VERSAILLES, March 19, 1871.
I had to leave Paris at twelve o’clock in a great hurry. There really is a new Government at Paris. This Government is not one of the three monarchies, nor one of the three republics. It is a seventh arrangement, which is called the Commune. This morning an armed troop of men surrounded the house where I live. It seems that the new Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Paris of the Commune would have been charmed to receive a Chinese ambassador. They had come to carry me off. I had time to escape. It is not the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Paris that I ought to see, it is the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Versailles.
Good heavens, how complicated it all is! And when shall I be able to put my hand on this intangible person, who is now blockaded in Paris and now chased out of Paris?
VERSAILLES, April 6, 1871.
At last, yesterday, I had the honor of being received by his Excellency, and we discussed the events that had occurred in Paris.
“This insurrection,” M. Jules Favre said to me, “is the most formidable and the most extraordinary that has ever broken out.”
I could not allow such a great historical error to pass. I answered M. Jules Favre that we had had in China for millions of years socialists and socialistic uprisings; that the French Communists were but rough imitators of our Chinese Taipings; that we had had in 1230 a siege at Nankin which had lasted seven years, etc. In short, these Europeans are only beginning again our history with less grandeur and more barbarity.
VERSAILLES, May 15, 1871.
My mission is ended; I could return to China; but all that I see here interests me extremely. This civil war immediately succeeding a foreign war is a very curious occurrence. There is here, for a Chinaman, an excellent opportunity of study, on the spot and from life, of European civilization.
VERSAILLES, May 24, 1871.
Paris is burning, and on the terrace of the palace of Saint-Cloud, in the midst of the ruins of that palace, I passed my day looking at Paris burn. It is a dead, destroyed, and annihilated city.
PARIS, June 10, 1871.
Not at all. It is still the most beautiful city in Europe, and the most brilliant, and the most gay. I shall spend some time in Paris.
PARIS, June 29, 1871.
Yesterday M. Thiers, in the Bois de Boulogne, held a review of a hundred thousand men. Will there always be a France?
“When one bears the name of Luynes or La Tremoille, I can readily understand the desire to continue the Luynes or the La Tremoilles; but really when one is named Chamblard, what possible object can there be in—Eh? Answer.”
In this fashion young Raoul Chamblard talked while comfortably settled back in a large red velvet arm-chair. This happened on the 26th of March, 1892, in one of the parlor-cars of the express to Marseilles, which had left Paris at 8.50 that morning. It was now five minutes past nine. The train with much racket was crossing the bridge of Charentin. Young Chamblard was talking to his friend, Maurice Revoille, who, after a six weeks’ leave, was going to join his regiment in Algeria.