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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.
and it would be difficult to make them believe that this village, so celebrated for fried fish and Paris Cockneys, is still in our possession, unless we can manage to persuade them that although we have evacuated Asnieres, we still energetically maintain our position there.  The fact is, affairs are taking a tolerably bad turn for us.  How are we to get over the inconvenience of being vanquished?  What are we to do to destroy the bad impression produced by our doubtful triumphs?” And thereupon the members of the Commune fell to musing.  “Parbleu!” cried they, after a few moments’ reflection—­the elect of Paris are capable of more in a single second than all the deputies of the National Assembly in three years—­“Let decrees, proclamations, and placards be prepared.  By what means, did we succeed in imposing on the donkeys of Paris?  Why, by decrees, by proclamations, by placards.  Courage, then, let us persevere.  Ha! the traitors have taken the chateau of Becon, and have seized upon Asnieres.  What matters! quick, eighty pens and eighty inkstands.  To work, men of letters; painters and shoemakers, to work!  Franckel, who is Hungarian; Napoleon Gaillard, who is a cobbler; Dombrowski, who is a Pole; and Billioray, who writes omelette with an h, will make perhaps rather a mess of it.  But, thank heaven!  We have amongst us Felix Pyat, the great dramatist; Pierre Denis, who has made such bad verses that he must write good prose; and lastly, Vermorel, the author of ’Ces Dames,’ a little book illustrated with photographs for the use of schools, and ‘Desperanza,’ a novel which caused Gustave Flaubert many a nightmare.  To work, comrades, to work!  We have been asked for a long time what we understand by the words—­La Commune.  Tell them, if you know.  Write it, proclaim it, and we will placard it.  Even if you don’t know, tell them all the same; the great art of a good cook consists in making jugged hare without hare of any kind.”  And this is why there appeared this morning on the walls an immense placard, with the following words in enormous letters:  “Declaration to the French people.”

Twenty days ago a long proclamation, which pretended to express and define the tendencies of the revolution of the eighteenth of March, would perhaps have had some effect.  To-day we have awaked from many illusions, and the finest phrases in the world will not overcome our obstinate indifference.  Let us, however, read and note.

[Illustration:  VERMOREL,[65] DELEGATE OF PUBLIC SAFETY.]

“In the painful and terrible conflict which once more imposes upon Paris the horrors of the siege and the bombardment, which makes French blood flow, which causes our brothers, our wives, our children, to perish, crushed by shot and shell, it is urgent that public opinion should not be divided, that the national conscience should not be troubled.”

That’s right!  I entirely agree with you; it is undoubtedly very urgent that public opinion should not be divided.  But let us see what means you are going to take to obtain so desirable a result.

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