“What very fine drumming,” I said to my companion.
“Yes,” he replied, “but you should hear a night rappel. I heard it often in the days of the June fight. One morning I heard it at three o’clock, calling the soldiers together for battle. You cannot know what a thrill of horror it sent through every avenue of this great city. I got up hastily, and dressed myself and ran into the streets. It was not for me to shrink from the conflict. But the alarm was a false one. Soldiers were in every street, but there was no fighting that day.”
A few months before, my friend ventured to publish a pamphlet on the subject of French interference in Italy. He condemned in unequivocal terms the expedition to Italy, and showed how it violated the feelings of the French nation. A few days afterward, he received the following laconic note:
“M. Blank is invited to call on the prefect of the police, at his office, to-morrow, Friday, at eleven o’clock.”
M. Blank sat down, first, and wrote an able letter to the minister for the interior, for he well knew that the note signified the suppression of the pamphlet, and very likely his ejection from France. He sent the same letter to the American minister, and the next day answered the summons of the prefect. This is the account of the interview which he gave me from a journal he was in the habit of keeping at that time:
“I read the word ‘Refugies’ over the door, and it reminded me of the inscription on the gates of hell—’Leave all hope far behind.’ Everyone knows that the very reason that ghosts are dreaded, is that ghosts were never seen. It is the same for policemen—those ’Finders out of Occasions,’ as Othello styles them—those ‘rough and ready’ to choke ideas, as the bud is bit by the venomous worm ’ere it can spread its sweet leaves to the air.’ I was about to encounter the assailing eyes of knavery. A gentleman of the administration welcomed me in. ‘Sir,’ I said, coldly, ’I was invited to meet the prefect of the police. I wish to know what is deemed an outrage to the established government of France?’
“The reply, was, ’The procureur-general noticed several portions of your book; sit down and we will read them!’
“I listened to several extracts, where there were allusions to princes, (Louis Napoleon had been formerly a prince, and this was objected to,) and remarked to them that France recognized no princes—that what I had written about the expedition to Italy, I had the right, as a publicist, to write. The world had universally repudiated that expedition, and the president had tacitly done the same in his letter to Colonel Ney, and in dismissing the ministers who planned the expedition. The president being quoted as authority, the agent of the executive thought it useless to hold the argument any longer, and backed out. The gentlemen of the police knew nothing of bush-fighting, and might have exclaimed with the muse in Romeo, ’Is this poultice for my aching bones?’”