As to the cause of the explosion, opinions varied much. Some said it was owing to the negligence of the overseers or the imprudence of the workwomen; others, that the fire was caused by a shell. A woman rushed up to us, screaming out that she had just seen a man arrested in a shed in the Champ de Mars, who acknowledged having blown up the powder-magazine, by order of the Versailles government. Of course this was inevitable. The Commune would not let such a good opportunity pass for accusing its enemies. A few innocent people will be arrested, tried with more or less form, and shot; when they are so many corpses, the Commune will exclaim, “You see they must have been guilty: they have been shot!”
As evening came on I turned home, thinking that the cup was now filled to overflowing, and that the devoted city had had to suffer defeat, civil war, infamy, and death; but that this last disaster seemed almost more than divine justice. Ever and anon I turned my head to gaze again. In the gathering gloom, the flames looked blood-red, as if the Commune had unfurled its sinister banner over that irreparable disaster.
[Footnote 97: Razoua served in a regiment of Spahis in Africa. Becoming acquainted with the journalists who used to frequent the Cafe de Madrid, he was a constant attendant there. He took up literature, and in 1867 published some violent articles in the Pilori of Victor Noir. He afterwards went with Delescluze to the Reveil, where his revolutionary principles were manifested. In the month of February, 1871, he was elected a member of the National Assembly by the people of Paris. After having sat for some time at Bordeaux, he gave his resignation, and became one of the Communal council.
Appointed governor of the Ecole Militaire, he distinguished himself in no way in his position, except by the sumptuous dinners and dejeuners with which he regaled his friends.]
I have gazed so long on what was passing around me that my eyes are weary. I have watched the slow decline of joy, of comfort and luxury, almost without knowing how everything has been dying around me, as a man in a ball-room where the candles are put out, one by one, may not perceive at first the gathering gloom. To see Paris, as it is at the present moment, as the Commune has made it, requires an effort. Let me shut my eyes, and evoke the vision of Paris as it was, living, joyous, happy even in the midst of sadness. I have done so—I have brought it all back to me; now I will open my eyes and look around me.
In the street that I inhabit not a vehicle of any kind is visible. Men in the uniform of National Guards pass and repass on the pavement; a lady is talking with her concierge on the threshold of one of the houses. They talk low. Many of the shops are closed; some have only the shutters up; a few are quite open. I see a woman at the bar of the wine-shop opposite, drinking.