During this time, the leaders who held Montmartre, spurred on by the ambitious around them, and by those desirous of kindling civil war for the sake of the illicit gains to be obtained from it, were getting up a manifestation, which was to claim for the National Guard the right of electing its commander-in-chief; and the post was to be offered to Menotti Garibaldi. But though the men of Montmartre declared that all who did not sign the manifestos were traitors, yet the addresses remained almost entirely blank. The insurrection had evidently few supporters. According to others, the insurrection of 1871 was the result of a vast conspiracy, planned and nurtured under the influence of a six months’ siege. No simple Paris emeute, but a grand social movement, organised by the great and universal revolutionary power; the Societe Internationale, Garibaldiism, Mazziniism, and Fenianism, have given each other rendezvous in Paris. Cluseret, the American; Frankel, the Prussian; Dombrowski, the Russian; Brunswick, the Lithuanian; Romanelli, the Italian; Okolowitz, the Pole; Spillthorn, the Belgian; and La Cecilia, Wroblewski, Wenzel, Hertzfel, Bozyski, Syneck, Prolowitz, and a hundred others, equally illustrious, brought together from every quarter of the globe; such were these ardent conspirators, all imbued, like their colleagues the Flourens, the Eudes, the Henrys, the Duvals, and tutti quanti, with the principles of the French school of democracy and socialism.
This strong and terrible band, we are told, is under the command of a chief who remains hidden and mute, while ostensibly it obeys the Pyats, Delescluzes, and Rocheforts, politicians, who not being generals, never condescend to fight.
In the first days of March all was prepared for a coming explosion, and in spite of the departure of the Prussians, the Socialist party determined that it should take place. (Guerre des Communeux, p. 61.)]
[Footnote 9: A sign that they refused to fight.]
[Footnote 10: A smooth-bore musket arranged as breech-loader, and called a snuff-box, from the manner of opening the breech to adjust the charge.]
At three o’clock in the afternoon there was a dense group of linesmen and Nationals in one of the streets bordering on the Elysee-Montmartre. The person who told us this did not recollect the name of the street, but men were eagerly haranguing the crowd, talking of General Lecomte, and his having twice ordered the troops to fire upon the citizen militia.
“And what he did was right,” said an old gentleman who was listening.
Words that were no sooner uttered than they provoked a torrent of curses and imprecations from the by-standers. But he continued observing that General Lecomte had only acted under the orders of his superiors; being commanded to take the guns and to disperse the crowd, his only duty was to obey.