unfortunate Trochu is growing stronger. He
is held responsible for everything--the frost, the dearth of food, the
ill-success of our sorties, and the defeats of the armies of succour. I
am sorry for him, for he is a well-meaning man, although unfitted for
such troubled waters. But to a great extent he has himself to thank for
what is occurring. He has risked his all upon the success of his plan,
and he has encouraged the notion that he could force the Prussians to
raise the siege. In the meantime no one broaches the question as to what
is to be done when our provisions fail. The members of the Government
still keep up the theory that a capitulation is an impossible
contingency. The nearer the fatal moment approaches the less anyone
speaks of it, just as a man, when he is growing old, avoids the subject
of death. Frenchmen have far more physical than civic courage. They
prefer to shut their eyes to what is unpleasant than to grapple with it.
How long our stores of flour will last it is difficult to say, but if
our rulers wait to treat until they are exhausted, they will perforce be
obliged to accept any terms; and, for no satisfactory object, they will
be the cause that many will starve before the town can be revictualled.
They call this, here, sublime. I call it folly. Its sublimity is beyond
me. As is the case with a sick man given over by the physicians, the
quacks are ready with their nostrums. The Ultra journals recommend that
the Government should be handed over to a commune. The Ultra clubs
demand that all generals and colonels should be cashiered, and others
elected in their place. One club has subscribed 1,600frs. for Greek
fire; another club suggests blowing up the Hôtel de Ville; another
sending a deputation clothed in white to offer the King of Prussia the
presidency of the Universal Republic; another--and this comes home to
me--passed a vote yesterday evening demanding the immediate arrest of
all English correspondents.

I am looking forward with horrible misgivings to the moment when I shall
have no more money, so that perhaps I shall be thankful for being lodged
and fed at the public expense. My banker has withdrawn from Paris, and
his representative declines to look at my bill, although I offer ruinous
interest. As for friends, they are all in a like condition, for no one
expected the siege to last so long. At my hotel, need I observe that I
do not pay my bill, but in hotels the guests may ring in vain now for
food. I sleep on credit in a gorgeous bed, a pauper. The room is large.
I wish it were smaller, for the firewood comes from trees just cut down,
and it takes an hour to get the logs to light, and then they only
smoulder, and emit no heat. The thermometer in my grand room, with its
silken curtains, is usually at freezing point. Then my clothes--I am
seedy, very seedy. When I call upon a friend, the porter eyes me
distrustfully. In the streets the beggars never ask me for alms; on the
contrary, they eye me suspiciously when I approach them, as a possible
competitor. The other day I had some newspapers in my hand, an old
gentleman took one from me and paid me for it. I had read it, so I
pocketed the halfpence. My wardrobe is scanty, like the sage _omnia mea
mecum porto_. I had been absent from Paris before the siege, and I
returned with a small bag. It is difficult to find a tailor who will
work, and even if he did I could not send him my one suit to mend, for
what should I wear in the meantime? Decency forbids it. My pea jacket is
torn and threadbare, my trousers are frayed at the bottom, and of many
colours--like Joseph's coat. As for my linen, I will only say that the
washerwomen have struck work, as they have no fuel. I believe my shirt
was once white, but I am not sure. I invested a few weeks ago in a pair
of cheap boots. They are my torment. They have split in various places,
and I wear a pair of gaiters--purple, like those of a respectable
ecclesiastic, to cover the rents. I bought them on the Boulevard, and at
the same stall I bought a bright blue handkerchief which was going
cheap; this I wear round my neck. My upper man resembles that of a
dog-stealer, my lower man that of a bishop. My buttons are turning my
hair grey. When I had more than one change of raiment these appendages
remained in their places, now they drop off as though I were a moulting
fowl. I have to pin myself together elaborately, and whenever I want to
get anything out of my pocket I have cautiously to unpin myself, with
the dread of falling to pieces before my eyes. For my food, I allowance
myself, in order to eke out as long as possible my resources. I dine and
breakfast at a second-class restaurant. Cat, dog, rat, and horse are
very well as novelties, but taken habitually, they do not assimilate
with my inner man. Horse, doctors say, is heating; I only wish it would
heat me. I give this description of my existence, as it is that of many
others. Those who have means, and those who have none, unless these
means are in Paris, row in the same boat.

The society at my second-class restaurant is varied. Many are regular
customers, and we all know each other. There are officers who come there
whenever they get leave from outside--hardy, well-set fellows, who take
matters philosophically and professionally. They make the most of their
holiday, and enjoy themselves without much thought of the morrow. Then
there are tradesmen who wear kepis, as they belong to the National
Guard. They are not in such good spirits. Their fortunes are ebbing
away, and in their hearts I think they would, although their cry is
still "no surrender," be glad if all were over. They talk in low tones,
and pocket a lump of the sugar which they are given with their coffee.
Occasionally an ex-dandy comes in. I see him look anxiously around to
make sure that no other dandy sees him in so unfashionable a resort. The
dandy keeps to himself, and eyes us haughtily, for we are too common
folk for the like of him. Traviatas, too, are not wanting in the
second-class restaurant. Sitting by me yesterday was a girl who in times
gone by I had often seen driving in a splendid carriage in the Bois.
Her silks and satins, her jewellery and her carriage, had vanished.
There are no more Russian Princes, no more Boyards, no more Milords to
minister to her extravagances. She was eating her horse as though she
had been "poor but honest" all her life; and as I watched her washing
the noble steed down with a pint of vin ordinaire, I realized the
alteration which this siege was effecting in the condition of all
classes. But the strangest _habitués_ of the restaurant are certain
stalwart, middle-aged men, who seem to consider that their function in
life is to grieve over their country, and to do nothing else for it.
They walk in as though they were the soldiers of Leonidas on the high
road to Thermopylæ--they sit down as though their stools were curule
chairs--they scowl at anyone who ventures to smile, as though he were
guilty of a crime--and they talk to each other in accents of gloomy
resolve. When anyone ventures to hint at a capitulation, they bound in
their seats, and cry, _On verra_. Sorrow does not seem to have disturbed
their appetites, and, as far as I can discover, they have managed to
escape all military duty. No human being can be so unhappy, however, as
they look. They remind me of the heir at the funeral of a rich relative.
Speaking of funerals reminds me that the newspapers propose that the
undertakers, like the butchers, should be tariffed. They are making too
good a thing out of the siege. They have raised their prices so
exorbitantly that the poor complain that it is becoming impossible for
them even to die.

A letter found, or supposed to be found, in the pocket of a dead German
from his Gretchen is published to-day. "If you should happen to pillage
a jeweller's shop," says this practical young lady, "don't forget me,
but get me a pretty pair of earrings." The family of this warrior
appears to be inclined to look after the main chance; for the letter
goes on to say that his mother had knitted him a jacket, but having
done so, has worn it herself ever since instead of sending it to him.
Gretchen will never get her earrings, and the mother may wear her jacket
now without feeling that she is depriving her son of it, for the poor
fellow lies under three feet of soil near Le Bourget.

_December 30th._

I hear that a story respecting a council which was held a few days ago,
at which Trochu was requested to resign, is perfectly true. Picard and
Jules Favre said that if he did resign they should do so also, and the
discussion was closed by the General himself saying, "I feel myself
equal to the situation, and I shall remain." Yesterday evening there
were groups everywhere, discussing the withdrawal of the troops from
Avron. It was so bitterly cold, however, that they soon broke up. This
morning the newspapers, one and all, abuse Trochu. Somehow or other,
they say, he always fails in everything he undertakes. I hear from
military men that the feeling in the army is very strong against him.
While the bombardment was going on at Avron he exposed himself freely to
the fire, but instead of superintending the operations he attitudinized
and made speeches. General Ducrot, who was there, and between whom and
Trochu a certain coldness has sprung up, declared that he had always
been opposed to any attempt to retain this position. The behaviour of
Vinoy was that of a soldier. He was everywhere encouraging his men. What
I cannot understand is why, if Avron was to be held, it was not
fortified. It must have been known that the Prussians could, if they
pleased, bring a heavy concentric fire from large siege guns to bear
upon it. Casemates and strong earthworks might have been made--but
nothing was done. I was up there the other day, and I then asked an
engineer officer why due precautions were not being taken; but he only
shrugged his shoulders in reply. General Vinoy, who was in the Crimea,
says that all that the French, English, and Russians did there was
child's play in comparison with the Prussian artillery. From the size of
the unburst shells which have been picked up, their cannon must be
enormous. The question now is, whether the forts will be able to hold
out against them. The following account of what has taken place from the
_Vérité_ is by far the best which has been published:--

"Notwithstanding that the fire of the enemy slackened on the 26th, the
Prussians were not losing their time. Thanks to the hardness of the
soil, and to the fog, they had got their guns into position in all their
batteries from Villenomble to Montfermeil. The injury done to the park
of Drancy by the precision of the aim of our artillery at Fort Nogent
was repaired; cannon were brought to the trenches which the day before
we had occupied at Ville Evrart; and, as well as it was possible, twelve
new batteries, armed with cannon of long range, were unmasked. All
through the 28th the fire continued; shells fell thickly on our
batteries, and in the village of Rosny. The roof of the station was
knocked in, and several Mobiles were killed in the main street. The
evacuation of the church, which had been converted into an ambulance,
was thought advisable. All this, however, was nothing in comparison with
the fire which was poured in during the night. The plateau of Avron was
literally inundated with shells, many of them of far larger size than
had previously been fired. The range of the guns was too great, and it
was evident that the Prussians had rectified their aim. Their
projectiles no longer fell wide in the field; they almost all burst
close to the trenches. Two guns in battery No. 2 were struck; the same
thing soon occurred in battery No. 3. Every moment the wheels of some
ammunition waggon were struck, or one of the horses killed. Several men
were wounded in the trenches, which were so shallow as to afford little
protection. Two shells bursting at the same moment killed a naval
officer and three men at one of the guns. All who were so imprudent as
to venture to attempt to cross the plateau were struck down. It was a
sad and terrible spectacle to see these sailors coolly endeavouring to
point their guns, undisturbed by the rain of fire; while their officers,
who were encouraging them, were falling every moment, covering those
round them with their blood. The infantry and the Mobiles were, too,
without shelter; for the Krupp guns swept the portion of the plateau on
which they were drawn up within supporting distance. Most of them made
the best of it, and laughed when they heard the shells whistling above
their heads and bursting near them. Many, however, were so terrified,
that they fell back, and spread abroad in their rear disquieting
reports, which the terrified air of the narrators rendered still more
alarming. The National Guard were drawn up on the heights in advance of
the village of Rosny; a few shells reached their ranks. An officer and a
soldier of the 114th were slightly wounded; but they remained firm.
Every hour the Prussian cannonade became heavier. On our side our fire
slackened; then ceased entirely. An _estafette_ came with an order to
evacuate the plateau, and to save the artillery. No time was lost.
Fortunately, at this moment the enemy's fire also slackened; and the
preparations for a retreat were hurriedly made. The guns were taken from
their carriages, the baggage was laden on the carts, and the munition on
the waggons. The soldiers strapped on their knapsacks, struck their
tents, and harnessed the horses. All this was not accomplished without
difficulty, for it had to be done noiselessly and in the dark, for all
the fires had been put out. General Trochu, seated on a horse, issued
his directions, and every moment received information of what was taking
place. Notwithstanding the expostulations of his staff, the General
refused to withdraw from this exposed point. 'No, gentlemen,' he said,
'I shall not withdraw from here until the cannon are in safety.' At two
in the morning all was ready; the long train began to move; the cannon
of 7 and the mitrailleuses of Commandant Pothier took the lead. Then
followed the heavy naval guns, then the munition and baggage waggons;
the troops of the Line, the Marines, and the National Guard were ordered
to cover the retreat. It was no easy matter to descend from the plateau
to Rosny. The frost had made the road a literal ice-hill. The drivers
walked by the side of their animals, holding the reins and pulling them
up when they stumbled. Until four o'clock, however, everything went
well. The march slowly continued, and the Prussian batteries were
comparatively calm. Their shells fell still occasionally where our guns
had been. The noise of the wheels, however, and the absence of all
cannonade on our parts, at length awakened the suspicions of the enemy.
Their fire was now directed on the fort of Rosny, and the road from the
plateau leading to it. At this moment the line of guns and waggons was
passing through the village, and only carts with baggage were still on
the plateau. At first the shells fell wide; then they killed some
horses; some of the drivers were hit; a certain confusion took place.
That portion of our line of march which was in Rosny was in imminent
danger. Fortunately, our chiefs did not lose their heads. The guns whose
horses were untouched passed those which were obliged to stop. Some of
them took to the fields; the men pushed the wheels, and, thanks to their
efforts, our artillery was saved. As soon as the guns had been dragged
up the hill opposite the plateau, the horses started off at a gallop,
and did not stop until they were out of the range of the enemy's fire.
The guns were soon in safety at Vincennes and Montreuil. The troops held
good, the men lying down on their stomachs, the officers standing up and
smoking their cigars until the last waggon had passed. Day had broken
when they received orders to withdraw. The National Guard went back
into Paris, and the Line, after a short halt at Montreuil, camped in the
barracks of St. Maur. At eight o'clock, the evacuation of the plateau
was complete; but the Prussian shells still fell upon the deserted
houses and some of the gun-carriages which had been abandoned. The enemy
then turned their attention to the forts of Rosny and Noisy. It hailed
shot on these two forts, and had they not been solidly built they would
not have withstood it. The noise of this cannonade was so loud that it
could be heard in the centre of Paris. Around the Fort of Noisy the
projectiles sank into the frozen ground to a depth of two and a half
metres, and raised blocks of earth weighing 30lbs. Shells fell as far as
Romainville. In the Rue de Pantin a drummer had his head carried off;
his comrades buried him on the spot. In the court of Fort Noisy three
men, hearing the hissing of a shell, threw themselves on the ground. It
was a bad inspiration; the shell fell on the one in the middle, and
killed all three. These were the only casualties in the fort, and at ten
o'clock the enemy's batteries ceased firing on it. All their efforts
were then directed against the Fort of Rosny. The shells swept the open
court, broke in the roof of the barracks, and tore down the peach-trees
whose fruit is so dear to the Parisians. From eleven o'clock, it was
impossible to pass along the road to Montreuil in safety. In that
village, the few persons who are still left sought shelter in their
cellars. At three o'clock the sun came out, and I passed along the
strategical road to Noisy. I met several regiments--Zouaves, Infantry,
and Marines--coming from Noisy and Bondy. I could distinctly see the
enemy's batteries. Their centre is in Rancy, and the guns seem to be in
the houses. The destruction in Bondy commenced by the French artillery
has been completed by the Prussians. From three batteries in the park of
Rancy they have destroyed the wall of the cemetery, behind which one
battery was posted and an earthwork. What remained of the church has
been literally reduced to dust. Except sentinels hid in the interior of
the houses, all our troops had been withdrawn. Some few persons, out of
curiosity, had adjourned to the Grande Place; their curiosity nearly
cost them dear, and they had to creep away. At three o'clock the enemy's
fire had redoubled; some of our Mobiles, in relieving guard, were
killed; and from that hour no one ventured into the streets. 9 P.M. The
moon has risen, and shines brightly--the ground is covered with snow,
and it is almost like daylight. The Prussian positions can distinctly be
seen. The cannon cannot be distinguished, but all along the line between
Villenomble and Gagny tongues of fire appear, followed by long columns
of smoke. The fire on Rosny is increasing in violence; the village of
Noisy is being bombarded."


PARIS, _January 1st, 1871._

Our forts still, like breakwaters before a coast, keep back the storm
which the Prussians are directing against us. I went out yesterday by
the Vincennes gate to see how matters were looking. In the Bois de
Vincennes there were troops of every description, and a large number of
guns. The usual scenes of camp life were going on, although, owing to
the cold, everyone seemed gloomy and depressed. I confess that if I were
called upon to camp out in this weather under a _tente d'abri_, and only
given some very smoky green wood to keep me warm, I should not be quite
so valorous as I should wish to be. Passing through the Bois, which is
rapidly becoming a treeless waste, I went forward in the direction of
Fontenay. As the Prussian bombs, however, were falling thickly into the
village, I executed a strategical movement to the left, and fell back by
a cross road into Montreuil. In this village several regiments were
installed. It is just behind Fort Rosny, and on the upper portion,
towards the fort, the Prussian shells fell. It is very singular what
little real danger there is to life and limb from a bombardment. Shells
make a hissing noise as they come through the air. Directly this warning
hiss is heard, down everyone throws himself on the ground. The shell
passes over and falls somewhere near, it sinks about two feet into the
hard ground, and then bursts, throwing up great clouds of earth, like a
small mine. The Prussians are unmasking fresh batteries every day, and
approaching nearer and nearer to the forts. Their fire now extends from
behind Le Bourget to the Marne, and at some points reaches to within a
mile of the ramparts. Bondy is little more than a heap of ruins. As for
the forts, we are told that, with the exception of their barracks having
been made untenable, no harm has been done. Standing behind and looking
at the shells falling into them, they certainly do not give one the idea
of places in which anyone would wish to be, unless he were obliged; and
they seemed yesterday to be replying but feebly to the fire of the
enemy. I suppose that the Prussians know their own business, and that
they really intend wholly to destroy Fort Rosny. Before you get this
letter the duel between earth and iron will be decided, so it is useless
my speculating on the result. If Rosny or Nogent fall, there will be
nothing to protect Belleville from a bombardment. Many military sages
imagine that this bombardment is only a prelude to an attack upon Mont
Valérien. About 3,500 metres from that fort there is a very awkward
plateau called La Bergerie. It is somewhat higher than the hill on which
Valérien stands. The Prussians are known to have guns on it in position,
and as Valérien is of granite, if bombarded, the value of granite as a
material for fortifications will be tested.

Since the Prussians have opened fire, there have been numerous councils
of war, and still more numerous proclamations. General Trochu has issued
an appeal to the city to be calm, and not to believe that differences of
opinion exist among the members of the Government. General Clément
Thomas has issued an address to the National Guards, telling them that
the country is going to demand great sacrifices of them. In fact, after
the manner of the Gauls, everybody is addressing everybody. _Toujours
des proclamations et rien que cela_, say the people, who are at last
getting tired of this nonsense. Yesterday there was a great council of
all the generals and commanders. General Trochu, it is said, was in
favour of an attempt to pierce the Prussian lines; the majority being in
favour of a number of small sorties. What will happen no one seems to
know, and I doubt even if our rulers have themselves any very definite
notion. The Ultra journals clamour for a sortie _en masse_, which of
course would result in a stampede _en masse_. One and all the newspapers
either abuse Trochu, or damn him with faint praise. It is so very much a
matter of chance whether a man goes down to posterity as a sage or a
fool, that it is by no means easy to form an opinion as to what will be
the verdict of history on Trochu. If he simply wished to keep the
Prussians out of Paris, and to keep order inside until the provisions
were exhausted, he has succeeded. If he wished to force them to raise
the siege he has failed. His military critics complain that, admitting
he could not do the latter, he ought, by frequent sorties, to have
endeavoured to prevent them sending troops to their covering armies. One
thing is certain, that all his sorties have failed not only in the
result, but in the conception. As a consequence of this, the French
soldiers, who more than any other troops in the world require, in order
to fight well, to have faith in their leader, have lost all confidence
in him.

We have had no pigeon for the last eighteen days, and the anxiety to
obtain news from without is very strong. A few days ago a messenger was
reported to have got through the Prussian lines with news of a French
victory. The next day a Saxon officer was said, with his last breath, to
have confided to his doctor that Frederick Charles had been defeated.
Yesterday Jules Favre told the mayor that there was a report that
Chanzy had gained a victory. Everything now depends upon what Chanzy is
doing, and, for all we know, he may have ceased to exist for the last

A census which has just been made of the population within the lines,
makes the number, exclusive of the Line, Mobiles, and sailors,
2,000,500. No attempt has yet been made to ration the bread, but it is
to be mixed with oats and rice. The mayor of this quarter says that in
this arrondissement--the richest in Paris--he is certain that there is
food for two months. Should very good news come from the provinces, and
it appear that by holding out for two months more the necessity for a
capitulation would be avoided, I think that we should hold on until the
end of February, if we have to eat the soles of our boots. If bad news
comes, we shall not take to this food; but we shall give in when
everything except bread fails, and we shall then consider that our
honour is saved if nothing else is. M. Louis Blanc to-day publishes a
letter to Victor Hugo, in which he tells the Parisians that if they do
capitulate they will gain nothing by it, for the Prussians will neither
allow them to quit Paris, nor, if the war continues, allow food to enter

As yet there are no signs of a real outbreak; and if a successful one
does occur, it will be owing to the weakness of the Government, which
has ample means to repress it. The Parisian press is always adjuring the
working men not to cut either each others' or their neighbours' throats,
and congratulating them on their noble conduct in not having done so.
This sort of praise seems to me little better than an insult. I see no
reason why the working men should be considered to be less patriotic
than others. That they are not satisfied with Trochu, and that they
entertain different political and social opinions to those of the
bourgeoisie, is very possible. Opinions, however, are free, and they
have shown as yet that they are willing to subordinate the expression
of theirs to the exigencies of the national defence. I go a good deal
among them, and while many of them wish for a general system of
rationing, because they think that it will make the provisions last
longer, they have no desire to pillage or to provoke a conflict with the
Government. I regard them myself, in every quality which makes a good
citizen, as infinitely superior to the journalists who lecture them, and
who would do far better to shoulder a musket and to fall into the ranks,
than to waste paper in reviling the Prussians and bragging of their own
heroism. As soldiers, the fault of the working men is that they will not
submit to discipline; but this is more the fault of the Government than
of them. As citizens, no one can complain of them. To talk with one of
them after reading the leading article of a newspaper is a relief. A
French journalist robes himself in his toga, gets upon a pedestal, and
talks unmeaning, unpractical claptrap. A French workman is, perhaps, too
much inclined to regard every one except himself, and some particular
idol which he has set up, as a fool; but he is by no means wanting in
the power to take a plain practical view, both of his own interests, and
those of his country. Since the commencement of the siege, forty-nine
new journals have appeared. Many of them have already ceased to exist,
but counting old and new newspapers, there must at least be sixty
published every day. How they manage to find paper is to me a mystery.
Some of them are printed upon sheets intended for books, others upon
sheets which are so thick that I imagine they were designed to wrap up
sugar and other groceries. Those which were the strongest in favour of
the Empire, are now the strongest in favour of the Republic. Editors and
writers whose dream it was a few months ago to obtain an invitation at
the Tuileries or to the Palais Royal, or to merit by the basest of
flatteries the Legion of Honour, now have become perfect Catos, and
denounce courts and courtiers, Bonapartists and Orleanists. War they
regard as the most wicked of crimes, and they appear entirely to have
forgotten that they welcomed with shouts of ecstacy in July last the
commencement of the triumphal march to Berlin.

_January 2nd._

Yesterday evening, notwithstanding the cold, there were groups on the
Boulevards shouting "_à bas Trochu_." It is understood that henceforward
no military operation is to take place before it has been discussed by a
Council of War, consisting of generals and admirals. As the moment
approaches when we shall, unless relieved, be obliged to capitulate,
everyone is attempting to shift from himself all responsibility. This is
the consequence of the scapegoat system which has so long prevailed in
France. Addresses are published from the commanders outside
congratulating the National Guard who have been under their orders. The
_Vérité_, in alluding to them, asks the following questions:--"Why are
battalions which are accused by General Thomas, their direct superior,
of chronic drunkenness, thus placed upon a pinnacle by real military
men? Why do distinguished generals, unless forced by circumstances,
declare the mere act of passing four or five cold nights in the trenches
heroic? Why is so great a publicity given to such contradictory orders
of the day?"

The _Journal Officiel_ contains a long address to the Parisians. Beyond
the statement that no news had been received since the 14th ult., this
document contains nothing but empty words. Between the lines one may,
perhaps, read a desire to bring before the population the terrible
realities of the situation.

The deaths for the last week amount to 3,280, an increase on the
previous week of 552. I am told that these bills of mortality do not
include those who die in the public hospitals. Small-pox is on the
increase--454 as against 388 the previous week.

Nothing new outside. The bombardment of the eastern forts still
continues. It is, however, becoming more intermittent. Every now and
then it almost ceases, then it breaks out with fresh fury. The Prussians
are supposed to be at work at Chatillon. If they have heavy guns there,
it will go hard with the Fort of Vanves. The rations are becoming in
some of the arrondissements smaller by degrees and beautifully less. In
the 18th (Montmartre) the inhabitants only receive two sous worth of
horse-flesh per diem. The rations are different in each arrondissement,
as the Mayor of each tries to get hold of all he can, and some are more
successful than others. These differences cause great dissatisfaction.
The feeling to-day seems to be that if Trochu wishes to avoid riots, he
must make a sortie very shortly.

The _Gaulois_ says:--

"How sad has been our New Year's-day! Among ourselves we may own it,
although we have bravely supported it, like men of sense, determined to
hold good against bad fortune, and to laugh in the face of misery. It is
hard not to have had the baby brought to our bedside in the morning; not
to have seen him clap his hands with pleasure on receiving some toy; not
to have pressed the hands of those we love best, and not to have
embraced them and been able to say--'The year which has passed has had
its joys and its sorrows, sun and shadow--but what matters it? We have
shared them together. The year which is commencing cannot bring with it
any sorrows that by remaining united we shall not be able to support?'
Most of us breakfasted this morning--the New Year's breakfast, usually
so gay--alone and solitary; a few smoky logs our only companions. There
are sorrows which no philosophy can console. On other days one may
forget them, but on New Year's-day our isolation comes home to us, and,
do what we may, we are sad and silent. Where are they now? What are they
doing now? is the thought which rises in every breast. The father's
thoughts are with his children; he dimly sees before him their rosy
faces, and their mother who is dressing them. How weary, too, must the
long days be for her, separated from her husband. Last year she had
taught the baby to repeat a fable, and she brought him all trembling to
recite it to the father. She, too, trembles like a child. She follows
him with her looks, she whispers to him a word when he hesitates, but so
low that he reads it on her lips, and the father hears nothing. Poor
man! Sorry indeed he would have been to have had it supposed that he had
perceived the mother's trick. He was himself trembling, too, lest the
child should not know his lesson. What a disappointment it would have
been to the mother! For a fortnight before she had taken baby every
night on her knees and said, 'Now begin your fable.' She had taught it
him verse by verse with the patience of an angel, and she had encouraged
him to learn it with many a sugarplum. 'He is beginning to know his
fable,' she said a hundred times to her husband. 'Really,' he answered,
with an air of doubt. The honest fellow was as interested in it as his
wife, and he only appeared to doubt it in order to make her triumph
greater. He knew that baby would know the fable on New Year's morn. You
Prussian beggars, you Prussian scoundrels, you bandits, and you Vandals,
you have taken everything from us; you have ruined us; you are starving
us; you are bombarding us; and we have a right to hate you with a royal
hatred. Well, perhaps one day we might have forgiven you your rapine and
your murders; our towns that you have sacked; your heavy yokes; your
infamous treasons. The French race is so light of heart, so kindly, that
we might perhaps in time have forgotten our resentments. What we never
shall forget will be this New Year's Day, which we have been forced to
pass without news from our families. You at least have had letters from
your Gretchens, astounding letters, very likely, in which the melancholy
blends with blue eyes, make a wonderful literary salad, composed of
sour-krout, Berlin wool, forget-me-nots, pillage, bombardment, pure
love, and transcendental philosophy. But you like all this just as you
like jam with your mutton. You have what pleases you. Your ugly faces
receive kisses by the post. But you kill our pigeons, you intercept our
letters, you shoot at our balloons with your absurd _fusils de rempart_,
and you burst out into a heavy German grin when you get hold of one of
our bags, which are carrying to those we love our vows, our hopes, our
remembrance, our regrets, and our hearts. It is a merry farce, is it
not? Ah, if ever we can render you half the sufferings which we are
enduring, you will see _des grises_. Perhaps you don't know what the
word means, and, like one of Gavarni's children, you will say, 'What!
_des grises?_' You will, I trust, one of these days learn what is the
signification of the term at your own cost. One of your absurd
pretensions is to be the only people in the world who understand how to
love, or who care for domestic ties. You will see, by the hatred which
we shall ever bear to you, that we too know how to love--our time will
come some day, be assured. This January 1 of the year 1871 inaugurates a
terrible era of bloody revenge. Poor philosophers of universal peace,
you see now the value of your grand phrases and of your humanitarian
dreams! Vainly you imagined that the world was entering into a period of
everlasting peace and progress. A wonderful progress, indeed, has 1870
brought us! You never calculated on the existence of these Huns. We are
back again now in the midst of all the miseries of the 13th and 14th
centuries. The memory of to-day will be written on the hearts of our
children. 'It was the year,' they will say, 'when we received no
presents, when we did not kiss our father, because of the Prussians.
They shall pay for it!' Let us hope that the payment will commence this
very day. But if we are still to be vanquished, we will leave to our
children the memory of our wrongs, and the care to avenge them."

The following article is from the _Vérité_:--

"What troubles would not have been spared to our unhappy country if only
it had been told the truth. If only anyone had been courageous enough to
tell us what were our resources when Grammont made his famous
declaration from the tribune, the war would not have taken place. On the
4th of September, many members of the new Government were under no
delusions, but as it was necessary to say that we were strong, in order
to be popular, they did not hesitate to proclaim that the Republic would
save France. To-day the situation has not changed. On the faith of the
assertions of their rulers, the population of Paris imagines that
ultimate victory is certain, and that our provisions can never be
exhausted. They have no idea that if we are not succoured we must
eventually succumb. What a surprise--and perhaps what a catastrophe--it
will be when they learn that there is no more bread, and no chance of
victory. The people will complain that they have been deceived, and they
will be right. They will shout 'treason,' and seek for vengeance. Will
they be entirely in the wrong? If the Government defends itself, what
future awaits us! If it does not defend itself, through what scenes
shall we pass before falling into the hands of the Prussians! The
Republic, like the Empire, has made mendacity the great system of
government. The Press has chosen to follow the same course. Great
efforts are being made to destroy the reciprocal sentiments of union and
confidence, to which we owe it that Paris still resists, after 100 days
of siege. The enemy, despairing to deliver over Paris to Germany, as it
had solemnly promised, on Christmas, adds now the bombardment of our
advanced posts and our forts to the other means of intimidation by which
it has endeavoured to enervate the defence. Use is being made, before
public opinion, of the deceptions which an extraordinary winter and
infinite sufferings and fatigues are causing us. It is said, indeed,
that the members of the Government are divided in their views respecting
the great interests the direction of which has been confided to them.
The army has suffered great trials, and it required a short repose,
which the enemy endeavours to dispute by a bombardment more violent than
any troops were ever exposed to. The army is preparing for action with
the aid of the National Guards, and all together we shall do our duty. I
declare that there are no differences in the councils of the Government,
and that we are all closely united in the presence of the agonies and
the perils of the country, and in the thought and the hope of its

_La Patrie_, of Jan. 2, says:--

"Perhaps Bourbaki has gone to meet General von Werder. If he is
victorious, the road to Paris by the valley of the Seine will be open to
him, or the road to Southern Germany by Besançon and Belfort, and the
bridge of Bâle, the neutrality of which we are not obliged to respect
any more than that of Belgium, since Europe has allowed Bismarck to
violate that of Luxemburg. Ah! if Bourbaki were a Tortensen, a Wrangel,
or a Turenne--perhaps he is--what a grand campaign we might have in a
few weeks on the Danube, the Lech, and the Saar."

The _Liberté_, of Jan. 2, says:--

"A great manifestation is being organised against the Government. The
object is to substitute in its place the college of Mayors of Paris and
their adjuncts. The manifestation, if it occurs, will not get further
than the Boulevards. General Trochu is in no fear from Mayor Mothe, but
he must understand that the moment for action has arrived. His
proclamation has only imperfectly replied to the apprehensions of Paris.
A capitulation, the very idea of which the Government recoils from, and
which would only become possible when cold, hunger, and a bombardment
have made further resistance impossible, besieges the minds of all, and
presses all the hearts which beat for a resistance _à outrance_ in a
vice of steel. Trochu should reply to these agonies no longer by
proclamations, but by acts."

_January 4th._

It is said, I know not with what truth, that there always are, on an
average, 5000 families who are in destitute circumstances, because their
chiefs never would play out their trumps at whist until it became too
late to use them effectively. If Trochu really was under the impression
that he had trumps in his hand good enough to enable him to win the game
he is playing against the Prussians, he has kept them back so long that
they are worthless. If he could not break through the Prussian lines a
month ago, _à fortiori_, he will not be able to do so now. They are
stronger, and he is weaker; for the inaction of the last few weeks, and
the surrender of Avron, would have been enough to damp the ardour of far
more veteran troops than those which he has under his command. The
outcry against this excellent but vain man grows stronger every day, and
sorry, indeed, must he be that he "rushed in where others feared to
tread." "Action, speedy action," shout the newspapers, much as the
Americans did before Bull's Run, or as M. Felix Pyat always calls it,
Run Bull. The generals well know that if they yield to the cry, there
will most assuredly be a French edition of that battle. In fact, the
situation may be summed up in a very few words. The generals have no
faith in their troops, and the troops have no faith in their generals.
Go outside the walls and talk to the officers and the soldiers who are
doing the real fighting, and who pass the day dodging shells, and the
night freezing in their tents. They tell you that they are prepared to
do their duty, but that they are doubtful of ultimate success. Come
inside, and talk to some hero who has never yet got beyond the ramparts,
Cato at Utica is a joke to him, Palafox at Saragossa a whining coward.
Since the forts have been bombarded, he has persuaded himself that he is
eating, drinking, and sleeping under the fire of the enemy. "Human
nature is a rum 'un," said Mr. Richard Swiveller; and most assuredly
this is true of French nature. That real civil courage and spirit of
self-sacrifice which the Parisians have shown, in submitting to hardship
and ruin rather than consent to the dismemberment of their country, they
regard as no title to respect. Nothing which does not strike the
imagination has any value in their eyes. A uniform does not make a
soldier; and although they have all arrayed themselves in uniform, they
are far worse soldiers than the peasantry who have been enrolled in the
Mobiles. To tell them this, however, would make them highly indignant.
Military glory is their passion, and it is an unfortunate one. To admire
the pomp and pride of glorious war no more makes a warrior than to
admire poetry makes a poet. The Parisian is not a coward; but his
individuality is so strongly developed that he objects to that
individuality being destroyed by some stray shot. To die with thousands
looking on is one thing; to die obscurely is another. French courage is
not the same as that of the many branches of the great Saxon family. A
Saxon has a dogged stubbornness which gives him an every-day and
every-hour courage. That of the Frenchman is more dependent upon
external circumstances. He must have confidence in his leader, he must
have been encouraged by success, and he must be treated with severity
tempered with judicious flattery. Give him a sword, and let him prance
about on a horse like a circus rider, and, provided there are a
sufficient number of spectators, he will do wonders, but he will not
consent to perish obscurely for the sake of anything or anyone. Trochu
has utterly failed in exciting enthusiasm in those under his command; he
issues many proclamations, but they fail to strike the right chord.
Instead of keeping up discipline by judicious severity, he endeavours to
do so by lecturing like a schoolmaster. And then, since the commencement
of the siege he has been unsuccessful in all his offensive movements. I
am not a military man, but although I can understand the reasons against
a sortie _en masse_, it does appear to me strange that the Prussians are
not more frequently disquieted by attacks which at least would oblige
them to make many a weary march round the outer circle, and would
prevent them from detaching troops for service elsewhere.

Not an hour passes without some new rumour respecting the armies of the
Provinces being put in circulation. A letter in which General Chanzy is
said to be playing with Frederick Charles as a cat plays with a mouse,
and which is attributed to Mr. Odo Russell, English Under-Secretary of
State, and Correspondent of the _Times_, has been read by some one, and
this morning all the newspapers are jubilant over it. A copy of the
_Moniteur de Versailles_ of the 1st has found its way in; there is
nothing in it about Frederick Charles, but this we consider evidence
that he has sustained a defeat. Then somebody has found a bottle in the
Seine with a letter in it; this letter alludes to a great French
victory. Mr. Washburne has the English papers up to the 22nd, but he
keeps grim guard over them, and allows no one to have a glimpse of them;
since our worthy friend Otto von Bismarck sent in to him an extract from
a letter of mine, in which I alluded to the contents of some of them
which had reached us. He passes his existence, however, staving off
insidious questions. His very looks are commented on. "We saw him
to-day," says an evening paper I have just bought; "he smiled! Good
sign! Our victory must have been overwhelming if John Bull is obliged to
confess it." Another newspaper asks him whether, considering the
circumstances, he does not consider it a duty to violate his promise to
Count Bismarck, and to hand over his newspapers to the Government. In
this way, thinks this tempter, the debt which America owes to France for
aiding her during her revolution will be repaid. "We gave you Lafayette
and Rochambeau, in return we only ask for one copy of an English paper."
The anxiety for news is weighing heavier on the population than the
absence of provisions or the cold. Every day, and all day, there are
crowds standing upon the elevated points in the city, peering through
glasses, in the wild hope of witnessing the advent of Chanzy, who is
apparently expected to prick in with Faidherbe by his side, each upon a
gorgeously caparisoned steed, like the heroes in the romances of the
late Mr. G.P.R. James. Many pretend to distinguish, above the noise of
the cannon of our forts and the Prussian batteries, the echoes of
distant artillery, and rush off to announce to their friends that the
army of succour has fallen on the besiegers from the rear. In the
meantime the bombardment of the forts and villages to the east of the
city is continuing, and with that passion for system in everything which
distinguishes the Germans, it is being methodized. A fixed number of
shells are fired off every minute, and at certain hours in the day there
are long pauses. What is happening in the forts is, of course, kept very
secret. The official bulletins say that no damage in them has yet been
done. As for the villages round them, they are, I presume, shelled
merely in order to make them untenable.

The Government appears now as anxious to find others to share
responsibility with it as heretofore it has been averse to any division
of power. The Mayors of the city are to meet with their deputies once a
week at the Hôtel de Ville to express their opinions respecting
municipal matters, and once a week at the Ministry of the Interior to
discuss the political situation. As there are twenty mayors and forty
adjuncts, they, when together, are almost numerous enough to form a
species of Parliament. The all important food question remains _in statu
quo_. It is, however, beginning to be hinted in semi-official organs,
that perhaps the bread will have to be rationed; I may be wrong, but I
am inclined to think that the population will not submit to this.
Government makes no statement with respect to the amount of corn in
store. Some say that there is not enough for two weeks, others that
there is enough for two months' consumption; M. Dorien assured a friend
of mine yesterday that, to the best of his belief, there is enough to
carry us into March. Landlords and tenants are as much at loggerheads
here as they are in Ireland; the Government has issued three decrees to
regulate the question. By the first is suspended all judicial
proceedings on the part of landlords for their rent; by the second, it
granted a delay of three months to all persons unable to pay the October
term; by the third, it required all those who wished to profit by the
second to make a declaration of inability to pay before a magistrate.
To-day a fourth decree has been issued, again suspending the October
term, and making the three previous decrees applicable to the January
term, but giving to landlords a right to dispute the truth of the
allegation of poverty on the part of their tenants; the question is a
very serious one, for on the payment of rent depends directly or
indirectly the means of livelihood of half the nation. Thus the
landlords say that if the tenants do not pay them they cannot pay the
interest of the mortgages on their properties. If this interest be not
paid, however, the shareholders of the Crédit Foncier and other great
mortgage banks get nothing. Paris, under the fostering care of the
Emperor, had become, next to St. Petersburgh, the dearest capital in
Europe. Its property was artificial, and was dependent upon a long chain
of connecting links remaining unbroken. In the industrial quarters money
was made by the manufacture of _Articles de Paris_, and for these, as
soon as the communications are reopened, there will be the same market
as heretofore. As a city of pleasure, however, its prosperity must
depend, like a huge watering-place, upon its being able to attract
strangers. If they do not return, a reduction in prices will take place,
which will ruin most of the shopkeepers, proprietors of houses, and
hotel keepers; but this, although unpleasant to individuals, would be to
the advantage of the world at large. Extravagance in Paris makes
extravagance the fashion everywhere; under the Empire, to spend money
was the readiest road to social distinction. The old _bourgeoisie_ still
retained the careful habits of the days of Louis Philippe, and made
fortunes by cheeseparing. Imperial Paris was far above this. Families
were obliged to spend 20 per cent, of their incomes in order to lodge
themselves; shops in favoured quarters were let for fabulous prices, and
charged fabulous prices for their wares. _Cocodettes_ of the Court,
_cocottes_ of the Bois, wives of speculators, shoddy squaws from New
York, Calmues recently imported from their native steppes, doubtful
Italian Princesses, gushing Polish Countesses, and foolish Englishwomen,
merrily raced along the road to ruin. Good taste was lost in tinsel and
glitter; what a thing cost was the only standard of its beauty. Great
gingerbread palaces were everywhere run up, and let even before they
were out of the builder's hands. It was deemed fashionable to drive
about in a carriage with four horses, with perhaps a black man to drive,
and an Arab sitting on the box by his side. Dresses by milliners in
vogue gave a ready currency to their wearers. The Raphael of his trade
gave himself all the airs of a distinguished artist; he received his
clients with vulgar condescension, and they--no matter what their
rank--submitted to his insolence in the hope that he would enable them
to outshine their rivals. Ambassadors' wives and Court ladies used to go
to take tea with the fellow, and dispute the honour of filling his cup
or putting sugar into it. I once went into his shop--a sort of
drawing-room hung round with dresses; I found him lolling on a chair,
his legs crossed before the fire. Around him were a bevy of women, some
pretty, some ugly, listening to his observations with the rapt attention
of the disciples of a sage. He called them up before him like school
girls, and after inspecting them, praised or blamed their dresses. One,
a pretty young girl, found favour in his eyes, and he told her that he
must dream and meditate several days over her, in order to find the
inspiration to make a gown worthy of her. "Why do you wear these ugly
gloves?" he said to another, "never let me see you in gloves of that
colour again." She was a very grand lady, but she slipped off her
gloves, and put them in her pocket with a guilty look. When there was
going to be a ball at Court, ladies used to go down on their knees to
him to make them beautiful. For some time he declined to dress any
longer the wife of a great Imperial dignitary who had not been
sufficiently humble towards him; she came to him in tears, but he was
obdurate, and he only consented at last to make a gown for her on
condition that she would put it on for the first time in his shop. The
Empress, who dealt with him, sent to tell him that if he did not abate
his prices she would leave him. "You cannot," he replied, and in fact
she could not, for she stood by him to the last. A morning dress by this
artist, worth in reality about 4l., cost 30l.; an evening dress, tawdry
with flounces, ribbons, and bad lace could not be had under 70. There
are about thirty shops in Paris where, as at this man-milliner's, the
goods are not better than elsewhere, but where they cost about ten
times their value. They are patronised by fools with more money than
wits, and chiefly by foreign fools. The proprietor of one of these
establishments was complaining to me the other day of what he was losing
by the siege; I told him that I sympathised with him about as much as I
should with a Greek brigand, bewailing a falling off of wealthy
strangers in the district where he was in the habit of carrying on his
commercial operations. Whenever the communications are again open to
Paris, and English return to it, I would give them this piece of
advice--never deal where _ici on parle Anglais_ is written up; it means
_ici on vole les Anglais_. The only tradesmen in Paris who are making a
good thing out of their country's misfortunes are the liquor sellers and
the grocers; their stores seem inexhaustible, but they are sold at
famine prices. "I who speak to you, I owe myself to my country. There is
no sacrifice I would not make rather than capitulate to those Huns,
those Vandals," said a grocer to me, with a most sand-the-sugar face,
this morning, as he pocketed about ten times the value of a
trifle--candles, in fact, which have risen twenty-five per cent. in the
last two days--and folding his arms, scowled from under his kepi into
futurity, with stern but vacuous resolution.

_January 6th._

I have just returned from Point-du-Jour, where I went with Mr. Frank
Lawley in order to see myself what truth there was in the announcement
that we were being bombarded. Point-du-Jour is the point where the Seine
issues from Paris. The circular railroad passes over the river here on a
high brick viaduct, which makes a species of fortification. The hills
outside the city form a sort of amphitheatre, in which are situated the
towns of Sèvres and Meudon. To the right of the river is Mont Valérien
and the batteries in the Bois de Boulogne; to the left the Fort of
Issy. The noise of the cannonade was very loud; but very little could be
seen, owing to the sun shining on the hills outside. Speculators,
however, with telescopes, were offering to show the Prussian
artillerymen for one sou--one of them offered to let me see a general
for two sous. When I got within about half a mile of the ramparts I
began to hear the whistling of the shells. Here the sightseers were not
so numerous. Whenever a shell was heard, there was a rush behind walls
and houses. Some people threw themselves down, others seemed to imagine
that the smallest tree would protect them, and congregated behind the
thinnest saplings. Boys were running about picking up pieces of shells,
and offering them for sale. Women were standing at their doors, and
peeping their heads out: "Brigands, bandits, they dare to bombard us;
wait till to-morrow, we will make them rue it." This, and expressions of
a similar nature, was the tone of the small talk. My own impression is,
that the Prussians were firing at the ramparts, and that, as often
occurs, their projectiles overshot the mark. I did not see anyone either
killed or wounded, and it seems to me that the most astonishing thing in
a bombardment is the little damage it does to life and limb. I saw a bit
of iron cut away a branch from one of the trees, and one shell I saw
burst on the road by the river. In 15 minutes we counted 11 shells
whizzing through the air, over our heads, which fell I presume somewhere
behind us. The newspaper which I have just bought, I see, says that two
shells have fallen close by the Invalides, and that they have been
coming in pretty thickly all along the zone near the southern ramparts.
This may or may not be the case. Like Herodotus in Egypt, I make a
distinction between what I am told and what I see, and only guarantee
the authenticity of the latter. The only house which as far as I could
perceive had been struck was a small one. A chimney-stack had been
knocked over; an old lady who inhabited it pointed this out to me. She
seemed to be under the impression that this was the result of design,
and plaintively asked me what she had done to "William" and to Bismarck
that they should knock over her chimney. On the ramparts no damage
seemed to have been done. The National Guard on duty were in the
casemates. The noise, however, was tremendous. Issy, Valérien, the guns
of the bastions and those of the cannon-boats were firing as hard as
they could, and the Prussian batteries were returning their fire with a
will. After the sun went down the dark hills opposite were lit up with
the flashes of light which issued every second from the batteries.

The Government has issued a proclamation; in it is announced that we are
to be relieved by the Army of the North. Another proclamation has been
posted, purporting to proceed from the "delegates of the twenty
arrondissements," calling upon the population to turn out Trochu. It has
attracted little notice. Several mayors, too, it is reported, have
threatened to resign unless more energetic counsels prevail in high
places. Frenchmen, however, as one of their statesmen said, cannot grasp
two ideas at a time, and for to-day at least the bombardment is the
all-absorbing idea. Whether Frederick Charles has been really defeated I
do not know, but we are all assured that he has been. Paris journals
state that he has been wounded, and that 45,000 of his army have
surrendered. It is asserted, too, that the prisoners who were taken
yesterday admit that one of their armies has had a very serious reverse.
The bombardment of the forts still continues, and it has extended to the
southern ones. With respect to its effect, I will say nothing, lest I be
accused of giving aid and comfort to the enemy. _La Vérité_ of yesterday
already calls upon the Government to open and either suppress or
expurgate the letters of English correspondents.

The vin ordinaire is giving out. It has already risen nearly 60 per
cent. in price. This is a very serious thing for the poor, who not only
drink it, but warm it and make with bread a soup out of it. Yesterday, I
had a slice of Pollux for dinner. Pollux and his brother Castor are two
elephants, which have been killed. It was tough, coarse, and oily, and I
do not recommend English families to eat elephant as long as they can
get beef or mutton. Many of the restaurants are closed owing to want of
fuel. They are recommended to use lamps; but although French cooks can
do wonders with very poor materials, when they are called upon to cook
an elephant with a spirit lamp the thing is almost beyond their
ingenuity. Castor and Pollux's trunks sold for 45fr. a lb.; the other
parts of the interesting twins fetched about 10fr. a lb. It is a good
deal warmer to-day, and has been thawing in the sun; if the cold and the
siege had continued much longer, the Prussians would have found us all
in bed. It is a far easier thing to cut down a tree than to make it
burn. Proverbs are not always true; and I have found to my bitter
experience of late that the proverb that "there is no smoke without a
fire" is untrue. The Tupper who made it never tried to burn green wood.


_January 7th._

The attempt of the "Ultras" to force Trochu to resign has been a
failure. On Friday bands issuing from the outer Faubourgs marched
through the streets shouting "No capitulation!" A manifesto was posted
on the walls, signed by the delegates of the 20 arrondissements, calling
on the people to rise. At the weekly meeting of the Mayors M.
Delescluze, the Mayor of the 19th arrondissement, proposed that Trochu
and Le Flô should be called upon to resign, and that a supreme council
should be established in which the "civil element should not be
subordinated to the military element." M. Gustave Flourens published a
letter from his prison suggesting that the people should choose as their
leader a young energetic Democrat--that is to say himself. M. Felix
Pyat, on the other hand, explained that generals are tyrants, and that
the best thing would be to carry on the operations of the siege without
one. The "bombardment" is, however, still the absorbing question of the
day; and all these incipient attempts at revolution have failed. Trochu
issued a proclamation, in which he said, "The Governor of Paris will
never capitulate." M. Delescluze has resigned, and several arrests have
been made. The Government, however, owes its triumph, not so much to its
own inherent merits, as to the demerits of those who wished to supplant
it. Everyone complains of Trochu's strange inaction, and distrusts his
colleagues, who seem to be playing fast-and-loose with the Commune, and
to be anxious by a little gentle violence to be restored to private
life. The cry still is, "We will not capitulate!" and the nearer the
moment approaches that the provisions must fail, the louder is it
shouted. Notwithstanding the bitter experience which the Parisians have
had of the vanity of mere words to conjure disaster, they still seem to
suppose that if they only cry out loud enough that the Prussians cannot,
will not, shall not, enter Paris, their men of war will be convinced
that the task is beyond their powers, and go home in despair. We are
like a tribe of Africans beating tom-toms and howling in order to avert
a threatening storm. Yesterday a great council of war was held, at which
not only the generals of division and admirals, but even generals of
brigade, were present. Although it is a military dictum that "councils
of war never fight," I think that in a few days we shall have a sortie,
as that anonymous general "public opinion" insists upon it.

We are still without news from the provinces. The _Gazette Officiale_
to-day publishes an extract from a German paper which hardly seems to
bear out the assertion of the Government that the Army of the North is
advancing to our succour. As evidence that our affairs are looking up in
the provinces _La France_ contains the following: "A foreigner who knows
exactly the situation of our departments said yesterday, 'These damned
French, in spite of their asinine qualities, are getting the better of
the Prussians.'" We are forced to live to-day upon this crumb of comfort
which has fallen from the lips of a great unknown. Hope is the last
feeling which dies out in the human breast, and rightly or wrongly nine
persons out of ten believe that Chanzy will shortly force the Prussians
to raise the siege. The bombardment is supposed to mask their having
been obliged to send heavy reinforcements to Frederick Charles, who
regularly every morning is either killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.

It is almost needless to say that the newspapers are filled with
wondrous tales respecting the bombardment; with denunciations against
the Prussians for their sacrilege in venturing upon it; and with
congratulations to the population on their heroism in supporting it. The
number of persons who have been all but hit by shells is enormous. I
went to the left bank of the Seine in order to see myself the state of
affairs. At Point-du-Jour there is a hot corner sparsely inhabited. The
Prussians are evidently here firing at the viaduct which crosses the
river. From there I followed the ramparts as close as I could as far as
Montrouge. I heard of many shells which had fallen, but except at
Point-du-Jour I did not myself either see any fall, or hear any whiz
through the air. I then went to the Observatory, where according to the
_Soir_ the shells were falling very freely. A citizen who was sweeping
before the gate told me that he knew nothing about them. In the Rue
d'Enfer, just behind, there was a house which had been struck during the
night, and close by there was a cantinière, on her way to be buried, who
had been killed by one. At the garden of the Luxembourg and at the
artesian well near the Invalides I heard of shells, but could not find
out where they had struck. As far as I can make out, the Prussians aim
at the bastions, and occasionally, but rarely, at some public building.
Probably about 50 shells have been sent with malice prepense inside the
town. Just behind a bastion it is a little dangerous; but in Grenelle,
Vaugirard, and Montrouge, the risk to each individual is not so great as
it would be to go over a crowded crossing in London. In these quarters I
saw a few people moving away with their goods and chattels; but the
population generally seemed rather pleased than otherwise with what was
going on. Except close in by the ramparts, there was no excitement.
Almost the whole of the portion of the town on the left bank of the
Seine is now under fire; but even should it be seriously bombarded, I
doubt if the effect will be at all commensurate with the expense of
powder and projectiles. When shells fall over a very large area, the
odds against each separate person being hit by them are so large that no
one thinks that--happen what may to others--he will be wounded.

_January 11th._

The spy mania, which raged with such intensity at the commencement of
the siege, has again broken out. Every day persons are arrested because
they are supposed, by lighted candles and other mysterious devices, to
be in communication with the enemy. Sergeant Hoff, who used to kill his
couple of brace of Germans every day, and who disappeared after
Champigny, it is now said was a spy; and instead of mourning over his
wife, who had been slain by the Prussians, kept a mistress in splendour,
like a fine gentleman. Foreigners are looked upon suspiciously in the
streets. Very black looks are cast upon the Americans who have
established and kept up the best ambulance there is in Paris at their
own cost. Even the French ambulances are suspected, since some of their
members, during a suspension of arms, broke bread with the Prussians;
for it is held that any one who does not hate a German must be in the
pay of Bismarck. But this is not all: the newspapers hint that there are
spies at headquarters. General Schmitz has a valet who has a wife, and
this wife is a German. What more clear than that General Schmitz
confides what passes at councils of war to his valet--generals usually
do; that the valet confides it to his wife, who, in some mysterious
manner, confides it to Bismarck. Then General Trochu has an
aide-de-camp, a Prince Bibesco. He is a Wallachian, and a son of an
ex-Hospodar--I never yet heard of a Wallachian who was not more or less.
Can a doubt exist in the mind of any reasonable being that this young
gentleman, a harmless lad, who had passed the greater part of his
existence dancing cotillons at Paris, is in direct communication with
the Prussians outside? A day or two ago two National Guards were
exchanging their strategical views in a café, when they observed a
stranger write down something. He was immediately arrested, as he
evidently intended to transmit the opinions of these two military sages
to General Moltke. I was myself down at Montrouge yesterday, when I was
requested by two National Guards to accompany them to the nearest
commissary. I asked why, and was told that a woman had heard me speak
German. I replied that I was English. "Zat ve saal soon zee," said one
of my captors. "I spek Anglish like an Anglishman, address to me the
vord in Anglish." I replied that the gentleman spoke English with so
perfect an accent that I thought he must be a fellow-countryman. The
worthy fellow was disarmed by the compliment, and told a crowd which had
collected round us to do prompt justice on the spy, that I not only was
an Englishman, but _un Cockné_; that is to say, he explained, an
inhabitant of London. He shook me by the hand; his friend shook me by
the hand; and several ladies and gentlemen also shook me by the hand;
and then we parted. Yesterday evening on the Boulevards there were
groups discussing "the traitors." Some said that General Schmitz had
been arrested; others that he ought to be arrested. A patriot observed
to me that all foreigners in Paris ought, as a precautionary measure, to
be extirpated. "Parbleu," I replied, and you may depend upon it I rolled
my eyes and shrugged my shoulders in true Gallic fashion. This morning
General Trochu has published a proclamation, denouncing all attacks upon
his staff, and making himself responsible for its members. It is an
honest, manly protest, and by far the best document which this prolific
writer has issued for some time. Another complaint is made against the
generals who damp the popular enthusiasm by throwing doubts upon
ultimate victory. In fact, we have got to such a condition that a
military man dares not venture to express his real opinion upon military
matters for fear of being denounced. We are, indeed, still in a most
unsurrendering mood. I was talking to-day to a banker--a friend who
would do anything for me except cash my bill. In business he is a
clear-headed, sensible man. I asked him what would occur if our
provisions gave out before the armies of the provinces arrived to our
succour. He replied that the Government would announce the fact, and
call upon all able-bodied men to make a dash at the Prussian lines; that
300,000 at least would respond to that call, and would either be killed
or force their way out. This will give you an idea of the present tone
of the population. Nine men out of ten believe that we have enough
provisions to last at least until the end of February. The only official
utterance respecting the provisions is contained in a paragraph in the
_Journal Officiel_ to-day, in which we are informed that there are
15,000 oxen and 40,000 sheep in Bordeaux waiting for marching orders to
Paris. This is much like telling a starving man in the Strand that figs
are plentiful in Palestine, and only waiting to be picked.

The bombardment has diminished in intensity. The Government has put the
Prussian prisoners in the ambulances on the left bank of the Seine. It
appears to me that it would have been wiser to have moved the ambulances
to the right bank. By day few shells fall into the town beyond the
immediate vicinity of the ramparts. At night they are more plentiful,
and seem to be aimed promiscuously. I suppose about ten people are hit
every twenty-four hours. Now as above fifty people die every day in
Paris of bronchitis, there is far more danger from the latter than from
the batteries of the disciples of Geist outside. It is not worse to die
by a bomb than of a cold. Indeed I am by no means sure that of two evils
the latter is not the least; yet a person being suddenly struck down in
the streets of a capital by a piece of iron from a cannon will always
produce a more startling effect upon the mind than a rise in the bills
of mortality from natural causes. Those who are out of the reach of the
Prussian guns are becoming accustomed to the bombardment. "You naughty
child," I heard a woman who was walking before me say to her daughter,
"if you do not behave better I will not take you to see the
bombardment." "It is better than a vaudeville," said a girl near me on
the Trocadero, and she clapped her hands. A man at Point-du-Jour showed
me two great holes which had been made in his garden the night before by
two bombs close by his front door. He, his wife, and his children seemed
to be rather proud of them. I asked him why he did not move into the
interior of the town, and he said that he could not afford it. In a
German paper which recently found its way in, it was stated that the
bombardment of Paris would commence when the psychological moment had
arrived. We are intensely indignant at this term; we consider it so
cold-blooded. It is like a doctor standing by a man on the rack, and
feeling his pulse to see how many more turns of the screw he can bear.
All the forts outside are still holding their own against the Prussian
batteries. Issy has had as yet the greatest amount of attention paid to
it by the besiegers. There is a battery at Meudon which seems never to
tire of throwing shells into it. It is said, however, that the enemy is
endeavouring to establish breaching guns at a closer range, in order to
make his balls strike the ground and then bound into the fort--a mode of
firing which was very successful at Strasburg.

The sensation news of to-day is that Faidherbe has driven Manteuffel
across the Belgian frontier, and that Frederick Charles, who always
seems to come to life after being killed, has been recalled from Orleans
to Paris. The funds rose to-day one per cent. upon these rumours. Our
chief confidence, however, just now is in Bourbaki; we think that he has
joined Garibaldi, and that these two will force the Prussians to raise
the siege by throwing themselves on their communications. I only hope
they may.

Mr. Washburne has not been allowed to send out his weekly bag. I
presume, however, that this embargo will not be kept up. The Government
has not yet announced its intention with respect to M. Jules Favre
proceeding to London to represent France in the conferences on the
Eastern Question. Most of the newspapers seem to be of opinion that
until the Republic has been officially recognised, it is not consistent
with her dignity to take part in any European Conference. The
diplomatists, who have been a little thrown in the background of late,
by wars and generals, must be delighted to find their old friend, the
"Eastern Question," cropping up. The settlement of the Schleswig-Holstein
question was a heavy blow to them; but for many a year they will have an
opportunity to prose and protocol over Turkey. An Austrian wit--indeed
the only wit that Austria ever produced--used to say that Englishmen
could only talk about the weather, and that if by some dispensation of
Providence there ever should be no such thing as weather, the whole
English nation would become dumb. What the weather is to Englishmen the
Eastern Question is to diplomatists. For their sakes, let us hope that
it never will be satisfactorily settled. Diplomatists, like many other
apparently useless beings, must live.

_January 15th._

Yesterday we were made comparatively happy by a report that the Prussian
funds had fallen 3 per cent. at Berlin. To-day we are told that Bourbaki
has gained a great victory, raised the siege of Belfort, and is about
to enter Germany. German newspapers up to the 7th have been seized at
the advanced posts, but whatever in them tells against us we put down to
a general conspiracy on the part of Europe to deceive us. It is somewhat
curious to watch the transmutations of the names of English statesmen
after they have passed through a German and a French translation. Thus
the latest news from London is that Mr. Hackington is made Irish
Secretary, and that Mr. Floresko is Minister of Commerce.

The diplomatists and consuls still at Paris have sent a collective note
to Count Bismarck, complaining that the notice of the bombardment was
not given, and asking him to afford them the means to place the persons
and the property of their respective countrymen out of danger. The
minnows sign with the whales. Mr. Washburne's name is inserted between
that of the representative of Monaco and that of the Chargé d'Affaires
of Honduras.

The bombardment still continues. The cannon now make one continuous
noise. Each particular discharge cannot be distinguished. The shells
fall on the left bank to a distance of about a mile from the ramparts. A
return of the _Official Journal_ gives 138 wounded and 51 killed up to
the 13th. Among the killed are 18 children and 12 women; among the
wounded, 21 children and 45 women. Waggons and hand-carts packed with
household goods are streaming in from the left to the right bank. In the
bombarded quarters many shops are closed. Some householders have made a
sort of casemate reaching to the first story of their houses; others
sleep in their cellars. The streets are, however, full of people, even
in the most exposed districts; and all the heights from which a view is
to be had of the Prussian batteries are crowded with sightseers. Every
now and then one comes across some house through which a shell has
passed. The public buildings have, as yet, suffered very slightly. The
dome of the Panthéon, which we presume is used as a mark for the aim of
the Prussian artillerymen, has been hit once. The shell has made a round
hole in the roof, and it burst inside the church. In the Jardin des
Plantes all the glass of the conservatories has been shattered by the
concussion of the air, and the orchids and other tropical plants are
dying. Although war and its horrors are thus brought home to our very
doors, it is even still difficult to realise that great events are
passing around us which history will celebrate in its most solemn and
dignified style. Distance in battles lends grandeur to the view. Had the
charge of Balaclava taken place on Clapham Common, or had our gallant
swordsmen replaced the donkeys on Hampstead Heath, even Tennyson would
have been unable to poetise their exploits. When one sees stuck up in an
omnibus-office that omnibuses "will have to make a circuit from _cause
de bombardement_;" when shells burst in restaurants and maim the
waiters; when the trenches are in tea-gardens; and when one is invited
for a sou to look through a telescope at the enemy firing off their
guns, there is a homely domestic air about the whole thing which is
quite inconsistent with "the pomp and pride of glorious war."

On Friday night there was an abortive sortie at Clamart. Some of the
newspapers say that the troops engaged in it were kept too long waiting,
and that they warmed their feet by stamping, and made so much noise that
the Prussians caught wind of the gathering. Be this as it may, as soon
as they got into Clamart they were received with volleys of musketry,
and withdrew. I am told that the marching battalions of the National
Guard, now in the trenches, are doing their work better than was
expected. The generals in command are satisfied with them, but whether
they will be of any great use for offensive operations, is a question
yet to be solved. The clubs still keep up their outcry for "La Commune,"
which they imagine will prove a panacea for every evil. In the club of
the Rue Arras last night, a speaker went a step still further, and
demanded "the establishment of anarchy as the ruling power." Trochu is
still either attacked, or feebly defended, in the newspapers. The French
are so accustomed to the State doing everything for them, that their
ruler is made responsible for everything which goes wrong. The demand
for a sortie _en masse_ is not so strong. Every one is anxious not to
surrender, and no one precisely knows how a surrender is to be avoided.
Successes on paper have so long done duty for successes in the field,
that no one, even yet, can believe that this paper currency has been so
depreciated that bankruptcy must ensue. Is it possible, each man asks,
that 500,000 armed Frenchmen will have to surrender to half the number
of Germans? And as they reply that it is impossible, they come to the
conclusion that treason must be at work, and look round for the traitor.
Trochu, who is as honest and upright as a man as he is incompetent as a
general, will probably share the fate of the "Man of Sedan" and the "Man
of Metz," as they are called. "He is a Laocoon," says M. Felix Pyat in
his newspaper, with some confusion of metaphor, "who will strangle the

We hear now that Government is undertaking an inquiry to discover
precisely how long our stock of provisions will last. Matters are
managed so carelessly, that I doubt whether the Minister of Commerce
himself knows to within ten days the precise date when we shall be
starved out. The rations of meat now amount to 1-27th of a pound per
diem for each adult. At the fashionable restaurants the supply is
unlimited, and the price as unlimited. Two cutlets of donkey cost 18
francs, and everything else in the way of animal food is in proportion.
The real vital question, however, is how long the bread will last. In
some arrondissements the supply fails after 8 o'clock in the morning;
at others, each resident receives 1 lb. upon production of a _carte de
subsistance_. The distribution has been thrown into disorder by the
people from the bombarded quarters flocking into the central ones, and
wanting to be fed. The bread itself is poor stuff. Only one kind is
allowed to be manufactured; it is dark in colour, heavy, pasty, and
gritty. There is as little corn in it as there is malt in London beer
when barley is dear. The misery among the poorer classes is every day on
the increase. Most of the men manage to get on with their 1fr. 50c. a
day. In the morning they go to exercise, and afterwards loll about until
night in cafés and pothouses, making up with liquids for the absence of
solids. As for doing regular work, they scoff at the idea. Master
tailors and others tell me that it is almost impossible to get hands to
do the few orders which are now given. They are warmly clad in uniforms
by the State, and except those belonging to the marching battalions
really doing duty outside, I do not pity them. With the women and
children the case is different. The latter, owing to bad nourishment and
exposure, are dying off like rotten sheep; the former have but just
enough food to keep body and soul together, and to obtain even this they
have to stand for hours before the doors of the butchers and bakers,
waiting for their turn to be served. And yet they make no complaints,
but patiently suffer, buoyed up, poor people, by the conviction that by
so doing they will prevent the Prussians from entering the town. If one
of them ventures to hint at a capitulation, she is set on by her
neighbours. Self-assertion, however, carries the day. Jules and Jaques
will hereafter quaff many a petit verre to their own heroism; and many a
story will they inflict upon their long-suffering friends redounding to
their own special glory. Their wives will be told that they ought to be
proud to have such men for husbands. But Jules and Jacques are in
reality but arrant humbugs. Whilst they boozed, their wives starved;
whilst they were warmly clad, their wives were in rags; whilst they were
drinking confusion to their enemies in some snug room, their wives were
freezing at the baker's door for their ration of bread. In Paris the
women--I speak of those of the poorer classes--are of more sterling
stuff than the men. They suffer far more, and they repine much less. I
admire the crowd of silent, patient women, huddling together for warmth
every morning, as they wait until their pittance is doled out to them,
far more than the martial heroes who foot it behind a drum and a trumpet
to crown a statue, to visit a tomb, and to take their turn on the
ramparts; or the heroes of the pen, who day after day, from some cosy
office, issue a manifesto announcing that victory is certain, because
they have made a pact with death.

_January 16th._

If I am to believe the Paris papers, the Fort of Issy is gradually
extinguishing the guns of the Prussian batteries which bear on it. If I
am to believe my eyes, the Fort of Issy is not replying at all to these
said guns; and if I am to believe competent military authorities, in
about eighteen days from now at the latest the Fort of Issy will cease
to be a fort. The batteries at Meudon appeared to-day to be of opinion
that its guns were effectually silenced; shells fell thick and fast on
the bastions at Point-du-Jour; and so well aimed were they, that between
the bastions a looker-on was in comparative safety. The noise, however,
of the duel between the bastions and the batteries was so deafening,
that it was literally impossible for two persons to hear each other
speak at a few feet distance; the shells, too, which were passing to the
right and left, seemed to give the whole air a tremulous motion. At the
bastions the artillerymen were working their guns, but the National
Guards on duty were under cover. The houses, on both sides of the
Seine, within the city, for about half a mile from the viaduct are
deserted; not above a dozen of them, I should imagine, are still
inhabited. Outside, in the villages of Vanvres and Issy, several fires
have broken out, but they have been promptly extinguished, and there has
been no general conflagration. The most dangerous spot in this direction
is a road which runs behind the Forts of Vanvres and Montrouge; as
troops are frequently marching along it the Prussians direct their guns
from Clamart and Chatillon on it. In the trenches the danger is not
great, and there are but few casualties; the shells pass over them. If
anyone, however, exposes himself, a ball about the size of an egg, from
a _canon de rampart_, whizzes by him, as a gentle reminder to keep under
cover. The area of the bombardment is slightly extending, and will, I
presume, very soon reach the right bank. More people are killed in the
daytime than at night, because they will stand in groups,
notwithstanding every warning, and stare at any house which has been

The bill of mortality for the week ending January 13th, gives an
increase on the previous week of 302; the number of deaths registered is
3982. This is at the rate of above twenty per cent. per annum, and it
must be remembered that in this return those who die in the public
hospitals, or of the direct effect of the war, are not included.
Small-pox is about stationary, bronchitis and pneumonia largely on the

Bourbaki, we are told to-day, is at Freiburg, in the Grand Duchy of
Baden. The latest German papers announce that Mézières has fallen, and
it seems to occur to no one that Gambetta's last pigeon despatch
informed us that the siege of this place had been raised. _La Liberté_
thus sums up the situation:--"Nancy menaced; Belfort freed; Baden
invaded; Hamburg about to be bombarded. This is the reply of France to
the bombardment of Paris. The hour has arrived; the Prussians brought
to bay, hope to find refuge in Paris. This is their last hope; their
last resource."

In order to encourage us to put up with our short commons, we are now
perpetually being told that the Government has in reserve vast stores of
potted meats, cheese, butter, and other luxuries, of which we have
almost forgotten the very taste; and that when things come to the worst
we shall turn the corner, and enter into a period of universal
abundance. These stores seem to me much like the mirage which lures on
the traveller of the desert, and which perpetually recedes as he
advances. But the great difficulty of the moment is to procure fuel. I
am ready, as some one said, to eat the soles of my boots for the sake of
my country; but then they must be cooked. All the mills are on the
Marne, and cannot be approached. Steam mills have been put up, but they
work slowly; and whatever may be the amount of corn yet in store, it is
almost impossible to grind enough of it to meet the daily requirements.

A good deal of discussion is going on as to the time which it will take
to revictual Paris; it is thought that it can be done in seven days, but
I do not myself see how it is to be done in anything like this time. One
of the principal English bankers here has, I understand, sent an agent
by balloon to buy boats of small draught in England, in order to bring
provisions up the Seine. As a speculation, I should imagine that the
best plan would be to amass them on the Belgian or Luxemburg frontier.
About two-thirds of the population will be without means to buy food,
even if the food were at their doors. Trade and industry will not revive
for some time; they will consequently be entirely dependent upon the
State for their means of subsistence. Even if work is offered to them,
many of them not be able at once to reassume their habits of daily
industry; the Bohemian life which they have led for the last four
months, and which they are still leading, is against it. A siege is so
abnormal a condition of things, that the State has been obliged to pay
them for doing practically nothing, as otherwise they would have fallen
into the hands of the anarchists; but this pottering about from day to
day with a gun, doing nothing except play at billiards and drink, has
been very demoralising, and it will be long before its effect ceases to
be felt.

The newspapers are somewhat irreverent over the diplomatic protest
against the bombardment. They say that while Paris is deserted by the
Great European Powers, it is a source of pleasure to think that the
Principality of Monaco and the Republics of San Marino and Honduras
still stand by her. They suggest that M. Jules Favre should go to
Andorre to endeavour to induce that republic also to reason with the
Prussians upon the bombardment. I am told that the "proud young porter,"
who now the sheep is dead, represents alone the Majesty of England at
the British Embassy is indignant at not having been invited to add his
signature to the protest. He considers--and justly I think--that he is a
far more important personage than the Plenipotentiary of his Highness of
Monaco; a despot who exercises sway over about 20 acres of orange trees,
60 houses, and two roulette tables. The diplomatists are not, however,
alone in their protest. Everybody has protested, and is still
protesting. If it is a necessity of war to throw shells into a densely
populated town like this; it is--to say the least--a barbarous
necessity; but it seems to me that it is but waste of time and paper to
register protests against it; and if it be thought desirable to do so,
it would be far more reasonable to protest against human beings--women
and children--being exposed to its effects, than to indite plaintive
elegies about the possibility of the Venus de Milo being damaged, or the
orchids in the hot-houses being killed. I know that, for my part, I
would rather that every statue and every plant in the world were smashed
to atoms by shells, than that I were. This, in an æsthetical point of
view, is selfish; but it is none the less true. _Chacun pour soi._ The
Panthéon was struck yesterday. What desecration! everyone cries; and I
am very sorry for the Panthéon, but very glad that it was the Panthéon,
and not me. The world at large very likely would lose more by the
destruction of the Panthéon than of any particular individual; but each
particular individual prefers his own humble self to all the edifices
that architects have raised on the face of the globe.

I have been endeavouring to discover, whether in the councils of our
rulers, the question as to what is to be done in the possible
contingency of a capitulation becoming necessary, has been raised. As
far as I can hear, the contingency is not yet officially recognised as
within the realms of possibility, and it has never been alluded to.
General Trochu has officially announced "that the Governor of Paris will
never capitulate." His colleagues have periodically said much the same
thing. The most practical of them, M. Ernest Picard, has, I believe,
once or twice endeavoured to lead up to the subject, but he has failed
in the attempt. Newspaper articles and Government proclamations tell the
population every day that they only have to persevere in order
ultimately to triumph. If the end must come, it is difficult to see how
it will come. I have asked many intelligent persons what they think will
happen, but no one seems to have a very distinct notion respecting it.
Some think the Government will issue some day a notice to say that there
are only provisions for a week longer; and that at the end of this time
the gates of the city will be opened, and the Prussians told that, if
they insist upon entering, there will be nothing to prevent them. Others
think that the Government will resign their power into the hands of the
mayors, as the direct representatives of Paris. Trochu rides about a
good deal outside, and says to the soldiers, "Courage, my children, the
moment is coming." But to what moment he alludes no one is aware. No
word is more abused in the French language than "sublime." To call a
folly a sublime folly is considered a justification of any species of
absurdity. We call this refusal to anticipate a contingency which
certainly is possible, if not probable, sublime. We are proud of it, and
sleep on in our fool's paradise as though it were to last for ever.


_January 17th._

The papers publish reports of the meetings of the clubs. The following
is from the _Débats_ of to-day:--

"At the extremity of the Rue Faubourg St. Antoine is a dark passage, and
in a room which opens into this passage is the Club de la Revendication.
The audience is small, and consists mainly of women, who come there to
keep warm. The club is peaceable--hardly revolutionary--for Rome is Rome
no more, and the Faubourg St. Antoine, formerly so turbulent, has
resigned in favour of Belleville and La Villette. Yesterday evening the
Club de la Revendication was occupied, as usual, in discussing the
misery of the situation, and the necessity of electing a Commune. An
orator, whose patriotic enthusiasm attained almost to frenzy, declared
that as for himself he scorned hams and sausages in plenty, and that he
preferred to live on the air of liberty. (The women sigh.) Another
speaker is of opinion that if there were a Commune there would also be
hams and sausages in plenty. We still pay, he says, the budget of the
clergy, as though Bonaparte were still on the throne, instead of having
rationed the large appetites and forced every one to live on 1fr. 50c. a
day. In order to make his meaning clear the orator uses the following
comparison. Suppose, he says, that I am a peasant, and that I have
fattened a chicken. (Excitement.) Were I obliged to give the wings to
the clergy, the legs to the military, and the carcass to civil
functionaries, there would be nothing of my chicken left for me. Well,
this is our case. We fatten chickens; others eat them. It would be far
wiser for us to keep them for ourselves. (Yes, yes.) A Pole, the Citizen
Strassnowski, undertakes to defend the Government. He obtains a hearing,
but not without difficulty. You complain that the Government, he says,
has not cast more cannon. Where were the artillerymen? (Ourselves.) But
three months ago you were citizens, you were not soldiers. In making you
march and counter-march in the streets and on the ramparts you have been
converted into soldiers. The Government was right therefore to wait.
(Murmurs.) The orator is not angry with the German nation; he is angry
only with the potentates who force the people to kill each other; and he
hopes that the day will come when the European nations will shake hands
over the Pyrenées, the Alps, the Balkan, and the mountains of Carpathia.
(Feeble applause and murmurs.) A citizen begs the audience to have
patience with the Citizen Strassnowski, who is a worthy man and a
volunteer; but the citizen then reproaches the worthy man for having
attempted to defend a Government whose incapacity is a matter of
notoriety. Come now, Citizen Strassnowski, he says, what has the
Government done to merit your praise? It has armed us and exercised us;
but why? To deliver us over with our guns and our cannons to the
Prussians after we have all caught cold on the ramparts. Has it tried to
utilise us? No, it has passively looked on whilst the Prussians
surrounded Paris with a triple circle of citadels. We are told every day
that the armies of the provinces will deliver us. We do not see them. We
are not even secure in Paris. Every kind of story is afloat. Yesterday
it was reported that General Schmitz had betrayed us; to-day it is an
actress who has arrested a spy whose cook was on intimate terms with a
cook of the member of the Government. Why these reports? Because the
Government has no moral support, and no one feels confidence in it. In
the meantime the food gets less and less, and this morning at eight
o'clock all the bakers in this arrondissement had closed their shops.
(True, true; we waited five hours at the closed doors.) When we get the
bread, it is more like plaster than bread. In the third arrondissement,
on the other hand, it is good and plentiful. So much for the organising
spirit of the Government. We have to wait hours for bread, hours for
wood, and hours for meat; and frequently we do not get either bread,
meat, or wood. Things cannot last long like this, my worthy
Strassnowski. The speaker concludes by urging the people to take the
direction of their affairs into their own hands. (Cries of "Vive la
Commune.") The President urges his hearers to subscribe towards a
society, the object of which is civic instruction. The club breaks up,
the President is applauded."

Here is another description of a club meeting from the same journal:--

"The laurels of Belleville prevented La Villette from sleeping. La
Villette, therefore, determined to have, like her rival, a central
democratic and social club, and yesterday she inaugurated in the Salle
Marseillaise an opposition to the "Club Favié." In some respects the
Marseillaise club is even more democratic than her parent. The Salle is
a sort of barn, and the _sans culottes_ themselves, notwithstanding
their horror of all luxury, hardly found its comforts sufficient for
them. The Club Favié, with its paintings on the walls and its lustres,
has a most aristocratic air in comparison with this new hall of
democracy. To judge by its first séance, the Club Marseillaise promises
well. Last night enough treasons were unveiled to make the fortune of
most other clubs for a week at least. From the commencement of the war
we have been in the meshes of a vast network of treason; and these
meshes can only be broken through by the Commune and the Republic. The
conspiracy was hatched long ago between the Emperors and the Kings, and
the other enemies of the people. The war had been arranged amongst them,
and it is an error to suppose that we were beaten at Rhichshofen or
Sedan. "No," cried an orator, with conviction, "we have never been
defeated; but we have been betrayed." ("True." Applause. "We are still
betrayed.") The men of the Hôtel de Ville imitate Bonaparte, and, like
him, they have an understanding with the Prussians, to enslave the
people, after having betrayed the country. To whom then must we turn to
save the country? To the Legitimists? To the Orleanists?" (No, no.) The
orator does not hesitate to avow that he would turn to them if they
could save France. (Impossible.) Yes, it is impossible for them. The
orator admits it; and all the more because Legitimists and Orleanists
are enrolled in the conspiracy against the nation. The people can be the
only saviours of the people, by the establishment of the commune; and
this is why the men of the Hôtel de Ville and the Reactionists are
opposed to its establishment. A second speaker abandons the question of
the Commune and of the conspiracy, in order to call attention to the
resignation of Citizen Delescluze, late mayor of the nineteenth
arrondissement. While this orator thinks that it would be unjust to
accuse the patriot Delescluze of treason, he ought not the less to be
blamed for having abandoned a post to which he had been called by his
fellow citizens. The people elected him, and he had no right to put his
resignation in the hands of the men of the Hôtel de Ville in the
critical circumstances in which we find ourselves--at a moment when the
tide of misery is mounting--when the mayors have a great mission to
fulfil. What has been the consequence of this act of weakness? The men
of the Hôtel de Ville have named a commission to administer the
nineteenth arrondissement exactly as was done under Bonaparte. This is
what we citizens of Belleville have gained by the desertion of
Delescluze. (Applause.) A citizen pushes his way to the tribune to
justify the mayor. He admits that at first sight it is difficult to
approve of a magistrate who has been elected by the people resigning his
office at the very moment when the people have the greatest need of him,
but--and again we get into the dark mystery of the conspiracy--if he
gave in his resignation, it was because he would not be an accomplice of
treason. In a meeting presided over by Jules Favre, what do you suppose
the mayors were asked to do? (Here the orator pauses a moment to take
breath. The curiosity of the audience is intense.) They were asked to
take part in the capitulation. (Violent murmurs--Infamous.) Well
yes--Delescluze would have nothing to do with this infamy, and he
withdrew. Besides, there was another reason. In the division of the
succour afforded to necessitous citizens the nineteenth arrondissement
was only supposed to have 4000 indigent persons, whilst in reality the
number is 50,000, and by this means it was hoped that the popularity of
this pure Republican would suffer, and perhaps riots break out which
would be put down--(the divulgation of this plot against the mayor of
the nineteenth arrondissement is received in different ways. A person
near us observes--"All the same, he ought not to have resigned.") This
incident over, the discussion goes back to the treasons of the Hôtel de
Ville. It is well known, says a speaker, that a sortie had been
determined on in a Council composed of four generals, presided over by
Trochu, and that the next morning the Prussians were informed of it. Who
told them, who betrayed us. Was it Schmitz, or another general. (A
voice: "It was the man who eats pheasants." Indignation.) In any case,
Trochu is responsible, even if he was not the traitor himself. ("Yes,
yes; it was Trochu!") Another citizen, not personally known to the
audience, but who announces that he lives in the Rue Chasson, says that
he has received by accident a confidential communication which, perhaps,
may throw some light on the affair. This citizen has some friends who
are the friends of Ledru Rollin and of the citizen Tibaldi; and one of
these friends heard a friend say that either Ledru Rollin or Tibaldi had
heard Trochu say that it was impossible to save Paris; but that he would
have 30,000 men killed, and then capitulate. (Murmurs of indignation.)
The citizen of the Rue Chasson has received a second confidential
communication, which corroborates the first. He has been told by one of
his neighbours that everything is ready for a capitulation, and he
thinks that he will soon be enabled to communicate something still more
important on this subject; but in the meanwhile he entreats the
energetic citizens of Belleville--(indignation "This is not
Belleville")--pardon, of La Villette and of the other Republican
faubourgs, to keep their eyes on the Government. They must have no
confidence in the _quartiers_ inside the town. The Rue Chasson, in which
he lives, is utterly demoralised. La Villette, with Belleville and
Montmartre, must save Paris. (Applause.) Another citizen says that he
has of late frequently heard the odious word capitulation. How can it be
otherwise? Everything is being done to make it necessary. We, the
National Guard, who receive 1fr. 50c. a-day, are called the indigent.
What do the robbers and the beggars who thus insult us do? They indulge
in orgies in the fashionable restaurants. The Zoological Gardens have
been shut. Why? Because the elephants, the tigers, and other rare
animals have been sold in order to enable wretches who laugh at the
public misery to gorge themselves. What can we, the indigent, as they
call us, do with 30 sous, when a few potatoes cost 30fr., and a piece of
celery 2fr. And they talk now of capitulating, because they have grown
rich on the war. Every one knows that it was made in order that
speculators should make fortunes. As long as they had goods to sell at
ten times their value they were for resistance to the death. Now that
they have nothing more to sell, they talk of capitulating. Ah! when one
thinks of these scandals one is almost inclined to blow one's brains
out. (Laughter and applause.) A fourth citizen takes up the same theme
with the same energy and conviction. He knows, he says, a restaurant
which is frequented by bank clerks, and where last week there were eaten
two cows and a calf, whilst the ambulance opposite was without fresh
meat. (Violent murmurs.) This is a part of the system, of Trochu and his
colleagues. They starve us and they betray us. Trochu, it is true, has
said that he would not capitulate, but we know what that means. When we
are worn out and demoralised he will demand a fresh plebiscite on the
question of a capitulation, and then he will say that the people, and
not he, capitulated. ("True, he is a Jesuit.") We must make an end of
these speculators and traitors. ("Yes, yes, it is time,") We must have
the Commune. We have not more than eighteen days of provisions, and we
want fifteen of them, to revictual. If the Commune is not proclaimed in
three days we are lost ("True. La Commune! La Commune!") The orator
explains how the Commune will save Paris. It will establish domiciliary
visits not only among the shopkeepers, but among private persons who
have stores of provisions. Besides, he adds, when all the dogs are eaten
we will eat the traitors. (Laughter and applause.) The Commune will
organise at the same time a sortie _en masse_, the success of which is
infallible. From statistics furnished by Gambetta it results that at
this moment there are not above 75,000 Prussians round Paris. And shall
our army of 500,000 men remain stationary before this handful of
Germans? Absurd. The Commune will burst through this pretended circle of
iron. It will put an end to treason. It will place two commissaries by
the side of each general. (The evening before, at the club in the Rue
Blanche, one commissary with a revolver had been proposed. At the
Marseillaise two were thought requisite. This evening, probably at the
Club Favié, in order to beat La Villette, three will be the number. The
position of a general of the Commune will not be an easy one.) These
commissaries, continues the orator, will watch all the movements of the
general. At the first sign he gives of yielding, they will blow his
brains out. Inexorably placed between victory and death, he will choose
the former. (General approbation.) The hour is getting late, but before
concluding the sitting, the President announces that the moment is
approaching when Republicans must stand shoulder to shoulder. Patriots
are invited to give in their names and addresses, in order to be found
when they are wanted. This proposal is adopted by acclamation. A certain
number of citizens register their names, and then the meeting breaks up
with a shout of "Vive la Commune de Paris!"

_January 19th._

All yesterday artillery was rolling and troops were marching through
Paris on their way to the Porte de Neuilly. The soldiers of the line
were worn and ragged; the marching battalions of the National Guards,
spick and span in their new uniforms. All seemed in good spirits, the
soldiers, after the wont of their countrymen, were making jokes with
each other, and with everyone else--the National Guards were singing
songs. In some instances they were accompanied by their wives and
sweethearts, who carried their muskets or clung to their arms. Most of
them looked strong, well-built men, and I have no doubt that in three or
four months, under a good general, they would make excellent soldiers.
In the Champs Elysées, there were large crowds to see them pass.
"Pauvres garçons," I heard many girls say, "who knows how many will
return!" And it was indeed a sad sight, these honest bourgeois, who
ought to be in their shops or at their counters, ill-drilled, unused to
war, marching forth with stout hearts, but with little hope of success,
to do battle for their native city, against the iron legions which are
beleaguering it. They went along the Avenue de la Grande Armée, crossed
the bridge of Neuilly over the Seine, and bivouacked for the night in
what is called the "Peninsula of Genevilliers." This peninsula is formed
by a loop in the Seine. Maps of the environs of Paris must be plentiful
in London, and a glance at one will make the topography of to-day's
proceedings far clearer than any description. The opening of the loop is
hilly, and the hills run along the St. Cloud side of the loop as far as
Mont Valérien, and on the other side as far as Rueil. About half a mile
from Mont Valérien following the river is St. Cloud; and between St.
Cloud and the Park of the same name is Montretout, a redoubt which was
commenced by the French, but which, since the siege began, has been held
by the Prussians. The enemy's line extends across the loop from
Montretout through Garches to La Malmaison. The latter lies just below
Rueil, which is a species of neutral village. The troops passed the
night in the upper part of the loop. In numbers they were about 90,000,
as far as I can ascertain, and they had with them a formidable field
artillery. The object of the sortie was a vague idea to push forward, if
possible, to Versailles. Most of the generals were opposed to it, and
thought that it would be wiser to make frequent sudden attacks on the
enemy's lines; but General Public Opinion insisted upon a grand
operation; and this anonymous but all powerful General, as usual,
carried the day. The plan appears to have been this: one half the army
was under General Vinoy, the other half under General Ducrot. The former
was to attack Montretout and Garches, the latter was to push forward
through Rueil and La Malmaison, carry the heights of La Jonchère, and
then unite with Vinoy at Garches. General Trochu, from an observatory in
Mont Valérien, commanded the whole movement. At 7 o'clock troops were
pushed forward against Montretout. This redoubt was held by about 200
Poles from Posen; and they made so determined a resistance that the
place was not taken until 9.30. No guns were found in the redoubt. At
the same time General Bellemare, who commands one of Vinoy's divisions,
advanced on Garches, and occupied the wood and park of Buzenval, driving
in the Prussian outposts. Here several battalions of the National Guards
were engaged. Although their further advance was arrested by a stone
wall, from behind which the Prussians fired, they maintained themselves
in the wood and the park. The Prussians now opened a heavy fire along
the line. At Montretout it was impossible to get a single gun into
position. This went on until a little after three o'clock. By this time
reinforcements had come up from Versailles, and were pushed forward
against the centre of the French line. At the same time shells fell upon
the reserves, which consisted of National Guards, and which were drawn
up upon the incline of the heights looking towards Paris. They were
young troops, and for young troops nothing is so trying as being shelled
without being allowed to move. They broke and fell back. Their
companions who were in advance, and who held the crest of the heights,
saw themselves deserted, and at the same time saw the attacking column
coming forward, and they too fell back. The centre of the position was
thus lost. A hurried consultation was held, and Montretout and Buzenval
were evacuated. As night closed the French troops were falling back to
their bivouacs of the previous night, and the Prussians were recrossing
the trench which formed their advanced posts in the morning. The day was
misty, the mud was so deep that walking was difficult, and I could not
follow very clearly the movements of the troops from the house in which
I had ensconced myself. What became of General Ducrot no one seemed to
know. I have since learnt that he advanced with little resistance
through Rueil and La Malmaison, and that he then fought during the day
at La Jonchère, detaching a body of troops towards the Park of Buzenval.
He appears, however, to have failed in taking La Celle St. Cloud, and
from thence flanking La Bergerie, and marching on Garches. Everything is
consequently very much where it was this morning before the engagement
took place. It has been the old story. The Prussians did not defend
their first line, but fell back on their fixed batteries, there keeping
up a heavy fire until reinforcements had had time to be brought up. More
troops are ordered out for to-morrow; so I presume that the battle is to
be renewed. If it ends in a defeat, the consequences will be serious,
for the artillery can only be brought back to Paris by one bridge. The
wounded are numerous. In the American ambulance, which is close by in
the Champs Elysées, there are about seventy. In the Grand Hotel they are
arriving every moment. The National Guard at Buzenval behaved very
fairly under fire. Many of them had not been above a few days in
uniform. Their officers were in many cases as inexperienced as the men.
During the fight entire companies were wandering about looking for their
battalions, and men for their companies. As citizen soldiers they did
their best, and individually they were made of good stuff; but the moral
is--do not employ citizen soldiers for offensive operations. When I
returned into the town at about 5 o'clock this afternoon, the peninsula
of Gennevilliers resembled the course at Epsom on a wet Derby Day. To my
civilian eyes, cavalry, artillery, and infantry, seemed to be in
inextricable confusion.

This morning the bread was rationed all over the city. No one is to have
more than 300 grammes per diem; children only 150. I recommend anyone
who has lived too high to try this regime for a week. It will do him
good. No costermonger's donkey is so overloaded as the stomachs of most
rich people. The Government on December 12 solemnly announced that the
bread never would be rationed. This measure, therefore, looks to me very
much like the beginning of the end. A perquisition is also being made in
search of provisions in the apartments of all those who have quitted
Paris. Another sign of the end. But it is impossible to know on how
little a Frenchman can live until the question has been tested. I went
yesterday into the house of a friend of mine, in the Avenue de
l'Impératrice, which is left in charge of a servant, and found three
families, driven out of their homes by the bombardment, installed in
it--one family, consisting of a father, a mother, and three children,
were boiling a piece of horse meat, about four inches square, in a
bucket full of water. This exceedingly thin soup was to last them for
three days. The day before they had each had a carrot. The bread is
scarce because the supply ceases before the demand in most quarters, so
that those who come last get none. My friend's servant was giving a
dinner to the English coachman. The sole dish was a cat with mice round
it. I tasted one of the latter, crunching the bones as if it had been a
lark. I can recommend mice, when nothing more substantial is to be

I hear that a pigeon has arrived this evening. Its despatch has not yet
been published. The "traitor-mania" still rages. Last night at the
Belleville Club an orator announced an awful discovery--the bread was
being poisoned by traitors. The Correspondent of one of your
contemporaries, having heard that he had been accused of being a
Prussian spy, went to-day to the Prefect of the Police. This august
being told him that he did not suspect him, and then showed him a file
of papers duly docketed relating to each London paper which is
represented here. For my part, although I have not failed to blame what
I thought blameable, and although I have not gone into ecstacies over
the bombastic nonsense which is the legacy of the vile despotism to
which the French were foolish enough to submit for twenty years, and
which has vitiated the national character, I have endeavoured in my
correspondence to be, as far as was consistent with truth, "to all their
virtues very kind, to all their faults a little blind."

_January 20th._

This morning several fresh regiments of National Guards were ordered to
march out to the Peninsula of Gennevilliers. I accompanied one of them;
but when we got into Neuilly a counter-order came, and they were marched
back. Every house in Neuilly and Courbevoie was full of troops, and
regiments were camping out in the fields, where they had passed the
night without tents. Many of the men had been so tired that they had
thrown themselves down in the mud, which was almost knee-deep, and thus
fallen asleep with their muskets by their sides. Bitter were the
complaints of the commissariat. Bread and _eau de vie_ were at a high
premium. Many of the men had thrown away their knapsacks, with their
loaves strapped to them, during the action, and these were now the
property of the Prussians. It is impossible to imagine a more forlorn
and dreary scene. Some of the regiments--chiefly those which had not
been in the action--kept well together; but there were a vast number of
stragglers wandering about looking for their battalions and their
companies. At about twelve o'clock it became known that the troops were
to re-enter Paris, and that the battle was not to be renewed; and at
about one the march through the gate of Neuilly commenced, colours
flying and music playing, as though a victory had been won. I remained
there some time watching the crowd that had congregated at each side of
the road. Most of the lookers on appeared to be in a condition of blank
despair. They had believed so fully that the grand sortie must end in a
grand victory, that they could hardly believe their eyes when they saw
their heroes returning into Paris, instead of being already at
Versailles. There were many women anxiously scanning the lines of
soldiers as they passed by, and asking every moment whether some
relative had been killed. As I came home down the Champs Elysées it was
full of knots of three and four soldiers, who seemed to consider that it
was a waste of time and energy to keep up with their regiments.

In the evening papers the despatch announcing the defeat of Chanzy has
been published, and a request from Trochu to General Schmitz to apply at
once for an armistice of two days to bury the dead. "The fog," he adds,
"is very dense," and certainly this fog appears to have got into the
worthy man's brain. Almost all the wounded have already been picked up
by the French and the Prussian ambulances. Nearly all the dead are in
what are now the Prussian lines, and will no doubt be buried by them. In
the afternoon, as a suspension of arms for two hours was agreed to, our
ambulances pushed forward, and brought back a few wounded, but not many.
Most of those who had fallen in the Prussian lines had already been
moved, their officers said, to St. Germain and St. Cloud, where they
would be cared for. At three P.M. Jules Favre summoned the Mayors to a
consultation, and General Trochu also came in to the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs for half an hour, and then returned to Valérien. The feeling
against him is very strong. It is said that he has offered to resign;
and I think it very probable that he will be the Jonah thrown out to
the whale. But will this sacrifice save the ship? All the Generals are
roundly abused. Indeed, in France there is no medium between the Capitol
and the Tarpeian Rock. A man who is not a victor must be a traitor. That
undisciplined National Guards fresh from their shops, should be unable
to carry by assault batteries held by German troops, is a thing which
never can be admitted. If they fail to do this, it is the fault of their
leaders. Among those who were killed yesterday is M. Regnault, the
painter who obtained at the last salon, the gold medal for his picture
of "Salome." He went into action with a card on his breast, on which he
had written his name and the address of the young lady to whom he was
engaged to be married. When the brancardiers picked him up, he had just
strength to point to this address. Before they could carry him there he
was dead. But the most painful scene during the battle was the sight of
a French soldier who fell by French balls. He was a private in the 119th
Battalion, and refused to advance. His commander remonstrated. The
private shot him. General Bellemare, who was near, ordered the man to be
killed at once. A file was drawn up and fired on him; he fell, and was
supposed to be dead. Some brancardiers soon afterwards passing by, and
thinking that he had been wounded in the battle, placed him on a
stretcher. It was then discovered that he was still alive. A soldier
went up to him to finish him off, but his gun missed fire. He was then
handed another, when he blew out the wretched man's brains. From all I
can learn from the people connected with the different ambulances, our
loss yesterday does not amount to above 2000 killed and wounded. Most of
the newspapers estimate it far higher. At Buzenval, where the only
really sharp fighting took place, an officer who was in command tells me
that there were about 300 killed. For the sake of humanity, it is to be
hoped that we shall have no more of these blind sorties. The French get
through the first Prussian lines; they are then arrested by the fire of
the batteries from the second line; reinforcements are brought up by the
enemy; and the well-known movement to the rear commences. "Our losses,"
say the official reports the next morning, "are great; those of the
enemy enormous. Our troops fought with distinguished valour, but----"

_January 21st._

It was so wet last night that there were but few groups of people on the
Boulevards. At the clubs Trochu was universally denounced. Almost every
one is now in despair. Of what use, they say, are the victories of
Bourbaki; he cannot be here in time. We had pinned our faith on Chanzy,
and the news of his defeat, coupled with our own, has almost
extinguished every ray of hope in the breasts even of the most hopeful.
The Government, it is thought, is preparing the public mind for a
capitulation. _La Liberté_, until now its strongest supporter, bitterly
complains that it should publish the truth! Chandordy's despatch went
first to Jules Favre. He stood over the man who was deciphering it. When
he read the opening sentence, "Un grand malheur," he refused to read
more, and sent it undeciphered to Trochu. When it reached the Governor,
no one on his staff could decipher it, so it had to be returned to the
Foreign-office. The moment for the quacks is at hand. A "General" offers
to raise the siege if he be given 50,000 men. A magician offers a shell
which will destroy the Prussians root and branch. M. Felix Pyat, in his
organ, observes that Sparta never was taken, and that the Spartans used
to eat in common. He proposes, therefore, as a means to free Paris, that
a series of public suppers should be inaugurated. I can only say that I
hope that they may be, for I certainly shall attend. Even Spartan broth
would be acceptable. The bread is all but uneatable. If you put it in
water, straw and bits of hay float about. A man, who ought to know,
solemnly assured me this morning that we had only food for six days; but
then men who ought to know are precisely those who know nothing. I do
not think that we are so badly off as this; but the end is a question no
longer of months, but of days, and very soon it will be of hours. Those
who desire a speedy capitulation are called _les capitulards_, and they
are in a majority of nine to one. There are still many who clamour for a
grand sortie, but most of those who do so, are persons who, by no
possibility, can themselves share in the operation. The street orators
are still at poor Jonah Trochu, and their hearers seem to agree with
them. These sages, however, do not explain who is to replace him. Some
of the members of the Government, I hear, suggest an admiral; but what
admiral would accept this _damnosa hæreditas_? Among the generals, each
has his partisans, and each seems to be of opinion that he himself is a
mighty man of war, and all the others fools. Both Vinoy and Ducrot
declined to attend the Council of War which sat before the late sortie.
They were generals of division, they said, and they would obey orders,
but they would accept no further responsibilities. Ducrot, who was the
_fidus Achates_ of Trochu, is no longer in his good graces. The _Réveil_
of this afternoon, which is usually well-informed on all matters which
concern our Mayors, gives the following account of the meeting of
yesterday: "At three o'clock the meeting took place in the presence of
all the members of the Government. M. Trochu declared formally that he
would fight no more. M. Favre said that the Government was
'disappearing.' M. Favre proposed that the Government should give up its
power to the Mayors. The Mayors refused. The discussion was very
violent. Several propositions, one more absurd than another, were
brought forward by some of the members of the Government. They were not
discussed. As usual, the meeting broke up without any result." The best
man they have is Vinoy; he is honest, disinterested, and determined. It
is to be hoped that if Trochu resigns, he will take his place.

_January 22nd._

So poor Jonah has gone over, and been swallowed up by the whale. He
still remains the head of the civil government, but it only is as a
figure-head. He is an upright man; but as a military chief he has proved
himself a complete failure. He was a man of plans, and never could alter
the details of these plans to suit a change of circumstances. What his
grand plan was, by which Paris was to be saved, no one now, I presume,
ever will know. The plans of his sorties were always elaborately drawn
up; each divisional commander was told in the minutest details what he
was to do. Unfortunately, General Moltke usually interfered with the
proper development of these details--a proceeding which always surprised
poor Trochu--and in the account the next day of his operations, he would
dwell upon the fact as a reason for his want of success. That batteries
should be opened upon his troops, and that reinforcements should be
brought up against them, were trifles--probable as they might seem to
most persons--which filled him with an indignant astonishment. At the
last sortie Ducrot excuses himself for being late at La Malmaison
because he found the road by which he had been ordered to advance
occupied by a long line of artillery, also there by Trochu's orders.
General Vinoy, who has replaced him, is a hale old soldier about seventy
years old. He has risen from the ranks, and in the Crimea was a very
intimate friend of Lord Clyde. When the latter came, a few years before
his death, to Paris, the English Ambassador had prepared a grand
breakfast for him, and had gone to the station to meet him. On the
platform was also Vinoy, who also had prepared breakfast for his old
comrade in arms; and this breakfast, very much to the disgust of the
diplomatist, Lord Clyde accepted. General Vinoy has to-day issued a
proclamation to the troops, which in its plain, simple, modest language
contrasts very favourably with the inflated bombast in which his
predecessor was so great an adept.

The newspapers are already commencing to prove to their own satisfaction
that the battle of last Thursday was not a defeat, but an "incomplete
victory." As for the National Guard, one would suppose that every one of
them had been in the action, and that they were only prevented from
carrying everything before them by the timidity of their generals. The
wonderful feats which many of these heroes have told me they performed
would lead one to suppose that Napoleon's old Guard was but a flock of
sheep in comparison with them. I cannot help thinking that by a certain
indistinctness of recollection they attribute to themselves every
exploit, not only that they saw, but that their fertile imaginations
have ever dreamt to be possible. In all this nonsense they are supported
by the newspapers, who think more of their circulation than of truth. To
read the accounts of this battle one would suppose that neither the Line
nor the Mobiles had been in it. A caricature now very popular represents
a lion in the uniform of a National Guard held back by two donkeys in
the uniforms of generals, and vainly endeavouring to rush upon a crowd
of terrified Germans. As a matter of fact--about 5,000 National Guards
were in the thick of it--the men behaved tolerably well, and many of the
officers very well. The great majority of the marching battalions which
were in the peninsula "did not give," to use the French phrase; and some
of them, notwithstanding the efforts of their officers, were unable to
remain steady as soon as the Prussian bombs reached them. This _sic vos
non vobis_ which, is meted out to the Mobiles and the Line makes me
indignant. As for the sailors, they are splendid fellows--and how we
always manage to beat them afloat increases my admiration of the British
tars. They are kept under the strictest discipline by their captains
and admirals, one of whom once said to me when I asked him whether his
men fraternized with the soldiers, "If I saw one of them associating
with such _canaille_, I would put him under arrest for twenty-four
hours." In the forts they are perfectly cool under the heaviest fire,
and both at Le Bourget and at Chatillon they fought like heroes. "Ten
thousand of them," observed a general to me the other day, "are worth
more than the whole National Guards."

The bombardment still continues. Bombs fall into the southern part of
the town; but habit in this world is everything, and no one troubles
himself much about them. At night the Trocadero has become a fashionable
lounge for the _cocottes_, who still honour us with their presence. The
line of the Prussian batteries and the flash of their guns can be seen.
The hissing, too, of the bombs can be heard, when the _cocottes_ crouch
by their swains in affected dread. It is like Cremorne, with its ladies
and its fireworks. Since yesterday morning, too, St. Denis has been
bombarded. Most of its inhabitants have taken refuge in Paris, but it
will be a pity if the cathedral, with the tombs of all the old French
Kings, is damaged. St. Denis is itself a species of fort. Its guns are
not, a friend tells me who has just come from there, replying with
vigour. The Prussians are firing on it from six separate batteries, and
it is feared that it will fall. Our attention to-day has been diverted
from the Prussians outside by a little domestic quarrel at home, and we
have been shooting each other, as though the Prussian missiles were not
enough for our warlike stomachs, and death were not raging around our

Between twelve and one this morning a band of armed patriots appeared
before the prison of Mazas, and demanded the release of Flourens and the
political prisoners who were shut up there. The director, instead of
keeping the gate shut, allowed a deputation to enter. As soon as the
gate was opened, not only the deputation, but the patriots rushed in,
and bore off Flourens and his friends in triumph. With the Mayor at
their head, they then went to the Mairie of the 20th Arrondissement, and
pillaged it of all the rations and bread and wine which they found
stored up there. Then they separated, having passed a resolution to go
at twelve o'clock to the Hôtel de Ville, to assist their "brothers" in
turning out the Government. I got myself to the Place of the Hôtel de
Ville at about two o'clock. There were then about 5000 persons there.
The gates were shut. Inside the rails before them were a few officers;
and soldiers could be seen at all the windows. Some few of the 5000 were
armed, but most of them were unarmed. Close in by the Hôtel de Ville
there seemed to be some sort of military order in the positions occupied
by the rioters. I took up my stand at the corner of the Rue de Rivoli.
Every moment the crowd increased. It was composed partly of sightseers,
for on Sunday every one is out of doors; partly of sympathisers. These
sympathisers were not, as on October 31, working men, but mainly what
Count Bismarck would call the populace. Their political creed may be
summed up by the word "loot;" their personal appearance by the word
"hangdog." I found myself in the midst of a group of hangdogs, who were
abusing everyone and everything. On one side of me was a lady of
expansive figure, whose breath showed that she had partaken lately of
ardent spirits, and whose conversation showed that if she was a "matron
of Cornelia's mien," her morals were better than her conversation. "The
people are slaves," she perpetually yelled, "they will no longer submit
to traitors; I say it to you, I, the mother of four children." The
maternal vantage ground which she assumed evidently gave her opinions
weight, for her neighbours replied, "Oui, elle a raison, la mère." A
lean, bilious-looking fellow, who looked as though through life he had
not done an honest day's work, and whose personal charms were not
heightened by a grizzled beard and a cap of cat-skin, close by the
matron, was bawling out, "The Hôtel de Ville belongs to us, I am a
taxpayer;" whilst a youth about fifteen years old, hard by, explained in
a shrill treble the military errors which Trochu and the generals had
committed. At a little after three o'clock, a fresh band, all armed,
with a drum, beating the charge, appeared, and as they neared the chief
entrance of the Hôtel de Ville, just one shot, and then a number of
shots were fired. Everybody who had a gun then shot it off with an eager
but general idea of doing something, as he fled, like a Parthian bowman.
The stampede soon became general; numbers of persons threw themselves on
the ground. I saw the mother of four children sprawling in the mire, and
the bilious taxpayer fall over her, and then I followed the youthful
strategist into an open door. Inside were about twenty people. The door
was shut to, and for about twenty minutes we heard muskets going off.
Then, as the fight seemed over, the door was opened and we emerged. The
Place had been evacuated by the mob, and was held by the troops. Fresh
regiments were marching on it along the quay and the Rue de Rivoli.
Wounded people were lying about or crawling towards the houses. Soon
some _brancardiers_ arrived and picked up the wounded. One boy I saw
evidently dying--the blood was streaming out of two wounds. The windows
of the Hôtel de Ville were broken, and the façade bore traces of balls,
as did some of the houses round the Place. I remained until dusk. Even
when I left the streets were full of citizens. Each man who had rolled
in the mire, and whose clothes showed traces of it, was the centre of a
group of sympathisers and non-sympathisers, to whom he was explaining
how the Breton brigands had fired on him, a poor innocent lamb, who had
done no harm. The non-sympathisers, however, were in the majority, and
"served him right" seemed to be the general verdict on those who had
been shot, or who had spoilt their clothes. Every now and then some
window would slam or a cart would rumble by, when there would be a
general scamper for a few yards. After dinner I again returned to the
Hôtel de Ville. The crowd had dispersed, and the Place was militarily
occupied; so we may suppose that this little domestic episode is over.

_January 23rd, morning._

The clubs are closed, and the _Réveil_ and the _Combat_ suppressed.
Numbers of people are coming in from St. Denis, where the bombardment is
getting very hot. Bombs last night fell in one of the islands on the
Seine; so the flood is mounting, and our dry ground is every day
diminishing. I see in an extract from a German paper, that it has been
telegraphed to England that the village of Issy has been entirely
destroyed by the Prussian fire. This is not the case. I was there the
other day, and the village is still there. It is not precisely the spot
where one would wish one's property to be situated, but most of the
houses are, as yet, intact.


_January 27th._

I write this, as I hear that the last balloon is to start to-night. How
lucky for the English public that, just when the siege of Paris ceases,
the conscript fathers of the nation will furnish them with reading at
their breakfast tables. The light, airy wit of Professor Fawcett, and
the pleasant fancy of Mr. Newdegate, will be served up for them with
their hot rolls every morning instead of the bulletins of Count
Moltke--lucky public!

Most of us here are much like heirs at a rich man's funeral. We have
long faces, we sigh and we groan, but we are not quite so unhappy as we
look. The _Journal Officiel_ of this morning announces that Paris will
not be occupied, and that the National Guard will not go to Germany.
This is, we say, very different from a capitulation--it is a political
incident; in a few days I expect to hear it called a victory. The editor
of the _Liberté_--why is this gentleman still alive? for the last three
months he has been making pacts with death--explains that Paris never
would have and never will capitulate, but that an armistice is a very
different sort of thing. Last night, notwithstanding the cold which has
again set in, the Boulevard was blocked up with groups of patriots and
wiseacres discussing the state of things, and explaining what Paris
would agree to and what she would not agree to. Occasionally some
"pure"--a "pure" is an Ultra--threw out that the Parisians themselves
were only reaping what they had sown; but the pure, I need hardly say,
was soon silenced, and it seemed to be generally agreed that Paris has
been sublime and heroic, but that if she has been neither, it has been
the fault of the traitors to whom she has confided her destinies. Some
said that the admirals had stated that they would blow up their forts
rather than surrender them; but if the worthies who vouched for this had
been informed by the admirals of their intentions, I can only say that
these honest tars had chosen strange confidants.

Paris, as I have already said more than once, has been fighting as much
for her own supremacy over the provinces as for victory over the
Prussians. The news--whether true or false I know not--that Gambetta,
who is regarded as the representative of Paris, has been replaced by a
sort of Council of Regency, and that this Council of Regency is
treating, has filled everyone here with indignation. Far better,
everyone seems to think, that Alsace should be lost to France, than that
France should be lost to Paris. The victories of Prussia have been
bitter to Frenchmen, because they had each of them individually assumed
a vicarious glory in the victories of the First Empire; but the real
patriotism of the Parisians does not extend farther than the walls of
their own town. If the result of this war is to cause France to
undertake the conduct of its own affairs, and not to allow the
population of Paris and the journalists of Paris to ride roughshod over
her, the country will have gained more than she has lost by her defeats,
no matter what may be the indemnity she be called upon to pay. The
martial spirit of the National Guard has of course been lauded to the
skies by those newspapers which depend for their circulation on these
braves. The question what they have done may, however, be reduced to
figures. They number above 300,000. According to their own statements
they have been fighting for nearly five months, and I venture to say
that during the whole campaign they have not lost 500 men. They have
occasionally done duty in the trenches, but this duty has been a very
brief one, and they have had very long intervals of repose. I do not
question that in the National Guard there are many brave men, but one
can only judge of the fighting qualities of an army by comparison, and
if the losses of the National Guard be statistically compared with those
of the Line, of the Mobiles, and of the sailors, it will be shown
that--to use an Americanism--their record is a bad one. The soldiers and
the sailors have fought, and the women have suffered during the siege.
The male population of Paris has done little more than bluster and drink
and brag.

To-day there is no firing, and I suppose that the last shell has fallen
into Paris. I went out yesterday to St. Denis. Along the road there were
a few people coming into Paris with their beds and tables in hand-carts.
In the town the bombardment, although not so heavy as it had been, was
far too heavy to be pleasant. Most of the people still remaining have
established themselves in their cellars, and every moment one came
against some chimney emerging from the soil. Some were still on the
ground-floor of their houses, and had heaped up mattresses against their
windows. The inhabitants occasionally ran from one house to another,
like rabbits in a warren from hole to hole. All the doors were open, and
whenever one heard the premonitory whistle which announced the arrival
of one of the messengers of our psychological friends outside, one had
to dodge into some door. I did not see any one hit. The houses were a
good deal knocked about; the cathedral, it was said, had been hit, but
as shells were falling in the Place before it, I reserved investigations
for a more quiet moment. Some of the garrison told me that the forts had
been "scratched," but as to how far this scratching process had been
carried I cannot say from personal observation, as I thought I might be
scratched myself if I pushed my reconnaissance farther. I am not a
military man, and do not profess to know anything about bombs
technically, but it seems to me, considering that it is their object to
burst, and considering the number of scientific persons who have devoted
their time to make them burst, it is very strange how very few do burst.
I am told that one reason for this is the following:--when they lose the
velocity of the impelling force they turn over in the air, and as the
percussion cap is on the lighter end, the heavier one strikes the
ground. Many of these, too, which have fallen in the town, and which
have burst, have done no mischief, because the lead in which they are
enveloped has kept the pieces together. The danger, indeed, to life and
limb of a bombardment is very slight. I would at any time prefer to be
for 24 hours in the most exposed portion of a bombarded town, than walk
24 times across Oxford Street in the middle of the day. A bomb is a joke
in comparison with those great heavy wagons which are hurled at
pedestrians by their drivers in the streets of London.

_January 28th._

The Government has not yet made up its mind to bell the cat, and to let
us know the terms of the armistice or capitulation, whichever it is to
be called. We hear that it is expected that trains will run to England
on Tuesday or Wednesday, and by the first train I for one shall
endeavour to get out of this prison. It will be such a relief to find
oneself once more among people who have glimpses of common sense, who
are not all in uniform, and who did not insist so very strongly on their
sublime attitude. Yesterday evening there were a series of open-air
clubs held on the Boulevards and other public places. The orators were
in most instances women or aged men. These Joans of Arc and ancient
Pistols talked very loudly of making a revolution in order to prevent
the capitulation; and it seemed to me that among their hearers,
precisely those who whilst they had an opportunity to fight thought it
wise not to do so, were most vociferous in their applause. The language
of the National Guard is indeed most warlike. Several hundred of their
officers have indulged in the cheap patriotism of signing a declaration
that they wish to die rather than yield. This morning many battalions of
the National Guard are under arms, and are hanging about in the streets
with their arms stacked before them. Many of the men, however, have not
answered to the rappel, and are remaining at home, as a mode of
protesting against what is passing. General Vinoy has a body of troops
ready to act, and as he is a man of energy I do not anticipate serious
disturbances for the moment. As for the soldiers and the Mobiles, they
are wandering about in twos and threes without arms, and do not affect
to conceal that they are heartily glad that all is over. Poor fellows,
their torn and tattered uniforms contrast with the spick and span
military gear of the National Guard. They have had during the siege hard
work, and they have done good duty, with but little thanks for it. The
newspapers are one and all down on the Government. It is of course held
to be their fault that the lines of the besiegers have not been forced.
General Trochu is not a military genius, and his colleagues have not
proved themselves better administrators than half a dozen lawyers who
have got themselves elected to a legislative assembly by the gift of the
gab were likely to be; but still this system of sacrificing the leaders
whenever any disaster takes place, and accusing them of treachery and
incompetence, is one of the worst features in the French character. If
it continues, eventually every man of rank will be dubbed by his own
countrymen either a knave or a fool.

_January 31st._

_Finita la Comedia._ Let fall the curtain. The siege of Paris is over;
the last balloon has carried our letters through the clouds; the last
shot has been fired. The Prussians are in the forts, and the Prussian
armies are only not in the streets because they prefer to keep watch and
guard outside the vanquished city. What will be the verdict of history
on the defence? Who knows! On the one hand the Parisians have kept a
powerful army at bay far longer than was anticipated; on the other hand,
every sortie that they have made has been unsuccessful--every attempt to
arrest the approach of the besiegers has failed. Passively and inertly
they have allowed their store of provisions to grow less and less, until
they have been forced to capitulate, without their defences having been
stormed, or the cannon silenced. The General complains of his soldiers,
the soldiers complain of their General; and on both sides there is cause
of complaint. Trochu is not a Todleben. His best friends describe him as
a sort of military Hamlet, wise of speech, but weak and hesitating in
action--making plans, and then criticising them instead of accomplishing
them. As a commander, his task was a difficult one; when the siege
commenced he had no army; when the army was formed, it was encompassed
by earthworks and redoubts so strong that even better soldiers would
have failed to carry them. As a statesman, he never was the master of
the situation. He followed rather than led public opinion, and
subordinated everything to the dread of displeasing any section of a
population, which, to be ruled--even in quiet times--must be ruled with
a rod of iron. Success is the criterion of ability in this country, and
poor Trochu is as politically dead as though he never had lived. His
enemies call him a traitor; his friends defend him from the charge by
saying that he is only a vain fool.

As regards the armed force, the sailors have behaved so well that I
wonder at the ease with which our own tars have always beaten them. They
have been kept under a rigid discipline by their naval commanders. The
line, composed of depôt battalions, and of the regiments which Vinoy
brought back from Mézières, without being equal to old seasoned troops,
have fought creditably. Their great defect has been an absence of strict
discipline. The Mobiles, raw peasants fresh from their homes, have shown
themselves brave in action, and have supported the hardship of lengthy
outpost duty without a murmur. Unfortunately they elected their own
officers, and this weakened their efficiency for offensive purposes.
When the siege commenced, every citizen indiscriminately assumed the
uniform of the National Guard. Each battalion of this motley force
elected its officers, and both men and officers united in despising
discipline as a restraint to natural valour. The National Guard mounted
guard occasionally on the ramparts, and the rest of their time they
passed in parading the streets, drinking in the pothouses, and
discussing the conduct of their military superiors. General Trochu soon
discovered that this force was, for all purposes of war, absolutely
useless. He called for volunteers, and he anticipated that 100,000 men
would answer to the appeal; not 10,000 did so. He then ordered a
marching company to be formed from each battalion. Complaints
innumerable arose. Instead of a generous emulation to fight, each man
sought for an excuse to avoid it. This man had a mother, that man a
daughter; one had weak lungs, and another weak legs. At length, by dint
of pressure and coaxing, the marching battalions were formed. Farewell
suppers were offered them by their comrades. They were given new coats,
new trousers, and new saucepans to strap on their haversacks. They have
done some duty in the trenches, but they were always kept away from
serious fighting, and only gave a "moral support" to those engaged in
the conflict, until the fiasco in the Isthmus of Gennevilliers a
fortnight ago. Then, near the walls of Buzanval, the few companies which
were in action fought fairly if not successfully, whilst in another part
of the field of battle, those who formed the reserves broke and fled as
soon as the Prussian bombs fell into their ranks. The entire National
Guard, sedentary and marching battalions, has not, I imagine, lost 500
men during its four months' campaign. This can hardly be called fighting
to the death _pro aris et focis_, and sublimity is hardly the word to
apply to these warriors. If the 300 at Thermopylæ had, after exhausting
their food, surrendered to the Persian armies, after the loss of less
than one per cent. of their number--say of three men, they might have
been very worthy fellows, but history would not have embalmed their act.
Politically, with the exception of the riot on October 31, the
Government of National Defence has met with no opposition since
September last. There are several reasons for this. Among the
bourgeoisie there was little of either love or confidence felt in Trochu
and his colleagues, but they represented the cause of order, and were
indeed the only barrier against absolute anarchy. Among the poorer
classes everyone who liked was clothed, was fed, and was paid by
Government for doing nothing, and consequently many who otherwise would
have been ready to join in a revolt, thought it well not to disturb a
state of things so eminently to their satisfaction. Among the Ultras,
there was a very strong distaste to face the fire either of Prussians or
of Frenchmen. They had, too, no leaders worthy of the name, and many of
them were determined not to justify Count Bismarck's taunt that the
"populace" would aid him by exciting civil discord. The Government of
September, consequently, is still the Government of to-day, although its
chief has shown himself a poor general, and its members, one and all,
have shown themselves wretched administrators. In unblushing mendacity
they have equalled, if not surpassed, their immediate predecessor, the
virtuous Palikao. The only two of them who would have had a chance of
figuring in England, even as vestrymen, are M. Jules Favre and M. Ernest
Picard. The former has all the brilliancy and all the faults of an able
lawyer--the latter, although a lawyer, is not without a certain modicum
of that plain practical common sense, which we are apt to regard as
peculiarly an English characteristic.

The sufferings caused by the dearth of provisions and of fuel have
fallen almost exclusively on the women and children. Among the
well-to-do classes, there has been an absence of many of those luxuries
which habit had made almost necessaries, but this is all. The men of the
poorer classes, as a rule, preferred to idle away their time on the 1fr.
50c. which they received from the Government, rather than gain 4 or 5fr.
a day by working at their trades; consequently if they drank more and
ate less than was good for them, they have had only themselves to thank
for it. Their wives and children have been very miserable. Scantily
clad, ill fed, without fuel, they have been obliged to pass half the day
before the bakers' doors, waiting for their pittance of bread. The
mortality and the suffering have been very great among them, and yet, it
must be said to their credit, they have neither repined nor complained.

Business has, of course, been at a standstill since last September. At
the Bourse the transactions have been of the most trifling description,
much to the disgust of the many thousands who live here by peddling
gains and doubtful speculations in this temple of filthy lucre. By a
series of decrees payment of rent and of bills of exchange has been
deferred from month to month. Most of the wholesale exporting houses
have been absolutely closed. In the retail shops nothing has been sold
except by the grocers, who must have made large profits. Whether the
city has a recuperative power strong enough to enable it to recover
from this period of stagnation, and to pay its taxation, which
henceforward will be enormous, has yet to be seen. The world is the
market for _articles de Paris_, but then to preserve this market, the
prices of these articles must be low. Foreigners, too, will not come
here if the cost of living is too exorbitant, and yet I do not see how
it is to be otherwise. The talk of the people now is, that they mean to
become serious--no longer to pander to the extravagances of strangers,
and no longer to encourage their presence amongst them. If they carry
out these intentions, I am afraid that, however their morals may be
improved, their material interests will suffer. Gambling tables may not
be an advantage to Europe, but without them Homburg and Baden would go
to the wall. Paris is a city of pleasure--a cosmopolitan city; it has
made its profit out of the follies and the vices of the world. Its
prices are too high, its houses are too large, its promenades and its
public places have cost too much for it to be able to pay its way as the
sober, decent capital of a moderate-sized country, where there are few
great fortunes. If the Parisians decide to become poor and respectable,
they are to be congratulated upon the resolve, but the present notion
seems to be that they are to become rich and respectable--a thing more
difficult. Paris--the Paris of the Empire and of Haussmann--is a house
of cards. Its prosperity was a forced and artificial one. The war and
the siege have knocked down the cards, and it is doubtful whether they
will ever serve to build a new house.

As regards public opinion, I cannot see that it has changed one iota for
the better since the fall of the Empire, or that common sense has made
any headway. There are of course sensible men in Paris, but either they
hold their tongues, or their voices are lost in the chorus of blatant
nonsense, which is dinned into the public ears. _Mutatis mutandis_ the
newspapers, with some few exceptions, are much what they were when they
worshipped Cæsar, chronicled the doings of the _demi-monde_, clamoured
for the Rhine, and invented Imperial victories. Their ignorance
respecting everything beyond the frontiers of France is such, that a
charity-schoolboy in England or Germany would be deservedly whipped for
it. _La Liberté_ has, I am told, the largest circulation at present.
Every day since the commencement of the siege I have invested two sous
in this journal, and I may say, without exaggeration, that never
once--except one evening when it was burnt on the boulevard for
inadvertently telling the truth--have I been able to discover in its
columns one single line of common sense. Its facts are sensational--its
articles gross appeals to popular folly, popular ignorance, and popular
vanity. Every petty skirmish of the National Guard has been magnified
into a stupendous victory; every battalion which visited a tomb, crowned
a statue, or signed some manifesto pre-eminent in its absurdity, has
been lauded in language which would have been exaggerated if applied to
the veterans of the first Napoleon. The editor is, I believe, the author
of the "pact with death," which has been so deservedly ridiculed in the
German newspapers. The orators of the clubs have not been wiser than the
journalists. At the Ultra gatherings, a man who says that he is a
republican is regarded as the possessor of every virtue. The remedy for
all the ills of France has been held to be, to copy exactly what was
done during the First Revolution. "Citizens, we must have a _Commune_,
and then we shall drive the Prussians out of France," was always
received with a round of sympathetic applause, although I have never yet
found two persons to agree in their explanation of what is meant by the
word "_Commune_." At the Moderate clubs, the speeches generally
consisted of ignorant abuse of Germany, attempts to disprove
well-established facts, and extravagant self-laudation. I have attended
many clubs--Ultra and Moderate--and I never heard a speaker at one of
them who would have been tolerated for five minutes by an ordinary
English political meeting.

The best minister whom the Parisians have, is M. Dorian. He is a
manufacturer, and as hard-headed and practical as a Scotsman. Thanks to
his energy and business qualities, cannon have been cast, old muskets
converted into breechloaders, and ammunition fabricated. He has had
endless difficulties to overcome, and has overcome them. The French are
entirely without what New Englanders call shiftiness. As long as all the
wheels of an administration work well, the administrative coach moves
on, but let the smallest wheel of the machine get out of order, and
everything stands still. To move on again takes a month's discussion and
a hundred despatches. A redoubt which the Americans during their civil
war would have thrown up in a night has taken the Parisians weeks to
make. Their advanced batteries usually were without traverses, because
they were too idle to form them. Although in modern sieges the spade
ought to play as important a part as the cannon, they seem to have
considered it beneath their dignity to dig--500 navvies would have done
more for the defence of the town than 500,000 National Guards did do. At
the commencement of October, ridiculous barricades were made far inside
the ramparts, and although the generals have complained ever since that
they impeded the movements of their troops, they have never been

I like the Parisians and I like the French. They have much of the old
Latin _urbanitas_, many kindly qualities, and most of the minor virtues
which do duty as the small change of social intercourse. But for the
sake of France, I am glad that Paris has lost its _prestige_, for its
rule has been a blight and a curse to the entire country; and for the
sake of Europe, I am glad that France has lost her military prestige,
for this prestige has been the cause of most of the wars of Europe
during the last 150 years. It is impossible so to adapt the equilibrium
of power, that every great European Power shall be co-equal in strength.
The balance tips now to the side of Germany. That country has attained
the unity after which she has so long sighed, and I do not think she
will embroil the continent in wars, waged for conquest, for an "idea,"
or for the dynastic interests of her princes. The Germans are a brave
race, but not a war-loving race. Much, therefore, as I regret that
French provinces should against the will of their inhabitants become
German, and strongly as I sympathise with my poor friends here in the
overthrow of all their illusions, I console myself with the thought that
the result of the present war will be to consolidate peace. France will
no doubt look wistfully after her lost possessions, and talk loudly of
her intention to re-conquer them. But the difficulty of the task will
prevent the attempt. Until now, to the majority of Frenchmen, a war
meant a successful military promenade, a plentiful distribution of
decorations, and an inscription on some triumphal arch. Germany was to
them the Germany of Jena and Austerlitz. Their surprise at seeing the
Prussians victors at the doors of Paris, is much that which the
Americans would feel if a war with the Sioux Indians were to bring these
savages to the suburbs of New York. The French have now learnt that they
are not invincible, and that if war may mean victory, it may also mean
defeat, invasion, and ruin. When, therefore, they have paid the bill for
their _à Berlin_ folly, they will think twice before they open a fresh
account with fortune.

I would recommend sightseers to defer their visit to Paris for the
present, as during the armistice it will not be a very pleasant
residence for foreigners. I doubt whether the elections will go off, and
the decisions of the National Assembly be known without disturbances.
The vainest of the vain, irritable to madness by their disasters, the
Parisians are in no humour to welcome strangers. The world has held
aloof whilst the "capital of civilisation" has been bombarded by the
"hordes of Attila," and there is consequently, just now, no very
friendly feeling towards the world.

Of news, there is very little. We are in a state of physical and moral
collapse. The groups of patriots which invested the Boulevards on the
first announcement of the capitulation have disappeared; and the
gatherings of National Guards, who announced their intention to die
rather than submit, have discontinued their sittings, owing it, as they
said, to their country to live for her. No one hardly now affects to
conceal his joy that all is over. Every citizen with whom one speaks,
tells you that it will be the lasting shame of Paris that with its
numerous army it not only failed to force the Prussians to raise the
siege, but also allowed them whenever they pleased to detach corps
d'armée against the French generals in the provinces. This, of course,
is the fault of the Government of Trochu and of the Republic, and having
thus washed his hands of everything that has occurred, the citizen goes
on his way rejoicing. The Mobiles make no secret of their delight at the
thought of getting back to their homes. Whatever the Parisians may think
of them, they do not think much of the Parisians. The army, and more
particularly the officers, are very indignant at the terms of the
armistice. They bitterly say that they would far rather have preferred
to have been made prisoners of war at once, and they feel that they are
in pawn in Paris, a pledge that peace will be made. M. Jules Ferry was
treated so coldly the other day by General Vinoy's staff, when he went
upon some business to the headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief, that
he asked the cause, and was told in plain terms that he and his
colleagues had trifled with the honour of the army. The armistice was,
as you are aware, concluded by M. Jules Favre in person. It was then
thought necessary to send a General to confer with Count Moltke on
matters of detail. General Trochu seized upon this occasion to assert
himself, and requested to be allowed to send a General of his choice,
saying that his book which he published in 1867 must be so well known at
the German headquarters, that probably his envoy would meet with
peculiar respect. To this General Vinoy acceded, but Count Moltke
refused to treat with Trochu's General, who was drunk, and the chief of
General Vinoy's staff had to be substituted. General Ducrot is still
here. He resigned his command, not as is generally supposed, because the
Prussians insisted upon it in consequence of his evasion from Sedan, but
because General Vinoy on assuming the command of the army gave him a
very strong hint to do so. "I did not"' observed Vinoy, "think your
position sufficiently _en règle_ to serve under _you_, and so----"

The question of the revictualling is the most important one of the
moment. The railroad kings, who had an interview with Count Bismarck at
Versailles, seem to be under the impression that this exceedingly
wide-awake statesman intends to throw impediments in the way of Paris
getting provisions from England, in order that the Germans may turn an
honest penny by supplying the requirements of the town. He has thrown
out hints that he himself can revictual us for a short time, if it
really be a question of life and death. Even when the lines are opened
to traffic and passengers, the journey to England, _viâ_ Amiens, Rouen,
and Dieppe will be a tedious one. The Seine, we learn, has been rendered
impassable by the boats which have been sunk in it.

We have as yet had no news from outside. The English here find the want
of a consul more than ever. The Foreign Office has sent in an acting
commission to Mr. Blount, a gentleman who may be an excellent banker,
but knows nothing of consular business, notwithstanding his courtesy. As
whenever any negotiation is to take place at a foreign court a Special
Envoy is sent, and, as it now appears, whenever a Consul is particularly
wanted in a town a Special Consul is appointed, would it not be as well
at once to suppress the large staff of permanent ambassadors, ministers,
and consuls who eat their heads off at a heavy cost to the country. I
should be curious to know how many years it would take to reduce the
intelligence of an ordinary banker's clerk to the level of a Foreign
Office bureaucrat. How the long-suffering English public can continue to
support the incompetency and the supercilious contempt with which these
gentry treat their employers is to me a mystery. Bureaucrats are bad
enough in all conscience, but a nest of fine gentleman bureaucrats is a
public curse, when thousands are subjected to their whims, their
ignorance, and their airs.

The Republic is in very bad odour just now. It has failed to save
France, and it is rendered responsible for this failure. Were the Comte
de Paris a man of any mark, he would probably be made King. As it is,
there is a strong feeling in favour of his family, and more particularly
in favour of the Duc d'Aumale. Some talk of him as President of the
Republic, others suggest that he should be elected King. The
Bonapartists are very busy, but as regards Paris there is no chance
either for the Emperor or the Empress Regent. As for Henri V., he is, in
sporting phraseology, a dark horse. Among politicians, the general
opinion is that a moderate Republic will be tried for a short time, and
that then we shall gravitate into a Constitutional Monarchy.

Little heed is taken of the elections which are so close at hand. No one
seems to care who is elected. As it is not known whether the National
Assembly will simply register the terms of peace proposed by Germany,
and then dissolve itself, or whether it will constitute itself into an
_Assemblée Constituante_, and decide upon the future form of government,
there is no Very great desire among politicians to be elected to it.
Several Electoral Committees have been formed, each of which puts
forward its own list--that which sits under the Presidency of M.
Dufaure, an Orleanist, at the Grand Hotel, is the most important of
them. Its list is intended to include the most practical men of all
parties; the rallying cry is to be France, and in theory its chiefs are
supposed to be moderate Republicans.

The ceremony of the giving up of the forts has passed over very quietly.
The Prussians entered them without noise or parade. At St. Denis, the
mayor of which said that no Prussian would be safe in it, friends and
foes, I am told by a person who has just returned, have fraternised, and
are pledging each other in every species of liquor. The ramparts are
being dismantled of their guns; the National Guard no longer does duty
on them, and crowds assemble and stare vaguely into the country outside.
During the whole siege Paris has not been so dismal and so dreary as it
is now. There is no longer the excitement of the contest, and yet we are
prisoners. The only consolation is that a few weeks will put an end to
this state of things.


_February 1st._

The Government of National Defence has almost disappeared from notice.
It has become a Committee to preside over public order. The world may
calumniate us, they said in a proclamation the other day. It would be
impossible, replied the newspapers. Trochu and Gambetta, once the idols
of the Parisians, are now the best abused men in France. Trochu (a
friend of his told me to-day) deserted by all, makes speeches in the
bosom of his family. No more speeches, no more lawyers; is the cry of
the journals. And then they spin out phrases of exaggerated Spartanism
by the yard, and suggest some lawyer as the rising hope of the country.

The cannon have been taken from the ramparts. The soldiers--Line and
Mobile--wander about unarmed, with their hands in their pockets, staring
at the shop-windows. They are very undemonstrative, and more like
peaceful villagers than rough troopers. They pass most of their time
losing their way and trying to find it again; and the Mobiles are
longing to get back to their homes. It appears now that there was an
error in the statistics published by the Government respecting the stock
of grain in hand. Two accounts, which were one and the same, were added
together. The bread is getting less like bread every day. Besides peas,
rice, and hay, starch is now ground up with it. In the eighth
arrondissement yesterday, there were no rations. The Northern Company do
not expect a provision train from Dieppe before Friday, and do not think
they will be able to carry passengers before Saturday. We are in want of
fuel as much as of food. A very good thing is to be made by any
speculator who can manage to send us coal or charcoal.

More than 23,000 persons have applied for permits to quit Paris, on the
ground that they are provincial candidates for the Assembly. Of course
this is a mere pretext. A commission, as acting British Consul, has been
sent to Mr. Blount, a banker. Will some M.P. move that the Estimates be
reduced by the salary of the Consul, who seems to consider Paris _in
partibus infidelium_?

The only outsider who has penetrated through the double cordon of
Prussians and French, is your Correspondent at the Headquarters of the
Crown Prince of Saxony. He startled us quite as much as Friday did
Robinson Crusoe. He was enthusiastically welcomed, for he had English
newspapers in one pocket, and some slices of ham in the other.

VERSAILLES, _February 6th._

I am not intoxicated, but I feel so heavy from having imbibed during the
last twenty-four hours more milk than I did during the first six months
which I passed in this planet, that I have some difficulty in collecting
my thoughts in order to write a letter. Yesterday I arrived here in
order to breathe for a moment the air of freedom. In vain my hospitable
friends, who have put me up, have offered me wine to drink, and this and
that delicacy to eat--I have stuck to eggs, butter, and milk. Pats of
butter I have bolted with a greasy greediness which would have done
honour to Pickwick's fat boy; and quarts of milk I have drunk with the
eagerness of a calf long separated from its maternal parent.

Although during the last few months I have seen but two or three numbers
of English papers, I make no doubt that so many good, bad, and
indifferent descriptions of every corner and every alley in this town
have appeared in print, that Londoners are by this time as well
acquainted with it as they are with Richmond or Clapham. Versailles
must, indeed, be a household word--not to say a household nuisance--in
England. It has been a dull, stupid place, haunted by its ancient
grandeurs; with too large a palace, too large streets, and too large
houses, for many a year; and while the presence of a Prussian army and a
Prussian Emperor may render it more interesting, they fail to make it
more lively. Of the English correspondents, some have gone into Paris in
quest of "phases" and impressions; many, however, still remain here,
battening upon the fat of the land, in the midst of kings and princes,
counts and Freiherrs. I myself have seldom got beyond a distant view of
such grand beings. What I know even of the nobility of my native land,
is derived from perusing the accounts of their journeys in the
fashionable newspapers, and from the whispered confidences of their
third cousins. To find myself in familiar intercourse with people who
habitually hobnob at Royal tables, and who invite Royal Highnesses to
drop in promiscuously and smoke a cigar, almost turns my head. To-morrow
I shall return to Paris, because I feel, were I to remain long in such
grand company, I should become proud and haughty; and, perhaps, give
myself airs when restored to the society of my relatives, who are honest
but humble. There is at present no difficulty in leaving Paris. A pass
is given at the Prefecture to all who ask for one, and it is an "open
sesame" to the Prussian lines. I came by way of Issy, dragged along by
an aged Rosinante, so weak from low living that I was obliged to get out
and walk the greater part of the way, as he positively declined to draw
me and the chaise.

This beast I have only been allowed to bring out of Paris after having
given my word of honour that I would bring him back, in order, if
necessary, to be slain and eaten, though I very much doubt whether a
tolerably hungry rat would find meat enough on his bones for a dinner.

I have been this morning sitting with a friend who, under the promise of
the strictest secrecy, has given me an account of the condition of
affairs here. I trust, therefore, that no one will mention anything that
may be found in this letter, directly or indirectly relating to the
Prussians. The old King, it appears, is by no means happy as an Emperor.
He was only persuaded to accept this title for the sake of his son, "Our
Fritz," and he goes about much like some English squire of long descent,
who has been induced to allow himself to be converted into a bran new
peer, over-persuaded by his ambitious progeny. William is one of that
numerous class of persons endowed with more heart than brains. Putting
aside, or regarding rather as the delusion of a diseased brain, his
notion that he is an instrument of Heaven, and that he is born to rule
over Prussian souls by right divine, the old man is by no means a bad
specimen of a good-natured, well-meaning, narrow-minded soldier of the
S.U.S.C. type; and between Bismarck and Moltke he has of late had by no
means an easy time. These two worthies, instead of being, as we imagined
in Paris, the best of friends, abominate each other. During the siege
Moltke would not allow Bismarck to have a seat at any council of war;
and in order to return the compliment, Bismarck has not allowed Moltke
to take any part in the negotiations respecting the armistice, except on
the points which were exclusively military. Bismarck tells the French
that had it not been for him, Paris would have been utterly destroyed,
while Moltke grumbles because it has not been destroyed; an achievement
which this talented captain somewhat singularly imagines would fittingly
crown his military career. But this is not the only domestic jar which
destroys the harmony of the happy German family at Versailles. In
Prussia it has been the habit, from time immemorial, for the heir to the
throne to coquet with the Liberals, and to be supposed to entertain
progressive opinions. The Crown Prince pursues this hereditary policy of
his family. He has surrounded himself with intelligent men, hostile to
the present state of things, and who understand that in the present age
110 country can be great and powerful, where all who are not country
gentlemen, chamberlains, or officers, are excluded from all share in its
government. Bismarck, on the other hand, is the representative, or
rather the business man, of the squirearchy and of the Vons--much in the
same way as Mr. Disraeli is of the Conservatives in England; and, like
the latter, he despises his own friends, and scoffs at the prejudices, a
pretended belief in which has served them as a stepping-stone to power.
The consequence of this divergency of opinion is, that Bismarck and "Our
Fritz" are very nearly what schoolboys call "cuts," and consequently
when the old King dies, Bismarck's power will die with him, unless he is
wise enough to withdraw beforehand from public life. "Our Fritz," I
hear, has done his best to prevent the Prussian batteries from doing any
serious damage to Paris, and has not concealed from his friends that he
considers that the bombardment was, in the words of Fouché, worse than a
crime--an error.

I find many of the Prussian officers improved by success. Those with
whom I have come in personal contact have been remarkably civil and
polite, but I confess that--speaking of course generally--the sight of
these mechanical instruments of war, brought to the highest state of
perfection in the trade of butchery, lording it in France, is to me most
offensive. I abhor everything which they admire. They are proud of
walking about in uniform with a knife by their side. I prefer the man
without the uniform and without the knife. They despise all who are
engaged in commercial pursuits. I regard merchants and traders as the
best citizens of a free country. They imagine that the man whose
ancestors have from generation to generation obscurely vegetated upon
some dozen acres, is the superior of the man who has made himself great
without the adventitious aid of birth; I do not. When Jules Favre met
Bismarck over here the other day, the latter spoke of Bourbaki as a
traitor, because he had been untrue to his oath to Napoleon. "And was
his country to count for nothing?" answered Favre. "In Germany king and
country are one and the same," replied Bismarck. This is the abominable
creed which is inculcated by the military squires who now hold the
destinies of France and of Germany in their hands; and on this
detestable heresy they dream of building up a new code of political
ethics in Europe. Liberalism and common sense are spreading even in the
army; but take a Tory squire, a Groom of the Chamber, and a
Life-guardsman, boil them down, and you will obtain the ordinary type of
the Prussian officer. For my part, I look with grim satisfaction to the
future. The unity of Germany has been brought about by the union of
Prussian Feudalists and German Radicals. The object is now attained, and
I sincerely hope that the former will find themselves in the position of
cats who have drawn the chestnuts out of the fire for others to eat. If
"Our Fritz," still following in the steps of his ancestors, throws off
his Liberalism with his Crown Princedom, his throne will not be a bed of
roses; it is fortunate, therefore, for him, that he is a man of good
sense. I am greatly mistaken if the Germans will long submit to the
horde of squires, of princes, of officers, and of court flunkeys, who
together, at present, form the ruling class. Among the politicians here
there is a strong feeling of dislike to the establishment of a Republic
in France. If they could have their own way they would re-establish the
Empire. But those who imagine that this is possible understand very
little of the French character. The Napoleonic legend was the result of
an epoch of military glory; the capitulation of Sedan not only scotched
it, but killed it. A Frenchman still believes in the military
superiority of his race over every other race, as firmly as he believes
in his own existence. If a French army is defeated, it is owing to the
treachery or the incapacity of the commander. If a battle be lost, the
General must pay the penalty for it; for his soldiers are invincible. It
is Napoleon, according to the received theory, who has succumbed in the
present war; not the French nation. If Napoleon be restored to power,
the nation will accept the responsibility which they now lay to his
door. The pride and vanity of every Frenchman are consequently the
strongest securities against an Imperial Restoration. Were I a betting
man, I would bet twenty to one against the Bonapartes; even against a
Republic lasting for two years; and I would take five to one against the
Comte de Paris becoming King of the French, and three to one against the
Duc d'Aumale being elected President of the Republic. This would be my
"book" upon the political French Derby.

The Prussians are making diligent use of the armistice to complete their
engineering work round Paris, and they appear to consider it possible
that they may yet have trouble with the city. If this be their opinion I
can only say that they are badly served by their spies. The resistance
_à outrance_ men in Paris, who never did anything but talk, will very
possibly still threaten to continue the struggle; but they will not
fight themselves, and most assuredly they will not find others to fight
for them. If the preliminaries of peace be signed at Bordeaux, Paris
will not protest; if they are rejected, Paris will not expose itself to
certain destruction by any attempt at further resistance, but will
capitulate, not as the capital of France, but as a besieged French town.
General Vinoy is absolute master of the situation; he is a calm,
sensible man, and will listen to no nonsense either from the "patriots,"
or his predecessors, or from Gambetta. From the tone of the decree of
the latter of the 3rd instant, he seems to be under the impression that
he is still the idol of the Parisians. Never did a man labour under so
complete a delusion. Before by a lucky speech he was pitchforked into
the Corps Législatif, he was a briefless lawyer, who used to talk very
loudly and with vast emphasis at the Café de Madrid. He is now regarded
as a pothouse politician, who ought never to have been allowed to get
beyond the pothouse.

The Germans appear to be carrying on the war upon the same principles of
international law which formed many thousand years ago the rule of
conquest among the Israelites. They are spoiling the Egyptians with a
vengeance. Even in this town, under the very eyes of the King, there is
one street--the Boulevard de la Reine--in which almost every house is
absolutely gutted. This, I hear, was done by the Bavarians. The German
army may have many excellent qualities, but chivalry is not among them.
War with them is a business. When a nation is conquered, there is no
sentimental pity for it, but as much is to be made out of it as
possible. Like the elephants, which can crush a tree or pick up a
needle, they conquer a province and they pick a pocket. As soon as a
German is quartered in a room he sends for a box and some straw;
carefully and methodically packs up the clock on the mantelpiece, and
all the stray ornaments which he can lay his hands on; and then, with a
tear glistening in his eye for his absent family, directs them either to
his mother, his wife, or his lady-love. In vain the proprietor protests;
the philosophical warrior utters the most noble sentiments respecting
the horrors of war; ponderously explains that the French do not
sufficiently appreciate the blessings of peace; and that he is one of
the humble instruments whose mission it is to make these blessings clear
to them. Then he rings the bell, and in a mild and gentle voice, orders
his box of loot to be carried off by his military servant. Ben Butler
and his New Englanders in New Orleans might have profitably taken
lessons from these all-devouring locusts. Nothing escapes them. They
have long rods which they thrust into the ground to see whether anything
of value has been buried in the gardens. Sometimes they confiscate a
house, and then re-sell it to the proprietor. Sometimes they cart off
the furniture. Pianos they are very fond of. When they see one, they
first sit down and play a few sentimental ditties, then they go away,
requisition a cart, and minstrel and instrument disappear together. They
are a singular mixture of bravery and meanness. No one can deny that
they possess the former quality, but they are courageous without one
spark of heroism. After fighting all day, they will rifle the corpses of
their fallen foes of every article they can lay their hands on, and will
return to their camp equally happy because they have won a great victory
for Fatherland, and stolen a watch from one of the enemies of
Fatherland. They have got now into such a habit of appropriating other
people's property, that I confess I tremble when one of them fixes his
cold glassy eye upon me. I see that he is meditating some new
philosophical doctrine, which, some way or other, will transfer what is
in my pocket into his. His mind, however, fortunately, works but slowly,
and I am far away from him before he has elaborated to his own
satisfaction a system of confiscation applicable to my watch or

PARIS, _February 7th_.

Rosinante has brought me back with much wheezing from Versailles to
Paris; and with me he brought General Duff, U.S.A., and a leg of mutton.
At the gate of Versailles we were stopped by the sentinels, who told us
that no meat could be allowed to leave the town. I protested; but in
vain. Mild blue-eyed Teutons with porcelain pipes in their mouths bore
off my mutton. The General protested too, but the protest of the citizen
of the Free Republic fared like mine. I followed my mutton into the
guard-house, where I found a youthful officer, who looked so pleasant
that I determined to appeal to the heart which beat beneath his uniform.
I attacked the heart on its weak side. I explained to him that it was
the fate of all to love. The warrior assented, and heaved a great sigh
to his absent Gretchen. I pursued my advantage, and passed from
generalities to particulars. "My lady love," I said, "is in Paris. Long
have I sighed in vain. I am taking her now a leg of mutton. On this leg
hang all my hopes of bliss. If I present myself to her with this token
of my affection, she may yield to my suit. Oh, full-of-feeling,
loved-of-beauteous-women, German warrior, can you refuse me?" He "gazed
on the joint that caused his shame; gazed and looked, then looked
again." The battle was won; the vanquished victor stalked forth,
forgetting the soldier in the man, and gave order that the General, the
Englishman, and the leg of mutton should be allowed to go forth in
peace. Rosinante toiled along towards Paris; we passed through St.
Cloud, now a heap of ruins, and we arrived at the Bridge of Neuilly.
Here our passes were examined by a German official, who was explaining
every moment to a French crowd in his native language that they could
not be allowed to pass into Paris without permits. The crowd was mainly
made up of women, who were carrying in bags, pocket handkerchiefs, and
baskets of loaves, eggs, and butter to their beleaguered friends. "Is it
not too bad of him that he will pretend not to understand French?" said
an old lady to me. "He looks like a fiend," said another lady, looking
up at the good-natured face of the stolid military gaoler. The contrast
between the shrieking, gesticulating, excited French, and the calm,
cool, indifferent air of the German, was a curious one. It was typical
of that between the two races. Having reached Paris, I consigned poor
old long Rosinante to his fate--the knackers, and, with my leg of mutton
under my arm, walked down the Boulevard. I was mobbed, positively
mobbed. "Sir," said one man, "allow me to smell it." With my usual
generosity I did so. How I reached my hotel with my precious burthen in
safety is a perfect mystery. N.B. The mutton was for a friend of mine;
Gretchen was a pious fraud; all being fair in love and war.

In the quarter in which I live I find that the rations have neither been
increased nor diminished. They still remain at 3-5ths lb. of bread, and
1-25th lb. of meat per diem. In some other districts a little beef has
been distributed. Some flour has come in from Orleans, and it is
expected that in the course of a few days the bread will cease to be
made of the peas, potatoes, and oats which we now eat. In the
restaurants, beef--real beef--is to be obtained for little more than
three times its normal price. Fish, too, in considerable quantities has
been introduced by some enterprising speculator. The two delegates,
also, of the Lord Mayor's Relief Fund have arrived with provisions, &c.
This evening they are to telegraph to London for more. These gentlemen
are somewhat at sea with respect to what is wanted, and by what means it
is to be distributed. One of them did me the honour to consult me this
afternoon on these two points. With respect to the first, I recommended
him to take the advice of Mr. Herbert--to whose energy it is due that
during the siege above one thousand English have not been starved--and
of the Archbishop of Paris, who is a man of sterling benevolence, with a
minimum of sectarianism. With respect to the latter, I recommended
Liebig, milk, and bacon. The great point appears to me to be that the
relief should be bestowed on the right persons. The women and children
have been the greatest sufferers of late. The mortality is still very
great among them; not because they are absolutely without food, for the
rations are distributed to all; but because they are in want of
something more strengthening than the rations. Coal is wanted here as
much as food. The poorer classes are without the means of cooking
whatever meat they may obtain, and it is almost impossible for them, on
account of the same reason, to make soup. If I might venture a
suggestion to the charitable in England, it would be to send over a
supply of fuel.

I had some conversation with a gentleman connected with the Government
this evening respecting the political situation. He tells me that Arago,
Pelletan, and Garnier Pagès were delighted to leave Paris, and that it
was only the absolute necessity of their being as soon as possible at
Bordeaux, that induced General Vinoy to consent to their departure. As
for Gambetta, he says, it is not probable that he has now many adherents
in the provinces; and it is certain that he has very few here. When a
patient is given up by the faculty a quack is called in; if the quack
effects a cure he is lauded to the skies; if he fails, he is regarded as
a _charlatan_, and this is now the case with M. Gambetta. My informant
is of opinion that a large number of Ultra-Radicals will be elected in
Paris; this will be because the Moderates are split up into small
cliques, and each clique insists upon its own candidates being
supported, whereas the _Internationale_ commands 60,000 votes, which
will all be cast for the list adopted by the heads of that society, and
because the National Guard are averse to all real work, and hope that
the Ultras will force the National Assembly to continue to pay them the
1f. 50c. which they now receive, for an indefinite period. Gambetta, in
his desire to exclude from political power a numerous category of his
fellow-citizens, has many imitators here. Some of the journals insist
that not only the Bonapartists, but also the Legitimists and the
Orleanists should be disfranchised. They consider that as a preliminary
step to electing a National Assembly to decide whether a Republic is
henceforward to be the form of government of the country, it is
desirable, as well as just, to oblige all candidates to swear that it
shall be. The fact is, the French, no matter what their opinions may be,
seem to have no idea of political questions being decided by a majority;
or of a minority submitting to the fiat of this majority. Each citizen
belongs to a party; to the creed of this party, either through
conviction or personal motives, he adheres, and regards every one who
ventures to entertain other views as a scoundrel, an idiot, or a
traitor. I confess that I have always regarded a Republican form of
government as the best, wherever it is possible. But in France it is not
possible. The people are not sufficiently educated, and have not
sufficient common sense for it. Were I a Frenchman a Republic would be
my dream of the future; for the present I should be in favour of a
Constitutional Monarchy. A Republic would soon result in anarchy or in
despotism; and without any great love for Kings of any kind, I prefer a
Constitutional Monarch to either Anarchy or a Cæsar. One must take a
practical view of things in this world, and not sacrifice what is good
by a vain attempt to attain at once what is better.

Will the Prussians enter Paris? is the question which I have been asked
by every Frenchman to whom I have mentioned that I have been at
Versailles. This question overshadows every other; and I am fully
convinced that this vain, silly population would rather that King
William should double the indemnity which he demands from France than
march with his troops down the Rue Rivoli. The fact that they have been
conquered is not so bitter to the Parisians as the idea of that fact
being brought home to them by the presence of their conquerors even for
half-an-hour within the walls of the sacred city. I have no very great
sympathy with the desire of the Prussians to march through Paris; and I
have no great sympathy with the horror which is felt by the Parisians at
their intention to do so. The Prussian flag waves over the forts, and
consequently to all intents and purposes Paris has capitulated. A
triumphal march along the main streets will not mend matters, nor mar
matters. "Attila, without, stands before vanquished Paris, as the
Cimbrian slave did before Marius. The sword drops from his hand; awed by
the majesty of the past, he flees and dares not strike," is the way in
which a newspaper I have just bought deals with the question. It is
precisely this sort of nonsense which makes the Prussians determined
that the Parisians shall drink the cup of humiliation to its last dregs.

I was told at Versailles that St. Cloud had been set on fire on the
morning after the last sortie, and that although many houses were still
burning when the armistice was signed, none had subsequently been either
pillaged or burnt. This act of vandalism has greatly incensed the
French, and I understand that the King of Prussia himself regrets it,
and throws the blame of it on one of his generals, who acted without
orders. A lady who was to-day at St. Cloud tells me that she found
Germans eating in every room of her house. Both officers and men were
very civil to her. They told her that she might take away anything that
belonged to her, and helped to carry to her carriage some valuable
china; which, by good luck, had not been smashed. With respect to the
charge of looting private property, which is brought by the French
against their invaders, no unprejudiced person can, after looking into
the evidence, doubt that whilst in the German Army there are many
officers, and even privates, who have done their best to prevent
pillage, many articles of value have disappeared from houses which have
been occupied by the German troops, and much wanton damage has been
committed in them. I assert the fact, without raising the question
whether or not these are the necessary consequences of war. It is absurd
for the Germans to pretend that the French Francs-tireurs are the
culprits and not they. Francs-tireurs were never in the Boulevard de la
Reine at Versailles, and yet the houses in this street have been gutted
of everything available.

I venture to repeat a question which I have already frequently
asked--Where is the gentleman who enjoys an annual salary as British
Consul at Paris? Why was he absent during the siege? Why is he absent
now? Why is a banker, who has other matters to attend to, discharging
his duties? I am a taxpayer and an elector; if "my member" does not
obtain a reply to these queries from the official representative of the
Foreign Office in the House of Commons, I give him fair notice that he
will shake me by the hand, ask after my health, and affect a deep
interest in my reply, in vain at the next general election; he will not
have my vote.

The _Electeur Libre_, the journal of M. Picard, has put forth a species
of political programme, or rather a political defence of the wing of the
Government of National Defence to which that gentleman belongs. For a
French politician to praise himself in his own organ, and to say under
the editorial "we" that he intends to vote for himself, and that he has
the greatest confidence in his own wisdom, is regarded here as nothing
but natural.

PARIS, _February 9th._

"We have been conquered in the field, but we have gained a moral
victory." What this phrase means I have not the remotest idea; but as it
consoles those who utter it, they are quite right to do so. For the last
two days long lines of cannon have issued from the city gates, and have
been, without noise or parade, handed over to the Prussians at Issy and
Sevran. Few are aware of what has taken place, or know that their
surrender had been agreed to by M. Jules Favre. Representations having
been made to Count Bismarck that 10,000 armed soldiers were insufficient
for the maintenance of the peace of the capital, by an additional secret
clause added to the armistice the number has been increased to 25,000.
The greatest ill-feeling exists between the Army and the National Guards
in the most populous quarters. A general quartered in one of the outer
faubourgs went yesterday to General Vinoy, and told him that if he and
his men were to be subjected to insults whenever they showed themselves
in the streets, he could not continue to be responsible for either his
or their conduct. Most persons of sense appear to consider that the
armistice was an error, and that the wiser policy would have been to
have surrendered without conditions. M. Jules Favre is blamed for not
having profited by the occasion, to disarm the National Guards. Many of
their battalions, as long as they have arms, and receive pay for doing
nothing, will be a standing danger to order. The sailors have been paid
off; and the fears that were entertained of their getting drunk and
uproarious have not been confirmed. They are peaceably and sentimentally
spending their money with the "black-eyed Susans" of their affections.
The principal journalists are formally agitating the plan of a combined
movement to urge the population to protest against the Prussian
triumphal march through the city, by absence from the streets through
which the invading army is to defile. Several are, however, opposed to
any action, as they fear that their advice will not be followed.
Curiosity is one of the strongest passions of the Parisians, and it will
be almost impossible for them to keep away from the "sight." Even in
Coventry one Peeping Tom was found, and here there are many Peeping
Toms. Mr. Moore and Colonel Stuart Wortley, the delegates of the London
Relief Fund, have handed over 5,000l. of provisions to the Mayors to be
distributed. They could scarcely have found worse agents. The Mayors
have proved themselves thoroughly inefficient administrators, and most
of them are noisy, unpractical humbugs. Colonel Stuart Wortley and Mr.
Moore are very anxious to find means to approach what are called here
_les pauvres honteux_; that is to say, persons who are in want of
assistance, but who are ashamed to ask for it. From what they told me
yesterday evening, they are going to obtain two or three names of
well-known charitable persons in each arrondissement, and ask them to
make the distribution of the rest of their provisions in store here, and
of those which are expected shortly to arrive. Many families from the
villages in the neighbourhood of Paris have been driven within its walls
by the invaders, and are utterly destitute. In the opinion of these
gentlemen they are fitting objects for charity. The fact is, the
difficulty is not so much to find people in want of relief, but to find
relief for the thousands who require it. Ten, twenty, or thirty thousand
pounds are a mere drop in the ocean, so wide spread is the distress. "I
have committed many sins," said a Bishop of the Church of England, "but
when I appear before my Maker, and say that I never gave to one single
beggar in the streets they will be forgiven." There are many persons in
England who, like this prelate, are afraid to give to beggars, lest
their charity should be ill applied. No money, no food, no clothes, and
no fuel, if distributed with ordinary discretion, can be misapplied at
present in Paris. The French complain that all they ever get from
England is good advice and sterile sympathy. Now is the moment for us to
prove to them that, if we were not prepared to go to war in order to
protect them from the consequences of their own folly, we pity them in
their distress; and that our pity means something more than words and
phrases which feed no one, clothe no one, and warm no one.

The Prussian authorities appear to be deliberately setting to work to
render the armistice as unpleasant to the Parisians as possible, in
order to force them to consent to no matter what terms of peace in order
to get rid of them; and I must congratulate them upon the success of
their efforts. They refuse now to accept passes signed by the Prefect of
the Police, and only recognise those bearing the name of General Valdan,
the chief of the Staff. To-morrow very likely they will require some
fresh signature. Whenever a French railroad company advertises the
departure of a train at a particular hour, comes an order from the
Prussians to alter that hour. Every Frenchman who quits Paris is
subjected to a hundred small, teasing vexations from these military
bureaucrats, and made to feel at every step he takes that he is a
prisoner on leave of absence, and only breathes the air of his native
land by the goodwill of his conquerors. The English public must not
forget that direct postal communications between Paris and foreign
countries are not re-established. Letters from and to England must be
addressed to some agent at Versailles or elsewhere, and from thence
re-addressed to Paris. As in a day or two trains will run pretty
regularly between Paris and London, had our diplomatic wiseacres been
worth in pence what they cost us in pounds, by this time they would have
made some arrangement to ensure a daily mailbag to England leaving

News was received yesterday that Gambetta had resigned, and it has been
published this morning in the _Journal Officiel_. A witness of the
Council at which it was agreed to send the three old women of the
Government to Bordeaux to replace him, tells me that everybody kissed
and hugged everybody for half an hour. The old women were ordered to
arrest Gambetta if he attempted resistance. It was much like telling a
street-sweeper to arrest a stalwart Guardsman. "Do not be rash," cried
Trochu. "We will not," replied the old women; "we will remain in one of
the suburbs of Bordeaux, until we learn that we can enter it with
safety." This reply removed from the minds of their friends any fear
that they would incur unnecessary risks in carrying out their mission.

Provisions are arriving pretty freely. All fear of absolute famine has
disappeared. To-day the bread is far better than any we have had of
late. Some sheep and oxen were seen yesterday in the streets.

The walls are covered with the professions of faith of citizens who
aspire to the honour of a seat in the National Assembly. We have the
candidate averse to public affairs, but yielding to the request of a
large number of supporters; the candidate who feels within himself the
power to save the country, and comes forward to do so; the candidate who
is young and vigorous, although as yet untried; the candidate who is
old and wise, but still vigorous; the man of business candidate; the man
of leisure candidate, who will devote his days and nights to the service
of the country; then there is the military candidate, whose name, he
modestly flatters himself, has been heard above the din of battle, and
typifies armed France. I recommend to would-be M.P.'s at home, the plan
of M. Maronini. He has as yet done nothing to entitle him to the
suffrages of the electors beyond making printing presses, which are
excellent and very cheap; so he heads his posters with a likeness of
himself. Why an elector should vote for a man because he has an ugly
face, I am not aware; but the Citizen Maronini seems to be under the
impression that, from a fellow-feeling at least, all ugly men will do
so; and perhaps he is right. Another candidate commences his address:
"_Citoyens, je suis le representant du_ go ahead." In the clubs last
night everyone was talking, and no one was listening. Even the Citizen
Sans, with his eternal scarlet shawl girt round his waist, could not
obtain a hearing. The Citizen Beaurepaire in vain shouted that, if
elected, he would rather hew off his own arm than sign away Alsace and
Lorraine. This noble figure of rhetoric, which has never been uttered by
a club orator during the siege without eliciting shouts of applause, was
received with jeers. The absurdity of the proceedings at this electoral
gathering is, that a candidate considers himself insulted if any elector
ventures to ask him a question. The president, too, loses his temper
half a dozen times every hour, and shakes his fist, screams and jabbers,
like an irate chimpanzee, at the audience. If the preliminary electoral
meetings are ridiculous, the system of voting, on the other hand, is
perfect in comparison with ours. Paris to-day in the midst of a general
election is by far more orderly than any English rotten village on the
polling-day. Three days ago each elector received at his own house a
card, telling him where he was to vote. Those who were entitled to the
suffrage, and by accident did not get one of these cards, went the next
day to their respective mairies to obtain one. I have just come from one
of the rooms in which the votes are taken. I say rooms; for the
Parisians do not follow our silly example, and build up sheds at the
cost of the candidate. At one end of this room was a long table. A box
was in the middle of it, and behind the box sat an employé. To his right
sat another. The elector went up to this latter, gave in his electoral
card, and wrote his name; he then handed to the central employé his list
of names, folded up. This the employé put into the box. About thirty
National Guards were on duty in or about the room. The box will remain
on the table until to-night, and the National Guards during this time
will not lose sight of it; they will then carry it to the Hôtel de
Ville, where it, and all other voting boxes, will be publicly opened,
the votes counted up, and the result, as soon as it is ascertained,
announced. How very un-English, some Briton will observe. I can only say
that I regret it is un-English. Our elections are a disgrace to our
civilisation, and to that common-sense of which we are for ever boasting
that we possess so large a share. Last year I was in New York during a
general election; this year I am in Paris during one; and both New York
and Paris are far ahead of us in their mode of registering the votes of


[Footnote 2: Several complaints having been received from Germans
respecting these charges against the German armies, the following
extract from an Article--quoted by the _Pall Mall Gazette_--in his new
paper _Im Neuen Reich_, by the well-known German author, Herr Gustav
Freytag, will prove that they are not unfounded:--"Officers and
soldiers," he says, "have been living for months under the bronze
clocks, marble tables, damask hangings, artistic furniture,
oil-paintings, and costly engravings of Parisian industry. The
musketeers of Posen and Silesia broke up the velvet sofas to make soft
beds, destroyed the richly inlaid tables, and took the books out of the
book-cases for fuel in the cold winter evenings.... It was lamentable to
see the beautiful picture of a celebrated painter smeared over by our
soldiers with coal dust, a Hebe with her arms knocked off, a priceless
Buddhist manuscript lying torn in the chimney grate.... Then people
began to think it would be a good thing to obtain such beautiful and
tasteful articles for one's friends. A system of 'salvage' was thus
introduced, which it is said even eminent and distinguished men in the
army winked at. Soldiers bargained for them with the Jews and hucksters
who swarm at Versailles; officers thought of the adornment of their own
houses; and such things as could be easily packed, such as engravings
and oil-paintings, were in danger of being cut out of their frames and
rolled up for home consumption." Herr Freytag then points out that these
articles are private property, and that the officers and soldiers had no
right to appropriate them to their own use. "We are proud and happy," he
concludes, addressing them, "at your warlike deeds; behave worthily and
honourably also as men. Come back to us from this terrible war with pure
consciences and clean hands."]


CALAIS, _February 10th._

At 4 o'clock p.m. on Wednesday I took my departure from Paris, leaving,
much with the feelings of Daniel when he emerged from the lions' den,
its inhabitants wending their way to the electoral "urns;" the many
revolving in their minds how France and Paris were to manage to pay the
little bill which their creditor outside is making up against them; the
few--the very few--still determined to die rather than yield, sitting in
the cafés on the boulevard, which is to be, I presume, their "last
ditch." Many correspondents, "special," "our own," and "occasional," had
arrived, and were girding up their loins for the benefit of the British
public. Baron Rothschild had been kind enough to give me a pass which
enabled me to take the Amiens train at the goods station within the
walls of the city, instead of driving, as those less fortunate were
obliged to do, to Gonesse. My pass had been signed by the proper
authorities, and the proper authorities, for reasons best known to
themselves--I presume because they had elections on the brain--had
dubbed me "Member of the House of Commons, rendering himself to England
to assist at the conferences of the Parliament." I have serious thoughts
of tendering this document to the doorkeeper of the august sanctuary of
the collective wisdom of my country, to discover whether he will
recognise its validity.

The train was drawn up before a shed in the midst of an ocean of mud. It
consisted of one passenger carriage, and of about half a mile of empty
bullock vans. The former was already filled; so, as a bullock, I
embarked--I may add, as an ill-used bullock; for I had no straw to sit
on. At St. Denis, a Prussian official inspected our passes, and at
Gonesse about 200 passengers struggled into the bullock vans. We reached
Creil, a distance of thirty miles, at 11.30. I and my fellow-bullocks
here made a rush at the buffet. But it was closed. So we had to return
to our vans, very hungry, very thirsty, very sulky, and very wet; for it
was raining hard. In this pleasant condition we remained until 9 o'clock
on Thursday; occasionally slowly progressing for a few miles; then
making a halt of an hour or two. Why? No one--not even the guard--could
tell. All he knew was, that the Prussians had hung out a signal ordering
us, their slaves, to halt, and therefore halt we must. We did the forty
miles between Creil and Breteuil in ten hours. There, in a small inn, we
found some eggs and bread, which we devoured like a flight of famished
locusts. It was very cold, and several of us sought shelter in a room at
the station, where there was a fire. In the middle of this room there
were two chairs, on one of them sat a Prussian soldier, on the other
reposed his legs. He was a big red-haired fellow, and evidently in some
corner of his Fatherland passed as a man of wit and humour. He was good
enough to explain to us, with a pleasant smile, that in his eyes we were
a very contemptible sort of people, and that if we did not consent to
all the terms of peace which were proposed by "the Bismarck," he and his
fellow warriors would burn our houses over our heads, and in many other
ways make things generally uncomfortable to us. "Ah! speak to me of
Manteuffel," he occasionally said: and as no one did speak to him of
Manteuffel, he did so himself, and narrated to us many tales of the
wondrous skill and intelligence of that eminent general. As he called,
after the manner of his nation, a _batterie_ a _paderie_, and otherwise
Germanized the French language, much of his interesting conversation was

We had been at Breteuil about an hour when a Prussian train came puffing
up. I managed to induce an official to allow me to get into the luggage
van; and thus, having started from Paris as a bullock, I reached Amiens
at twelve o'clock as a carpet-bag. The Amiens station, a very large one
covered in with glass, was crowded with Prussian soldiers; and for one
hour I stood there the witness of and sufferer from unmitigated
ruffianism. The French were knocked about, and pushed about. Never were
negro slaves treated with more contempt and brutality than they were by
their conquerors. I could not stand on any spot for two minutes without
being gruffly ordered to stand on another by some officer. Twice two
soldiers raised their muskets with a general notion of staving in my
skull "pour passer le temps." Frenchmen, whatever may be their faults,
are always extremely courteous in all their relations with each other,
and with strangers. In their wildest moments of excitement they are
civil. They may poison you, or run a hook through you; but they will do
it, as Isaac Walton did with the worm, "as though they loved" you. They
were perfectly cowed with the rough bullying of their masters. It is
most astonishing--considering how good-natured Germans are when at home,
that they should make themselves so offensive in France, even during a
truce. At one o'clock I left this orgie of German terrorism in a train,
and from thence to Calais all was straight sailing. At Abbeville we
passed from the Prussian into the French lines. Calais we reached at
seven p.m., and right glad was I to eat a Calais supper and to sleep in
a Calais bed.



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