In a very short time the terrible news, increased and exaggerated as it spread, filled every quarter of Paris with consternation. I returned home in a most perplexed state of mind, from which I could not arouse myself until the arrival, towards evening, of a friend, a freemason, and consequently well informed. This, it appears, is what took place.
“At the moment when the procession arrived in the Champs Elysees it formed itself into several groups, each choosing a separate avenue or street. One followed the Faubourg St. Honore and the Avenue Friedland as far as the Triumphal Arch, till it reached the Porte Maillot; a second proceeded to the Porte des Ternes by the Avenue des Ternes; a third to the Porte Dauphine by the Avenue Uehrich. Not a single freemason was wounded on the way, though shells fell on their passage from time to time. The VV.’.[Transcriber’s note: triangular symbol of three dots here] of each lodge marched at the head, displaying their masonic banners.
[Illustration: THE FREEMASONS AT THE RAMPARTS. GAMINS COLLECTING SHELLS.]
“As soon as the white flag was seen flying from the bastion on the right of the Porte Maillot, the Versailles batteries ceased firing. The freemasons were then able to pass the ramparts and proceed towards Neuilly. There they were received rather coldly by the colonel in command of the detachment. The officers, including those in high command, were violently indignant against Paris. But the soldiers themselves seemed utterly weary of war.
“After some parleying the members of the manifestation obtained leave to send a certain number of delegates to Versailles, in order to make a second attempt at conciliation with the Government.”
Will this new effort be more successful than the preceding one? Will the company of freemasons obtain what the Republican Union failed in procuring? I would fain believe it, but cannot. The obstinacy of the Versailles Assembly has become absolute deafness, though we must admit that the freemasons’ way of trying to bring about reconciliation was rather singular, somewhat like holding a knife at Monsieur Thiers’ throat and crying out, “Peace or your life!”
[Footnote 66: Memoir, see Appendix 6.]
[Footnote 67: Felix Pyat was born in 1810 at Vierzon. He came to Paris for the purpose of studying law, but soon abandoned his intention for the more genial profession of journalist. He contributed to the Figaro, the Charivari, the Revue de Paris, and the National. In 1848 he was named Commissary-General, and subsequently deputy of the department of the Cher. Having signed Ledru-Rollin’s call to arms, he was obliged after the events of June to take refuge in England. Profiting by the amnesty of the fifteenth of August, 1869, he returned to France, but made himself so obnoxious to the Government by his virulent abuse of the Empire,