Paris under the Commune eBook

John Leighton Stuart
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 483 pages of information about Paris under the Commune.

We beg your pardon!  There was a great deal of harm done—­to Monsieur Courbet.


[Footnote 57:  Gaillard Senior (a sort of Odger), cobbler of Belleville and democratic stump orator.  Appointed, April 8, to the Presidency of the Commission of Barricades.]

[Footnote 58:  As a painter Courbet has been very diversely judged.  He was the chief of the ultra-realistic school, and therefore a natural subject for the contempt and abuse of the admirers of “legitimate art.”  But his later use of the political power entrusted to him has drawn down upon him the wrath of an immense majority of the French public, which his artistic misdemeanours had scarcely touched.  On the sixteenth of April he was elected a member of the Commune by the 6th arrondissement of Paris, and forthwith appointed Director of the Beaux Arts.  Until this time his life had been purely professional, and consequently of mediocre interest for the general public.  He was born at Ornans, department of the Doubs, in 1819, and received his primary instructions from the Abbe Gousset, afterwards Archbishop of Rheims.  He first applied himself to the study of mathematics, painting the while, and apparently aiming at a fusion of both pursuits.  He subsequently read for the bar for a short time, and, finally, adopting art as his sole profession, threw himself heart and soul into a Renaissance movement as the apostle of a new style.  The peculiarities of his manner soon brought him into notoriety, and a school of imitators grouped itself around him.  His pride became a proverb.  In 1870 he was offered the cross of the Legion of Honour, and refused it, arrogantly declaring that he would have none of a distinction given to tradesmen and ministers.  The part he took in the destruction of the Colonne Vendome is familiar to all readers of the English press.  Three weeks after the fall of the Commune he was denounced by a Federal officer, and discovered at the house of a friend hiding in a wardrobe, and in September was condemned by the tribunal at Versailles to six months’ imprisonment and a fine of 600 francs—­a slight penalty that astonished everyone.]


It is forbidden to cross the Place Vendome, and naturally, walking there is prohibited too.  I had been prowling about every afternoon for the last few days, trying to pass the sentinels of the Rue de la Paix, hoping that some lucky chance might enable me to evade the military order; all I got for my pains was a sharply articulated “Passes au large!” and I remained shut out.

To-day, as I was watching for a favourable opportunity, a petite dame who held up her skirts to show her stockings, which were as red as the flag of the Hotel de Ville—­out upon you for a female Communist! —­approached the sentinel and addressed him with her most gracious, smile.  And oh, these Federals!  The man in office forgot his duty, and at once began with the lady a conversation of such an intimate description, that for discretion’s sake I felt myself obliged to take a slight turn to the left, and a minute later I had slipped into the forbidden Place.

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Paris under the Commune from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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