Well! said the Government, who could imagine that the line would throw up the butt ends of their muskets, or that the Chasseurs, after the loss of a single officer, would turn their backs upon the Nationals, and that their only deeds should be the imbibing of plentiful potations at the cost of the insurgents? But how could it be otherwise? Not many days since the soldiers were wandering idly through the streets with the National Guards; were billeted upon the people, eating their soup and chatting with their wires and daughters, unaccustomed to discipline and the rigour of military organisation; enervated by defeat, having been maintained by their officers in the illusion of their invincibility; annoyed by their uniform, of which they ceased to be proud, the humiliated soldiers sought to escape into the citizen. Were the commanding officers ignorant of the prevailing spirit of the troops? Must we admit that they were grossly deceived, or that they deceived the Government, when the latter might and ought to have been in a position to foresee the result. Possibly the Assembly had the right to coerce, but they had no right to be ignorant of their power. They must have known that 100,000 arms (chassepots, tabatieres, and muskets) were in the hands of disaffected men, clanking on the floors of the dealers in adulterated wines and spirits, and low cabarets. The fact is, the Government took a leap in the dark, and wondered when they found the position difficult.
[Footnote 5: Appendix, note 2.]
[Footnote 6: A mark of insult.]
[Footnote 7: This useless artillery was much ridiculed; jokers said that the notary of General Trochu was working out faithfully the “plan” of his illustrious client in these tardy fortifications.]
[Footnote 8: How was the Government to act in the presence of these facts; to await events, or to strike a great blow?
Some think that the resistance of the insurgents was strengthened by the measures taken by Government, which ought to have been more diplomatic and skilful. The agitation of these men of Montmartre, at the entry of the Prussians, had calmed down in a few hours; it was now the duty of Government to allay the irritation which had caused the insurgents to form their Montmartre stronghold, and not to follow the advice of infuriated reactionaries, who make no allowance for events and circumstances, neither analysing the elements of that which they are combating, nor weighing the measures they do not even know how to apply with tact.
The guns had not been re-taken, but Paris was very calm. Dissensions had broken out in the Montmartre Committee, some of whose members wished the cannon to be returned (the Committee sat at No, 8 of the Rue des Rosiers, with a court-martial on one hand, and military head-quarters on the other). Danger seemed now to be averted, and the authorities had but one thing to do, to allow all agitation to die out, without listening to blind or treacherous counsellors, who advocated a system of immediate repression. It was said, however, that the greater number of the members of Government were inclined to temporise, but the provisional appointment of General Valentin to the direction of the Prefecture of Police, seemed to contradict this assertion.