The fire is out, let us contemplate the ruins. The Commune is vanquished. Look at Paris, sad, motionless, laid waste. This is what we have come to! Consternation is in every breast, solitude is in every street. We feel no longer either anger or pity; we are resigned, broken by emotion; we see processions of prisoners pass on their way to Versailles, and we scarcely look at them; no one thinks of saying either, “Wretches!” or “Poor fellows!” The soldiers themselves are very silent. Although they, are the victors they are sad; they do not drink, they do not sing. Paris might be a town that had been assaulted and taken by dumb enemies; the irritation has worn itself off, and the tears have not yet come. The tricolour flags which float from all the windows surprise us; there does not seem any reason for rejoicing. Yet, of late especially, the triumph of the Versaillais has been ardently wished for by the greater portion of the population; but all are so tired that they have not the energy to rejoice. Let us look back for a moment. First the siege, with famine, separation and poverty; then the insurrection of Montmartre, surprises, hesitations, cannonading night and day, ceaseless musketry, mothers in tears, sons pursued, every calamity has fallen on this miserable city. It has been like Rome under Tiberius, then like Rome after the barbarians had overrun it. The cannon balls have fallen upon Sybaris. So much emotion, so many horrors have worn out the city; and then all this blood, this dreadful blood. Corpses in the streets, corpses within the houses, corpses everywhere! Of course they were terribly guilty, these men that were taken, that were killed; they were horrible criminals, those women who poured brandy into the glasses and petroleum on the houses! But, in the first moment of victory, were there no mistakes? Were those that were shot all guilty? Then the sight of these executions, however merited, was cruelly painful. The innocent shuddered at the doom of justice. True, Paris is quiet now, but it is the quiet of the battle-field on the morrow of a victory; quiet as night, and as the tomb! An unsupportable uneasiness oppresses us; shall we ever be able to shake off this apathy, to pierce through this gloom? Paris, rent and bleeding, turns with sadness from the past, and dares not yet raise her eyes to the future!
[Illustration: THE NEW MASTERS
CAMPS IN THE GARDENS OF THE LUXEMBOURG AND THE TUILERIES—THE
LOCKED IN, AND THE PUBLIC LOCKED OUT.
The damage done to the pier was by a Prussian shell in Jan. 1871.]
[Illustration: PALACE OF THE LUXEMBOURG (STREET FRONT). NOW THE SEAT OF THE PREFECTURE OF PARIS.]