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

LIII.

Who would think it?  They are voting.  When I say “they are voting,” I mean to say “they might vote;” for as for going to the poll, Paris seems to trouble itself but little about it.  The Commune, too, seems somewhat embarrassed.  You remember Victor Hugo’s song of the Adventurers of the Sea: 

        “En partant du golfe d’Otrente
          Nous etions trente,
        Mais en arrivant a Cadix
          Nous n’etions que dix."[59]

The gentlemen of the Hotel de Ville might sing this song with a few slight variations.  The Gulf of Otranto was not their starting point, but the Buttes Montmartre; though to make up for it they were eighty in number.  On arriving at C——­, no, I mean, the decree of the Colonne Vendome, they were a few more than ten, but not many.  What charming stanzas in imitation of Victor Hugo might Theodore de Banville and Albert Glatigny write on the successive desertions of the members of the Commune.  The first to withdraw were the maires of Paris, frightened to death at having been sent by the votes of their fellow-citizens into an assembly which was not at all, it appears, their ideal of a municipal council.  And upon this subject Monsieur Desmarest, Monsieur Tirard, and their adjoints will perhaps permit me an unimportant question.  What right had they to persuade their electors and the Friends of Order, to vote for the Commune of Paris if they were resolved to decline all responsibility when the votes had been given them?  Their presence at the Hotel de Ville, would it not have infused—­as we hoped—­a powerful spirit of moderation even in the midst of excesses that could even then be foretold?  When they have done all they can to persuade people to vote, have they the right to consider themselves ineligible?  In a word, why did they propose to us to elect the Commune of Paris if the Commune were a bad thing? and if it were a good thing, why did they refuse to take their part in it?  Whatever the cause, no sooner were they elected than they sent in their resignations.  Then the hesitating and the timid disappeared one after another, not having the courage to continue the absurdity to the end.  Add to all this the arrests made in its very bosom by the Assembly of the Hotel de Ville itself, and you will then have an idea of the extent of the dilemma.  A few days more and the Commune will come to an end for want of Communists, and then we shall cry, “Haste to the poll, citizens of Paris!” And the white official handbills will announce supplementary elections for Sunday, 16th of April.

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