Paris under the Commune eBook

John Leighton Stuart
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 483 pages of information about Paris under the Commune.
Like the Column Vendome, which is the symbol of an heroic and terrible epoch in history, the Chapelle Expiatoire[79] is a souvenir of the old monarchical reign, an age which was neither devoid of sorrow, nor of honour for France.  Can you not be republican without suppressing history, which was royalist?  The last remains of monarchy repose in peace beneath that gloomy monument; may it be respected, as we respect the ashes of those who respected it; and you, breakers of images, profaners of past glory, do you not fear, in executing your decree, to produce an effect diametrically opposed to that which you desire?  By persecuting kings even in their last resting-place, are you not afraid to excite the pity, the regret perhaps, of those whose consciences still hesitate?  In the interest of the Republic, I say, take care!  The memory of the dead stalks forth from open sepulchres!


[Footnote 79:  This chapel was erected by Louis XVIII. upon the spot where, during the Revolution of 1793, the remains of Louis XVI, and his Queen had been obscurely interred.]


Rejoice, poor housewives, who, on days of poverty, were obliged to carry to the Mont-de-Piete[80] the discoloured remains of your wedding dress, or your husband’s Sunday coat; rejoice, artisans, who, after a day of toil, thought your bed so hard since your last mattress was taken to the Rue des Blancs-Manteaux, to rejoin your last pair of sheets.  The Commune has decreed that “all objects in pawn at the Mont-de-Piete, for a sum not exceeding twenty francs, shall be given back gratuitously to all persons who shall prove their legitimate right to the said objects.”  Thanks to this benevolent decree, you may now hope that things you have pawned will be restored to you before three or four hundred days!

Count on your fingers; the number of articles to which the decree applies is at least 1,200,000.  As there are only three offices for the claimants to apply to, and considering the forms which have to be observed, I do not think more than three thousand objects can be given back daily; the Commune says four thousand, but the Commune does not know what it is talking about.  However, even if we calculate four thousand a-day, the whole would take up ten or twelve months.

During this time men and women, whom poverty had long ere this taught the road to the Mont-de-Piete, would have to get up early, neglect the daily work by which they live, and go and stand awaiting their turn at the office, frozen in winter, baked in summer, thankful to obtain a moment’s rest upon one of the wooden benches in the great bare hall; and when they have been there a long, weary time, to see their number, drawn by lot, put off to the next day or the day after, or the week or the month following perhaps.

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Paris under the Commune from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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