LONDON, December 6, 1870.
I think that his Excellency, M. de Bernstoff, Prussian Ambassador to England, takes pleasure in making fun of me. I never meet him but that he announces to me that Paris will capitulate the next day. The next day arrives and Paris does not capitulate. However, this evening his Excellency looked so perfectly sure of what he was saying that I think I can prepare to start for Paris.
PARIS, February 20, 1871.
I only left on the 10th of February. At last I am in Paris. I travelled slowly, by short stages. What a lot of burned villages! What a lot of sacked houses! What a lot of devastated forests, dug-up woods, and bridges and railroads destroyed! And these Europeans treat us as barbarians!
However, among all these ruins there is one the sight of which filled me with the keenest joy. The palace of Saint-Cloud was the summer palace of the Emperor Napoleon, and not a stone upon a stone remains. I contemplated curiously, eagerly, and for a long time the blackened ruins of this palace. Pieces of old Chinese vases were hidden in the heaps of rubbish among the wreck of marble and fragments of shell.
Where did those old Chinese vases come from? Perhaps from the summer palace of our Emperor, from that palace which was devastated, burned, and destroyed by those English and French soldiers who came to bring us civilization.
I was extremely well received by the English, who overwhelmed me with invitations and kindnesses; but none the less I hope that the palaces of Buckingham and Windsor will also have their turn.
PARIS, February 25, 1871.
I have written to M. Jules Favre to let him know that I have been waiting six months for the opportunity of presenting to him the compliments and apologies of the Emperor of China. M. Jules Favre answered me that he is obliged to start for Bordeaux. I shall have an audience in the beginning of March.
PARIS, March 7, 1871.
Another letter from M. Jules Favre. He is expected
at Frankfort by M. de
Bismarck. My audience is again put off.
PARIS, March 17, 1871.
At last, to-morrow, March 18th, at four o’clock,
I am to be received by
M. Jules Favre at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
PARIS, March 18, 1871.
We dressed ourselves, I and my two secretaries, in our official costumes, and departed at three o’clock, accompanied by an interpreter. We arrived. The court of the house was filled with people who appeared busy and hurried, and who came and went, carrying cases and packages. The interpreter, after having exchanged several words with an employee of the ministry, said to me:
“Something serious has happened—an insurrection. The Government is again obliged to change its capital!”
At that moment a door opened, and M. Jules Favre himself appeared with a large portfolio under his arm. He explained to the interpreter that I should have my audience at Versailles in several days, and having made me a profound bow, which I returned him, he ran away with his large portfolio.