Paris under the Commune eBook

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

[Footnote 78:  Colonel Rossel was one of the most capable members of the Commune Government.  He was born in 1844, and was the son of Commandant Louis Rossel, an officer who acquired a high reputation in the Chinese war.  The young Louis Rossel received a sound military education at the Prytanee of La Fleche, and subsequently at the Ecole Polytechnique, at which latter institution he gained high honours.  He served as captain of engineers in the army of Metz, and was one of the officers who signed the protestation against the surrender of Bazaine.  He succeeded in eluding the vigilance of the Prussians, and appeared at Tours to offer his services to the Government of National Defence.  Gambetta, then Minister of War, appointed Rossel to the rank of colonel in the so-called auxiliary army.  After the signature of the peace preliminaries, the new government refused to ratify the promotion granted by Gambetta, but offered Rossel the rank of major.  This seriously offended the ex-Dictator’s ex-colonel, who shortly after the tenth of March, put his sword at the disposition of the Commune.  He was at first appointed chief of the staff of General Cluseret, whom he subsequently replaced as delegate for war.  On April 16 he became president of the Communist court-martial; he acted with great vigour in all military affairs until the 10th of May, when the Commune ordered his arrest.]

[Illustration:  CHAPELLE EXPIATOIRE.]

LXXV.

Malediction on the man who imagined this decree; malediction on the assembly that approved it; and cursed be the hand which shall first touch a stone of that tomb!  Oh I believe me, I am not among those who regret the times of royal prerogatives, and who believe that everything would have gone well, in the most peaceful country in the world, if Louis XVII had only succeeded to the throne after his father, Louis XVI.  The author of the revolution of 1798 knew what he was about in multiplying such terrible catastrophes.  The name of that author was Infallible Necessity.  Indeed I am quite ready to confess that the indolent husband of Marie Antoinette had none of those qualities which make a great king, and I will even add, if you wish it absolutely, that the solitary fact of being a king is a crime worthy a thousand deaths.  As to Marie Antoinette herself—­“the Austrian,” Pere Duchesne would call her—­I allow that in history she is not quite so amiable as she appears in the novels of Alexandra Dumas, and that her near relationship to the queen Caroline-Marie, whose little suppers at Naples, in company with Lady Hamilton, one is well acquainted with, gives some excuse for the calumnies of which she has been the object.  Have I said enough to prevent myself being the recipient, in the event of a Bourbon restoration, of the most modest pension that ever came out of a royal treasury?  Well, in spite of what I have said, and in spite of what I think, I repeat, “Do not touch that tomb!”

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Paris under the Commune from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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