“Caprera, 28th March, 1871.
“Thanks for the honour you have conferred upon me by my nomination as Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard of Paris, which I love, and whose dangers and glory I should be proud to share.
“I owe you, however, the following explanations:—
“A commandant of the National Guard of Paris, a commander of the Army of Paris, and a directing committee, whatever they may be, are three powers which are not reconcilable with the present situation of France.
“Despotism has the advantage over us, the advantage of the concentration of power, and it is this same centralisation which you should oppose to your enemies.
“Choose an honest citizen, and such are not wanting: Victor Hugo, Louis Blanc, Felix Pyat, Edgar Quinet, or another of the elders of radical democracy, would serve the purpose. The generals Oremer and Billot, who, I see, have your confidence, may be counted in the number.
“Be assured that one honest man should be charged with the supreme command and full powers; such a man would choose other honest men to assist him in the difficult task of saving the country.
“If you should have the good fortune to find a Washington, France will recover from shipwreck, and in a short time will be grander than ever.
“These conditions are not an excuse for escaping the duty of serving republican France. No! I do not despair of fighting by the side of these braves, and I am,
(Signed), “G. GARIBALDI.”]
Monday, the 3rd of April. A fearful day! I have been hurrying this way and that, looking, questioning, reading. It is now ten o’clock in the evening. And what do I know? Nothing certain; nothing except this, which is awful,—they are fighting.
Yes, at the gates of Paris, Frenchmen against Frenchmen, beneath the eyes of the Prussians, who are watching the battle-field like ravens: they are fighting. I have seen ambulance waggons pass full of National Guards. By whom have they been wounded? By Zouaves. Is this thing credible, is it possible? Ah! those guns, cannon, and mitrailleuses, why were they not all claimed by the enemy—all, every one, from soldiers and Parisians alike? But little hindrance would that have proved. It had been resolved—by what monstrous will?—that we should be hurled to the very bottom of the precipice. These Frenchmen, who would kill Frenchmen, would not be checked by lack of arms. If they could not shoot each other, they would strangle each other.
[Illustration: THE BARRICADE: EVENING MEAL—SOUP AND CIGARS, AND A “PETIT VERRE.”]