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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 411 pages of information about Famous Affinities of History Complete.

In short, republicanism began to rise in an ominous and threatening way; and at the head of republicanism in Paris stood forth Gambetta, with his impassioned eloquence, his stinging phrases, and his youthful boldness.  He became the idol of that part of Paris known as Belleville, where artisans and laborers united with the rabble of the streets in hating the empire and in crying out for a republic.

Gambetta was precisely the man to voice the feelings of these people.  Whatever polish he acquired in after years was then quite lacking; and the crudity of his manners actually helped him with the men whom he harangued.  A recent book by M. Francis Laur, an ardent admirer of Gambetta, gives a picture of the man which may be nearly true of him in his later life, but which is certainly too flattering when applied to Gambetta in 1868, at the age of thirty.

How do we see Gambetta as he was at thirty?  A man of powerful frame and of intense vitality, with thick, clustering hair, which he shook as a lion shakes its mane; olive-skinned, with eyes that darted fire, a resonant, sonorous voice, and a personal magnetism which was instantly felt by all who met him or who heard him speak.  His manners were not refined.  He was fond of oil and garlic.  His gestures were often more frantic than impressive, so that his enemies called him “the furious fool.”  He had a trick of spitting while he spoke.  He was by no means the sort of man whose habits had been formed in drawing-rooms or among people of good breeding.  Yet his oratory was, of its kind, superb.

In 1869 Gambetta was elected by the Red Republicans to the Corps Legislatif.  From the very first his vehemence and fire gained him a ready hearing.  The chamber itself was arranged like a great theater, the members occupying the floor and the public the galleries.  Each orator in addressing the house mounted a sort of rostrum and from it faced the whole assemblage, not noticing, as with us, the presiding officer at all.  The very nature of this arrangement stimulated parliamentary speaking into eloquence and flamboyant oratory.

After Gambetta had spoken a few times he noticed in the gallery a tall, graceful woman, dressed in some neutral color and wearing long black gloves, which accentuated the beauty of her hands and arms.  No one in the whole assembly paid such close attention to the orator as did this woman, whom he had never seen before and who appeared to be entirely alone.

When it came to him to speak on another day he saw sitting in the same place the same stately and yet lithe and sinuous figure.  This was repeated again and again, until at last whenever he came to a peculiarly fervid burst of oratory he turned to this woman’s face and saw it lighted up by the same enthusiasm which was stirring him.

Finally, in the early part of 1870, there came a day when Gambetta surpassed himself in eloquence.  His theme was the grandeur of republican government.  Never in his life had he spoken so boldly as then, or with such fervor.  The ministers of the emperor shrank back in dismay as this big-voiced, strong-limbed man hurled forth sentence after sentence like successive peals of irresistible artillery.

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