The upshot of the examination was, that the pamphlet was untouched, and M. Blank remained in Paris.
But he was watched closer than ever. When I left him, he was waiting in daily expectation of a coup de etat on the part of Louis Napoleon. I asked him what hopes there were for France. He shook his head sadly—he despaired of success. It might be that Napoleon would be beaten down by the populace, if he attempted to erect a throne, but he had faint hopes of it, for he had got the army almost completely under his influence. Or it was possible that Napoleon might not violate his solemn oaths to support the republic—not for lack of disposition, but fearing the people. I could see, however, that my friend had little faith in the immediate future of “poor France,” as he called her, as if she were his mother. He thought the reason why the republic would be overthrown, was from the conduct of those who had been at its head in the early part of its history. The republicans, soon after Louis Philippe’s flight, acted, he thought, with great weakness. If strong men had been at the helm, then no such man as Louis Napoleon would have been allowed afterward to take the presidential chair. I think he was more right than wrong. A vigorous and not too radical administration, might have preserved the republic for years—possibly for all time. Louis Napoleon should not have been allowed to enter France, nor any like him, who had proved themselves disturbers of the peace.
About a year after the time I have been describing, while walking down Nassau street, in New York, I very suddenly and unexpectedly met my friend, the radical!
“Aha!” said I, “you have left Paris. Well, you have shown good taste.”
“No! no!” he replied, “I did not leave it till Louis Napoleon forced me to choose exile or imprisonment. I had no choice in the matter.”
He seemed to feel lost amid the bustle of New York. His dream was over, and at thirty-five he found himself amid the realities of a money-seeking nation. The look upon his face was sad, almost despairing. I certainly never pitied a man more than I did him. Pure, guileless generous—and poor, what could he do in New York?
The summer and autumn are the seasons one should spend in Paris, to see it in its full glory. The people of Paris live out of doors, and to see them in the winter, is not to know them thoroughly. The summer weather is unlike that of London. The air is pure, the sky serene, and the whole city is full of gardens and promenades. The little out-of-door theaters reap harvests of money—the tricksters, the conjurors, the street fiddlers, and all sorts of men who get their subsistence by furnishing the people with cheap amusements, are in high spirits, for in these seasons they can drive a fine business. Not so in the winter. Then they are obliged either