I went often to the Chamber in the spring—used to drive out and bring W. home. Versailles was very animated and interesting during all that time, so many people always about. Quite a number of women followed the debates. One met plenty of people one knew in the streets, at the Patissiers, or at some of the bric-a-brac shops, where there were still bargains to be found in very old furniture, prints, and china. There is a large garrison. There were always officers riding, squads of soldiers moving about, bugle-calls in all directions, and continuous arrivals at the station of deputies and journalists hurrying to the palace, their black portfolios under their arms. The palace was cold. There was a fine draught at the entrance and the big stone staircase was always cold, even in June, but the assembly-room was warm enough and always crowded. It was rather difficult to get seats. People were so interested in those first debates after the war, when everything had to be reorganised and so much of the past was being swept away.
IMPRESSIONS OF THE ASSEMBLY AT VERSAILLES
The sittings of the assembly were very interesting in that wonderful year when everything was being discussed. All public interest of course was centred in Versailles, where the National Assembly was trying to establish some sort of stable government. There were endless discussions and speeches and very violent language in the Chambers. Gambetta made some bitter attacks on the Royalists, accusing them of mauvaise foi and want of patriotism. The Bonapartist leaders tried to persuade themselves and their friends that they still had a hold on the country and that a plebiscite would bring back in triumph their prince. The Legitimists, hoping against hope that the Comte de Chambord would still be the saviour of the country, made passionate appeals to the old feeling of loyalty in the nation, and the centre droit, representing the Orleanists, nervous, hesitating, knowing the position perfectly, ardently desiring a constitutional monarchy, but feeling that it was not possible at that moment, yet unwilling to commit themselves to a final declaration of the Republic, which would make a Royalist restoration impossible. All the Left confident, determined.
The Republic was voted on the 30th of January, 1875, by a majority of one vote, if majority it could be called, but the great step had been taken, and the struggle began instantly between the moderate conservative Republicans and the more advanced Left. W. came home late that day. Some of his friends came in after dinner and the talk was most interesting. I was so new to it all that most of the names of the rank and file were unknown to me, and the appreciations of the votes and the anecdotes and side-lights on the voters said nothing to me. Looking back after all these years, it seems to me that the moderate Royalists (centre droit) threw away a splendid chance. They