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Title: My Days of Adventure - The Fall of France, 1870-71
Author: Vizetelly, Ernest Alfred, 1853-1922
Language: English
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    THE FALL OF FRANCE, 1870-71

    By Ernest Alfred Vizetelly

Le Petit Homme Rouge

Author of "The Court of the Tuileries 1852-70" etc.

With A Frontispiece

London, 1914


  O husbandmen of hill and dale,
    O dressers of the vines,
  O sea-tossed fighters of the gale,
    O hewers of the mines,
  O wealthy ones who need not strive,
    O sons of learning, art,
  O craftsmen of the city's hive,
    O traders of the man,
  Hark to the cannon's thunder-call
    Appealing to the brave!
  Your France is wounded, and may fall
    Beneath the foreign grave!
  Then gird your loins! Let none delay
    Her glory to maintain;
  Drive out the foe, throw off his sway,
    Win back your land again!

1870. E.A.V.


While this volume is largely of an autobiographical character, it will be
found to contain also a variety of general information concerning the
Franco-German War of 1870-71, more particularly with respect to the second
part of that great struggle--the so-called "People's War" which followed
the crash of Sedan and the downfall of the Second French Empire. If I have
incorporated this historical matter in my book, it is because I have
repeatedly noticed in these later years that, whilst English people are
conversant with the main facts of the Sedan disaster and such subsequent
outstanding events as the siege of Paris and the capitulation of Metz,
they usually know very little about the manner in which the war generally
was carried on by the French under the virtual dictatorship of Gambetta.
Should England ever be invaded by a large hostile force, we, with our very
limited regular army, should probably be obliged to rely largely on
elements similar to those which were called to the field by the French
National Defence Government of 1870 after the regular armies of the Empire
had been either crushed at Sedan or closely invested at Metz. For that
reason I have always taken a keen interest in our Territorial Force, well
realizing what heavy responsibilities would fall upon it if a powerful
enemy should obtain a footing in this country. Some indication of those
responsibilities will be found in the present book.

Generally speaking, however, I have given only a sketch of the latter part
of the Franco-German War. To have entered into details on an infinity of
matters would have necessitated the writing of a very much longer work.
However, I have supplied, I think, a good deal of precise information
respecting the events which I actually witnessed, and in this connexion,
perhaps, I may have thrown some useful sidelights on the war generally;
for many things akin to those which I saw, occurred under more or less
similar circumstances in other parts of France.

People who are aware that I am acquainted with the shortcomings of the
French in those already distant days, and that I have watched, as closely
as most foreigners can watch, the evolution of the French army in these
later times, have often asked me what, to my thinking, would be the
outcome of another Franco-German War. For many years I fully anticipated
another struggle between the two Powers, and held myself in readiness to
do duty as a war-correspondent. I long thought, also, that the signal for
that struggle would be given by France. But I am no longer of that
opinion. I fully believe that all French statesmen worthy of the name
realize that it would be suicidal for France to provoke a war with her
formidable neighbour. And at the same time I candidly confess that I do
not know what some journalists mean by what they call the "New France." To
my thinking there is no "New France" at all. There was as much spirit, as
much patriotism, in the days of MacMahon, in the days of Boulanger, and at
other periods, as there is now. The only real novelty that I notice in the
France of to-day is the cultivation of many branches of sport and athletic
exercise. Of that kind of thing there was very little indeed when I was a
stripling. But granting that young Frenchmen of to-day are more athletic,
more "fit" than were those of my generation, granting, moreover, that the
present organization and the equipment of the French army are vastly
superior to what they were in 1870, and also that the conditions of
warfare have greatly changed, I feel that if France were to engage,
unaided, in a contest with Germany, she would again be worsted, and
worsted by her own fault.

She fully knows that she cannot bring into the field anything like as many
men as Germany; and it is in a vain hope of supplying the deficiency that
she has lately reverted from a two to a three years' system of military
service. The latter certainly gives her a larger effective for the first
contingencies of a campaign, but in all other respects it is merely a
piece of jugglery, for it does not add a single unit to the total number
of Frenchmen capable of bearing arms. The truth is, that during forty
years of prosperity France has been intent on racial suicide. In the whole
of that period only some 3,500,000 inhabitants have been added to her
population, which is now still under 40 millions; whereas that of Germany
has increased by leaps and bounds, and stands at about 66 millions. At the
present time the German birth-rate is certainly falling, but the numerical
superiority which Germany has acquired over France since the war of 1870
is so great that I feel it would be impossible for the latter to triumph
in an encounter unless she should be assisted by powerful allies. Bismarck
said in 1870 that God was on the side of the big battalions; and those
big battalions Germany can again supply. I hold, then, that no such
Franco-German war as the last one can again occur. Europe is now virtually
divided into two camps, each composed of three Powers, all of which would
be more or less involved in a Franco-German struggle. The allies and
friends on either side are well aware of it, and in their own interests
are bound to exert a restraining influence which makes for the maintenance
of peace. We have had evidence of this in the limitations imposed on the
recent Balkan War.

On the other hand, it is, of course, the unexpected which usually happens;
and whilst Europe generally remains armed to the teeth, and so many
jealousies are still rife, no one Power can in prudence desist from her
armaments. We who are the wealthiest nation in Europe spend on our
armaments, in proportion to our wealth and our population, less than any
other great Power. Yet some among us would have us curtail our
expenditure, and thereby incur the vulnerability which would tempt a foe.
Undoubtedly the armaments of the present day are great and grievous
burdens on the nations, terrible impediments to social progress, but they
constitute, unfortunately, our only real insurance against war, justifying
yet to-day, after so many long centuries, the truth of the ancient Latin
adage--_Si vis pacem, para bellum_.

It is, I think, unnecessary for me to comment here on the autobiographical
part of my book. It will, I feel, speak for itself. It treats of days long
past, and on a few points, perhaps, my memory may be slightly defective.
In preparing my narrative, however, I have constantly referred to my old
diaries, note-books and early newspaper articles, and have done my best to
abstain from all exaggeration. Whether this story of some of my youthful
experiences and impressions of men and things was worth telling or not is
a point which I must leave my readers to decide.


London, _January_ 1914.



















The Vizetelly Family--My Mother and her Kinsfolk--The _Illustrated Times_
and its Staff--My Unpleasant Disposition--Thackeray and my First
Half-Crown--School days at Eastbourne--Queen Alexandra--Garibaldi--A few
old Plays and Songs--Nadar and the "Giant" Balloon--My Arrival in France--
My Tutor Brossard--Berezowski's Attempt on Alexander II--My Apprenticeship
to Journalism--My first Article--I see some French Celebrities--Visits to
the Tuileries--At Compiègne--A few Words with Napoleon III--A
"Revolutionary" Beard.

This is an age of "Reminiscences," and although I have never played any
part in the world's affairs, I have witnessed so many notable things and
met so many notable people during the three-score years which I have
lately completed, that it is perhaps allowable for me to add yet another
volume of personal recollections to the many which have already poured
from the press. On starting on an undertaking of this kind it is usual, I
perceive by the many examples around me, to say something about one's
family and upbringing. There is less reason for me to depart from this
practice, as in the course of the present volume it will often be
necessary for me to refer to some of my near relations. A few years ago a
distinguished Italian philosopher and author, Angelo de Gubernatis, was
good enough to include me in a dictionary of writers belonging to the
Latin races, and stated, in doing so, that the Vizetellys were of French
origin. That was a rather curious mistake on the part of an Italian
writer, the truth being that the family originated at Ravenna, where some
members of it held various offices in the Middle Ages. Subsequently, after
dabbling in a conspiracy, some of the Vizzetelli fled to Venice and took
to glass-making there, until at last Jacopo, from whom I am descended,
came to England in the spacious days of Queen Elizabeth. From that time
until my own the men of my family invariably married English women, so
that very little Italian blood can flow in my veins.

Matrimonial alliances are sometimes of more than personal interest. One
point has particularly struck me in regard to those contracted by members
of my own family, this being the diversity of English counties from which
the men have derived their wives and the women their husbands. References
to Cheshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire,
Leicestershire, Berkshire, Bucks, Suffolk, Kent, Surrey, Sussex, and
Devonshire, in addition to Middlesex, otherwise London, appear in my
family papers. We have become connected with Johnstons, Burslems,
Bartletts, Pitts, Smiths, Wards, Covells, Randalls, Finemores, Radfords,
Hindes, Pollards, Lemprières, Wakes, Godbolds, Ansells, Fennells,
Vaughans, Edens, Scotts, and Pearces, and I was the very first member of
the family (subsequent to its arrival in England) to take a foreigner as
wife, she being the daughter of a landowner of Savoy who proceeded from
the Tissots of Switzerland. My elder brother Edward subsequently married a
Burgundian girl named Clerget, and my stepbrother Frank chose an American
one, _née_ Krehbiel, as his wife, these marriages occurring because
circumstances led us to live for many years abroad.

Among the first London parishes with which the family was connected was
St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, where my forerunner, the first Henry
Vizetelly, was buried in 1691, he then being fifty years of age, and where
my father, the second Henry of the name, was baptised soon after his birth
in 1820. St. Bride's, Fleet Street, was, however, our parish for many
years, as its registers testify, though in 1781 my great-grandfather was
resident in the parish of St. Ann's, Blackfriars, and was elected
constable thereof. At that date the family name, which figures in old
English registers under a variety of forms--Vissitaler, Vissitaly,
Visataly, Visitelly, Vizetely, etc.--was by him spelt Vizzetelly, as is
shown by documents now in the Guildhall Library; but a few years later he
dropped the second z, with the idea, perhaps, of giving the name a more
English appearance.

This great-grandfather of mine was, like his father before him, a printer
and a member of the Stationers' Company. He was twice married, having by
his first wife two sons, George and William, neither of whom left
posterity. The former, I believe, died in the service of the Honourable
East India Company. In June, 1775, however, my great-grandfather married
Elizabeth, daughter of James Hinde, stationer, of Little Moorfields, and
had by her, first, a daughter Elizabeth, from whom some of the Burslems
and Godbolds are descended; and, secondly, twins, a boy and a girl, who
were respectively christened James Henry and Mary Mehetabel. The former
became my grandfather. In August, 1816, he married, at St. Bride's, Martha
Jane Vaughan, daughter of a stage-coach proprietor of Chester, and had by
her a daughter, who died unmarried, and four sons--my father, Henry
Richard, and my uncles James, Frank, and Frederick Whitehead Vizetelly.

Some account of my grandfather is given in my father's "Glances Back
through Seventy Years," and I need not add to it here. I will only say
that, like his immediate forerunners, James Henry Vizetelly was a printer
and freeman of the city. A clever versifier, and so able as an amateur
actor that on certain occasions he replaced Edmund Kean on the boards when
the latter was hopelessly drunk, he died in 1840, leaving his two elder
sons, James and Henry, to carry on the printing business, which was then
established in premises occupying the site of the _Daily Telegraph_
building in Fleet Street.

In 1844 my father married Ellen Elizabeth, only child of John Pollard,
M.D., a member of the ancient Yorkshire family of the Pollards of Bierley
and Brunton, now chiefly represented, I believe, by the Pollards of Scarr
Hall. John Pollard's wife, Charlotte Maria Fennell, belonged to a family
which gave officers to the British Navy--one of them serving directly
under Nelson--and clergy to the Church of England. The Fennells were
related to the Brontë sisters through the latter's mother; and one was
closely connected with the Shackle who founded the original _John Bull_
newspaper. Those, then, were my kinsfolk on the maternal side. My mother
presented my father with seven children, of whom I was the sixth, being
also the fourth son. I was born on November 29, 1853, at a house called
Chalfont Lodge in Campden House Road, Kensington, and well do I remember
the great conflagration which destroyed the fine old historical mansion
built by Baptist Hicks, sometime a mercer in Cheapside and ultimately
Viscount Campden. But another scene which has more particularly haunted me
all through my life was that of my mother's sudden death in a saloon
carriage of an express train on the London and Brighton line. Though she
was in failing health, nobody thought her end so near; but in the very
midst of a journey to London, whilst the train was rushing on at full
speed, and no help could be procured, a sudden weakness came over her, and
in a few minutes she passed away. I was very young at the time, barely
five years old, yet everything still rises before me with all the
vividness of an imperishable memory. Again, too, I see that beautiful
intellectual brow and those lustrous eyes, and hear that musical voice,
and feel the gentle touch of that loving motherly hand. She was a woman of
attainments, fond of setting words to music, speaking perfect French, for
she had been partly educated at Evreux in Normandy, and having no little
knowledge of Greek and Latin literature, as was shown by her annotations
to a copy of Lemprière's "Classical Dictionary" which is now in my

About eighteen months after I was born, that is in the midst of the
Crimean War, my father founded, in conjunction with David Bogue, a
well-known publisher of the time, a journal called the _Illustrated
Times_, which for several years competed successfully with the
_Illustrated London News_. It was issued at threepence per copy, and an
old memorandum of the printers now lying before me shows that in the
paper's earlier years the average printings were 130,000 copies weekly--a
notable figure for that period, and one which was considerably exceeded
when any really important event occurred. My father was the chief editor
and manager, his leading coadjutor being Frederick Greenwood, who
afterwards founded the _Pall Mall Gazette_. I do not think that
Greenwood's connection with the _Illustrated Times_ and with my father's
other journal, the _Welcome Guest_, is mentioned in any of the accounts of
his career. The literary staff included four of the Brothers Mayhew--
Henry, Jules, Horace, and Augustus, two of whom, Jules and Horace, became
godfathers to my father's first children by his second wife. Then there
were also William and Robert Brough, Edmund Yates, George Augustus Sala,
Hain Friswell, W.B. Rands, Tom Robertson, Sutherland Edwards, James
Hannay, Edward Draper, and Hale White (father of "Mark Rutherford"), and
several artists and engravers, such as Birket Foster, "Phiz." Portch,
Andrews, Duncan, Skelton, Bennett, McConnell, Linton, London, and Horace
Harrall. I saw all those men in my early years, for my father was very
hospitably inclined, and they were often guests at Chalfont Lodge.

After my mother's death, my grandmother, _née_ Vaughan, took charge of the
establishment, and I soon became the terror of the house, developing a
most violent temper and acquiring the vocabulary of the roughest market
porter. My wilfulness was probably innate (nearly all the Vizetellys
having had impulsive wills of their own), and my flowery language was
picked up by perversely loitering to listen whenever there happened to be
a street row in Church Lane, which I had to cross on my way to or from
Kensington Gardens, my daily place of resort. At an early age I started
bullying my younger brother, I defied my grandmother, insulted the family
doctor because he was too fond of prescribing grey powders for my
particular benefit, and behaved abominably to the excellent Miss Lindup of
Sheffield Terrace, who endeavoured to instruct me in the rudiments of
reading, writing, and arithmetic. I frequently astonished or appalled the
literary men and artists who were my father's guests. I hated being
continually asked what I should like to be when I grew up, and the
slightest chaff threw me into a perfect paroxysm of passion. Whilst,
however, I was resentful of the authority of others, I was greatly
inclined to exercise authority myself--to such a degree, indeed, that my
father's servants generally spoke of me as "the young master," regardless
of the existence of my elder brothers.

Having already a retentive memory, I was set to learn sundry
"recitations," and every now and then was called upon to emerge from
behind the dining-room curtains and repeat "My Name is Norval" or "The
Spanish Armada," for the delectation of my father's friends whilst they
lingered over their wine. Disaster generally ensued, provoked either by
some genial chaff or well-meant criticism from such men as Sala and
Augustus Mayhew, and I was ultimately carried off--whilst venting
incoherent protests--to be soundly castigated and put to bed.

Among the real celebrities who occasionally called at Chalfont Lodge was
Thackeray, whom I can still picture sitting on one side of the fireplace,
whilst my father sat on the other, I being installed on the hearthrug
between them. Provided that I was left to myself, I could behave decently
enough, discreetly preserving silence, and, indeed, listening intently to
the conversation of my father's friends, and thereby picking up a very odd
mixture of knowledge. I was, I believe, a pale little chap with lank fair
hair and a wistful face, and no casual observer would have imagined that
my nature was largely compounded of such elements as enter into the
composition of Italian brigands, Scandinavian pirates, and wild Welshmen.
Thackeray, at all events, did not appear to think badly of the little boy
who sat so quietly at his feet. One day, indeed, when he came upon me and
my younger brother Arthur, with our devoted attendant Selina Horrocks,
in Kensington Gardens, he put into practice his own dictum that one could
never see a schoolboy without feeling an impulse to dip one's hand in
one's pocket. Accordingly he presented me with the first half-crown I ever
possessed, for though my father's gifts were frequent they were small. It
was understood, I believe, that I was to share the aforesaid half-crown
with my brother Arthur, but in spite of the many remonstrances of the
faithful Selina--a worthy West-country woman, who had largely taken my
mother's place--I appropriated the gift in its entirety, and became
extremely ill by reason of my many indiscreet purchases at a tuck-stall
which stood, if I remember rightly, at a corner of the then renowned
Kensington Flower Walk. This incident must have occurred late in
Thackeray's life. My childish recollection of him is that of a very big
gentleman with beaming eyes.

My grandmother's reign in my father's house was not of great duration, as
in February, 1861, he contracted a second marriage, taking on this
occasion as his wife a "fair maid of Kent," [Elizabeth Anne Ansell, of
Broadstairs; mother of my step-brother, Dr. Frank H. Vizetelly, editor of
the "Standard Dictionary," New York.] to whose entry into our home I was
at first violently opposed, but who promptly won me over by her
unremitting affection and kindness, eventually becoming the best and
truest friend of my youth and early manhood. My circumstances changed,
however, soon after that marriage, for as I was now nearly eight years old
it was deemed appropriate that I should be sent to a boarding-school, both
by way of improving my mind and of having some nonsense knocked out of me,
which, indeed, was promptly accomplished by the pugnacious kindness of my
schoolfellows. Among the latter was one, my senior by a few years, who
became a very distinguished journalist. I refer to the late Horace Voules,
so long associated with Labouchere's journal, _Truth_. My brother Edward
was also at the same school, and my brother Arthur came there a little

It was situated at Eastbourne, and a good deal has been written about it
in recent works on the history of that well-known watering-place, which,
when I was first sent there, counted less than 6000 inhabitants. Located
in the old town or village, at a distance of a mile or more from the sea,
the school occupied a building called "The Gables," and was an offshoot of
a former ancient school connected with the famous parish church. In my
time this "academy" was carried on as a private venture by a certain James
Anthony Bown, a portly old gentleman of considerable attainments.

I was unusually precocious in some respects, and though I frequently got
into scrapes by playing impish tricks--as, for instance, when I combined
with others to secure an obnoxious French master to his chair by means of
some cobbler's wax, thereby ruining a beautiful pair of peg-top trousers
which he had just purchased--I did not neglect my lessons, but secured a
number of "prizes" with considerable facility. When I was barely twelve
years old, not one of my schoolfellows--and some were sixteen and
seventeen years old--could compete with me in Latin, in which language
Bown ended by taking me separately. I also won three or four prizes for
"excelling" my successive classes in English grammar as prescribed by the
celebrated Lindley Murray.

In spite of my misdeeds (some of which, fortunately, were never brought
home to me), I became, I think, somewhat of a favourite with the worthy
James Anthony, for he lent me interesting books to read, occasionally had
me to supper in his own quarters, and was now and then good enough to
overlook the swollen state of my nose or the blackness of one of my eyes
when I had been having a bout with a schoolfellow or a young clodhopper of
the village. We usually fought with the village lads in Love Lane on
Sunday evenings, after getting over the playground wall. I received
firstly the nickname of Moses, through falling among some rushes whilst
fielding a ball at cricket; and secondly, that of Noses, because my nasal
organ, like that of Cyrano de Bergerac, suddenly grew to huge proportions,
in such wise that it embodied sufficient material for two noses of
ordinary dimensions. Its size was largely responsible for my defeats when
fighting, for I found it difficult to keep guard over such a prominent
organ and prevent my claret from being tapped.

Having generations of printers' ink mingled with my blood, I could not
escape the unkind fate which made me a writer of articles and books.
In conjunction with a chum named Clement Ireland I ran a manuscript school
journal, which included stories of pirates and highwaymen, illustrated
with lurid designs in which red ink was plentifully employed in order to
picture the gore which flowed so freely through the various tales.
My grandmother Vaughan was an inveterate reader of the _London Journal_
and the _Family Herald_, and whenever I went home for my holidays I used
to pounce upon those journals and devour some of the stories of the author
of "Minnegrey," as well as Miss Braddon's "Aurora Floyd" and "Henry
Dunbar." The perusal of books by Ainsworth, Scott, Lever, Marryat, James
Grant, G. P. R. James, Dumas, and Whyte Melville gave me additional
material for storytelling; and so, concocting wonderful blends of all
sorts of fiction, I spun many a yarn to my schoolfellows in the dormitory
in which I slept--yarns which were sometimes supplied in instalments,
being kept up for a week or longer.

My summer holidays were usually spent in the country, but at other times I
went to London, and was treated to interesting sights. At Kensington, in
my earlier years, I often saw Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort with
their children, notably the Princess Royal (Empress Frederick) and the
Prince of Wales (Edward VII). When the last-named married the "Sea-King's
daughter from over the sea"--since then our admired and gracious Queen
Alexandra--and they drove together through the crowded streets of London
on their way to Windsor, I came specially from Eastbourne to witness that
triumphal progress, and even now I can picture the young prince with his
round chubby face and little side-whiskers, and the vision of almost
tearfully-smiling beauty, in blue and white, which swept past my eager
boyish eyes.

During the Easter holidays of 1864 Garibaldi came to England. My uncle,
Frank Vizetelly, was the chief war-artist of that period, the predecessor,
in fact, of the late Melton Prior. He knew Garibaldi well, having first
met him during the war of 1859, and having subsequently accompanied him
during his campaign through Sicily and then on to Naples--afterwards,
moreover, staying with him at Caprera. And so my uncle carried me and his
son, my cousin Albert, to Stafford House (where he had the _entrée_), and
the grave-looking Liberator patted us on the head, called us his children,
and at Frank Vizetelly's request gave us photographs of himself. I then
little imagined that I should next see him in France, at the close of the
war with Germany, during a part of which my brother Edward acted as one of
his orderly officers.

My father, being at the head of a prominent London newspaper, often
received tickets for one and another theatre. Thus, during my winter
holidays, I saw many of the old pantomimes at Drury Lane and elsewhere. I
also well remember Sothern's "Lord Dundreary," and a play called "The
Duke's Motto," which was based on Paul Féval's novel, "Le Bossu." I
frequently witnessed the entertainments given by the German Reeds, Corney
Grain, and Woodin, the clever quick-change artist. I likewise remember
Leotard the acrobat at the Alhambra, and sundry performances at the old
Pantheon, where I heard such popular songs as "The Captain with the
Whiskers" and "The Charming Young Widow I met in the Train." Nigger
ditties were often the "rage" during my boyhood, and some of them, like
"Dixie-land" and "So Early in the Morning," still linger in my memory.
Then, too, there were such songs as "Billy Taylor," "I'm Afloat," "I'll
hang my Harp on a Willow Tree," and an inane composition which contained
the lines--

  "When a lady elopes
   Down a ladder of ropes,
   She may go, she may go,
   She may go to--Hongkong--for me!"

In those schoolboy days of mine, however, the song of songs, to my
thinking, was one which we invariably sang on breaking up for the
holidays. Whether it was peculiar to Eastbourne or had been derived from
some other school I cannot say. I only know that the last verse ran,
approximately, as follows:

  "Magistrorum is a borum,
     Hic-haec-hoc has made his bow.
   Let us cry: 'O cockalorum!'
     That's the Latin for us now.
   Alpha, beta, gamma, delta,
     Off to Greece, for we are free!
   Helter, skelter, melter, pelter,
     We're the lads for mirth and spree!"

For "cockalorum," be it noted, we frequently substituted the name of some
particularly obnoxious master.

To return to the interesting sights of my boyhood, I have some
recollection of the Exhibition of 1862, but can recall more vividly a
visit to the Crystal Palace towards the end of the following year, when I
there saw the strange house-like oar of the "Giant" balloon in which
Nadar, the photographer and aeronaut, had lately made, with his wife and
others, a memorable and disastrous aerial voyage. Readers of Jules Verne
will remember that Nadar figures conspicuously in his "Journey to the
Moon." Quite a party of us went to the Palace to see the "Giant's" car,
and Nadar, standing over six feet high, with a great tangled mane of
frizzy flaxen hair, a ruddy moustache, and a red shirt _à la_ Garibaldi,
took us inside it and showed us all the accommodation it contained for
eating, sleeping and photographic purposes. I could not follow what he
said, for I then knew only a few French words, and I certainly had no idea
that I should one day ascend into the air with him in a car of a very
different type, that of the captive balloon which, for purposes of
military observation, he installed on the Place Saint Pierre at
Montmartre, during the German siege of Paris.

A time came when my father disposed of his interest in the _Illustrated
Times_ and repaired to Paris to take up the position of Continental
representative of the _Illustrated London News_. My brother Edward, at
that time a student at the École des Beaux Arts, then became his
assistant, and a little later I was taken across the Channel with my
brother Arthur to join the rest of the family. We lived, first, at
Auteuil, and then at Passy, where I was placed in a day-school called the
Institution Nouissel, where lads were prepared for admission to the State
or municipal colleges. There had been some attempt to teach me French at
Eastbourne, but it had met with little success, partly, I think, because
I was prejudiced against the French generally, regarding them as a mere
race of frog-eaters whom we had deservedly whacked at Waterloo. Eventually
my prejudices were in a measure overcome by what I heard from our
drill-master, a retired non-commissioned officer, who had served in the
Crimea, and who told us some rousing anecdotes about the gallantry of
"our allies" at the Alma and elsewhere. In the result, the old sergeant's
converse gave me "furiously to think" that there might be some good in the
French after all.

At Nouissel's I acquired some knowledge of the language rapidly enough,
and I was afterwards placed in the charge of a tutor, a clever scamp named
Brossard, who prepared me for the Lycée Bonaparte (now Condorcet), where I
eventually became a pupil, Brossard still continuing to coach me with a
view to my passing various examinations, and ultimately securing the usual
_baccalauréat_, without which nobody could then be anything at all in
France. In the same way he coached Evelyn Jerrold, son of Blanchard and
grandson of Douglas Jerrold, both of whom were on terms of close
friendship with the Vizetellys. But while Brossard was a clever man, he
was also an unprincipled one, and although I was afterwards indebted to
him for an introduction to old General Changarnier, to whom he was
related, it would doubtless have been all the better if he had not
introduced me to some other people with whom he was connected. He lived
for a while with a woman who was not his wife, and deserted her for a girl
of eighteen, whom he also abandoned, in order to devote himself to a
creature in fleshings who rode a bare-backed steed at the Cirque de
l'Impératrice. When I was first introduced to her "behind the scenes," she
was bestriding a chair, and smoking a pink cigarette, and she addressed me
as _mon petit_. Briefly, the moral atmosphere of Brossard's life was not
such as befitted him to be a mentor of youth.

Let me now go back a little. At the time of the great Paris Exhibition of
1867 I was in my fourteenth year. The city was then crowded with
royalties, many of whom I saw on one or another occasion. I was in the
Bois de Boulogne with my father when, after a great review, a shot was
fired at the carriage in which Napoleon III and his guest, Alexander II of
Russia, were seated side by side. I saw equerry Raimbeaux gallop forward
to screen the two monarchs, and I saw the culprit seized by a sergeant of
our Royal Engineers, attached to the British section of the Exhibition.
Both sovereigns stood up in the carriage to show that they were uninjured,
and it was afterwards reported that the Emperor Napoleon said to the
Emperor Alexander: "If that shot was fired by an Italian it was meant for
me; if by a Pole, it was meant for your Majesty." Whether those words were
really spoken, or were afterwards invented, as such things often are, by
some clever journalist, I cannot say; but the man proved to be a Pole
named Berezowski, who was subsequently sentenced to transportation for

It was in connection with this attempt on the Czar that I did my first
little bit of journalistic work. By my father's directions, I took a few
notes and made a hasty little sketch of the surroundings. This and my
explanations enabled M. Jules Pelcoq, an artist of Belgian birth, whom my
father largely employed on behalf of the _Illustrated London News_, to
make a drawing which appeared on the first page of that journal's next
issue. I do not think that any other paper in the world was able to supply
a pictorial representation of Berezowski's attempt.

I have said enough, I think, to show that I was a precocious lad, perhaps,
indeed, a great deal too precocious. However, I worked very hard in those
days. My hours at Bonaparte were from ten to twelve and from two to four.
I had also to prepare home-lessons for the Lycée, take special lessons
from Brossard, and again lessons in German from a tutor named With. Then,
too, my brother Edward ceasing to act as my father's assistant in order to
devote himself to journalism on his own account, I had to take over a part
of his duties. One of my cousins, Montague Vizetelly (son of my uncle
James, who was the head of our family), came from England, however, to
assist my father in the more serious work, such as I, by reason of my
youth, could not yet perform. My spare time was spent largely in taking
instructions to artists or fetching drawings from them. At one moment I
might be at Mont-martre, and at another in the Quartier Latin, calling on
Pelcoq, Anastasi, Janet Lange, Gustave Janet, Pauquet, Thorigny, Gaildrau,
Deroy, Bocourt, Darjou, Lix, Moulin, Fichot, Blanchard, or other artists
who worked for the _Illustrated London News_. Occasionally a sketch was
posted to England, but more frequently I had to despatch some drawing on
wood by rail. Though I have never been anything but an amateurish
draughtsman myself, I certainly developed a critical faculty, and acquired
a knowledge of different artistic methods, during my intercourse with so
many of the _dessinateurs_ of the last years of the Second Empire.

By-and-by more serious duties were allotted to me. The "Paris Fashions"
design then appearing every month in the _Illustrated London News_ was for
a time prepared according to certain dresses which Worth and other famous
costumiers made for empresses, queens, princesses, great ladies, and
theatrical celebrities; and, accompanying Pelcoq or Janet when they went
to sketch those gowns (nowadays one would simply obtain photographs), I
took down from _la première_, or sometimes from Worth himself, full
particulars respecting materials and styles, in order that the descriptive
letterpress, which was to accompany the illustration, might be correct.

In this wise I served my apprenticeship to journalism. My father naturally
revised my work. The first article, all my own, which appeared in print
was one on that notorious theatrical institution, the Claque. I sent it to
_Once a Week_, which E. S. Dallas then edited, and knowing that he was
well acquainted with my father, and feeling very diffident respecting the
merits of what I had written, I assumed a _nom de plume_ ("Charles
Ludhurst") for the occasion, Needless to say that I was delighted when
I saw the article in print, and yet more so when I received for it a
couple of guineas, which I speedily expended on gloves, neckties, and a
walking-stick. Here let me say that we were rather swagger young fellows
at Bonaparte. We did not have to wear hideous ill-fitting uniforms like
other Lycéens, but endeavoured to present a very smart appearance. Thus
we made it a practice to wear gloves and to carry walking-sticks or canes
on our way to or from the Lycée. I even improved on that by buying
"button-holes" at the flower-market beside the Madeleine, and this idea
"catching on," as the phrase goes, quite a commotion occurred one morning
when virtually half my classmates were found wearing flowers--for it
happened to be La Saint Henri, the _fête_-day of the Count de Chambord,
and both our Proviseur and our professor imagined that this was, on our
part, a seditious Legitimist demonstration. There were, however, very few
Legitimists among us, though Orleanists and Republicans were numerous.

I have mentioned that my first article was on the Claque, that
organisation established to encourage applause in theatres, it being held
that the Parisian spectator required to be roused by some such method.
Brossard having introduced me to the _sous-chef_ of the Claque at the
Opéra Comique, I often obtained admission to that house as a _claqueur_.
I even went to a few other theatres in the same capacity. Further,
Brossard knew sundry authors and journalists, and took me to the Café de
Suède and the Café de Madrid, where I saw and heard some of the
celebrities of the day. I can still picture the great Dumas, loud of voice
and exuberant in gesture whilst holding forth to a band of young
"spongers," on whom he was spending his last napoleons. I can also see
Gambetta--young, slim, black-haired and bearded, with a full sensual
underlip--seated at the same table as Delescluze, whose hair and beard,
once red, had become a dingy white, whose figure was emaciated and
angular, and whose yellowish, wrinkled face seemed to betoken that he was
possessed by some fixed idea. What that idea was, the Commune subsequently
showed. Again, I can see Henri Rochefort and Gustave Flourens together:
the former straight and sinewy, with a great tuft of very dark curly hair,
flashing eyes and high and prominent cheekbones; while the latter, tall
and bald, with long moustaches and a flowing beard, gazed at you in an
eager imperious way, as if he were about to issue some command.

Other men who helped to overthrow the Empire also became known to me. My
father, whilst engaged in some costly litigation respecting a large
castellated house which he had leased at Le Vésinet, secured Jules Favre
as his advocate, and on various occasions I went with him to Favre's
residence. Here let me say that my father, in spite of all his interest in
French literature, did not know the language. He could scarcely express
himself in it, and thus he always made it a practice to have one of his
sons with him, we having inherited our mother's linguistic gifts. Favre's
command of language was great, but his eloquence was by no means rousing,
and I well remember that when he pleaded for my father, the three judges
of the Appeal Court composed themselves to sleep, and did not awaken until
the counsel opposed to us started banging his fist and shouting in
thunderous tones. Naturally enough, as the judges never heard our side of
the case, but only our adversary's, they decided against us.

Some retrenchment then became necessary on my father's part, and he sent
my step-mother, her children and my brother Arthur, to Saint Servan in
Brittany, where he rented a house which was called "La petite Amélia,"
after George III's daughter of that name, who, during some interval of
peace between France and Great Britain, went to stay at Saint Servan for
the benefit of her health. The majority of our family having repaired
there and my cousin Monty returning to England some time in 1869, I
remained alone with my father in Paris. We resided in what I may call a
bachelor's flat at No. 16, Rue de Miromesnil, near the Elysée Palace. The
principal part of the house was occupied by the Count and Countess de
Chateaubriand and their daughters. The Countess was good enough to take
some notice of me, and subsequently, when she departed for Combourg at the
approach of the German siege, she gave me full permission to make use, if
necessary, of the coals and wood left in the Chateaubriand cellars.

In 1869, the date I have now reached, I was in my sixteenth year, still
studying, and at the same time giving more and more assistance to my
father in connection with his journalistic work. He has included in his
"Glances Back" some account of the facilities which enabled him to secure
adequate pictorial delineation of the Court life of the Empire. He has
told the story of Moulin, the police-agent, who frequently watched over
the Emperor's personal safety, and who also supplied sketches of Court
functions for the use of the _Illustrated London News_. Napoleon III
resembled his great-uncle in at least one respect. He fully understood the
art of advertisement; and, in his desire to be thought well of in England,
he was always ready to favour English journalists. Whilst a certain part
of the London Press preserved throughout the reign a very critical
attitude towards the Imperial policy, it is certain that some of the Paris
correspondents were in close touch with the Emperor's Government, and that
some of them were actually subsidized by it.

The best-informed man with respect to Court and social events was
undoubtedly Mr. Felix Whiteburst of _The Daily Telegraph_, whom I well
remember. He had the _entrée_ at the Tuileries and elsewhere, and there
were occasions when very important information was imparted to him with a
view to its early publication in London. For the most part, however,
Whitehurst confined himself to chronicling events or incidents occurring
at Court or in Bonapartist high society. Anxious to avoid giving offence,
he usually glossed over any scandal that occurred, or dismissed it airily,
with the _désinvolture_ of a _roué_ of the Regency. Withal, he was an
extremely amiable man, very condescending towards me when we met, as
sometimes happened at the Tuileries itself.

I had to go there on several occasions to meet Moulin, the
detective-artist, by appointment, and a few years ago this helped me to
write a book which has been more than once reprinted. [Note] I utilized in
it many notes made by me in 1869-70, notably with respect to the Emperor
and Empress's private apartments, the kitchens, and the arrangements made
for balls and banquets. I am not aware at what age a young fellow is
usually provided with his first dress-suit, but I know that mine was made
about the time I speak of. I was then, I suppose, about five feet five
inches in height, and my face led people to suppose that I was eighteen or
nineteen years of age.

[Note: The work in question was entitled "The Court of the Tuileries,
1852-1870," by "Le Petit Homme Rouge"--a pseudonym which I have since used
when producing other books. "The Court of the Tuileries" was founded in
part on previously published works, on a quantity of notes and memoranda
made by my father, other relatives, and myself, and on some of the private
papers of one of my wife's kinsmen, General Mollard, who after greatly
distinguishing himself at the Tchernaya and Magenta, became for a time an
aide-de-camp to Napoleon III.]

In the autumn of 1869, I fell rather ill from over-study--I had already
begun to read up Roman law--and, on securing a holiday, I accompanied my
father to Compiègne, where the Imperial Court was then staying. We were
not among the invited guests, but it had been arranged that every facility
should be given to the _Illustrated London News_ representatives in order
that the Court _villegiatura_ might be fully depicted in that journal. I
need not recapitulate my experiences on this occasion. There is an account
of our visit in my father's "Glances Back," and I inserted many additional
particulars in my "Court of the Tuileries." I may mention, however, that
it was at Compiègne that I first exchanged a few words with Napoleon III.

One day, my father being unwell (the weather was intensely cold), I
proceeded to the château [We slept at the Hôtel de la Cloche, but
had the _entrée_ to the château at virtually any time.] accompanied only
by our artist, young M. Montbard, who was currently known as "Apollo" in
the Quartier Latin, where he delighted the _habitués_ of the Bal Bullier
by a style of choregraphy in comparison with which the achievements
subsequently witnessed at the notorious Moulin Rouge would have sunk into
insignificance. Montbard had to make a couple of drawings on the day I
have mentioned, and it so happened that, whilst we were going about with
M. de la Ferrière, the chamberlain on duty, Napoleon III suddenly appeared
before us. Directly I was presented to him he spoke to me in English,
telling me that he often saw the _Illustrated London News_, and that the
illustrations of French life and Paris improvements (in which he took so
keen an interest) were very ably executed. He asked me also how long I had
been in France, and where I had learnt the language. Then, remarking that
it was near the _déjeuner_ hour, he told M. de la Ferrière to see that
Montbard and myself were suitably entertained.

I do not think that I had any particular political opinions at that time.
Montbard, however, was a Republican--in fact, a future Communard--and I
know that he did not appreciate his virtually enforced introduction to the
so-called "Badinguet." Still, he contrived to be fairly polite, and
allowed the Emperor to inspect the sketch he was making. There was to be a
theatrical performance at the château that evening, and it had already
been arranged that Montbard should witness it. On hearing, however, that
it had been impossible to provide my father and myself with seats, on
account of the great demand for admission on the part of local magnates
and the officers of the garrison, the Emperor was good enough to say,
after I had explained that my father's indisposition would prevent him
from attending: "Voyons, vous pourrez bien trouver une petite place pour
ce jeune homme. Il n'est pas si grand, et je suis sûr que cela lui fera
plaisir." M. de la Ferrière bowed, and thus it came to pass that I
witnessed the performance after all, being seated on a stool behind some
extremely beautiful women whose white shoulders repeatedly distracted my
attention from the stage. In regard to Montbard there was some little
trouble, as M. de la Ferrière did not like the appearance of his
"revolutionary-looking beard," the sight of which, said he, might greatly
alarm the Empress. Montbard, however, indignantly refused to shave it off,
and ten months later the "revolutionary beards" were predominant, the
power and the pomp of the Empire having been swept away amidst all the
disasters of invasion.



Napoleon's Plans for a War with Prussia--The Garde Mobile and the French
Army generally--Its Armament--The "White Blouses" and the Paris Riots--The
Emperor and the Elections of 1869--The Troppmann and Pierre Bonaparte
Affairs--Captain the Hon. Dennis Bingham--The Ollivier Ministry--French
Campaigning Plans--Frossard and Bazaine--The Negotiations with Archduke
Albert and Count Vimeroati--The War forced on by Bismarck--I shout "A
Berlin!"--The Imperial Guard and General Bourbaki--My Dream of seeing a
War--My uncle Frank Vizetelly and his Campaigns--"The Siege of Pekin"--
Organization of the French Forces--The Information Service--I witness the
departure of Napoleon III and the Imperial Prince from Saint Cloud.

There was no little agitation in France during the years 1868 and 1869.
The outcome first of the Schleswig-Holstein war, and secondly of the war
between Prussia and Austria in 1866, had alarmed many French politicians.
Napoleon III had expected some territorial compensation in return for his
neutrality at those periods, and it is certain that Bismarck, as chief
Prussian minister, had allowed him to suppose that he would be able to
indemnify himself for his non-intervention in the afore-mentioned
contests. After attaining her ends, however, Prussia turned an unwilling
ear to the French Emperor's suggestions, and from that moment a
Franco-German war became inevitable. Although, as I well remember,
there was a perfect "rage" for Bismarck "this" and Bismarck "that" in
Paris--particularly for the Bismarck colour, a shade of Havana brown--the
Prussian statesman, who had so successfully "jockeyed" the Man of Destiny,
was undoubtedly a well hated and dreaded individual among the Parisians,
at least among all those who thought of the future of Europe. Prussian
policy, however, was not the only cause of anxiety in France, for at the
same period the Republican opposition to the Imperial authority was
steadily gaining strength in the great cities, and the political
concessions by which Napoleon III sought to disarm it only emboldened it
to make fresh demands.

In planning a war on Prussia, the Emperor was influenced both by national
and by dynastic considerations. The rise of Prussia--which had become head
of the North German Confederation--was without doubt a menace not only to
French ascendency on the Continent, but also to France's general
interests. On the other hand, the prestige of the Empire having been
seriously impaired, in France itself, by the diplomatic defeats which
Bismarck had inflicted on Napoleon, it seemed that only a successful war,
waged on the Power from which France had received those successive
rebuffs, could restore the aforesaid prestige and ensure the duration of
the Bonaparte dynasty.

Even nowadays, in spite of innumerable revelations, many writers continue
to cast all the responsibility of the Franco-German War on Germany, or, to
be more precise, on Prussia as represented by Bismarck. That, however, is
a great error. A trial of strength was regarded on both sides as
inevitable, and both sides contributed to bring it about. Bismarck's share
in the conflict was to precipitate hostilities, selecting for them what he
judged to be an opportune moment for his country, and thereby preventing
the Emperor Napoleon from maturing his designs. The latter did not intend
to declare war until early in 1871; the Prussian statesman brought it
about in July, 1870.

The Emperor really took to the war-path soon after 1866. A great military
council was assembled, and various measures were devised to strengthen the
army. The principal step was the creation of a territorial force called
the Garde Mobile, which was expected to yield more than half a million
men. Marshal Niel, who was then Minister of War, attempted to carry out
this scheme, but was hampered by an insufficiency of money. Nowadays, I
often think of Niel and the Garde Mobile when I read of Lord Haldane,
Colonel Seely, and our own "terriers." It seems to me, at times, as if the
clock had gone back more than forty years.

Niel died in August, 1869, leaving his task in an extremely unfinished
state, and Marshal Le Boeuf, who succeeded him, persevered with it in a
very faint-hearted way. The regular army, however, was kept in fair
condition, though it was never so strong as it appeared to be on paper.
There was a system in vogue by which a conscript of means could avoid
service by supplying a _remplaçant_. Originally, he was expected to
provide his _remplaçant_ himself; but, ultimately, he only had to pay a
sum of money to the military authorities, who undertook to find a man to
take his place. Unfortunately, in thousands of instances, over a term of
some years, the _remplaçants_ were never provided at all. I do not suggest
that the money was absolutely misappropriated, but it was diverted to
other military purposes, and, in the result, there was always a
considerable shortage in the annual contingent.

The creature comforts of the men were certainly well looked after. My
particular chum at Bonaparte was the son of a general-officer, and I
visited more than one barracks or encampment. Without doubt, there was
always an abundance of good sound food. Further, the men were well-armed.
All military authorities are agreed, I believe, that the Chassepot
rifle--invented in or about 1866--was superior to the Dreyse needle-gun,
which was in use in the Prussian army. Then, too, there was Colonel de
Reffye's machine-gun or _mitrailleuse_, in a sense the forerunner of the
Gatling and the Maxim. It was first devised, I think, in 1863, and,
according to official statements, some three or four years later there
were more than a score of _mitrailleuse_ batteries. With regard to other
ordnance, however, that of the French was inferior to that of the Germans,
as was conclusively proved at Sedan and elsewhere. In many respects the
work of army reform, publicly advised by General Trochu in a famous
pamphlet, and by other officers in reports to the Emperor and the Ministry
of War, proceeded at a very slow pace, being impeded by a variety of
considerations. The young men of the large towns did not take kindly to
the idea of serving in the new Garde Mobile. Having escaped service in the
regular army, by drawing exempting "numbers" or by paying for
_remplaçants_, they regarded it as very unfair that they should be called
upon to serve at all, and there were serious riots in various parts of
France at the time of their first enrolment in 1868. Many of them failed
to realize the necessities of the case. There was no great wave of
patriotism sweeping through the country. The German danger was not yet
generally apparent. Further, many upholders of the Imperial authority
shook their heads in deprecation of this scheme of enrolling and arming so
many young men, who might suddenly blossom into revolutionaries and turn
their weapons against the powers of the day.

There was great unrest in Paris in 1868, the year of Henri Rochefort's
famous journal _La Lanterne_. Issue after issue of that bitterly-penned
effusion was seized and confiscated, and more than once did I see vigilant
detectives snatch copies from people in the streets. In June, 1869, we had
general elections, accompanied by rioting on the Boulevards. It was then
that the "White Blouse" legend arose, it being alleged that many of the
rioters were _agents provocateurs_ in the pay of the Prefecture of Police,
and wore white blouses expressly in order that they might be known to the
sergents-de-ville and the Gardes de Paris who were called upon to quell
the disturbances. At first thought, it might seem ridiculous that any
Government should stir up rioting for the mere sake of putting it down,
but it was generally held that the authorities wished some disturbances to
occur in order, first, that the middle-classes might be frightened by the
prospect of a violent revolution, and thereby induced to vote for
Government candidates at the elections; and, secondly, that some of the
many real Revolutionaries might be led to participate in the rioting in
such wise as to supply a pretext for arresting them.

I was with my mentor Brossard and my brother Edward one night in June when
a "Madeleine-Bastille" omnibus was overturned on the Boulevard Montmartre
and two or three newspaper kiosks were added to it by way of forming a
barricade, the purpose of which was by no means clear. The great crowd of
promenaders seemed to regard the affair as capital fun until the police
suddenly came up, followed by some mounted men of the Garde de Paris,
whereupon the laughing spectators became terrified and suddenly fled for
their lives. With my companions I gazed on the scene from the _entresol_
of the Café Mazarin. It was the first affair of the kind I had ever
witnessed, and for that reason impressed itself more vividly on my mind
than several subsequent and more serious ones. In the twinkling of an eye
all the little tables set out in front of the cafés were deserted, and
tragi-comical was the sight of the many women with golden chignons
scurrying away with their alarmed companions, and tripping now and again
over some fallen chair whilst the pursuing cavalry clattered noisily along
the foot-pavements. A Londoner might form some idea of the scene by
picturing a charge from Leicester Square to Piccadilly Circus at the hour
when Coventry Street is most thronged with undesirables of both sexes.

The majority of the White Blouses and their friends escaped unhurt, and
the police and the guards chiefly expended their vigour on the spectators
of the original disturbance. Whether this had been secretly engineered by
the authorities for one of the purposes I previously indicated, must
always remain a moot point. In any case it did not incline the Parisians
to vote for the Government candidates. Every deputy returned for the city
on that occasion was an opponent of the Empire, and in later years I was
told by an ex-Court official that when Napoleon became acquainted with the
result of the pollings he said, in reference to the nominees whom he had
favoured, "Not one! not a single one!" The ingratitude of the Parisians,
as the Emperor styled it, was always a thorn in his side; yet he should
have remembered that in the past the bulk of the Parisians had seldom, if
ever, been on the side of constituted authority.

Later that year came the famous affair of the Pantin crimes, and I was
present with my father when Troppmann, the brutish murderer of the Kinck
family, stood his trial at the Assizes. But, quite properly, my father
would not let me accompany him when he attended the miscreant's execution
outside the prison of La Roquette. Some years later, however, I witnessed
the execution of Prévost on the same spot; and at a subsequent date I
attended both the trial and the execution of Caserio--the assassin of
President Carnot--at Lyons. Following Troppmann's case, in the early days
of 1870 came the crime of the so-called Wild Boar of Corsica, Prince
Pierre Bonaparte (grandfather of the present Princess George of Greece),
who shot the young journalist Victor Noir, when the latter went with
Ulrich de Fonvielle, aeronaut as well as journalist, to call him out on
behalf of the irrepressible Henri Rochefort. I remember accompanying one
of our artists, Gaildrau, when a sketch was made of the scene of the
crime, the Prince's drawing-room at Auteuil, a peculiar semi-circular,
panelled and white-painted apartment furnished in what we should call in
England a tawdry mid-Victorian style. On the occasion of Noir's funeral my
father and myself were in the Champs Elysées when the tumultuous
revolutionary procession, in which Rochefort figured conspicuously, swept
down the famous avenue along which the victorious Germans were to march
little more than a year afterwards. Near the Rond-point the _cortège_ was
broken up and scattered by the police, whose violence was extreme.
Rochefort, brave enough on the duelling-ground, fainted away, and was
carried off in a vehicle, his position as a member of the Legislative Body
momentarily rendering him immune from arrest. Within a month, however, he
was under lock and key, and some fierce rioting ensued in the north of

During the spring, my father went to Ireland as special commissioner of
the _Illustrated London News_ and the _Pall Mall Gazette_, in order to
investigate the condition of the tenantry and the agrarian crimes which
were then so prevalent there. Meantime, I was left in Paris, virtually "on
my own," though I was often with my elder brother Edward. About this time,
moreover, a friend of my father's began to take a good deal of interest in
me. This was Captain the Hon. Dennis Bingham, a member of the Clanmorris
family, and the regular correspondent of the _Pall Mall Gazette_ in Paris.
He subsequently became known as the author of various works on the
Bonapartes and the Bourbons, and of a volume of recollections of Paris
life, in which I am once or twice mentioned. Bingham was married to a very
charming lady of the Laoretelle family, which gave a couple of historians
to France, and I was always received most kindly at their home near the
Arc de Triomphe. Moreover, Bingham often took me about with him in my
spare time, and introduced me to several prominent people. Later, during
the street fighting at the close of the Commune in 1871, we had some
dramatic adventures together, and on one occasion Bingham saved my life.

The earlier months of 1870 went by very swiftly amidst a multiplicity of
interesting events. Emile Ollivier had now become chief Minister, and an
era of liberal reforms appeared to have begun. It seemed, moreover, as if
the Minister's charming wife were for her part intent on reforming the
practices of her sex in regard to dress, for she resolutely set her face
against the extravagant toilettes of the ladies of the Court, repeatedly
appearing at the Tuileries in the most unassuming attire, which, however,
by sheer force of contrast, rendered her very conspicuous there. The
patronesses of the great _couturiers_ were quite irate at receiving such a
lesson from a _petite bourgeoise_; but all who shared the views expressed
by President Dupin a few years previously respecting the "unbridled luxury
of women," were naturally delighted.

Her husband's attempts at political reform were certainly well meant, but
the Republicans regarded him as a renegade and the older Imperialists as
an intruder, and nothing that he did gave satisfaction. The concession of
the right of public meeting led to frequent disorders at Belleville and
Montmartre, and the increased freedom of the Press only acted as an
incentive to violence of language. Nevertheless, when there came a
Plebiscitum--the last of the reign--to ascertain the country's opinion
respecting the reforms devised by the Emperor and Ollivier, a huge
majority signified approval of them, and thus the "liberal Empire" seemed
to be firmly established. If, however, the nation at large had known what
was going on behind the scenes, both in diplomatic and in military
spheres, the result of the Plebiscitum would probably have been very

Already on the morrow of the war between Prussia and Austria (1866) the
Emperor, as I previously indicated, had begun to devise a plan of campaign
in regard to the former Power, taking as his particular _confidants_ in
the matter General Lebrun, his _aide-de-camp_, and General Frossard, the
governor of the young Imperial Prince. Marshal Niel, as War Minister, was
cognizant of the Emperor's conferences with Lebrun and Frossard, but does
not appear to have taken any direct part in the plans which were devised.
They were originally purely defensive plans, intended to provide for any
invasion of French territory from across the Rhine. Colonel Baron Stoffel,
the French military _attaché_ at Berlin, had frequently warned the War
Office in Paris respecting the possibility of a Prussian attack and the
strength of the Prussian armaments, which, he wrote, would enable King
William (with the assistance of the other German rulers) to throw a force
of nearly a million men into Alsace-Lorraine. Further, General Ducrot, who
commanded the garrison at Strasburg, became acquainted with many things
which he communicated to his relative, Baron de Bourgoing, one of the
Emperor's equerries.

There is no doubt that these various communications reached Napoleon III;
and though he may have regarded both the statements of Stoffel and those
of Ducrot as exaggerated, he was certainly sufficiently impressed by them
to order the preparation of certain plans. Frossard, basing himself on the
operations of the Austrians in December, 1793, and keeping in mind the
methods by which Hoche, with the Moselle army, and Pichegru, with the
Rhine army, forced them back from the French frontier, drafted a scheme of
defence in which he foresaw the battle of Wörth, but, through following
erroneous information, greatly miscalculated the probable number of
combatants. He set forth in his scheme that the Imperial Government could
not possibly allow Alsace-Lorraine and Champagne to be invaded without a
trial of strength at the very outset; and Marshal Bazaine, who, at some
period or other, annotated a copy of Frossard's scheme, signified his
approval of that dictum, but added significantly that good tactical
measures should be adopted. He himself demurred to Frossard's plans,
saying that he was no partisan of a frontal defence, but believed in
falling on the enemy's flanks and rear. Yet, as we know, MacMahon fought
the battle of Wörth under conditions in many respects similar to those
which Frossard had foreseen.

However, the purely defensive plans on which Napoleon III at first worked,
were replaced in 1868 by offensive ones, in which General Lebrun took a
prominent part, both from the military and from the diplomatic
standpoints. It was not, however, until March, 1870, that the Archduke
Albert of Austria came to Paris to confer with the French Emperor.
Lebrun's plan of campaign was discussed by them, and Marshal Le Boeuf and
Generals Frossard and Jarras were privy to the negotiations. It was
proposed that France, Austria, and Italy should invade Germany conjointly;
and, according to Le Boeuf, the first-named Power could place 400,000 men
on the frontier in a fortnight's time. Both Austria and Italy, however,
required forty-two days to mobilize their forces, though the former
offered to provide two army corps during the interval. When Lebrun
subsequently went to Vienna to come to a positive decision and arrange
details, the Archduke Albert pointed out that the war ought to begin in
the spring season, for, said he, the North Germans would be able to
support the cold and dampness of a winter campaign far better than the
allies. That was an absolutely correct forecast, fully confirmed by all
that took place in France during the winter of 1870-1871.

But Prussia heard of what was brewing. Austria was betrayed to her by
Hungary; and Italy and France could not come to an understanding on the
question of Rome. At the outset Prince Napoleon (Jérome) was concerned in
the latter negotiations, which were eventually conducted by Count
Vimercati, the Italian military _attaché_ in Paris. Napoleon, however,
steadily refused to withdraw his forces from the States of the Church and
to allow Victor Emmanuel to occupy Rome. Had he yielded on those points
Italy would certainly have joined him, and Austria--however much Hungarian
statesmen might have disliked it--would, in all probability, have followed
suit. By the policy he pursued in this matter, the French Emperor lost
everything, and prevented nothing. On the one hand, France was defeated
and the Empire of the Bonapartes collapsed; whilst, on the other, Rome
became Italy's true capital.

Bismarck was in no way inclined to allow the negotiations for an
anti-Prussian alliance to mature. They dragged on for a considerable time,
but the Government of Napoleon III was not particularly disturbed thereat,
as it felt certain that victory would attend the French arms at the
outset, and that Italy and Austria would eventually give support.
Bismarck, however, precipitated events. Already in the previous year
Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen had been a candidate for the
throne of Spain. That candidature had been withdrawn in order to avert a
conflict between France and Germany; but now it was revived at Bismarck's
instigation in order to bring about one.

I have said, I think, enough to show--in fairness to Germany--that the war
of 1870 was not an unprovoked attack on France. The incidents--such as the
Ems affair--which directly led up to it were after all only of secondary
importance, although they bulked so largely at the time of their
occurrence. I well remember the great excitement which prevailed in Paris
during the few anxious days when to the man in the street the question of
peace or war seemed to be trembling in the balance, though in reality that
question was already virtually decided upon both sides. Judging by all
that has been revealed to us during the last forty years, I do not think
that M. Emile Ollivier, the Prime Minister, would have been able to modify
the decision of the fateful council held at Saint Cloud even if he had
attended it. Possessed by many delusions, the bulk of the imperial
councillors were too confident of success to draw back, and, besides,
Bismarck and Moltke were not disposed to let France draw back. They were
ready, and they knew right well that opportunity is a fine thing.

It was on July 15 that the Duc de Gramont, the Imperial Minister of
Foreign Affairs, read his memorable statement to the Legislative Body, and
two days later a formal declaration of war was signed. Paris at once
became delirious with enthusiasm, though, as we know by all the telegrams
from the Prefects of the departments, the provinces generally desired that
peace might be preserved.

Resident in Paris, and knowing at that time very little about the rest of
France--for I had merely stayed during my summer holidays at such seaside
resorts as Trouville, Deauville, Beuzeval, St. Malo, and St. Servan--I
undoubtedly caught the Parisian fever, and I dare say that I sometimes
joined in the universal chorus of "À Berlin!" Mere lad as I was, in spite
of my precocity, I shared also the universal confidence in the French
army. In that confidence many English military men participated. Only
those who, like Captain Hozier of _The Times_, had closely watched
Prussian methods during the Seven Weeks' War in 1866, clearly realized
that the North German kingdom possessed a thoroughly well organized
fighting machine, led by officers of the greatest ability, and capable of
effecting something like a revolution in the art of war.

France was currently thought stronger than she really was. Of the good
physique of her men there could be no doubt. Everybody who witnessed the
great military pageants of those times was impressed by the bearing of the
troops and their efficiency under arms. And nobody anticipated that they
would be so inferior to the Germans in numbers as proved to be the case,
and that the generals would show themselves so inferior in mental calibre
to the commanders of the opposing forces. The Paris garrison, it is true,
was no real criterion of the French army generally, though foreigners were
apt to judge the latter by what they saw of it in the capital. The troops
stationed there were mostly picked men, the garrison being very largely
composed of the Imperial Guard. The latter always made a brilliant
display, not merely by reason of its somewhat showy uniforms, recalling at
times those of the First Empire, but also by the men's fine _physique_ and
their general military proficiency. They certainly fought well in some of
the earlier battles of the war. Their commander was General Bourbaki, a
fine soldierly looking man, the grandson of a Greek pilot who acted as
intermediary between Napoleon I and his brother Joseph, at the time of the
former's expedition to Egypt. It was this original Bourbaki who carried to
Napoleon Joseph's secret letters reporting Josephine's misconduct in her
husband's absence, misconduct which Napoleon condoned at the time, though
it would have entitled him to a divorce nine years before he decided on

With the spectacle of the Imperial Guard constantly before their eyes, the
Parisians of July, 1870, could not believe in the possibility of defeat,
and, moreover, at the first moment it was not believed that the Southern
German States would join North Germany against France. Napoleon III and
his confidential advisers well knew, however, what to think on that point,
and the delusions of the man in the street departed when, on July 20,
Bavaria, Würtemberg, Baden, and Hesse-Darmstadt announced their intention
of supporting Prussia and the North German Confederation. Still, this did
not dismay the Parisians, and the shouts of "To Berlin! To Berlin!" were
as frequent as ever.

It had long been one of my dreams to see and participate in the great
drama of war. All boys, I suppose, come into the world with pugnacious
instincts. There must be few, too, who never "play at soldiers." My own
interest in warfare and soldiering had been steadily fanned from my
earliest childhood. In the first place, I had been incessantly confronted
by all the scenes of war depicted in the _Illustrated Times_ and the
_Illustrated London News_, those journals being posted to me regularly
every week whilst I was still only a little chap at Eastbourne. Further,
the career of my uncle, Frank Vizetelly, exercised a strange fascination
over me. Born in Fleet Street in September, 1830, he was the youngest of
my father's three brothers. Educated with Gustave Doré, he became an
artist for the illustrated Press, and, in 1850, represented the
_Illustrated Times_ as war-artist in Italy, being a part of the time with
the French and at other moments with the Sardinian forces. That was the
first of his many campaigns. His services being afterwards secured by the
_Illustrated London News_, he next accompanied Garibaldi from Palermo to
Naples. Then, at the outbreak of the Civil War in the United States, he
repaired thither with Howard Russell, and, on finding obstacles placed in
his way on the Federal side, travelled "underground" to Richmond and
joined the Confederates. The late Duke of Devonshire, the late Lord
Wolseley, and Francis Lawley were among his successive companions. At one
time he and the first-named shared the same tent and lent socks and shirts
to one another.

Now and again, however, Frank Vizetelly came to England after running the
blockade, stayed a few weeks in London, and then departed for America once
more, yet again running the blockade on his way. This he did on at least
three occasions. His next campaign was the war of 1866, when he was with
the Austrian commander Benedek. For a few years afterwards he remained in
London assisting his eldest brother James to run what was probably the
first of the society journals, _Echoes of the Clubs_, to which Mortimer
Collins and the late Sir Edmund Monson largely contributed. However, Frank
Vizetelly went back to America once again, this time with Wolseley on the
Red River Expedition. Later, he was with Don Carlos in Spain and with the
French in Tunis, whence he proceeded to Egypt. He died on the field of
duty, meeting his death when Hicks Pasha's little army was annihilated in
the denies of Kashgil, in the Soudan.

Now, in the earlier years, when Frank Vizetelly returned from Italy or
America, he was often at my father's house at Kensington, and I heard
him talk of Napoleon III, MacMahon, Garibaldi, Victor Emmanuel, Cialdini,
Robert Lee, Longstreet, Stonewall Jackson, and Captain Semmes.
Between-times I saw all the engravings prepared after his sketches, and I
regarded him and them with a kind of childish reverence. I can picture him
still, a hale, bluff, tall, and burly-looking man, with short dark hair,
blue eyes and a big ruddy moustache. He was far away the best known member
of our family in my younger days, when anonymity in journalism was an
almost universal rule. In the same way, however, as everybody had heard of
Howard Russell, the war correspondent of the _Times_, so most people had
heard of Frank Vizetelly, the war-artist of the _Illustrated_. He was,
by-the-by, in the service of the _Graphic_ when he was killed.

I well remember being alternately amused and disgusted by a French
theatrical delineation of an English war correspondent, given in a
spectacular military piece which I witnessed a short time after my first
arrival in Paris. It was called "The Siege of Pekin," and had been
concocted by Mocquard, the Emperor Napoleon's secretary. All the "comic
business" in the affair was supplied by a so-called war correspondent of
the _Times_, who strutted about in a tropical helmet embellished with a
green Derby veil, and was provided with a portable desk and a huge
umbrella. This red-nosed and red-whiskered individual was for ever talking
of having to do this and that for "the first paper of the first country in
the world," and, in order to obtain a better view of an engagement, he
deliberately planted himself between the French and Chinese combatants. I
should doubtless have derived more amusement from his tomfoolery had I not
already known that English war correspondents did not behave in any such
idiotic manner, and I came away from the performance with strong feelings
of resentment respecting so outrageous a caricature of a profession
counting among its members the uncle whom I so much admired.

Whatever my dreams may have been, I hardly anticipated that I should join
that profession myself during the Franco-German war. The Lycées "broke up"
in confusion, and my father decided to send me to join my stepmother and
the younger members of the family at Saint Servan, it being his intention
to go to the front with my elder brother Edward. But Simpson, the veteran
Crimean War artist, came over to join the so-called Army of the Rhine, and
my brother, securing an engagement from the _New York Times_, set out on
his own account. Thus I was promptly recalled to Paris, where my father
had decided to remain. In those days the journey from Brittany to the
capital took many long and wearisome hours, and I made it in a third-class
carriage of a train crowded with soldiers of all arms, cavalry, infantry,
and artillery. Most of them were intoxicated, and the grossness of their
language and manners was almost beyond belief. That dreadful night spent
on the boards of a slowly-moving and jolting train, [There were then no
cushioned seats in French third-class carriages.] amidst drunken and
foul-mouthed companions, gave me, as it were, a glimpse of the other side
of the picture--that is, of several things which lie behind the glamour of

It must have been about July 25 when I returned to Paris. A decree had
just been issued appointing the Empress as Regent in the absence of the
Emperor, who was to take command of the Army of the Rhine. It had
originally been intended that there should be three French armies, but
during the conferences with Archduke Albert in the spring, that plan was
abandoned in favour of one sole army under the command of Napoleon III.
The idea underlying the change was to avoid a superfluity of
staff-officers, and to augment the number of actual combatants. Both Le
Boeuf and Lebrun approved of the alteration, and this would seem to
indicate that there were already misgivings on the French side in regard
to the inferior strength of their effectives. The army was divided into
eight sections, that is, seven army corps, and the Imperial Guard.
Bourbaki, as already mentioned, commanded the Guard, and at the head of
the army corps were (1) MacMahon, (2) Frossard, (3) Bazaine, (4)
Ladmerault, (5) Failly, (6) Canrobert, and (7) Félix Douay. Both Frossard
and Failly, however, were at first made subordinate to Bazaine. The head
of the information service was Colonel Lewal, who rose to be a general and
Minister of War under the Republic, and who wrote some commendable works
on tactics; and immediately under him were Lieut.-Colonel Fay, also
subsequently a well-known general, and Captain Jung, who is best
remembered perhaps by his inquiries into the mystery of the Man with the
Iron Mask. I give those names because, however distinguished those three
men may have become in later years, the French intelligence service at the
outset of the war was without doubt extremely faulty, and responsible for
some of the disasters which occurred.

On returning to Paris one of my first duties was to go in search of
Moulin, the detective-artist whom I mentioned in my first chapter. I found
him in his somewhat squalid home in the Quartier Mouffetard, surrounded by
a tribe of children, and he immediately informed me that he was one of the
"agents" appointed to attend the Emperor on the campaign. The somewhat
lavish Imperial _équipage_, on which Zola so frequently dilated in "The
Downfall," had, I think, already been despatched to Metz, where the
Emperor proposed to fix his headquarters, and the escort of Cent Gardes
was about to proceed thither. Moulin told me, however, that he and two of
his colleagues were to travel in the same train as Napoleon, and it was
agreed that he should forward either to Paris or to London, as might prove
most convenient, such sketches as he might from time to time contrive to
make. He suggested that there should be one of the Emperor's departure
from Saint Cloud, and that in order to avoid delay I should accompany him
on the occasion and take it from him. We therefore went down together on
July 28, promptly obtained admittance to the château, where Moulin took
certain instructions, and then repaired to the railway-siding in the park,
whence the Imperial train was to start.

Officers and high officials, nearly all in uniform, were constantly going
to and fro between the siding and the château, and presently the Imperial
party appeared, the Emperor being between the Empress and the young
Imperial Prince. Quite a crowd of dignitaries followed. I do not recollect
seeing Emile Ollivier, though he must have been present, but I took
particular note of Rouher, the once all-powerful minister, currently
nicknamed the Vice-Emperor, and later President of the Senate. In spite of
his portliness, he walked with a most determined stride, held his head
very erect, and spoke in his customary loud voice. The Emperor, who wore
the undress uniform of a general, looked very grave and sallow. The
disease which eventually ended in his death had already become serious,
[I have given many particulars of it in my two books, "The Court of the
Tuileries, 1862-1870" (Chatto and Windus), and "Republican France,
1870-1912" (Holden and Hardingham).] and only a few days later, that is,
during the Saarbrucken affair (August 2), he was painfully affected by it.
Nevertheless, he had undertaken to command the Army of France! The
Imperial Prince, then fourteen years of age, was also in uniform, it
having been arranged that he should accompany his father to the front, and
he seemed to be extremely animated and restless, repeatedly turning to
exchange remarks with one or another officer near him. The Empress, who
was very simply gowned, smiled once or twice in response to some words
which fell from her husband, but for the most part she looked as serious
as he did. Whatever Emile Ollivier may have said about beginning this war
with a light heart, it is certain that these two sovereigns of France
realized, at that hour of parting, the magnitude of the issues at stake.
After they had exchanged a farewell kiss, the Empress took her eager young
son in her arms and embraced him fondly, and when we next saw her face we
could perceive the tears standing in her eyes. The Emperor was already
taking his seat and the boy speedily sprang after him. Did the Empress at
that moment wonder when, where, and how she would next see them again?
Perchance she did. Everything, however, was speedily in readiness for
departure. As the train began to move, both the Emperor and the Prince
waved their hands from the windows, whilst all the enthusiastic Imperial
dignitaries flourished their hats and raised a prolonged cry of "Vive
l'Empereur!" It was not, perhaps, so loud as it might have been; but,
then, they were mostly elderly men. Moulin, during the interval, had
contrived to make something in the nature of a thumb-nail sketch; I had
also taken a few notes myself; and thus provided I hastened back to Paris.



First French Defeats--A Great Victory rumoured--The Marseillaise, Capoul
and Marie Sass--Edward Vizetelly brings News of Forbach to Paris--Emile
Ollivier again--His Fall from Power--Cousin Montauban, Comte de Palikao--
English War Correspondents in Paris--Gambetta calls me "a Little Spy"--
More French Defeats--Palikao and the Defence of Paris--Feats of a Siege--
Wounded returning from the Front--Wild Reports of French Victories--The
Quarries of Jaumont--The Anglo-American Ambulance--The News of Sedan--
Sala's Unpleasant Adventure--The Fall of the Empire.

It was, I think, two days after the Emperor's arrival at Metz that the
first Germans--a detachment of Badeners--entered French territory. Then,
on the second of August came the successful French attack on Saarbrucken,
a petty affair but a well-remembered one, as it was on this occasion that
the young Imperial Prince received the "baptism of fire." Appropriately
enough, the troops, whose success he witnessed, were commanded by his late
governor, General Frossard. More important was the engagement at
Weissenburg two days later, when a division of the French under General
Abel Douay was surprised by much superior forces, and utterly overwhelmed,
Douay himself being killed during the fighting. Yet another two days
elapsed, and then the Crown Prince of Prussia--later the Emperor
Frederick--routed MacMahon at Wörth, in spite of a vigorous resistance,
carried on the part of the French Cuirassiers, under General the Vicomte
de Bonnemains, to the point of heroism. In later days the general's son
married a handsome and wealthy young lady of the bourgeoisie named
Marguerite Crouzet, whom, however, he had to divorce, and who afterwards
became notorious as the mistress of General Boulanger.

Curiously enough, on the very day of the disaster of Wörth a rumour of a
great French victory spread through Paris. My father had occasion to send
me to his bankers in the Rue Vivienne, and on making my way to the
Boulevards, which I proposed to follow, I was amazed to see the
shopkeepers eagerly setting up the tricolour flags which they habitually
displayed on the Emperor's fête-day (August 15). Nobody knew exactly how
the rumours of victory had originated, nobody could give any precise
details respecting the alleged great success, but everybody believed in
it, and the enthusiasm was universal. It was about the middle of the day
when I repaired to the Rue Vivienne, and after transacting my business
there, I turned into the Place de la Bourse, where a huge crowd was
assembled. The steps of the exchange were also covered with people, and
amidst a myriad eager gesticulations a perfect babel of voices was
ascending to the blue sky. One of the green omnibuses, which in those days
ran from the Bourse to Passy, was waiting on the square, unable to depart
owing to the density of the crowd; and all at once, amidst a scene of
great excitement and repeated shouts of "La Marseillaise!" "La
Marseillaise!" three or four well-dressed men climbed on to the vehicle,
and turning towards the mob of speculators and sightseers covering the
steps of the Bourse, they called to them repeatedly: "Silence! Silence!"
The hubbub slightly subsided, and thereupon one of the party on the
omnibus, a good-looking slim young fellow with a little moustache, took
off his hat, raised his right arm, and began to sing the war-hymn of the
Revolution. The stanza finished, the whole assembly took up the refrain.

Since the days of the Coup d'État, the Marseillaise had been banned in
France, the official imperial air being "Partant pour la Syrie," a
military march composed by the Emperor's mother, Queen Hortense, with
words by Count Alexandre de Laborde, who therein pictured a handsome young
knight praying to the Blessed Virgin before his departure for Palestine,
and soliciting of her benevolence that he might "prove to be the bravest
brave, and love the fairest fair." During the twenty years of the third
Napoleon's rule, Paris had heard the strains of "Partant pour la Syrie"
many thousand times, and, though they were tuneful enough, had become
thoroughly tired of them. To stimulate popular enthusiasm in the war the
Ollivier Cabinet had accordingly authorized the playing and singing of the
long-forbidden "Marseillaise," which, although it was well-remembered by
the survivors of '48, and was hummed even by the young Republicans of
Belleville and the Quartier Latin, proved quite a novelty to half the
population, who were destined to hear it again and again and again from
that period until the present time.

The young vocalist who sang it from the top of a Passy-Bourse omnibus on
that fateful day of Wörth, claimed to be a tenor, but was more correctly a
tenorino, his voice possessing far more sweetness than power. He was
already well-known and popular, for he had taken the part of Romeo in
Gounod's well-known opera based on the Shakespearean play. Like many
another singer, Victor Capoul might have become forgotten before very
long, but a curious circumstance, having nothing to do with vocalism,
diffused and perpetuated his name. He adopted a particular way of dressing
his hair, "plastering" a part of it down in a kind of semi-circle over the
forehead; and the new style "catching on" among young Parisians, the
"coiffure Capoul" eventually went round the world. It is exemplified in
certain portraits of King George V.

In those war-days Capoul sang the "Marseillaise" either at the Opéra
Comique or the Théâtre Lyrique; but at the Opera it was sung by Marie
Sass, then at the height of her reputation. I came in touch with her a few
years later when she was living in the Paris suburbs, and more than once,
when we both travelled to the city in the same train, I had the honour of
assisting her to alight from it--this being no very easy matter, as la
Sass was the very fattest and heaviest of all the _prime donne_ that I
have ever seen.

On the same day that MacMahon was defeated at Wörth, Frossard was badly
beaten at Forbach, an engagement witnessed by my elder brother Edward,
[Born January 1, 1847, and therefore in 1870 in his twenty-fourth year.]
who, as I previously mentioned, had gone to the front for an American
journal. Finding it impossible to telegraph the news of this serious
French reverse, he contrived to make his way to Paris on a locomotive-
engine, and arrived at our flat in the Rue de Miromesnil looking as black
as any coal-heaver. When he had handed his account of the affair to Ryan,
the Paris representative of the _New York Times_, it was suggested that
his information might perhaps be useful to the French Minister of War. So
he hastened to the Ministry, where the news he brought put a finishing
touch to the dismay of the officials, who were already staggering under
the first news of the disaster of Wörth.

Paris, jubilant over an imaginary victory, was enraged by the tidings of
Wörth and Forbach. Already dreading some Revolutionary enterprise, the
Government declared the city to be in a state of siege, thereby placing it
under military authority. Although additional men had recently been
enrolled in the National Guard the arming of them had been intentionally
delayed, precisely from a fear of revolutionary troubles, which the
_entourage_ of the Empress-Regent at Saint Cloud feared from the very
moment of the first defeats. I recollect witnessing on the Place Venddme
one day early in August a very tumultuous gathering of National Guards who
had flocked thither in order to demand weapons of the Prime Minister, that
is, Emile Ollivier, who in addition to the premiership, otherwise the
"Presidency of the Council," held the offices of Keeper of the Seals and
Minister of Justice, this department then having its offices in one of the
buildings of the Place Vendôme. Ollivier responded to the demonstration by
appearing on the balcony of his private room and delivering a brief
speech, which, embraced a vague promise to comply with the popular demand.
In point of fact, however, nothing of the kind was done during his term of

Whilst writing these lines I hear that this much-abused statesman has just
passed away at Saint Gervais-les-Bains in Upper Savoy (August 20, 1913).
Born at Marseilles in July, 1825, he lived to complete his eighty-eighth
year. His second wife (née Gravier), to whom I referred in a previous
chapter, survives him. I do not wish to be unduly hard on his memory. He
came, however, of a very Republican family, and in his earlier years he
personally evinced what seemed to be most staunch Republicanism. When he
was first elected as a member of the Legislative Body in 1857, he publicly
declared that he would appear before that essentially Bonapartist assembly
as one of the spectres of the crime of the Coup d'Etat. But subsequently
M. de Morny baited him with a lucrative appointment connected with the
Suez Canal. Later still, the Empress smiled on him, and finally he took
office under the Emperor, thereby disgusting nearly every one of his
former friends and associates.

I believe, however, that Ollivier was sincerely convinced of the
possibility of firmly establishing a liberal-imperialist _regime_. But
although various reforms were carried out under his auspices, it is quite
certain that he was not allowed a perfectly free hand. Nor was he fully
taken into confidence with respect to the Emperor's secret diplomatic and
military policy. That was proved by the very speech in which he spoke of
entering upon the war with Prussia "with a light heart"; for in his very
next sentences he spoke of that war as being absolutely forced upon
France, and of himself and his colleagues as having done all that was
humanly and honourably possible to avoid it. Assuredly he would not have
spoken quite as he did had he realized at the time that Bismarck had
merely forced on the war in order to defeat the Emperor Napoleon's
intention to invade Germany in the ensuing spring. The public provocation
on Prussia's part was, as I previously showed, merely her reply to the
secret provocation offered by France, as evidenced by all the negotiations
with Archduke Albert on behalf of Austria, and with Count Vimercati on
behalf of Italy. On all those matters Ollivier was at the utmost but very
imperfectly informed. Finally, be it remembered that he was absent from
the Council at Saint Cloud at which war was finally decided upon.

At a very early hour on the morning of Sunday, August 7--the day following
Wörth and Forbach--the Empress Eugénie came in all haste and sore
distress from Saint Cloud to the Tuileries. The position was very serious,
and anxious conferences were held by the ministers. When the Legislative
Body met on the morrow, a number of deputies roundly denounced the manner
in which the military operations were being conducted. One deputy, a
certain Guyot-Montpeyroux, who was well known for the outspokenness of his
language, horrified the more devoted Imperialists by describing the French
forces as an army of lions led by jackasses. On the following day Ollivier
and his colleagues resigned office. Their position had become untenable,
though little if any responsibility attached to them respecting the
military operations. The Minister of War, General Dejean, had been merely
a stop-gap, appointed to carry out the measures agreed upon before his
predecessor, Marshal Le Boeuf, had gone to the front as Major General of
the army.

It was felt; however, among the Empress's _entourage_ that the new Prime
Minister ought to be a military man of energy, devoted, moreover, to the
Imperial _régime_. As the marshals and most of the conspicuous generals of
the time were already serving in the field, it was difficult to find any
prominent individual possessed of the desired qualifications. Finally,
however, the Empress was prevailed upon to telegraph to an officer whom
she personally disliked, this being General Cousin-Montauban, Comte de
Palikao. He was certainly, and with good reason, devoted to the Empire,
and in the past he had undoubtedly proved himself to be a man of energy.
But he was at this date in his seventy-fifth year--a fact often overlooked
by historians of the Franco-German war--and for that very reason, although
he had solicited a command in the field at the first outbreak of
hostilities, it had been decided to decline his application, and to leave
him at Lyons, where he had commanded the garrison for five years past.

Thirty years of Palikao's life had been spent in Algeria, contending,
during most of that time, against the Arabs; but in 1860 he had been
appointed commander of the French expedition to China, where with a small
force he had conducted hostilities with the greatest vigour, repeatedly
decimating or scattering the hordes of Chinamen who were opposed to him,
and, in conjunction with the English, victoriously taking Pekin. A kind of
stain rested on the expedition by reason of the looting of the Chinese
Emperor's summer-palace, but the entire responsibility of that affair
could not be cast on the French commander, as he only continued and
completed what the English began. On his return to France, Napoleon III
created him Comte de Palikao (the name being taken from one of his Chinese
victories), and in addition wished the Legislative Body to grant him a
_dotation_. However, the summer-palace looting scandal prevented this,
much to the Emperor's annoyance, and subsequent to the fall of the Empire
it was discovered that, by Napoleon's express orders, the War Ministry had
paid Palikao a sum of about £60,000, diverting that amount of money (in
accordance with the practices of the time) from the purpose originally
assigned to it in the Estimates.

This was not generally known when Palikao became Chief Minister. He was
then what might be called a very well preserved old officer, but his lungs
had been somewhat affected by a bullet-wound of long standing, and this he
more than once gave as a reason for replying with the greatest brevity to
interpellations in the Chamber. Moreover, as matters went from bad to
worse, this same lung trouble became a good excuse for preserving absolute
silence on certain inconvenient occasions. When, however, Palikao was
willing to speak he often did so untruthfully, repeatedly adding the
_suggestio falsi_ to the _suppressio veri_. As a matter of fact, he, like
other fervent partisans of the dynasty, was afraid to let the Parisians
know the true state of affairs. Besides, he himself was often ignorant of
it. He took office (he was the third War Minister in fifty days) without
any knowledge whatever of the imperial plan of campaign, or the steps to
be adopted in the event of further French reverses, and a herculean task
lay before this septuagenarian officer, who by experience knew right well
how to deal with Arabs and Chinamen, but had never had to contend with
European troops. Nevertheless, he displayed zeal and activity in his new
semi-political and semi-military position. He greatly assisted MacMahon to
reconstitute his army at Châlons, he planned the organization of three
more army corps, and he started on the work of placing Paris in a state of
defence, whilst his colleague, Clément Duvernois, the new Minister of
Commerce, began gathering flocks and herds together, in order that the
city, if besieged, might have the necessary means of subsistence.

At this time there were quite a number of English "war" as well as "own"
correspondents in Paris. The former had mostly returned from Metz, whither
they had repaired at the time of the Emperor's departure for the front. At
the outset it had seemed as though the French would allow foreign
journalists to accompany them on their "promenade to Berlin," but, on
reverses setting in, all official recognition was denied to newspaper men,
and, moreover, some of the representatives of the London Press had a very
unpleasant time at Metz, being arrested there as spies and subjected to
divers indignities. I do not remember whether they were ordered back to
Paris or whether they voluntarily withdrew to the capital on their
position with the army becoming untenable; but in any case they arrived in
the city and lingered there for a time, holding daily symposiums at the
Grand Café at the corner of the Ruè Scribe, on the Boulevards.

From time to time I went there with my father, and amongst, this galaxy
of journalistic talent I met certain men with whom I had spoken in my
childhood. One of them, for instance, was George Augustus Sala, and
another was Henry Mayhew, the famous author of "London Labour and the
London Poor," he being accompanied by his son Athol. Looking back, it
seems to me that, in spite of all their brilliant gifts, neither Sala nor
Henry Mayhew was fitted to be a correspondent in the field, and they were
certainly much better placed in Paris than at the headquarters of the Army
of the Rhine. Among the resident correspondents who attended the
gatherings at the Grand Café were Captain Bingham, Blanchard (son of
Douglas) Jerrold, and the jaunty Bower, who had once been tried for his
life and acquitted by virtue of the "unwritten law" in connection with
an _affaire passíonelle_ in which he was the aggrieved party. For more
than forty years past, whenever I have seen a bluff looking elderly
gentleman sporting a buff-waistcoat and a white-spotted blue necktie,
I have instinctively thought of Bower, who wore such a waistcoat and such
a necktie, with the glossiest of silk hats and most shapely of
patent-leather boots, throughout the siege of Paris, when he was fond of
dilating on the merits of boiled ostrich and stewed elephant's foot, of
which expensive dainties he partook at his club, after the inmates of the
Jardin des Plantes had been slaughtered.

Bower represented the _Morning Advertiser_. I do not remember seeing Bowes
of the _Standard_ at the gatherings I have referred to, or Crawford of the
_Daily News_, who so long wrote his Paris letters at a little café
fronting the Bourse. But it was certainly at the Grand Café that I first
set eyes on Labouchere, who, like Sala, was installed at the neighbouring
Grand Hotel, and was soon to become famous as the _Daily News_' "Besieged
Resident." As for Mr. Thomas Gibson Bowles, who represented the _Morning
Post_ during the German Siege, I first set eyes on him at the British
Embassy, when he had a beautiful little moustache (which I greatly envied)
and wore his hair nicely parted down the middle. _Eheu! fugaces labuntur

Sala was the life and soul of those gatherings at the Grand Café, always
exuberantly gay, unless indeed the conversation turned on the prospects of
the French forces, when he railed at them without ceasing. Blanchard
Jerrold, who was well acquainted with the spy system of the Empire,
repeatedly warned Sala to be cautious--but in vain; and the eventual
result of his outspokenness was a very unpleasant adventure on the eve of
the Empire's fall. In the presence of all those distinguished men of the
pen, I myself mostly preserved, as befitted my age, a very discreet
silence, listening intently, but seldom opening my lips unless it were to
accept or refuse another cup of coffee, or some _sirop de groseille_ or
_grenadine_. I never touched any intoxicant excepting claret at my meals,
and though, in my Eastbourne days, I had, like most boys of my time,
experimented with a clay pipe and some dark shag, I did not smoke. My
father personally was extremely fond of cigars, but had he caught me
smoking one, he would, I believe, have knocked me down.

In connection with those Grand Café gatherings I one day had a little
adventure. It had been arranged that I should meet my father there, and
turning into the Boulevards from the Madeleine I went slowly past what was
then called the Rue Basse du Rempart. I was thinking of something or
other--I do not remember what, but in any case I was absorbed in thought,
and inadvertently I dogged the footsteps of two black-coated gentlemen who
were deep in conversation. I was almost unconscious of their presence, and
in any case I did not hear a word of what they were saying. But all at
once one of them turned round, and said to me angrily: "Veux-tu bien t'en
aller, petit espion!" otherwise: "Be off, little spy!" I woke up as it
were, looked at him, and to my amazement recognized Gambetta, whom I had
seen several times already, when I was with my mentor Brossard at either
the Café de Suède or the Café de Madrid. At the same time, however, his
companion also turned round, and proved to be Jules Simon, who knew me
through a son of his. This was fortunate, for he immediately exclaimed:
"Why, no! It is young Vizetelly, a friend of my son's," adding, "Did you
wish to speak to me?"

I replied in the negative, saying that I had not even recognized him from
behind, and trying to explain that it was purely by chance that I had been
following him and M. Gambetta. "You know me, then?" exclaimed the future
dictator somewhat sharply; whereupon I mentioned that he had been pointed
out to me more than once, notably when he was in the company of M.
Delescluze. "Ah, oui, fort bien," he answered. "I am sorry if I spoke as I
did. But"--and here he turned to Simon--"one never knows, one can never
take too many precautions. The Spaniard would willingly send both of us to
Mazas." By "the Spaniard," of course, he meant the Empress Eugénie, just
as people meant Marie-Antoinette when they referred to "the Austrian"
during the first Revolution. That ended the affair. They both shook hands
with me, I raised my hat, and hurried on to the Grand Café, leaving them
to their private conversation. This was the first time that I ever
exchanged words with Gambetta. The incident must have occurred just after
his return from Switzerland, whither he had repaired fully anticipating
the triumph of the French arms, returning, however, directly he heard of
the first disasters. Simon and he were naturally drawn together by their
opposition to the Empire, but they were men of very different characters,
and some six months later they were at daggers drawn.

Events moved rapidly during Palikao's ministry. Reviving a former
proposition of Jules Favre's, Gambetta proposed to the Legislative Body
the formation of a Committee of National Defence, and one was ultimately
appointed; but the only member of the Opposition included in it was
Thiers. In the middle of August there were some revolutionary disturbances
at La Villette. Then, after the famous conference at Châlons, where
Rouher, Prince Napoleon, and others discussed the situation with the
Emperor and MacMahon, Trochu was appointed Military Governor of Paris,
where he soon found himself at loggerheads with Palikao. Meantime, the
French under Bazaine, to whom the Emperor was obliged to relinquish the
supreme command--the Opposition deputies particularly insisting on
Bazaine's appointment in his stead--were experiencing reverse after
reverse. The battle of Courcelles or Pange, on August 14, was followed two
days later by that of Vionville or Mars-la-Tour, and, after yet another
two days, came the great struggle of Gravelotte, and Bazaine was thrown
back on Metz.

At the Châlons conference it had been decided that the Emperor should
return to Paris and that MacMahon's army also should retreat towards the
capital. But Palikao telegraphed to Napoleon: "If you abandon Bazaine
there will be Revolution in Paris, and you yourself will be attacked by
all the enemy's forces. Paris will defend herself from all assault from
outside. The fortifications are completed." It has been argued that the
plan to save Bazaine might have succeeded had it been immediately carried
into effect, and in accordance, too, with Palikao's ideas; but the
original scheme was modified, delay ensued, and the French were outmarched
by the Germans, who came up with them at Sedan. As for Palikao's statement
that the Paris fortifications were completed at the time when he
despatched his telegram, that was absolutely untrue. The armament of the
outlying forts had scarcely begun, and not a single gun was in position on
any one of the ninety-five bastions of the ramparts. On the other hand,
Palikao was certainly doing all he could for the city. He had formed the
aforementioned Committee of Defence, and under his auspices the fosse or
ditch in front of the ramparts was carried across the sixty-nine roads
leading into Paris, whilst drawbridges were installed on all these points,
with armed lunettes in front of them. Again, redoubts were thrown up in
advance of some of the outlying forts, or on spots where breaks occurred
in the chain of defensive works.

At the same time, ships' guns were ordered up from Cherbourg, Brest,
Lorient, and Toulon, together with naval gunners to serve them. Sailors,
customhouse officers, and provincial gendarmes were also conveyed to Paris
in considerable numbers. Gardes-mobiles, francs-tireurs, and even firemen
likewise came from the provinces, whilst the work of provisioning the city
proceeded briskly, the Chamber never hesitating to vote all the money
asked of it. At the same time, whilst there were many new arrivals in
Paris, there were also many departures from the city. The general fear of
a siege spread rapidly. Every day thousands of well-to-do middle-class
folk went off in order to place themselves out of harm's way; and at the
same time thousands of foreigners were expelled on the ground that, in the
event of a siege occurring, they would merely be "useless mouths." In
contrast with that exodus was the great inrush of people from the suburbs
of Paris. They poured into the city unceasingly, from villas, cottages,
and farms, employing every variety of vehicle to convey their furniture
and other household goods, their corn, flour, wine, and other produce.
There was a block at virtually every city gate, so many were the folk
eager for shelter within the protecting ramparts raised at the instigation
of Thiers some thirty years previously.

In point of fact, although the Germans were not yet really marching on
Paris--for Bazaine's army had to be bottled up, and MacMahon's disposed
of, before there could be an effective advance on the French capital--it
was imagined in the city and its outskirts that the enemy might arrive at
any moment. The general alarm was intensified when, on the night of August
21, a large body of invalided men, who had fought at Weissenburg or Worth,
made their way into Paris, looking battle and travel-stained, some with
their heads bandaged, others with their arms in slings, and others limping
along with the help of sticks. It is difficult to conceive by what
aberration the authorities allowed the Parisians to obtain that woeful
glimpse of the misfortunes of France. The men in question ought never to
have been sent to Paris at all. They might well have been cared for
elsewhere. As it happened, the sorry sight affected all who beheld it.
Some were angered by it, others depressed, and others well-nigh terrified.

As a kind of set-off, however, to that gloomy spectacle, fresh rumours of
French successes began to circulate. There was a report that Bazaine's
army had annihilated the whole of Prince Frederick-Charles's cavalry, and,
in particular, there was a most sensational account of how three German
army-corps, including the famous white Cuirassiers to which Bismarck
belonged, had been tumbled into the "Quarries of Jaumont" and there
absolutely destroyed! I will not say that there is no locality named
Jaumont, but I cannot find any such place mentioned in Joanne's elaborate
dictionary of the communes of France, and possibly it was as mythical as
was the alleged German disaster, the rumours of which momentarily revived
the spirits of the deluded Parisians, who were particularly pleased to
think that the hated Bismarck's regiment had been annihilated.

On or about August 30, a friend of my eldest brother Adrian, a medical
man named Blewitt, arrived in Paris with the object of joining an
Anglo-American ambulance which was being formed in connection with the Red
Cross Society. Dr. Blewitt spoke a little French, but he was not well
acquainted with the city, and I was deputed to assist him whilst he
remained there. An interesting account of the doings of the ambulance in
question was written some sixteen or seventeen years ago by Dr. Charles
Edward Ryan, of Glenlara, Tipperary, who belonged to it. Its head men were
Dr. Marion-Sims and Dr. Frank, others being Dr. Ryan, as already
mentioned, and Drs. Blewitt, Webb, May, Nicholl, Hayden, Howett,
Tilghmann, and last but not least, the future Sir William MacCormack. Dr.
Blewitt had a variety of business to transact with the officials of the
French Red Cross Society, and I was with him at his interviews with its
venerable-looking President, the Count de Flavigny, and others. It is of
interest to recall that at the outbreak of the war the society's only
means was an income of £5 6_s._ 3_d._, but that by August 28 its receipts
had risen to nearly £112,000. By October it had expended more than
£100,000 in organizing thirty-two field ambulances. Its total outlay
during the war exceeded half a million sterling, and in its various field,
town, and village ambulances no fewer than 110,000 men were succoured and

In Paris the society's headquarters were established at the Palace de
l'Industrie in the Champs Elysées, and among the members of its principal
committee were several ladies of high rank. I well remember seeing there
that great leader of fashion, the Marquise de Galliffet, whose elaborate
ball gowns I had more than once admired at Worth's, but who, now that
misfortune had fallen upon France, was, like all her friends, very plainly
garbed in black. At the Palais de l'Industrie I also found Mme. de
MacMahon, short and plump, but full of dignity and energy, as became a
daughter of the Castries. I remember a brief address which she delivered
to the Anglo-American Ambulance on the day when it quitted Paris, and in
which she thanked its members for their courage and devotion in coming
forward, and expressed her confidence, and that of all her friends, in the
kindly services which they would undoubtedly bestow upon every sufferer
who came under their care.

I accompanied the ambulance on its march through Paris to the Eastern
Hallway Station. When it was drawn up outside the Palais de l'Industrie,
Count de Flavigny in his turn made a short but feeling speech, and
immediately afterwards the _cortége_ started. At the head of it were three
young ladies, the daughters of Dr. Marion-Sims, who carried respectively
the flags of France, England, and the United States. Then came the chief
surgeons, the assistant-surgeons, the dressers and male nurses, with some
waggons of stores bringing up the rear. I walked, I remember, between
Dr. Blewitt and Dr. May. On either side of the procession were members of
the Red Cross Society, carrying sticks or poles tipped with collection
bags, into which money speedily began to rain. We crossed the Place de la
Concorde, turned up the Rue Royale, and then followed the main Boulevards
as far, I think, as the Boulevard de Strasbourg. There were crowds of
people on either hand, and our progress was necessarily slow, as it was
desired to give the onlookers full time to deposit their offerings in the
collection-bags. From the Cercle Impérial at the corner of the Champs
Elysées, from the Jockey Club, the Turf Club, the Union, the Chemins-de-
Fer, the Ganaches, and other clubs on or adjacent to the Boulevards, came
servants, often in liveries, bearing with them both bank-notes and gold.
Everybody seemed anxious to give something, and an official of the society
afterwards told me that the collection had proved the largest it had ever
made. There was also great enthusiasm all along the line of route, cries
of "Vivent les Anglais! Vivent les Américains!" resounding upon every

The train by which the ambulance quitted Paris did not start until a very
late hour in the evening. Prior to its departure most of us dined at a
restaurant near the railway-station. No little champagne was consumed at
this repast, and, unaccustomed as I was to the sparkling wine of the
Marne, it got, I fear, slightly into my head. However, my services as
interpreter were requisitioned more than once by some members of the
ambulance in connection with certain inquiries which they wished to make
of the railway officials; and I recollect that when some question arose of
going in and out of the station, and reaching the platform again without
let or hindrance--the departure of the train being long delayed--the
_sous-chef de gare_ made me a most courteous bow, and responded: "À vous,
messieurs, tout est permis. There are no regulations for you!" At last the
train started, proceeding on its way to Soissons, where it arrived at
daybreak on August 29, the ambulance then hastening to join MacMahon, and
reaching him just in time to be of good service at Sedan. I will only add
here that my friend Dr. Blewitt was with Dr. Frank at Balan and Bazeilles,
where the slaughter was so terrible. The rest of the ambulance's dramatic
story must be read in Dr. Ryan's deeply interesting pages.

Whilst the Parisians were being beguiled with stories of how the Prince of
Saxe-Meiningen had written to his wife telling her that the German troops
were suffering terribly from sore feet, the said troops were in point of
fact lustily outmarching MacMahon's forces. On August 30, General de
Failly was badly worsted at Beaumont, and on the following day MacMahon
was forced to move on Sedan. The first reports which reached Paris
indicated, as usual, very favourable results respecting the contest there.
My friend Captain Bingham, however, obtained some correct information--
from, I believe, the British Embassy--and I have always understood that it
was he who first made the terrible truth known to one of the deputies of
the Opposition party, who hastened to convey it to Thiers. The battle of
Sedan was fought on Thursday, September 1; but it was only on Saturday,
September 3, that Palikao shadowed forth the disaster in the Chamber,
stating that MacMahon had failed to effect a junction with Bazaine, and
that, after alternate reverses and successes--that is, driving a part of
the German army into the Meuse!--he had been obliged to retreat on Sedan
and Mézières, some portion of his forces, moreover, having been compelled
to cross the Belgian frontier.

That tissue of inaccuracies, devised perhaps to palliate the effect of the
German telegrams of victory which were now becoming known to the
incredulous Parisians, was torn to shreds a few hours later when the
Legislative Body assembled for a night-sitting. Palikao was then obliged
to admit that the French army and the Emperor Napoleon had surrendered to
the victorious German force. Jules Favre, who was the recognized leader of
the Republican Opposition, thereupon brought forward a motion of
dethronement, proposing that the executive authority should be vested in a
parliamentary committee. In accordance with the practice of the Chamber,
Farve's motion had to be referred to its _bureaux_, or ordinary
committees, and thus no decision was arrived at that night, it being
agreed that the Chamber should reassemble on the morrow at noon.

The deputies separated at a very late hour. My father and myself were
among all the anxious people who had assembled on the Place de la Concorde
to await the issue of the debate. Wild talk was heard on every side,
imprecations were levelled at the Empire, and it was already suggested
that the country had been sold to the foreigner. At last, as the crowd
became extremely restless, the authorities, who had taken their
precautions in consequence of the revolutionary spirit which was abroad,
decided to disperse it. During the evening a considerable body of mounted
Gardes de Paris had been stationed in or near the Palais de l'Industrie,
and now, on instructions being conveyed to their commander, they suddenly
cantered down the Champs Elysées and cleared the square, chasing people
round and round the fountains and the seated statues of the cities of
France, until they fled by way either of the quays, the Rue de Rivoti, or
the Rue Royale. The vigour which the troops displayed did not seem of good
augury for the adversaries of the Empire. Without a doubt Revolution was
already in the air, but everything indicated that the authorities were
quite prepared to contend with it, and in all probability successfully.

It was with difficulty that my father and myself contrived to avoid the
troopers and reach the Avenue Gabriel, whence we made our way home.
Meantime there had been disturbances in other parts of Paris. On the
Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle a band of demonstrators had come into collision
with the police, who had arrested several of them. Thus, as I have already
mentioned, the authorities seemed to be as vigilant and as energetic as
ever. But, without doubt, on that night of Saturday, September 3, the
secret Republican associations were very active, sending the _mot d'ordre_
from one to another part of the city, so that all might be ready for
Revolution when the Legislative Body assembled on the morrow.

It was on this same last night of the Empire that George Augustus Sala met
with the very unpleasant adventure to which I previously referred. During
the evening he went as usual to the Grand Café, and meeting Blanchard
Jerrold there, he endeavoured to induce him to go to supper at the Café du
Helder. Sala being in an even more talkative mood than usual, and--now
that he had heard of the disaster of Sedan--more than ever inclined to
express his contempt of the French in regard to military matters, Jerrold
declined the invitation, fearing, as he afterwards said to my father in my
presence, that some unpleasantness might well ensue, as Sala, in spite of
all remonstrances, would not cease "gassing." Apropos of that expression,
it is somewhat amusing to recall that Sala at one time designed for
himself an illuminated visiting-card, on which appeared his initials G. A.
S. in letters of gold, the A being intersected by a gas-lamp diffusing
many vivid rays of light, whilst underneath it was a scroll bearing the
appropriate motto, "Dux est Lux."

But, to return to my story, Jerrold having refused the invitation; Sala
repaired alone to the Café du Helder, an establishment which in those
imperial times was particularly patronized by officers of the Paris
garrison and officers from the provinces on leave. It was the height of
folly for anybody to "run down" the French army in such a place, unless,
indeed, he wished to have a number of duels on his hands. It is true that
on the night of September 3, there may have been few, if any, military men
at the Helder. Certain it is, however, that whilst Sala was supping in the
principal room upstairs, he entered into conversation with other people,
spoke incautiously, as he had been doing for a week past, and on departing
from the establishment was summarily arrested and conveyed to the Poste de
Police on the Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle. The cells there were already more
or less crowded with roughs who had been arrested during the disturbance
earlier in the evening, and when a police official thrust Sala into their
midst, at the same time calling him a vile Prussian spy, the patriotism of
the other prisoners was immediately aroused, though, for the most part,
they were utter scamps who had only created a disturbance for the purpose
of filling their pockets.

Sala was subjected not merely to much ill-treatment, but also to
indignities which only Rabelais or Zola could have (in different ways)
adequately described; and it was not until the morning that he was able to
communicate with the manager of the Grand Hotel, where he had his
quarters. The manager acquainted the British Embassy with his predicament,
and it was, I think, Mr. Sheffield who repaired to the Préfecture de
Police to obtain an order for Sala's liberation. The story told me at the
time was that Lord Lyons's representative found matters already in great
confusion at the Préfecture. There had been a stampede of officials,
scarcely any being at their posts, in such wise that he made his way to
the Prefect's sanctum unannounced. There he found M. Piétri engaged with a
confidential acolyte in destroying a large number of compromising papers,
emptying boxes and pigeon-holes in swift succession, and piling their
contents on an already huge fire, which was stirred incessantly in order
that it might burn more swiftly. Piétri only paused in his task in order
to write an order for Sala's release, and I have always understood that
this was the last official order that emanated from the famous Prefect of
the Second Empire. It is true that he presented himself at the Tuileries
before he fled to Belgium, but the Empress, as we know, was averse from
any armed conflict with the population of Paris. As a matter of fact, the
Prefecture had spent its last strength during the night of September 3.
Disorganized as it was on the morning of the 4th, it could not have fought
the Revolution. As will presently appear, those police who on the night of
the 3rd were chosen to assist in guarding the approaches to the Palais
Bourbon on the morrow, were quite unable to do so.

Disorder, indeed, prevailed in many places. My father had recently found
himself in a dilemma in regard to the requirements of the _Illustrated
London News_. In those days the universal snap-shotting hand-camera was
unknown. Every scene that it was desired to depict in the paper had to be
sketched, and in presence of all the defensive preparations which were
being made, a question arose as to what might and what might not be
sketched. General Trochu was Governor of Paris, and applications were made
to him on the subject. A reply came requiring a reference from the British
Embassy before any permission whatever was granted. In due course a letter
was obtained from the Embassy, signed not, I think, by Lord Lyons himself,
but by one of the secretaries--perhaps Sir Edward Malet, or Mr. Wodehouse,
or even Mr. Sheffield. At all events, on the morning of September 4, my
father, being anxious to settle the matter, commissioned me to take the
Embassy letter to Trochu's quarters at the Louvre. Here I found great
confusion. Nobody was paying the slightest attention to official work. The
_bureaux_ were half deserted. Officers came and went incessantly, or
gathered in little groups in the passages and on the stairs, all of them
looking extremely upset and talking anxiously and excitedly together. I
could find nobody to attend to any business, and was at a loss what to do,
when a door opened and a general officer in undress uniform appeared on
the threshold of a large and finely appointed room.

I immediately recognized Trochu's extremely bald head and determined jaw,
for since his nomination as Governor, Paris had been flooded with
portraits of him. He had opened the door, I believe, to look for an
officer, but on seeing me standing there with a letter in my hand he
inquired what I wanted. I replied that I had brought a letter from the
British Embassy, and he may perhaps have thought that I was an Embassy
messenger. At all events, he took the letter from me, saying curtly:
"C'est bien, je m'en occuperai, revenez cet après-midi." With those words
he stepped back into the room and carefully placed the letter on the top
of several others which were neatly disposed on a side-table.

The incident was trivial in itself, yet it afforded a glimpse of Trochu's
character. Here was the man who, in his earlier years, had organized the
French Expedition to the Crimea in a manner far superior to that in which
our own had been organized; a man of method, order, precision, fully
qualified to prepare the defence of Paris, though not to lead her army in
the field. Brief as was that interview of mine, I could not help noticing
how perfectly calm and self-possessed he was, for his demeanour greatly
contrasted with the anxious or excited bearing of his subordinates. Yet he
had reached the supreme crisis of his life. The Empire was falling, a
first offer of Power had been made to him on the previous evening; and a
second offer, which he finally accepted, [See my book, "Republican
France," p. 8.] was almost imminent. Yet on that morning of
Revolution he appeared as cool as a cucumber.

I quitted the Louvre, going towards the Rue Royale, it having been
arranged with my father that we should take _déjeuner_ at a well-known
restaurant there. It was called "His Lordship's Larder," and was
pre-eminently an English house, though the landlord bore the German name
of Weber. He and his family were unhappily suffocated in the cellars of
their establishment during one of the conflagrations which marked the
Bloody Week of the Commune. At the time when I met my father, that is
about noon, there was nothing particularly ominous in the appearance of
the streets along which I myself passed. It was a fine bright Sunday, and,
as was usual on such a day, there were plenty of people abroad. Recently
enrolled National Guards certainly predominated among the men, but the
latter included many in civilian attire, and there was no lack of women
and children. As for agitation, I saw no sign of it.

As I was afterwards told, however, by Delmas, the landlord of the Café
Grétry, [Note] matters were very different that morning on the Boulevards,
and particularly on the Boulevard Montmartre. By ten o'clock, indeed,
great crowds had assembled there, and the excitement grew apace. The same
words were on all lips: "Sedan--the whole French army taken--the wretched
Emperor's sword surrendered--unworthy to reign--dethrone him!" Just as, in
another crisis of French history, men had climbed on to the chairs and
tables in the garden of the Palais Royal to denounce Monsieur and Madame
Véto and urge the Parisians to march upon Versailles, so now others
climbed on the chairs outside the Boulevard cafés to denounce the Empire,
and urge a march upon the Palais Bourbon, where the Legislative Body was
about to meet. And amidst the general clamour one cry persistently
prevailed. It was: "Déchéance! Déchéance!--Dethronement! Dethronement!"

[Note: This was a little café on the Boulevard des Italiens, and was noted
for its quietude during the afternoon, though in the evening it was, by
reason of its proximity to the "Petite Bourse" (held on the side-walk in
front of it), invaded by noisy speculators. Captain Bingham, my father,
and myself long frequented the Café Grétry, often writing our "Paris
letters" there. Subsequent to the war, Bingham and I removed to the Café
Cardinal, where, however, the everlasting rattle of dominoes proved very
disturbing. In the end, on that account, and in order to be nearer to a
club to which we both belonged, we emigrated to the Café Napolitain. One
reason for writing one's copy at a café instead of at one's club was that,
at the former, one could at any moment receive messengers bringing late
news; in addition to which, afternoon newspapers were instantly

At every moment the numbers of the crowd increased. New-comers continually
arrived from the eastern districts by way of the Boulevards, and from the
north by way of the Faubourg Montmartre and the Rue Drouot, whilst from
the south--the Quartier Latin and its neighbourhood--contingents made
their way across the Pont St. Michel and the Pont Notre Dame, and thence,
past the Halles, along the Boulevard de Sebastopol and the Rue Montmartre.
Why the Quartier Latin element did not advance direct on the Palais
Bourbon from its own side of the river I cannot exactly say; but it was, I
believe, thought desirable to join hands, in the first instance, with the
Revolutionary elements of northern Paris. All this took place whilst my
father and myself were partaking of our meal. When we quitted the
"Larder," a little before one o'clock, all the small parties of National
Guards and civilians whom we had observed strolling about at an earlier
hour, had congregated on the Place de la Concorde, attracted thither by
the news of the special Sunday sitting, at which the Legislative Body
would undoubtedly take momentous decisions.

It should be added that nearly all the National Guards who assembled on
the Place de la Concorde before one o'clock were absolutely unarmed. At
that hour, however, a large force of them, equivalent to a couple of
battalions or thereabouts, came marching down the Rue Royale from the
Boulevards, and these men (who were preceded by a solitary drummer)
carried, some of them, chassepots and others _fusils-à-tabatière,_ having
moreover, in most instances, their bayonets fixed. They belonged to the
north of Paris, though I cannot say precisely to what particular
districts, nor do I know exactly by whose orders they had been assembled
and instructed to march on the Palais Bourbon, as they speedily did. But
it is certain that all the fermentation of the morning and all that
occurred afterwards was the outcome of the night-work of the secret
Republican Committees.

As the guards marched on, loud cries of "Déchéance! Déchéance!" arose
among them, and were at once taken up by the spectators. Perfect
unanimity, indeed, appeared to prevail on the question of dethroning the
Emperor. Even the soldiers who were scattered here and there--a few
Linesmen, a few Zouaves, a few Turcos, some of them invalided from
MacMahon's forces--eagerly joined in the universal cry, and began to
follow the guards on to the Place de la Concorde. Never, I believe, had
that square been more crowded--not even in the days when it was known as
the Place Louis Quinze, and when hundreds of people were crushed to death
there whilst witnessing a display of fireworks in connection with the
espousals of the future Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, not even when it
had become the Place de la Révolution and was thronged by all who wished
to witness the successive executions of the last King and Queen of the old
French monarchy. From the end of the Rue Royale to the bridge conducting
across the Seine to the Palais Bourbon, from the gate of the Tuileries
garden to the horses of Marly at the entrance of the Champs Elysées,
around the obelisk of Luxor, and the fountains which were playing as usual
in the bright sunshine which fell from the blue sky, along all the
balustrades connecting the seated statues of the cities of France, here,
there, and everywhere, indeed, you saw human heads. And the clamour was
universal. The great square had again become one of Revolution, and yet
it remained one of Concord also, for there was absolute agreement among
the hundred thousand or hundred and fifty thousand people who had chosen
it as their meeting-place, an agreement attested by that universal and
never-ceasing cry of "Dethronement!"

As the armed National Guards debouched from the Rue Royale, their solitary
drummer plied his sticks. But the roll of the drum was scarcely heard in
the general uproar, and so dense was the crowd that the men could advance
but very slowly. For a while it took some minutes to make only a few
steps. Meantime the ranks of the men were broken here and there, other
people got among them, and at last my father and myself were caught in the
stream and carried with it, still somewhat slowly, in the direction of the
Pont de la Concorde. I read recently that the bridge was defended by
mounted men of the Garde de Paris (the forerunner of the Garde
Républicaine of to-day); a French writer, in recalling the scene,
referring to "the men's helmets glistening in the sunshine." But that is
pure imagination. The bridge was defended by a cordon of police ranged in
front of a large body of Gendarmerie mobile, wearing the familiar dark
blue white-braided _képis_ and the dark blue tunics with white
aiguillettes. At first, as I have already said, we advanced but slowly
towards that defending force; but, all at once, we were swept onward by
other men who had come from the Boulevards, in our wake. A minute later an
abrupt halt ensued, whereupon it was only with great difficulty that we
were able to resist the pressure from behind.

I at last contrived to raise myself on tiptoes. Our first ranks had
effected a breach in those of the sergents-de-ville, but before us were
the mounted gendarmes, whose officer suddenly gave a command and drew his
sword. For an instant I saw him plainly: his face was intensely pale. But
a sudden rattle succeeded his command, for his men responded to it by
drawing their sabres, which flashed ominously. A minute, perhaps two
minutes, elapsed, the pressure in our rear still and ever increasing. I do
not know what happened exactly at the head of our column: the uproar was
greater than ever, and it seemed as if, in another moment, we should be
charged, ridden over, cut down, or dispersed. I believe, however, that in
presence of that great concourse of people, in presence too of the
universal reprobation of the Empire which had brought defeat, invasion,
humiliation upon France, the officer commanding the gendarmes shrank from
carrying out his orders. There must have been a brief parley with the
leaders of our column. In any case, the ranks of the gendarmes suddenly
opened, many of them taking to the footways of the bridge, over which our
column swept at the double-quick, raising exultant shouts of "Vive la
République!" It was almost a race as to who should be the first to reach
the Palais Bourbon. Those in the rear were ever impelling the foremost
onward, and there was no time to look about one. But in a rapid vision, as
it were, I saw the gendarmes reining in their horses on either side of us;
and, here and there, medals gleamed on their dark tunics, and it seemed to
me as if more than one face wore an angry expression. These men had fought
under the imperial eagles, they had been decorated for their valour in the
Crimean, Italian, and Cochin-China wars. Veterans all, and faithful
servants of the Empire, they saw the _régime_ for which they had fought,
collapsing. Had their commanding officer ordered it, they might well have
charged us; but, obedient to discipline, they had opened their ranks, and
now the Will of the People was sweeping past them.

None of our column had a particularly threatening mien; the general
demeanour was rather suggestive of joyful expectancy. But, the bridge once
crossed, there was a fresh pause at the gates shutting off the steps of
the Palais Bourbon. Here infantry were assembled, with their chassepots in
readiness. Another very brief but exciting interval ensued. Then the
Linesmen were withdrawn, the gates swung open, and everybody rushed up the
steps. I was carried hither and thither, and at last from the portico into
the building, where I contrived to halt beside one of the statues in the
"Salle des Pas Perdus." I looked for my father, but could not see him, and
remained wedged in my corner for quite a considerable time. Finally,
however, another rush of invaders dislodged me, and I was swept with many
others into the Chamber itself. All was uproar and confusion there. Very
few deputies were present. The public galleries, the seats of the members,
the hemicycle in front of the tribune, were crowded with National Guards.
Some were standing on the stenographers' table and on the ushers' chairs
below the tribune. There were others on the tribune stairs. And at the
tribune itself, with his hat on his head, stood Gambetta, hoarsely
shouting, amidst the general din, that Louis Napoleon Bonaparte and his
dynasty had for ever ceased to reign. Then, again and again, arose the cry
of "Vive la République!" In the twinkling of an eye, however, Gambetta was
lost to view--he and other Republican deputies betaking themselves, as I
afterwards learnt, to the palace steps, where the dethronement of the
Bonapartes was again proclaimed. The invaders of the chamber swarmed after
them, and I was watching their departure when I suddenly saw my father
quietly leaning back in one of the ministerial seats--perhaps that which,
in the past, had been occupied by Billault, Rouher, Ollivier, and other
powerful and prominent men of the fallen _régime_.

At the outset of the proceedings that day Palikao had proposed the
formation of a Council of Government and National Defence which was to
include five members of the Legislative Body. The ministers were to be
appointed by this Council, and he was to be Lieutenant-General of France.
It so happened that the more fervent Imperialists had previously offered
him a dictatorship, but he had declined it. Jules Favre met the General's
proposal by claiming priority for the motion which he had submitted at the
midnight sitting, whilst Thiers tried to bring about a compromise by
suggesting such a Committee as Palikao had indicated, but placing the
choice of its members entirely in the hands of the Legislative Body,
omitting all reference to Palikao's Lieutenancy, and, further, setting
forth that a Constituent Assembly should be convoked as soon as
circumstances might permit. The three proposals--Thiers', Favre's, and
Palikao's--were submitted to the _bureaux_, and whilst these _bureaux_
were deliberating in various rooms the first invasion of the Chamber took
place in spite of the efforts of Jules Ferry, who had promised Palikao
that the proceedings of the Legislature should not be disturbed. When the
sitting was resumed the "invaders," who, at that moment, mainly occupied
the galleries, would listen neither to President Schneider nor to their
favourite Gambetta, though both appealed to them for silence and order.
Jules Favre alone secured a few moments' quietude, during which he begged
that there might be no violence. Palikao was present, but did not speak.
[Later in the day, after urging Trochu to accept the presidency of the new
Government, as otherwise "all might be lost," Palikao quitted Paris for
Belgium. He stayed at Namur during the remainder of the war, and
afterwards lived in retirement at Versailles, where he died in January,
1878.] Amidst the general confusion came the second invasion of the
Chamber, when I was swept off my feet and carried on to the floor of the
house. That second invasion precipitated events. Even Gambetta wished the
dethronement of the dynasty to be signified by a formal vote, but the
"invaders" would brook no delay.

Both of us, my father and I, were tired and thirsty after our unexpected
experiences. Accordingly we did not follow the crowd back to the steps
overlooking the Place de la Concorde, but, like a good many other people,
we went off by way of the Place de Bourgogne. No damage had been done in
the Chamber itself, but as we quitted the building we noticed several
inscriptions scrawled upon the walls. In some instances the words were
merely "Vive la République!" and "Mort aux Prussiens!" At other times,
however, they were too disgusting to be set down here. In or near the Rue
de Bourgogne we found a fairly quiet wine-shop, where we rested and
refreshed ourselves with _cannettes_ of so-called Bière de Strasbourg.
We did not go at that moment to the Hôtel-de-Ville, whither a large part
of the crowd betook itself by way of the quays, and where the Republic
was again proclaimed; but returned to the Place de la Concorde, where some
thousands of people still remained. Everybody was looking very animated
and very pleased. Everybody imagined that, the Empire being overthrown,
France would soon drive back the German invader. All fears for the future
seemed, indeed, to have departed. Universal confidence prevailed, and
everybody congratulated everybody else. There was, in any case, one
good cause for congratulation: the Revolution had been absolutely
bloodless--the first and only phenomenon of the kind in all French

Whilst we were strolling about the Place de la Concorde I noticed that the
chief gate of the Tuileries garden had been forced open and damaged. The
gilded eagles which had decorated it had been struck off and pounded to
pieces, this, it appeared, having been chiefly the work of an enterprising
Turco. A few days later Victorien Sardou wrote an interesting account of
how he and others obtained admittance, first to the reserved garden, and
then to the palace itself. On glancing towards it I observed that the flag
which had still waved over the principal pavilion that morning, had now
disappeared. It had been lowered after the departure of the Empress. Of
the last hours which she spent in the palace, before she quitted it with
Prince Metternich and Count Nigra to seek a momentary refuge at the
residence of her dentist, Dr. Evans, I have given a detailed account,
based on reliable narratives and documents, in my "Court of the

Quitting, at last, the Place de la Concorde, we strolled slowly homeward.
Some tradespeople in the Rue Royale and the Faubourg St. Honoré, former
purveyors to the Emperor or the Empress, were already hastily removing the
imperial arms from above their shops. That same afternoon and during the
ensuing Monday and Tuesday every escutcheon, every initial N, every crown,
every eagle, every inscription that recalled the Empire, was removed or
obliterated in one or another manner. George Augustus Sala, whose recent
adventure confined him to his room at the Grand Hotel, spent most of his
time in watching the men who removed the eagles, crowns, and Ns from the
then unfinished Opera-house. Even the streets which recalled the imperial
_regime_ were hastily renamed. The Avenue de l'Impératrice at once became
the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne; and the Rue du Dix-Décembre (so called in
memory of Napoleon's assumption of the imperial dignity) was rechristened
Rue du Quatre Septembre--this being the "happy thought" of a Zouave, who,
mounted on a ladder, set the new name above the old one, whilst the plate
bearing the latter was struck off with a hammer by a young workman.

As we went home on the afternoon of that memorable Fourth, we noticed that
all the cafés and wine-shops were doing a brisk trade. Neither then nor
during the evening, however, did I perceive much actual drunkenness. It
was rather a universal jollity, as though some great victory had been
gained. Truth to tell, the increase of drunkenness in Paris was an effect
of the German Siege of the city, when drink was so plentiful and food so

My father and I had reached the corner of our street when we witnessed an
incident which I have related in detail in the first pages of my book,
"Republican France." It was the arrival of Gambetta at the Ministry of the
Interior, by way of the Avenue de Marigny, with an escort of red-shirted
Francs-tireurs de la Presse. The future Dictator had seven companions with
him, all huddled inside or on the roof of a four-wheel cab, which was
drawn by two Breton nags. I can still picture him alighting from the
vehicle and, in the name of the Republic, ordering a chubby little
Linesman, who was mounting guard at the gate of the Ministry, to have the
said gate opened; and I can see the sleek and elderly _concierge_, who had
bowed to many an Imperial Minister, complying with the said injunction,
and respectfully doffing his tasselled smoking-cap and bending double
whilst he admitted his new master. Then the gate is closed, and from
behind the finely-wrought ornamental iron-work Gambetta briefly addresses
the little throng which has recognized him, saying that the Empire is
dead, but that France is wounded, and that her very wounds will inflame
her with fresh courage; promising, too, that the whole nation shall be
armed; and asking one and all to place confidence in the new Government,
even as the latter will place confidence in the people.

In the evening I strolled with my father to the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville,
where many people were congregated, A fairly large body of National Guards
was posted in front of the building, most of whose windows were lighted
up. The members of the New Government of National Defence were
deliberating there. Trochu had become its President, and Jules Favre its
Vice-President and Minister for Foreign Affairs. Henri Rochefort, released
that afternoon by his admirers from the prison of Sainte Pélagie, was
included in the administration, this being in the main composed of the
deputies for Paris. Only one of the latter, the cautious Thiers, refused
to join it. He presided, however, that same evening over a gathering of
some two hundred members of the moribund Legislative Body, which then made
a forlorn attempt to retain some measure of authority, by coming to some
agreement with the new Government. But Jules Favre and Jules Simon, who
attended the meeting on the latter's behalf, would not entertain the
suggestion. It was politely signified to the deputies that their support
in Paris was not required, and that if they desired to serve their country
in any way, they had better betake themselves to their former
constituencies in the provinces. So far as the Legislative Body and the
Senate, [Note] also, were concerned, everything ended in a
delightful bit of comedy. Not only were the doors of their respective
meeting halls looked, but they were "secured" with strips of tape and
seals of red wax. The awe with which red sealing-wax inspires Frenchmen is
distinctly a trait of the national character. Had there been, however, a
real Bonaparte in Paris at that time, he would probably have cut off the
aforesaid seals with his sword.

[Note: The Senate, over which Rouher presided, dispensed quietly on
hearing of the invasion of the Chamber. The proposal that it should
adjourn till more fortunate times emanated from Rouher himself. A few
cries of "Vive l'Empereur!" were raised as the assembly dispersed.
Almost immediately afterwards, however, most of the Senators, including
Rouher, who knew that he was very obnoxious to the Parisians, quitted the
city and even France.]

On the morning of September 5, the _Charivari_--otherwise the daily
Parisian _Punch_--came out with a cartoon designed to sum up the whole
period covered by the imperial rule. It depicted France bound hand and
foot and placed between the mouths of two cannons, one inscribed "Paris,
1851," and the other "Sedan, 1870"--those names and dates representing the
Alpha and Omega of the Second Empire.



The Government of National Defence--The Army of Paris--The Return
of Victor Hugo--The German advance on Paris--The National Guard
reviewed--Hospitable Preparations for the Germans--They draw nearer
still--Departure of Lord Lyons--Our Last Day of Liberty--On the
Fortifications--The Bois de Boulogne and our Live Stock--Mass before
the Statue of Strasbourg--Devout Breton Mobiles--Evening on the
Boulevards and in the Clubs--Trochu and Ducrot--The Fight and Panic
of Chatillon--The Siege begins.

As I shall have occasion in these pages to mention a good many members
of the self-constituted Government which succeeded the Empire, it may be
as well for me to set down here their names and the offices they held.
I have already mentioned that Trochu was President, and Jules Favre
Vice-President, of the new administration. The former also retained his
office as Governor of Paris, and at the same time became Generalissimo.
Favre, for his part, took the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. With him and
Trochu were Gambetta, Minister of the Interior; Jules Simon, Minister of
Public Instruction; Adolphe Crémieux, Minister of Justice; Ernest Picard,
Minister of Finance; Jules Ferry, Secretary-General to the Government, and
later Mayor of Paris; and Henri Rochefort, President of the Committee of
Barricades. Four of their colleagues, Emmanuel Arago, Garnier-Pagès,
Eugène Pelletan, and Glais-Bizoin, did not take charge of any particular
administrative departments, the remainder of these being allotted to men
whose co-operation was secured. For instance, old General Le Flô became
Minister of War--under Trochu, however, and not over him. Vice-Admiral
Fourichon was appointed Minister of Marine; Magnin, an iron-master,
became Minister of Commerce and Agriculture; Frédéric Dorian, another
iron-master, took the department of Public Works; Count Emile de Kératry
acted as Prefect of Police, and Etienne Arago, in the earlier days, as
Mayor of Paris.

The new Government was fully installed by Tuesday, September 6. It had
already issued several more or less stirring proclamations, which were
followed by a despatch which Jules Favre addressed to the French
diplomatic representatives abroad. As a set-off to the arrival of a number
of dejected travel-stained fugitives from MacMahon's army, whose
appearance was by no means of a nature to exhilarate the Parisians, the
defence was reinforced by a large number of Gardes Mobiles, who poured
into the city, particularly from Brittany, Trochu's native province, and
by a considerable force of regulars, infantry, cavalry, and artillery,
commanded by the veteran General Vinoy (then seventy years of age), who
had originally been despatched to assist MacMahon, but, having failed to
reach him before the disaster of Sedan, retreated in good order on the
capital. At the time when the Siege actually commenced there were in Paris
about 90,000 regulars (including all arms and categories), 110,000 Mobile
Guards, and a naval contingent of 13,500 men, that is a force of 213,000,
in addition to the National Guards, who were about 280,000 in number.
Thus, altogether, nearly half a million armed men were assembled in Paris
for the purpose of defending it. As all authorities afterwards admitted,
this was a very great blunder, as fully 100,000 regulars and mobiles might
have been spared to advantage for service in the provinces. Of course the
National Guards themselves could not be sent away from the city, though
they were often an encumbrance rather than a help, and could not possibly
have carried on the work of defence had they been left to their own

Besides troops, so long as the railway trains continued running,
additional military stores and supplies of food, flour, rice, biscuits,
preserved meats, rolled day by day into Paris. At the same time, several
illustrious exiles returned to the capital. Louis Blanc and Edgar Quinet
arrived there, after years of absence, in the most unostentatious fashion,
though they soon succumbed to the prevailing mania of inditing manifestoes
and exhortations for the benefit of their fellow-countrymen. Victor Hugo's
return was more theatrical. In those famous "Châtiments" in which he had
so severely flagellated the Third Napoleon (after, in earlier years,
exalting the First to the dignity of a demi-god), he had vowed to keep out
of France and to protest against the Empire so long as it lasted, penning,
in this connection, the famous line:

  "Et s'il n'en reste qu'un, je serai celui-là!"

But now the Empire had fallen, and so Hugo returned in triumph to Paris.
When he alighted from the train which brought him, he said to those who
had assembled to give him a fitting greeting, that he had come to do his
duty in the hour of danger, that duty being to save Paris, which meant
more than saving France, for it implied saving the world itself--Paris
being the capital of civilization, the centre of mankind. Naturally
enough, those fine sentiments were fervently applauded by the great poet's
admirers, and when he had installed himself with his companions in an open
carriage, two or three thousand people escorted him processionally along
the Boulevards. It was night-time, and the cafés were crowded and the
footways covered with promenaders as the _cortége_ went by, the escort
singing now the "Marseillaise" and now the "Chant du Départ," whilst on
every side shouts of "Vive Victor Hugo!" rang out as enthusiastically as
if the appointed "Saviour of Paris" were indeed actually passing. More
than once I saw the illustrious poet stand up, uncover, and wave his hat
in response to the acclamations, and I then particularly noticed the
loftiness of his forehead, and the splendid crop of white hair with which
it was crowned. Hugo, at that time sixty-eight years old, still looked
vigorous, but it was beyond the power of any such man as himself to save
the city from what was impending. All he could do was to indite perfervid
manifestoes, and subsequently, in "L'Année terrible," commemorate the
doings and sufferings of the time. For the rest, he certainly enrolled
himself as a National Guard, and I more than once caught sight of him
wearing _képi_ and _vareuse_. I am not sure, however, whether he ever did
a "sentry-go."

It must have been on the day following Victor Hugo's arrival that I
momentarily quitted Paris for reasons in which my youthful but precocious
heart was deeply concerned. I was absent for four days or so, and on
returning to the capital I was accompanied by my stepmother, who, knowing
that my father intended to remain in the city during the impending siege,
wished to be with him for a while before the investment began. I recollect
that she even desired to remain with us, though that was impossible, as
she had young children, whom she had left at Saint Servan; and, besides,
as I one day jocularly remarked to her, she would, by staying in Paris,
have added to the "useless mouths," whose numbers the Republican, like the
Imperial, Government was, with very indifferent success, striving to
diminish. However, she only quitted us at the last extremity, departing on
the evening of September 17, by the Western line, which, on the morrow,
the enemy out at Conflans, some fourteen miles from Paris.

Day by day the Parisians had received news of the gradual approach of
the German forces. On the 8th they heard that the Crown Prince of
Prussia's army was advancing from Montmirail to Coulommiers--whereupon the
city became very restless; whilst on the 9th there came word that the
black and white pennons of the ubiquitous Uhlans had been seen at La
Ferté-sous-Jouarre. That same day Thiers quitted Paris on a mission which
he had undertaken for the new Government, that of pleading the cause of
France at the Courts of London, St. Petersburg, Vienna, and Rome. Then, on
the 11th, there were tidings that Laon had capitulated, though not without
its defenders blowing up a powder-magazine and thereby injuring some
German officers of exalted rank--for which reason the deed was
enthusiastically commended by the Parisian Press, though it would seem to
have been a somewhat treacherous one, contrary to the ordinary usages of
war. On the 12th some German scouts reached Meaux, and a larger force
leisurely occupied Melun. The French, on their part, were busy after a
fashion. They offered no armed resistance to the German advance, but they
tried to impede it in sundry ways. With the idea of depriving the enemy of
"cover," various attempts were made to fire some of the woods in the
vicinity of Paris, whilst in order to cheat him of supplies, stacks and
standing crops were here and there destroyed. Then, too, several railway
and other bridges were blown up, including the railway bridge at Creil, so
that direct communication with Boulogne and Calais ceased on September 12.

The 13th was a great day for the National Guards, who were then reviewed
by General Trochu. With my father and my young stepmother, I went to see
the sight, which was in many respects an interesting one. A hundred and
thirty-six battalions, or approximately 180,000 men, of the so-called
"citizen soldiery" were under arms; their lines extending, first, along
the Boulevards from the Bastille to the Madeleine, then down the Rue
Royale, across the Place de la Concorde and up the Champs Elysées as far
as the Rond Point. In addition, 100,000 men of the Garde Mobile were
assembled along the quays of the Seine and up the Champs Elysées from the
Rond Point to the Arc de Triomphe. I have never since set eyes on so large
a force of armed men. They were of all sorts. Some of the Mobiles, notably
the Breton ones, who afterwards gave a good account of themselves, looked
really soldierly; but the National Guards were a strangely mixed lot. They
all wore _képis_, but quite half of them as yet had no uniforms, and were
attired in blouses and trousers of various hues. Only here and there could
one see a man of military bearing; most of them struck happy-go-lucky
attitudes, and were quite unable to keep step in marching. A particular
feature of the display was the number of flowers and sprigs of evergreen
with which the men had decorated the muzzles of the _fusils-à-tabatière_
which they mostly carried. Here and there, moreover, one and another
fellow displayed on his bayonet-point some coloured caricature of the
ex-Emperor or the ex-Empress. What things they were, those innumerable
caricatures of the months which followed the Revolution! Now and again
there appeared one which was really clever, which embodied a smart,
a witty idea; but how many of them were simply the outcome of a depraved,
a lewd, a bestial imagination! The most offensive caricatures of
Marie-Antoinette were as nothing beside those levelled at that unfortunate
woman, the Empress Eugénie.

Our last days of liberty were now slipping by. Some of the poorest folk of
the environs of Paris were at last coming into the city, bringing their
chattels with them. Strange ideas, however, had taken hold of some of the
more simple-minded suburban bourgeois. Departing hastily into the
provinces, so as to place their skins out of harm's reach, they had not
troubled to store their household goods in the city; but had left them in
their coquettish villas and pavilions, the doors of which were barely
looked. The German soldiers would very likely occupy the houses, but
assuredly they would do no harm to them. "Perhaps, however, it might be as
well to propitiate the foreign soldiers. Let us leave something for them,"
said worthy Monsieur Durand to Madame Durand, his wife; "they will be
hungry when they get here, and if they find something ready for them they
will be grateful and do no damage." So, although the honest Durands
carefully barred--at times even walled-up--their cellars of choice wines,
they arranged that plenty of bottles, at times even a cask, of _vin
ordinaire_ should be within easy access; and ham, cheese, sardines,
_saucissons de Lyon_, and _patés de foie gras_ were deposited in the
pantry cupboards, which were considerately left unlocked in order that the
good, mild-mannered, honest Germans (who, according to a proclamation
issued by "Unser Fritz" at an earlier stage of the hostilities, "made war
on the Emperor Napoleon and not on the French nation") might regale
themselves without let or hindrance. Moreover, the nights were "drawing
in," the evenings becoming chilly; so why not lay the fires, and place
matches and candles in convenient places for the benefit of the unbidden
guests who would so soon arrive? All those things being done, M. and Mme.
Durand departed to seek the quietude of Fouilly-les-Oies, never dreaming
that on their return to Montfermeil, Palaiseau, or Sartrouville, they
would find their _salon_ converted into a pigstye, their furniture
smashed, and their clocks and chimney-ornaments abstracted. Of course the
M. Durand of to-day knows what happened to his respected parents; he knows
what to think of the good, honest, considerate German soldiery; and, if he
can help it, he will not in any similar case leave so much as a wooden
spoon to be carried off to the Fatherland, and added as yet another trophy
to the hundred thousand French clocks and the million French nick-nacks
which are still preserved there as mementoes of the "grosse Zeit."

On September 15, we heard of some petty skirmishes between Uhlans and
Francs-tireurs in the vicinity of Montereau and Melun; on the morrow the
enemy captured a train at Senlis, and fired on another near Chantilly,
fortunately without wounding any of the passengers; whilst on the same day
his presence was signalled at Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, only ten miles
south of Paris. That evening, moreover, he attempted to ford the Seine at
Juvisy. On the 16th some of his forces appeared between Créteil and
Neuilly-sur-Marne, on the eastern side of the city, and only some five
miles from the fort of Vincennes. Then we again heard of him on the
south--of his presence at Brunoy, Ablon, and Athis, and of the pontoons by
which he was crossing the Seine at Villeneuve and Choisy-le-Roi.

Thus the advance steadily continued, quite unchecked by force of arms,
save for just a few trifling skirmishes initiated by sundry
Francs-tireurs. Not a road, not a barricade, was defended by the
authorities; not once was the passage of a river contested. Here and there
the Germans found obstructions: poplars had been felled and laid across a
highway, bridges and railway tunnels had occasionally been blown up; but
all such impediments to their advance were speedily overcome by the enemy,
who marched on quietly, feeling alternately puzzled and astonished at
never being confronted by any French forces. As the invaders drew nearer
to Paris they found an abundance of vegetables and fruit at their
disposal, but most of the peasantry had fled, taking their live stock with
them, and, as a German officer told me in after years, eggs, cheese,
butter, and milk could seldom be procured.

On the 17th the French began to recover from the stupor which seemed to
have fallen on them. Old General Vinoy crossed the Marne at Charenton with
some of his forces, and a rather sharp skirmish ensued in front of the
village of Mesly. That same day Lord Lyons, the British Ambassador, took
his departure from Paris, proceeding by devious ways to Tours, whither, a
couple of days previously, three delegates of the National Defence--two
septuagenarians and one sexagenarian, Crémieux, Glais-Bizoin, and
Fourichon--had repaired in order to take over the general government of
France. Lord Lyons had previously told Jules Favre that he intended to
remain in the capital, but I believe that his decision was modified by
instructions from London. With him went most of the Embassy staff, British
interests in Paris remaining in the hands of the second secretary, Mr.
Wodehouse, and the vice-consul. The consul himself had very prudently
quitted Paris, in order "to drink the waters," some time previously.
Colonel Claremont, the military attaché, still remained with us, but by
degrees, as the siege went on, the Embassy staff dwindled down to the
concierge and two--or was it four?--sheep browsing on the lawn. Mr.
Wodehouse went off (my father and myself being among those who accompanied
him, as I shall relate in a future chapter) towards the middle of
November; and before the bombardment began Colonel Claremont likewise
executed a strategical retreat. Nevertheless--or should I say for that
very reason?--he was subsequently made a general officer.

A day or two before Lord Lyons left he drew up a notice warning British
subjects that if they should remain in Paris it would be at their own risk
and peril. The British colony was not then so large as it is now,
nevertheless it was a considerable one. A good many members of it
undoubtedly departed on their own initiative. Few, if any, saw Lord
Lyons's notice, for it was purely and simply conveyed to them through the
medium of _Galignani's Messenger_, which, though it was patronized by
tourists staying at the hotels, was seldom seen by genuine British
residents, most of whom read London newspapers.

The morrow of Lord Lyons's departure, Sunday, September 18, was our last
day of liberty. The weather was splendid, the temperature as warm as that
of June. All Paris was out of doors. We were not without women-folk
and children. Not only were there the wives and offspring of the
working-classes; but the better halves of many tradespeople and bourgeois
had remained in the city, together with a good many ladies of higher
social rank. Thus, in spite of all the departures, "papa, mamma, and baby"
were still to be met in many directions on that last day preceding the
investment. There were gay crowds everywhere, on the Boulevards, on the
squares, along the quays, and along the roads skirting the ramparts. These
last were the "great attraction," and thousands of people strolled about
watching the work which was in progress. Stone casements were being roofed
with earth, platforms were being prepared for guns, gabions were being set
in position at the embrasures, sandbags were being carried to the
parapets, stakes were being pointed for the many _pièges-à-loups_, and
smooth earthworks were being planted with an infinity of spikes. Some guns
were already in position, others, big naval guns from Brest or Cherbourg,
were still lying on the turf. Meanwhile, at the various city gates, the
very last vehicles laden with furniture and forage were arriving from the
suburbs. And up and down went all the promenaders, chatting, laughing,
examining this and that work of defence or engine of destruction in such a
good-humoured, light-hearted way that the whole _chemin-de-ronde_ seemed
to be a vast fair, held solely for the amusement of the most volatile
people that the world has ever known.

Access to the Bois de Boulogne was forbidden. Acres of timber had already
been felled there, and from the open spaces the mild September breeze
occasionally wafted the lowing of cattle, the bleating of sheep, and the
grunting of pigs. Our live stock consisted of 30,000 oxen, 175,000 sheep,
8,800 pigs, and 6,000 milch-cows. Little did we think how soon those
animals (apart from the milch-cows) would be consumed! Few of us were
aware that, according to Maxime Ducamp's great work on Paris, we had
hitherto consumed, on an average, every day of the year, 935 oxen, 4680
sheep, 570 pigs, and 600 calves, to say nothing of 46,000 head of poultry,
game, etc., 50 tons of fish, and 670,000 eggs.

Turning from the Bois de Boulogne, which had become our principal ranch
and sheep-walk, one found companies of National Guards learning the
"goose-step" in the Champs Elysées and the Cours-la-Reine. Regulars were
appropriately encamped both in the Avenue de la Grande Armée and on the
Champ de Mars. Field-guns and caissons filled the Tuileries garden, whilst
in the grounds of the Luxembourg Palace one again found cattle and sheep;
yet other members of the bovine and ovine species being installed,
singularly enough, almost cheek by jowl with the hungry wild beasts of the
Jardin des Plantes, whose mouths fairly watered at the sight of their
natural prey. If you followed the quays of the Seine you there found
sightseers gazing at the little gunboats and floating batteries on the
water; and if you climbed to Montmartre you there came upon people
watching "The Neptune," the captive balloon which Nadar, the aeronaut and
photographer, had already provided for purposes of military observation. I
shall have occasion to speak of him and his balloons again.

Among all that I myself saw on that memorable Sunday, I was perhaps most
struck by the solemn celebration of Mass in front of the statue of
Strasbourg on the Place de la Concorde. The capital of Alsace had been
besieged since the middle of August, but was still offering a firm
resistance to the enemy. Its chief defenders, General Uhrich and Edmond
Valentin, were the most popular heroes of the hour. The latter had been
appointed Prefect of the city by the Government of National Defence, and,
resolving to reach his post in spite of the siege which was being actively
prosecuted, had disguised himself and passed successfully through the
German lines, escaping the shots which were fired at him. In Paris the
statue of Strasbourg had become a place of pilgrimage, a sacred shrine, as
it were, adorned with banners and with wreaths innumerable. Yet I
certainly had not expected to see an altar set up and Mass celebrated in
front of it, as if it had been, indeed, a statue of the Blessed Virgin.

At this stage of affairs there was no general hostility to the Church in
Paris. The _bourgeoisie_--I speak of its masculine element--was as
sceptical then as it is now, but it knew that General Trochu, in whom it
placed its trust, was a practising and fervent Catholic, and that in
taking the Presidency of the Government he had made it one of his
conditions that religion should be respected. Such animosity as was shown
against the priesthood emanated from some of the public clubs where the
future Communards perorated. It was only as time went on, and the defence
grew more and more hopeless, that Trochu himself was denounced as a
_cagot_ and a _souteneur de soutanes_; and not until the Commune did the
Extremists give full rein to their hatred of the Church and its ministers.

In connection with religion, there was another sight which impressed me on
that same Sunday. I was on the point of leaving the Place de la Concorde
when a large body of Mobiles debouched either from the Rue Royale or the
Rue de Rivoli, and I noticed, with some astonishment, that not only were
they accompanied by their chaplains, but that they bore aloft several
processional religious banners. They were Bretons, and had been to Mass, I
ascertained, at the church of Notre Dame des Victoires--the favourite
church of the Empress Eugénie, who often attended early Mass there--and
were now returning to their quarters in the arches of the railway viaduct
of the Point-du-Jour. Many people uncovered as they thus went by
processionally, carrying on high their banners of the Virgin, she who is
invoked by the Catholic soldier as "Auzilium Christianorum." For a moment
my thoughts strayed back to Brittany, where, during my holidays the
previous year, I had witnessed the "Pardon" of Guingamp,

In the evening I went to the Boulevards with my father, and we afterwards
dropped into one or two of the public clubs. The Boulevard promenaders had
a good deal to talk about. General Ambert, who under the Empire had been
mayor of our arrondissement, had fallen out with his men, through speaking
contemptuously of the Republic, and after being summarily arrested by some
of them, had been deprived of his command. Further, the _Official Journal_
had published a circular addressed by Bismarck to the German diplomatists
abroad, in which he stated formally that if France desired peace she would
have to give "material guarantees." That idea, however, was vigorously
pooh-poohed by the Boulevardiers, particularly as rumours of sudden French
successes, originating nobody knew how, were once more in the air.
Scandal, however, secured the attention of many of the people seated in
the cafés, for the _Rappel_--Victor Hugo's organ--had that day printed a
letter addressed to Napoleon III by his mistress Marguerite Bellenger, who
admitted in it that she had deceived her imperial lover with respect to
the paternity of her child.

However, we went, my father and I, from the Boulevards to the
Folies-Bergere, which had been turned for the time into a public club, and
there we listened awhile to Citizen Lermina, who, taking Thiers's mission
and Bismarck's despatch as his text, protested against France concluding
any peace or even any armistice so long as the Germans had not withdrawn
across the frontier. There was still no little talk of that description.
The old agitator Auguste Blanqui--long confined in one of the cages of
Mont Saint-Michel, but now once more in Paris--never wearied of opposing
peace in the discourses that he delivered at his own particular club,
which, like the newspaper he inspired, was called "La Patrie en Danger."
In other directions, for instance at the Club du Maine, the Extremists
were already attacking the new Government for its delay in distributing
cartridges to the National Guards, being, no doubt, already impatient to
seize authority themselves.

Whilst other people were promenading or perorating, Trochu, in his room at
the Louvre, was receiving telegram after telegram informing him that the
Germans were now fast closing round the city. He himself, it appears, had
no idea of preventing it; but at the urgent suggestion of his old friend
and comrade General Ducrot, he had consented that an effort should be made
to delay, at any rate, a complete investment. In an earlier chapter I had
occasion to mention Ducrot in connexion with the warnings which Napoleon
III received respecting the military preparations of Prussia. At this
time, 1870, the general was fifty-three years old, and therefore still in
his prime. As commander of a part of MacMahon's forces he had
distinguished himself at the battle of Wörth, and when the Marshal was
wounded at Sedan, it was he who, by right of seniority, at first assumed
command of the army, being afterwards compelled, however, to relinquish
the poet to Wimpfen, in accordance with an order from Palikao which
Wimpfen produced. Included at the capitulation, among the prisoners taken
by the Germans, Ducrot subsequently escaped--the Germans contending that
he had broken his parole in doing so, though this does not appear to have
been the case. Immediately afterwards he repaired to Paris to place
himself at Trochu's disposal. At Wörth he had suggested certain tactics
which might have benefited the French army; at Sedan he had wished to make
a supreme effort to cut through the German lines; and now in Paris he
proposed to Trochu a plan which if successful might, he thought, retard
the investment and momentarily cut the German forces in halves.

In attempting to carry out this scheme (September 19) Ducrot took with him
most of Vinoy's corps, that is four divisions of infantry, some cavalry,
and no little artillery, having indeed, according to his own account,
seventy-two guns with him. The action was fought on the plateau of
Châtillon (south of Paris), where the French had been constructing a
redoubt, which was still, however, in a very unfinished state. At daybreak
that morning all the districts of Paris lying on the left bank of the
Seine were roused by the loud booming of guns. The noise was at times
almost deafening, and it is certain that the French fired a vast number of
projectiles, though, assuredly, the number--25,000--given in a copy of the
official report which I have before me must be a clerical error. In any
case, the Germans replied with an even more terrific fire than that of the
French, and, as had previously happened at Sedan and elsewhere, the French
ordnance proved to be no match for that emanating from Krupp's renowned
workshops. The French defeat was, however, precipitated by a sudden panic
which arose among a provisional regiment of Zouaves, who suddenly turned
tail and fled. Panic is often, if not always, contagious, and so it proved
to be on this occasion. Though some of the Gardes Mobiles, notably the
Bretons of Ile-et-Vilaine, fought well, thanks to the support of the
artillery (which is so essential in the case of untried troops), other men
weakened, and imitated the example of the Zouaves. Duorot soon realized
that it was useless to prolong the encounter, and after spiking the guns
set up in the Châtillon redoubt, he retired under the protection of the
Forts of Vanves and Montrouge.

My father and I had hastened to the southern side of Paris as soon as the
cannonade apprised us that an engagement was going on. Pitiful was the
spectacle presented by the disbanded soldiers as they rushed down the
Chaussée du Maine. Many had flung away their weapons. Some went on
dejectedly; others burst into wine-shops, demanded drink with threats, and
presently emerged swearing, cursing and shouting, "Nous sommes trahis!"
Riderless horses went by, instinctively following the men, and here and
there one saw a bewildered and indignant officer, whose orders were
scouted with jeers. The whole scene was of evil augury for the defence of

At a later hour, when we reached the Boulevards, we found the wildest
rumours in circulation there. Nobody knew exactly what had happened, but
there was talk of 20,000 French troops having been annihilated by five
times that number of Germans. At last a proclamation emanating from
Gambetta was posted up and eagerly perused. It supplied no details of the
fighting, but urged the Parisians to give way neither to excitement nor to
despondency, and reminded them that a court-martial had been instituted to
deal with cowards and deserters. Thereupon the excitement seemed to
subside, and people went to dinner. An hour afterwards the Boulevards were
as gay as ever, thronged once more with promenaders, among whom were many
officers of the Garde Mobile and the usual regiment of painted women.
Cynicism and frivolity were once more the order of the day. But in the
midst of it there came an unexpected incident. Some of the National Guards
of the district were not unnaturally disgusted by the spectacle which the
Boulevards presented only a few hours after misfortune had fallen on the
French arms. Forming, therefore, into a body, they marched along, loudly
calling upon the cafés to close. Particularly were they indignant when, on
reaching Brébant's Restaurant at the corner of the Faubourg Montmartre,
they heard somebody playing a lively Offenbachian air on a piano there. A
party of heedless _viveurs_ and _demoiselles_ of the half-world were
enjoying themselves together as in the palmy imperial days. But the piano
was soon silenced, the cafés and restaurants were compelled to close, and
the Boulevardian world went home in a slightly chastened mood. The Siege
of Paris had begun.



The Surrender of Versailles--Captain Johnson, Queen's Messenger--No more
Paris Fashions!--Prussians versus Germans--Bismarck's Hard Terms for
Peace--Attempts to pass through the German Lines--Chartreuse Verte as an
Explosive!--Tommy Webb's Party and the Germans--Couriers and Early
Balloons--Our Arrangements with Nadar--Gambetta's Departure and Balloon
Journey--The Amusing Verses of Albert Millaud--Siege Jokes and Satire--The
Spy and Signal Craze--Amazons to the Rescue!

It was at one o'clock on the afternoon of September 19 that the telegraph
wires between Paris and Versailles, the last which linked us to the
outside world, were suddenly cut by the enemy; the town so closely
associated with the Grand Monarque and his magnificence having then
surrendered to a very small force of Germans, although it had a couple of
thousand men--Mobile and National Guards--to defend it. The capitulation
which was arranged between the mayor and the enemy was flagrantly violated
by the latter almost as soon as it had been concluded, tins being only one
of many such instances which occurred during the war. Versailles was
required to provide the invader with a number of oxen, to be slaughtered
for food, numerous casks of wine, the purpose of which was obvious, and a
large supply of forage valued at £12,000. After all, however, that was a
mere trifle in comparison with what the present Kaiser's forces would
probably demand on landing at Hull or Grimsby or Harwich, should they some
day do so. By the terms of the surrender of Versailles, however, the local
National Guards were to have remained armed and entrusted with the
internal police of the town, and, moreover, there were to have been no
further requisitions. But Bismarck and Moltke pooh-poohed all such
stipulations, and the Versaillese had to submit to many indignities.

In Paris that day the National Defence Government was busy in various
ways, first in imposing fines, according to an ascending scale, on all
absentees who ought to have remained in the city and taken their share of
military duty; and, secondly, in decreeing that nobody with any money
lodged in the Savings Bank should be entitled to draw out more than fifty
francs, otherwise two pounds, leaving the entire balance of his or her
deposit at the Government's disposal. This measure provoked no little
dissatisfaction. It was also on September 19, the first day of the siege,
that the last diplomatic courier entered Paris. I well remember the
incident. Whilst I was walking along the Faubourg Saint Honoré I suddenly
perceived an open _calèche_, drawn by a pair of horses, bestriding one of
which was a postillion arrayed in the traditional costume--hair à la
Catogan, jacket with scarlet facings, gold-banded hat, huge boots, and all
the other appurtenances which one saw during long years on the stage in
Adolphe Adam's sprightly but "impossible" opéra-comique "Le Postillon de
Longjumeau." For an instant, indeed, I felt inclined to hum the famous
refrain, "Oh, oh, oh, oh, qu'il était beau"--but many National Guards and
others regarded the equipage with great suspicion, particularly as it was
occupied by on individual in semi-military attire. Quite a number of
people decided in their own minds that this personage must be a Prussian
spy, and therefore desired to stop his carriage and march him off to
prison. As a matter of fact, however, he was a British officer, Captain
Johnson, discharging the duties of a Queen's Messenger; and as he
repeatedly flourished a cane in a very menacing manner, and the
door-porter of the British Embassy--a German, I believe--energetically
came to his assistance, he escaped actual molestation, and drove in
triumph into the courtyard of the ambassadorial mansion.

At this time a great shock was awaiting the Parisians. During the same
week the Vicomtesse de Renneville issued an announcement stating that in
presence of the events which were occurring she was constrained to suspend
the publication of her renowned journal of fashions, _La Gazette Rose_.
This was a tragic blow both for the Parisians themselves and for all the
world beyond them. There would be no more Paris fashions! To what despair
would not millions of women be reduced? How would they dress, even
supposing that they should contrive to dress at all? The thought was
appalling; and as one and another great _couturier_ closed his doors,
Paris began to realize that her prestige was indeed in jeopardy.

A day or two after the investment the city became very restless on account
of Thiers's mission to foreign Courts and Jules Favre's visit to the
German headquarters, it being reported by the extremists that the
Government did not intend to be a Government of National Defence but one
of Capitulation. In reply to those rumours the authorities issued the
famous proclamation in which they said;

  "The Government's policy is that formulated in these terms:
   Not an Inch of our Territory.
   Not a Stone of our Fortresses.
   The Government will maintain it to the end."

On the morrow, September 21, Gambetta personally reminded us that it was
the seventy-eighth anniversary of the foundation of the first French
Republic, and, after recalling to the Parisians what their fathers had
then accomplished, he exhorted them to follow that illustrious example,
and to "secure victory by confronting death." That same evening the clubs
decided that a great demonstration should be made on the morrow by way of
insisting that no treaty should be discussed until the Germans had been
driven out of France, that no territory, fort, vessel, or treasure should
be surrendered, that all elections should be adjourned, and that a _levée
en masse_ should be decreed. Jules Favre responded that he and his
colleagues personified Defence and not Surrender, and Rochefort--poor
Rochefort!--solemnly promised that the barricades of Paris should be begun
that very night. That undertaking mightily pleased the agitators, though
the use of the said barricades was not apparent; and the demonstrators
dispersed with the usual shouts of "Vive la République! Mort aux

In connexion with that last cry it was a curious circumstance that from
the beginning to the end of the war the French persistently ignored the
presence of Saxons, Würtembergers, Hessians, Badeners, and so forth in the
invading armies. Moreover, on only one or two occasions (such as the
Bazeilles episode of the battle of Sedan) did they evince any particular
animosity against the Bavarians. I must have heard "Death to the
Prussians!" shouted at least a thousand times; but most certainly I never
once heard a single cry of "Death to the Germans!" Still in the same
connexion, let me mention that it was in Paris, during the siege, that the
eminent naturalist and biologist Quatrefages de Bréau wrote that curious
little book of his, "La Race Prussienne," in which he contended that the
Prussians were not Germans at all. There was at least some measure of
truth in the views which he enunciated.

As I previously indicated, Jules Favre, the Foreign Minister of the
National Defence, had gone to the German headquarters in order to discuss
the position with Prince (then Count) Bismarck. He met him twice, first at
the Comte de Rillac's Château de la Haute Maison, and secondly at Baron de
Rothschild's Château de Ferrières--the German staff usually installing
itself in the lordly "pleasure-houses" of the French noble or financial
aristocracy, and leaving them as dirty as possible, and, naturally, bereft
of their timepieces. Baron Alphonse de Rothschild told me in later years
that sixteen clocks were carried off from Ferrières whilst King
(afterwards the Emperor) William and Bismarck were staying there. I
presume that they now decorate some of the salons of the schloss at
Berlin, or possibly those of Varzin and Friedrichsruhe. Bismarck
personally had an inordinate passion for clocks, as all who ever visited
his quarters in the Wilhelmstrasse, when he was German Chancellor, will
well remember.

But he was not content with the clocks of Ferrières. He told Jules Favre
that if France desired peace she must surrender the two departments of the
Upper and the Lower Rhine, a part of the department of the Moselle,
together with Metz, Chateau Salins, and Soissons; and he would only grant
an armistice (to allow of the election of a French National Assembly to
decide the question of War or Peace) on condition that the Germans should
occupy Strasbourg, Toul, and Phalsburg, together with a fortress, such as
Mont Valerien, commanding the city of Paris. Such conditions naturally
stiffened the backs of the French, and for a time there was no more talk
of negotiating.

During the earlier days of the Siege of Paris I came into contact with
various English people who, having delayed their departure until it was
too late, found themselves shut up in the city, and were particularly
anxious to depart from it. The British Embassy gave them no help in the
matter. Having issued its paltry notice in _Galignani's Messenger_, it
considered that there was no occasion for it to do anything further.
Moreover, Great Britain had not recognized the French Republic, so that
the position of Mr. Wodehouse was a somewhat difficult one. However, a few
"imprisoned" Englishmen endeavoured to escape from the city by devices of
their own. Two of them who set out together, fully expecting to get
through the German lines and then reach a convenient railway station,
followed the course of the Seine for several miles without being able to
cross it, and in spite of their waving pocket-handkerchiefs (otherwise
flags of truce) and their constant shouts of "English! Friends!" and so
forth, were repeatedly fired at by both French and German outposts. At
last they reached Rueil, where the villagers, on noticing how bad their
French was, took them to be Prussian spies, and nearly lynched them.
Fortunately, the local commissary of police believed their story, and they
were sent back to Paris to face the horseflesh and the many other
hardships which they had particularly desired to avoid.

I also remember the representative of a Birmingham small-arms factory
telling me of his unsuccessful attempt to escape. He had lingered in Paris
in the hope of concluding a contract with the new Republican Government.
Not having sufficient money to charter a balloon, and the Embassy, as
usual at that time, refusing any help (O shades of Palmerston!), he set
out as on a walking-tour with a knapsack strapped to his shoulders and an
umbrella in his hand. His hope was to cross the Seine by the bridge of
Saint Cloud or that of Suresnes, but he failed in both attempts, and was
repeatedly fired upon by vigilant French outposts. After losing his way in
the Bois de Boulogne, awakening both the cattle and the sheep there in the
course of his nightly ramble, he at last found one of the little huts
erected to shelter the gardeners and wood-cutters, and remained there
until daybreak, when he was able to take his bearings and proceed towards
the Auteuil gate of the ramparts. As he did not wish to be fired upon
again, he deemed it expedient to hoist his pocket handkerchief at the end
of his umbrella as a sign of his pacific intentions, and finding the gate
open and the drawbridge down, he attempted to enter the city, but was
immediately challenged by the National Guards on duty. These vigilant
patriots observed his muddy condition--the previous day had been a wet
one--and suspiciously inquired where he had come from at that early hour.
His answer being given in broken French and in a very embarrassed manner,
he was at once regarded as a Prussian spy, and dragged off to the
guard-room. There he was carefully searched, and everything in his pockets
having been taken from him, including a small bottle which the sergeant on
duty regarded with grave suspicion, he was told that his after-fate would
be decided when the commanding officer of that particular _secteur_ of the
ramparts made his rounds.

When this officer arrived he closely questioned the prisoner, who tried to
explain his circumstances, and protested that his innocence was shown by
the British passport and other papers which had been taken from him. "Oh!
papers prove nothing!" was the prompt retort. "Spies are always provided
with papers. But, come, I have proof that you are an unmitigated villain!"
So saying, the officer produced the small bottle which had been taken from
the unfortunate traveller, and added: "You see this? You had it in your
pocket. Now, don't attempt to deceive me, for I know very well what is the
nature of the green liquid which it contains--it is a combustible fluid
with which you wanted to set fire to our _chevaux-de-frise!_"

Denials and protests were in vain. The officer refused to listen to his
prisoner until the latter at last offered to drink some of the terrible
fluid in order to prove that it was not at all what it was supposed to be.
With a little difficulty the tight-fitting cork was removed from the
flask, and on the latter being handed to the prisoner he proceeded to
imbibe some of its contents, the officer, meanwhile, retiring to a short
distance, as if he imagined that the alleged "spy" would suddenly explode.
Nothing of that kind happened, however. Indeed, the prisoner drank the
terrible stuff with relish, smacked his lips, and even prepared to take a
second draught, when the officer, feeling reassured, again drew near to
him and expressed his willingness to sample the suspected fluid himself.
He did so, and at once discovered that it was purely and simply some
authentic Chartreuse verte! It did not take the pair of them long to
exhaust this supply of the _liqueur_ of St. Bruno, and as soon as this was
done, the prisoner was set at liberty with profuse apologies.

Now and again some of those who attempted to leave the beleaguered city
succeeded in their attempt. In one instance a party of four or five
Englishmen ran the blockade in the traditional carriage and pair. They had
been staying at the Grand Hotel, where another seven or eight visitors,
including Labouchere, still remained, together with about the same number
of servants to wait upon them; the famous caravanserai--then undoubtedly
the largest in Paris--being otherwise quite untenanted. The carriage in
which the party I have mentioned took their departure was driven by an old
English jockey named Tommy Webb, who had been in France for nearly half a
century, and had ridden the winners of some of the very first races
started by the French Jockey Club. Misfortune had overtaken him, however,
in his declining years, and he had become a mere Parisian "cabby." The
party sallied forth from the courtyard of the Grand Hotel, taking with it
several huge hampers of provisions and a quantity of other luggage; and
all the participants in the attempt seemed to be quite confident of
success. But a few hours later they returned in sore disappointment,
having been stopped near Neuilly by the French outposts, as they were
unprovided with any official _laisser-passer_. A document of that
description having been obtained, however, from General Trochu on the
morrow, a second attempt was made, and this time the party speedily
passed through the French lines. But in trying to penetrate those of the
enemy, some melodramatic adventures occurred. It became necessary, indeed,
to dodge both the bullets of the Germans and those of the French
Francs-tireurs, who paid not the slightest respect either to the Union
Jack or to the large white flag which were displayed on either side of
Tommy Webb's box-seat. At last, after a variety of mishaps, the party
succeeded in parleying with a German cavalry officer, and after they had
addressed a written appeal to the Crown Prince of Prussia (who was pleased
to grant it), they were taken, blindfolded, to Versailles, where
Blumenthal, the Crown Prince's Chief of Staff, asked them for information
respecting the actual state of Paris, and then allowed them to proceed on
their way.

Captain Johnson, the Queen's Messenger of whom I have already spoken, also
contrived to quit Paris again; but the Germans placed him under strict
surveillance, and Blumenthal told him that no more Queen's Messengers
would be allowed to pass through the German lines. About this same time,
however, the English man-servant of one of Trochu's aides-de-camp
contrived, not only to reach Saint Germain-en-Laye, where his master's
family was residing, but also to return to Paris with messages. This young
fellow had cleverly disguised himself as a French peasant, and on the
Prefect of Police hearing of his adventures, he sent out several
detectives in similar disguises, with instructions to ascertain all they
could about the enemy, and report the same to him. Meantime, the Paris
Post Office was endeavouring to send out couriers. One of them, named
Létoile, managed to get as far as Evreux, in Normandy, and to return to
the beleaguered city with a couple of hundred letters. Success also
repeatedly attended the efforts of two shrewd fellows named Gême and
Brare, who made several journeys to Saint Germain, Triel, and even
Orleans. On one occasion they brought as many as seven hundred letters
with them on their return to Paris; but between twenty and thirty other
couriers failed to get through the German lines; whilst several others
fell into the hands of the enemy, who at once confiscated the
correspondence they carried, but did not otherwise molest them.

The difficulty in sending letters out of Paris and in obtaining news from
relatives and friends in other parts of France led to all sorts of
schemes. The founder and editor of that well-known journal _Le Figaro_,
Hippolyte de Villemessant, as he called himself, though I believe that his
real Christian name was Auguste, declared in his paper that he would
willingly allow his veins to be opened in return for a few lines from his
beloved and absent wife. Conjugal affection could scarcely have gone
further. Villemessant, however, followed up his touching declaration by
announcing that a thousand francs (£40) a week was to be earned by a
capable man willing to act as letter-carrier between Paris and the
provinces. All who felt qualified for the post were invited to present
themselves at the office of _Le Figaro_, which in those days was
appropriately located in the Rue Rossini, named, of course, after the
illustrious composer who wrote such sprightly music round the theme of
Beaumarchais' comedy. As a result of Villemessant's announcement, the
street was blocked during the next forty-eight hours by men of all
classes, who were all the more eager to earn the aforesaid £40 a week as
nearly every kind of work was at a standstill, and the daily stipend of a
National Guard amounted only to 1_s._ 2-1/2_d._

It was difficult to choose from among so many candidates, but we were
eventually assured that the right man had been found in the person of a
retired poacher who knew so well how to circumvent both rural guards and
forest guards, that during a career of twenty years or so he had never
once been caught _in flagrante delicto_. Expert, moreover, in tracking
game, he would also well know how to detect--and to avoid--the tracks of
the Prussians. We were therefore invited to confide our correspondence to
this sagacious individual, who would undertake to carry it through the
German lines and to return with the answers in a week or ten days. The
charge for each letter, which was to be of very small weight and
dimensions, was fixed at five francs, and it was estimated that the
ex-poacher would be able to carry about 200 letters on each journey.

Many people were anxious to try the scheme, but rival newspapers denounced
it as being a means of acquainting the Prussians with everything which was
occurring in Paris--Villemessant, who they declared had taken bribes from
the fallen Empire, being probably one of Bismarck's paid agents. Thus the
enterprise speedily collapsed without even being put to the proof.
However, the public was successfully exploited by various individuals who
attempted to improve on Villemessant's idea, undertaking to send letters
out of Paris for a fixed charge, half of which was to be returned to the
sender if his letter were not delivered. As none of the letters handed in
on these conditions was even entrusted to a messenger, the ingenious
authors of this scheme made a handsome profit, politely returning half of
the money which they received, but retaining the balance without making
the slightest effort to carry out their contract.

Dr. Rampont, a very clever man, who was now our postmaster-general, had
already issued a circular bidding us to use the very thinnest paper and
the smallest envelopes procurable. There being so many failures among the
messengers whom he sent out of Paris with correspondence, the idea of a
balloon postal service occurred to him. Although ninety years or so had
elapsed since the days of the brothers Montgolfier, aeronautics had really
made very little progress. There were no dirigible balloons at all. Dupuy
de Lôme's first experiments only dated from the siege days, and Renard's
dirigible was not devised until the early eighties. We only had the
ordinary type of balloon at our disposal; and at the outset of the
investment there were certainly not more than half a dozen balloons within
our lines. A great city like Paris, however, is not without resources.
Everything needed for the construction of balloons could be found there.
Gas also was procurable, and we had amongst us quite a number of men
expert in the science of ballooning, such as it then was. There was Nadar,
there was Tissandier, there were the Godard brothers, Yon, Dartois, and a
good many others. Both the Godards and Nadar established balloon
factories, which were generally located in our large disused railway
stations, such as the Gare du Nord, the Gare d'Orléans, and the Gare
Montparnasse; but I also remember visiting one which Nadar installed in
the dancing hall called the Elysée Montmartre. Each of these factories
provided work for a good many people, and I recollect being particularly
struck by the number of women who were employed in balloon-making. Such
work was very helpful to them, and Nadar used to say to me that it grieved
him to have to turn away so many applicants for employment, for every day
ten, twenty, and thirty women would come to implore him to "take them on."
Nearly all their usual workrooms were closed; some were reduced to live on
charity and only very small allowances, from fivepence to sevenpence a
day, were made to the wives and families of National Guards.

But to return to the balloon postal-service which the Government
organized, it was at once realized by my father and myself that it could
be of little use to us so far as the work for the _Illustrated London
News_ was concerned, on account of the restrictions which were imposed in
regard to the size and weight of each letter that might be posted.
The weight, indeed, was fixed at no more than three grammes! Now, there
were a number of artists working for the _Illustrated_ in Paris, first
and foremost among them being M. Jules Pelcoq, who must personally have
supplied two-thirds of the sketches by which the British public was kept
acquainted with the many incidents of Parisian siege-life. The weekly
diary which I helped my father to compile could be drawn up in small
handwriting on very thin, almost transparent paper, and despatched in
the ordinary way. But how were we to circumvent the authorities in regard
to our sketches, which were often of considerable size, and were always
made on fairly substantial paper, the great majority of them being
wash-drawings? Further, though I could prepare two or three drafts of our
diary or our other "copy" for despatch by successive balloons--to provide
for the contingency of one of the latter falling into the hands of the
enemy--it seemed absurd that our artists should have to recopy every
sketch they made. Fortunately, there was photography, the thought of which
brought about a solution of the other difficulty in which we were placed.

I was sent to interview Nadar on the Place Saint Pierre at Montmartre,
above which his captive balloon the "Neptune" was oscillating in the
September breeze. He was much the same man as I had seen at the Crystal
Palace a few years previously, tall, red-haired, and red-shirted. He had
begun life as a caricaturist and humorous writer, but by way of buttering
his bread had set up in business as a photographer, his establishment on
the Boulevard de la Madeleine soon becoming very favourably known. There
was still a little "portrait-taking" in Paris during those early siege
days. Photographs of the celebrities or notorieties of the hour sold
fairly well, and every now and again some National Guard with means was
anxious to be photographed in his uniform. But, naturally enough, the
business generally had declined. Thus, Nadar was only too pleased to
entertain the proposal which I made to him on my father's behalf, this
being that every sketch for the _Illustrated_ should be taken to his
establishment and there photographed, so that we might be able to send out
copies in at least three successive balloons.

When I broached to Nadar the subject of the postal regulations in regard
to the weight and size of letters, he genially replied: "Leave that to me.
Your packets need not go through the ordinary post at all--at least, here
in Paris. Have them stamped, however, bring them whenever a balloon is
about to sail, and I will see that the aeronaut takes them in his pocket.
Wherever he alights they will be posted, like the letters in the official

That plan was carried out, and although several balloons were lost or fell
within the German lines, only one small packet of sketches, which, on
account of urgency, had not been photographed, remained subsequently
unaccounted for. In all other instances either the original drawing or one
of the photographic copies of it reached London safely.

The very first balloon to leave Paris (in the early days of October) was
precisely Nadar's "Neptune," which had originally been intended for
purposes of military observation. One day when I was with Nadar on the
Place Saint Pierre, he took me up in it. I found the experience a novel
but not a pleasing one, for all my life I have had a tendency to vertigo
when ascending to any unusual height. I remember that it was a clear day,
and that we had a fine bird's-eye view of Paris on the one hand and of the
plain of Saint Denis on the other, but I confess that I felt out of-my
element, and was glad to set foot on _terra firma_ once more.

From that day I was quite content to view the ascent of one and another
balloon, without feeling any desire to get out of Paris by its aerial
transport service. I must have witnessed the departure of practically all
the balloons which left Paris until I myself quitted the city in November.
The arrangements made with Nadar were perfected, and something very
similar was contrived with the Godard brothers, the upshot being that we
were always forewarned whenever it was proposed to send off a balloon.
Sometimes we received by messenger, in the evening, an intimation that a
balloon would start at daybreak on the morrow. Sometimes we were roused in
the small hours of the morning, when everything intended for despatch had
to be hastily got together and carried at once to the starting-place,
such, for instance, as the Northern or the Orleans railway terminus, both
being at a considerable distance from our flat in the Rue de Miromesnil.
Those were by no means agreeable walks, especially when the cold weather
had set in, as it did early that autumn; and every now and again at the
end of the journey one found that it had been made in vain, for, the wind
having shifted at the last moment, the departure of the balloon had been
postponed. Of course, the only thing to be done was to trudge back home
again. There was no omnibus service, all the horses having been
requisitioned, and in the latter part of October there were not more than
a couple of dozen cabs (drawn by decrepit animals) still plying for hire
in all Paris. Thus Shanks's pony was the only means of locomotion.

In the earlier days my father accompanied me on a few of those
expeditions, but he soon grew tired of them, particularly as his health
became affected by the siege diet. We were together, however, when
Gambetta took his departure on October 7, ascending from the Place Saint
Pierre in a balloon constructed by Nadar. It had been arranged that he
should leave for the provinces, in order to reinforce the three Government
delegates who had been despatched thither prior to the investment. Jules
Favre, the Foreign Minister, had been previously urged to join those
delegates, but would not trust himself to a balloon, and it was thereupon
proposed to Gambetta that he should do so. He willingly assented to the
suggestion, particularly as he feared that the rest of the country was
being overlooked, owing to the prevailing opinion that Paris would suffice
to deliver both herself and all the rest of France from the presence of
the enemy. Born in April, 1838, he was at this time in his thirty-third
year, and full of vigour, as the sequel showed. The delegates whom he was
going to join were, as I previously mentioned, very old men, well meaning,
no doubt, but incapable of making the great effort which was made by
Gambetta in conjunction with Charles de Freycinet, who was just in his
prime, being the young Dictator's senior by some ten years.

I can still picture Gambetta's departure, and particularly his appearance
on the occasion--his fur cap and his fur coat, which made him look
somewhat like a Polish Jew. He had with him his secretary, the devoted
Spuller. I cannot recall the name of the aeronaut who was in charge of the
balloon, but, if my memory serves me rightly, it was precisely to him that
Nadar handed the packet of sketches which failed to reach the _Illustrated
London News_. They must have been lost in the confusion of the aerial
voyage, which was marked by several dramatic incidents. Some accounts say
that Gambetta evinced no little anxiety during the preparations for the
ascent, but to me he appeared to be in a remarkably good humour, as if,
indeed, in pleasurable anticipation of what he was about to experience.
When, in response to the call of "Lachez tout!" the seamen released the
last cables which had hitherto prevented the balloon from rising, and the
crowd burst into shouts of "Vive la Republique!" and "Vive Gambetta!" the
"youthful statesman," as he was then called, leant over the side of the
car and waved his cap in response to the plaudits. [Another balloon, the
"George Sand," ascended at the same time, having in its car various
officials who were to negotiate the purchase of fire-arms in the United

The journey was eventful, for the Germans repeatedly fired at the balloon.
A first attempt at descent had to be abandoned when the car was at an
altitude of no more than 200 feet, for at that moment some German soldiers
were seen almost immediately beneath it. They fired, and before the
balloon could rise again a bullet grazed Gambetta's head. At four o'clock
in the afternoon, however, the descent was renewed near Roye in the Somme,
when the balloon was caught in an oak-tree, Gambetta at one moment hanging
on to the ropes of the car, with his head downward. Some countryfolk came
up in great anger, taking the party to be Prussians; but, on learning the
truth, they rendered all possible assistance, and Gambetta and his
companions repaired to the house of the mayor of the neighbouring village
of Tricot. Alluding in after days to his experiences on this journey, the
great man said that the earth, as seen by him from the car of the balloon,
looked like a huge carpet woven chance-wise with different coloured wools.
It did not impress him at all, he added, as it was really nothing but "une
vilaine chinoiserie." It was from Rouen, where he arrived on the following
day, that he issued the famous proclamation in which he called on France
to make a compact with victory or death. On October 9, he joined the other
delegates at Tours and took over the post of Minister of War as well as
that of Minister of the Interior.

His departure from the capital was celebrated by that clever versifier of
the period, Albert Millaud, who contributed to _Le Figaro_ an amusing
effusion, the first verse of which was to this effect:

  "Gambetta, pale and gloomy,
   Much wished to go to Tours,
   But two hundred thousand Prussians
   In his project made him pause.
   To aid the youthful statesman
   Came the aeronaut Nadar,
   Who sent up the 'Armand Barbes'
   With Gambetta in its car."

Further on came the following lines, supposed to be spoken by Gambetta
himself whilst he was gazing at the German lines beneath him--

  "See how the plain is glistening
   With their helmets in a mass!
   Impalement would be dreadful
   On those spikes of polished brass!"

Millaud, who was a Jew, the son, I think--or, at all events, a near
relation--of the famous founder of _Le Petit Journal_, the advent of which
constituted a great landmark in the history of the French Press--set
himself, during several years of his career, to prove the truth of the
axiom that in France "tout finit par des chansons." During those anxious
siege days he was for ever striving to sound a gay note, something which,
for a moment, at all events, might drive dull care away. Here is an
English version of some verses which he wrote on Nadar:

What a strange fellow is Nadar,
  Photographer and aeronaut!
He is as clever as Godard.
  What a strange fellow is Nadar,
Although, between ourselves, as far
  As art's concerned he knoweth naught.
What a strange fellow is Nadar,
  Photographer and aeronaut!

To guide the course of a balloon
  His mind conceived the wondrous screw.
Some day he hopes unto the moon
  To guide the course of a balloon.
Of 'airy navies' admiral soon,
  We'll see him 'grappling in the blue'--
To guide the course of a balloon
  His mind conceived the wondrous screw.

Up in the kingdom of the air
  He now the foremost rank may claim.
If poor Gambetta when up there,
  Up in the kingdom of the air,
Does not find good cause to stare,
  Why, Nadar will not be to blame.
Up in the kingdom of the air
  He now the foremost rank may claim.

At Ferrières, above the park,
  Behold him darting through the sky,
Soaring to heaven like a lark.
  At Ferrières above the park;
Whilst William whispers to Bismarck--
  'Silence, see Nadar there on high!'
At Ferrières above the park
  Behold him darting through the sky.

Oh, thou more hairy than King Clodion,
  Bearer on high of this report,
Thou yellower than a pure Cambodian,
  And far more daring than King Clodion,
We'll cast thy statue in collodion
  And mount it on a gas retort.
Oh, thou more hairy than King Clodion,
  Bearer on high of this report!

Perhaps it may not be thought too pedantic on my part if I explain that
the King Clodion referred to in Millaud's last verse was the legendary
"Clodion the Hairy," a supposed fifth-century leader of the Franks,
reputed to be a forerunner of the founder of the, Merovingian dynasty.
Nadar's hair, however, was not long like that of _les rois chevelue_, for
it was simply a huge curly and somewhat reddish mop. As for his
complexion, Millaud's phrase, "yellow as a pure Cambodian," was a happy

These allusions to Millaud's sprightly verse remind me that throughout the
siege of Paris the so-called _mot pour rire_ was never once lost sight of.
At all times and in respect to everything there was a superabundance of
jests--jests on the Germans, the National and the Mobile Guard, the fallen
dynasty, and the new Republic, the fruitless sorties, the wretched
rations, the failing gas, and many other people and things. One of the
enemy's generals was said to have remarked one day: "I don't know how to
satisfy my men. They complain of hunger, and yet I lead them every morning
to the slaughterhouse." At another time a French colonel, of conservative
ideas, was said to have replaced the inscription "Liberty, Equality,
Fraternity," which he found painted on the walls of his barracks, by the
words, "Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery," declaring that the latter were far
more likely to free the country of the presence of the hated enemy. As for
the "treason" mania, which was very prevalent at this time, it was related
that a soldier remarked one day to a comrade: "I am sure that the captain
is a traitor!" "Indeed! How's that?" was the prompt rejoinder. "Well,"
said the suspicious private, "have you not noticed that every time he
orders us to march forward we invariably encounter the enemy?"

When Trochu issued a decree incorporating all National Guards, under
forty-five years of age, in the marching battalions for duty outside
the city, one of these Guards, on being asked how old he was, replied,
"six-and-forty." "How is that?" he was asked. "A few weeks ago, you told
everybody that you were only thirty-six." "Quite true," rejoined the
other, "but what with rampart-duty, demonstrating at the Hôtel-de-Ville,
short rations, and the cold weather, I feel quite ten years older than I
formerly did." When horseflesh became more or less our daily provender,
many Parisian _bourgeois_ found their health failing. "What is the matter,
my dearest?" Madame du Bois du Pont inquired of her husband, when he had
collapsed one evening after dinner. "Oh! it is nothing, _mon amie_" he
replied; "I dare say I shall soon feel well again, but I used to think
myself a better horseman!"

Directly our supply of gas began to fail, the wags insinuated that Henri
Rochefort was jubilant, and if you inquired the reason thereof, you were
told that owing to the scarcity of gas everybody would be obliged to buy
hundreds of "_Lanternes_." We had, of course, plenty of sensations in
those days, but if you wished to cap every one of them you merely had to
walk into a café and ask the waiter for--a railway time-table.

Once before I referred to the caricatures of the period, notably to those
libelling the Emperor Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie, the latter
being currently personified as Messalina--or even as something worse, and
this, of course, without the faintest shadow of justification. But the
caricaturists were not merely concerned with the fallen dynasty. One of
the principal cartoonists of the _Charivari_ at that moment was "Cham,"
otherwise the Vicomte Amédée de Noé, an old friend of my family's.
It was he, by the way, who before the war insisted on my going to a
fencing-school, saying: "Look here, if you mean to live in France and be a
journalist, you must know how to hold a sword. Come with me to Ruzé's.
I taught your uncle Frank and his friend Gustave Doré how to fence many
years ago, and now I am going to have you taught." Well, in one of his
cartoons issued during the siege, Cham (disgusted, like most Frenchmen, at
the seeming indifference of Great Britain to the plight in which France
found herself) summed up the situation, as he conceived it, by depicting
the British Lion licking the boots of Bismarck, who was disguised as Davy
Crockett. When my father remonstrated with Cham on the subject, reminding
him of his own connexion with England, the indignant caricaturist replied:
"Don't speak of it. I have renounced England and all her works." He, like
other Frenchmen of the time, contended that we had placed ourselves under
great obligations to France at the period of the Crimean War.

Among the best caricatures of the siege-days was one by Daumier, which
showed Death appearing to Bismarck in his sleep, and murmuring softly,
"Thanks, many thanks." Another idea of the period found expression in a
cartoon representing a large mouse-trap, labelled "France," into which a
company of mice dressed up as German soldiers were eagerly marching, their
officer meanwhile pointing to a cheese fixed inside the trap, and
inscribed with the name of Paris. Below the design ran the legend: "Ah! if
we could only catch them all in it!" Many, indeed most, of the caricatures
of the time did not appear in the so-called humorous journals, but were
issued separately at a penny apiece, and were usually coloured by the
stencilling process. In one of them, I remember, Bismarck was seen wearing
seven-league boots and making ineffectual attempts to step from Versailles
to Paris. Another depicted the King of Prussia as Butcher William, knife
in hand and attired in the orthodox slaughter-house costume; whilst in yet
another design the same monarch was shown urging poor Death, who had
fallen exhausted in the snow, with his scythe lying broken beside him, to
continue on the march until the last of the French nation should be
exterminated. Of caricatures representing cooks in connexion with cats
there was no end, the _lapin de gouttière_ being in great demand for the
dinner-table; and, after Gambetta had left us, there were designs showing
the armies of succour (which were to be raised in the provinces)
endeavouring to pass ribs of beef, fat geese, legs of mutton, and strings
of sausages over several rows of German helmets, gathered round a bastion
labelled Paris, whence a famished National Guard, eager for the proffered
provisions, was trying to spring, but could not do so owing to the
restraining arm of General Trochu.

Before the investment began Paris was already afflicted with a spy mania.
Sala's adventure, which I recounted in an earlier chapter, was in a way
connected with this delusion, which originated with the cry "We are
betrayed!" immediately after the first French reverses. The instances of
so-called "spyophobia" were innumerable, and often curious and amusing.
There was a slight abatement of the mania when, shortly before the siege,
188,000 Germans were expelled from Paris, leaving behind them only some
700 old folk, invalids, and children, who were unable to obey the
Government's decree. But the disease soon revived, and we heard of
rag-pickers having their baskets ransacked by zealous National Guards,
who imagined that these receptacles might contain secret despatches or
contraband ammunition. On another occasion _Le Figaro_ wickedly suggested
that all the blind beggars in Paris were spies, with the result that
several poor infirm old creatures were abominably ill-treated. Again, a
fugitive sheet called _Les Nouvelles_ denounced all the English residents
as spies. Labouchere was one of those pounced upon by a Parisian mob in
consequence of that idiotic denunciation, but as he had the presence of
mind to invite those who assailed him to go with him to the nearest
police-station, he was speedily released. On two occasions my father and
myself were arrested and carried to guard-houses, and in the course of
those experiences we discovered that the beautifully engraved but
essentially ridiculous British passport, which recited all the honours and
dignities of the Secretary of State or the Ambassador delivering it, but
gave not the slightest information respecting the person to whom it had
been delivered (apart, that is, from his or her name), was of infinitely
less value in the eyes of a French officer than a receipt for rent or a
Parisian tradesman's bill. [That was forty-three years ago. The British
passport, however, remains to-day as unsatisfactory as it was then.]

But let me pass to other instances. One day an unfortunate individual,
working in the Paris sewers, was espied by a zealous National Guard, who
at once gave the alarm, declaring that there was a German spy in the
aforesaid sewers, and that he was depositing bombs there with the
intention of blowing up the city. Three hundred Guards at once volunteered
their services, stalked the poor workman, and blew him to pieces the next
time he popped his head out of a sewer-trap. The mistake was afterwards
deplored, but people argued (wrote Mr. Thomas Gibson Bowles, who sent the
story to The Morning Post) that it was far better that a hundred innocent
Frenchmen should suffer than that a single Prussian should escape. Cham,
to whom I previously alluded, old Marshal Vaillant, Mr. O'Sullivan, an
American diplomatist, and Alexis Godillot, the French army contractor,
were among the many well-known people arrested as spies at one or another
moment. A certain Mme: de Beaulieu, who had joined a regiment of Mobiles
as a _cantiniere_, was denounced as a spy "because her hands were so
white." Another lady, who had installed an ambulance in her house, was
carried off to prison on an equally frivolous pretext; and I remember yet
another case in which a lady patron of the Societe de Secours aux Blesses
was ill-treated. Matters would, however, probably be far worse at the
present time, for Paris, with all her apaches and anarchists, now includes
in her population even more scum than was the case three-and-forty years

There were, however, a few authentic instances of spying, one case being
that of a young fellow whom Etienne Arago, the Mayor of Paris, engaged as
a secretary, on the recommendation of Henri Rochefort, but who turned out
to be of German extraction, and availed himself of his official position
to draw up reports which were forwarded by balloon post to an agent of the
German Government in London. I have forgotten the culprit's name, but it
will be found, with particulars of his case, in the Paris journals of the
siege days. There was, moreover, the Hardt affair, which resulted in the
prisoner, a former lieutenant in the Prussian army, being convicted of
espionage and shot in the courtyard of the Ecole Militaire.

Co-existent with "spyophobia" there was another craze, that of suspecting
any light seen at night-time in an attic or fifth-floor window to be a
signal intended for the enemy. Many ludicrous incidents occurred in
connexion with this panic. One night an elderly _bourgeois_, who had
recently married a charming young woman, was suddenly dragged from his bed
by a party of indignant National Guards, and consigned to the watch-house
until daybreak. This had been brought about by his wife's maid placing a
couple of lighted candles in her window as a signal to the wife's lover
that, "master being at home," he was not to come up to the flat that
night. On another occasion a poor old lady, who was patriotically
depriving herself of sleep in order to make lint for the ambulances, was
pounced upon and nearly strangled for exhibiting green and red signals
from her window. It turned out, however, that the signals in question were
merely the reflections of a harmless though charmingly variegated parrot
which was the zealous old dame's sole and faithful companion.

No matter what might be the quarter of Paris in which a presumed signal
was observed, the house whence it emanated was at once invaded by National
Guards, and perfectly innocent people were often carried off and subjected
to ill-treatment. To such proportions did the craze attain that some
papers even proposed that the Government should forbid any kind of light
whatever, after dark, in any room situated above the second floor, unless
the windows of that room were "hermetically sealed"! Most victims of the
mania submitted to the mob's invasion of their homes without raising any
particular protest; but a volunteer artilleryman, who wrote to the
authorities complaining that his rooms had been ransacked in his absence
and his aged mother frightened out of her wits, on the pretext that some
fusees had been fired from his windows, declared that if there should be
any repetition of such an intrusion whilst he was at home he would receive
the invaders bayonet and revolver in hand. From that moment similar
protests poured into the Hôtel-de-Ville, and Trochu ended by issuing a
proclamation in which he said: "Under the most frivolous pretexts,
numerous houses have been entered, and peaceful citizens have been
maltreated. The flags of friendly nations have been powerless to protect
the houses where they were displayed. I have ordered an inquiry on the
subject, and I now command that all persons guilty of these abusive
practices shall be arrested. A special service has been organized in order
to prevent the enemy from keeping up any communication with any of its
partisans in the city; and I remind everybody that excepting in such
instances as are foreseen by the law every citizen's residence is

We nowadays hear a great deal about the claims of women, but although the
followers of Mrs. Pankhurst have carried on "a sort of a war" for a
considerable time past, I have not yet noticed any disposition on their
part to "join the colours." Men currently assert that women cannot serve
as soldiers. There are, however, many historical instances of women
distinguishing themselves in warfare, and modern conditions are even more
favourable than former ones for the employment of women as soldiers. There
is splendid material to be derived from the golf-girl, the hockey-girl,
the factory- and the laundry-girl--all of them active, and in innumerable
instances far stronger than many of the narrow-chested, cigarette-smoking
"boys" whom we now see in our regiments. Briefly, a day may well come when
we shall see many of our so-called superfluous women taking to the
"career of arms." However, the attempts made to establish a corps of
women-soldiers in Paris, during the German siege, were more amusing than
serious. Early in October some hundreds of women demonstrated outside the
Hôtel-de-Ville, demanding that all the male nurses attached to the
ambulances should be replaced by women. The authorities promised to grant
that application, and the women next claimed the right to share the
dangers of the field with their husbands and their brothers. This question
was repeatedly discussed at the public clubs, notably at one in the Rue
Pierre Levée, where Louise Michel, the schoolmistress who subsequently
participated in the Commune and was transported to New Caledonia,
officiated as high-priestess; and at another located at the Triat
Gymnasium in the Avenue Montaigne, where as a rule no men were allowed to
be present, that is, excepting a certain Citizen Jules Allix, an eccentric
elderly survivor of the Republic of '48, at which period he had devised a
system of telepathy effected by means of "sympathetic snails."

One Sunday afternoon in October the lady members of this club, being in
urgent need of funds, decided to admit men among their audience at the
small charge of twopence per head, and on hearing this, my father and
myself strolled round to witness the proceedings. They were remarkably
lively. Allix, while reading a report respecting the club's progress,
began to libel some of the Paris convents, whereupon a National Guard in
the audience flatly called him a liar. A terrific hubbub arose, all the
women gesticulating and protesting, whilst their _présidente_
energetically rang her bell, and the interrupter strode towards the
platform. He proved to be none other than the Duc de Fitz-James, a lineal
descendant of our last Stuart King by Marlborough's sister, Arabella
Churchill. He tried to speak, but the many loud screams prevented him from
doing so. Some of the women threatened him with violence, whilst a few
others thanked him for defending the Church. At last, however, he leapt on
the platform, and in doing so overturned both a long table covered with
green baize, and the members of the committee who were seated behind it.
Jules Allix thereupon sprang at the Duke's throat, they struggled and fell
together from the platform, and rolled in the dust below it. It was long
before order was restored, but this was finally effected by a good-looking
young woman who, addressing the male portion of the audience, exclaimed:
"Citizens! if you say another word we will fling what you have paid for
admission in your faces, and order you out of doors!"

Business then began, the discussion turning chiefly upon two points, the
first being that all women should be armed and do duty on the ramparts,
and the second that the women should defend their honour from the attacks
of the Germans by means of prussic acid. Allix remarked that it would be
very appropriate to employ prussic acid in killing Prussians, and
explained to us that this might be effected by means of little indiarubber
thimbles which the women would place on their fingers, each thimble being
tipped with a small pointed tube containing some of the acid in question.
If an amorous Prussian should venture too close to a fair Parisienne, the
latter would merely have to hold out her hand and prick him. In another
instant he would fall dead! "No matter how many of the enemy may assail
her," added Allix, enthusiastically, "she will simply have to prick them
one by one, and we shall see her standing still pure and holy in the midst
of a circle of corpses!" At these words many of the women in the audience
were moved to tears, but the men laughed hilariously.

Such disorderly scenes occurred at this women's club, that the landlord of
the Triat Gymnasium at last took possession of the premises again, and the
ejected members vainly endeavoured to find accommodation elsewhere.
Nevertheless, another scheme for organizing an armed force of women was
started, and one day, on observing on the walls of Paris a green placard
which announced the formation of a "Legion of Amazons of the Seine," I
repaired to the Rue Turbigo, where this Legion's enlistment office had
been opened. After making my way up a staircase crowded with recruits, who
were mostly muscular women from five-and-twenty to forty years of age, the
older ones sometimes being unduly stout, and not one of them, in my
youthful opinion, at all good-looking, I managed to squeeze my way into
the private office of the projector of the Legion, or, as he called
himself, its "Provisional Chef de Bataillon." He was a wiry little man,
with a grey moustache and a military bearing, and answered to the name of
Félix Belly. A year or two previously he had unjustly incurred a great
deal of ridicule in Paris, owing to his attempts to float a Panama Canal
scheme. Only five years after the war, however, the same idea was taken up
by Ferdinand de Lesseps, and French folk, who had laughed it to scorn in
Belly's time, proved only too ready to fling their hard-earned savings
into the bottomless gulf of Lesseps' enterprise.

I remember having a long chat with Belly, who was most enthusiastic
respecting his proposed Amazons. They were to defend the ramparts and
barricades of Paris, said he, being armed with light guns carrying some
200 yards; and their costume, a model of which was shown me, was to
consist of black trousers with orange-coloured stripes down the outer
seams, black blouses with capes, and black képis, also with orange
trimmings. Further, each woman was to carry a cartridge-box attached to a
shoulder-belt. It was hoped that the first battalion would muster quite
1200 women, divided into eight companies of 150 each. There was to be a
special medical service, and although the chief doctor would be a man, it
was hoped to secure several assistant doctors of the female sex. Little M.
Belly dwelt particularly on the fact that only women of unexceptionable
moral character would be allowed to join the force, all recruits having to
supply certificates from the Commissaries of Police of their districts, as
well as the consent of their nearest connexions, such as their fathers or
their husbands. "Now, listen to this," added M. Belly, enthusiastically,
as he went to a piano which I was surprised to find, standing in a
recruiting office; and seating himself at the instrument, he played for my
especial benefit the stirring strains of a new, specially-commissioned
battle-song, which, said he, "we intend to call the Marseillaise of the
Paris Amazons!"

Unfortunately for M. Belly, all his fine projects and preparations
collapsed a few days afterwards, owing to the intervention of the police,
who raided the premises in the Rue Turbigo, and carried off all the papers
they found there. They justified these summary proceedings on the ground
that General Trochu had forbidden the formation of any more free corps,
and that M. Belly had unduly taken fees from his recruits. I believe,
however, that the latter statement was incorrect. At all events, no
further proceedings were instituted. But the raid sufficed to kill M.
Belly's cherished scheme, which naturally supplied the caricaturists of
the time with more or less brilliant ideas. One cartoon represented the
German army surrendering _en masse_ to a mere battalion of the Beauties of



Reconnaissances and Sorties--Casimir-Perier at Bagneux--Some of the Paris
Clubs--Demonstrations at the Hôtel-de-Ville--The Cannon Craze--The Fall of
Metz foreshadowed--Le Bourget taken by the French--The Government's Policy
of Concealment--The Germans recapture Le Bourget--Thiers, the Armistice,
and Bazaine's Capitulation--The Rising of October 31--The Peril and the
Rescue of the Government--Armistice and Peace Conditions--The Great
Question of Rations--Personal Experiences respecting Food--My father, in
failing Health, decides to leave Paris.

After the engagement of Châtillon, fought on September 19, various
reconnaissances were carried out by the army of Paris. In the first of
these General Vinoy secured possession of the plateau of Villejuif, east
of Châtillon, on the south side of the city. Next, the Germans had to
retire from Pierre-fitte, a village in advance of Saint Denis on the
northern side. There were subsequent reconnaissances in the direction of
Neuilly-sur-Marne and the Plateau d'Avron, east of Paris; and on
Michaelmas Day an engagement was fought at L'Hay and Chevilly, on the
south. But the archangel did not on this occasion favour the French, who
were repulsed, one of their commanders, the veteran brigadier Guilhem,
being killed. A fight at Châtillon on October 12 was followed on the
morrow by a more serious action at Bagneux, on the verge of the Châtillon
plateau. During this engagement the Mobiles from the Burgundian Côte d'Or
made a desperate attack on a German barricade bristling with guns,
reinforced by infantry, and also protected by a number of sharp-shooters
installed in the adjacent village-houses, whose window-shutters and walls
had been loop-holed. During the encounter, the commander of the Mobiles,
the Comte de Dampierre, a well-known member of the French Jockey Club,
fell mortally wounded whilst urging on his men, but was succoured by a
captain of the Mobiles of the Aube, who afterwards assumed the chief
command, and, by a rapid flanking movement, was able to carry the
barricade. This captain was Jean Casimir-Perier, who, in later years,
became President of the Republic. He was rewarded for his gallantry with
the Cross of the Legion of Honour. Nevertheless, the French success was
only momentary.

That same night the sky westward of Paris was illumined by a great ruddy
glare. The famous Château of Saint Cloud, associated with many memories of
the old _régime_ and both the Empires, was seen to be on fire. The cause
of the conflagration has never been precisely ascertained. Present-day
French reference-books still declare that the destruction of the château
was the wilful act of the Germans, who undoubtedly occupied Saint Cloud;
but German authorities invariably maintain that the fire was caused by a
shell from the French fortress of Mont Valérien. Many of the sumptuous
contents of the Château of Saint Cloud--the fatal spot where that same war
had been decided on--were consumed by the flames, while the remainder were
appropriated by the Germans as plunder. Many very valuable paintings of
the period of Louis XIV were undoubtedly destroyed.

By this time the word "reconnaissance," as applied to the engagements
fought in the environs of the city, had become odious to the Parisians,
who began to clamour for a real "sortie." Trochu, it may be said, had at
this period no idea of being able to break out of Paris. In fact, he had
no desire to do so. His object in all the earlier military operations of
the siege was simply to enlarge the circle of investment, in the hope of
thereby placing the Germans in a difficulty, of which he might
subsequently take advantage. An attack which General Ducrot made, with a
few thousand men, on the German position near La Malmaison, west of Paris,
was the first action which was officially described as a "sortie." It took
place on October 21, but the success which at first attended Ducrot's
efforts was turned into a repulse by the arrival of German reinforcements,
the affair ending with a loss of some four hundred killed and wounded on
the French side, apart from that of another hundred men who were taken
prisoners by the enemy.

This kind of thing did not appeal to the many frequenters of the public
clubs which were established in the different quarters of Paris. All
theatrical performances had ceased there, and there was no more dancing.
Even the concerts and readings given in aid of the funds for the wounded
were few and far between. Thus, if a Parisian did not care to while away
his evening in a cafe, his only resource was to betake himself to one of
the clubs. Those held at the Folies-Bergère music-hall, the Valentino
dancing-hall, the Porte St. Martin theatre, and the hall of the Collège de
France, were mostly frequented by moderate Republicans, and attempts were
often made there to discuss the situation in a sensible manner. But folly,
even insanity, reigned at many of the other clubs, where men like Félix
Pyat, Auguste Blanqui, Charles Delescluze, Gustave Flourens, and the three
Ms--Mégy, Mottu, and Millière--raved and ranted. Go where you would, you
found a club. There was that of La Reine Blanche at Montmartre and that of
the Salle Favié at Belleville; there was the club de la Vengeance on the
Boulevard Rochechouart, the Club des Montagnards on the Boulevard de
Strasbourg, the Club des Etats-Unis d'Europe in the Rue Cadet, the Club du
Préaux-Clercs in the Rue du Bac, the Club de la Cour des Miracles on the
Ile Saint Louis, and twenty or thirty others of lesser note. At times the
demagogues who perorated from the tribunes at these gatherings, brought
forward proposals which seemed to have emanated from some madhouse,
but which were nevertheless hailed with delirious applause by their
infatuated audiences. Occasionally new engines of destruction were
advocated--so-called "Satan-fusees," or pumps discharging flaming
petroleum! Another speaker conceived the brilliant idea of keeping all the
wild beasts in the Jardin des Plantes on short commons for some days, then
removing them from Paris at the next sortie, and casting them adrift among
the enemy. Yet another imbecile suggested that the water of the Seine and
the Marne should be poisoned, regardless of, the fact that, in any such
event, the Parisians would suffer quite as much as the enemy.

But the malcontents were not satisfied with ranting at the clubs. On
October 2, Paris became very gloomy, for we then received from outside the
news that both Toul and Strasbourg had surrendered. Three days later,
Gustave Flourens gathered the National Guards of Belleville together and
marched with them on the Hôtel-de-Ville, where he called upon the
Government to renounce the military tactics of the Empire which had set
one Frenchman against three Germans, to decree a _levée en masse_, to make
frequent sorties with the National Guards, to arm the latter with
chassepots, and to establish at once a municipal "Commune of Paris." On
the subject of sorties the Government promised to conform to the general
desire, and to allow the National Guards to co-operate with the regular
army as soon as they should know how to fight and escape being simply
butchered. To other demands made by Flourens, evasive replies were
returned, whereupon he indignantly resigned his command of the Belleville
men, but resumed it at their urgent request.

The affair somewhat alarmed the Government, who issued a proclamation
forbidding armed demonstrations, and, far from consenting to the
establishment of any Commune, postponed the ordinary municipal elections
which were soon to have taken place. To this the Reds retorted by making
yet another demonstration, which my father and myself witnessed. Thousands
of people, many of them being armed National Guards, assembled on the
Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, shouting: "La Commune! La Commune! Nous voulons
la Commune!" But the authorities had received warning of their opponents'
intentions, and the Hôtel-de-Ville was entirely surrounded by National
Guards belonging to loyal battalions, behind whom, moreover, was stationed
a force of trusty Mobile Guards, whose bayonets were already fixed. Thus
no attempt could be made to raid the Hôtel-de-Ville with any chance of
success. Further, several other contingents of loyal National Guards
arrived on the square, and helped to check the demonstrators.

While gazing on the scene from an upper window of the Cafe de la Garde
Nationale, at one corner of the square, I suddenly saw Trochu ride out
of the Government building, as it then was, followed by a couple of
aides-de-camp, His appearance was attended by a fresh uproar. The yells of
"La Commune! La Commune!" rose more loudly than ever, but were now
answered by determined shouts of "Vive la Republique! Vive Trochu! Vive le
Gouvernement!" whilst the drums beat, the trumpets sounded, and all the
Government forces presented arms. The general rode up and down the lines,
returning the salute, amidst prolonged acclamations, and presently his
colleagues, Jules Favre and the others--excepting, of course, Gambetta,
who had already left Paris--also came out of the Hotel-de-Ville and
received an enthusiastic greeting from their supporters. For the time, the
Reds were absolutely defeated, and in order to prevent similar
disturbances in future, Keratry, the Prefect of Police, wished to arrest
Flourens, Blanqui, Milliere, and others, which suggestion was countenanced
by Trochu, but opposed by Rochefort and Etienne Arago. A few days later,
Rochefort patched up a brief outward reconciliation between the contending
parties. Nevertheless, it was evident that Paris was already sharply
divided, both on the question of its defence and on that of its internal

On October 23, some of the National Guards were at last allowed to join in
a sortie. They were men from Montmartre, and the action, or rather
skirmish, in which they participated took place at Villemomble, east of
Paris, the guards behaving fairly well under fire, and having five of
their number wounded. Patriotism was now taking another form in the city.
There was a loud cry for cannons, more and more cannons. The Government
replied that 227 mitrailleuses with over 800,000 cartridges, 50 mortars,
400 carriages for siege guns, several of the latter ordnance, and 300
seven-centimetre guns carrying 8600 yards, together with half a million
shells of different sizes, had already been ordered, and in part
delivered. Nevertheless, public subscriptions were started in order to
provide another 1500 cannon, large sums being contributed to the fund by
public bodies and business firms. Not only did the newspapers offer to
collect small subscriptions, but stalls were set up for that purpose in
different parts of Paris, as in the time of the first Revolution, and
people there tendered their contributions, the women often offering
jewelry in lieu of money. Trochu, however, deprecated the movement. There
were already plenty of guns, said he; what he required was gunners to
serve them.

On October 25 we heard of the fall of the little town of Châteaudun in
Eure-et-Loir, after a gallant resistance offered by 1200 National Guards
and Francs-tireurs against 6000 German infantry, a regiment of cavalry,
and four field batteries. Von Wittich, the German general, punished that
resistance by setting fire to Châteaudun and a couple of adjacent
villages, and his men, moreover, massacred a number of non-combatant
civilians. Nevertheless, the courage shown by the people of Châteaudun
revived the hopes of the Parisians and strengthened their resolution to
brave every hardship rather than surrender. Two days later, however, Félix
Pyat's journal _Le Combat_ published, within a mourning border, the
following announcement: "It is a sure and certain fact that the Government
of National Defence retains in its possession a State secret, which we
denounce to an indignant country as high treason. Marshal Bazaine has sent
a colonel to the camp of the King of Prussia to treat for the surrender of
Metz and for Peace in the name of Napoleon III."

The news seemed incredible, and, indeed, at the first moment, very few
people believed it. If it were true, however, Prince Frederick Charles's
forces, released from the siege of Metz, would evidently be able to march
against D'Aurelle de Paladines' army of the Loire just when it was hoped
that the latter would overthrow the Bavarians under Von der Tann and
hasten to the relief of Paris. But people argued that Bazaine was surely
as good a patriot as Bourbaki, who, it was already known, had escaped from
Metz and offered his sword to the National Defence in the provinces. A
number of indignant citizens hastened to the office of _Le Combat_ in
order to seize Pyat and consign him to durance, but he was an adept in the
art of escaping arrest, and contrived to get away by a back door. At the
Hôtel-de-Ville Rochefort, on being interviewed, described Pyat as a cur,
and declared that there was no truth whatever in his story. Public
confidence completely revived on the following morning, when the official
journal formally declared that Metz had not capitulated; and, in the
evening, Paris became quite jubilant at the news that General Carré de
Bellemare, who commanded on the north side of the city, had wrested from
the Germans the position of Le Bourget, lying to the east of Saint Denis.

Pyat, however, though he remained in hiding, clung to his story respecting
Metz, stating in _Le Combat_, on October 29, that the news had been
communicated to him by Gustave Flourens, who had derived it from
Rochefort, by whom it was now impudently denied. It subsequently became
known, moreover, that another member of the Government, Eugène Pelletan,
had confided the same intelligence to Commander Longuet, of the National
Guard. It appears that it had originally been derived from certain members
of the Red Cross Society, who, when it became necessary to bury the dead
and tend the wounded after an encounter in the environs of Paris, often
came in contact with the Germans. The report was, of course, limited to
the statement that Bazaine was negotiating a surrender, not that he had
actually capitulated. The Government's denial of it can only be described
as a quibble--of the kind to which at times even British Governments stoop
when faced by inconvenient questions in the House of Commons--and, as we
shall soon see, the gentlemen of the National Defence spent a _très
mauvais quart d'heure_ as a result of the _suppressio veri_ of which they
were guilty. Similar "bad quarters of an hour" have fallen upon
politicians in other countries, including our own, under somewhat similar

On October 30, Thiers, after travelling all over Europe, pleading his
country's cause at every great Court, arrived in Paris with a safe-conduct
from Bismarck, in order to lay before the Government certain proposals for
an armistice, which Russia, Great Britain, Austria, and Italy were
prepared to support. And alas! he also brought with him the news that Metz
had actually fallen--having capitulated, indeed, on October 27, the very
day on which Pyat had issued his announcement. There was consternation at
the Hôtel-de-Ville when this became known, and the gentlemen of the
Government deeply but vainly regretted the futile tactics to which they
had so foolishly stooped. To make matters worse, we received in the
evening intelligence that the Germans had driven Carré de Bellemare's men
out of Le Bourget after some brief but desperate fighting. Trochu declared
that he had no need of the Bourget position, that it had never entered
into his scheme of defence, and that Bellemare had been unduly zealous in
attacking and taking it from the Germans. If that were the case, however,
why had not the Governor of Paris ordered Le Bourget to be evacuated
immediately after its capture, without waiting for the Germans to re-take
it at the bayonet's point? Under the circumstances, the Parisians were
naturally exasperated. Tumultuous were the scenes on the Boulevards that
evening, and vehement and threatening were the speeches at the clubs.

When the Parisians quitted their homes on the morning of Monday, the 31st,
they found the city placarded with two official notices, one respecting
the arrival of Thiers and the proposals for an armistice, and the second
acknowledging the disaster of Metz. A hurricane of indignation at once
swept through the city. Le Bourget lost! Metz taken! Proposals for an
armistice with the detested Prussians entertained! Could Trochu's plan and
Bazaine's plan be synonymous, then? The one word "Treachery!" was on every
lip. When noon arrived the Place de l'Hôtel-de-Ville was crowded with
indignant people. Deputations, composed chiefly of officers of the
National Guard, interviewed the Government, and were by no means satisfied
with the replies which they received from Jules Ferry and others.
Meantime, the crowd on the square was increasing in numbers. Several
members of the Government attempted to prevail on it to disperse; but no
heed was paid to them.

At last a free corps commanded by Tibaldi, an Italian conspirator of
Imperial days, effected an entrance into the Hotel-de-Ville, followed by a
good many of the mob. In the throne-room they were met by Jules Favre,
whose attempts to address them failed, the shouts of "La Commune! La
Commune!" speedily drowning his voice. Meantime, two shots were fired by
somebody on the square, a window was broken, and the cry of the invaders
became "To arms! to arms! Our brothers are being butchered!" In vain did
Trochu and Rochefort endeavour to stem the tide of invasion. In vain,
also, did the Government, assembled in the council-room, offer to submit
itself to the suffrages of the citizens, to grant the election of
municipal councillors, and to promise that no armistice should be signed
without consulting the population. The mob pressed on through one room
after another, smashing tables, desks, and windows on their way, and all
at once the very apartment where the Government were deliberating was, in
its turn, invaded, several officers of the National Guard, subsequently
prominent at the time of the Commune, heading the intruders and demanding
the election of a Commune and the appointment of a new administration
under the presidency of Dorian, the popular Minister of Public Works.

Amidst the ensuing confusion, M. Ernest Picard, a very corpulent,
jovial-looking advocate, who was at the head of the department of
Finances, contrived to escape; but all his colleagues were surrounded,
insulted by the invaders, and summoned to resign their posts. They refused
to do so, and the wrangle was still at its height when Gustave Flourens
and his Belleville sharpshooters reached the Place de l'Hôtel-de-Ville.
Flourens entered the building, which at this moment was occupied by some
seven or eight thousand men, and proposed that the Commune should be
elected by acclamation. This was agreed upon; Dorian's name--though, by
the way, he was a wealthy ironmaster, and in no sense a Communard--being
put at the head of the list. This included Flourens himself, Victor Hugo,
Louis Blanc, Raspail, Mottu, Delescluze, Blanqui, Ledru-Rollin, Rochefort,
Félix Pyat, Ranvier, and Avrial. Then Flourens, in his turn, entered the
council-room, climbed on to the table, and summoned the captive members of
the Government to resign; Again they refused to do so, and were therefore
placed under arrest. Jules Ferry and Emmanuel Arago managed to escape,
however, and some friendly National Guards succeeded in entering the
building and carrying off General Trochu. Ernest Picard, meanwhile, had
been very active in devising plans for the recapture of the Hôtel-de-Ville
and providing for the safety of various Government departments. Thus, when
Flourens sent a lieutenant to the treasury demanding the immediate payment
of _£600,000(!)_ the request was refused, and the messenger placed under
arrest. Nevertheless, the insurgents made themselves masters of several
district town-halls.

But Jules Ferry was collecting the loyal National Guards together, and at
half-past eleven o'clock that night they and some Mobiles marched on the
Hôtel-de-Ville. The military force which had been left there by the
insurgents was not large. A parley ensued, and while it was still in
progress, an entire battalion of Mobiles effected an entry by a
subterranean passage leading from an adjacent barracks. Delescluze and
Flourens then tried to arrange terms with Dorian, but Jules Ferry would
accept no conditions. The imprisoned members of the Government were
released, and the insurgent leaders compelled to retire. About this time
Trochu and Ducrot arrived on the scene, and between three and four o'clock
in the morning I saw them pass the Government forces in review on the

On the following day, all the alleged conventions between M. Dorian and
the Red Republican leaders were disavowed. There was, however, a conflict
of opinion as to whether those leaders should be arrested or not, some
members of the Government admitting that they had promised Delescluze and
others that they should not be prosecuted. In consequence of this dispute,
several officials, including Edmond Adam, Keratry's successor as Prefect
of Police, resigned their functions. A few days later, twenty-one of the
insurgent leaders were arrested, Pyat being among them, though nothing was
done in regard to Flourens and Blanqui, both of whom had figured
prominently in the affair.

On November 3 we had a plebiscitum, the question put to the Parisians
being: "Does the population of Paris, yes or no, maintain the powers of
the Government of National Defence?" So far as the civilian element--which
included the National Guards--was concerned, the ballot resulted as
follows: Voting "Yes," 321,373 citizens; voting "No," 53,585 citizens. The
vote of the army, inclusive of the Mobile Guard, was even more pronounced:
"Yes," 236,623; "No," 9063, Thus the general result was 557,996 votes in
favour of the Government, and 62,638 against it--the proportion being 9 to
1 for the entire male population of the invested circle. This naturally
rendered the authorities jubilant.

But the affair of October 31 had deplorable consequences with regard to
the armistice negotiations. This explosion of sedition alarmed the German
authorities. They lost confidence in the power of the National Defence to
carry out such terms as might be stipulated, and, finally, Bismarck
refused to allow Paris to be revictualled during the period requisite for
the election of a legislative assembly--which was to have decided the
question of peace or war--unless one fort, and possibly more than one,
were surrendered to him. Thiers and Favre could not accept such a
condition, and thus the negotiations were broken off. Before Thiers
quitted Bismarck, however, the latter significantly told him that the
terms of peace at that juncture would be the cession of Alsace to Germany,
and the payment of three milliards of francs as an indemnity; but that
after the fall of Paris the terms would be the cession of both Alsace and
Lorraine, and a payment of five milliards.

In the earlier days of the siege there was no rationing of provisions,
though the price of meat was fixed by Government decree. At the end of
September, however, the authorities decided to limit the supply to a
maximum of 500 oxen and 4000 sheep per diem. It was decided also that the
butchers' shops should only open on every fourth day, when four days' meat
should be distributed at the official prices. During the earlier period
the daily ration ranged from 80 to 100 grammes, that is, about 2-2/3 oz.
to 3-1/3 oz. in weight, one-fifth part of it being bone in the case of
beef, though, with respect to mutton, the butchers were forbidden to make
up the weight with any bones which did not adhere to the meat. At the
outset of the siege only twenty or thirty horses were slaughtered each
day; but on September 30 the number had risen to 275. A week later there
were nearly thirty shops in Paris where horseflesh was exclusively sold,
and scarcely a day elapsed without an increase in their number. Eventually
horseflesh became virtually the only meat procurable by all classes of the
besieged, but in the earlier period it was patronized chiefly by the
poorer folk, the prices fixed for it by authority being naturally lower
than those edicted for beef and mutton.

With regard to the arrangements made by my father and myself respecting
food, they were, in the earlier days of the siege, very simple. We were
keeping no servant at our flat in the Rue de Miromesnil. The concierge of
the house, and his wife, did all such work as we required. This concierge,
whose name was Saby, had been a Zouave, and had acted as orderly to his
captain in Algeria. He was personally expert in the art of preparing
"couscoussou" and other Algerian dishes, and his wife was a thoroughly
good cook _à la française_. Directly meat was rationed, Saby said to me:
"The allowance is very small; you and Monsieur votre père will be able to
eat a good deal more than that. Now, some of the poorer folk cannot afford
to pay for butchers' meat, they are contented with horseflesh, which is
not yet rationed, and are willing to sell their ration cards. You can well
afford to buy one or two of them, and in that manner secure extra
allowances of beef or mutton."

That plan was adopted, and for a time everything went on satisfactorily.
On a few occasions I joined the queue outside our butcher's in the Rue de
Penthièvre, and waited an hour or two to secure our share of meat, We were
not over-crowded in that part of Paris. A great many members of the
aristocracy and bourgeoisie, who usually dwelt there, had left the city
with their families and servants prior to the investment; and thus the
queues and the waits were not so long as in the poorer and more densely
populated districts. Saby, however, often procured our meat himself or
employed somebody else to do so, for women were heartily glad of the
opportunity to earn half a franc or so by acting as deputy for other

We had secured a small supply of tinned provisions, and would have
increased it if the prices had not gone up by leaps and bounds, in such
wise that a tin of corned beef or something similar, which one saw priced
in the morning at about 5 francs, was labelled 20 francs a few hours
later. Dry beans and peas were still easily procurable, but fresh
vegetables at once became both rare and costly. Potatoes failed us at an
early date. On the other hand, jam and preserved fruit could be readily
obtained at the grocer's at the corner of our street. The bread slowly
deteriorated in quality, but was still very fair down to the date of my
departure from Paris (November 8 [See the following chapter.]). Milk and
butter, however, became rare--the former being reserved for the hospitals,
the ambulances, the mothers of infants, and so forth--whilst one sighed in
vain for a bit of Gruyère, Roquefort, Port-Salut, Brie, or indeed any
other cheese.

Saby, who was a very shrewd fellow, had conceived a brilliant idea before
the siege actually began. The Chateaubriands having quitted the house
and removed their horses from the stables, he took possession of the
latter, purchased some rabbits--several does and a couple of bucks--laid
in a supply of food for them, and resolved to make his fortune by
rabbit-breeding. He did not quite effect his purpose, but rabbits are so
prolific that he was repaid many times over for the trouble which he took
in rearing them. For some time he kept the affair quite secret. More than
once I saw him going in and out of the stables, without guessing the
reason; but one morning, having occasion to speak to him, I followed him
and discovered the truth. He certainly bred several scores of rabbits
during the course of the siege, merely ceasing to do so when he found it
impossible to continue feeding the animals. On two or three occasions
we paid him ten francs or so for a rabbit, and that was certainly
"most-favoured-nation treatment;" for, at the same period, he was charging
twenty and twenty-five francs to other people. Cooks, with whom he
communicated, came to him from mansions both near and far. He sold quite a
number of rabbits to Baron Alphonse de Rothschild's _chef_ at the rate of
£2 apiece, and others to Count Pillet-Will at about the same price, so
that, so far as his pockets were concerned, he in no wise suffered by the
siege of Paris.

We were blessed with an abundance of charcoal for cooking purposes, and of
coals and wood for ordinary fires, having at our disposal not only the
store in our own cellars, but that which the Chateaubriand family had left
behind. The cold weather set in very soon, and firing was speedily in
great demand. Our artist Jules Pelcoq, who lived in the Rue Lepic at
Montmartre, found himself reduced to great straits in this respect,
nothing being procurable at the dealers' excepting virtually green wood
which had been felled a short time previously in the Bois de Boulogne and
Bois de Vincennes. On a couple of occasions Pelcoq and I carried some
coals in bags to his flat, and my father, being anxious for his comfort,
wished to provide him with a larger supply. Saby was therefore
requisitioned to procure a man who would undertake to convey some coals in
a handcart to Montmartre. The man was found, and paid for his services in
advance. But alas! the coals never reached poor Pelcoq. When we next saw
the man who had been engaged, he told us that he had been intercepted on
his way by some National Guards, who had asked him what his load was, and,
on discovering that it consisted of coals, had promptly confiscated them
and the barrow also, dragging the latter to some bivouac on the ramparts.
I have always doubted that story, however, and incline to the opinion that
our improvised porter had simply sold the coals and pocketed the proceeds.

One day, early in November, when our allowance of beef or mutton was
growing small by degrees and beautifully less and infrequent--horseflesh
becoming more and more _en évidence_ at the butchers' shops, [Only 1-1/2
oz. of beef or mutton was now allowed per diem, but in lieu thereof you
could obtain 1/4 lb. of horseflesh.] I had occasion to call on one of our
artists, Blanchard, who lived in the Faubourg Saint Germain. When we had
finished our business he said to me: "Ernest, it is my _fête_ day. I am
going to have a superb dinner. My brother-in-law, who is an official of
the Eastern Railway Line, is giving it in my honour. Come with me;
I invite you." We thereupon went to his brother-in-law's flat, where I was
most cordially received, and before long we sat down at table in a warm
and well-lighted dining-room, the company consisting of two ladies and
three men, myself included.

The soup, I think, had been prepared from horseflesh with the addition of
a little Liebig's extract of meat; but it was followed by a beautiful leg
of mutton, with beans a la Bretonne and--potatoes! I had not tasted a
potato for weeks past, for in vain had the ingenious Saby endeavoured to
procure some. But the crowning triumph of the evening was the appearance
of a huge piece of Gruyère cheese, which at that time was not to be seen
in a single shop in Paris. Even Chevet, that renowned purveyor of
dainties, had declared that he had none.

My surprise in presence of the cheese and the potatoes being evident,
Blanchard's brother-in-law blandly informed me that he had stolen them.
"There is no doubt," said he, "that many tradespeople hold secret stores
of one thing and another, but wish prices to rise still higher than they
are before they produce them. I did not, however, take those potatoes or
that cheese from any shopkeeper's cellar. But, in the store-places of the
railway company to which I belong, there are tons and tons of provisions,
including both cheese and potatoes, for which the consignees never apply,
preferring, as they do, to leave them there until famine prices are
reached. Well, I have helped myself to just a few things, so as to give
Blanchard a good dinner this evening. As for the leg of mutton, I bribed
the butcher--not with money, he might have refused it--but with cheese and
potatoes, and it was fair exchange." When I returned home that evening I
carried in my pockets more than half a pound of Gruyère and two or three
pounds of potatoes, which my father heartily welcomed. The truth about the
provisions which were still stored at some of the railway dépôts was soon
afterwards revealed to the authorities.

Although my father was then only fifty years of age and had plenty of
nervous energy, his health was at least momentarily failing him. He had
led an extremely strenuous life ever since his twentieth year, when my
grandfather's death had cast great responsibilities on him. He had also
suffered from illnesses which required that he should have an ample supply
of nourishing food. So long as a fair amount of ordinary butcher's meat
could be procured, he did not complain; but when it came to eating
horseflesh two or three times a week he could not undertake it, although,
only a year or two previously, he had attended a great _banquet
hippophagique_ given in Paris, and had then even written favourably of
_viande de cheval_ in an article he prepared on the subject. For my own
part, being a mere lad, I had a lad's appetite and stomach, and I did not
find horseflesh so much amiss, particularly as prepared with garlic and
other savouries by Mme. Saby's expert hands. But, after a day or two, my
father refused to touch it. For three days, I remember, he tried to live
on bread, jam, and preserved fruit; but the sweetness of such a diet
became nauseous to him--even as it became nauseous to our soldiers when
the authorities bombarded them with jam in South Africa. It was very
difficult to provide something to my father's taste; there was no poultry
and there were no eggs. It was at this time that Saby sold us a few
rabbits, but, again, _toujours lapin_ was not satisfactory.

People were now beginning to partake of sundry strange things. Bats were
certainly eaten before the siege ended, though by no means in such
quantities as some have asserted. However, there were already places where
dogs and cats, skinned and prepared for cooking, were openly displayed for
sale. Labouchere related, also, that on going one day into a restaurant
and seeing _cochon de lait_, otherwise sucking-pig, mentioned in the menu,
he summoned the waiter and cross-questioned him on the subject, as he
greatly doubted whether there were any sucking-pigs in all Paris. "Is it
sucking-pig?" he asked the waiter. "Yes, monsieur," the man replied.
But Labby was not convinced. "Is it a little pig?" he inquired. "Yes,
monsieur, quite a little one." "Is it a young pig?" pursued Labby, who
was still dubious. The waiter hesitated, and at last replied, "Well, I
cannot be sure, monsieur, if it is quite young." "But it must be young if
it is little, as you say. Come, what is it, tell me?" "Monsieur, it is a
guinea-pig!" Labby bounded from his chair, took his hat, and fled. He did
not feel equal to guinea-pig, although he was very hungry.

Perhaps, however, Labouchere's best story of those days was that of the
old couple who, all other resources failing them, were at last compelled
to sacrifice their little pet dog. It came up to table nicely roasted, and
they both looked at it for a moment with a sigh. Then Monsieur summoned up
his courage and helped Madame to the tender viand. She heaved another
sigh, but, making a virtue of necessity, began to eat, and whilst she was
doing so she every now and then deposited a little bone on the edge of her
plate. There was quite a collection of little bones there by the time she
had finished, and as she leant back in her chair and contemplated them she
suddenly exclaimed: "Poor little Toto! If he had only been alive what a
fine treat he would have had!"

To return, however, to my father and myself, I must mention that there was
a little English tavern and eating-house in the Rue de Miromesnil, kept by
a man named Lark, with whom I had some acquaintance. We occasionally
procured English ale from him, and one day, late in October, when I was
passing his establishment, he said to me: "How is your father? He seems to
be looking poorly. Aren't you going to leave with the others?" I inquired
of Lark what he meant by his last question; whereupon he told me that if I
went to the Embassy I should see a notice in the consular office
respecting the departure of British subjects, arrangements having been
made to enable all who desired to quit Paris to do so. I took the hint and
read the notice, which ran as Lark had stated, with this addendum: "The
Embassy _cannot_, however, charge itself with the expense of assisting
British subjects to leave Paris." Forthwith I returned home and imparted
the information I had obtained to my father.

Beyond setting up that notice in the Consul's office, the Embassy took no
steps to acquaint British subjects generally with the opportunity which
was offered them to escape bombardment and famine. It is true that it was
in touch with the British Charitable Fund and that the latter made the
matter known to sundry applicants for assistance. But the British colony
still numbered 1000 people, hundreds of whom would have availed themselves
of this opportunity had it only come to their knowledge. My father
speedily made up his mind to quit the city, and during the next few days
arrangements were made with our artists and others so that the interests
of the _Illustrated London News_ might in no degree suffer by his absence.
Our system had long been perfected, and everything worked well after our
departure. I may add here, because it will explain something which
follows, that my father distributed all the money he could possibly spare
among those whom he left behind, in such wise that on quitting Paris we
had comparatively little, and--as the sequel showed--insufficient money
with us. But it was thought that we should be able to secure whatever we
might require on arriving at Versailles.



I leave Paris with my Father--Jules Favre, Wodehouse, and Washburne--
Through Charenton to Créteil--At the Outposts--First Glimpses of the
Germans--A Subscription to shoot the King of Prussia--The Road to
Brie-Comte-Robert--Billets for the Night--Chats with German Soldiers--The
Difficulty with the Poorer Refugees--Mr. Wodehouse and my Father--On the
Way to Corbeil--A Franco-German Flirtation--Affairs at Corbeil--On the
Road in the Rain--Longjumeau--A Snow-storm--The Peasant of Champlan--
Arrival at Versailles.

Since Lord Lyons's departure from Paris, the Embassy had remained in
the charge of the second Secretary, Mr. Wodehouse, and the Vice-Consul.
In response to the notice set up in the latter's office, and circulated
also among a tithe of the community by the British Charitable Fund, it was
arranged that sixty or seventy persons should accompany the Secretary and
Vice-Consul out of the city, the military attacheé, Colonel Claremont,
alone remaining there. The provision which the Charitable Fund made for
the poorer folk consisted of a donation of £4 to each person, together
with some three pounds of biscuits and a few ounces of chocolate to munch
on the way. No means of transport, however, were provided for these
people, though it was known that we should have to proceed to
Versailles--where the German headquarters were installed--by a very
circuitous route, and that the railway lines were out.

We were to have left on November 2, at the same time as a number of
Americans, Russians, and others, and it had been arranged that everybody
should meet at an early hour that morning at the Charenton gate on the
south-east side of Paris. On arriving there, however, all the English who
joined the gathering were ordered to turn back, as information had been
received that permission to leave the city was refused them. This caused
no little consternation among the party, but the order naturally had
to be obeyed, and half angrily and half disconsolately many a disappointed
Briton returned to his recent quarters. We afterwards learnt that Jules
Favre, the Foreign Minister, had in the first instance absolutely refused
to listen to the applications of Mr. Wodehouse, possibly because Great
Britain had not recognized the French Republic; though if such were indeed
the reason, it was difficult to understand why the Russians received very
different treatment, as the Czar, like the Queen, had so far abstained
from any official recognition of the National Defence. On the other hand,
Favre may, perhaps, have shared the opinion of Bismarck, who about this
time tersely expressed his opinion of ourselves in the words: "England no
longer counts"--so low, to his thinking, had we fallen in the comity of
nations under our Gladstone _cum_ Granville administration.

Mr. Wodehouse, however, in his unpleasant predicament, sought the
assistance of his colleague, Mr. Washburne, the United States Minister,
and the latter, who possessed more influence in Paris than any other
foreign representative, promptly put his foot down, declaring that he
himself would leave the city if the British subjects were still refused
permission to depart. Favre then ungraciously gave way; but no sooner had
his assent been obtained than it was discovered that the British Foreign
Office had neglected to apply to Bismarck for permission for the English
leaving Paris to pass through the German lines. Thus delay ensued, and it
was only on the morning of November 8 that the English departed at the
same time as a number of Swiss citizens and Austrian subjects.

The Charenton gate was again the appointed meeting-place. On our way
thither, between six and seven o'clock in the morning, we passed many a
long queue waiting outside butchers' shops for pittances of meat, and
outside certain municipal dépôts where after prolonged waiting a few
thimblesful of milk were doled out to those who could prove that they had
young children. Near the Porte de Charenton a considerable detachment of
the National Guard was drawn up as if to impart a kind of solemnity to the
approaching exodus of foreigners. A couple of young staff-officers were
also in attendance, with a mounted trumpeter and another trooper carrying
the usual white flag on a lance.

The better-circumstanced of our party were in vehicles purchased for the
occasion, a few also being mounted on valuable horses, which it was
desired to save from the fate which eventually overtook most of the
animals that remained in Paris. Others were in hired cabs, which were not
allowed, however, to proceed farther than the outposts; while a good many
of the poorer members of the party were in specially engaged omnibuses,
which also had to turn back before we were handed over to a German escort;
the result being that their occupants were left to trudge a good many
miles on foot before other means of transport were procured. In that
respect the Swiss and the Austrians were far better cared-for than the
English. Although the weather was bitterly cold, Mr. Wodehouse, my father,
myself, a couple of Mr. Wodehouse's servants, and a young fellow who had
been connected, I think, with a Paris banking-house, travelled in an open
pair-horse break. The Vice-Consul and his wife, who were also accompanying
us, occupied a small private omnibus.

Before passing out of Paris we were all mustered and our _laisser-passers_
were examined. Those held by British subjects emanated invariably from the
United States Embassy, being duly signed by Mr. Washburne, so that we
quitted the city virtually as American citizens. At last the procession
was formed, the English preceding the Swiss and the Austrians, whilst in
the rear, strangely enough, came several ambulance vans flaunting the red
cross of Geneva. Nobody could account for their presence with us, but as
the Germans were accused of occasionally firing on flags of truce, they
were sent, perhaps, so as to be of service in the event of any mishap
occurring. All being ready, we crossed the massive drawbridge of the Porte
de Charenton, and wound in and out of the covered way which an advanced
redoubt protected. A small detachment of light cavalry then joined us, and
we speedily crossed the devastated track known as the "military zone,"
where every tree had been felled at the moment of the investment.
Immediately afterwards we found ourselves in the narrow winding streets of
Charenton, which had been almost entirely deserted by their inhabitants,
but were crowded with soldiers who stood at doors and windows, watching
our curious caravan. The bridge across the Marne was mined, but still
intact, and defended at the farther end by an entrenched and loopholed
redoubt, faced by some very intricate and artistic chevaux-de-frise. Once
across the river, we wound round to the left, through the village of
Alfort, where all the villas and river-side restaurants had been turned
into military posts; and on looking back we saw the huge Charenton
madhouse surmounting a wooded height and flying a large black flag. At the
outset of the siege it had been suggested that the more harmless inmates
should be released rather than remain exposed to harm from chance German
shells; but the director of the establishment declared that in many
instances insanity intensified patriotic feeling, and that if his patients
were set at liberty they would at least desire to become members of the
Government. So they were suffered to remain in their exposed position.

We went on, skirting the estate of Charentonneau, where the park wall had
been blown down and many of the trees felled. On our right was the fort of
Charenton, armed with big black naval guns. All the garden walls on our
line of route had been razed or loopholed. The road was at times
barricaded with trees, or intersected by trenches, and it was not without
difficulty that we surmounted those impediments. At Petit Créteil we were
astonished to see a number of market-gardeners working as unconcernedly as
in times of peace. It is true that the village was covered by the fire of
the Charenton fort, and that the Germans would have incurred great risk in
making a serious attack on it. Nevertheless, small parties of them
occasionally crept down and exchanged shots with the Mobiles who were
stationed there, having their headquarters at a deserted inn, on reaching
which we made our first halt.

The hired vehicles were now sent back to Paris, and after a brief interval
we went on again, passing through an aperture in a formidable-looking
barricade. We then readied Créteil proper, and there the first serious
traces of the havoc of war were offered to our view. The once pleasant
village was lifeless. Every house had been broken into and plundered,
every door and every window smashed. Smaller articles of furniture, and so
forth, had been removed, larger ones reduced to fragments. An infernal
spirit of destruction had swept through the place; and yet, mark this, we
were still within the French lines.

Our progress along the main street being suddenly checked by another huge
barricade, we wound round to the right, and at last reached a house where
less than a score of Mobiles were gathered, protected from sudden assault
by a flimsy barrier of planks, casks, stools, and broken chairs. This was
the most advanced French outpost in the direction we were following. We
passed it, crossing some open fields where a solitary man was calmly
digging potatoes, risking his life at every turn of his spade, but knowing
that every pound of the precious tuber that he might succeed in taking
into Paris would there fetch perhaps as much as ten francs.

Again we halted, and the trumpeter and the trooper with the white flag
rode on to the farther part of the somewhat scattered village. Suddenly
the trumpet's call rang out through the sharp, frosty air, and then we
again moved on, passing down another village street where several gaunt
starving cats attempted to follow us, with desperate strides and piteous
mews. Before long, we perceived, standing in the middle of the road before
us, a couple of German soldiers in long great-coats and boots reaching to
the shins. One of them was carrying a white flag. A brief conversation
ensued with them, for they both spoke French, and one of them knew English
also. Soon afterwards, from behind a stout barricade which we saw ahead,
three or four of their officers arrived, and somewhat stiff and
ceremonious salutes were exchanged between them and the French officers in
charge of our party.

Our arrival had probably been anticipated. At all events, a big and
very welcome fire of logs and branches was blazing near by, and whilst
one or two officers on either side, together with Colonel Claremont and
some officials of the British Charitable Fund, were attending to the
safe-conducts of her then Majesty's subjects, the other French and German
officers engaged in conversation round the fire I have mentioned. The
latter were probably Saxons; at all events, they belonged to the forces of
the Crown Prince, afterwards King, of Saxony, who commanded this part of
the investing lines, and with whom the principal English war-correspondent
was Archibald Forbes, freshly arrived from the siege of Metz. The recent
fall of that stronghold and the conduct of Marshal Bazaine supplied the
chief subject of the conversation carried on at the Créteil outposts
between the officers of the contending nations. Now and then, too, came a
reference to Sedan and the overthrow of the Bonapartist Empire. The entire
conversation was in French--I doubt, indeed, if our French custodians
could speak German--and the greatest courtesy prevailed; though the French
steadily declined the Hamburg cigars which their adversaries offered them.

I listened awhile to the conversation, but when the safe-conduct for my
father and myself had been examined, I crossed to the other side of the
road in order to scan the expanse of fields lying in that direction. All
at once I saw a German officer, mounted on a powerful-looking horse,
galloping over the rough ground in our direction. He came straight towards
me. He was a well-built, middle-aged man of some rank--possibly a colonel.
Reining in his mount, he addressed me in French, asking several questions.
When, however, I had told him who we were, he continued the conversation
in English and inquired if I had brought any newspapers out of Paris. Now,
we were all pledged not to give any information of value to the enemy, but
I had in my pockets copies of two of the most violent prints then
appearing in the city--that is to say, _La Patrie en Danger_, inspired by
Blanqui, and _Le Combat_, edited by Felix Pyat. The first-named was all
sound and fury, and the second contained a subscription list for a
pecuniary reward and rifle of honour to be presented to the Frenchman who
might fortunately succeed in killing the King of Prussia. As the German
officer was so anxious to ascertain what the popular feeling in Paris
might be, and whether it favoured further resistance, it occurred to me,
in a spirit of devilment as it were, to present him with the aforesaid
journals, for which he expressed his heartfelt thanks, and then galloped

As I never met him again, I cannot say how he took the invectives and the
"murder-subscription." Perhaps it was not quite right of me to foist on
him, as examples of genuine Parisian opinion, two such papers as those I
gave him; but, then, all is fair not merely in love but in war also, and
in regard to the contentions of France and Germany, my sympathies were
entirely on the side of France.

We had not yet been transferred to the German escort which was waiting for
us, when all at once we heard several shots fired from the bank of the
Marne, whereupon a couple of German dragoons galloped off in that
direction. The firing ceased as abruptly as it had begun, and then,
everything being in readiness so far as we were concerned, Colonel
Claremont, the Charitable Fund people, the French officers and cavalry,
and the ambulance waggons retraced their way to Paris, whilst our caravan
went on in the charge of a detachment of German dragoons. Not for long,
however, for the instructions received respecting us were evidently
imperfect. The reader will have noticed that we left Paris on its
southeastern side, although our destination was Versailles, which lies
south-west of the capital, being in that direction only some eleven miles
distant. Further, on quitting Créteil, instead of taking a direct route
to the city of Louis Quatorze, we made, as the reader will presently see,
an immense _détour,_ so that our journey to Versailles lasted three full
days. This occurred because the Germans wished to prevent us from seeing
anything of the nearer lines of investment and the preparations which had
already begun for the bombardment of Paris.

On our departure from Créteil, however, our route was not yet positively
fixed, so we presently halted, and an officer of our escort rode off to
take further instructions, whilst we remained near a German outpost, where
we could not help noticing how healthy-looking, stalwart, and well-clad
the men were. Orders respecting our movements having arrived, we set out
again at a walking pace, perhaps because so many of our party were on
foot. Troops were posted near every side-road that we passed. Officers
constantly cantered up, inquiring for news respecting the position of
affairs in Paris, wishing to know, in particular, if the National Defence
ministers were still prisoners of the populace, and whether there was now
a Red Republic with Blanqui at its head. What astounded them most was to
hear that, although Paris was taking more and more to horseflesh, it was,
as yet, by no means starving, and that, so far as famine might be
concerned, it would be able to continue resisting for some months longer.
In point of fact, this was on November 8, and the city did not surrender
until January 28. But the German officers would not believe what we said
respecting the resources of the besieged; they repeated the same questions
again and again, and still looked incredulous, as if, indeed, they thought
that we were fooling them.

At Boissy-Saint Léger we halted whilst the British, Austrian, and Swiss
representatives interviewed the general in command there. He was installed
in a trim little, château, in front of which was the quaintest sentry-box
I have ever seen, for it was fashioned of planks, logs, and all sorts of
scraps of furniture, whilst beside it lay a doll's perambulator and a
little boy's toy-cart. But we again set out, encountering near Gros-Bois a
long line of heavily-laden German provision-wagons; and presently, without
addressing a word to any of us, the officer of our escort gave a command,
his troopers wheeled round and galloped away, leaving us to ourselves.

By this time evening was approaching, and the vehicles of our party drove
on at a smart trot, leaving the unfortunate pedestrians a long way in the
rear. Nobody seemed to know exactly where we were, but some passing
peasants informed us that we were on the road to Basle, and that the
nearest locality was Brie-Comte-Robert. The horses drawing the conveyances
of the Swiss and Austrian representatives were superior to those harnessed
to Mr. Wodehouse's break, so we were distanced on the road, and on
reaching Brie found that all the accommodation of the two inns--I can
scarcely call them hotels--had been allotted to the first arrivals. Mr.
Wodehouse's party secured a lodging in a superior-looking private house,
whilst my father, myself, and about thirty others repaired to the _mairie_
for billets.

A striking scene met my eyes there. By this time night had fallen. In a
room which was almost bare of furniture, the mayor was seated at a little
table on which two candles were burning. On either side of him stood a
German infantryman with rifle and fixed bayonet. Here and there, too, were
several German hussars, together with ten or a dozen peasants of the
locality. And the unfortunate mayor, in a state of semi-arrest, was
striving to comply with the enemy's requisitions of food, forage, wine,
horses, and vehicles, the peasants meanwhile protesting that they had
already been despoiled of everything, and had nothing whatever left. "So
you want me to be shot?" said the mayor to them, at last. "You know very
well that the things must be found. Go and get them together. Do the best
you can. We will see afterwards."

When--acting as usual as my father's interpreter--I asked the mayor for
billets, he raised his arms to the ceiling. "I have no beds," said he.
"Every bit of available bedding, excepting at the inns, has been
requisitioned for the Prussian ambulances. I might find some straw, and
there are outhouses and empty rooms. But there are so many of you, and I
do not know how I can accommodate you all."

It was not, however, the duty of my father or myself to attend to the
requirements of the whole party. That was the duty rather of the Embassy
officials, so I again pressed the mayor to give me at least a couple of
decent billets. He thought for a moment, then handed me a paper bearing a
name and address, whereupon we, my father and myself, went off. But it was
pitch-dark, and as we could not find the place indicated, we returned to
the _mairie_, where, after no little trouble, a second paper was given me.
By this time the poorer members of the party had been sent to sheds and so
forth, where they found some straw to lie upon. The address on my second
paper was that of a basket-maker, whose house was pointed out to us. We
were very cordially received there, and taken to a room containing a bed
provided with a _sommier élastique_. But there was no mattress, no sheet,
no blanket, no bolster, no pillow--everything of that kind having been
requisitioned for the German ambulances; and I recollect that two or three
hours later, when my father and myself retired to rest in that icy
chamber, the window of which was badly broken, we were glad to lay our
heads on a couple of hard baskets, having left our bags in Mr. Wodehouse's

Before trying to sleep, however, we required food; for during the day we
had consumed every particle of a cold rabbit and some siege-bread which we
had brought out of Paris. The innkeepers proved to be extremely
independent and irritable, and we could obtain very little from them.
Fortunately, we discovered a butcher's, secured some meat from him, and
prevailed on the wife of our host, the basket-maker, to cook it for us. We
then went out again, and found some cafés and wine-shops which were
crowded with German soldiery. Wine and black coffee were obtainable there,
and whilst we refreshed ourselves, more than one German soldier, knowing
either French or English, engaged us in conversation. My own German was at
that time very limited, for I had not taken kindly to the study of the
language, and had secured, moreover, but few opportunities to attempt to
converse in it. However, I well remember some of the German soldiers
declaring that they were heartily sick of the siege, and expressing a hope
that the Parisians would speedily surrender, so that they, the Germans,
might return to the Fatherland in ample time to get their Christmas trees
ready. A good-looking and apparently very genial Uhlan also talked to me
about the Parisian balloons, relating that, directly any ascent was
observed, news of it was telegraphed along all the investing lines, that
every man had orders to fire if the aerial craft came approximately within
range, and that he and his comrades often tried to ride a balloon down.

After a wretched night, we washed at the pump in the basket-maker's yard,
and breakfasted off bread and _café noir_. Milk, by the way, was as scarce
at Brie as in Paris itself, the Germans, it was said, having carried off
all the cows that had previously supplied France with the far-famed Brie
cheese. We now discovered that, in order to reach Versailles, we should
have to proceed in the first instance to Corbeil, some fifteen miles
distant, when we should be within thirty miles of the German headquarters.
That was pleasant news, indeed! We had already made a journey of over
twenty miles, and now another of some five-and-forty miles lay before us.
And yet, had we only been allowed to take the proper route, we should have
reached Versailles after travelling merely eleven miles beyond Paris!

Under the circumstances, the position of the unfortunate pedestrians was a
very unpleasant one, and my father undertook to speak on their behalf to
Mr. Wodehouse, pointing out to him that it was unfair to let these
unfortunate people trudge all the way to Versailles.

"But what am I to do?" Mr. Wodehouse replied. "I am afraid that no
vehicles can be obtained here."

"The German authorities will perhaps help you in the matter," urged my

"I doubt it. But please remember that everybody was warned before leaving
Paris that he would do so at his own risk and peril, and that the Embassy
could not charge itself with the expense."

"That is exactly what surprised me," said my father. "I know that the
Charitable Fund has done something, but I thought that the Embassy would
have done more."

"I had no instructions," replied Mr. Wodehouse.

"But, surely, at such a time as this, a man initiates his own

"Perhaps so; but I had no money."

On hearing this, my father, for a moment, almost lost his temper.
"Surely, Mr. Wodehouse," said he, "you need only have gone to Baron de
Rothschild--he would have let you have whatever money you required."
[I have reconstructed the above dialogue from my diary, which I posted up
on reaching Versailles.]

Mr. Wodehouse looked worried. He was certainly a most amiable man, but he
was not, I think, quite the man for the situation. Moreover, like my
father, he was in very poor health at this time. Still, he realized that
he must try to effect something, and eventually, with the assistance of
the mayor and the German authorities, a few farm-carts were procured for
the accommodation of the poorer British subjects. During the long interval
which had elapsed, however, a good many men had gone off of their own
accord, tired of waiting, and resolving to try their luck in one and
another direction. Thus our procession was a somewhat smaller one when we
at last quitted Brie-Comte-Robert for Corbeil.

We met many German soldiers on our way--at times large detachments of
them--and we scarcely ever covered a mile of ground without being
questioned respecting the state of affairs in Paris and the probable
duration of its resistance, our replies invariably disappointing the
questioners, so anxious were they to see the war come to an end. This was
particularly the case with a young non-commissioned officer who jumped on
the step of Mr. Wodehouse's break, and engaged us in conversation whilst
we continued on our way. Before leaving us he remarked, I remember, that
he would very much like to pay a visit to England; whereupon my father
answered that he would be very much pleased to see him there, provided,
however, that he would come by himself and not with half a million of
armed comrades.

While the German soldiers were numerous, the peasants whom we met on the
road were few and far between. On reaching the little village of
Lieusaint, however, a number of people rushed to the doors of their houses
and gazed at us in bewilderment, for during the past two months the only
strangers they had seen had been German soldiers, and they could not
understand the meaning of our civilian caravan of carriages and carts. At
last we entered Corbeil, and followed the main street towards the old
stone bridge by which we hoped to cross the Seine, but we speedily
discovered that it had been blown up, and that we could only get to the
other side of the river by a pontoon-bridge lower down. This having been
effected, we drove to the principal hotel, intending to put up there for
the night, as it had become evident that we should be unable to reach
Versailles at a reasonable hour.

However, the entire hotel was in the possession of German officers,
several of whom we found flirting with the landlady's good-looking
daughter--who, as she wore a wedding ring, was, I presume, married. I well
recollect that she made some reference to the ladies of Berlin, whereupon
one of the lieutenants who were ogling her, gallantly replied that they
were not half so charming as the ladies of Corbeil. The young woman
appeared to appreciate the compliment, for, on the lieutenant rising to
take leave of her, she graciously gave him her hand, and said to him with
a smile: "Au plaisir de vous revoir, monsieur."

But matters were very different with the old lady, her mother, who,
directly the coast was clear, began to inveigh against the Germans in good
set terms, describing them, I remember, as semi-savages who destroyed
whatever they did not steal. She was particularly irate with them for not
allowing M. Darblay, the wealthy magnate of the grain and flour trade, and
at the same time mayor of Corbeil, to retain a single carriage or a single
horse for his own use. Yet he had already surrendered four carriages and
eight horses to them, and only wished to keep a little gig and a cob.

We obtained a meal at the hotel, but found it impossible to secure a bed
there, so we sallied forth into the town on an exploring expedition. On
all sides we observed notices indicating the rate of exchange of French
and German money, and the place seemed to be full of tobacconists' shops,
which were invariably occupied by German Jews trading in Hamburg cigars.
On inquiring at a café respecting accommodation, we were told that we
should only obtain it with difficulty, as the town was full of troops,
including more than a thousand sick and wounded, fifteen or twenty of whom
died every day. At last we crossed the river again, and found quarters at
an inferior hotel, the top-floor of which had been badly damaged by some
falling blocks of stone at the time when the French blew up the town
bridge. However, our beds were fairly comfortable, and we had a good
night's rest.

Black coffee was again the only available beverage in the morning. No milk
was to be had, nor was there even a scrap of sugar. In these respects
Corbeil was even worse off than Paris. The weather had now changed, and
rain was falling steadily. We plainly had a nasty day before us.
Nevertheless, another set of carts was obtained for the poorer folk of our
party, on mustering which one man was found to be missing. He had fallen
ill, we were told, and could not continue the journey. Presently,
moreover, the case was discovered to be one of smallpox, which disease had
lately broken out in Paris. Leaving the sufferer to be treated at the
already crowded local hospital, we set out, and, on emerging from the
town, passed a drove of a couple of hundred oxen, and some three hundred
sheep, in the charge of German soldiers. We had scarcely journeyed another
mile when, near Essonnes, noted for its paper-mills, one of our carts
broke down, which was scarcely surprising, the country being hilly, the
roads heavy, and the horses spavined. Again, the rain was now pouring in
torrents, to the very great discomfort of the occupants of the carts, as
well as that of Mr. Wodehouse's party in the break. But there was no help
for it, and so on we drove mile after mile, until we were at last
absolutely soaked.

The rain had turned to sleet by the time we reached Longjumeau, famous for
its handsome and amorous postilion. Two-thirds of the shops there were
closed, and the inns were crowded with German soldiers, so we drove on in
the direction of Palaiseau. But we had covered only about half the
distance when a snow-storm overtook us, and we had to seek shelter at
Champlan. A German officer there assisted in placing our vehicles under
cover, but the few peasants whom we saw eyeing us inquisitively from the
doors of their houses declared that the only thing they could let us have
to eat was dry bread, there being no meat, no eggs, no butter, no cheese,
in the whole village. Further, they averred that they had not even a pint
of wine to place at our disposal. "The Germans have taken everything,"
they said; "we have 800 of them in and around the village, and there are
not more than a dozen of us left here, all the rest having fled to Paris
when the siege began."

The outlook seemed bad, but Mr. Wodehouse's valet, a shrewd and energetic
man of thirty or thereabouts, named Frost, said to me, "I don't believe
all this. I dare say that if some money is produced we shall be able to
get something." Accordingly we jointly tackled a disconsolate-looking
fellow, who, if I remember rightly, was either the village wheelwright or
blacksmith; and, momentarily leaving the question of food on one side, we
asked him if he had not at least a fire in his house at which we might
warm ourselves. Our party included a lady, the Vice-Consul's wife, and
although she was making the journey in a closed private omnibus, she was
suffering from the cold. This was explained to the man whom we addressed,
and when he had satisfied himself that we were not Germans in disguise, he
told us that we might come into his house and warm ourselves until the
storm abated. Some nine or ten of us, including the lady I have mentioned,
availed ourselves of this permission, and the man led us upstairs to a
first-floor room, where a big wood-fire was blazing. Before it sat his
wife and his daughter, both of them good specimens of French rustic
beauty. With great good-nature, they at once made room for us, and added
more fuel to the fire.

Half the battle was won, and presently we were regaled with all that they
could offer us in the way of food--that is, bread and baked pears, which
proved very acceptable. Eventually, after looking out of the window in
order to make quite sure that no Germans were loitering near the house,
our host locked the door of the room, and turning towards a big pile of
straw, fire-wood, and household utensils, proceeded to demolish it, until
he disclosed to view a small cask--a half hogshead, I think--which, said
he, in a whisper, contained wine. It was all that he had been able to
secrete. On the arrival of the enemy in the district a party of officers
had come to his house and ordered their men to remove the rest of his
wine, together with nearly all his bedding, and every fowl and every pig
that he possessed. "They have done the same all over the district," the
man added, "and you should see some of the châteaux--they have been
absolutely stripped of their contents."

His face brightened when we told him that Paris seemed resolved on no
surrender, and that, according to official reports, she would have a
sufficiency of bread to continue resisting until the ensuing month of
February. In common with most of his countrymen, our host of Champlan held
that, whatever else might happen, the honour of the nation would at least
be saved if the Germans could only be kept out of Paris; and thus he was
right glad to hear that the city's defence would be prolonged.

He was well remunerated for his hospitality, and on the weather slightly
improving we resumed our journey to Versailles, following the main road by
way of Palaiseau and Jouy-en-Josas, and urging the horses to their
quickest pace whilst the light declined and the evening shadows gathered
around us.



War-correspondents at Versailles--Dr. Russell--Lord Adare--David Dunglas
Home and his Extraordinary Career--His _Séances_ at Versallies--An Amusing
Interview with Colonel Beauchamp Walker--Parliament's Grant for British
Refugees--Generals Duff and Hazen, U.S.A.--American Help--Glimpses of
King William and Bismarck--Our Safe-Conducts--From Versailles to Saint
Germain-en-Laye--Trouble at Mantes--The German Devil of Destructiveness--
From the German to the French Lines--A Train at Last--Through Normandy and
Maine--Saint Servan and its English Colony--I resolve to go to the Front.

It was dark when we at last entered Versailles by the Avenue de Choisy. We
saw some sentries, but they did not challenge us, and we went on until we
struck the Avenue de Paris, where we passed the Prefecture, every one of
whose windows was a blaze of light. King, later Emperor, William had his
quarters there; Bismarck, however, residing at a house in the Rue de
Provence belonging to the French General de Jessé. Winding round the Place
d'Armes, we noticed that one wing of Louis XIV's famous palace had its
windows lighted, being appropriated to hospital purposes, and that four
batteries of artillery were drawn up on the square, perhaps as a hint to
the Versaillese to be on their best behaviour. However, we drove on, and a
few moments later we pulled up outside the famous Hôtel des Réservoirs.

There was no possibility of obtaining accommodation there. From its
ground-floor to its garrets the hotel was packed with German princes,
dukes, dukelets, and their suites, together with a certain number of
English, American, and other war-correspondents. Close by, however--
indeed, if I remember rightly, on the other side of the way--there was a
café, whither my father and myself directed our steps. We found it crowded
with officers and newspaper men, and through one or other of the latter we
succeeded in obtaining comfortable lodgings in a private house. The
_Illustrated London News_ artist with the German staff was Landells, son
of the engraver of that name, and we speedily discovered his whereabouts.
He was sharing rooms with Hilary Skinner, the _Daily News_ representative
at Versailles; and they both gave us a cordial greeting.

The chief correspondent at the German headquarters was William Howard
Russell of the _Times_, respecting whom--perhaps because he kept himself
somewhat aloof from his colleagues--a variety of scarcely good-natured
stories were related; mostly designed to show that he somewhat
over-estimated his own importance. One yarn was to the effect that
whenever the Doctor mounted his horse, it was customary for the Crown
Prince of Prussia--afterwards the Emperor Frederick--to hold his stirrup
leather for him. Personally, I can only say that, on my father calling
with me on Russell, he received us very cordially indeed (he had
previously met my father, and had well known my uncle Frank), and that
when we quitted Versailles, as I shall presently relate, he placed his
courier and his private omnibus at our disposal, in after years one of my
cousins, the late Montague Vizetelly, accompanied Russell to South
America. I still have some letters which the latter wrote me respecting
Zola's novel "La Débâcle," in which he took a great interest.

Another war-correspondent at Versailles was the present Earl of Dunraven,
then not quite thirty years of age, and known by the courtesy title of
Lord Adare. He had previously acted as the _Daily Telegraph's_
representative with Napier's expedition against Theodore of Abyssinia, and
was now staying at Versailles, on behalf, I think, of the same journal.
His rooms at the Hôtel des Réservoirs were shared by Daniel Dunglas Home,
the medium, with whom my father and myself speedily became acquainted.
Very tall and slim, with blue eyes and an abundance of yellowish hair,
Home, at this time about thirty-seven years of age, came of the old stock
of the Earls of Home, whose name figures so often in Scottish history. His
father was an illegitimate son of the tenth earl, and his mother belonged
to a family which claimed to possess the gift of "second sight." Home
himself--according to his own account--began to see visions and receive
mysterious warnings at the period of his mother's death, and as time
elapsed his many visitations from the other world so greatly upset the
aunt with whom he was living--a Mrs. McNeill Cook of Greeneville,
Connecticut [He had been taken from Scotland to America when he was about
nine years old.]--that she ended by turning him out-of-doors. Other
people, however, took an unhealthy delight in seeing their furniture
move about without human agency, and in receiving more or less ridiculous
messages from spirit-land; and in folk of this description Home found some
useful friends.

He came to London in the spring of 1855, and on giving a _séance_ at Cox's
Hotel, in Jermyn Street, he contrived to deceive Sir David Brewster (then
seventy-four years old), but was less successful with another
septuagenarian, Lord Brougham. Later, he captured the imaginative Sir
Edward Bulwer (subsequently Lord Lytton), who as author of "Zanoni" was
perhaps fated to believe in him, and he also impressed Mrs. Browning, but
not Browning himself The latter, indeed, depicted Home as "Sludge, the
Medium." Going to Italy for a time, the already notorious adventurer gave
_séances_ in a haunted villa near Florence, but on becoming converted to
the Catholic faith in 1856 he was received in private audience by that
handsome, urbane, but by no means satisfactory pontiff, Pio Nono, who,
however, eight years later caused him to be summarily expelled from Rome
as a sorcerer in league with the Devil.

Meantime, Home had ingratiated himself with a number of crowned heads--
Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie, in whose presence he gave _séances_
at the Tuileries, Fontainebleau, and Biarritz; the King of Prussia, by
whom he was received at Baden-Baden; and Queen Sophia of Holland, who gave
him hospitality at the Hague. On marrying a Russian lady, the daughter of
General Count de Kroll, he was favoured with presents by the Czar
Alexander II, and after returning to England became one of the
"attractions" of Milner-Gibson's drawing-room--Mrs. Gibson, a daughter of
the Rev. Sir Thomas Gery Cullum, being one of the early English
patronesses of so-called spiritualism, to a faith in which she was
"converted" by Home, whom she first met whilst travelling on the
Continent. I remember hearing no little talk about him in my younger days.
Thackeray's friend, Robert Bell, wrote an article about him in _The
Cornhill_, which was the subject of considerable discussion. Bell, I
think, was also mixed up in the affair of the "Davenport Brothers," one of
whose performances I remember witnessing. They were afterwards effectively
shown up in Paris by Vicomte Alfred de Caston. Home, for his part, was
scarcely taken seriously by the Parisians, and when, at a _séance_ given
in presence of the Empress Eugénie, he blundered grossly and repeatedly
about her father, the Count of Montijo, he received an intimation that his
presence at Court could be dispensed with. He then consoled himself by
going to Peterhof and exhibiting his powers to the Czar.

Certain Scotch and English scientists, such as Dr. Lockhart Robertson, Dr.
Robert Chambers, and Dr. James Manby Gully--the apostle of hydropathy, who
came to grief in the notorious Bravo case--warmly supported Home. So did
Samuel Carter Hall and his wife, William Howitt, and Gerald Massey; and he
ended by establishing a so-called "Spiritual Athenaeum" in Sloane Street.
A wealthy widow of advanced years, a Mrs. Jane Lyon, became a subscriber
to that institution, and, growing infatuated with Home, made him a present
of some £30,000, and settled on him a similar amount to be paid at her
death. But after a year or two she repented of her infatuation, and took
legal proceedings to recover her money. She failed to substantiate some of
her charges, but Vice-Chancellor Giffard, who heard the case, decided it
in her favour, in his judgment describing Home as a needy and designing
man. Home, I should add, was at this time a widower and at loggerheads
with his late wife's relations in Russia, in respect to her property.

Among the arts ascribed to Home was that called levitation, in practising
which he was raised in the air by an unseen and unknown force, and
remained suspended there; this being, so to say, the first step towards
human flying without the assistance of any biplane, monoplane, or other
mechanical contrivance. The first occasion on which Home is said to have
displayed this power was in the late fifties, when he was at a château
near Bordeaux as the guest of the widow of Théodore Ducos, the nephew of
Bonaparte's colleague in the Consulate. In the works put forward on Home's
behalf--one of them, called "Incidents in my Life," was chiefly written,
it appears, by his friend and solicitor, a Mr. W.M. Wilkinson--it is also
asserted that his power of levitation was attested in later years by Lord
Lindsay, subsequently Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, and by the present
Earl of Dunraven. We are told, indeed, that on one occasion the last-named
actually saw Home float out of a room by one window, and into it again by
another one. I do not know whether Home also favoured Professor Crookes
with any exhibition of this kind, but the latter certainly expressed an
opinion that some of Home's feats were genuine.

When my father and I first met him at Versailles he was constantly in the
company of Lord Adare. He claimed to be acting as the correspondent of a
Californian journal, but his chief occupation appeared to be the giving of
_séances_ for the entertainment of all the German princes and princelets
staying at the Hôtel des Réservoirs. Most of these highnesses and
mightinesses formed part of what the Germans themselves sarcastically
called their "Ornamental Staff," and as Moltke seldom allowed them any
real share in the military operations, they doubtless found in Home's
performances some relief from the _taedium vitae_ which overtook them
during their long wait for the capitulation of Paris. Now that Metz had
fallen, that was the chief question which occupied the minds of all the
Germans assembled at Versailles, [Note] and Home was called upon to
foretell when it would take place. On certain occasions, I believe, he
evoked the spirits of Frederick the Great, Napoleon, Blücher, and others,
in order to obtain from them an accurate forecast. At another time he
endeavoured to peer into the future by means of crystal-gazing, in which
he required the help of a little child. "My experiments have not
succeeded," he said one day, while we were sitting with him at the café
near the Hôtel des Réservoirs; "but that is not my fault. I need an
absolutely pure-minded child, and can find none here, for this French race
is corrupt from its very infancy." He was fasting at this time, taking
apparently nothing but a little _eau sucrée_ for several days at a
stretch. "The spirits will not move me unless I do this," he said. "To
bring them to me, I have to contend against the material part of my

[Note: The Germans regarded it as the more urgent at the time of my
arrival at Versailles, as only a few data previously (November 9), the new
French Army of the Loire under D'Aurelle de Paladines had defeated the
Bavarians at Coulmiers, and thereby again secured possession of Orleans.]

A couple of years later, after another visit to St. Petersburg, where,
it seems, he was again well received by the Czar and again married a lady
of the Russian nobility, Home's health began to fail him, perhaps on
account of the semi-starvation to which at intervals he subjected himself.
I saw him occasionally during his last years, when, living at Auteuil, he
was almost a neighbour of mine. He died there in 1886, being then about
fifty-three years old. Personally, I never placed faith in him. I regarded
him at the outset with great curiosity, but some time before the war
I had read a good deal about Cagliostro, Saint Germain, Mesmer, and
other charlatans, also attending a lecture about them at the Salle des
Conferences; and all that, combined with the exposure of the Davenport
Brothers and other spiritualists and illusionists, helped to prejudice me
against such a man as Home. At the same time, this so-called "wizard of
the nineteenth century" was certainly a curious personality, possessed, I
presume, of considerable suggestive powers, which at times enabled him to
make others believe as he desired. We ought to have had Charcot's opinion
of his case.

As it had taken my father and myself three days to reach Versailles from
Paris, and we could not tell what other unpleasant experiences the future
might hold in store for us, our pecuniary position gave rise to some
concern. I mentioned previously that we quitted the capital with
comparatively little money, and it now seemed as if our journey might
become a long and somewhat costly affair, particularly as the German staff
wished to send us off through Northern France and thence by way of
Belgium. On consulting Landells, Skinner, and some other correspondents,
it appeared that several days might elapse before we could obtain
remittances from England. On the other hand, every correspondent clung to
such money as he had in his possession, for living was very expensive at
Versailles, and at any moment some emergency might arise necessitating an
unexpected outlay. It was suggested, however, that we should apply to
Colonel Beauchamp Walker, who was the official British representative with
the German headquarters' staff, for, we were told, Parliament, in its
generosity, had voted a sum of £4000 to assist any needy British subjects
who might come out of Paris, and Colonel Walker had the handling of the
money in question.

Naturally enough, my father began by demurring to this suggestion, saying
that he could not apply _in formâ pauperis_ for charity. But it was
pointed out that he need do no such thing. "Go to Walker," it was said,
"explain your difficulty, and offer him a note of hand or a draft on the
_Illustrated_, and if desired half a dozen of us will back it." Some such
plan having been decided on, we called upon Colonel Walker on the second
or third day of our stay at Versailles.

His full name was Charles Pyndar Beauchamp Walker. Born in 1817, he had
seen no little service. He had acted as an _aide-de-camp_ to Lord Lucan in
the Crimea, afterwards becoming Lieutenant-Colonel of the 2nd Dragoon
Guards. He was in India during the final operations for the suppression of
the Mutiny, and subsequently in China during the Franco-British expedition
to that country. During the Austro-Prussian war of 1866 he was attached as
British Commissioner to the forces of the Crown Prince of Prussia, and
witnessed the battle of Königgratz. He served in the same capacity during
the Franco-German War, when he was at Weissenburg, Wörth, and Sedan. In
later years he became a major-general, a lieutenant-general, a K.C.B., and
Colonel of the 2nd Dragoon Guards; and from 1878 until his retirement in
1884 he acted as Inspector General of military education. I have set out
those facts because I have no desire to minimise Walker's services and
abilities. But I cannot help smiling at a sentence which I found in the
account of him given in the "Dictionary of National Biography." It refers
to his duties during the Franco-German War, and runs as follows: "The
irritation of the Germans against England, and the number of roving
Englishmen, made his duty not an easy one, but he was well qualified for
it by his tact and geniality, and his action met with the full approval of
the Government."

The Government in question would have approved anything. But let that
pass. We called on the colonel at about half-past eleven in the morning,
and were shown into a large and comfortably furnished room, where
decanters and cigars were prominently displayed on a central table. In ten
minutes' time the colonel appeared, arrayed in a beautiful figured
dressing-gown with a tasselled girdle. I knew that the British officer was
fond of discarding his uniform, and I was well aware that French officers
also did so when on furlough in Paris, but it gave my young mind quite a
shock to see her Majesty's military representative with King William
arrayed in a gaudy dressing-gown in the middle of the day. He seated
himself, and querulously inquired of my father what his business was. It
was told him very briefly. He frowned, hummed, hawed, threw himself back
in his armchair, and curtly exclaimed, "I am not a money-lender!"

The fact that the _Illustrated London News_ was the world's premier
journal of its class went for nothing. The offers of the other
correspondents of the English Press to back my father's signature were
dismissed with disdain. When the colonel was reminded that he held a
considerable amount of money voted by Parliament, he retorted: "That is
for necessitous persons! But you ask me to _lend_ you money!" "Quite so,"
my father replied; "I do not wish to be a charge on the Treasury. I simply
want a loan, as I have a difficult and perhaps an expensive journey before
me." "How much do you want?" snapped the colonel. "Well," said my father,
"I should feel more comfortable if I had a thousand francs (£40) in my
pocket." "Forty pounds!" cried Colonel Walker, as if lost in amazement.
And getting up from his chair he went on, in the most theatrical manner
possible: "Why, do you know, sir, that if I were to let you have forty
pounds, I might find myself in the greatest possible difficulty.
To-morrow--perhaps, even to-night--there might be hundreds of our
suffering fellow-countrymen outside the gates of Versailles, and I unable
to relieve them!" "But," said my father quietly, "you would still be
holding £3960, Colonel Walker." The colonel glared, and my father, not
caring to prolong such an interview, walked out of the room, followed by

A good many of the poorer people who quitted Paris with us never repaired
to Versailles at all, but left us at Corbeil or elsewhere to make their
way across France as best they could. Another party, about one hundred
strong, was, however, subsequently sent out of the capital with the
assistance of Mr. Washburne, and in their case Colonel Walker had to
expend some money. But every grant was a very niggardly one, and it would
not surprise me to learn that the bulk of the money voted by Parliament
was ultimately returned to the Treasury--which circumstance would probably
account for the "full approval" which the Government bestowed on the
colonel's conduct at this period. He died early in 1894, and soon
afterwards some of his correspondence was published in a volume entitled
"Days of a Soldier's Life." On reading a review of that work in one of the
leading literary journals, I was struck by a passage in which Walker was
described as a disappointed and embittered man, who always felt that his
merits were not sufficiently recognized, although he was given a
knighthood and retired with the honorary rank of general. I presume
that his ambition was at least a viscounty, if not an earldom, and a
field-marshal's _bâton_.

On leaving the gentleman whose "tact and geniality" are commemorated in
the "Dictionary of National Biography," we repaired--my father and I--to
the café where most of the English newspaper men met. Several were there,
and my father was at once assailed with inquiries respecting his interview
with Colonel Walker. His account of it led to some laughter and a variety
of comments, which would scarcely have improved the colonel's temper. I
remember, however, that Captain, afterwards Colonel Sir, Henry Hozier, the
author of "The Seven Weeks' War," smiled quietly, but otherwise kept his
own counsel. At last my father was asked what he intended to do under the
circumstances, and he replied that he meant to communicate with England as
speedily as possible, and remain in the interval at Versailles, although
he particularly wished to get away.

Now, it happened that among the customers at the café there were two
American officers, one being Brigadier-General Duff, a brother of Andrew
Halliday, the dramatic author and essayist, whose real patronymic was also
Duff. My father knew Halliday through their mutual friends Henry Mayhew
and the Broughs. The other American officer was Major-General William
Babcook Hazen, whose name will be found occasionally mentioned in that
popular record of President Garfield's career, "From Log Cabin to White
House." During the Civil War in the United States he had commanded a
division in Sherman's march to the sea. He also introduced the cold-wave
signal system into the American army, and in 1870-71 he was following the
operations of the Germans on behalf of his Government.

I do not remember whether General Duff (who, I have been told, is still
alive) was also at Versailles in an official capacity, but in the course
of conversation he heard of my father's interview with Colonel Walker, and
spoke to General Hazen on the subject. Hazen did not hesitate, but came to
my father, had a brief chat with him, unbuttoned his uniform, produced a
case containing bank-notes, and asked my father how much he wanted,
telling him not to pinch himself. The whole transaction was completed in a
few minutes. My father was unwilling to take quite as much as he had asked
of Colonel Walker, but General Hazen handed him some £20 or £30 in notes,
one or two of which were afterwards changed, for a handsome consideration,
by one of the German Jews who then infested Versailles and profited by the
scarcity of gold. We were indebted, then, on two occasions to the
representatives of the United States. The _laisser-passer_ enabling us to
leave Paris had been supplied by Mr. Washburne, and the means of
continuing our journey in comfort were furnished by General Hazen. I raise
my hat to the memory of both those gentlemen.

During the few days that we remained at Versailles, we caught glimpses of
King William and Bismarck, both of whom we had previously seen in Paris in
1867, when they were the guests of Napoleon III. I find in my diary a
memorandum, dictated perhaps by my father: "Bismarck much fatter and
bloated." We saw him one day leaving the Prefecture, where the King had
his quarters. He stood for a moment outside, chatting and laughing noisily
with some other German personages, then strode away with a companion. He
was only fifty-five years old, and was full of vigour at that time, even
though he might have put on flesh during recent years, and therefore have
renounced dancing--his last partner in the waltz having been Mme. Carette,
the Empress Eugénie's reader, whom he led out at one of the '67 balls at
the Tuileries. Very hale and hearty, too, looked the King whom Bismarck
was about to turn into an Emperor. Yet the victor of Sedan was already
seventy-three years old. I only saw him on horseback during my stay at
Versailles. My recollections of him, Bismarck, and Moltke, belong more
particularly to the year 1872, when I was in Berlin in connexion with the
famous meeting of the three Emperors.

My father and myself had kept in touch with Mr. Wodehouse, from whom we
learnt that we should have to apply to the German General commanding
at Versailles with respect to any further safe-conducts. At first we were
informed that there could be no departure from the plan of sending us out
of France by way of Epernay, Reims, and Sedan, and this by no means
coincided with the desires of most of the Englishmen who had come out of
Paris, they wishing to proceed westward, and secure a passage across the
Channel from Le Hâvre or Dieppe. My father and myself also wanted to go
westward, but in order to make our way into Brittany, my stepmother and
her children being at Saint Servan, near Saint Malo. At last the German
authorities decided to give us the alternative routes of Mantes and Dreux,
the first-named being the preferable one for those people who were bound
for England. It was chosen also by my father, as the Dreux route would
have led us into a region where hostilities were in progress, and where we
might suddenly have found ourselves "held up."

The entire party of British refugees was now limited to fifteen or sixteen
persons, some, tired of waiting, having taken themselves off by the Sedan
route, whilst a few others--such as coachmen and grooms--on securing
employment from German princes and generals, resolved to stay at
Versailles. Mr. Wodehouse also remained there for a short time. Previously
in poor health, he had further contracted a chill during our three days'
drive in an open vehicle. As most of those who were going on to England at
once now found themselves almost insolvent, it was arranged to pay their
expenses through the German lines, and to give each of them a sum of fifty
shillings, so that they might make their way Channelwards when they had
reached an uninvaded part of France. Colonel Walker, of course, parted
with as little money as possible.

At Versailles it was absolutely impossible to hire vehicles to take us as
far as Mantes, but we were assured that conveyances might be procured at
Saint Germain-en-Laye; and it was thus that Dr. Russell lent my father his
little omnibus for the journey to the last-named town, at the same time
sending his courier to assist in making further arrangements. I do not
recollect that courier's nationality, but he spoke English, French, and
German, and his services were extremely useful. We drove to Saint Germain
by way of Rocquencourt, where we found a number of country-folk gathered
by the roadside with little stalls, at which they sold wine and fruit to
the German soldiers. This part of the environs of Paris seemed to have
suffered less than the eastern and southern districts. So far, there had
been only one sortie on this side--that made by Ducrot in the direction of
La Malmaison. It had, however, momentarily alarmed the investing forces,
and whilst we were at Versailles I learnt that, on the day in question,
everything had been got ready for King William's removal to Saint Germain
in the event of the French achieving a real success. But it proved to be a
small affair, Ducrot's force being altogether incommensurate with the
effort required of it.

At Saint Germain, Dr. Russell's courier assisted in obtaining conveyances
for the whole of our party, and we were soon rolling away in the direction
of Mantes-la-Jolie, famous as the town where William the Conqueror, whilst
bent on pillage and destruction, received the injuries which caused his
death. Here we had to report ourselves to the German Commander, who, to
the general consternation, began by refusing its permission to proceed. He
did so because most of the safe-conducts delivered to us at Versailles,
had, in the first instance, only stated that we were to travel by way of
Sedan; the words "or Mantes or Dreux" being afterwards added between the
lines. That interlineation was irregular, said the General at Mantes; it
might even be a forgery; at all events, he could not recognize it, so we
must go back whence we had come, and quickly, too--indeed, he gave us just
half an hour to quit the town! But it fortunately happened that in a few
of the safe-conducts there was no interlineation whatever, the words
"Sedan or Mantes or Dreux" being duly set down in the body of the
document, and on this being pointed out, the General came to the
conclusion that we were not trying to impose on him. He thereupon
cancelled his previous order, and decided that, as dusk was already
falling, we might remain at Mantes that night, and resume our journey on
the morrow at 5.45 a.m., in the charge of a cavalry escort.

Having secured a couple of beds, and ordered some dinner at one of the
inns, my father and I strolled about the town, which was full of Uhlans
and Hussars. The old stone bridge across the Seine had been blown up by
the French before their evacuation of the town, and a part of the railway
line had also been destroyed by them. But the Germans were responsible for
the awful appearance of the railway-station. Never since have I seen
anything resembling it. A thousand panes of glass belonging to windows or
roofing had been shivered to atoms. Every mirror in either waiting or
refreshment-rooms had been pounded to pieces; every gilt frame broken into
little bits. The clocks lay about in small fragments; account-books and
printed forms had been torn to scraps; partitions, chairs, tables,
benches, boxes, nests of drawers, had been hacked, split, broken, reduced
to mere strips of wood. The large stoves were overturned and broken, and
the marble refreshment counter--some thirty feet long, and previously one
of the features of the station--now strewed the floor in particles,
suggesting gravel. It was, indeed, an amazing sight, the more amazing as
no such work of destruction could have been accomplished without extreme
labour. When we returned to the inn for dinner, I asked some questions.
"Who did it?" "The first German troops that came here," was the answer.
"Why did they do it?--was it because your men had cut the telegraph wires
and destroyed some of the permanent way?" "Oh no! They expected to find
something to drink in the refreshment-room, and when they discovered that
everything had been taken away, they set about breaking the fixtures!"
Dear, nice, placid German soldiers, baulked, for a few minutes, of some of
the wine of France!

In the morning we left Mantes by moonlight at the appointed hour,
unaccompanied, however, by any escort. Either the Commandant had forgotten
the matter, or his men had overslept themselves. In the outskirts, we were
stopped by a sentry, who carried our pass to a guard-house, where a
noncommissioned officer inspected it by the light of a lantern. Then on we
went again for another furlong or so, when we were once more challenged,
this time by the German advanced-post. As we resumed our journey, we
perceived, in the rear, a small party of Hussars, who did not follow us,
but wheeled suddenly to the left, bent, no doubt, on some reconnoitering
expedition. We were now beyond the German lines, and the dawn was
breaking. Yonder was the Seine, with several islands lying on its bosom,
and some wooded heights rising beyond it. Drawing nearer to the river, we
passed through the village of Rolleboise, which gives its name to the
chief tunnel on the Western Line, and drove across the debatable ground
where French Francstireurs were constantly on the prowl for venturesome
Uhlans. At last we got to Bonnières, a little place of some seven or eight
hundred inhabitants, on the limits of Seine-et-Oise; and there we had to
alight, for the vehicles, which had brought us from Saint Germain, could
proceed no further.

Fortunately, we secured others, and went on towards the village of
Jeufosse, where the nearest French outposts were established. We were
displaying the white flag, but the first French sentries we met, young
fellows of the Mobile Guard, refused for a little while to let us pass.
Eventually they referred the matter to an officer, who, on discovering
that we were English and had come from Paris, began to chat with us in a
very friendly manner, asking all the usual questions about the state of
affairs in the capital, and expressing the usual satisfaction that the
city could still hold out. When we took leave, he cordially wished us _bon
voyage_, and on we hastened, still following the course of the Seine, to
the little town of Vernon. Its inquisitive inhabitants at once surrounded
us, eager to know who we were, whence we had come, and whither we were
going. But we did not tarry many minutes, for we suddenly learnt that the
railway communication with Rouen only began at Gaillon, several leagues
further on, and that there was only one train a day. The question which
immediately arose was--could we catch it?

On we went, then, once more, this time up, over, and down a succession of
steep hills, until at last we reached Gaillon station, and found to our
delight that the train would not start for another twenty minutes. All our
companions took tickets for Rouen, whence they intended to proceed to
Dieppe or Le Hâvre. But my father and I branched off before reaching the
Norman capital, and, after, arriving at Elbeuf, travelled through the
departments of the Eure and the Orne, passing Alençon on our way to Le
Mans. On two or three occasions we had to change from one train to
another. The travelling was extremely slow, and there were innumerable
stoppages. The lines were constantly encumbered with vans laden with
military supplies, and the stations were full of troops going in one and
another direction. In the waiting-rooms one found crowds of officers lying
on the couches, the chairs, and the tables, and striving to snatch a few
hours' sleep; whilst all over the floors and the platforms soldiers had
stretched themselves for the same purpose. Very seldom could any food be
obtained, but I luckily secured a loaf, some cheese, and a bottle of wine
at Alençon. It must have been about one o'clock in the morning when we at
last reached Le Mans, and found that there would be no train going to
Rennes for another four or five hours.

The big railway-station of Le Mans was full of reinforcements for the Army
of the Loire. After strolling about for a few minutes, my father and I
sat down on the platform with our backs against a wall, for not a bench or
a stool was available. Every now and again some train prepared to start,
men were hastily mustered, and then climbed into all sorts of carriages
and vans. A belated general rushed along, accompanied by eager
_aides-de-camp_. Now and again a rifle slipped from the hand of some
Mobile Guard who had been imbibing too freely, and fell with a clatter on
the platform. Then stores were bundled into trucks, whistles sounded,
engines puffed, and meanwhile, although men were constantly departing, the
station seemed to be as crowded as ever. When at last I got up to stretch
myself, I noticed, affixed to the wall against which I had been leaning, a
proclamation of Gambetta's respecting D'Aurelle de Paladines' victory over
Von der Tann at Orleans. In another part of the station were lithographed
notices emanating from the Prefect of the department, and reciting a
variety of recent Government decrees and items of war news, skirmishes,
reconnaissances, and so forth. At last, however, our train came in. It was
composed almost entirely of third-class carriages with wooden seats, and
we had to be content with that accommodation.

Another long and wearisome journey then began. Again we travelled slowly,
again there were innumerable stoppages, again we passed trains crowded
with soldiers, or crammed full of military stores. At some place where we
stopped there was a train conveying some scores of horses, mostly poor,
miserable old creatures. I looked and wondered at the sight of them. "They
have come from England," said a fellow-passenger; "every boat from
Southampton to Saint Malo brings over quite a number." It was unpleasant
to think that such sorry-looking beasts had been shipped by one's own
countrymen. However, we reached Rennes at last, and were there able to get
a good square meal, and also to send a telegram to my stepmother,
notifying her of our early arrival. It was, however, at a late hour that
we arrived at Saint Malo, whence we drove to La Petite Amelia at Saint

The latter town then contained a considerable colony of English people,
among whom the military element predominated. Quite a number of half-pay
or retired officers had come to live there with their families, finding
Jersey overcrowded and desiring to practise economy. The colony also
included several Irish landlords in reduced circumstances, who had quitted
the restless isle to escape assassination at the hands of "Rory of the
Hills" and folk of his stamp. In addition, there were several maiden
ladies of divers ages, but all of slender means; one or two courtesy lords
of high descent, but burdened with numerous offspring; together with a
riding-master who wrote novels, and an elderly clergyman appointed by the
Bishop of Gibraltar. I dare say there may have been a few black sheep in
the colony; but the picture which Mrs. Annie Edwardes gave of it in her
novel, "Susan Fielding," was exaggerated, though there was truth in the
incidents which she introduced into another of her works, "Ought We to
Visit Her?" On the whole, the Saint Servan colony was a very respectable
one, even if it was not possessed of any great means. Going there during
my holidays, I met many young fellows of my own age or thereabouts, and
mostly belonging to military families. There were also several charming
girls, both English and Irish. With the young fellows I boated, with the
young ladies I played croquet.

Now, whilst my father and I had been shut up in Paris, we had frequently
written to my stepmother by balloon-post, and on some of our letters being
shown to the clergyman of the colony, he requested permission to read them
to his congregation--which he frequently did, omitting, of course, the
more private passages, but giving all the items of news and comments on
the situation which the letters contained. As a matter of fact, this
helped the reverend gentleman out of a difficulty. He was an excellent
man, but, like many others of his cloth, he did not know how to preach. In
fact, a year or two later, I myself wrote one or two sermons for him,
working into them certain matters of interest to the colony. During the
earlier part of the siege of Paris, however, the reading of my father's
letters and my own from the pulpit at the close of the usual service saved
the colony's pastor from the trouble of composing a bad sermon, or of
picking out an indifferent one from some forgotten theological work. My
father, on arriving at Saint Servan, secluded himself as far as possible,
so as to rest awhile before proceeding to England; but I went about much
as usual; and my letters read from the pulpit, and sundry other matters,
having made me a kind of "public character," I was at once pounced upon in
the streets, carried off to the club and to private houses, and there
questioned and cross-questioned by a dozen or twenty Crimean and Indian
veteran officers who were following the progress of the war with a
passionate interest.

A year or two previously, moreover, my stepmother had formed a close
friendship with one of the chief French families of the town. The father,
a retired officer of the French naval service, was to have commanded a
local Marching Battalion, but he unfortunately sickened and died, leaving
his wife with one daughter, a beautiful girl who was of about my own age.
Now, this family had been joined by the wife's parents, an elderly couple,
who, on the approach of the Germans to Paris, had quitted the suburb where
they resided. I was often with these friends at Saint Servan, and on
arriving there from Paris, our conversation naturally turned on the war.
As the old gentleman's house in the environs of the capital was well
within the French lines, he had not much reason to fear for its safety,
and, moreover, he had taken the precaution to remove his valuables into
the city. But he was sorely perturbed by all the conflicting news
respecting the military operations in the provinces, the reported
victories which turned out to be defeats, the adverse rumours concerning
the condition of the French forces, the alleged scandal of the Camp of
Conlie, where the more recent Breton levies were said to be dying off like
rotten sheep, and many other matters besides. Every evening when I called
on these friends the conversation was the same. The ladies, the
grandmother, the daughter, and the granddaughter, sat there making
garments for the soldiers or preparing lint for the wounded--those being
the constant occupations of the women of Brittany during all the hours
they could spare from their household duties--and meanwhile the old
gentleman discussed with me both the true and the spurious news of the
day. The result of those conversations was that, as soon as my father
had betaken himself to England, I resolved to go to the front myself,
ascertain as much of the truth as I could, and become, indeed, a
war-correspondent on "my own." In forming that decision I was influenced,
moreover, by one of those youthful dreams which life seldom, if ever,



First Efforts of the National Defence Delegates--La Motte-Rouge and his
Dyed Hair--The German Advance South of Paris--Moltke and King William--
Bourges, the German Objective--Characteristics of Beauce, Perche, and
Sologne--French Evacuation of Orleans--Gambetta arrives at Tours--His
Coadjutor, Charles Louis de Saulces de Freycinet--Total Forces of the
National Defence on Gambetta's Arrival--D'Aurelle de Paladines supersedes
La Motte-Rouge--The Affair of Châteaudun--Cambriels--Garibaldi--Jessie
White Mario--Edward Vizetelly--Catholic Hatred of Garibaldi--The Germans
at Dijon--The projected Relief of Paris--Trochu's Errors and Ducrot's
Schemes--The French Victory of Coulmiers--Change of Plan in Paris--My
Newspaper Work--My Brother Adrian Vizetelly--The General Position.

When I reached Brittany, coming from Paris, early in the second fortnight
of November, the Provincial Delegation of the Government of National
Defence was able to meet the Germans with very considerable forces. But
such had not been the case immediately after Sedan. As I pointed out
previously--quite apart from the flower of the old Imperial Army, which
was beleaguered around Metz--a force far too large for mere purposes of
defence was confined within the lines with which the Germans invested
Paris. In the provinces, the number of troops ready to take the field was
very small indeed. Old Crémieux, the Minister of Justice, was sent out of
Paris already on September 12, and took with him a certain General Lefort,
who was to attend to matters of military organization in the provinces.
But little or no confidence was placed in the resources there. The
military members of the National Defence Government--General Trochu, its
President, and General Le Flò, its Minister of War, had not the slightest
idea that provincial France might be capable of a great effort. They
relied chiefly on the imprisoned army of Paris, as is shown by all their
despatches and subsequent apologies. However, Glais-Bizoin followed
Crémieux to Tours, where it had been arranged that the Government
Delegation should instal itself, and he was accompanied by Admiral
Fourichon, the Minister of Marine. On reaching the Loire region, the new
authorities found a few battalions of Mobile Guards, ill-armed and
ill-equipped, a battalion of sharpshooters previously brought from
Algeria, one or two batteries of artillery, and a cavalry division of four
regiments commanded by General Reyau. This division had been gathered
together in the final days of the Empire, and was to have been sent to
Mezieres, to assist MacMahon in his effort to succour Bazaine; but on
failing to get there, it had made just a few vain attempts to check the
Germans in their advance on Paris, and had then fallen back to the south
of the capital.

General Lefort's first task was to collect the necessary elements for an
additional army corps--the 15th--and he summoned to his assistance the
veteran General de la Motte-Rouge, previously a very capable officer, but
now almost a septuagenarian, whose particular fad it was to dye his hair,
and thereby endeavour to make himself look no more than fifty. No doubt,
hi the seventeenth century, the famous Prince de Condé with the eagle
glance took a score of wigs with him when he started on a campaign; but
even such a practice as that is not suited to modern conditions of
warfare, though be it admitted that it takes less time to change one's wig
than to have one's hair dyed. The latter practice may, of course, help a
man to cut a fine figure on parade, but it is of no utility in the field.
In a controversy which arose after the publication of Zola's novel "La
Débâole," there was a conflict of evidence as to whether the cheeks of
Napoleon III were or were not rouged in order to conceal his ghastly
pallor on the fatal day of Sedan. That may always remain a moot point; but
it is, I think, certain that during the last two years of his rule his
moustache and "imperial" were dyed.

But let me return to the National Defence. Paris, as I formerly mentioned,
was invested on September 19. On the 22nd a Bavarian force occupied the
village of Longjumeau, referred to in my account of my journey to
Versailles. A couple of days later, the Fourth Division of German cavalry,
commanded by Prince Albert (the elder) of Prussia, started southward
through the departments of Eure-et-Loir and Loiret, going towards Artenay
in the direction of Orleans. This division, which met at first with little
opposition, belonged to a force which was detached from the main army
of the Crown Prince of Prussia, and placed under the command of the
Grand-Duke Frederick Francis of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Near this
"Armée-Abtheilung," as the Germans called it, was the first Bavarian army
corps, which had fought at Bazeilles on the day of Sedan. It was commanded
by General von und zu der Tann-Rathsamhausen, commonly called Von der
Tann, _tout court_.

As Prince Albert of Prussia, on drawing near to Artenay, found a good many
French soldiers, both regulars and irregulars, that is Francs-tireurs,
located in the district, he deemed it best to retire on Toury and
Pithiviers. But his appearance so far south had sufficed to alarm the
French commander at Orleans, General de Polhès, who at once, ordered his
men to evacuate the city and retire, partly on Blois, and partly on La
Motte-Beuvron. This pusillanimity incensed the Delegates of the National
Defence, and Polhès was momentarily superseded by General Reyau, and later
(October 5) by La Motte-Rouge.

It is known, nowadays, that the Germans were at first perplexed as to the
best course to pursue after they had completed the investment of Paris.
Moltke had not anticipated a long siege of the French capital. He had
imagined that the city would speedily surrender, and that the war would
then come to an end. Fully acquainted with the tract of country lying
between the Rhine and Paris, he had much less knowledge of other parts of
France; and, moreover, although he had long known how many men could be
placed in the field by the military organisation of the Empire, he
undoubtedly underestimated the further resources of the French, and did
not anticipate any vigorous provincial resistance. His sovereign, King
William, formed a more correct estimate respecting the prolongation of the
struggle, and, as was mentioned by me in my previous book--"Republican
France"--he more than once rectified the mistakes which were made by the
great German strategist.

The invader's objective with respect to central France was Bourges, the
old capital of Berry, renowned for its ordnance and ammunition works, and,
in the days when the troops of our Henry V overran France, the scene of
Charles VII's retirement, before he was inspirited either by Agnes Sorel
or by Joan of Arc. To enable an army coming from the direction of Paris to
seize Bourges, it is in the first instance necessary--as a reference to
any map of France will show--to secure possession of Orleans, which is
situated at the most northern point, the apex, so to say, of the course of
the Loire, and is only about sixty-eight miles from Paris. At the same
time it is advisable that any advance upon Orleans should be covered,
westward, by a corresponding advance on Chartres, and thence on
Châteaudun. This became the German plan, and whilst a force under General
von Wittich marched on Chartres, Von der Tann's men approached Orleans
through the Beauce region.

From the forest of Dourdan on the north to the Loire on the south, and
from the Chartres region on the west to the Gatinais on the east, this
great grain-growing plateau (the scene of Zola's famous novel "La Terre")
is almost level. Although its soil is very fertile there are few
watercourses in Beauce, none of them, moreover, being of a nature to
impede the march of an army. The roads are lined with stunted elms, and
here and there a small copse, a straggling farm, a little village, may be
seen, together with many a row of stacks, the whole forming in late autumn
and in winter--when hurricanes, rain, and snow-storms sweep across the
great expanse--as dreary a picture as the most melancholy-minded
individual could desire. Whilst there is no natural obstacle to impede the
advance of an invader, there is also no cover for purposes of defence. All
the way from Chartres to Orleans the high-road is not once intersected by
a river. Nearly all of the few streams which exist thereabouts run from
south to north, and they supply no means of defence against an army coming
from the direction of Paris. The region is one better suited for the
employment of cavalry and artillery than for that of foot-soldiers.

The Chartres country is better watered than Beaude. Westward, in both
of the districts of Perche, going either towards Mortagne or towards
Nogent-le-Rotrou, the country is more hilly and more wooded; and hedges,
ditches, and dingle paths abound there. In such districts infantry can
well be employed for defensive purposes. Beyond the Loir--not the Loire--
S.S.W. of Chartres, is the Pays Dunois, that is the district of
Châteaudun, a little town protected on the north and the west by the Loir
and the Conie, and by the hills between which those rivers flow, but open
to any attack on the east, from which direction, indeed, the Germans
naturally approached it.

Beyond the Loire, to the south-east of Beauce and Orleans, lies the
sheep-breeding region called Sologne, which the Germans would have had to
cross had they prosecuted their intended march on Bourges. Here cavalry
and artillery are of little use, the country abounding in streams, ponds,
and marshes. Quite apart, however, from natural obstacles, no advance on
Bourges could well be prosecuted so long as the French held Orleans; and
even when that city had fallen into the hands of the Germans, the presence
of large French forces on the west compelled the invaders to carry
hostilities in that direction and abandon their projected march southward.
Thus the campaign in which I became interested was carried on principally
in the departments of Eure-et-Loir, Loiret, Loir-et-Cher, and Sarthe, to
terminate, at last, in Mayenne.

Great indiscipline prevailed among the troops whom La Motte-Rouge had
under his orders. An attack by Von der Tann to the north of Orleans on
October 10, led to the retreat of a part of the French forces. On the
following day, when the French had from 12,000 to 13,000 men engaged, they
were badly defeated, some 1800 of their men being put _hors de combat_,
and as many being taken prisoners. This reverse, which was due partly to
some mistakes made by La Motte-Rouge, and partly to the inferior quality
of his troops, led to the immediate evacuation of Orleans. Now, it was
precisely at this moment that Gambetta appeared upon the scene. He had
left Paris, it will be remembered, on October 7; on the 8th he was at
Rouen, on the 9th he joined the other Government delegates at Tours, and
on the 10th--the eve of La Motte-Rouge's defeat--he became Minister of War
as well as Minister of the Interior.

Previously the portfolio for war had been held in the provinces by Admiral
Fourichon, with General Lefort as his assistant; but Fourichon had
resigned in connexion with a Communalist rising which had taken place at
Lyons towards the end of September, when the Prefect, Challemel-Lacour,
was momentarily made a prisoner by the insurgents, but was afterwards
released by some loyal National Guards. [See my book, "The Anarchists:
Their Faith and their Record," John Lane, 1911.] Complaining that General
Mazure, commander of the garrison, had not done his duty on this occasion,
Challemel-Lacour caused him to be arrested, and Fourichon, siding with the
general, thereupon resigned the War Ministry, Crémieux taking it over
until Gambetta's arrival. It may well be asked how one could expect the
military affairs of France to prosper when they were subordinated to such
wretched squabbles.

Among the men whom Gambetta found at Tours, was an engineer, who,
after the Revolution of September 4, had been appointed Prefect of
Tarn-et-Garonne, but who, coming into conflict with the extremists of
Montauban, much as Challemel-Lacour had come into conflict with those of
Lyons, had promptly resigned his functions. His name was Charles Louis de
Saulces de Freycinet, and, though he was born at Foix near the Pyrenees,
he belonged to an ancient family of Dauphiné. At this period (October,
1870), Freycinet had nearly completed his forty-second year. After
qualifying as an engineer at the Ecole Polytechnique, he had held various
posts at Mont-de-Marsan, Chartres, and Bordeaux, before securing in 1864
the position of traffic-manager to the Chemin de Fer du Midi. Subsequently
he was entrusted with various missions abroad, and in 1869 the Institute
of France crowned a little work of his on the employment of women and
children in English factories. Mining engineering was his speciality, but
he was extremely versatile and resourceful, and immediately attracted the
notice of Gambetta. Let it be said to the latter's credit that in that
hour of crisis he cast all prejudices aside. He cared nothing for the
antecedents of any man who was willing to cooperate in the defence of
France; and thus, although Freycinet came of an ancient-aristocratic
house, and had made his way under the Empire, which had created him first
a chevalier and then an officer of the Legion of Honour, Gambetta at once
selected him to act as his chef-de-cabinet, and delegate in military

At this moment the National Defence had in or ready for the field only
40,000 regular infantry, a like number of Mobile Guards, from 5000 to 6000
cavalry, and about 100 guns, some of antiquated models and with very few
men to serve them. There were certainly a good many men at various
regimental dépôts, together with Mobile Guards and National Guards in all
the uninvaded provinces of France; but all these had to be drilled,
equipped, and armed. That was the first part of the great task which lay
before Gambetta and Freycinet. Within a month, however--leaving aside what
was done in other parts of the country--France had on the Loire alone an
army of 100,000 men, who for a moment, at all events, turned the tide of
war. At the same time I would add that, before Gambetta's arrival on the
scene, the National Defence Delegates had begun to concentrate some small
bodies of troops both in Normandy and in Picardy and Artois, the latter
forming the first nucleus of the Army of the North which Faidherbe
afterwards commanded. Further, in the east of France there was a force
under General Cambriels, whose object was to cut the German communications
in the Vosges.

Von der Tann, having defeated La Motte-Rouge, occupied Orleans, whilst the
French withdrew across the Loire to La Motte-Beuvron and Gien, south and
south-east of their former position. Gambetta had to take action
immediately. He did so by removing La Motte-Rouge from his command, which
he gave to D'Aurelle de Paladines. The latter, a general on the reserve
list, with a distinguished record, was in his sixty-sixth year, having
been born at Languedoc in 1804. He had abilities as an organiser, and was
known to be a disciplinarian, but he was growing old, and looked
confidence both in himself and in his men. At the moment of D'Aurelle's
appointment, Von der Tann wished to advance on Bourges, in accordance with
Moltke's instructions, and, in doing so, he proposed to evacuate Orleans;
but this was forbidden by King William and the Crown Prince, and in the
result the Bavarian general suffered a repulse at Salbris, which checked
his advance southward. Still covering Bourges and Vierzon, D'Aurelle soon
had 60,000 men under his orders, thanks to the efforts of Gambetta and
Freyeinet. But the enemy were now making progress to the west of Orleans,
in which direction the tragic affair of Châteaudun occurred on October 18.
The German column operating on that side under General von Wittich,
consisted of 6000 infantry, four batteries, and a cavalry regiment, which
advanced on Châteaudun from the east, and, on being resisted by the
villagers of Varize and Civry, shot them down without mercy, and set all
their houses (about 130 in number) on fire. Nevertheless, that punishment
did not deter the National Guards of Châteaudun, and the Francs-tireurs
who had joined them, from offering the most strenuous opposition to the
invaders, though the latter's numerical superiority alone was as seven
to one. The fierce fight was followed by terrible scenes. Most of the
Francs-tireurs, who had not fallen in the engagement, effected a retreat,
and on discovering this, the infuriated Germans, to whom the mere name of
Franc-tireur was as a red rag to a bull, did not scruple to shoot down a
number of non-combatants, including women and children.

I remember the excitement which the news of the Châteaudun affair
occasioned in besieged Paris; and when I left the capital a few weeks
later I heard it constantly spoken of. In vain did the Germans strive to
gloss over the truth. The proofs were too numerous and the reality was too
dreadful. Two hundred and thirty-five of the devoted little town's houses
were committed to the flames. For the first time in the whole course of
the war women were deliberately assaulted, and a couple of German Princes
disgraced their exalted station in a drunken and incendiary orgie.

Meantime, in the east of France, Cambriels had failed in his attempt to
cut the German communications, and had been compelled to beat a retreat.
It must be said for him that his troops were a very sorry lot, who could
not be depended upon. Not only were they badly disciplined and addicted to
drunkenness, but they took to marauding and pillage, and were in no degree
a match for the men whom the German General von Werder led against them.
Garibaldi, the Italian Liberator, had offered his sword to France, soon
after the fall of the Second Empire. On October 8--that is, a day before
Gambetta--he arrived at Tours, to arrange for a command, like that of
Cambriels, in the east of France. The little Army of the Vosges, which was
eventually constituted under his orders, was made up of very heterogeneous
elements. Italians, Switzers, Poles, Hungarians, Englishmen, as well as
Frenchmen, were to be found in its ranks. The general could not be called
a very old man, being indeed only sixty-three years of age, but he had led
an eventful and arduous life; and, as will be remembered, ever since the
affair of Aspromonte in 1862, he had been lame, and had gradually become
more and more infirm. He had with him, however, two of his sons, Menotti
and Ricoiotti (the second a more competent soldier than the first),
and several, able men, such as his compatriot Lobbia, and the Pole,
Bosak-Hauké. His chief of staff, Bordone, previously a navy doctor, was,
however, a very fussy individual who imagined himself to be a military
genius. Among the Englishmen with Garibaldi were Robert Middleton and my
brother Edward Vizetelly; and there was an Englishwoman, Jessie White
Mario, daughter of White the boat-builder of Cowes, and widow of Mario,
Garibaldi's companion in arms in the glorious Liberation days. My brother
often told me that Mme. Mario was equally at home in an ambulance or in a
charge, for she was an excellent nurse and an admirable horsewoman as well
as a good shot. She is one of the women of whom I think when I hear or
read that the members of the completing sex cannot fight. But that of
course is merely the opinion of some medical and newspaper men.

Mme. Mario contributed a certain number of articles to the _Daily News_.
So did my brother--it was indeed as _Daily News_ correspondent that he
first joined Garibaldi's forces--but he speedily became an orderly to the
general, and later a captain on the staff. He was at the battles of Dijon
and Autun, and served under Lobbia in the relief of Langres. Some French
historians of these later days have written so slightingly of the little
Army of the Vosges, that I am sorry my brother did not leave any permanent
record of his experiences. Garibaldi's task was no easy one. In the first
instance, the National Defence hesitated to employ him; secondly, they
wished to subordinate him to Cambriels, and he declined to take any such
position; not that he objected to serve under any superior commander
who would treat him fairly, but because he, Garibaldi, was a freethinker,
and knew that he was bitterly detested by the fervently Catholic generals,
such as Cambriels. As it happened, he secured an independent command. But
in exercising it he had to co-operate with Cambriels in various ways, and
in later years my brother told me how shamefully Cambriels acted more than
once towards the Garibaldian force. It was indeed a repetition of what had
occurred at the very outset of the war, when such intense jealousy had
existed among certain marshals and generals that one had preferred to let
another be defeated rather than march "at the sound of the guns" to his

I also remember my brother telling me that when Langres (which is in the
Haute Marne, west of the Aube and the Côte d'Or) was relieved by Lobbia's
column, the commander of the garrison refused at first to let the
Garibaldians enter the town. He was prepared to surrender to the Germans,
if necessary; but the thought that he, a devout Catholic, should owe any
assistance to such a band of unbelieving brigands as the Garibaldian
enemies of the Pope was absolutely odious to him. Fortunately, this kind
of feeling did not show itself in western France. There was, at one
moment, some little difficulty respecting the position of Cathélineau, the
descendant of the famous Vendéen leader, but, on the whole, Catholics,
Royalists, and Republicans loyally supported one another, fired by a
common patriotism.

The failure of Cambriel's attempts to cut the German communications, and
the relatively small importance of the Garibaldian force, inspired
Gambetta with the idea of forming a large Army of the East which, with
Langres, Belfort, and Besançon as its bases, would vigorously assume the
offensive in that part of France. Moltke, however, had already sent
General von Werder orders to pursue the retreating Cambriels. Various
engagements, late in October, were followed by a German march on Dijon.
There were at this time 12,000 or 13,000 Mobile Guards in the Côte d'Or,
but no general in command of them. Authority was exercised by a civilian,
Dr. Lavalle. The forces assembled at Dijon and Beaune amounted, inclusive
of regulars and National Guards, to about 20,000 men, but they were very
badly equipped and armed, and their officers were few in number and of
very indifferent ability. Werder came down on Dijon in a somewhat
hesitating way, like a man who is not sure of his ground or of the
strength of the enemy in front of him. But the French were alarmed by his
approach, and on October 30 Dijon was evacuated, and soon afterwards
occupied by Werder with two brigades.

Three days previously Metz had surrendered, and France was reeling under
the unexpected blow in spite of all the ardent proclamations with which
Gambetta strove to impart hope and stimulate patriotism. Bazaine's
capitulation naturally implied the release of the forces under Prince
Frederick Charles, by which he had been invested, and their transfer to
other parts of France for a more vigorous prosecution of the invasion.
Werder, after occupying Dijon, was to have gone westward through the
Nivernais in order to assist other forces in the designs on Bourges. But
some days before Metz actually fell, Moltke sent him different
instructions, setting forth that he was to take no further account of
Bourges, but to hold Dijon, and concentrate at Vesoul, keeping a watch on
Langres and Besançon. For a moment, however, 3600 French under an officer
named Fauconnet suddenly recaptured Dijon, though there were more than
10,000 Badeners installed there under General von Beyer. Unfortunately
Fauconnet was killed in the affair, a fresh evacuation of the Burgundian
capital ensued, and the Germans then remained in possession of the city
for more than a couple of months.

In the west the army of the Loire was being steadily increased and
consolidated, thanks to the untiring efforts of Gambetta, Freycinet,
and D'Aurelle, the last of whom certainly contributed largely to the
organization of the force, though he was little inclined to quit his lines
and assume the offensive. It was undoubtedly on this army that Gambetta
based his principal hopes. The task assigned to it was greater than those
allotted to any of the other armies which were gradually assuming
shape--being, indeed, the relief of beleaguered Paris.

Trochu's own memoirs show that at the outset of the siege his one thought
was to remain on the defensive. In this connexion it is held, nowadays,
that he misjudged the German temperament, that remembering the vigorous
attempts of the Allies on Sebastopol--he was, as we know, in the Crimea,
at the time--he imagined that the Germans would make similarly vigorous
attempts on Paris. He did not expect a long and so to say passive siege, a
mere blockade during which the investing army would simply content itself
with repulsing the efforts of the besieged to break through its lines. He
knew that the Germans had behaved differently in the case of Strasbourg
and some other eastern strongholds, and anticipated a similar line of
action with respect to the French capital. But the Germans preferred to
follow a waiting policy towards both Metz and Paris. It has been said that
this was less the idea of Moltke than that of Bismarck, whose famous
phrase about letting the Parisians stew in their own juice will be
remembered. But one should also recollect that both Metz and Paris were
defended by great forces, and that there was little likelihood of any
_coup de main_ succeeding; whilst, as for bombardment, though it might
have some moral, it would probably have very little material effect. Metz
was not really bombarded, and the attempt to bombard Paris was deferred
for several months. When it at last took place a certain number of
buildings were damaged, 100 persons were killed and 200 persons wounded--a
material effect which can only be described as absolutely trivial in the
case of so great and so populous a city.

Trochu's idea to remain merely on the defensive did not appeal to his
coadjutor General Ducrot. The latter had wished to break through the
German lines on the day of Sedan, and he now wished to break through them
round Paris. Various schemes occurred to him. One was to make a sortie in
the direction of Le Bourget and the plain of Saint Denis, but it seemed
useless to attempt to break out on the north, as the Germans held Laon,
Soissons, La Fère, and Amiens. There was also an idea of making an attempt
on the south, in the direction of Villejuif, but everything seemed to
indicate that the Germans were extremely strong on this side of the city
and occupied no little of the surrounding country. The question of a
sortie on the east, across the Marne, was also mooted and dismissed for
various reasons; the idea finally adopted being to break out by way of
the Gennevilliers peninsula formed by the course of the Seine on the
north-west, and then (the heights of Cormeil having been secured) to cross
the Oise, and afterwards march on Rouen, where it would be possible to
victual the army. Moreover, instructions were to be sent into the
provinces in order that both the forces on the Loire and those in the
north might bear towards Normandy, and there join the army from Paris, in
such wise that there would be a quarter of a million men between Dieppe,
Rouen, and Caen. Trochu ended by agreeing to this scheme, and even
entertained a hope that he might be able to revictual Paris by way of the
Seine, for which purpose a flotilla of boats was prepared. Ducrot and he
expected to be ready by November 15 or 20, but it is said that they were
hampered in their preparations by the objections raised by Guiod and
Chabaud-Latour, the former an engineer, and the latter an artillery
general. Moreover, the course of events in the provinces suddenly caused a
complete reversal of Ducrot's plans.

On November 9, D'Aurelle de Paladines defeated Von der Tann at Coulmiers,
west of Orleans. The young French troops behaved extremely well, but the
victory not being followed up with sufficient vigour by D'Aurelle,
remained somewhat incomplete, though it constrained the Germans to
evacuate Orleans. On the whole this was the first considerable success
achieved by the French since the beginning of the war, and it did much to
revive the spirits which had been drooping since the fall of Metz. Another
of its results was to change Ducrot's plans respecting the Paris sortie.
He and Trochu had hitherto taken little account of the provincial armies,
and the success of Coulmiers came to them as a surprise and a revelation.
There really was an army of the Loire, then, and it was advancing on Paris
from Orleans. The Parisian forces must therefore break out on the
south-east and join hands with this army of relief in or near the forest
of Fontainebleau. Thus, all the preparations for a sortie by way of
Gennevilliers were abandoned, and followed by others for an attempt in the
direction of Champigny.

Such was roughly the position at the time when I reached Brittany and
conceived the idea of joining the French forces on the Loire and
forwarding some account of their operations to England. During my stay in
Paris with my father I had assisted him in preparing several articles, and
had written others on my own account. My eldest brother, Adrian Vizetelly,
was at this time assistant-secretary at the Institution of Naval
Architects. He had been a student at the Royal School of Naval
Architecture with the Whites, Elgars, Yarrows, Turnbulls, and other famous
shipbuilders, and on quitting it had taken the assistant-secretaryship in
question as an occupation pending some suitable vacancy in the Government
service or some large private yard. The famous naval constructor, E. J.
Reed, had started in life in precisely the same post, and it was, indeed,
at his personal suggestion that my brother took it. A year or two later he
and his friend Dr. Francis Elgar, subsequently Director of Dockyards and
one of the heads of the Fairfield Shipbuilding Company, were assisting
Reed to run his review _Naval Science_. At the time of the Franco-German
war, however, my brother, then in his twenty-sixth year, was writing on
naval subjects for the _Daily News_ and the _Pall Mall Gazette,_ edited
respectively by John Robinson and Frederick Greenwood. A few articles
written by me during my siege days were sent direct to the latter by
balloon-post, but I knew not what their fate might be. The _Pall Mall_
might be unable to use them, and there was no possibility of their being
returned to me in Paris. My father, whom I assisted in preparing a variety
of articles, suggested that everything of this kind--that is, work not
intended for the _Illustrated London News_--should be sent to my brother
for him to deal with as opportunity offered. He placed a few articles with
_The Times_--notably some rather long ones on the fortifications and
armament of Paris, whilst others went to the _Daily News_ and the _Pall

When, after coming out of Paris, I arrived in Brittany, I heard that
virtually everything sent from the capital by my father or myself had been
used in one or another paper, and was not a little pleased to receive a
draft on a Saint Malo banking-house for my share of the proceeds. This
money enabled me to proceed, in the first instance, in the direction of Le
Mans, which the Germans were already threatening. Before referring,
however, to my own experiences I must say something further respecting the
general position. The battle of Coulmiers (November 9) was followed by a
period of inaction on the part of the Loire Army. Had D'Aurelle pursued
Von der Tann he might have turned his barren victory to good account. But
he had not much confidence in his troops, and the weather was bad--sleet
and snow falling continually. Moreover, the French commander believed that
the Bavarian retreat concealed a trap. At a conference held between him,
Gambetta, Freyoinet, and the generals at the head of the various army
corps, only one of the latter---Chanzy--favoured an immediate march on
Paris. Borel, who was chief of D'Aurelle's staff, proposed to confine
operations to an advance on Chartres, which would certainly have been a
good position to occupy, for it would have brought the army nearer to the
capital, giving it two railway lines, those of Le Mans and Granville, for
revictualling purposes, and enabling it to retreat on Brittany in the
event of any serious reverse. But no advance at all was made. The Germans
were allowed all necessary time to increase their forces, the French
remaining inactive within D'Aurelle's lines, and their _morale_ steadily
declining by reason of the hardships to which they were subjected. The
general-in-chief refused to billet them in the villages--for fear, said
he, of indiscipline--and compelled them to bivouack, under canvas, in the
mud; seldom, moreover, allowing any fires to be kindled. For a score of
days did this state of affairs continue, and the effect of it was seen at
the battle of Beaune-la-Rolande.

The responsibility for the treatment of the troops rests on D'Aurelle's
memory and that of some of his fellow-generals. Meantime, Gambetta and
Freycinet were exerting themselves to improve the situation generally.
They realized that the release of Prince Frederick Charles's forces from
the investment of Metz necessitated the reinforcement of the Army of the
Loire, and they took steps accordingly. Cambriels had now been replaced in
eastern France by a certain General Michel, who lost his head and was
superseded by his comrade Crouzat. The last-named had with him 30,000 men
and 40 guns to contend against the 21,000 men and the 70 guns of Werder's
army. In order to strengthen the Loire forces, however, half of Crouzat's
men and he himself received orders to approach Orleans by way of Nevers
and Gien, the remainder of his army being instructed to retire on Lyons,
in order to quiet the agitation prevailing in that city, which regarded
itself as defenceless and complained bitterly thereof, although there was
no likelihood at all of a German attack for at least some time to come.

The new arrangements left Garibaldi chief commander in eastern France,
though the forces directly under his orders did not at this time exceed
5000 men, and included, moreover, no fewer than sixty petty free-corps,
who cared little for discipline. [There were women in several of these
companies, one of the latter including no fewer than eighteen amazons.]
A month or two previously the advent of from twenty to thirty thousand
Italian volunteers had been confidently prophesied, but very few of these
came forward. Nevertheless, Ricciotti Garibaldi (with whom was my brother
Edward) defeated a German force in a sharp engagement at Chatillon-sur-
Seine (November 19), and a week later the Garibaldians made a gallant
attempt to recapture the city of Dijon. Five thousand men, however, were
of no avail against an army corps; and thus, even if the Garibaldian
attack had momentarily succeeded, it would have been impossible to hold
Dijon against Werder's troops. The attempt having failed, the German
commander resolved to crush the Army of the Vosges, which fled and
scattered, swiftly pursued by a brigade under General von Keller. Great
jealousy prevailed at this moment among the French generals in command of
various corps which might have helped the Garibaldians. Bressolles,
Crevisier, and Cremer were at loggerheads. On November 30 the last-named
fought an indecisive action at Nuits, followed nearly three weeks later by
another in which he claimed the victory.

Meantime, Crouzat's force, now known as the 20th Army Corps, had been
moving on Nevers. To assist the Loire Army yet further, General Bourbaki
had been summoned from the north-west of France. At the fall of the Empire
the defence in that part of the country had been entrusted to Fririon,
whom Espinet de la Villeboisnet succeeded. The resources at the disposal
of both those generals were very limited, confined, indeed, to men of the
regimental dépôts and some Mobile Guards. There was a deficiency both of
officers and of weapons, and in the early skirmishes which took place with
the enemy, the principal combatants were armed peasants, rural firemen,
and the National Guards of various towns. It is true that for a while the
German force consisted only of a battalion of infantry and some Saxon
cavalry. Under Anatole de la Forge, Prefect of the Aisne, the open town of
Saint Quentin offered a gallant resistance to the invader, but although
this had some moral effect, its importance was not great. Bourbaki, who
succeeded La Villeboisnet in command of the region, was as diffident
respecting the value of his troops as was D'Aurelle on the Loire. He had
previously commanded the very pick of the French army, that is the
Imperial Guard, and the men now placed under his orders were by no means
of the same class. Bourbaki was at this time only fifty-four years of age,
and when, after being sent out of Metz on a mission to the Empress Eugénie
at Hastings, he had offered his services to the National Defence, the
latter had given him the best possible welcome. But he became one of the
great military failures of the period.

After the fall of Metz the Germans despatched larger forces under
Manteuffel into north-west France. Altogether there were 35,000 infantry
and 4000 cavalry, with 174 guns, against a French force of 22,000 men who
were distributed with 60 guns over a front of some thirty miles, their
object being to protect both Amiens and Rouen. When Bourbaki was summoned
to the Loire, he left Farre as chief commander in the north, with
Faidherbe and Lecointe as his principal lieutenants. There was bad
strategy on both sides, but La Fère capitulated to the Germans on November
26, and Amiens on the 29th.

Meantime, the position in beleaguered Paris was becoming very bad. Some
ten thousand men, either of the regular or the auxiliary forces, were laid
up in hospital, less on account of wounds than of disease. Charcoal--for
cooking purposes according to the orthodox French system--was being
strictly rationed, On November 20 only a certain number of milch cows and
a few hundred oxen, reserved for hospital and ambulance patients, remained
of all the bovine live stock collected together before the siege. At the
end of November, 500 horses were being slaughtered every day. On the other
hand, the bread allowance had been raised from 750 grammes to a kilogramme
per diem, and a great deal of bread was given to the horses as food.
Somewhat uncertain communications had been opened with the provinces by
means of pigeon-post, the first pigeon to bring despatches into the city
arriving there on November 15. The despatches, photographed on the
smallest possible scale, were usually enclosed in quills fastened under
one or another of the birds' wings. Each balloon that left the city now
took with it a certain number of carrier-pigeons for this service. Owing,
however, to the bitter cold which prevailed that winter, many of the birds
perished on the return journey, and thus the despatches they carried did
not reach Paris. Whenever any such communications arrived there, they had
to be enlarged by means of a magic-lantern contrivance, in order that they
might be deciphered. Meantime, the aeronauts leaving the city conveyed
Government despatches as well as private correspondence, and in this wise
Trochu was able to inform Gambetta that the army of Paris intended to make
a great effort on November 29.



The German Advance Westward--Gambetta at Le Mans--The "Army of Brittany"
and Count de Kératry--The Camp of Conlie--The Breton Marching Division--
Kératry resigns--The Champigny Sortie from Paris--The dilatory D'Aurelle--
The pitiable 20th Army Corps--Battles of Beaune-la-Rolande and Loigny--
Loss of Orleans--D'Aurelle superseded by Chanzy--Chanzy's Slow Retreat--
The 21st Corps summoned to the Front--I march with the Breton Division--
Marchenoir and Fréteval--Our Retreat--Our Rearguard Action at Droué--
Behaviour of the Inhabitants--We fight our Way from Fontenelle to Saint
Agil--Guns and Quagmires--Our Return to Le Mans--I proceed to Bennes and
Saint Malo.

After the Châteaudun affair the Germans secured possession of Chartres,
whence they proceeded to raid the department of the Eure. Going by way of
Nogent-le-Roi and Châteauneuf-en-Thimerais, they seized the old
ecclesiastical town of Evreux on November 19, whereupon the French hastily
retreated into the Orne. Some minor engagements followed, all to the
advantage of the Germans, who on the 22nd attacked and occupied the
ancient and strategically important town of Nogent-le-Rotrou--the lordship
of which, just prior to the great Revolution, belonged to the family of
the famous Count D'Orsay, the lover of Lady Blessington and the friend of
Napoleon III. The occupation of Nogent brought the Germans to a favourable
point on the direct railway-line between Paris and Le Mans, the capital of
Maine. The region had been occupied by a somewhat skeleton French army
corps--the 21st--commanded by a certain General Fiereck. On the loss of
Nogent, Gambetta immediately replaced him by one of the many naval
officers who were now with the French armies, that is Post-Captain (later
Admiral) Constant Jaurès, uncle of the famous Socialist leader of more
recent times. Jaurès at once decided to retreat on Le Mans, a distance of
rather more than a hundred miles, and this was effected within two days,
but under lamentable circumstances. Thousands of starving men deserted,
and others were only kept with the columns by the employment of cavalry
and the threat of turning the artillery upon them.

Directly Gambetta heard of the state of affairs, he hastened to Le Mans to
provide for the defence of that extremely important point, where no fewer
than five great railway lines converged, those of Paris, Alençon, Rennes,
Angers, and Tours. The troops commanded by Jaurès were in a very
deplorable condition, and it was absolutely necessary to strengthen them.
It so happened that a large body of men was assembled at Conlie, sixteen
or seventeen miles away. They formed what was called the "Army of
Brittany," and were commanded by Count Emile de Kératry, the son of a
distinguished politician and literary man who escaped the guillotine
during the Reign of Terror. The Count himself had sat in the Legislative
Body of the Second Empire, but had begun life as a soldier, serving both
in the Crimea and in Mexico, in which latter country he had acted as one
of Bazaine's orderly officers. At the Revolution Kératry was appointed
Prefect of Police, but on October 14 he left Paris by balloon, being
entrusted by Trochu and Jules Favre with a mission to Prim, in the hope
that he might secure Spanish support for France. Prim and his colleagues
refused to intervene, however, and Kératry then hastened to Tours, where
he placed himself at the disposal of Gambetta, with whom he was on terms
of close friendship. It was arranged between them that Kératry should
gather together all the available men who were left in Brittany, and train
and organize them, for which purposes a camp was established at Conlie,
north-west of Le Mans.

Conlie was the first place which I decided to visit on quitting Saint
Servan. The most appalling rumours were current throughout Brittany
respecting the new camp. It was said to be grossly mismanaged and to be a
hotbed of disease. I visited it, collected a quantity of information, and
prepared an article which was printed by the _Daily News_ and attracted
considerable attention, being quoted by several other London papers and
taken in two instances as the text for leading articles. So far as the
camp's defences and the arming of the men assembled within it were
concerned, my strictures were fully justified, but certain official
documents, subsequently published, indicate that I was in error on some
points. The whole question having given rise to a good deal of controversy
among writers on the Franco-German War--some of them regarding Conlie as a
flagrant proof of Gambetta's mismanagement of military affairs--I will
here set down what I believe to be strictly the truth respecting it.

The camp was established near the site of an old Roman one, located
between Conlie and Domfront, the principal part occupying some rising
ground in the centre of an extensive valley. It was intended to be a
training camp rather than an entrenched and fortified one, though a
redoubt was erected on the south, and some works were begun on the
northern and the north-eastern sides. When the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg
reached Conlie after the battle of Le Mans, he expressed his surprise that
the French had not fortified so good a position more seriously, and
defended it with vigour. Both the railway line and the high-road between
Laval and Le Mans were near at hand, and only a few miles away there was
the old town of Sillé-le-Guillaume, one of the chief grain and cattle
markets of the region. There was considerable forest-land in the vicinity,
and wood was abundant. But there was no watercourse, and the wells of the
various adjacent little farms yielded but a very inadequate supply of
water for a camp in which at one moment some 40,000 men were assembled.
Thus, at the outset, the camp lacked one great essential, and such was the
case when I visited it in November. But I am bound to add that a source
was soon afterwards found in the very centre of the camp, and tapped so
successfully by means of a steam-pumping arrangement that it ended by
yielding over 300,000 litres of water per diem. The critics of the camp
have said that the spot was very damp and muddy, and therefore necessarily
unhealthy, and there is truth in that assertion; but the same might be
remarked of all the camps of the period, notably that of D'Aurelle de
Paladines in front of Orleans. Moreover, when a week's snow was followed
by a fortnight's thaw, matters could scarcely be different. [From first to
last (November 12 to January 7) 1942 cases of illness were treated in the
five ambulances of the camp. Among them were 264 cases of small-pox. There
were a great many instances of bronchitis and kindred affections, but not
many of dysentery. Among the small-pox cases 88 proved fatal.]

I find on referring to documents of the period that on November 23, the
day before Gambetta visited the camp, as I shall presently relate, the
total effective was 665 officers with 23,881 men. By December 5 (although
a marching division of about 12,000 men had then left for the front) the
effective had risen to 1241 officers with about 40,000 men. [The rationing
of the men cost on an average about 7_d._ per diem.] There were 40 guns
for the defence of the camp, and some 50 field-pieces of various types,
often, however, without carriages and almost invariably without teams.
At no time, I find, were there more than 360 horses and fifty mules in the
camp. There was also a great scarcity of ammunition for the guns.
On November 23, the 24,000 men assembled in the camp had between them the
following firearms and ammunition:--

	 _Weapons_                         _Cartridges_

  Spencers (without bayonets)    ..  5,000    912,080
  Chassepots   ..    ..    ..    ..  2,080    100,000
  Remingtons   ..    ..    ..    ..  2,000    218,000
  Snyders      ..    ..    ..    ..  1,866    170,000
  Muskets of various types ..    ..  9,684 _Insufficient_
  Revolvers    ..    ..    ..    ..    500 _Sufficient_

Such things as guns, gun-carriages, firearms, cartridges, bayonets, and so
forth formed the subject of innumerable telegrams and letters exchanged
between Kératry and the National Defence Delegation at Tours. The former
was constantly receiving promises from Gambetta, which were seldom kept,
supplies at first intended for him being at the last moment sent in other
directions, according to the more pressing requirements of the hour.
Moreover, a good many of the weapons which Kératry actually received were
defective. In the early days of the camp, many of the men were given
staves--broom-sticks in some instances--for use at drill.

When Gambetta arrived at Le Mans after Jaurès had retreated thither, he
learnt that action had become the more urgent as the Germans were steadily
prosecuting their advance. By orders of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg,
to whose army these forces belonged, the French were followed to La
Ferté-Bernard; and whilst one German column then went west towards Saint
Cosme, another advanced southward to Vibraye, thus seriously threatening
Le Mans. Such was the position on November 23. Fortunately, Freycinet was
able to send Jaurès reinforcements which brought his effective to about
35,000 men, and at the same time Gambetta urged Kératry to prepare a
marching division of the men at Conlie. Early on the 24th, Gambetta (who,
by the way, had travelled from Tours to Le Mans at full speed on a railway
engine) visited the camp, and expressed his approval of all he saw there.
I caught a glimpse of him, muffled in his fur coat, and looking, as well
he might, intensely cold. His orders to Kératry were to proceed to Saint
Calais, and thence to the forest of Vibraye, so as to cover Le Mans on the
east. It took fourteen hours and twenty-one trains to convey the marching
division to Yvré l'Evêque on the Huisne, just beyond Le Mans. The
effective of the division was roughly 12,000 men, nearly all of them being
Breton Mobilisés. The artillery consisted of one battery of 12's, and one
of 4's, with the necessary horses, two batteries of 4's dragged by naval
volunteers, and several Gatling guns, which had only just been delivered.
These Gatlings, which at that time were absolutely unknown in France, were
not mounted, but packed in sections in sealed zinc cases, which were
opened in the railway vans on the journey, the guns being there put
together by a young naval officer and a couple of civilian engineers. A
little later the artillery of the force was augmented.

After these troops had taken up position at Yvré, in order to prevent the
enemy from crossing the Huisne, various conferences were held between
Gambetta, Jaurès, and Kératry. General Le Bouëdec had been left in command
at Conlie, and General Trinité had been selected to command the marching
division of the Bretons. From the very outset, however, Kératry objected
to the plans of Gambetta and Jaurès, and, for the moment, the duties of
the Bretons were limited to participating in a reconnaissance on a
somewhat large scale--two columns of Jaurès' forces, under Generals Colin
and Rousseau, joining in this movement, which was directed chiefly on
Bouloire, midway between Le Mans and Saint Calais on the east. When
Bouloire was reached, however, the Germans who had momentarily occupied it
had retired, and the French thereupon withdrew to their former positions
near Le Mans.

Then came trouble. Gambetta placed Kératry under the orders of Jaurès, and
Kératry would not accept the position. Great jealousy prevailed between
these two men; Kératry, who had served ten years in the French Army,
claiming that he knew a good deal more about military matters than Jaurès,
who, as I previously mentioned, had hitherto been a naval officer. In the
end Kératry threw up his command. Le Bouëdec succeeded him at Conlie, and
Frigate-Captain Gougeard (afterwards Minister of Marine in Gambetta's
Great Ministry) took charge of the Bretons at Yvré, where he exerted
himself to bring them to a higher state of efficiency.

I must now refer to some other matters. Trochu had informed Gambetta of
his intention to make a sortie on the south-eastern side of Paris. The
plans adopted were mainly those of Ducrot, who took chief command. A
diversion made by Vinoy to the south of the city on November 29 gave the
Germans an inkling of what was intended, and proved a fruitless venture
which cost the French 1000 men. Another diversion attempted by General
Susbielle on November 30 led to a similar result, with a loss of 1200 men.
Ducrot, however, crossed the Marne, and very desperate fighting ensued at
Champigny and neighbouring localities. But Ducrot's force (less than
100,000 men) was insufficient for his purpose. The weather, moreover, was
extremely cold, the men had brought with them neither tents nor blankets,
and had to bivouac without fires. According to Trochu's memoirs there was
also an insufficiency of ammunition. Thus the Champigny sortie failed,
and the French retired to their former lines. [From November 30 to
December 3 the French lost 9482 men; and the Germans 5288 men.]

At the very moment when the Army of Paris was in full retreat, the second
battle of Orleans was beginning. Gambetta and Freyoinet wished D'Aurelle
to advance with the Loire Army in order to meet the Parisians, who, if
victorious, were expected to march on Fontainebleau by way of Melun. In
the latter days of November D'Aurelle was still covering Orleans on the
north with the 15th and 16th army corps (Generals Martin des Pallieres and
Chanzy). On his left was the 17th under Durrieu, who, a few days later,
was succeeded by a dashing cavalry officer, General de Sonis. Near at
hand, also, there was the 18th army corps, to command which Bourbaki had
been summoned from northern France, his place being taken temporarily by
young General Billot, who was appointed to be his chief of staff. The
former Army of the East under Crouzat [This had now become the 20th Army
Corps.] was on the southern side of the Loire, somewhere between Gien and
Nevers, and it was in a very deplorable condition. Boots were wanted for
10,000 men, tents for a like number, and knapsacks for 20,000. In some
battalions there were only sufficient knapsacks for a quarter of the men,
the others carrying their clothes, provisions, and cartridges all
higgledy-piggledy in canvas bags. I once heard an eyewitness relate that
many of Crouzat's soldiers marched with their biscuits (four days' supply)
strung together like chaplets, which hung from their necks or shoulders.

The Germans had heard of the removal of Crouzat's force to the Loire
country, and by way of creating a diversion the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg
was ordered to march on Beaugenoy, southwest of Orleans. Meantime,
Gambetta and Freyoinet were vainly imploring D'Aurelle to advance. He made
all sorts of excuses. At one moment he offered to consider their plans--
not to comply with them; at another he wished to wait for decisive news
from Trochu and Ducrot. Finally, instead of the five army corps resolutely
advancing in the direction of Paris, it was resolved just to open the way
with the 18th (Billot), the 20th (Crouzat), and some detachments of the
15th (Martin des Pallieres). The result was the sharp battle and serious
defeat of Beaune-la-Rolande (November 28), when the 18th corps behaved
extremely well, whilst the 20th, to whose deplorable condition I have just
referred, retreated after a little fighting; the men of the 15th on their
side doing little or nothing at all. In this engagement the French, whose
forces ought to have been more concentrated, lost 4000 men in killed and
wounded, and 1800 who were taken prisoners; the German loss not exceeding
1000 men. Four days later (December 2) came the very serious repulse of
Loigny-Poupry, in which the 15th, 16th, and 17th army corps were engaged.
The French then lost from 6000 to 7000 men (2500 of them being taken
prisoners), and though the German losses exceeded 4000, the engagement
ended by quite demoralising D'Aurelle's army.

Under those conditions came the battle of Orleans on December 3 and 4--the
Germans now being under the chief command of that able soldier, Prince
Frederick Charles of Prussia, father of the Duchess of Connaught. On this
occasion D'Aurelle ordered the corps engaged at Loigny to retreat on his
entrenched camp. The 18th and 20th could not cooperate in this movement,
however; and on the three others being driven back, D'Aurelle instructed
Chanzy to retire on Beaugency and Marchenoir, but sent no orders to
Bourbaki, who was now on the scene of action. Finally, the commander-in-
chief decided to abandon his entrenched camp, the troops disbanded and
scattered, and Orleans was evacuated, the flight being so precipitate that
two of the five bridges across the Loire were left intact, at the enemy's
disposal. Moreover, the French Army was now dislocated, Bourbaki, with the
18th, and Des Pallières, with the 15th corps, being on the south of the
river, whilst the other three corps were on the northern side. The former
retired in the direction of Bourges and Nevers, whilst Chanzy, who was now
placed in chief command of the others, D'Aurelle being removed from his
post, withdrew gradually towards the forest of Marchenoir. In that second
battle of Orleans the French lost 20,000 men, but 18,000 of them were
taken prisoners. On their side, the Germans (who captured 74 guns) lost
fewer than 1800 men.

For three days (December 8 to 10) Chanzy contested the German advance at
Villorceau, but on December 12 Blois had to be evacuated, and the army
withdrew to the line of the Loir in the neighbourhood of Vendôme.
Meantime, at the very moment when the fate of Orleans was being sealed,
orders reached Jaurès at Le Mans to advance to the support of the Loire
Army. I was lodging at an inn in the town, my means being too slender to
enable me to patronize any of the big hotels on the Place des Halles,
which, moreover, were crowded with officers, functionaries, and so forth.
I had become acquainted with some of the officers of the Breton division
under Gougeard, and on hearing that they were going to the front, I
managed to obtain from Colonel Bernard, Gougeard's chief of staff,
permission to accompany the column with one of the ambulance parties. Now
and again during the advance I rode in one of the vans, but for the most
part I marched with the men, this, moreover, being the preferable course,
as the weather was extremely cold. Even had I possessed the means (and at
most I had about £10 in my pocket), I could not have bought a horse at Le
Mans. I was stoutly clad, having a very warm overcoat of grey Irish
frieze, with good boots, and a pair of gaiters made for me by Nicholas,
the Saint Malo bootmaker, younger brother (so he himself asserted) of
Niccolini the tenor, sometime husband of Mme. Patti.

There were from 10,000 to 12,000 men in our force, which now ranked as the
fourth division of the 21st army corps. Nearly all the men of both
brigades were Breton Mobilisés, adjoined to whom, however, perhaps for the
purpose of steadying them, were three or four very small detachments of
former regiments of the line. There was also a small contingent of the
French Foreign Legion, which had been brought from Algeria. Starting from
Yvré l'Evêque towards, noon on December 4, we marched to Ardenay, where
we spent the night. The weather was fine and dry, but intensely cold.
On the 5th we camped on some hills near the town of Saint Calais, moved
only a mile or two farther on the 6th--there being a delay in the receipt
of certain orders--then, at seven o'clock on the 7th, started in the
direction of Vendôme, marching for about twelve hours with only the
briefest halts. We passed from the department of the Sarthe into that
of Loir-et-Cher, going on until we reached a little place called
Ville-aux-Cleros, where we spent the night under uncomfortable conditions,
for it snowed. Early the following day we set out again, and, leaving
Vendôme a couple of miles or so away on our right, we passed Fréteval and
camped on the outskirts of the forest of Marchenoir.

The night proved bitterly cold, the temperature being some fourteen
degrees (centigrade) below freezing-point. I slept huddled up in a van,
but the men generally were under canvas, and there was very little straw
for them to lie upon, in such wise that in the morning some of them
actually found their garments frost-bound to the ground! Throughout the
night of the 10th we heard guns booming in the distance. On the 11th, the
12th, and the 13th December we were continually marching, always going in
the direction of the guns. We went from Ecoman to Morée, to Saint
Hilaire-la-Gravelle, and thence to the Chateau de Rougemont near
Fréteval, a spot famous as the scene of a victory gained by our Richard
Coeur-de-Lion over Philip Augustus. The more or less distant artillery
fire was incessant both by day and by night; but we were only supporting
other divisions of the corps, and did not find ourselves actually engaged.
On the 15th, however, there was very sharp fighting both at Fréteval and
Morée, and on the morning of the 16th our Gatlings went forward to support
the second division of our army corps, which was being hard pressed by the

All at once, however, orders for a general retreat arrived, Chanzy having
at last decided to fall back on Le Mans. There was considerable confusion,
but at last our men set out, taking a north-westerly direction. Fairly
good order prevailed on the road, and the wiry little Bretons at least
proved that their marching powers were unimpaired. We went on incessantly
though slowly during the night, and did not make a real halt until about
seven o'clock on the following morning, when, almost dead-beat, we reached
a little town called Droué.

Jaurès, I should mention, had received the order to retreat at about four
o'clock on the afternoon of December 16, and had speedily selected three
different routes for the withdrawal of the 21st army corps. Our division,
however, was the last to quit its positions, it being about eight o'clock
at night when we set out. Thus our march lasted nine hours. The country
was a succession of sinuous valleys and stiff slopes, and banks often
overlooked the roads, which were edged with oaks and bushes. There were
several streams, a few woods, and a good many little copses. Farms often
lay close together, and now and again attempts were made to buy food and
drink of the peasantry, who, upon hearing our approach, came at times with
lights to their thresholds. But they were a close-fisted breed, and
demanded exorbitant prices. Half a franc was the lowest charge for a piece
of bread. Considering how bad the men's boots were, the marching was very
good, but a number of men deserted under cover of the night. Generally
speaking, though there was a slight skirmish at Cloyes and an engagement
at Droué, as I shall presently relate, the retreat was not greatly
hampered by the enemy. In point of fact, as the revelations of more recent
years have shown, Moltke was more anxious about the forces of Bourbaki
than about those of Chanzy, and both Prince Frederick Charles and the
Grand Duke of Mecklenburg had instructions to keep a strict watch on the
movements of Bourbaki's corps. Nevertheless, some of the Grand Duke's
troops--notably a body of cavalry--attempted to cut off our retreat. When,
however, late on the 16th, some of our men came in contact with a
detachment of the enemy near Cloyes, they momentarily checked its
progress, and, as I have indicated, we succeeded in reaching Droué without

That morning, the 17th, the weather was again very cold, a fog following
the rain and sleet of the previous days. Somewhat later, however, snow
began to fall. At Droué--a little place of about a thousand inhabitants,
with a ruined castle and an ancient church--we breakfasted as best we
could. About nine o'clock came marching orders, and an hour later, when a
large number of our men were already on their way towards Saint Agil, our
next halting-place, General Gougeard mounted and prepared to go off with
his staff, immediately in advance of our rear-guard. At that precise
moment, however, we were attacked by the Germans, whose presence near us
we had not suspected.

It was, however, certainly known to some of the inhabitants of Droué, who,
terrified by all that they had heard of the harshness shown by the Germans
towards the localities where they encountered any resistance, shrank from
informing either Gougeard or any of his officers that the enemy was at
hand. The artillery with which our rear was to be protected was at this
moment on the little square of Droué. It consisted of a mountain battery
under Sub-Lieutenant Gouesse of the artillery, and three Gatlings under
Sub-Lieutenant De la Forte of the navy, with naval lieutenant Rodellec du
Porzic in chief command. Whilst it was being brought into position,
Colonel Bernard, Gougeard's chief of staff, galloped off to stop the
retreat of the other part of our column. The enemy's force consisted of
detachments of cavalry, artillery, and Landwehr infantry. Before our
little guns could be trained on them, the Landwehr men had already seized
several outlying houses, barns, and sheds, whence they strove to pick off
our gutiners. For a moment our Mobilisés hesitated to go forward, but
Gougeard dashed amongst them, appealed to their courage, and then led them
against the enemy.

Not more than three hundred yards separated the bulk of the contending
forces, indeed there were some Germans in the houses less than two hundred
yards away. Our men at last forced these fellows to decamp, killing and
wounding several of them; whilst, thanks to Colonel Bernard's prompt
intervention, a battalion of the 19th line regiment and two companies of
the Foreign Legion, whose retreat was hastily stopped, threatened the
enemy's right flank. A squadron of the Second Lancers under a young
lieutenant also came to our help, dismounting and supporting Gougeard's
Mobilises with the carbines they carried. Realizing that we were in force,
the enemy ended by retreating, but not until there had been a good deal of
fighting in and around the outlying houses of Droué.

Such, briefly, was the first action I ever witnessed. Like others, I was
under fire for some time, being near the guns and helping to carry away
the gunners whom the Germans shot from the windows of the houses in which
they had installed themselves. We lost four or five artillerymen in that
manner, including the chief officer, M. de Rodelleo du Porzic, whom a
bullet struck in the chest. He passed away in a little café whither we
carried him. He was, I believe, the last of his family, two of his
brothers having previously been killed in action.

We lost four or five other officers in this same engagement, as well as a
Breton chaplain of the Mobilisés. Our total losses were certainly larger
than Gougeard subsequently stated in his official report, amounting in
killed and wounded, I think, to from 120 to 150 men. Though the officers
as a rule behaved extremely well--some of them, indeed, splendidly--there
were a few lamentable instances of cowardice. By Gougeard's orders, four
were placed under arrest and court-martialled at the end of the retreat.
Of these, two were acquitted, whilst a third was shot, and a fourth
sentenced to two years' imprisonment in a fortress. [From the formation of
the "Army of Brittany" until the armistice the total number of executions
was eleven. They included one officer (mentioned above) for cowardice in
presence of the enemy; five men of the Foreign Legion for murdering
peasants; one Franc-titeur for armed robbery, and four men (Line and
Mobile Guards) for desertion in presence of the enemy. The number would
have been larger had it been possible to identify and punish those who
were most guilty in the stampede of La Tuilerie during the battle of
Le Mans.]

The enemy's pursuit having been checked, we eventually quitted Droué, but
when we had gone another three miles or so and reached a village called
Fontenelle, the Germans came on again. It was then about two o'clock in
the afternoon, and for a couple of hours or so, whilst we continued our
retreat, the enemy kept up a running cannonade, repeatedly endeavouring
to harass our rear. We constantly replied to their fire, however, and
steadily kept them off, losing only a few men before the dusk fell, when
the pursuit ceased. We afterwards plodded on slowly--the roads being in a
terrible condition--until at about half-past six o'clock we reached the
village of Saint Agil, where the staff installed itself at Count de
Saint-Maixent's stately renaissance château.

The weather was better on December 18, for, though it was extremely cold,
the snow ceased falling. But we still had a formidable task before us.
The roads, as I have said, were wretched, and at Saint Agil we had to
contend with some terrible quagmires, across which we found it at first
impossible to get our guns, ammunition-vans, and baggage train. It became
necessary to lop and fell trees, and form with them a kind of bed over
which our impedimenta might travel. Hour after hour went by amidst
incessant labour. An ammunition waggon containing only half its proper
load required the efforts of a dozen horses to pull it over that morass,
whilst, as for the guns, each of the 12's required even more horses.
It was three o'clock on the afternoon of the 18th when the last gun was
got across. Three gun-carriages were broken during those efforts, but our
men managed to save the pieces. Late in the operations the Germans again
put in an appearance, but were held in respect by our Gatlings and
mountain-guns. Half an hour, however, after our departure from Saint Agil,
they entered the village.

In a very wretched condition, half-famished and footsore, we went on,
through the sudden thaw which had set in, towards Vibraye, whose forest,
full in those days of wild boars and deer, stretched away on our left.
We were now in the department of the Sarthe, and, cutting across country
in the direction of the Huisne, we at last reached the ancient little
_bourg_ of Connerré, on the high-road running (left of the river) towards
Le Mans. There I took leave of our column, and, after buying a shirt and
some socks, hastened to the railway station--a mile and a half distant--
hoping, from what was told me, that there might be some means of getting
to Le Mans by train, instead of accompanying our men along the highway.
At Connerré station I found a very good inn, where I at once partook of
the best meal that I had eaten since leaving Le Mans, sixteen days
previously. I then washed, put on my new shirt and socks, and went to
interview the station-master. After a great deal of trouble, as I had a
permit signed by Colonel Bernard, and wore an ambulance armlet, I was
allowed to travel to Le Mans in a railway van. There was no regular
service of trains, the only ones now running so far north being used for
military purposes. I got to Le Mans a few hours before our column reached
Yvré l'Evêque on the night of December 20, and at once sought a train
which would convey me to Rennes, if not as far as Saint Malo. Then came
another long, slow, dreary journey in a villainous wooden-seated
third-class carriage. It was between ten and eleven o'clock in the morning
when we reached Rennes. I still had about five-and-twenty francs in my
pocket, and knowing that it would not cost me more than a quarter of that
amount to get to Saint Malo, I resolved to indulge in a good _dejeuner_ at
the Hôtel de France.

There was nobody excepting a few waiters in the long dining-room, but the
tables were already laid there. When, however, I seated myself at one of
them, the head-waiter came up declaring that I could not be accommodated,
as the tables were reserved for _ces messieurs_. I was inquiring who
_ces messieurs_ might be, when some of them entered the room in a very
swaggering manner. All were arrayed in stylish and brand-new uniforms,
with beautiful boots, and looked in the pink of condition. They belonged,
I found, to a free corps called the "Eclaireurs d'Ille-et-Vilaine," and
their principal occupations were to mess together copiously and then
stroll about the town, ogling all the good-looking girls they met. The
corps never went to the front. Three or four weeks afterwards, when I
again passed through Rennes--this second time with my father--Messieurs
les Eclaireurs were still displaying their immaculate uniforms and highly
polished boots amidst all the misery exhibited by the remnants of one of
Chanzy's _corps d'armée_.

Though I was little more than a boy, my blood fairly boiled when I was
requested to give up my seat at table for these arrogant young fops.
I went to complain at the hotel _bureau_, but, being confronted there by
the landlady instead of by the landlord, I did not express my feelings so
strongly as I might have done. "Madame" sweetly informed me that the first
_déjeuner_ was entirely reserved for Messieurs les Eclaireurs, but that,
if I would wait till the second _déjeuner_ at noon, I should find ample
accommodation. However, I was not inclined to do any such thing. I thought
of all the poor, famished, shivering men whom I had left less than
twenty-four hours previously, and some of whom I had more than once helped
to buy bread and cheese and wine during our long and painful marches.
They, at all events, had done their duty as best they could, and I felt
highly indignant with the swaggering young bloods of Rennes, who were
content to remain in their native town displaying their uniforms and
enjoying themselves. Fortunately, such instances were very rare.

Returning to the railway station, I obtained something to eat at the
refreshment-room, where I presently heard somebody trying to make
a waiter understand an order given in broken French. Recognizing a
fellow-countryman, I intervened and procured what he desired. I found that
he was going to Saint Malo like myself, so we made the journey together.
He told me that, although he spoke very little French, he had come to
France on behalf of an English boot-making firm in order to get a contract
from some of the military authorities. Many such people were to be found
in Brittany, at Le Mans, at Tours, and elsewhere, during the latter period
of the war. An uncle of mine, Frederick Vizetelly, came over, I remember,
and interviewed Freyeinet and others on behalf of an English small-arm
firm. I forget whether he secured a contract or not; but it is a
lamentable and uncontrovertible fact that many of the weapons and many of
the boots sold by English makers to the National Defence were extremely
defective. Some of the American weapons were even worse than ours. As for
the boots, they often had mere "composition soles," which were soon worn
out. I saw, notably after the battle of Le Mans, hundreds--I believe I
might say, without, exaggeration, thousands--of men whose boots were mere
remnants. Some hobbled through the snow with only rags wrapped round their
bleeding feet. On the other hand, a few of our firms undoubtedly supplied
satisfactory boots, and it may have been so in the case of the traveller
whom I met at Rennes.

A few days after my return to Saint Malo, my cousin, Montague Vizetelly,
arrived there with a commission from the _Daily News_ to join Chanzy's
forces at Le Mans. Mr. Robinson, I was afterwards told, had put some
questions about me to my brother Adrian, and, on hearing how young I was,
had thought that I might not be equal to the occasion if a decisive battle
between Prince Frederick Charles and Chanzy should be fought. My cousin--
then four-and-twenty years of age--was accordingly sent over. From that
time nearly all my war letters were forwarded to the _Pall Mall Gazette_,
and, as it happened, one of them was the first account of the great battle
of Le Mans, from the French side, to appear in an English paper.



The War in various Regions of France--General Faidherbe--Battle of
Pont-Noyelles--Unreliability of French Official News--Engagement of
Nuits--Le Bourget Sortie--Battles of Bapaume and Villersexel--Chanzy's
Plan of Operations--The Affair of Saint Calais--Wretched State of some
of Chanzy's Soldiers--Le Mans and its Historical Associations--The
Surrounding Country--Chanzy's Career--Positions of his Forces--Advance
of Prince Frederick Charles--The first Fighting before Le Mans and its

Whilst Chanzy was retreating on Le Mans, and there reorganizing and
reinforcing his army, a variety of operations went on in other parts
of France. After the German occupation of Amiens, Moltke instructed
Manteuffel to advance on Rouen, which he did, afterwards despatching a
column to Dieppe; the result being that on December 9 the Germans, for
the first time, reached the sea-coast. Since December 3 Faidherbe had
taken the chief command of the Army of the North at Lille. He was
distinctly a clever general, and was at that time only fifty-two years of
age. But he had spent eleven years in Senegal, organizing and developing
that colony, and his health had been impaired by the tropical West African
climate. Nevertheless, he evinced no little energy, and never despaired,
however slender might be the forces under him, and however cramped his
position. As soon as he had reorganized the army entrusted to his charge,
he moved towards Amiens, and on December 23 and 24 a battle was fought at
Pont-Noyelles, in the vicinity of that town. In some respects Faidherbe
gained the advantage, but his success was a barren one, and his losses
were far greater than those of the Germans, amounting, indeed, to 2300 men
(apart from many deserters), whereas the enemy's were not more than a
thousand. Gambetta, however, telegraphed to the Prefects that a great
victory had been gained; and I remember that when a notice to that effect
was posted at the town-hall of Saint Servan, everybody there became

Most of our war-news, or, at least, the earliest intelligence of any
important engagement, came to us in the fashion I have indicated,
townsfolk constantly assembling outside the prefectures, subprefectures,
and municipal buildings in order to read the day's news. At times it was
entirely false, at others some slight success of the French arms was
magnified into a victory, and a petty engagement became a pitched battle.
The news in the French newspapers was usually very belated and often quite
unreliable, though now and again telegrams from London were published,
giving information which was as near to the truth as the many English war
correspondents on both sides could ascertain. After the war, both
Frenchmen and Germans admitted to me that of all the newspaper
intelligence of the period there was nothing approaching in accuracy
that which was imparted by our British correspondents. I am convinced,
from all I heard in Paris, in Berlin, in Vienna, and elsewhere, during
the two or three years which followed the war, that the reputation of the
British Press was greatly enhanced on the Continent by the news it gave
during the Franco-German campaign. Many a time in the course of the next
few years did I hear foreigners inquire: "What do the London papers say?"
or remark: "If an English paper says it, it must be true." I do not wish
to blow the trumpet too loudly on behalf of the profession to which I
belonged for many years, but what I have here mentioned is strictly true;
and now that my days of travel are over, I should be glad to know that
foreigners still hold the British Press in the same high esteem.

But, to return to my narrative, whilst the events I have mentioned were
taking place in Normandy and Northern France, Gambetta was vainly trying
to persuade Bourbaki to advance in the direction of Montargis. He also
wished to reinforce Garibaldi; but the enmity of many French officers
towards the Italian Liberator was so great that they would not serve with
him. General von Werder was at this time covering the siege of Belfort and
watching Langres. On December 18 there was an engagement at Nuits between
some of his forces and those led by the French commander Cremer, who
claimed the victory, but afterwards retreated towards Beaune. The French,
however, were now able to re-occupy Dijon. On the 21st another sortie was
made from Paris, this time on the north, in the direction of Le Bourget
and Ville-Evrard. Ducrot was again in command, and 200,000 men were got
together, but only 5000 were brought into action. There were a great many
desertions, and no fewer than six officers of one brigade alone were
court-martialled and punished for lack of courage. The affair appears to
have been arranged in order to quiet the more reckless elements in Paris,
who were for ever demanding "a great, a torrential sortie." In this
instance, however, there was merely "much ado about nothing." The truth
is, that ever since the Champigny affair both Trochu and Ducrot had lost
all confidence.

On January 2 and 3, the French under Faidherbe, and the Germans under
Goeben, fought a battle at Bapaume, south of Arras. The former were by far
the more numerous force, being, indeed, as three to one, and Faidherbe is
credited with having gained a victory. But, again, it was only a barren
one, for although the Germans fell back, the French found it quite as
necessary to do the same. About a week previously the 16th French Army
Corps, with which Bourbaki had done little or nothing on the Loire, had
been removed from Vierzon and Bourges to join the Army of the East, of
which Bourbaki now assumed the chief command. The transport of the troops
proved a very difficult affair, and there was great disorder and, again,
many desertions. Nevertheless, on January 9, Bourbaki fought Werder at
Villersexel, in the vicinity of Vesoul, Montbéliard, and Belfort. In this
engagement there appear to have been serious mistakes on both sides, and
though Bourbaki claimed a success, his losses were numerically double
those of the Germans.

Meantime Chanzy, at Le Mans, was urging all sorts of plans on Gambetta and
Freyeinet. In the first place he desired to recruit and strengthen his
forces, so sorely tried by their difficult retreat; and in order that he
might have time to do so, he wished Bourbaki to execute a powerful
diversion by marching in the direction of Troyes. But Gambetta and
Freyeinet had decided otherwise. Bourbaki's advance was to be towards the
Vosges, after which he was to turn westward and march on Paris with
150,000 men. Chanzy was informed of this decision on and about January 5
(1871), and on the 6th he made a last attempt to modify the Government
plan in order that Bourbaki's march might be directed on a point nearer to
Paris. In reply, he was informed that it was too late to modify the

With regard to his own operations, Chanzy's idea was to march towards the
capital when his forces were reorganized. His bases were to be the river
Sarthe, the town of Le Mans, and the railway-line running northward to
Alençon. Thence he proposed to advance to some point on the river Eure
between Dreux and Chartres, going afterwards towards Paris by such a route
as circumstances might allow. He had 130,000 men near Le Mans, and
proposed to take 120,000 with 350 field-pieces or machine-guns, and
calculated that he might require a week, or to be precise eight days, to
carry this force from Le Mans to Chartres, allowing for fighting on the
way. Further, to assist his movements he wished Faidherbe, as well as
Bourbaki, to assume the offensive vigorously as soon as he was ready. The
carrying out of the scheme was frustrated, however, in part by the
movements which the Government ordered Bourbaki to execute, and in part by
what may be called the sudden awakening of Prince Frederick Charles, who,
feeling more apprehensive respecting Bourbaki's movements, had hitherto,
in a measure, neglected Chanzy's doings.

On December 22 Captain, afterwards General, de Boisdeffre [He was Chief of
the French Staff during the famous Dreyfus Case, in which his name was
frequently mentioned.] reached Le Mans, after quitting Paris in one of the
balloons, and gave Chanzy certain messages with which Trochu had entrusted
him. He brought nothing in writing, as what he had to communicate was
considered too serious to be committed to paper. Yet both my father and
myself could have imparted virtually the same information, which was but a
_secret de Polichinelle_. It concerned the date when the fall of Paris
would become inevitable. We--my father and myself--had said repeatedly at
Versailles and elsewhere that the capital's supply of food would last
until the latter days of January, and that the city (unless in the
meanwhile it were relieved) must then surrender. Authentic information to
that effect was available in Paris before we quitted it in November.
Of course Trochu's message to Chanzy was official, and carried greater
weight than the assertions of journalists. It was to the effect that it
would be necessary to negotiate a capitulation on January 20, in order to
give time for the revictualling of the city's two million inhabitants.
As it happened, the resistance was prolonged for another week or so.
However, Boisdeffre's information was sufficiently explicit to show Chanzy
that no time must be lost if Paris was to be saved.

Some German cavalry--probably the same men who had pursued Gougeard's
column--showed themselves at Saint Calais, which is only some thirty
miles north-east of Le Mans, as early as December 18, but soon retired,
and no further advance of the enemy in that direction took place for
several days. Chanzy formed two flying columns, one a division under
General Jouffroy, and one a body of 4000 men under General Rousseau, for
the purpose of worrying the enemy and keeping him at a distance. These
troops, particularly those of Jouffroy, who moved towards Montoire and
Vendôme, had several small but none the less important engagements with
the Germans. Prince Frederick Charles, indeed, realised that Jouffroy's
operations were designed to ensure the security of Chanzy's main army
whilst it was being recruited and reorganized, and thereupon decided to
march on Le Mans and attack Chanzy before the latter had attained his

On Christmas Day a force of German cavalry, artillery, and infantry
descended upon Saint Calais (then a town of about 3500 inhabitants),
levied a sum of 17,000 francs, pillaged several of the houses, and
ill-treated a number of the townsfolk. When some of the latter ventured to
protest, pointing out, among other things, that after various little
engagements in the vicinity several wounded Germans had been brought into
the town and well cared for there, the enemy's commanding officer called
them a pack of cowards, and flung them 2000 francs of his recent levy, to
pay them, he said, for their so-called services. The affair was reported
to Chanzy, who thereupon wrote an indignant letter to the German general
commanding at Vendôme. It was carried thither by a certain M. de Vézian, a
civil engineer attached to Chanzy's staff, who brought back the following

"Reçu une lettre du Général Chanzy. Un général prussien ne sachant pas
écrire une lettre de tel genre, ne saurait y faire une réponse par écrit.

"Au quartier-général à Vendôme, 28 Décembre 1870."

Signature (_illegible_).

It was, perhaps, a pity that Chanzy ever wrote his letter of protest.
French generals were too much given to expressing their feelings in
writing daring that war. Deeds and not words were wanted.

Meantime, the army was being slowly recruited. On December 13, Gambetta
had issued--none too soon--a decree authorising the billeting of the men
"during the winter campaign." Nevertheless, when Gougeard's troops
returned to Yvreé l'Evêque, they were ordered to sleep under canvas, like
many other divisions of the army. It was a great mistake. In that severe
weather--the winter was one of the coldest of the nineteenth century--the
men's sufferings were very great. They were in need, too, of many things,
new shoes, linen, great-coats, and other garments, and there was much
delay in providing for their more urgent requirements. Thus the number of
desertions was not to be wondered at. The commander-in-chief did his best
to ensure discipline among his dispirited troops. Several men were shot by
way of example. When, shortly before the battle of Le Mans, the 21st Army
Corps crossed the Huisne to take up positions near Montfort, several
officers were severely punished for riding in ambulance and baggage
waggons instead of marching with their men.

Le Mans is not easily defended from an enemy advancing upon it from
eastern, north-eastern, and south-eastern directions. A close defence is
impossible by reason of the character of the country. At the time of which
I write, the town was one of about 37,000 inhabitants. Very ancient,
already in existence at the time of the Romans, it became the capital of
Maine. William the Conqueror seized it, but it was snatched from his son,
Robert, by Hélie de La Flêche. Later, Geoffrey, the First of the
Plantagenets, was buried there, it being, moreover, the birthplace of his
son, our Henry II. In after years it was taken from Richard Coeur-de-Lion
by Philip-Augustus, who assigned it, however, to Richard's widow, Queen
Berengaria. A house in the town is wrongly said to have been her
residence, but she undoubtedly founded the Abbaye de l'Epau, near Yvré
l'Evêque, and was buried there. It was at Le Mans that King John of
France, who surrendered to the Black Prince at Poitiers, was born; and in
the neighbouring forest, John's grandson, Charles VI, first gave signs of
insanity. Five times during the Anglo-French wars of the days of Henry V
and Henry VI, Le Mans was besieged by one or another of the contending
parties. The town again suffered during the Huguenot wars, and yet again
during the Revolution, when the Vendéens seized it, but were expelled by
Marceau, some 5000 of them being bayoneted on the Place de l'Epéron.

Rich in associations with the history of England as well as that of
France, Le Mans, in spite of its accessibility--for railway lines coming
from five different directions meet there--is seldom visited by our
tourists. Its glory is its cathedral, strangely neglected by the numerous
English writers on the cathedrals of France. Here are exemplified the
architectural styles of five successive centuries, and, as Mérimée once
wrote, in passing from one part of the edifice to another, it is as if you
passed from one to another religion. But the supreme features of the
cathedral are its stained-glass windows, which include some of the very
oldest in the world. Many years ago, when they were in a more perfect
condition than they are now, Hucher gave reproductions of them in a rare
folio volume. Here, too, is the tomb of Queen Berengaria of England,
removed from the Abbaye de l'Epau; here, also, was formerly that of her
husband's grandfather, Geoffrey Plantagenet. But this was destroyed by
the Huguenots, and you must go to the museum to see all that remains of
it--that is, the priceless enamel _plaque_ by which it was formerly
surmounted, and which represents Geoffrey grasping his sword and his azure
shield, the latter bearing a cross and lions rampant--not the leoparded
lions passant of his English descendants. Much ink has flowed respecting
that shield during squabbles among heraldists.

Judging by recent plans of Le Mans, a good many changes have taken place
there since the time of the Franco-German War. Various new, broad,
straight streets have been substituted for some of the quaint old winding
ones. The Pont Napoléon now appears to have become the Pont Gambetta, and
the Place, des Minimes is called the Place de la République. I notice also
a Rue Thiers which did not exist in the days when Le Mans was familiar to
me as an old-world town. In this narrative I must, of course, take it as
it was then, not as it is now.

The Sarthe, flowing from north to south, where it is joined by its
tributary the Huisne, coming from the north-east, still divides the town
into two unequal sections; the larger one, on the most elevated part of
which stands the cathedral, being that on the river's left bank. At the
time I write of, the Sarthe was spanned by three stone bridges, a
suspension bridge, and a granite and marble railway viaduct, some 560 feet
in length. The German advance was bound to come from the east and the
south. On the east is a series of heights, below which flow the waters of
the Huisne. The views range over an expanse of varying elevation, steep
hills and deep valleys being frequent. There are numerous watercourses.
The Huisne, which helps to feed the Sarthe, is itself fed by a number of
little tributaries. The lowest ground, at the time I have in mind, was
generally meadow-land, intersected here and there with rows of poplars,
whilst the higher ground was employed for the cultivation of crops. Every
little field was circumscribed by ditches, banks, and thick hedges.

The loftiest point of the eastern heights is at Yvré l'Evêque, which was
once crowned by a renaissance chateau, where Henry of Navarre resided when
he reduced Le Mans to submission. Northward from Yvré, in the direction of
Savigné, stretches the high plateau of Sargé, which on the west slopes
down towards the river Sarthe, and forms one of the most important of the
natural defences of Le Mans. Eastward, from Yvré, you overlook first the
Huisne, spanned at various neighbouring points by four bridges, but having
much of the meadow-land in its valley cut up by little water-channels for
purposes of irrigation--these making the ground additionally difficult for
an attacking force to traverse. Secondly, you see a long plateau called
Auvours, the possession of which must necessarily facilitate an enemy's
operations. Following the course of the railway-line coming from the
direction of Paris, you notice several pine woods, planted on former
heaths. Still looking eastward, is the village of Champagné, where the
slopes are studded with vines, whilst the plain is arable land, dotted
over with clumps of chestnut trees. North-east of Champagné is Montfort,
where Chanzy at first stationed the bulk of the 21st Army Corps under
Jaurès, this (leaving his flying columns on one side) being the most
eastern position of his forces at the time when the German advance began.
The right of the 21st Corps here rested on the Huisne. Its extreme left
extended northward towards the Sarthe, but a division of the 17th Corps
under General de Colomb guarded the Alençon (N.) and Conlie (N.W.) railway

Confronted by the Huisne, the heights of Yvré and the plateaux of Sargé
and Auvours, having, for the most part, to keep to the high-roads--for,
bad as their state might be at that season, it was nothing compared with
the condition of the many narrow and often deep lanes, whose high banks
and hedges, moreover, offered opportunities for ambush--the Germans, it
was obvious, would have a difficult task before them on the eastern side
of Le Mans, even should they drive the 21st Corps from Montfort. The
approach to the town is easier, however, on the south-east and the south,
Here are numerous pine woods, but on going towards Le Mans, after passing
Parigné-l'Evêque (S.E.) and Mulsanne (S.), the ground is generally much
less hilly than on the east. There are, however, certain positions
favourable for defence. There is high ground at Changé, midway between the
road from Saint Calais to Le Mans, _viâ_ Yvré, and the road from Grand
Lucé to Le Mans _viâ_ Parigné. Over a distance of eight miles, moreover,
there extends--or extended at the time I refer to--a track called the
Chemin des Boeufs, suitable for defensive purposes, with high ground at at
least two points--Le Tertre Rouge, south-east of Le Mans, and La Tuilerie,
south of the town. The line of the Chemin des Boeufs and the position of
Changé was at first entrusted by Chanzy to the 16th Corps, whose
commander, Jauréguiberry, had his headquarters at the southern suburb of
Pontlieue, an important point affording direct access to Le Mans by a
stone bridge over the Huisne.

When I returned to Le Mans from Saint Servan in the very first days of
January, Chanzy's forces numbered altogether about 130,000 men, but a very
large proportion of them were dispersed in different directions, forming
detached columns under Generals Barry, Curten, Rousseau, and Jouffroy. The
troops of the two first-named officers had been taken from the 16th Corps
(Jauréguiberry), those of Rousseau were really the first division of the
21st Corps (Jaurès), and those of Jouffroy belonged to the 17th, commanded
by General de Colomb. [The 16th and 17th comprised three divisions each,
the 21st including four. The German Corps were generally of only two
divisions, with, however, far stronger forces of cavalry than Chanzy
disposed of.] It is a curious circumstance that, among the German
troops which opposed the latter's forces at this stage of the war, there
was a division commanded by a General von Colomb. Both these officers had
sprung from the same ancient French family, but Von Colomb came from a
Huguenot branch which had quitted France when the Edict of Nantes was

Chanzy's other chief coadjutors at Le Mans were Jaurès, of whom I have
already spoken, and Rear-Admiral Jauréguiberry, who, after the general-in-
chief, was perhaps the most able of all the commanders. Of Basque origin
and born in 1815, he had distinguished himself as a naval officer in the
Crimean, Chinese, and Cochin China expeditions; and on taking service in
the army under the National Defence, he had contributed powerfully to
D'Aurelle's victory at Coulmiers. He became known among the Loire forces
as the man who was always the first to attack and the last to retreat.
[He looked somewhat older than his years warranted, being very bald, with
just a fringe of white hair round the cranium. His upper lip and chin were
shaven, but he wore white whiskers of the "mutton-chop" variety. Slim and
fairly tall, he was possessed of no little nervous strength and energy. In
later years he became Minister of Marine in the Waddington, the second
Freycinet, and the Duclerc cabinets.]

Having referred to Chanzy's principal subordinates, it is fitting that I
should give a brief account of Chanzy himself. The son of an officer of
the First Empire, he was born at Nouart in the Argonne, and from his
personal knowledge of that region it is certain that his services would
have proved valuable during the disastrous march on Sedan, when, as Zola
has rightly pointed out in "La Débâcle," so many French commanding
officers were altogether ignorant of the nature and possibilities of the
country through which they advanced. Chanzy, however, like many others who
figured among the Loire forces, had begun life in the navy, enlisting in
that service when sixteen years of age. But, after very brief experience
afloat, he went to the military school of St. Cyr, passed out of it as a
sub-lieutenant in 1843, when he was in his twenty-first year, was
appointed to a regiment of Zouaves, and sent to Algeria. He served,
however, in the Italian campaign of 1859, became lieutenant-colonel of a
line regiment, and as such took part in the Syrian expedition of 1860-61.
Later, he was with the French forces garrisoning Rome, acquired a
colonelcy in 1864, returned to Algeria, and in 1868 was promoted to the
rank of general of brigade.

At the outset of the Franco-German War, he applied for active service, but
the imperial authorities would not employ him in France. In spite of the
associations of his family with the first Empire, he was, like Trochu,
accounted an Orleanist, and it was not desired that any Orleanist general
should have an opportunity to distinguish himself in the contemplated
"march on Berlin." Marshal MacMahon, however, as Governor of Algeria, had
formed a high opinion of Chanzy's merits, and after Sedan, anxious as he
was for his country in her predicament, the Marshal, then a prisoner of
war, found a means of advising the National Defence to make use of
Chanzy's services. That patriotic intervention, which did infinite credit
to MacMahon, procured for Chanzy an appointment at the head of the 16th
Army Corps, and later the chief command of the Second Loire Army.

When I first saw him in the latter days of 1870, he was in his
fifty-eighth year, well built, and taller than the majority of French
officers. His fair hair and fair moustache had become grey; but his blue
eyes had remained bright, and there was an expression of quiet resolution
on his handsome, well-cut face, with its aquiline nose and energetic jaw.
Such, physically, was the general whom Moltke subsequently declared to
have been the best that France opposed to the Germans throughout the war.
I never once saw Chanzy excited, in which respect he greatly contrasted
with many of the subordinate commanders. Jauréguiberry was sometimes
carried away by his Basque, and Gougeard by his Celtic, blood. So it was
with Jaurès, who, though born in Paris, had, like his nephew the Socialist
leader, the blood of the Midi in his veins. Chanzy, however, belonged to a
calmer, a more quietly resolute northern race.

He was inclined to religion, and I remember that, in addition to the
chaplains accompanying the Breton battalions, there was a chief chaplain
attached to the general staff. This was Abbé de Beuvron, a member of
an old noble family of central France. The Chief of the Staff was
Major-General Vuillemot; the Provost-General was Colonel Mora, and the
principal aides-de-camp were Captains Marois and de Boisdeffre. Specially
attached to the headquarters service there was a rather numerous picked
force under General Bourdillon. It comprised a regiment of horse gendarmes
and one of foot gendarmes, four squadrons of Chasseurs d'Afrique, some
artillery provided chiefly with mountain-guns, an aeronautical company
under the brothers Tissandier, and three squadrons of Algerian light
cavalry, of the Spahi type, who, with their flowing burnouses and their
swift little Arab horses, often figured conspicuously in Chanzy's escort.
A year or two after the war, I engaged one of these very men--he was
called Saad--as a servant, and he proved most devoted and attentive;
but he had contracted the germs of pulmonary disease during that cruel
winter of 1870-71, and at the end of a few months I had to take him to the
Val-de-Grâce military hospital in Paris, where he died of galloping

The German forces opposed to Chanzy consisted of a part of the so-called
"Armée-Abtheilung" under the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg, and the "Second
Army" under Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia, the latter including the
3rd, 9th, 10th, and 13th Army Corps, and disposing of numerous cavalry
and nearly four hundred guns. The Prince ascertained that the French
forces were, in part, extremely dispersed, and therefore resolved to act
before they could be concentrated. At the outset the Germans came down on
Nogent-le-Rotrou, where Rousseau's column was stationed, inflicted a
reverse on him, and compelled him (January 7) to fall back on Connerré--a
distance of thirty miles from Nogent, and of less than sixteen from Le
Mans. On the same day, sections of Jouffroy's forces were defeated at
Epuisay and Poirier (mid-way between Le Mans and Vendôme), and also
forced to retreat. The French detachments (under Jouffroy, Curten, and
Barry) which were stationed along the line from Saint Calais to Montoire,
and thence to Saint Amand and Château-Renault--a stretch of some
five-and-twenty miles--were not strong enough to oppose the German
advance, and some of them ran the risk of having their retreat cut off.
Chanzy realized the danger, and on the morning of January 8 he despatched
Jauréguiberry to take command of all the troops distributed from the south
to the south-east, between Château-du-Loir and Château-Renault, and bring
them to Le Mans.

But the 10th German Corps was advancing in these directions, and, after
an engagement with Barry's troops at Ruillé, secured positions round La
Chartre. This seriously threatened the retreat of the column under General
Curten, which was still at Saint Amand, and, moreover, it was a further
menace to Barry himself, as his division was distributed over a front of
fourteen miles near Château-du-Loir. Jauréguiberry, however, entreated
Barry to continue guarding the river Loir, in the hope of Curten being
able to retreat to that point.

Whilst, however, these defensive attempts were being made to the south of
Le Mans, the Germans were pressing forward on the north-east and the
east, Prince Frederick Charles being eager to come in touch with Chanzy's
main forces, regardless of what might happen on the Loir and at Saint
Amand. On the north-east the enemy advanced to La Ferté Bernard; on the
east, at Vancé, a brigade of German cavalry drove back the French
cuirassiers and Algerians, and Prince Frederick Charles then proceeded as
far as Saint Calais, where he prepared for decisive action. One army corps
was sent down the line of the Huisne, another had orders to advance on
Ardenay, a third on Bouloire, whilst the fourth, leaving Barry on its left
flank, was to march on Parigné-l'Evêque. Thus, excepting a brigade of
infantry and one of cavalry, detached to observe the isolated Curten, and
hold him in check, virtually the whole of the German Second Army marched
against Chanzy's main forces.

Chanzy, on his side, now ordered Jaurès (21st Corps) to occupy the
positions of Yvré, Auvours, and Sargé strongly; whilst Colomb (17th Corps)
was instructed to send General Pâris's division forward to Ardenay, thus
reducing Colomb's actual command to one division, as Jouffroy's column had
previously been detached from it. On both sides every operation was
attended by great difficulties on account of the very severe weather.
A momentary thaw had been followed by another sudden frost, in such wise
that the roads had a coating of ice, which rendered them extremely
slippery. On January 9 violent snowstorms set in, almost blinding one, and
yet the rival hosts did not for an hour desist from their respective
efforts. At times, when I recall those days, I wonder whether many who
have read of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow have fully realized what that
meant. Amidst the snowstorms of the 9th a force of German cavalry attacked
our extreme left and compelled it to retreat towards the Alençon line.
Rousseau's column being in a dangerous position at Connerré, Colin's
division of the 21st Corps was sent forward to support it in the direction
of Montfort, Gougeard with his Bretons also advancing to support Colin.
But the 13th German Corps attacked Rousseau, who after two engagements
was driven from Connerré and forced to retreat on Montfort and
Pont-de-Gennes across the Huisne, after losing in killed, wounded, and
missing, some 800 of his men, whereas the enemy lost barely a hundred.
At the same time Gougeard was attacked, and compelled to fall back on

But the principal event of the day was the defeat of General Paris's force
at Ardenay by a part of the 3rd German Corps. The latter had a superiority
in numbers, but the French in their demoralised condition scarcely put up
a fight at all, in such wise that the Germans took about 1000 prisoners.
The worst, however, was that, by seizing Ardenay, the enemy drove as it
were a wedge between the French forces, hampering their concentration.
Meantime, the 9th German Corps marched to Bouloire, which became Prince
Frederick Charles's headquarters. The 10th Corps, however, had not yet
been able to advance to Parigné l'Evêque in accordance with the Prince's
orders, though it had driven Barry back on Jupilles and Grand Lucé. The
sole advantage secured by the French that day was that Curten managed to
retreat from Château-Renault; but it was only on the night of the 10th,
when he could be of little or no use to Chanzy, that he was able to reach
Château-du-Loir, where, in response to Chanzy's urgent appeals,
Jauréguiberry had succeeded in collecting a few thousand men to reinforce
the troops defending Le Mans.

For four days there had been fighting on one and another point, from the
north-east to the south of the town, the result being unfavourable to the
French. Chanzy, it is true, was at this critical moment in bad health.
According to one account which I heard at the time, he had had an attack
of dysentery; according to another, he was suffering from some throat
complaint, combined with violent neuralgic pains in the head. I do not
think, however, that his ill-health particularly affected the issue, which
depended so largely on the manner in which his plans and instructions were
carried out. The strategy adopted by the Germans at Sedan and in the
battles around Metz had greatly impressed the generals who commanded the
French armies during the second period of the war. One might really say
that they lived in perpetual dread of being surrounded by the enemy. If
there was a lack of concentration on Chanzy's part, if he sent out one and
another flying column, and distributed a considerable portion of his army
over a wide area, it was precisely because he feared some turning movement
on the part of the Germans, which might result in bottling him up at
Le Mans.

The earlier instructions which Prince Frederick Charles forwarded to his
subordinates certainly seem to indicate that a turning movement was
projected. But after the fighting on January 9, when, as I have indicated,
the 3rd German Army Corps penetrated wedge-like into the French lines, the
Prince renounced any idea of surrounding Chanzy's forces, and resolved to
make a vigorous frontal attack before they could be reinforced by any of
the still outlying columns. In coming to this decision, the Prince may
well have been influenced by the result of the recent fighting, which had
sufficiently demonstrated the superiority of the German troops to show
that, under the circumstances, a frontal attack would be attended with far
less risk than if he had found himself faced by a really vigorous
antagonist. Captain Hozier, whom I had previously seen at Versailles, was
at this time acting as _Times_ correspondent with the Prince's army, and,
in subsequently reviewing the fighting, he expressed the opinion that the
issue of the Prince's operations was never for a moment doubtful. Still,
on all points but one, the French put up a fairly good defence, as I will
now show.



The real Battle of Le Mans begins (January 10)--Jouffroy and Pâris
are driven back--Gougeard's Fight at Champagné--The Breton Mobilisés
from Conlie--Chanzy's Determination--His Orders for January 11--He
inspects the Lines--Pâris driven from the Plateau of Auvours--Gougeard's
gallant re-capture of the Plateau--My Return to Le Mans--The Panic at La
Tuilerie--Retreat inevitable--Withdrawal of the French--Entry of the
Germans--Street Fighting--German Exactions--My Escape from Le Mans--The
French Retreat--Rear-Guard Engagements--Laval--My Arrest as a Spy--A
Dramatic Adventure.

Some more snow fell on the morning of January 10, when the decisive
fighting in front of Le Mans really began. On the evening of the 9th the
French headquarters was still without news of Generals Curten, Barry,
and Jouffroy, and even the communications with Jauréguiberry were of an
intermittent character. Nevertheless, Chanzy had made up his mind to give
battle, and had sent orders to Jauréguiberry to send Jouffroy towards
Parigné-l'Evêque (S.E.) and Barry towards Ecommoy (S. of Le Mans). But
the roads were in so bad a condition, and the French troops had been so
severely tried, and were so ill-provided for, that several of the
commander-in-chief's instructions could not be carried out.

Jouffroy at least did his best, and after a hard and tiring march from
Grand Lucé, a part of his division reached Parigné in time to join in the
action fought there. But it ended disastrously for the French, one of
their brigades losing as many as 1400 men, and the Germans taking
altogether some 2000 prisoners. Jouffroy's troops then fell back to
Pontlieue, the southern suburb of Le Mans, in a lamentable condition, and
took care to place the Huisne between themselves and the Germans. In the
same direction Paris's demoralised, division, already worsted at Ardenay
on the previous day, was driven from Changé by the 3rd German Corps, which
took no fewer than 5000 prisoners. It had now almost cut the French
eastern and southern lines apart, threatening all direct communication
between the 21st and the 16th French Corps. Nevertheless, it was in a
dangerous position, having both of its flanks exposed to attack, one from
Yvré and Auvours, and the other from Pontlieue and the Chemin des Boeufs,
which last line was held by the 16th French Corps.

Meantime, Gougeard's Bretons had been engaged at Champagné, quite a close
encounter taking place in the fields and on the vineyard slopes, followed
by a house-to-house fight in the village streets. The French were at last
driven back; but somewhat later, on the Germans retiring from Champagné,
they reoccupied the place. The result of the day was that, apart from the
somewhat hazardous success achieved by the 3rd German Corps, the enemy had
gained no great advantage. His 13th Corps had made but little progress,
his 9th had not been brought into action, and his 10th was as yet no
nearer than Grand Lucé. On the French side, Barry had at last reached
Mulsanne, thus covering the direct southern road to Le Mans, Jauréguiberry
being lower down at Ecommoy with some 9000 men of various arms and
regiments, whom he had managed to get together. As for Curten's division,
as it could not possibly reach the immediate neighbourhood of Le Mans in
time for the fighting on the 11th, it received orders to march on La Suze,
south-west of the imperilled town. During the 10th, moreover, Chanzy was
strengthened by the welcome arrival of several additional field-pieces and
a large number of horses. He had given orders to raise the Camp of Conlie,
but instead of the forty or fifty thousand men, which at an earlier period
it was thought that camp would be able to provide, he now only derived
from it some 9000 ill-equipped, badly armed, and almost undrilled
Breton Mobilisés. [On the other hand, as I previously related, the camp
had already provided the bulk of the men belonging to Gougeard's
division.] They were divided into six battalions--one of which came
from Saint Malo, the others from Rennes and Redon--and were commanded by
a general named Lalande. They proved to be no accession of strength; they
became, on the contrary, a source of weakness, and disaster, for it was
their behaviour which eventually sealed the fate of the Second Loire Army.

But Chanzy, whatever his ailments might be, was personally full of energy
and determination. He knew, moreover, that two new army corps (the 19th
and the 25th) were being got ready to reinforce him, and he was still
resolved to give battle and hold on for another four or five days, when he
relied on compelling Prince Frederick Charles to retreat. Then, with his
reinforced army, he hoped to march once more in the direction of Paris.
Curiously enough, it was precisely on that critical day, January 10, that
Gambetta sent Trochu a despatch by pigeon-post, telling him that on the
20th, at the latest, both Chanzy and Bourbaki would be moving on the
capital, having between them over 400,000 men.

But if Chanzy's spirits did not fail him, those of his men were at a very
low ebb indeed. He was repeatedly told so by subordinate commanders;
nevertheless (there was something Napoleonic in his character), he would
not desist from his design, but issued instructions that there was to be a
resolute defence of the lines on the 11th, together with a determined
effort to regain all lost positions. At the same time, the statements of
the divisional generals respecting the low _morale_ of some of the troops
were not left unheeded, for a very significant order went forth, namely,
that cavalry should be drawn up in the rear of the infantry wherever this
might appear advisable. The inference was obvious.

Three divisions and Lalande's Breton Mobilisés were to hold the
south-eastern lines from Arnage along the track known as the Chemin des
Boeufs, and to link up, as well as possible, with Pâris's and Gougeard's
divisions, to which fell the duty of guarding the plateau of Auvours and
the banks of the Huisne. The rest of the 21st Corps (to which Gougeard's
division belonged) was to defend the space between the Huisne and the
Sarthe. Colomb's fragmentary force, apart from Pâris's division, was still
to cover Le Mans towards the north-east. Barry's men, on their expected
arrival, were to serve as reserves around Pontlieue.

The morning of January 11 was bright. The snow had ceased falling, but lay
some inches thick upon the ground. In order to facilitate the passage of
troops, and particularly of military waggons, through the town, the Mayor
of Le Mans ordered the inhabitants to clear away as much of this snow as
possible; but it naturally remained undisturbed all over the countryside.
Little had been seen of Chanzy on the two previous days, but that morning
he mounted horse and rode along the lines from the elevated position known
as Le Tertre Rouge to the equally elevated position of Yvré. I saw him
there, wrapped in a long loose cloak, the hood of which was drawn over his
képi. Near him was his picturesque escort of Algerian Spahis, and while he
was conversing with some officers I pulled out a little sketch-book which
I carried, and tried to outline the group. An aide-de-camp who noticed me
at once came up to inquire what I was doing, and I therefore had to
produce the permit which, on returning to the front, I had obtained from
the Chief of the Staff. It was found to be quite in order, and I went on
with my work. But a few minutes later the general, having given his
orders, gathered up his reins to ride away. As he slowly passed me, he
gave me just one little sharp glance, and with a faint suspicion of a
smile remarked, "I will look at that another time." The aide-de-camp had
previously told him what my purpose was.

That day the 3rd German Corps again resumed the offensive, and once more
drove Gougeard out of Champagné. Then the enemy's 9th Corps, which on
January 10 had done little or nothing, and was therefore quite fresh, was
brought into action, and made a resolute attack on the plateau of Auvours.
There was a fairly long fight, which could be seen from Yvré. But the
Germans were too strong for Pâris's men, who at last disbanded, and came,
helter-skelter, towards the bridge of Yvré in terrible confusion. Flight
is often contagious, and Gougeard, who had fallen back from Champagné in
fairly good order, feared lest his men should imitate their comrades.
He therefore pointed two field-pieces on the runaways, and by that means
checked their stampede.

Having established themselves at the farther end of the plateau, the
Germans advanced very cautiously, constantly seeking cover behind the
various hedges. General de Colomb, to whose command Pâris's runaway
division belonged, insisted, however, that the position must be retaken.
Gougeard thereupon collected a very miscellaneous force, which included
regular infantry, mobiles, mobilisés, and some of Charette's Volontaires
de l'Ouest--previously known in Borne as the Pontifical Zouaves. Placing
himself at the head of these men, he made a vigorous effort to carry out
Colomb's orders. The French went forward almost at the charge, the Germans
waiting for them from behind the hedges, whence poured a hail of lead.
Gougeard's horse was shot under him, a couple of bullets went through his
coat, and another--or, as some said, a splinter of a shell--knocked off
his képi. Still, he continued leading his men, and in the fast failing
light the Germans, after repeated encounters, were driven back to the
verge of the plateau.

That was told me afterwards, for at the moment I was already on my way
back to Le Mans, which I wished to reach before it was absolutely night.
On coming from the town early in the morning, I had brought a few eatables
in my pockets, but they had soon been consumed, and I had found it
impossible to obtain any food whatever at Yvré, though some of the very
indifferent local wine was procurable. Thus I was feeling very hungry as I
retraced my steps through the snow towards the little hostelry in the Rue
du Gué de Maulny, where I had secured accommodation. It was a walk of some
four or five miles, but the cold urged me on, and, in spite of the snow,
I made the journey fairly rapidly, in such wise that little more than an
hour later I was seated in a warm room in front of some steaming soup,
answering all sorts of questions as to what I had seen during the day,
and particularly whether _les nôtres_ had gained a victory. I could only
answer that the "Prussians" had taken Auvours, but that fighting was still
going on, as Gougeard had gone to recapture the position. At the moment,
indeed, that was the extent of my information. The landlord looked rather
glum and his daughter somewhat anxious, and the former, shaking his head,
exclaimed: "Voyez-vous, Monsieur l'Anglais, nous n'avons pas de chance--
pas de chance du tout! Je ne sais pas à quoi ca tient, mais c'est comme
ca. Et, tenez, cela ne me surprendrait pas de voir ces sales Prussiens
dans la ville d'ici à demain!" ["We have no luck, no luck at all.
I don't know why, but there it is. And, do you know, it would not surprise
me to see those dirty Prussians in the town between now and to-morrow."]
Unfortunately for Le Mans and for France also, his forebodings were
accurate. At that very moment, indeed, a great disaster was occurring.

Jauréguiberry had reached the southern suburb of Pontlieue at about nine
o'clock that morning after a night march from Ecommoy. He had divided his
miscellaneous force of 9000 men into three brigades. As they did not seem
fit for immediate action, they were drafted into the reserves, so that
their arrival was of no particular help that day. About eleven o'clock the
3rd German Corps, coming from the direction of Changé, attacked Jouffroy's
lines along the more northern part of the so-called Chemin des Boeufs,
and, though Jouffroy's men fought fairly well, they could not prevent
their foes from capturing the position of the Tertre Rouge. Still, the
enemy gained no decisive success in this direction; nor was any marked
result attained by the 13th German Corps which formed the extreme right of
the attacking forces. But Prince Frederick Charles had sent orders to
Voigts Rhetz, who was at Grand Lucé, [A brigade of cavalry kept up
communications between him and the 3rd Army Corps.] advance with the
10th Corps on Mulsanne, which the French had evacuated; and on reaching
Mulsanne, the same general received instructions to come to the support of
the 3rd Corps, which was engaged with Jouffroy's force. Voigts Rhetz's men
were extremely fatigued; nevertheless, the 20th Division of Infantry,
commanded by General Kraatz-Koschlau, went on towards the Chemin des
Boeufs, following the direct road from Tours to Le Mans.

Here there was an elevated position known as La Tuilerie--otherwise the
tile-works--which had been fortified expressly to prevent the Germans from
bursting upon Le Mans from the direct south. Earth-works for guns had been
thrown up, trenches had been dug, the pine trees, so abundant on the
southern side of Le Mans, had been utilised for other shielding works, as
well as for shelter-places for the defending force. Unfortunately, at the
moment of the German advance, that defending force consisted of the
ill-equipped, badly armed, and almost untrained Breton Mobilisés,
[There were just a few old soldiers among them.] who, as I have already
related, had arrived the previous day from the camp of Conlie under the
command of General Lalande. It is true that near these men was stationed
an infantry brigade of the 6th Corps d'Armée, whose duty it was to support
and steady them. They undoubtedly needed to be helped, for the great
majority had never been in action before. Moreover, in addition to the
infantry brigade, there were two batteries of artillery; but I fear that
for the most part the gunners were little better than recruits.
Exaggerated statements have been made respecting the quality of the
firearms with which the Mobilisés were provided. Many of the weapons were
afterwards found to be very dirty, even rusty, but that was the result of
neglect, which their officers should have remedied. It is true, however,
that these weapons were for the most part merely percussion guns. Again,
it has been said that the men had no ammunition, but that statement was
certainly inaccurate. On the other hand, these Mobilisés were undoubtedly
very cold and very hungry--even as I myself was that day--no rations
having been served to them until late in the afternoon, that is, shortly
before they were attacked, at which moment, indeed, they were actually
preparing the meal for which they had so long been waiting.

The wintry night was gathering round when Kraatz-Kosohlau found himself
with his division before the position of La Tuilerie. He could see that it
was fortified, and before attempting any further advance he fired a few
shells. The Mobilisés were immediately panic-stricken. They made no
attempt at defence; hungry though they were, they abandoned even their
pots and pans, and fled in the direction of Pontlieue, which formed, as it
were, a long avenue, fringed with factories, textile mills, bleaching
works, and so forth. In vain did their officers try to stop the fugitives,
even striking them with the flats of their swords, in vain did Lalande and
his staff seek to intercept them at the Rond Point de Pontlieue. Nothing
could induce them to stop. They threw away their weapons in order to run
the faster. At La Tuilerie not a gun was fired at the Germans. Even the
infantry brigade fell back, without attempting to fight.

All this occurred at a moment when everybody thought that the day's
fighting was over. But Jauréguiberry appeared upon the scene, and ordered
one of his subordinates, General Lebouëdeo, to retake the lost position.
Lebouëdeo tried to do so with 1000 tired men, who had been in action
during the day, and failed. A second attempt proved equally futile. No
effort apparently was made to secure help from Barry, who was at Arnage
with 5000 infantry and two brigades of cavalry, and who might have fallen
on the left flank of the German Corps. La Tuilerie was lost, and with it
Le Mans was lost also.

I was quietly sipping some coffee and reading the local newspapers--three
or four were published at Le Mans in those days--when I heard of that
disastrous stampede. Some of the men had reached the town, spreading the
contagion of fear as they came. Tired though I was, I at once went towards
the Avenue de Fontlieue, where the excitement was general. Gendarmes were
hurrying hither and thither, often arresting the runaways, and at other
times picking up weapons and cartridge-cases which had been flung away. So
numerous were the abandoned weapons and equipments that cartloads of them
were collected. Every now and then an estafette galloped to or from the
town. The civilians whom one met wore looks of consternation. It was
evident, indeed, to everybody who knew how important was the position of
La Tuilerie, that its capture by the Germans placed Le Mans in jeopardy.
When the two attempts to retake it had failed, Jauréguiberry urged
immediate retreat. This was rendered the more imperative by other events
of the night and the early morning, for, inspirited by their capture of La
Tuilerie, the Germans made fresh efforts in other directions, so that
Barry had to quit Arnage, whilst Jouffroy lost most of his positions near
the Chemin des Boeufs, and the plateau d'Auvours had again to be

At 8 a.m. on January 12, Chanzy, after suggesting a fresh attempt to
recover La Tuilerie, which was prevented by the demoralisation of the
troops, was compelled to give a reluctant assent to Jauréguiberry's
proposals of retreat. At the same time, he wished the retreat to be
carried out slowly and methodically, and informed Gambetta that he
intended to withdraw in the direction of Aleneon (Orne) and Pré-en-Pail
(Mayenne). This meant moving into Normandy, and Gambetta pointed out that
such a course would leave all Brittany open to the enemy, and enable him
to descend without opposition even to the mouth of the Loire. Chanzy was
therefore instructed to retreat on Laval, and did so; but as he had
already issued orders for the other route, great confusion ensued, the new
orders only reaching the subordinate commanders on the evening of the

From January 6 to 12 the French had lost 6000 men in killed and wounded.
The Germans had taken 20,000 prisoners, and captured seventeen guns and a
large quantity of army materiel. Further, there was an incalculable number
of disbanded Mobiles and Mobilisés. If Prince Frederick Charles had known
at the time to what a deplorable condition Chanzy's army had been reduced,
he would probably have acted more vigorously than he did. It is true that
his own men (as Von Hoenig has admitted) were, generally speaking, in a
state of great fatigue after the six days' fighting, and also often badly
circumstanced in regard to clothing, boots, and equipments. [Even when the
armistice arrived I saw many German soldiers wearing French sabots.] Such
things cannot last for ever, and there had been little or no opportunity
to renew anything since the second battle of Orleans early in December.
In the fighting before Le Mans, however, the German loss in killed and
wounded was only 3400--200 of the number being officers, whom the French
picked off as often as possible.

On the morning of the 12th all was confusion at Pontlieue. Guns, waggons,
horsemen, infantrymen, were congregated there, half blocking up the bridge
which connects this suburb with Le Mans. A small force under General de
Roquebrune was gallantly striving to check the Germans at one part of the
Chemin des Boeufs, in order to cover the retreat. A cordon of gendarmes
had been drawn up at the railway-station to prevent it from being invaded
by all the runaways. Some hundreds of wounded men were allowed access,
however, in order that they might, if possible, get away in one of the
many trains which were being sent off as rapidly as possible. This service
was in charge of an official named Piquet, who acted with the greatest
energy and acumen. Of the five railway-lines meeting at Le Mans only two
were available, that running to Rennes _viâ_ Laval, and that running to
Angers. I find from a report drawn up by M. Piquet a little later, that he
managed to send off twenty-five trains, some of them drawn by two and
three engines. They included about 1000 vans, trucks, and coaches; that is
558 vans laden with provisions (in part for the relief of Paris); 134 vans
and trucks laden with artillery _matériel_ and stores, 70 vans of
ammunition, 150 empty vans and trucks, and 176 passenger carriages. On
securing possession of the station, however, the Germans still found there
about 200 vans and carriages, and at least a dozen locomotive engines. The
last train left at 2.45 p.m. I myself got away (as I shall presently
relate) shortly after two o'clock, when the station was already being

General de Roquebrune having, at last, been compelled to withdraw from the
vicinity of the Chemin des Boeufs, the Germans came on to the long avenue
of Pontlieue. Here they were met by most of the corps of gendarmes, which,
as I previously related, was attached to the headquarters-staff under
General Bourdillon. These men, who had two Gatlings with them, behaved
with desperate bravery in order to delay the German entry into the town.
About a hundred of them, including a couple of officers, were killed
during that courageous defence. It was found impossible, however, to blow
up the bridge. The operation had been delayed as long as possible in order
to facilitate the French retreat, and when the gendarmes themselves
withdrew, there no longer remained sufficient time to put it into

The first Germans to enter the town belonged to the 38th Brigade of
Infantry, and to part of a cavalry force under General von Schmidt. After
crossing the bridge of Pontlieue, they divided into three columns. One of
them proceeded up the Rue du Quartier de Cavalerie in the direction of the
Place des Jacobins and the cathedral. The second also went towards the
upper town, marching, however, by way of the Rue Basse, which conducted to
the Place des Halles, where the chief hotels and cafés were situated.
Meantime, the third column turned to the left, and hastened towards the
railway station. But, to their great amazement, their advance was
repeatedly checked. There were still a number of French soldiers in the
town, among them being Mobile Guards, Gendarmes, Franc-tireurs, and a
party of Marine Fusiliers. The German column which began to ascend the Rue
Basse was repeatedly fired at, whereupon its commanding officer halted his
men, and by way of punishment had seven houses set on fire, before
attempting to proceed farther. Nevertheless, the resistance was prolonged
at various points, on the Place des Jacobins, for instance, and again on
the Place des Halles. Near the latter square is--or was--a little street
called the Rue Dumas, from which the French picked off a dozen or twenty
Germans, so infuriating their commander that he sent for a couple of
field-pieces, and threatened to sweep the whole town with projectiles.

Meantime, a number of the French who had lingered at Le Mans were
gradually effecting their escape. Many artillery and commissariat waggons
managed to get away, and a local notability, M. Eugène Caillaux--father
of M. Joseph Caillaux who was French Prime Minister during the latter half
of 1911, and who is now (Dec., 1913) Minister of Finances--succeeded in
sending out of the town several carts full of rifles, which some of the
French troops had flung away. However, the street-fighting could not be
indefinitely prolonged. It ceased when about a hundred Germans and a
larger number of French, both soldiers and civilians, had been killed.
The Germans avenged themselves by pillaging the houses in the Rue Dumas,
and several on the Place des Halles, though they spared the Hôtel de
France there, as their commander, Voigts Rhetz, reserved it for his own
accommodation. Whilst the bombardment of a part of the lower town
continued--the railway station and the barracks called the Caserne de
la Mission being particularly affected--raids were made on the French
ambulances, in one of which, on the Boulevard Négrier, a patient was
barbarously bayoneted in his bed, on the pretext that he was a
Franc-tireur, whereas he really belonged to the Mobile Guard. At the
ambulance of the École Normale, the sisters and clergy were, according to
their sworn statements, grossly ill-treated. Patients, some of whom were
suffering from smallpox, were turned out of their beds--which were
required, it was said, for the German wounded. All the wine that could be
found was drunk, money was stolen, and there was vindictive destruction on
all sides.

The Mayor [The Prefect, M. Le Chevalier, had followed the army in its
retreat, considering it his duty to watch over the uninvaded part of the
department of the Sartha.] of Le Mans, M. Richard, and his two _adjoints_,
or deputies, went down through the town carrying a towel as a flag of
truce, and on the Place de la Mission they at last found Voigts Rhetz
surrounded by his staff. The General at once informed the Mayor that, in
consequence of the resistance of the town, it would have to pay a
war-levy of four millions of francs (£160,000) within twenty-four hours,
and that the inhabitants would have to lodge and feed the German forces as
long as they remained there. All the appeals made against these hard
conditions were disregarded during nearly a fortnight. When both the Mayor
and the Bishop of Le Mans solicited audiences of Prince Frederick Charles,
they were told by the famous Count Harry von Arnim--who, curiously enough,
subsequently became German Ambassador to France, but embroiled himself
with Bismarck and died in exile--that if they only wished to tender their
humble duty to the Prince he would graciously receive them, but that he
refused to listen to any representations on behalf of the town.

A first sum of £20,000 and some smaller ones were at last got together in
this town of 37,000 inhabitants, and finally, on January 23, the total
levy was reduced, as a special favour, to £80,000. Certain German
requisitions were also to be set off against £20,000 of that amount; but
they really represented about double the figure. A public loan had to be
raised in the midst of continual exactions, which lasted even after the
preliminaries of peace had been signed, the Germans regarding Le Mans as a
milch cow from which too much could not be extracted.

The anxieties of the time might well have sufficed to make the Mayor ill,
but, as a matter of fact, he caught small-pox, and his place had to be
taken by a deputy, who with the municipal council, to which several local
notabilities were adjoined, did all that was possible to satisfy the greed
of the Germans. Small-pox, I may mention, was very prevalent at Le Mans,
and some of the ambulances were specially reserved for soldiers who had
contracted that disease. Altogether, about 21,000 men (both French and
Germans), suffering from wounds or diseases of various kinds, were treated
in the town's ambulances from November 1 to April 15.

Some thousands of Germans were billeted on the inhabitants, whom they
frequently robbed with impunity, all complaints addressed to the German
Governor, an officer named Von Heiduck, being disregarded. This individual
ordered all the inhabitants to give up any weapons which they possessed,
under penalty of death. Another proclamation ordained the same punishment
for anybody who might give the slightest help to the French army, or
attempt to hamper the German forces. Moreover, the editors, printers, and
managers of three local newspapers were summarily arrested and kept in
durance on account of articles against the Germans which they had written,
printed, or published _before_ Chanzy's defeat.

On January 13, which chanced to be a Friday, Prince Frederick Charles made
his triumphal entry into Le Mans, the bands of the German regiments
playing all their more popular patriotic airs along the route which
his Royal Highness took in order to reach the Prefecture--a former
eighteenth-century convent--where he intended to install himself. On the
following day the Mayor received the following letter:

"Mr. Mayor,

"I request you to send to the Prefecture by half-past five o'clock this
afternoon 24 spoons, 24 forks, and 36 knives, as only just sufficient for
the number of people at table have been sent, and there is no means of
changing the covers. For dinner you will provide 20 bottles of Bordeaux,
30 bottles of Champagne, two bottles of Madeira, and 2 bottles of
liqueurs, which must be at the Prefecture at six o'clock precisely.
The wine previously sent not being good, neither the Bordeaux nor the
Champagne, you must send better kinds, otherwise I shall have to inflict
a fine upon the town.

(Signed) "Von Kanitz."

This communication was followed almost immediately afterwards by another,
emanating from the same officer, who was one of the Prince's
aides-de-camp. He therein stated (invariably employing, be it said,
execrable French) that the _café-au-lait_ was to be served at the
Prefecture at 8 a.m.; the _déjeuner_ at noon; and the dinner at 7.30 p.m.
At ten o'clock every morning, the Mayor was to send 40 bottles of
Bordeaux, 40 bottles of Champagne, 6 bottles of Madeira, and 3 bottles of
liqueurs. He was also to provide waiters to serve at table, and kitchen-
and scullery-maids. And Kanitz concluded by saying: "If the least thing
fails, a remarkable (_sic_) fine will be inflicted on the town."

On January 15 an order was sent to the Mayor to supply at once, for the
Prince's requirements, 25 kilogrammes of ham; 13 kilos. of sausages;
13 kilos. of tongues; 5 dozen eggs; vegetables of all sorts, particularly
onions; 15 kilos. of Gruyère cheese; 5 kilos. of Parmesan; 15 kilos.
of best veal; 20 fowls; 6 turkeys; 12 ducks; 5 kilos. of powdered sugar.
[All the German orders and requisitions are preserved in the municipal
archives of Le Mans.] No wine was ever good enough for Prince Frederick
Charles and his staff. The complaints sent to the town-hall were
incessant. Moreover, the supply of Champagne, by no means large in such a
place as Le Mans, gave out, and then came all sorts of threats. The
municipal councillors had to trot about trying to discover a few bottles
here and there in private houses, in order to supply the requirements of
the Princely Staff. There was also a scarcity of vegetables, and yet there
were incessant demands for spinach, cauliflowers, and artichokes, and even
fruit for the Prince's tarts. One day Kanitz went to the house where the
unfortunate Mayor was lying in bed, and told him that he must get up and
provide vegetables, as none had been sent for the Prince's table. The
Mayor protested that the whole countryside was covered with snow, and that
it was virtually impossible to satisfy such incessant demands; but, as he
afterwards related, ill and worried though he was, he could not refrain
from laughing when he was required to supply several pounds of truffles.
Truffles at Le Mans, indeed! In those days, too! The idea was quite

Not only had the demands of Prince Frederick Charles's staff to be
satisfied, but there were those of Voigts Rhetz, and of all the officers
lodging at the Hôtel de France, the Hôtel du Dauphin, the Hôtel de la
Boule d'Or and other hostelries. These gentlemen were very fond of giving
dinners, and "mine host" was constantly being called upon to provide all
sorts of delicacies at short notice. The cellars of the Hôtel de France
were drunk dry. The common soldiers also demanded the best of everything
at the houses where they were billeted; and sometimes they played
extraordinary pranks there. Half a dozen of them, who were lodged at a
wine-shop in, I think, the Rue Dumas, broached a cask of brandy, poured
the contents into a tub, and washed their feet in the spirituous liquor.
It may be that a "brandy bath" is a good thing for sore feet; and that
might explain the incident. However, when I think of it, I am always
reminded of how, in the days of the Second Empire, the spendthrift Due de
Gramont-Caderousse entered the. Café Anglais in Paris, one afternoon,
called for a silver soup-tureen, had two or three bottles of champagne
poured into it, and then made an unrepentant Magdalen of the Boulevards,
whom he had brought with him, wash his feet in the sparkling wine. From
that afternoon until the Café Anglais passed out of existence no silver
soup-tureens were ever used there.

I have given the foregoing particulars respecting the German occupation
of Le Mans--they are principally derived from official documents--just to
show the reader what one might expect if, for instance, a German force
should land at Hull or Grimsby and fight its way successfully to--let us
say--York or Leeds or Nottingham. The incidents which occurred at Le Mans
were by no means peculiar to that town. Many similar instances occurred
throughout the invaded regions of France. I certainly do not wish to
impute gluttony to Prince Frederick Charles personally. But during the
years which followed the Franco-German War I made three fairly long
stays at Berlin, putting up at good hotels, where officers--sometimes
generals--often lunched and dined. And their appetites frequently amazed
me, whilst their manners at table were repulsive. In those days most
German officers were bearded, and I noticed that between the courses at
luncheon and at dinner it was a common practice of theirs to produce
pocket-glasses and pocket-combs, and comb their beards--as well as the
hair on their heads--over the table. As for their manner of eating and the
noise they made in doing so, the less said the better. In regard to
manners, I have always felt that the French of 1870-71 were in some
respects quite entitled to call their enemies "barbarians"; but that was
forty-three years ago, and as time works wonders, the manners of the
German military element may have improved.

In saying something about the general appearance of Le Mans, I pointed out
that the town now has a Place de la République, a Gambetta Bridge, a Rue
Thiers, and a statue of Chanzy; but at the period of the war and for a
long time afterwards it detested the Republic (invariably returning
Bonapartist or Orleanist deputies), sneered at Gambetta, and hotly
denounced the commander of the Loire Army. Its grievance against Chanzy
was that he had made it his headquarters and given battle in its immediate
vicinity. The conflict having ended disastrously for the French arms, the
townsfolk lamented that it had ever taken place. Why had Chanzy brought
his army there? they indignantly inquired. He might very well have gone
elsewhere. So strong was this Manceau feeling against the general--a
feeling inspired by the sufferings which the inhabitants experienced at
the time, notably in consequence of the German exactions--that fifteen
years later, when the general's statue (for which there had been a
national subscription) was set up in the town, the displeasure there was
very great, and the monument was subjected to the most shameful
indignities. [At Nouart, his native place, there is another statue of
Chanzy, which shows him pointing towards the east. On the pedestal is the
inscription; "The generals who wish to obtain the bâton of Marshal of
France must seek it across the Rhine"--words spoken by him in one of his
speeches subsequent to the war.] But all that has passed. Nowadays, both
at Auvours and at Pontlieue, there are monuments to those who fell
fighting for France around Le Mans, and doubtless the town, in becoming
more Republican, has become more patriotic also.

Before relating how I escaped from Le Mans on the day when the retreat was
ordered, there are a few other points with which I should like to deal
briefly. It is tolerably well known that I made the English translation of
Emile Zola's great novel, "La Débâcle," and a good many of my present
readers may have read that work either in the original French or in the
version prepared by me. Now, I have always thought that some of the
characters introduced by Zola into his narrative were somewhat
exceptional. I doubt if there were many such absolutely neurotic
degenerates as "Maurice" in the French Army at any period of the war. I
certainly never came across such a character. Again, the psychology of
Stephen Crane's "Red Badge of Courage," published a few years after "La
Débâcle," and received with acclamations by critics most of whom had never
in their lives been under fire, also seems to me to be of an exceptional
character. I much prefer the psychology of the Waterloo episode in
Stendhal's "Chartreuse de Parme," because it is of more general
application. "The Red Badge of Courage," so the critics told us, showed
what a soldier exactly felt and thought in the midst of warfare. Unlike
Stendhal, however, its author had never "served." No more had Zola; and I
feel that many of the pictures which novelists have given us of a
soldier's emotions when in action apply only to exceptional cases, and are
even then somewhat exaggerated.

In action there is no time for thought. The most trying hours for a man
who is in any degree of a sensitive nature are those spent in night-duty
as a sentry or as one of a small party at some lonely outpost. Then
thoughts of home and happiness, and of those one loves, may well arise.
There is one little point in connexion with this subject which I must
mention. Whenever letters were found on the bodies of men who fell during
the Franco-German War, they were, if this man was a Frenchman, more
usually letters from his mother, and, if he was a German, more usually
letters from his sweetheart. Many such letters found their way into print
during the course of the war. It is a well-known fact that a Frenchman's
cult for his mother is a trait of the national character, and that a
Frenchwoman almost always places her child before her husband.

But what struck me particularly during the Franco-German War was that
the anxieties and mental sufferings of the French officers were much
keener than those of the men. Many of those officers were married, some
had young children, and in the silent hours of a lonely night-watch their
thoughts often travelled to their dear ones. I well remember how an
officer virtually unbosomed himself to me on this subject one night near
Yvré-l'Evêque. The reason of it all is obvious. The higher a man's
intelligence, the greater is his sense of responsibility and the force of
his attachments. But in action the latter are set aside; they only obtrude
at such times as I have said or else at the moment of death.

Of actual cowardice there were undoubtedly numerous instances during the
war, but a great deal might be said in defence of many of the men who here
and there abandoned their positions. During the last months their
sufferings were frequently terrible. At best they were often only
partially trained. There was little cohesion in many battalions. There was
a great lack of efficient non-commissioned officers. Instead of drafting
regular soldiers from the _dépôts_ into special regiments, as was often
done, it might have been better to have distributed them among the Mobiles
and Mobilisés, whom they would have steadied. Judging by all that I
witnessed at that period, I consider it essential that any territorial
force should always contain a certain number of trained soldiers who have
previously been in action. And any such force should always have the
support of regulars and of efficient artillery. I have related how certain
Breton Mobilisés abandoned La Tuilerie. They fled before the regulars or
the artillery could support them; but they were, perhaps, the very rawest
levies in all Chanzy's forces. Other Breton Mobilisés, on other points,
fought very well for men of their class. For instance, no reproach could
be addressed to the battalions of St. Brieuo, Brest, Quimper, Lorient, and
Nantes. They were better trained than were the men stationed at La
Tuilerie, and it requires some time to train a Breton properly. That
effected, he makes a good soldier.

Respecting my own feelings during that war, I may say that the paramount
one was curiosity. To be a journalist, a man must be inquisitive. It is
a _sine quâ non_ of his profession. Moreover, I was very young; I had no
responsibilities; I may have been in love, or have thought I was, but I
was on my own, and my chief desire was to see as much as I could. I
willingly admit that, when Gougeard's column was abruptly attacked at
Droué, I experienced some trepidation at finding myself under fire; but
firmness may prove as contagious as fear, and when Gougeard rallied his
men and went forward to repel the Germans, interest and a kind of
excitement took possession of me. Moreover, as I was, at least nominally,
attached to the ambulance service, there was duty to be done, and that
left no opportunity for thought. The pictures of the ambulances in or near
Sedan are among the most striking ones contained in "La Débâcle," and,
judging by what I saw elsewhere, Zola exaggerated nothing. The ambulance
is the truly horrible side of warfare. To see men lying dead on the ground
is, so to say, nothing. One gets used to it. But to see them amputated,
and to see them lying in bed suffering, often acutely, from dreadful
wounds, or horrible diseases--dysentery, typhus, small-pox--that is the
thing which tries the nerves of all but the doctors and the trained
nurses. On several occasions I helped to carry wounded men, and felt no
emotion in doing so; but more than once I was almost overcome by the sight
of all the suffering in some ambulance.

When, on the morning of January 12, I heard that a general retreat had
been ordered, I hesitated as to what course I should pursue. I did not
then anticipate the street-fighting, and the consequent violence of the
Germans. But journalistic instinct told me that if I remained in the town
until after the German entry I might then find it very difficult to get
away and communicate with my people. At the same time, I did not think the
German entry so imminent as proved to be the case; and I spent a
considerable time in the streets watching all the tumult which prevailed
there. Now and again a sadly diminished battalion went by in fairly good
order. But numbers of disbanded men hurried hither and thither in
confusion. Here and there a street was blocked with army vans and waggons,
whose drivers were awaiting orders, not knowing which direction to take.
Officers and estafettes galloped about on all sides. Then a number of
wounded men were carried in carts, on stretchers, and on trucks towards
the railway-station. Others, with their heads bandaged or their arms in
slings, walked painfully in the same direction. Outside the station there
was a strong cordon of Gendarmes striving to resist all the pressure of a
great mob of disbanded men who wished to enter and get away in the trains.
At one moment, when, after quite a struggle, some of the wounded were
conveyed through the mob and the cordon, the disbanded soldiers followed,
and many of them fought their way into the station in spite of all the
efforts of the Gendarmes. The _mêlée_ was so desperate that I did not
attempt to follow, but, after watching it for some time, retraced my steps
towards my lodging. All was hubbub and confusion at the little inn, and
only with difficulty could I get anything to eat there. A little later,
however, I managed to tell the landlord--his name was Dubuisson--that I
meant to follow the army, and, if possible, secure a place in one of the
trains which were frequently departing. After stowing a few necessaries
away in my pockets, I begged him to take charge of my bag until some
future day, and the worthy old man then gave me some tips as to how I
might make my way into the station, by going a little beyond it, and
climbing a palisade.

We condoled with one another and shook hands. I then went out. The
cannonade, which had been going on for several hours, had now become more
violent. Several shells had fallen on or near the Caserne de la Mission
during the morning. Now others were falling near the railway-station.
I went my way, however, turned to the right on quitting the Rue du
Gué-de-Maulny, reached some palings, and got on to the railway-line.
Skirting it, I turned to the left, going back towards the station.
I passed one or two trains, which were waiting. But they were composed of
trucks and closed vans. I might perhaps have climbed on to one of the
former, but it was a bitterly cold day; and as for the latter, of course
I could not hope to enter one of them. So I kept on towards the station,
and presently, without let or hindrance, I reached one of the platforms.

Le Mans being an important junction, its station was very large, in some
respects quite monumental. The principal part was roofed with glass and
suggested Charing Cross. I do not remember exactly the number of lines of
metals running through it, but I think there must have been four or five.
There were two trains waiting there, one of them, which was largely
composed of passenger carriages, being crammed with soldiers. I tried to
get into one carriage, but was fiercely repulsed. So, going to the rear of
this train, I crossed to another platform, where the second train was.
This was made up of passenger coaches and vans. I scrambled into one of
the latter, which was open. There were a number of packing-cases inside
it, but there was at least standing room for several persons. Two railway
men and two or three soldiers were already there. One of the former helped
me to get in. I had, be it said, a semi-military appearance, for my grey
frieze coat was frogged, and besides, what was more important, I wore the
red-cross armlet given me at the time when I followed Gougeard's column.

Almost immediately afterwards the train full of soldiers got away. The
cannonade was now very loud, and the glass roof above us constantly
vibrated. Some minutes elapsed whilst we exchanged impressions. Then, all
at once, a railway official--it may have been M. Piquet himself--rushed
along the platform in the direction of the engine, shouting as he went:
"Dépêchez! Dépêchez! Sauvez-vous!" At the same moment a stray artilleryman
was seen hastening towards us; but suddenly there came a terrific crash of
glass, a shell burst through the roof and exploded, and the unlucky
artilleryman fell on the platform, evidently severely wounded. We were
already in motion, however, and the line being dear, we got fairly swiftly
across the viaduct spanning the Sarthe. This placed us beyond the reach of
the enemy, and we then slowed down.

One or two more trains were got away after ours, the last one, I believe,
being vainly assailed by some Uhlans before it had crossed the viaduct.
The latter ought then to have been blown up, but an attempt to do so
proved ineffectual. We went on very slowly on account of the many trains
in front of us. Every now and again, too, there came a wearisome stop. It
was bitterly cold, and it was in vain that we beat the tattoo with our
feet in the hope of thereby warming them. The men with me were also
desperately hungry, and complained of it so bitterly and so frequently,
that, at last, I could not refrain from producing a little bread and meat
which I had secured at Le Mans and sharing it with them. But it merely
meant a bite for each of us. However, on stopping at last at Conlie
station--some sixteen or seventeen miles from Le Mans--we all hastily
scrambled out of the train, rushed into a little inn, and almost fought
like wild beasts for scraps of food. Then on we went once more, still very
slowly, still stopping again and again, sometimes for an hour at a
stretch, until, half numbed by the cold, weary of stamping our feet, and
still ravenous, we reached the little town of Sillé-le-Guillaume, which is
not more than eight or nine miles from Conlie.

At Sillé I secured a tiny garret-like room at the crowded Hôtel de la
Croix d'Or, a third-rate hostelry, which was already invaded by officers,
soldiers, railway officials, and others who had quitted Le Mans before I
had managed to do so. My comparatively youthful appearance won for me,
however, the good favour of the buxom landlady, who, after repeatedly
declaring to other applicants that she had not a corner left in the whole
house, took me aside and said in an undertone: "listen, I will put you in
a little _cabinet_ upstairs. I will show you the way by and by. But don't
tell anybody." And she added compassionately: "_Mon pauvre garçon_, you
look frozen. Go into the kitchen. There is a good fire there, and you will
get something to eat."

Truth to tell, the larder was nearly empty, but I secured a little cheese
and some bread and some very indifferent wine, which, however, in my then
condition, seemed to me to be nectar. I helped myself to a bowl, I
remember, and poured about a pint of wine into it, so as to soak my bread,
which was stale and hard. Toasting my feet at the fire whilst I regaled
myself with that improvised _soupe-au-vin_, I soon felt warm and
inspirited once more. Hardship sits on one but lightly when one is only
seventeen years of age and stirred by early ambition. All the world then
lay before me, like mine oyster, to be opened by either sword or pen.

At a later hour, by the light of a solitary guttering candle, in the
little _cabinet_ upstairs, I wrote, as best I could, an account of the
recent fighting and the loss of Le Mans; and early on the following
morning I prevailed on a railway-man who was going to Rennes to post my
packet there, in order that it might be forwarded to England _viâ_ Saint
Malo. The article appeared in the _Pall Mall Gazette_, filling a page of
that journal, and whatever its imperfections may have been, it was
undoubtedly the first detailed account of the battle of Le Mans, from the
French side, to appear in the English Press. It so happened, indeed, that
the other correspondents with the French forces, including my cousin
Montague Vizetelly of _The Daily News_, lingered at Le Mans until it was
too late for them to leave the town, the Germans having effected their

German detachments soon started in pursuit of the retreating Army of the
Loire. Chanzy, as previously mentioned, modified his plans, in accordance
with Gambetta's views, on the evening of January 12. The new orders were
that the 16th Army Corps should retreat on Laval by way of Chassillé and
Saint Jean-sur-Erve, that the 17th, after passing Conlie, should come
down to Sainte Suzanne, and that the 21st should proceed from Conlie to
Sillé-le-Guillaume. There were several rear-guard engagements during, the
retreat. Already on the 13th, before the 21st Corps could modify its
original line of march, it had to fight at Ballon, north of Le Mans.
On the next day one of its detachments, composed of 9000 Mobilisés of the
Mayenne, was attacked at Beaumont-sur-Sarthe, and hastily fell back,
leaving 1400 men in the hands of the Germans, who on their side lost only
_nine_! Those French soldiers who retreated by way of Conlie partially
pillaged the abandoned stores there. A battalion of Mobiles, on passing
that way, provided themselves with new trousers, coats, boots, and
blankets, besides carrying off a quantity of bread, salt-pork, sugar, and
other provisions. These things were at least saved from the Germans, who
on reaching the abandoned camp found there a quantity of military
_matériel_, five million cartridges, 1500 cases of biscuits and extract of
meat, 180 barrels of salt-pork, a score of sacks of rice, and 140
puncheons of brandy.

On January 14 the 21st Corps under Jaurès reached Sillé-le-Guillaume, and
was there attacked by the advanced guard of the 13th German Corps under
the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg. The French offered a good resistance,
however, and the Germans retreated on Conlie. I myself had managed to
leave Sillé the previous afternoon, but such was the block on the line
that our train could get no farther than Voutré, a village of about a
thousand souls. Railway travelling seeming an impossibility, I prevailed
on a farmer to give me a lift as far as Sainte Suzanne, whence I hoped to
cut across country in the direction of Laval. Sainte Suzanne is an ancient
and picturesque little town which in those days still had a rampart and
the ruins of an early feudal castle. I supped and slept at an inn there,
and was told in the morning (January 14) that it would be best for me to
go southward towards Saint Jean-sur-Erve, where I should strike the direct
highway to Laval, and might also be able to procure a conveyance. I did
not then know the exact retreating orders. I hoped to get out of the way
of all the troops and waggons encumbering the roads, but in this I was
doomed to disappointment, for at Saint Jean I fell in with them again.

That day a part of the rear-guard of the 16th Corps (Jauréguiberry)--that
is, a detachment of 1100 men with a squadron of cavalry under General
Le Bouëdec--had been driven out of Chassillé by the German cavalry under
General von Schmidt. This had accelerated the French retreat, which
continued in the greatest confusion, all the men hastening precipitately
towards Saint Jean, where, after getting the bulk of his force on to the
heights across the river Erve, which here intersects the highway,
Jauréguiberry resolved on attempting to check the enemy's pursuit. Though
the condition of most of the men was lamentable, vigorous defensive
preparations were made on the night of the 14th and the early morning of
the following day. On the low ground, near the village and the river,
trees were felled and roads were barricaded; while on the slopes batteries
were disposed behind hedges, in which embrasures were cut. The enemy's
force was, I believe, chiefly composed of cavalry and artillery. The
latter was already firing at us when Jauréguiberry rode along our lines.
A shell exploded near him, and some splinters of the projectile struck
his horse in the neck, inflicting a ghastly, gaping wound. The poor beast,
however, did not fall immediately, but galloped on frantically for more
than a score of yards, then suddenly reared, and after doing so came down,
all of a heap, upon the snow. However, the Admiral, who was a good
horseman, speedily disengaged himself, and turned to secure another
mount--when he perceived that Colonel Beraud, his chief of staff, who had
been riding behind him, had been wounded by the same shell, and had fallen
from his horse. I saw the Colonel being carried to a neighbouring
farmhouse, and was afterwards told that he had died there.

The engagement had no very decisive result, but Schmidt fell back to the
road connecting Sainte Suzanne with Thorigné-en-Charnie, whilst we
withdrew towards Soulge-le-Bruant, about halfway between Saint Jean and
Laval. During the fight, however, whilst the artillery duel was in
progress, quite half of Jauréguiberry's men had taken themselves off
without waiting for orders. I believe that on the night of January 15 he
could not have mustered more than 7000 men for action. Yet only two days
previously he had had nearly three times that number with him.

Nevertheless, much might be pleaded for the men. The weather was still
bitterly cold, snow lay everywhere, little or no food could be obtained,
the commissariat refraining from requisitioning cattle at the farms, for
all through the departments for Mayenne and Ille-et-Vilaine cattle-plague
was raging. Hungry, emaciated, faint, coughing incessantly, at times
affected with small-pox, the men limped or trudged on despairingly. Their
boots were often in a most wretched condition; some wore sabots, others,
as I said once before, merely had rags around their poor frost-bitten
feet. And the roads were obstructed by guns, vans, waggons, vehicles of
all kinds. Sometimes an axle had broken, sometimes a horse had fallen dead
on the snow, in any case one or another conveyance had come to a
standstill, and prevented others from pursuing their route. I recollect
seeing hungry men cutting steaks from the flanks of the dead beasts,
sometimes devouring the horseflesh raw, at others taking it to some
cottage, where the avaricious peasants, who refused to part with a scrap
of food, at least had to let these cold and hungry men warm themselves at
a fire, and toast their horseflesh before it. At one halt three soldiers
knocked a peasant down because he vowed that he could not even give them a
pinch of salt. That done, they rifled his cupboards and ate all they could

Experience had taught me a lesson. I had filled my pockets with ham,
bread, hard-boiled eggs, and other things, before leaving Sainte Suzanne.
I had also obtained a meal at Saint Jean, and secured some brandy there,
and I ate and drank sparingly and surreptitiously whilst I went on,
overtaking one after another batch of weary soldiers. However, the
distance between Saint Jean and Laval is not very great. Judging by the
map, it is a matter of some twenty-five miles at the utmost. Moreover, I
walked only half the distance. The troops moved so slowly that I reached
Soulge-le-Bruant long before them, and there induced a man to drive me to
Laval. I was there on the afternoon of January 16, and as from this point
trains were still running westward, I reached Saint Servan on the
following day. Thus I slipped through to my goal, thereby justifying the
nickname of L'Anguille--the Eel--which some of my young French friends had
bestowed on me.

A day or two previously my father had returned from England, and I found
him with my stepmother. He became very much interested in my story, and
talked of going to Laval himself. Further important developments might
soon occur, the Germans might push on to Chanzy's new base, and I felt
that I also ought to go back. The life I had been leading either makes or
mars a man physically. Personally, I believe that it did me a world of
good. At all events, it was settled that my father and myself should go to
Laval together. We started a couple of days later, and managed to travel
by rail as far as Rennes. But from that point to Laval the line was now
very badly blocked, and so we hired a closed vehicle, a ramshackle affair,
drawn by two scraggy Breton nags. The main roads, being still crowded with
troops, artillery, and baggage waggons, and other impedimenta, were often
impassable, and so we proceeded by devious ways, amidst which our driver
lost himself, in such wise that at night we had to seek a shelter at the
famous Chateau des Bochers, immortalized by Mme. de Sévigné, and replete
with precious portraits of herself, her own and her husband's families, in
addition to a quantity of beautiful furniture dating from her time.

It took us, I think, altogether two days to reach Laval, where, after
securing accommodation at one of the hotels, we went out in search of
news, having heard none since we had started on our journey. Perceiving a
newspaper shop, we entered it, and my father insisted on purchasing a copy
of virtually every journal which was on sale there. Unfortunately for us,
this seemed highly suspicious to a local National Guard who was in the
shop, and when we left it he followed us. My father had just then begun to
speak to me in English, and at the sound of a foreign tongue the man's
suspicions increased. So he drew nearer, and demanded to know who and what
we were. I replied that we were English and that I had previously been
authorised to accompany the army as a newspaper correspondent. My
statements, however, were received with incredulity by this suspicious
individual, who, after one or two further inquiries, requested us to
accompany him to a guard-house standing near one of the bridges thrown
over the river Mayenne.

Thither we went, followed by several people who had assembled during our
parley, and found ourselves before a Lieutenant of Gendarmes, on the
charge of being German spies. Our denouncer was most positive on the
point. Had we not bought at least a dozen newspapers? Why a dozen, when
sensible people would have been satisfied with one? Such extensive
purchases must surely have been prompted by some sinister motive. Besides,
he had heard us conversing in German. English, indeed! No, no! He was
certain that we had spoken German, and was equally certain of our guilt.

The Lieutenant looked grave, and my explanations did not quite satisfy
him. The predicament was the more awkward as, although my father was
provided with a British passport, I had somehow left my precious military
permit at Saint Servan, Further, my father carried with him some documents
which might have been deemed incriminating, They were, indeed,
safe-conducts signed by various German generals, which had been used by us
conjointly while passing, through the German lines after making our way
out of Paris in November. As for my correspondent's permit, signed some
time previously by the Chief of the Staff, I had been unable to find it
when examining my papers on our way to Laval, but had consoled myself with
the thought that I might get it replaced at headquarters. [The red-cross
armlet which had repeatedly proved so useful to me, enabling me to come
and go without much interference, was at our hotel, in a bag we had
brought with us.] Could I have shown it to the Lieutenant, he might have
ordered our release. As it happened, he decided to send us to the Provost
Marshal. I was not greatly put out by that command, for I remembered the
officer in question, or thought I did, and felt convinced that everything
would speedily be set right.

We started off in the charge of a brigadier-otherwise a corporal--of
Gendarmes, and four men, our denouncer following closely at our heels. My
father at once pointed out to me that the brigadier and one of the men
wore silver medals bearing the effigy of Queen Victoria, so I said to the
former, "You were in the Crimea. You are wearing our Queen's medal."

"Yes," he replied, "I gained that at the Alma."

"And your comrade?"

"He won his at the Tohernaya."

"I dare say you would have been glad if French and English had fought side
by side in this war?" I added. "Perhaps they ought to have done so."

"_Parbleu!_ The English certainly owed us a _bon coup de main_, instead of
which they have only sold us broken-down horses and bad boots."

I agreed that there had been some instances of the kind. A few more words
passed, and I believe that the brigadier became convinced of our English
nationality. But as his orders were to take us to the Provost's, thither
we were bound to go. An ever increasing crowd followed. Shopkeepers and
other folk came to their doors and windows, and the words, "They are
spies, German spies!" rang out repeatedly, exciting the crowd and
rendering it more and more hostile. For a while we followed a quay with
granite parapets, below which flowed the Mayenne, laden with drifting ice.
All at once, however, I perceived on our left a large square, where about
a hundred men of the Laval National Guard were being exercised. They saw
us appear with our escort, they saw the crowd which followed us, and they
heard the cries, "Spies! German spies!" Forthwith, with that disregard for
discipline which among the French was so characteristic of the period,
they broke their ranks and ran towards us.

We were only able to take a few more steps. In vain did the Gendarmes try
to force a way through the excited mob. We were surrounded by angry,
scowling, vociferating men. Imprecations burst forth, fists were clenched,
arms were waved, rifles were shaken, the unruly National Guards being the
most eager of all to denounce and threaten us. "Down with the spies!" they
shouted. "Down with the German pigs! Give them to us! Let us shoot them!"

A very threatening rush ensued, and I was almost carried off my feet. But
in another moment I found myself against the parapet of the quay, with my
father beside me, and the icy river in the rear. In front of us stood the
brigadier and his four men guarding us from the angry citizens of Laval.

"Hand them over to us! We will settle their affair," shouted an excited
National Guard. "You know that they are spies, brigadier."

"I know that I have my orders," growled the veteran. "I am taking them to
the Provost. It is for him to decide."

"That is too much ceremony," was the retort. "Let us shoot them!"

"But they are not worth a cartridge!" shouted another man. "Throw them
into the river!"

That ominous cry was taken up. "Yes, yes, to the river with them!" Then
came another rush, one so extremely violent that our case seemed

But the brigadier and his men had managed to fix bayonets during the brief
parley, and on the mob being confronted by five blades of glistening
steel, its savage eagerness abated. Moreover, the old brigadier behaved
magnificently. "Keep back!" cried he. "I have my orders. You will have to
settle me before you take my prisoners!"

Just then I caught the eye of one of the National Guards, who was shaking
his fist at us, and I said to him, "You are quite mistaken. We are not
Germans, but English!"

"Yes, yes, _Anglais, Anglais_!" my father exclaimed.

While some of the men in the crowd were more or less incredulously
repeating that statement, a black-bearded individual--whom I can, at this
very moment, still picture with my mind's eye, so vividly did the affair
impress me--climbed on to the parapet near us, and called out, "You say
you are English? Do you know London? Do you know Regent Street? Do you
know the Soho?"

"Yes, yes!" we answered quickly.

"You know the Lei-ces-terre Square? What name is the music-hall there?"

"Why, the Alhambra!" The "Empire," let me add, did not exist in those

The man seemed satisfied. "I think they are English," he said to his
friends. But somebody else exclaimed, "I don't believe it. One of them is
wearing a German hat."

Now, it happened that my father had returned from London wearing a felt
hat of a shape which was then somewhat fashionable there, and which,
curiously enough, was called the "Crown Prince," after the heir to the
Prussian throne--that is, our Princess Royal's husband, subsequently the
Emperor Frederick. The National Guard, who spoke a little English, wished
to inspect this incriminating hat, so my father took it off, and one of
the Gendarmes, having placed it on his bayonet, passed it to the man on
the parapet. When the latter had read "Christy, London," on the lining, he
once more testified in our favour.

But other fellows also wished to examine the suspicious headgear, and it
passed from hand to hand before it was returned to my father in a more or
less damaged condition, Even then a good many men were not satisfied
respecting our nationality, but during that incident of the hat--a
laughable one to me nowadays, though everything looked very ugly when it
occurred--there had been time for the men's angry passions to cool, to a
considerable extent at all events; and after that serio-comical interlude,
they were much less eager to inflict on us the summary law of Lynch. A
further parley ensued, and eventually the Gendarmes, who still stood with
bayonets crossed in front of us, were authorized, by decision of the
Sovereign People, to take us to the Provost's. Thither we went, then,
amidst a perfect procession of watchful guards and civilians.

Directly we appeared before the Provost, I realized that our troubles were
not yet over. Some changes had taken place during the retreat, and either
the officer whom I remembered having seen at Le Mans (that is, Colonel
Mora) had been replaced by another, or else the one before whom we now
appeared was not the Provost-General, but only the Provost of the 18th
Corps. At all events, he was a complete stranger to me. After hearing,
first, the statements of the brigadier and the National Guard who had
denounced us, and who had kept close to us all the time, and, secondly,
the explanations supplied by my father and myself, he said to me, "If you
had a staff permit to follow the army, somebody at headquarters must be
able to identify you."

"I think that might be done," I answered, "by Major-General Feilding,
who--as you must know--accompanies the army on behalf of the British
Government. Personally, I am known to several officers of the 21st Corps--
General Gougeard and his Chief of Staff, for instance--and also to some of
the aides-de-camp at headquarters."

"Well, get yourselves identified, and obtain a proper safe-conduct," said
the Provost. "Brigadier, you are to take these men to headquarters. If
they are identified there, you will let them go. If not, take them to the
château (the prison), and report to me."

Again we all set out, this time climbing the hilly ill-paved streets of
old Laval, above which the town's great feudal castle reared its dark,
round keep; and presently we came to the local college, formerly an
Ursuline convent, where Chanzy had fixed his headquarters.

In one of the large class-rooms were several officers, one of whom
immediately recognized me. He laughed when he heard our story. "I was
arrested myself, the other day," he said, "because I was heard speaking in
English to your General Feilding. And yet I was in uniform, as I am now."

The Gendarmes were promptly dismissed, though not before my father had
slipped something into the hand of the old brigadier for himself and his
comrades. Their firmness had saved us, for when a mob's passions are
inflamed by patriotic zeal, the worst may happen to the objects of its

A proper safe-conduct (which I still possess) was prepared by an
aide-de-camp on duty, and whilst he was drafting it, an elderly but
bright-eyed officer entered, and went up to a large circular stove to warm
himself. Three small stars still glittered faintly on his faded cap,
and six rows of narrow tarnished gold braid ornamented the sleeves of his
somewhat shabby dolman. It was Chanzy himself.

He noticed our presence, and our case was explained to him. Looking at me
keenly, he said, "I think I have seen you before. You are the young
English correspondent who was allowed to make some sketches at
Yvré-l'Evêque, are you not?"

"Yes, _mon genéral_," I answered, saluting. "You gave me permission
through, I think, Monsieur le Commandant de Boisdeffre."

He nodded pleasantly as we withdrew, then lapsed into a thoughtful

Out we went, down through old Laval and towards the new town, my father
carrying the safe-conduct in his hand. The Gendarmes must have already
told people that we were "all right," for we now encountered only pleasant
faces. Nevertheless, we handed the safe-conduct to one party of National
Guards for their inspection, in order that their minds might be quite at
rest. That occurred outside the hospital, where at that moment I little
imagined that a young Englishman--a volunteer in the Sixth Battalion of
the Côtes-du-Nord Mobile Guards (21st Army Corps)--was lying invalided by
a chill, which he had caught during an ascent in our army balloon with
Gaston Tissandier. Since then that young Englishman has become famous as
Field-Marshal Viscount Kitchener of Khartoum.

But the National Guards insisted on carrying my father and myself to the
chief café of Laval. They would take no refusal. In genuine French
fashion, they were all anxiety to offer some amends for their misplaced
patriotic impulsiveness that afternoon, when they had threatened, first,
to shoot, and, next, to drown us. In lieu thereof they now deluged us with
punch _à la française_, and as the café soon became crowded with other
folk who all joined our party, there ensued a scene which almost suggested
that some glorious victory had been gained at last by invaded and
unfortunate France.



Battues for Deserters--End of the Operations against Chanzy--Faidherbe's
Battles--Bourbaki's alleged Victories and Retreat--The Position in Paris--
The terrible Death Rate--State of the Paris Army--The Sanguinary Buzenval
Sortie--Towards Capitulation--The German Conditions--The Armistice
Provisions--Bourbaki's Disaster--Could the War have been prolonged?--The
Resources of France--The general Weariness--I return to Paris--The
Elections for a National Assembly--The Negotiations--The State of Paris--
The Preliminaries of Peace--The Triumphal Entry of the Germans--The War's

We remained for a few days longer at Laval, and were not again interfered
with there. A painful interest attached to one sight which we witnessed
more than once. It was that of the many processions of deserters whom the
horse Gendarmerie of the headquarters staff frequently brought into the
town. The whole region was scoured for runaways, many of whom were found
in the villages and at lonely farms. They had generally cast off their
uniform and put on blouses, but the peasantry frequently betrayed them,
particularly as they seldom, if ever, had any money to spend in bribes.
Apart from those _battues_ and the measures of all kinds which Chanzy took
to reorganise his army, little of immediate import occurred at Laval.
Gambetta had been there, and had then departed for Lille in order to
ascertain the condition of Faidherbe's Army of the North. The German
pursuit of Chanzy's forces ceased virtually at Saint Jean-sur-Erve. There
was just another little skirmish at Sainte Mélaine, but that was all.
[I should add that on January 17 the Germans under Mecklenburg secured
possession of Alengon (Chanty's original objective) alter an ineffectual
resistance offered by the troops under Commandant Lipowski, who was
seconded in his endeavours by young M. Antonin Dubost, then Prefect of the
Orne, and recently President of the French Senate.] Accordingly my father
and I returned to Saint Servan, and, having conjointly prepared some
articles on Chanzy's retreat and present circumstances, forwarded them to
London for the _Pall Mall Gazette_.

The war was now fast drawing to an end. I have hitherto left several
important occurrences unmentioned, being unwilling to interrupt my
narrative of the fighting at Le Mans and the subsequent retreat. I feel,
however, that I now ought to glance at the state of affairs in other parts
of France. I have just mentioned that after visiting Chanzy at Laval
(January 19), Gambetta repaired to Lille to confer with Faidherbe. Let us
see, then, what the latter general had been doing. He was no longer
opposed by Manteuffel, who had been sent to the east of France in the hope
that he would deal more effectually than Werder with Bourbaki's army,
which was still in the field there. Manteuffel's successor in the north
was General von Goeben, with whom, on January 18, Faidherbe fought an
engagement at Vermand, followed on the morrow by the battle of Saint
Quentin, which was waged for seven hours amidst thaw and fog. Though it
was claimed as a French victory, it was not one. The Germans, it is true,
lost 2500 men, but the French killed and wounded amounted to 3500, and
there were thousands of men missing, the Germans taking some 5000
prisoners, whilst other troops disbanded much as Chanzy's men disbanded
during his retreat. From a strategical point of view the action at Saint
Quentin was indecisive.

Turning to eastern France, Bourbaki fought two indecisive engagements near
Villersexel, south-east of Vesoul, on January 9 and 10, and claimed the
victory on these occasions. On January 13 came another engagement at
Arcey, which he also claimed as a success, being congratulated upon it by
Gambetta. The weather was most severe in the region of his operations, and
the sufferings of his men were quite as great as--if not greater than--
those of Chanzy's troops. There were nights when men lay down to sleep,
and never awoke again. On January 15,16, and 17 there was a succession of
engagements on the Lisaine, known collectively as the battle of Héricourt.
These actions resulted in Bourbaki's retreat southward towards Besançon,
where for the moment we will leave him, in order to consider the position
of Paris at this juncture.

Since the beginning of the year, the day of the capital's surrender had
been fast approaching. Paris actually fell because its supply of food was
virtually exhausted. On January 18 it became necessary to ration the
bread, now a dark, sticky compound, which included such ingredients as
bran, starch, rice, barley, vermicelli, and pea-flour. About ten ounces
was allotted per diem to each adult, children under five years of age
receiving half that quantity. But the health-bill of the city was also a
contributory cause of the capitulation. In November there were 7444 deaths
among the non-combatant population, against 3863 in November, 1869. The
death-roll of December rose to 10,665, against 4214 in December the
previous year. In January, between sixty and seventy persons died from
small-pox every day. Bronchitis and pneumonia made an ever-increasing
number of victims. From January 14 to January 21 the mortality rose to no
less than 4465; from the latter date until January 28, the day of the
capitulation, the figures were 4671, whereas in normal times they had
never been more than 1000 in any week.

Among the troops the position was going from bad to worse. Thousands of
men were in the hospitals, and thousands contrived to desert and hide
themselves in the city. Out of 100,705 linesmen, there were, on January 1,
no fewer than 23,938 absentees; while 23,565 units were absent from the
Mobile Guard, which, on paper, numbered 111,999. Briefly, one man out of
every five was either a patient or a deserter. As for the German
bombardment, this had some moral but very little material effect. Apart
from the damage done to buildings, it killed (as I previously said) about
one hundred and wounded about two hundred persons.

The Government now had little if any confidence in the utility of any
further sorties. Nevertheless, as the extremist newspapers still clamoured
for one, it was eventually decided to attack the German positions across
the Seine, on the west of the city. This sortie, commonly called that of
Buzenval, took place on January 10, the day after King William of Prussia
had been proclaimed German Emperor in Louis XIV's "Hall of Mirrors" at
Versailles. [The decision to raise the King to the imperial dignity had
been arrived at on January 1.] Without doubt, the Buzenval sortie was
devised chiefly in order to give the National Guard the constantly
demanded opportunity and satisfaction of being led against the Germans.
Trochu, who assumed chief command, establishing himself at the fort of
Mont Valérien, divided his forces into three columns, led by Generals
Vinoy, Bellemare, and Ducrot. The first (the left wing) comprised
22,000 men, including 8000 National Guards; the second (the central
column) 34,500 men, including 16,000 Guards; and the third (the right
wing) 33,500 men, among whom were no fewer than 18,000 Guards. Thus the
total force was about 90,000, the National Guards representing about a
third of that number. Each column had with it ten batteries, representing
for the entire force 180 guns. The French front, however, extended over a
distance of nearly four miles, and the army's real strength was thereby
diminished. There was some fairly desperate fighting at Saint Cloud,
Montretout, and Longboyau, but the French were driven back after losing
4000 men, mostly National Guards, whereas the German losses were only
about six hundred.

The affair caused consternation in Paris, particularly as several
prominent men had fallen in the ranks of the National Guard. On the night
of January 21, some extremists forced their way into the prison of Mazas
and delivered some of their friends who had been shut up there since the
rising of October 31. On the morrow, January 22, there was a demonstration
and an affray on the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, shots being exchanged with
the result that people were killed and wounded. The Government gained the
day, however, and retaliated by closing the revolutionary clubs and
suppressing some extremist newspapers. But four hours later Trochu
resigned his position as Military Governor of Paris (in which he was
replaced by General Vinoy), only retaining the Presidency of the
Government. Another important incident had occurred on the very evening
after the insurrection: Jules Favre, the Foreign Minister, had then
forwarded a letter to Prince Bismarck.

The Government's first idea had been merely to surrender--that is to open
the city-gates and let the Germans enter at their peril. It did not wish
to negotiate or sign any capitulation. Jules Favre indicated as much when,
writing to Bismarck, and certainly the proposed course might have placed
the Germans--with the eyes of the world fixed upon them--in a difficult
position. But Favre was no match for the great Prussian statesman. Formal
negotiations were soon opened, and Bismarck so contrived affairs that, as
Gambetta subsequently and rightly complained, the convention which Favre
signed applied far more to France as a whole than to Paris itself. In
regard to the city, the chief conditions were that a war indemnity of
£8,000,000 should be paid; that the forts round the city should be
occupied by the Germans; that the garrison--Line, Mobile Guard, and Naval
Contingent (altogether about 180,000 men)--should become prisoners of war;
and that the armament (1500 fortress guns and 400 field pieces) should be
surrendered, as well as the large stores of ammunition. On the other hand,
a force of 12,000 men was left to the French Government for "police duty"
in the city, and the National Guards were, at Favre's urgent but foolish
request, allowed to retain their arms. Further, the city was to be
provisioned. In regard to France generally, arrangements were made for an
armistice of twenty-one days' duration, in order to allow of the election
of a National Assembly to treat for peace. In these arrangements Favre and
Vinoy (the new Governor of Paris) were out-jockeyed by Bismarck and
Moltke. They were largely ignorant of the real position in the provinces,
and consented to very disadvantageous terms in regard to the lines which
the Germans and the French should respectively occupy during the armistice
period. Moreover, although it was agreed that hostilities should cease on
most points, no such stipulation was made respecting the east of France,
where both Bourbaki and Garibaldi were in the field.

The latter had achieved some slight successes near Dijon on January 21 and
23, but on February 1--that is, two days after the signing of the
armistice--the Garibaldians were once more driven out of the Burgundian
capital. That, however, was as nothing in comparison with what befell
Bourbaki's unfortunate army. Manteuffel having compelled it to retreat
from Besançon to Pontarlier, it was next forced to withdraw into
Switzerland [Before this happened, Bourbaki attempted his life.]
(neutral territory, where it was necessarily disarmed by the Swiss
authorities) in order to escape either capture or annihilation by the
Germans. The latter took some 6000 prisoners, before the other men (about
80,000 in number) succeeded in crossing the Swiss frontier. A portion of
the army was saved, however, by General Billot. With regard to the
position elsewhere, Longwy, I should mention, surrendered three days
before the capitulation of Paris; but Belfort prolonged its resistance
until February 13, when all other hostilities had ceased. Its garrison,
so gallantly commanded by Colonel Denfert-Bochereau, was accorded the
honours of war.

As I wrote in my book, "Republican France," the country generally was
weary of the long struggle; and only Gambetta, Freycinet, and a few
military men, such as Chanzy and Faidherbe, were in favour of prolonging
it. From the declaration of war on July 15 to the capitulation of Paris
and the armistice on January 28, the contest had lasted twenty-eight
weeks. Seven of those weeks had sufficed to overthrow the Second Empire;
but only after another one-and-twenty weeks had the Third Republic laid
down her arms. Whatever may have been the blunders of the National
Defence, it at least saved the honour of France,

It may well be doubted whether the position could have been retrieved had
the war been prolonged, though undoubtedly the country was still possessed
of many resources. In "Republican France," I gave a number of figures
which showed that over 600,000 men could have been brought into action
almost immediately, and that another 260,000 could afterwards have been
provided. On February 8, when Chanzy had largely reorganized his army, he,
alone, had under his orders 4952 officers and 227,361 men, with 430 guns.
That careful and distinguished French military historian, M. Pierre
Lehautcourt, places, however, the other resources of France at even a
higher figure than I did. He also points out, rightly enough, that
although so large a part of France was invaded, the uninvaded territory
was of greater extent, and inhabited by twenty-five millions of people. He
estimates the total available artillery on the French side at 1232 guns,
each with an average allowance of 242 projectiles. In addition, there were
443 guns awaiting projectiles. He tells us that the French ordnance
factories were at this period turning out on an average 25,000 chassepots
every month, and delivering two million cartridges every day; whilst other
large supplies of weapons and ammunition were constantly arriving from
abroad. On the other hand, there was certainly a scarcity of horses, the
mortality of which in this war, as in all others, was very great. Chanzy
only disposed of 20,000, and the remount service could only supply another
12,000. However, additional animals might doubtless have been found in
various parts of France, or procured from abroad.

But material resources, however great they may be, are of little avail
when a nation has practically lost heart. In spite, moreover, of all the
efforts of commanding officers, insubordination was rampant among the
troops in the field. There had been so many defeats, so many retreats,
that they had lost all confidence in their generals. During the period of
the armistice, desertions were still numerous. I may add, that if at the
expiration of the armistice the struggle had been renewed, Chanzy's plan--
which received approval at a secret military and Government council held
in Paris, whither he repaired early in February--was to place General
de Colomb at the head of a strong force for the defence of Brittany,
whilst he, Chanzy, would, with his own army, cross the Loire and defend
southern France.

Directly news arrived that an armistice had been signed, and that Paris
was once more open, my father arranged to return there, accompanied by
myself and my younger brother, Arthur Vizetelly. We took with us, I
remember, a plentiful supply of poultry and other edibles for distribution
among the friends who had been suffering from the scarcity of provisions
during the latter days of the siege. The elections for the new National
Assembly were just over, nearly all of the forty-three deputies returned
for Paris being Republicans, though throughout the rest of France
Legitimist and Orleanist candidates were generally successful. I remember
that just before I left Saint Servan one of our tradesmen, an enthusiastic
Royalist, said to me, "We shall have a King on the throne by the time you
come back to see us in the summer." At that moment it certainly seemed as
if such would be the case. As for the Empire, one could only regard it as
dead. There were, I think, merely five recognized Bonapartist members in
the whole of the new National Assembly, and most of them came from
Corsica. Thus, it was by an almost unanimous vote that the Assembly
declared Napoleon III and his dynasty to be responsible for the "invasion,
ruin, and dismemberment of France."

The Assembly having called Thiers to the position of "Chief of the
Executive Power," peace negotiations ensued between him and Bismarck. They
began on February 22, Thiers being assisted by Jules Favre, who retained
the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs, mainly because nobody else
would take it and append his signature to a treaty which was bound to be
disastrous for the country. The chief conditions of that treaty will be
remembered. Germany was to annex Alsace-Lorraine, to receive a war
indemnity of two hundred million pounds sterling (with interest in
addition), and secure commercially "most favoured nation" treatment from
France. The preliminaries were signed on February 26, and accepted by the
National Assembly on March 1, but the actual treaty of Frankfort was not
signed and ratified until the ensuing month of May.

Paris presented a sorry spectacle during the weeks which followed the
armistice. There was no work for the thousands of artisans who had become
National Guards during the siege. Their allowance as such was prolonged in
order that they might at least have some means of subsistence. But the
unrest was general. By the side of the universal hatred of the Germans,
which was displayed on all sides, even finding vent in the notices set up
in the shop-windows to the effect that no Germans need apply there, one
observed a very bitter feeling towards the new Government. Thiers had been
an Orleanist all his life, and among the Paris working-classes there was a
general feeling that the National Assembly would give France a king. This
feeling tended to bring about the subsequent bloody Insurrection of the
Commune; but, as I wrote in "Republican France," it was precisely the
Commune which gave the French Royalists a chance. It placed a weapon in
their hands and enabled them to say, "You see, by that insurrection, by
all those terrible excesses, what a Republic implies. Order, quietude,
fruitful work, are only possible under a monarchy." As we know, however,
the efforts of the Royalists were defeated, in part by the obstinacy of
their candidate, the Comte de Chambord, and in part by the good behaviour
of the Republicans generally, as counselled both by Thiers and by

On March 1, the very day when the National Assembly ratified the
preliminaries of peace at Bordeaux, the Germans made their triumphal entry
into Paris. Four or five days previously my father had sent me on a
special mission to Bordeaux, and it was then that after long years I again
set eyes on Garibaldi, who had been elected as a French deputy, but who
resigned his seat in consequence of the onerous terms of peace. Others,
notably Gambetta, did precisely the same, by way of protesting against the
so-called "Devil's Treaty." However, I was back in Paris in time to
witness the German entry into the city. My father, my brother Arthur, and
myself were together in the Champs Elysées on that historical occasion. I
have related elsewhere [In "Republican France."] how a number of women of
the Paris Boulevards were whipped in the Champs Elysées shrubberies by
young roughs, who, not unnaturally, resented the shameless overtures made
by these women to the German soldiery. There were, however, some
unfortunate mistakes that day, as, for instance, when an attempt was
made to ill-treat an elderly lady who merely spoke to the Germans in the
hope of obtaining some information respecting her son, then still a
prisoner of war. I remember also that Archibald Forbes was knocked down
and kicked for returning the salute of the Crown Prince of Saxony. Some of
the English correspondents who hurried to the scene removed Forbes to a
little hotel in the Faubourg St. Honoré, for he had really been hurt by
that savage assault, though it did not prevent him from penning a graphic
account of what he witnessed on that momentous day.

The German entry was, on the whole, fairly imposing as a military display;
but the stage-management was very bad, and one could not imagine that
Napoleon's entry into Berlin had in any way resembled it. Nor could it be
said to have equalled the entry of the Allied Sovereigns into Paris in
1814. German princelings in basket-carriages drawn by ponies did not add
to the dignity of the spectacle. Moreover, both the Crown Prince of Saxony
and the Crown Prince of Germany (Emperor Frederick) attended it in
virtually an _incognito_ manner. As for the Emperor William, his
councillors dissuaded him from entering the city for fear lest there
should be trouble there. I believe also that neither Bismarck nor Moltke
attended, though, like the Emperor, they both witnessed the preliminary
review of troops in the Bois de Boulogne. The German occupation was
limited to the Champs Elysées quarter, and on the first day the Parisians
generally abstained from going there; but on the morrow--when news that
the preliminaries of peace had been accepted at Bordeaux had reached the
capital--they flocked to gaze upon _nos amis les ennemis_, and greatly
enjoyed, I believe, the lively music played by the German regimental
bands. "Music hath charms," as we are all aware. The departure of the
German troops on the ensuing evening was of a much more spectacular
character than their entry had been. As with their bands playing, whilst
they themselves sang the "Wacht am Rhein" in chorus, they marched up the
Champs Elysées on their way back to Versailles, those of their comrades
who were still billeted in the houses came to the balconies with as many
lighted candles as they could carry. Bivouac fires, moreover, were burning
brightly here and there, and the whole animated scene, with its play of
light and shade under the dark March sky, was one to be long remembered.

The Franco-German War was over, and a new era had begun for Europe. The
balance of power was largely transferred. France had again ceased to be
the predominant continental state. She had attained to that position for
a time under Louis XIV, and later, more conspicuously, under Napoleon I.
But in both of those instances vaulting ambition had o'er-leapt itself.
The purposes of Napoleon III were less far-reaching. Such ideas of
aggrandisement as he entertained were largely subordinated to his desire
to consolidate the _régime_ he had revived, and to ensure the continuity
of his dynasty. But the very principle of nationality which he more than
once expounded, and which he championed in the case of Italy, brought
about his ruin. He gave Italy Venetia, but refused her Rome, and thereby
alienated her. Further, the consolidation of Germany--from his own
nationalist point of view--became a threat to French interests. Thus he
was hoist chiefly by his own _pétard_, and France paid the penalty for his

The Franco-German War was over, I have said, but there came a terrible
aftermath--that is, the rising of the Commune, some of the introductory
features of which were described by me in "Republican France." There is
only one fairly good history of that formidable insurrection in the
English language--one written some years ago by Mr. Thomas March. It is,
however, a history from the official standpoint, and is consequently
one-sided as well as inaccurate in certain respects. Again, the English
version of the History of the Commune put together by one of its
partisans, Lissagaray, sins in the other direction. An impartial account
of the rising remains to be written. If I am spared I may, perhaps, be
privileged to contribute to it by preparing a work on much the same lines
as those of this present volume. Not only do I possess the greater part of
the literature on the subject, including many of the newspapers of the
time, but throughout the insurrection I was in Paris or its suburbs.

I sketched the dead bodies of Generals Clément Thomas and Lecomte only a
few hours after their assassination. I saw the Vendôme column fall while
American visitors to Paris were singing, "Hail, Columbia!" in the hotels
of the Rue de la Paix. I was under fire in the same street when a
demonstration was made there. Provided with passports by both sides, I
went in and out of the city and witnessed the fighting at Asnières and
elsewhere. I attended the clubs held in the churches, when women often
perorated from the pulpits. I saw Thiers's house being demolished; and
when the end came and the Versailles troops made their entry into the
city, I was repeatedly in the street-fighting with my good friend, Captain
Bingham. I recollect sketching the attack on the Elysée Palace from a
balcony of our house, and finding that balcony on the pavement a few hours
later when it had been carried away by a shell from a Communard battery at
Montmartre. Finally, I saw Paris burning. I gazed on the sheaves of flames
rising above the Tuileries. I saw the whole front of the Ministry of
Finances fall into the Rue de Rivoli. I saw the now vanished Carrefour de
la Croix Rouge one blaze of fire. I helped to carry water to put out the
conflagration at the Palais de Justice. I was prodded with a bayonet when,
after working in that manner for some hours, I attempted to shirk duty at
another fire which I came upon in the course of my expeditions. All that
period of my life flashes on my mind as vividly as Paris herself flashed
under the wondering stars of those balmy nights in May.

My father and my brother Arthur also had some remarkable adventures.
There was one occasion when they persuaded a venturesome Paris cabman to
drive them from conflagration to conflagration, and this whilst the
street-fighting was still in progress. Every now and then, as they drove
on, men and women ran eagerly out of houses into which wounded combatants
had been taken, imagining that they must belong to the medical profession,
as nobody else was likely to go about Paris in such a fashion at such a
moment. Those good folk forgot the journalists. The service of the Press
carries with it obligations which must not be shirked. Journalism has
become, not merely the chronicle of the day, but the foundation of
history. And now I know not if I should say farewell or _au revoir_ to my
readers. Whether I ever attempt a detailed account of the Commune of Paris
must depend on a variety of circumstances. After three-and-forty years
"at the mill," I am inclined to feel tired, and with me health is not what
it has been. Nevertheless, my plans must depend chiefly on the reception
given to this present volume.


  Adam, Edmond
  Adare, Lord
  Albert, Archduke
  Albert, Prince (the elder), of Prussia
  Alencon taken
  Alexander II of Russia
  Alexandra, Queen
  Allix, Jules
  Amazons of Paris
  Ambert, General
  Ambulances, Anglo-American
    at Conlie
    at Le Mans
    author's impression of
  Arabs with Chanzy
  Arago, Emmanuel
  Armistice, conditions for an
  Army, French, under the Empire
    of Paris, _see also_ Paris
    of Brittany
    at the outset of National Defence
    of the Vosges, _see also_ Garibaldi
    of the East, _see also_ Bourbaki
    of the Loire, _see also_ D'Aurelle, Goulmiers,
	Chanzy, Le Mans, etc.
    of the North, _see_ Faidheibe
    at the end of war
    _for German army see_ German _and names of commanders_
  Arnim, Count von
  Artists, French newspaper
  Assembly, _see_ National
  Aurelle, _see_ D'Aurelle
  Auvours plateau (Le Mans)

  Balloon service from Paris
  Bapauine, battle of
  Barry, General
  Battues for deserters
  Bazaine, Marshal
  Beauce country
  Beaumont, fight at
  Beaune-la-Rolande, battle of
  Belfort, siege of
  Bellemare, General Carré de
  Bellenger, Marguerite
  Belly, Félix
  Beraud, Colonel
  Bernard, Colonel
  Beuvron, Abbé de
  Billot, General
  Bingham, Captain Hon. D.A.
  Bismarck, Prince
  Blano, Louis
  Blanchard, P.
  Blanqui, Augusta,
  Blewitt, Dr. Byron
  Boisdeffre, Captain, later General de
  Bonaparte, Lycée, _see_ Lycée
  Bonaparte, Prince Pierre, _See also_ Napoleon
  Bonnemains, General de
  Boots, army
  Bordone, General
  Borel, General
  Boulanger, General, his mistress
  Bourbaki, General Charles
  Bourbon, Palais, _see_ Legislative Body
  Bourdillon, General
  Bourget, Le,
  Bower, Mr.,
  Bowles, T. Gibson,
  Brownings, the,
  Bulwer, Sir E.,

  Caillaux, E. and J.,
  Cambriels, General,
  Canrobert, Marshal,
  Capitulations, see Amiens, Belfort, Longwy, Metz, Paris, Sedan,
    Strasbourg, Toul, etc.
  Capoul, Victor,
  Caricatures of the period,
  Casimir-Perler, J.P.,
  Cathelineau, Colonel,
  Chabaud-Latour, General,
  Cham (M. de Noé),
  Chambord, Comte de,
  Champagné, fighting at,
  Champigny, sortie of,
  Changé, fighting at,
  Chanzy, General Alfred,
    his early career and appearance,
    his orders and operations with the Loire forces,
  Charette, General Baron,
  "Chartreuse de Parme, La",
  Chassillé, fight at,
  Chateaubriand, Count and Countess de
  Châteaudun, fight at,
  Châtillon, fight at,
  Chemin des Boeufs (Le Mans),
  "Claque," the,
  Claremont, Colonel,
  Clocks, German love of,
  Clubs, Paris,
  Colin, General,
  Collins, Mortimer,
  Colomb, General de,
  Colomb, General von,
  Commune of Paris,
    attempts to set up a
    rising of the
  Condé, Prince de,
  Conlie, camp of,
  Corbeil, Germans at,
  Correspondents, English, in Paris,
  Coulmiers, battle of,
  Couriers from Paris,
  Cousin-Montauban, see Palikao.
  Cowardice and panic, cases of,
  Crane, Stephen,
  Cremer, General,
  Crémieux, Adolphe,
  Crouzat, General,
  Crown Prince of Prussia (Emperor Frederick),
  Curten, General,

  Daily News,
  Daily Telegraph,
  Daumier, Honoré,
  D'Aurelle de Paladines, General,
  Davenport brothers,
  "Débâcle, La," Zola's,
  Dejean, General,
  Delescluze, Charles,
  Denfert-Rochereau, Colonel,
  Des Pallières, General Martin,
  Devonshire, late Duke of,
  Dieppe, Germans reach,
  Dijon, fighting at,
  Doré, Gustave,
  Dorian, Frédéric,
  D'Orsay, Count,
    General Abel;
    General Félix,
  "Downfall, the," see Débâcle.
  Droué, fight at,
  Dubost, Antonin,
  Ducrot, General,
  Duff, Brigadier-General (U.S.A.),
  Dumas, Alexandre,
  Dunraven, Lord, see Adare.
  Duvernois, Clément,

  "Echoes of the Clubs"
  Edwardes, Mrs. Annie
  Elgar, Dr. Francis
  Elysée Palace
  Emotions in war
  Empress, _see_ Eugénie.
  English attempts to leave Paris
    exodus from
  Eugénie, Empress

  Faidherbe, General
  Failly, General de
  Fashions, Paris
  Favre, Jules
  Feilding, Major-General
  Fennell family
  Ferry, Jules
  Fitz-James, Duc de
  Flourens, Gustave
  Forbach, battle of
  Forbes, Archibald
  Forge, Anatole de la
  Fourichon, Admiral
  Franco-German War
    cause and origin of
    preparations for
    outbreak of
    first French armies
    departure of Napoleon III for
    Germans enter France
    first engagements
    news of Sedan
    troops gathered in Paris
    German advance on Paris
    Châtillon affair
    investment of Paris
    French provincial armies
    the fighting near Le Mans
    the retreat to Laval
    armistice and peace negotiations
    _See also Paris, and names of battles and commanders_.
  Frederick, Emperor, _see_ Crown Prince,
  Frederick Charles, Prince, of Prussia
  Freyoinet, Charles de Saulces de,
  Frossard, General

  Galliffet, Mme. de
  Gambetta, Léon
  Garde, _see_ Imperial, Mobile, _and_ National.
  Garibaldi, General
  Garibaldi, Riciotti
    early victories
    alleged overthrow at Jaumont
    advance on Paris
    expelled from Paris
    love of clocks
    exactions at Le Mans
    officers' manners
    entry into Paris
  Godard brothers
  Goeben, General von
  Gougeard, General
  Gramont, Duc Agénor de
  Gramont-Cadèrousse, Duc de
  Greenwood, Frederick
  Guard, _see_ Imperial, Mobile, National.

  Halliday, Andrew
  Hazen, General W. B. (U.S.A.)
  Heiduck, General von
  Héricourt, battle of
  Home, David Dunglass
  Horses in the War
  Hozier, Captain, later Colonel, Sir H.
  Hugo, Victor

  _Illustrated London News_
  _Illustrated Times_
  Imperial Guard
  Imperial Prince

  Jarras, General
  Jaumont quarries
  Jaurégulberry, Admiral
  Jaurès, Admiral
  Jerrold, Blanchard
  Johnson, Captain
  Jouffroy, General
  Jung, Captain

  Kanitz, Colonel von
  Kean, Edmund
  Kératry, Comte de
  Kitchener, Lord
  Kraatz-Koschlau, General von

  Laboughere, Henry,
  Ladmirault, General de
  La Ferté-Bernard
  Lalande, General
  La Malmaison sortie
  La Motte-Rouge, General de
  Laon, capitulation of
  Laval, retreat on
    adventure at
  Leboeuf, Marshal
  Lebouëdec, General
  Lebrun, General
  Lecomte, General
  Le Flô, General
  Lefort, General
  Legislative Body, French (Palais Bourbon)
  Le Mans
    Chanzy at
    town described
    country around
    fighting near
    decisive fighting begins
    retreat from
    battle losses at
    street fighting at
    Germans at
    their exactions
    Chanzy's statue at
  Lermina, Jules
  Lewal, Colonel
  Lipowski, Commandant
  Lobbia, Colonel
  Loigny-Poupry, battle
  Longwy, capitulation
  Lycée Bonaparte, now Condorcet
  Lyons, Lord

  MacMahon, Marshal
    Mme. de
  Magnin, M.
  Maine country
  Malmaison, _see_ La Malmaison
  Mans, _see_ Le Mans
  Mantes, Germans at
  Manteuffel, General von
  Marchenoir forest
  Mario, Jessie White
  Marseillaise, the
  Mayhew, brothers
  Mazure, General
  Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Frederick Francis, Grand Duke of
  Michel, General
  Millaud, A., his verses
  Middleton, Robert
  Mobile Guard,
    in Paris
  Moltke, Marshal von
  Monson, Sir Edmund
  Montbard, artist
  Mora, Colonel
  Morny, Duc de
  Motte Rouge, _see_ La Motte-Rouge
  Moulin, artist

  Nadar, Jules Tournachon, called
  Napoleon I
  Napoleon III,
  Napoleon (Jérôme), Prince
  National Assembly elected
  National Defence Government
    confirmed by a plebiscitum
    in the provinces
  National Guard (Paris)
    of Châteaudun
    of Laval
  _New York Times_
  Niel, Marshal
  Noé, Vicomte de, _see_ Cham.
  Noir, Victor, assassinated
  Nuits, fighting at

  Ollivier, Emile;
    battle of

  Paladines, see D'Aurelle
  Palikao, General de
  _Pall Mall Gazette_
  Parigné l'Eveque
    cafés in;
    riots in;
    elections in;
    early in the war;
    defensive preparations;
    fugitives and refugees;
    wounded soldiers in;
    Anglo-American ambulance in;
    army and armament of;
    Hugo's return to;
    German advance on;
    last day of liberty in;
    live-stock in;
    customary meat supply of;
    clubs in;
    defence of Châtillon;
    siege begins;
    attempts to leave;
    first couriers from;
    balloon and pigeon post;
    siege jests;
    spyophobia and signal craze in;
    amazons of;
    reconnaissances and sorties from;
    news of Metz in;
    demonstrations and riots in;
    plebiscitum in;
    food and rations in;
    English people leave;
    state of environs of;
    steps to relieve;
    bombardment of;
    health of;
    deserters in;
    affray in;
    capitulation of;
    author returns to;
    aspect after the armistice;
    Germans enter;
    rising of the Commune, _See also_ Revolution.
  Paris, General
  "Partant pour la Syrie"
  Peace conditions
  "Pekin, Siege of"
  Pelcoq, Jules, artist
  Pelletan, Eugène
  Picard, Ernest
  Pietri, Prefect
  Piquet, M.
  Pius IX
  Pollard family
  Pontifical Zouaves
  Pontlieue (Le Mans)
  Pont-Noyelles, battle of
  Postal-services, _see_ Balloon, Courier, Pigeon.
  Prim, General
  Prussians, not Germans
  Pyat, Félix

  Quatrefages de Bréau
  Quinet, Edgar

  Rampont, Dr.
  "Red Badge of Courage"
  Red Cross Society, French
  Reed, Sir E. J.
  Retreat, Chanzy's, on Marchenoir forest;
    on Le Mans;
    on Laval;
  Revolution of September 4.
  Reyau, General
  Richard, Mayor of Le Mans
  Robinson, Sir John
  Rochefort, Henri
  Rochers, Château des
  Rodellee du Ponzic, Lieutenant
  Roquebrune, General de
  Rothschild, Baron Alphonse de
  Rouen, Germans reach
  Rouher, Eugène
  Rousseau, General
  Russell, Sir William Howard
  Ryan, Dr. C. E.

  Saint Agil
  Saint Calais
  Saint Cloud château destroyed
  Saint Jean-sur-Erve
  Saint Malo
  Saint Quentin,
    defence of;
    battle of
  Saint Servan
  Sainte Suzanne
  Sala, G.A.
  Sardou, Victorien
  Sass, Marie
  Saxe-Meiningen, Prince of
  Saxony, Crown Prince of
  Schmidt, General von
  Sedan, news of
    Napoleon at
  Senate, Imperial
  Sieges, _see_ Paris _and other places_
  Signal craze in Paris
  Simon, Jules
  Skinner, Hilary
  Sologne region
  Songs, some Victorian
  Sophia, Queen of Holland
  Spuller, Eugène
  Spyophobia in Paris
    at Laval
  Stoffel, Colonel
  Strasbourg, siege of
  Susbielle, General

  Tann, General von der
  Tertre Rouge position (Le Mans)
  Thackeray, W.M.
  Thiers, Adolphe
  Thomas, General Clément
  _Times_, the
  Tissandier brothers
  Toul capitulates
  Treaty, _see_ Peace
  Trochu, General
  Tuilerie position (Le Mans)
  Tuileries palace

  Uhrich, General

  Vaillant, Marshal
  Valentin, Edmond
  Vendôme column
  Versailles during Paris siege
  Villemessant, H. de
  Villersexel, battle of
  Villorceau, fighting at
  Vimercati, Count
  Vinoy, General
  Vizetelly family
  Vizetelly, Adrian
    ------, Arthur
    ------, Edward Henry
    ------, Elizabeth Anne
    ------, Ellen Elizabeth
    ------, Ernest Alfred, parentage
      men he saw in childhood
      his passionate temper
      at school at Eastbourne
      at London sights
      sees Garibaldi
      and Nadar
      goes to France
      at the Lycée Bonaparte
      his tutor Brassard
      sees an attempt on Alexander H.
      assists his father
      his first article
      sees famous Frenchmen
      visits the Tuileries
      goes to Compiègne
      is addressed by Napoleon III
      sees Paris riots
      visits Prince Pierre's house
      is befriended by Captain Bingham
      dreams of seeing a war
      has a glimpse of its seamy side
      sees Napoleon III set out for the war
      hears Capoul sing the "Marseillaise"
      sees a demonstration
      meets English newspaper correspondents
      is called a little spy by Gambetta
      with the Anglo-American ambulance
      witnesses the Revolution
      takes a letter to Trochu
      sees Victor Hugo's return to Paris
      witnesses a great review
      describes Parish last day of liberty
      sees Captain Johnson arrive
      visits balloon factories
      ascends in Nadar's captive balloon
      sees Gambetta leave in a balloon
      learns fencing
      goes to a women's club
      interviews the Paris Amazons
      witnesses the demonstration of October 21
      and that of October 31
      food arrangements of his father and himself
      leaves Paris
      at Brie Comte-Robert
      at Corbeil
      at Champlan
      at Versailles
      visits Colonel Walker with his father
      leaves Versailles
      at Mantes
      reaches Saint Servan
      visits the Camp of Conlie
      accompanies Gougeard's division to the front
      in the retreat on Le Mans
      receives the baptism of fire
      has an amusing experience at Rennes
      returns to Le Mans
      sees and sketches Chanzy
      witnesses part of the battle of Le Mans
      sees the stampede from the tile-works
      and the confusion at Le Mans
      his views on German officers
      on a soldier's emotions
      on ambulances
      escapes from Le Mans
      at Sillé-le-Guillaume
      at the fight of Saint Jean-sur-Erve
      follows the retreat
      returns to Laval
      has a dramatic adventure there
      returns to Paris
      sees the Germans enter Paris
      some of his experiences during the Commune
  Vizetelly, Frank
  ----, Francis (Frank) Horace
  ----, Frederick Whitehead
  ----, Henry
  ----, Henry Richard (author's father)
  ----, James Thomas George
  ----, James Henry
  ----, Montague
  Voigts Rhetz, General von
  Vosges, _see_ Army of the
  Voules, Horace

  Walker, Colonel Beauchamp
  War, emotions in
    war-news in 1870
    _See also_ Franco-German War
  Washburne, Mr.
  Werder, General von
  Whitehurst, Felix
  William, King of Prussia, later Emperor
  Wimpfen, General de
  Wittich, General von
  Wodehouse, Hon. Mr.
  Wolseley, Field-Marshal Lord


  Zola, Emile, his "La Débâcle"


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