“On the first important occasion I showed myself. I was one of that little band who assaulted the barracks of the firemen of Villette. Only there we made a mistake. We killed a fireman, unnecessarily, I was caught and thrown into prison, but the Government of the Fourth of September liberated us, from which I concluded that we did right to attack those barracks and kill the fireman, even unnecessarily.
“The siege began. I immediately opposed the Government, on the side of the Commune. I marched against the Hotel de Ville on the 31st of October and on the 22d of January. I liked revolt for revolt’s sake. An insurgent—I told you in the beginning I am an insurgent. I cannot hear a discussion without taking part, nor see a riot without running to it, nor a barricade without bringing my paving-stone. It’s in the blood.
“And then, besides, I wasn’t quite ignorant, and I said to myself, It is only necessary to succeed thoroughly some day, and then, in our turn, we shall be the Government, and it will be better than with all these lawyers, who place themselves behind us during the battle, and pass ahead after the victory.’
“The 18th of March came, and naturally I was in it. I shouted ’Hurrah for the regulars!’ I fraternized with the army. I went to the Hotel de Ville. I found a government already at work. It was absolutely the same as on the 24th of February.
“Now you tell me that that insurrection was not lawful. That is possible, but I don’t quite see why not. I begin to get muddled—about these insurrections which are a duty and those which are a crime! I do not clearly see the difference.
“I shot at the Versailles troops in 1871, as I had shot at the royal guard in 1830 and on the municipals in 1848. After 1830 I received the Medal of July; after 1848 the compliments of M. de Lamartine. This time I am going to get transportation or death.
“There are insurrections which please you. You raise columns to them, you give their names to streets, you give yourselves the offices, the promotions, and the big salaries, and we folks, who made the revolution, you call us great citizens, heroes, a nation of brave men, etc. That’s the coin we are paid with.
“And then there are other insurrections which displease you. As a result, transportation, death. Well, you see, if you hadn’t complimented us so after the first ones, perhaps we wouldn’t have made the last. If you hadn’t raised the Column of July at the entrance of our neighborhood, we wouldn’t perhaps have gone and demolished the Vendome Column in your neighborhood. Those two penny trumpets didn’t agree. One had to upset the other, and that is what happened.
“Now, why I threw away my captain’s uniform on the 26th of May, why I was in a blouse when I was arrested, I will tell you. When I learned that the gentlemen of the Commune, instead of coming to shoot with us behind the barricades, were at the Hotel de Ville distributing among themselves thousand-franc notes, were shaving their beards, dyeing their hair, and hiding themselves in caves, I did not wish to keep the shoulder-straps they had given me.