[Footnote 76: “THE MINISTER OF WAR TO THE NATIONAL GUARD.
“CITOYENS,—I notice with pain that, forgetful of our modest origin, the ridiculous mania for trimmings, embroidery, and shoulder-knots has begun to take hold upon you.
“To work! You have for the first time accomplished a revolution by, and for, labour.
“Let us not forget our origin, and, above all, do not let us be ashamed of it, Workmen we were! workmen let us remain!
“In the name of virtue against vice, of duty against abuse, of austerity against corruption, we have triumphed; let us not forget the fact.
“Let us be, above all, men of honour and duty; we shall then found an austere Republic, the only one that has or can have reason for its existence.
“I appeal to the good sense of my fellow-citizens: let us have no more tags and lace, no more glitter, no more frippery which costs so little at the shops yet is so dear to our responsibility.
“In future, anyone who cannot deduce proof of his right to wear the insignia of his nominal rank, or, who shall add to the regular uniform of the National Guard, tags, lace, or other vain distinctions, will be liable to be punished.
“I profit by this occasion to remind each of you of the necessity of absolute obedience to the authorities, for in obeying those whom you have elected you are only obeying yourselves.
“The Delegate of War,
“Paris, April 7th, 1871,
(Signed) “E. CLUSERET.”]
Suppose that a man in disguise goes into the opera ball intoxicated, rushes hither and thither, gesticulating, insulting the women, mocking the men, turns off the gas, then sets light to some curtains, until such a hue and cry is raised that he is turned out of the place. Whereupon our mask runs off to the nearest costumier’s, changes his clown’s dress for that of a pantaloon, and returns to the opera to recommence his old tricks, saying, “I have changed my dress, no one will recognise me.” But he is wrong, there is no mistaking his way of doing business.
The crowd surrounds him and cries, “We recognise you, beau masque!” and if he has had the imprudence to secure the doors, they throw him out of window.
We recognise you, Executive Commission; it is in vain that you disguise yourself in the bloody rags of the Committee of Public Safety, your are still yourself, you are still Felix Pyat, you are still Ranvier, you have never ceased to be Gerardin; you hope to make yourself obeyed more readily under this lugubrious costume, but you mistake. Command us to go and fight, and we will not budge; pursue us, and we will hardly run away; put us in prison, and we will only laugh. You are no more a Terror, than Gil-Perez the actor is Talma; the knocks you receive have pushed aside your false nose; it is in vain that you decree, that you rob, that you incarcerate; you are too grotesque to be terrible. Even if you carried the parody out to the end, and thought fit to erect a guillotine and sharpen the knife, we should even then decline to look seriously upon you, and were we to see one by one five hundred heads fell into the basket, we should still persist in thinking that your axe was of wood, and your guillotine of cardboard!