Paris under the Commune eBook

John Leighton Stuart
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 389 pages of information about Paris under the Commune.

“CITIZENS,—­Being informed that a guillotine is at this moment in course of construction,...”  Dear me, yes, while you were fast asleep and dreaming, with no other apprehension than that of being sent to prison by the members of the Commune, a guillotine was being made.  Happily, the sub-committee was not asleep.  No, not they! “... a guillotine ordered and paid for ...”.  Are you quite sure it was paid for, good sub-committee?  For that Government, you know, had such a habit of cheating poor people out of their rights. “... by the late odious government; a portable and rapid guillotine.”  Ha!  What do you say to that?  Does not that make your blood run cold?  Rapid, you understand; that is to say, that the guillotining of twelve or fifteen hundred patriots in a morning would have been play to the Abbe of Cinq-Pierres.  And portable, too!  A sort of pocket guillotine.  When the members of the Government had a circuit to make in the provinces, they would have carried their guillotine with their seals of office, and if, at Lyons, Marseilles, or any other great town, they had met a certain number of scoundrels—­Snip, snap!  In the twinkling of an eye, no more scoundrels left.  Oh! how cunning!  But let us go on reading.  “The sub-committee of the eleventh arrondissement ...”  Oh! so there is a sub-committee for each arrondisement, is there? “... has had these infamous instruments of monarchical domination ...”  One for you, Monsieur Thiers! “... seized, and has voted their destruction for ever.”  Very good intentions, sub-committee, but you can’t write grammar.  “In consequence, they will be burnt in front of the mairie, for the purification of the arrondissement and the preservation of the new liberties.”  And accordingly, a guillotine was burnt on the 7th of April, at ten o’clock in the morning, before the statue of Voltaire.

The ceremony was not without a certain weirdness.  In the midst of a compact crowd of men, women, and children, who shook their fists at the odious instrument, some National Guards of the 187th Battalion fed the huge flames with broken pieces of the guillotine, which crackled, blistered, and blazed, while the statue of the old philosopher, wrapped in the smoke, must have sniffed the incense with delight.  When nothing remained but a heap of glowing ashes, the crowd shouted with joy; and for my own part, I fully approved of what had just been done as well as of the approbation of the spectators.  But, between you and me, do you not think that many of the persons there had often stationed themselves around the guillotine with rather different intentions than that of seeing it burnt?  And then, if in reducing this instrument of death to ashes, they wished to prove that the time is past when men put men to death, it seems to me that they ought not to stop at this.  While we are at it, let us burn the muskets too,—­what say you?

FOOTNOTES: 

[Footnote 53:  The citizens, united under the denomination of the League of Republican Union of the Rights of Paris, had adopted the following programme, which seemed to them to express the wishes of the population:—­

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Paris under the Commune from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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