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.

[Illustration:  THE PALACE OF THE TUILERIES, FROM THE GARDEN.  The last concert held in the Tuileries by the Commune took place on Sunday, the 21st of March, when Anteuil and Passy had been in the power of the army for several hours.  Two days later the old palace was in flames.  Citizen Felix Pyat had advanced the preservation of the Tuileries in the Vengeur, proposing to convert it into an asylum for the victims of work and the martyrs of the Republic.  “This residence,” he wrote, “ought to be devoted to the people, who had already taken possession of it.”]

The concert took place in the Salle des Marechaux:  a platform had been erected for the performers.  The velvet curtains with their golden bees still draped the windows.  From the gallery above I could see all that was going on.  The Imperial balcony opens out of it; I went there, and leaned on the balustrade with a certain feeling of emotion.  Below were the illuminated gardens, and far away at the end of the Champs Elysees, almost lost in the purple of the sky, rose the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile.

The roaring of the cannon at Vanves and Montrouge reached me where I stood.  When the duet of the “Maitre de Chapelle” was over, I returned into the hall; the distant crashing of the mitrailleuse at Neuilly, borne towards us on the fresh spring breeze, in through the open windows, joined its voice to the applause of the audience.

Oh! what an audience!  The faces in general looked fit subjects for the gibbet; others were simply disgusting:  surprise, pleasure, and fear of Equality were reflected on every physiognomy.  The carpenter, Pindy, military governor of the Hotel de Ville, was in close conversation with a girl from Philippe’s.  The ex-spy Clemence muttered soft speeches into the ear of a retired chiffonniere, who smiled awkwardly in reply.  The cobbler Dereure was intently contemplating his boots; while Brilier, late coachman, hissed the singers by way of encouragement, as he would have done to his horses.  They were going to recite some verses:  I only waited to hear—­

     “PUIS, QUEL AVEUGLEMENT!  QUEL NON-SENS POLITIQUE!”

an Alexandrine, doubtless, launched at the National Assembly, and made my way to the garden as quickly as I could.

There, in spite of the Venetian lamps, all was very dull and dark.  The walks were almost deserted, although it was scarcely half-past nine.  I took a turn beneath the trees:  the evening was cold; and I soon left the gardens by the Rue de Rivoli gate.  A good many people were standing there “to see the grand people come from the fete”—­a fete given by lackeys in a deserted mansion!

LXXXVIII.

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Paris under the Commune from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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