On returning, I found a cord drawn across the street in front of the barrack in the Rue Verte, and some forty or fifty ill-dressed and riotous men assembled, half-a-dozen of whom held the cord. Having approached close to it, I paused, and, looking calmly at those who held it, I appealed by looks to their politeness. Some of them laughed aloud, and asked me if I could not leap over the barrier that impeded my progress, drawing the rope still higher while they spoke. I answered, though I trembled at being exposed to their rude mirth, and still more rude gaze, “That I felt sure Frenchmen would not compel me to such an unfeminine exertion, or give me cause to tell my compatriots when I returned to England that deference to women no longer existed in France.”
“Let her pass! let her pass!” exclaimed nearly all the voices of the group; “she is courageous, and she speaks rightly, Vivent les Anglaises! Vivent les Anglaises!” and the cord was instantly lowered to the ground, and I hastily stepped over it, glad to get out of hearing of the rough compliments bestowed on me.
My servant had attempted to address them before I spoke, but they one and all assailed him with a torrent of reproach, demanding if he was not ashamed to wear a livery, the badge of servitude, when all his countrymen were fighting for their liberty. I had again to clamber over the barricade, assisted by my servant, and, before I could cross the Rue St.-Honore, encountered various groups of men rushing along, all of whom uttered such invectives against my footman that I determined not again to go out attended by this symbol of aristocracy.
On reaching my home, the porter observed, with a self-complacency his prudence could not conceal, that he “knew Madame la Comtesse had nothing to dread from the people, they were brave and bons enfans, and would not injure a lady;”—a commendation that clearly indicated the state of his feelings.
I have observed a striking change in the manners of the servants during the last three days. They are more familiar, without, however, evincing the least insolence; their spirits seem unusually exhilarated, and they betray an interest in the struggle in which the people are engaged that leaves no doubt as to the side that excites their sympathy. Every rumour of the success of the insurgents is repeated by them with ill-suppressed animation and pleasure, and the power of the people is exaggerated far beyond the bounds of truth. I confess this folly on their part annoys me, and the more especially as the class to which they belong, are totally incapacitated by ignorance from being able to comprehend even the causes alleged for this popular outbreak.
Misguided men! can they hope that servitude will be lightened by their being employed by some parvenus, elevated from the dregs of the people by a revolution which sets floating to the top the worst ingredients of the reeking caldron from which it is formed, instead of owning the more gentle and infinitely less degrading sway of those born to, and accustomed to rule?