“Parisians! We use this language to you because we esteem your good sense, your wisdom, your patriotism; but, this warning being given, you will approve of our having resort to force at all costs, and without a day’s delay, that order, the only condition of your welfare, be re-established entirely, immediately, and unalterably.”
As soon as the party of disorder saw the intentions of the Government of Versailles thus set forth, a chorus of recriminations burst forth:—“They want to put an end to the Republic!”—“They are about to fire on our brothers!”—“They wish to set up a king,” &c. The same strain for ever! In order to prevent as far as possible the mischievous effects of this insurrectionary propaganda, the Government issued the following proclamation, which bore date the 18th of March:—
“NATIONAL GUARDS of PARIS!—
“Absurd rumours are
spread abroad that the Government contemplates a
“The Government of the
Republic has not, and cannot have, any other
object but the welfare of the Republic.
“The measures which have been taken were indispensable to the maintenance of order; it was, and is still, determined to put an end to an insurrectionary committee, the members of which, nearly all unknown to the population of Paris, preach nothing but Communist doctrines, will deliver up Paris to pillage, and bring France into her grave, unless the National Guard and the army do not rise with one accord in the defence of the country and of the Republic.”
The Government had many parleys with the insurrectionary National Guards at Montmartre; at one moment there was a rumour that the guns had been given up. It appeared that the guardians of this artillery had manifested some intention of restoring it, horses had even been sent without any military force to create mistrust, but the men declared that they would not deliver the guns, except to the battalions to which they properly belonged. Was there bad faith here? or had those who made the promise undertaken to deliver up the skin before they had killed the bear.
Public opinion shaped itself generally in somewhat the following form:—“If they are tricking each other, that is not very dangerous!”
Many an honest citizen went to bed on the seventeenth of March full of hope. He saw Paris marching with quick steps towards the re-establishment of its business, and the resumption of its usual aspect; the emigrants and foreigners would arrive in crowds, their pockets overflowing with gold to make purchases and put the industry of Paris under contributions the French and foreign bankers will rival each other to pay the indemnity of five milliards.