But who fired that first pistol-shot? “One of the citizens of the demonstration; and moreover, the sentinels had their muskets torn from them;” affirm the partisans of the Central Committee, and they bring forward, among other proofs; the evidence of an eye-witness, a foreign general, who saw it all from a window of the Rue de la Paix. But these assertions are but little to be relied upon. Can it be seriously believed that a crowd, to all appearance peaceful, would commit such an act of aggression? Who would have been insane enough to expose a mass of unarmed people to such dire revenge, by a challenge as criminal as it was useless? The account according to which the pistol was fired by an officer of the Federal guard from the foot of the Place Vendome, thus giving the signal to those under his orders to fire upon the citizens, improbable as appears such an excess of cold-blooded barbarity, is much the more credible. And now how many women mourn their husbands and son’s wounded, and perhaps dead? How many victims have fallen? The number is not yet known. Monsieur Barle, a lieutenant of the National Guard, was shot in the stomach. Monsieur Gaston Jollivet, who some time ago committed the offence, grave in our eyes, of publishing a comic ode in which he allows himself to ridicule our illustrious and beloved master, Victor Hugo, but was certainly guilty of none in desiring a return to order, had his arm fractured, it is said. Monsieur Otto Hottinger, one of the directors of the French Bank, fell, struck by two balls, while raising a wounded man from the ground.
One of my friends assures me that half-an-hour after the fusillade he was fired at, as he was coming out from a porte-cochere, by National Guards in ambuscade.
At four o’clock, at the corner of the Rue de la Paix and the Rue Neuve des Petits Champs, an old man, dressed in a blouse, still lay where he had fallen across the body of a cantiniere, and beside him a soldier of the line, the staff of a tricolour flag grasped in his dead hand. Is this soldier the same of whom my friend Monsieur A—— J—— speaks in his account of the first demonstration, and who was said to be an employe at Siraudin’s?
There were many other victims—Monsieur de Pene, the editor of Paris-Journal, dangerously wounded by a ball that penetrated the thigh; Monsieur Portel, lieutenant in the Eclaireurs Franchetti, wounded in the neck and right foot; Monsieur Bernard, a merchant, killed; Monsieur Giraud, a stockbroker, also killed. Fresh names are added to the funereal list every moment.
Where will this revolution lead us, which was begun by the murder of two Generals and is being carried on by the assassination of passers-by?
[Footnote 18: Porte-cochere (carriage gateway).]