Francis Wheen. John Laurenson. Portrait of Napoleon by Joseph Chabord — Tel: Most Popular Read Recent Read. The white lies of the gay press Douglas Murray.
The Project Gutenberg eBook of Napoleon the Little, by Victor Hugo
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Under this corporal-government, and under this countersign-constitution, everything proceeds in military form. Rule, discipline, passive obedience, eyes cast down, silence in the ranks; such is the yoke under which bows at this moment the nation of initiative and of liberty, the great revolutionary France. The reformer will not stop until France shall be enough of a barrack for the generals to exclaim: "Good!
Do you like soldiers? The Municipal Council of Toulouse gives in its resignation; the Prefect Chapuis-Montlaville replaces the mayor by a colonel, the first deputy by a colonel, and the second deputy by a colonel. A young man returning from a ball, passed through Rue de Richelieu before the gate of the National Library; the sentinel took aim at him and killed him; the journals of the following morning said: "The young man is dead," and there it ended.
Timour Bey granted to his companions-in-arms, and to their descendants to the seventh generation, impunity for all crimes whatsoever, provided the delinquent had not committed a crime nine times.
The sentinel of Rue Richelieu has, therefore, eight citizens more to kill before he can be brought before a court-martial. It is a good thing to be a soldier, but not so good to be a citizen. At the same time, however, this unfortunate army is dishonoured. On the 3rd of December, they decorated the police officers who arrested its representatives and its generals; though it is equally true that the soldiers themselves received two louis per man.
Oh, shame on every side! Jesuitism and corporalism, this is the sum total of the regime. The whole political theory of M. Bonaparte is composed of two hypocrisies—a military hypocrisy towards the army, a catholic hypocrisy towards the clergy. When it is not Fracasse it is Basile. Sometimes it is both together. In this manner he succeeded wonderfully in duping at the same time Montalembert, who does not believe in France, and Saint-Arnaud who does not believe in God. Does the Dictator smell of incense?
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Does he smell of tobacco? Smell and see. He smells of both tobacco and incense. Oh, France! The spurs pass by beneath the cassock. Diex el volt. To enjoy and to live well, we repeat, and to consume the budget; to believe nothing, to make the most of everything; to compromise at once two sacred things, military honour and religious faith; to stain the altar with blood and the standard with holy water; to make the soldier ridiculous, and the priest a little ferocious; to mix up with that great political fraud which he calls his power, the Church and the nation, the conscience of the Catholic and the conscience of the patriot.
This is the system of Bonaparte the Little. All his acts, from the most monstrous to the most puerile, from that which is hideous to that which is laughable, are stamped with this twofold scheme. For instance, national solemnities bore him. The 24th of February and the 4th of May: these are disagreeable or dangerous reminders, which obstinately return at fixed periods.
An anniversary is an intruder; let us suppress anniversaries. So be it.
Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power
We will keep but one birthday, our own. The soldier party is Voltairian. Where Canrobert smiles, Riancey makes a wry face. What's to be done? You shall see. Your great jugglers are not embarrassed by such a trifle. Hereupon a semi-official commentary: the two masks of the Dictator begin to speak. Let us celebrate the birthday of Napoleon the Great! Cailhassou, Dubarry and Policarpe. But we are asked: "Are you going a little too far? Grant him something.
Has he not to a certain extent 'made Socialism? We have already estimated these measures at their proper value; but, while we admit that this is "Socialism," you would be simpletons to ascribe the credit to M. It is not he who has made socialism, but time. A man is swimming against a rapid current; he struggles with unheard-of efforts, he buffets the waves with hand and head, and shoulder, and knee.
You say: "He will succeed in going up. He is much farther down the river than he was when he started. Without knowing, or even suspecting it, he loses ground at every effort he makes; he fancies that he is ascending the stream, and he is constantly descending it.
He thinks he is advancing, but he is falling hack. Falling credit, as you say, lowering of interest, as you say; M. Bonaparte has already made several of those decrees which you choose to qualify as socialistic, and he will make more. Changarnier, had he triumphed instead of M. Bonaparte, would have done as much.
Henry V, should he return to-morrow, would do the same. But after all, what does this prove? But even this socialism of M. Bonaparte, what is it? This, socialism? I deny it. Hatred of the middle class it may be, but not socialism. Look at the socialist department par excellence , the Department of Agriculture and of Commerce,—he has abolished it. What has he given you as compensation? The other socialist department is the Department of Public Instruction, and that is in danger: one of these days it will be suppressed.
The starting-point of socialism is education, gratuitous and obligatory teaching, knowledge. To take the children and make men of them, to take the men and make citizens of them—intelligent, honest, useful, and happy citizens. Intellectual and moral progress first, and material progress after. The two first, irresistibly and of themselves, bring on the last. What does M. Bonaparte do? He persecutes and stifles instruction everywhere. There is one pariah in our France of the present day, and that is the schoolmaster.
Have you ever reflected on what a schoolmaster really is—on that magistracy in which the tyrants of old took shelter, like criminals in the temple, a certain refuge? Have you ever thought of what that man is who teaches children? You enter the workshop of a wheelwright; he is making wheels and shafts; you say, "this is a useful man;" you enter a weaver's, who is making cloth; you say, "this is a valuable man;" you enter the blacksmith's shop; he is making pick-axes, hammers, and ploughshares; you say, "this is a necessary man;" you salute these men, these skilful labourers.
You enter the house of a schoolmaster,—salute him more profoundly; do you know what he is doing? He is the wheelwright, the weaver, and the blacksmith of the work, in which he is aiding God,—the future. The schoolmaster serves mass, sings in the choir, rings the vesper bell, arranges the seats, renews the flowers before the sacred heart, furbishes the altar candlesticks, dusts the tabernacle, folds the copes and the chasubles, counts and keeps in order the linen of the sacristy, puts oil in the lamps, beats the cushion of the confessional, sweeps out the church, and sometimes the rectory; the remainder of his time, on condition that he does not pronounce either of those three words of the devil, Country, Republic, Liberty, he may employ, if he thinks proper, in teaching little children to say their A, B, C.
Bonaparte strikes at instruction at the same moment above and below: below, to please the priests, above, to please the bishops. He overturns with one blow the professors' chairs of Quinet and of Michelet. With a stroke of the pen, for instance, he exempts all medical men from literary qualification, which causes Doctor Serres to say: " We are dispensed, by decree, from knowing how to read and write. New taxes, sumptuary taxes, vestiary taxes; nemo audeat comedere praeter duo fercula cum potagio ; tax on the living, tax on the dead, tax on successions, tax on carriages, tax on paper.
Bonaparte, rubbing his hands. How happy he would be if he could pass in the latter for Constantine, and in the former for Babeuf! Of marble! Tu es Pietri et super hanc pietram aedificabo effigiem meam. That which he attacks, that which he persecutes, that which they all persecute with him, upon which they pounce, which they wish to crush, to burn, to suppress, to destroy, to annihilate, is it this poor obscure man who is called primary instructor?
Is it this sheet of paper that is called a journal? Is it this bundle of sheets which is called a book? Is it this machine of wood and iron which is called a press? No, it is thou, thought, it is thou, human reason, it is thou, nineteenth century, it is thou, Providence, it is thou, God! We who combat them are "the eternal enemies of order. The man is a demagogue in the nineteenth century, who in the sixteenth would have been a vagabond. This much being granted, that the dictionary of the Academy no longer exists, that it is night at noonday, that a cat is no longer called cat, and that Baroche is no longer called a knave; that justice is a chimera, that history is a dream, that the Prince of Orange was a vagabond, and the Duke of Alva a just man; that Louis Bonaparte is identical with Napoleon the Great, that they who have violated the Constitution are saviours, and that they who defended it are brigands,—in a word that human probity is dead: very good!
It is a model of its species. It compresses, it represses, it oppresses, it imprisons, it exiles, it shoots down with grape-shot, it exterminates, and it even "pardons! All these things put together constitute, after all, a stable government. I admire such stability. If it rained newspapers in France for two days only, on the morning of the third nobody would know what had become of M. No matter; this man is a burden upon the whole age, he disfigures the nineteenth century, and there will be in this century, perhaps, two or three years upon which it will be recognised, by some shameful mark or other, that Louis Bonaparte sat down upon them.
At certain epochs in history, the whole human race, from all points of the earth, fix their eyes upon some mysterious spot whence it seems that universal destiny is about to issue. What sort of place is that wherein reside all kinds of cynicism and all kinds of hypocrisy?
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What sort of place is that where bishops elbow Jeanne Poisson on the staircase, and, as a hundred years ago, bow to the ground before her; where Samuel Bernard laughs in a corner with Laubardemont; which Escobar enters, arm-in-arm with Guzman d'Alfarache; where frightful rumour , in a thicket in the garden, they despatch, it is said, with the bayonet men whom they dare not bring to trial; where one hears a man say to a woman who is weeping and interceding: "I overlook your love-affairs, you must overlook my hatreds!
That place is the blot upon Paris; that place is the pollution of the age; that door, whence issue all sorts of joyous sounds, flourishes of trumpets, music, laughter, and the jingling of glasses; that door, saluted during the day by the passing battalions; illuminated at night; thrown wide open with insolent confidence,—is a sort of public insult always present.
There is the centre of the world's shame. Of a surety, we must awake this slumbering nation, we must take it by the arm, we must shake it, we must speak to it; we must scour the fields, enter the villages, go into the barracks, speak to the soldier who no longer knows what he is doing, speak to the labourer who has in his cabin an engraving of the Emperor, and who, for that reason, votes for everything they ask; we must remove the radiant phantom that dazzles their eyes; this whole situation is nothing but a huge and deadly joke. The people are good and honest; they will comprehend.
Yes, peasant, there are two, the great and the little, the illustrious and the infamous,—Napoleon and Naboleon! Let us sum up this government! Who is established at the Luxembourg? Who at the Palais Bourbon? Who at the Palais d'Orsay? Who at the Palais de Justice? And who are in the prisons, in the fortresses, in the dungeons, in the casemates, in the hulks, at Lambessa, at Cayenne, in exile? Law, honour, intelligence, liberty, and the right. The following inscription will be cut in the costly and superb stone: 'Souvenir of the oath of fidelity to the Prince-President, taken by the clerks of the prefecture of police, the 29th of May, , before M.
Pietri, Prefect of Police. It is calculated that this subscription will amount to upwards of 6, francs. But this government, this horrible, hypocritical, and stupid government,—this government which causes us to hesitate between a laugh and a sob, this gibbet-constitution on which all our liberties are hung, this great universal suffrage and this little universal suffrage, the first naming the President, and the other the legislators; the little one saying to the great one: " Monseigneur, accept these millions ," and the great one saying to the little one: " Be assured of my consideration ;" this Senate,—this Council of State—whence do they all come?
Great Heaven! Whence comes this government? It is still flowing, it is still smoking,—it is blood! Is it possible that, because we still eat and drink, because the coachmakers' trade is flourishing, because you, labourer, have work in the Bois de Boulogne, because you, mason, earn forty sous a day at the Louvre, because you, banker, have made money in the mining shares of Vienna, or in the obligations of Hope and Co. Awake, you who sleep! The dead are about to pass before your eyes. This vast network of streets, cut in all directions by redoubts and entrenchments, assumed every hour a more terrible aspect, and was becoming a kind of fortress.
The combatants at the barricades pushed their advance guards as far as the quays. Outside the trapezium, which we have described, the barricades extended, as we have said, as far as Faubourg Saint-Martin, and to the neighbourhood of the canal. The quarter of the schools, whither the Committee of Resistance had despatched Representative de Flotte, had risen even more generally than on the evening before; the suburbs were taking fire; the drums were beating to arms at the Batignolles; Madier de Montjau was arousing Belleville; three enormous barricades were in course of construction at the Chapelle-Saint-Denis.
In the business streets the citizens were delivering up their muskets, and the women were making lint. Paris is up! The members of the committee deliberated and issued orders and instructions for the combat in every direction. Victory seemed certain. There was a moment of enthusiasm and joy when all these men, still standing between life and death, embraced one another.
All was ferment, all was excitement; in the most peaceful quarters the proclamations were torn down, and the ordinances defaced. On Rue Beaubourg, the women cried from the windows to the men employed in erecting a barricade: 'Courage! At the headquarters on Rue de Jerusalem, which is the centre of the great cobweb that the police spreads over Paris, everyone trembled; their anxiety was immense, for they saw the possibility that the Republic would triumph. In the courtyards, in the bureaus, and in the passages, the clerks and sergents-de-ville began to talk with affectionate regret of Caussidiere.
It seemed as if he were listening with terror to the noise, as of a rising flood, made by the insurrection—by the holy and legitimate insurrection of the right. He stammered and hesitated while the word of command died away upon his tongue.
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In this state of consternation, Maupas clung to Morny. The electric telegraph maintained a perpetual dialogue from the Prefecture of Police to the Department of the Interior, and from the Department of the Interior to the Prefecture of Police. All the most alarming news, all the signs of panic and confusion were passed on, one after another, from the prefect to the minister. Morny, who was less frightened, and who is, at least, a man of spirit, received all these shocks in his cabinet It is reported that at the first communication he said: 'Maupas is ill;' and to the question: 'What is to be done,' replied by the telegraph: 'Go to bed!
He was immediately marched off in the direction of the Prefecture of Police. He expected to be shot. The sergent-de-ville at the head of the escort said to the soldiers: 'Go back to your guard-house; I will take care of the prisoner,' As soon as the soldiers were gone, he cut the cords with which the prisoner's hands were fastened, and said to him: 'Go, I spare your life; don't forget that it was I who set you at liberty. Look at me well, so that you may know me again. Some preferred the Invalides, others the Luxembourg; the subject gave rise to an altercation between two generals.
Your sentiments are not rightly understood. Your second proclamation, in which you speak of the plebiscitum, is ill received by the people, who do not look upon it as re-establishing the right of suffrage. Liberty possesses no guarantee if there is not an Assembly to contribute to the constitution of the Republic. The army has the upper hand. Now is the moment to complete the material victory by a moral victory, and that which a government cannot do when beaten, it ought to do when victorious.
After destroying the old parties, bring about the restoration of the people; proclaim that universal suffrage, sincere, and acting in harmony with the greatest liberty, shall name the President and the Constituent Assembly to save and restore the Republic. Let the day but end as it had begun, and all was over. The hour for supreme resolutions was come. What did he intend doing? It was necessary that he should strike a great blow, an unexpected blow, a terrible blow.
He was reduced to this alternative: to perish, or to save himself by a frightful expedient. He was in a cabinet on the ground floor, near the splendid gilt saloon, where, as a child, in , he had been present at the second abdication of Napoleon. He was there alone; orders had been given that no one should be allowed to have access to him.
From time to time the door was opened a little way, and the grey head of General Roguet, his aide-de-camp, appeared. The general was the only person who was allowed to open this door and enter the room. The general brought news, more and more alarming, and frequently terminated what he had to say with the words: 'The thing doesn't work;' or 'Things are going badly.
Louis Bonaparte half rose from his chair, and gazing fixedly at the general, calmly said to him: 'Very well! We are about to unveil the most horrible of the premeditated acts of Louis Bonaparte; we are about to reveal, to narrate, to describe what all the historiographers of the 2nd of December have concealed; what General Magnan carefully omitted in his report; what, even at Paris, where these things were seen, men scarcely dare to whisper to each other. We are about to enter upon the ghastly.
This book will shortly be published. It will be a complete narrative of the infamous performance of A large part of it is already written; the author is at this moment collecting materials for the rest. He deems it apropos to enter somewhat at length into the details of this work, which he has imposed upon himself as a duty. The author does himself the justice to believe that in writing this narrative,—the serious occupation of his exile,—he has had constantly present to his mind the exalted responsibility of the historian.
When it shall appear, this narrative will surely arouse numerous and violent outcries; the author expects no less; one does not with impunity cut to the quick of a contemporaneous crime, at the moment when that crime is omnipotent. However that may be, and however violent the outcries, more or less interested, and to the end that we may judge beforehand of its merit, the author feels called upon to explain in what way and with what scrupulous devotion to the truth this narrative will have been written, or, to speak more accurately, this report of the crime will have been drawn.
This history of the 2nd of December will contain, in addition to the general facts, which everybody knows, a very large number of unknown facts which are brought to light for the first time therein. The members of the Republican Left, whose conduct was so fearless, saw these facts as he did, and he will not lack their testimony.
For all the rest, the author has resorted to a veritable judicial investigation; he has constituted himself, so to speak, the examining magistrate of the performance; every actor in the drama, every combatant, every victim, every witness has deposed before him; for all the doubtful facts, he has brought the opposing declarations, and at need the witnesses, face to face. As a general rule historians deal with dead facts; they touch them in the tomb with their judicial wands, cause them to rise and question them.
He has dealt with living facts. All the details of the 2nd of December have in this wise passed before his eyes; he has recorded them all, weighed them all—not one has escaped him. History will be able to complete this narration, but not to weaken it. The magistrates were recreant to their trust, he has performed their functions. When direct, spoken testimony has failed him, he has sent to the spot what one might call genuine investigating commissions.
He might cite many a fact for which he has prepared genuine interrogatories to which detailed replies were made. He repeats that he has subjected the 2nd of December to a long and severe examination. He has carried the torch so far as he was able. Thanks to this investigation he has in his possession nearly two hundred reports from which the book in question will emerge.
There is not a single fact beneath which, when the book is published, the author will not be able to put a name. It will be readily understood that he will abstain from doing so, that he will even substitute sometimes for the real names, yes and for accurate indications of places, designations as obscure as possible, in view of the pending proscriptions. He has no desire to furnish M. Bonaparte with a supplemental list. It is undoubtedly true that in this narrative of the 2nd of December, the author is not, any more than in this present book, "impartial," as people are accustomed to say of a history when they wish to praise the historian.
Impartiality—a strange virtue, which Tacitus does not possess. Woe to him who should remain impartial in face of the bleeding wounds of liberty! In presence of the deed of December 2nd, , the author feels that all human nature rises to arms within his breast; he does not conceal it from himself, and every one should perceive it when reading him. But in him the passion for truth equals the passion for right. The wrathful man does not lie. This history of the 2nd of December, therefore,—he declares as he is about to quote a few pages of it,—will have been written, we have just seen by what method, under conditions of the most absolute reality.
We deem it profitable to detach from it and to publish in this place a chapter which, we think, will make an impression on men's minds, in that it casts a new light on the "success" of M. We proceed to place this special detail before the reader's eyes. He has therefore rewritten for the History of a Crime , the narrative of the events of December 4, with new facts, and from another point of view.
During sixty years that the cannon of revolution have, on certain days, boomed through Paris, and that the government, when menaced, has had recourse to desperate measures, nothing has ever been seen like these placards. They informed the inhabitants that all assemblages, no matter of what kind, would be dispersed by armed force, without previous warning.
In Paris, the metropolis of civilization, people do not easily believe that a man will push his crime to the last extremity; and, therefore, these notices had been looked upon as a means of intimidation that was hideous and barbarous, but almost ridiculous. These placards contained in germ Louis Bonaparte's whole plan. They were seriously meant. A square of four barricades shut in Porte Saint-Denis. Of these four barricades, that one which looked towards the Madeleine, and which was destined to receive the first impact of the troops, had been constructed at the culminating point of the boulevard, with its left resting on the corners of Rue de la Lune, and its right on Rue Mazagran.
Four omnibuses, five furniture-moving vans, the office of the inspector of hackney coaches, which had been thrown down, the vespasian columns, which had been broken up, the public seats on the boulevards, the flag-stones of the steps on Rue de la Lune, the entire iron railing of the sidewalk, which had been wrenched from its place at a single effort by the powerful hand of the crowd—such was the composition of this fortification, which was hardly sufficient to block the boulevard, which, at this point, is very broad.
There were no paving-stones, as the roadway is macadamized. The barricade did not even extend from one side of the boulevard to the other, but left a large open space on the side toward Rue Mazagran, where there was a house in course of erection. Observing this gap, a well-dressed young man got upon the scaffolding, and, quite unaided, without the least hurry, without even taking the cigar from his mouth, cut all the ropes of the scaffolding.
The people at the neighbouring windows laughed and applauded him. An instant afterwards the scaffolding fell all at once, and with a loud noise; this completed the barricade. The troops had evacuated the guard-house in the morning. They took the flag belonging to it and planted it on the barricade. They had muskets, but no cartridges, or, at most, very few. Behind them, the large barricade, which covered Porte Saint-Denis, was held by about a hundred combatants, in the midst of whom were observed two women and an old man with white hair, supporting himself on a cane with his left hand, and, in his right, holding a musket.
One of the two women wore a sabre suspended over her shoulder; while helping to tear up the railing of the sidewalk, she had cut three fingers of her right hand with the sharp edge of an iron bar. The crowd clapped their hands. On this side of the barricades an immense number of people covered the pavement on both sides of the boulevard; in some places, silent; in others, crying: 'Down with Soulouque!
Down with the traitor! At their head marched men holding long poles, from which hung blue placards, on which was inscribed, in huge letters: Service of the Military Hospitals. On the curtains of the litters: Wounded, Ambulance. The weather was dull and rainy. Even the stockbrokers, while trying to bull the market, laughed and shrugged their shoulders at these placards.
Each brigade had its battery with it. Two of the guns, with their muzzles turned different ways, were levelled at the entrance to Rue Montmartre and Faubourg Montmartre respectively; no one knew why, as neither the street nor the faubourg presented even the appearance of a barricade. The spectators, who crowded the sidewalks and the windows, gazed in dismay at all these guns, sabres, and bayonets.
Another witness says: 'The soldiers acted strangely. Most of them were leaning on their muskets, with the butt-end on the ground, and seemed nearly falling from fatigue, or something else. They were residents of the quarter, tradesmen, artists, journalists, and among them several young mothers leading their children by the hand.
The Napoleon the French Turned Their Backs On
As the regiment was passing, men and women—every one—cried: ' Vive la Constitution! The officers appeared to be thinking of anything but a fight. We shall soon see, however, of what they were thinking. There was, however, one window left open in an upper story of the house at the corner of Rue du Sentier. The curious spectators continued to assemble mainly on the southern side of the street. It was an ordinary crowd and nothing more,—men, women, children, and old people who looked upon the languid attack and defence of the barricade as a sort of sham fight. The troops suddenly faced about.
According to others, it was a pistol shot and was fired from the roof of the tall house at the corner of Rue Mazagran. The shot is contested, but what cannot be contested is that, for having fired this problematical shot, which was perhaps nothing more than the slamming of a door, a dentist, who lived in the next house, was shot. The question resolves itself into this: Did any one hear a pistol or musket shot fired from one of the houses on the boulevard?
Is this the fact, or is it not? I record the crime, I appeal the cause. My functions extend no further. I cite Louis Bonaparte, I cite Saint-Arnaud, Maupas, Moray, Magnan, Carrelet, Canrobert, and Reybell, his accomplices; I cite the executioners, the murderers, the witnesses, the victims, the red-hot cannon, the smoking sabres, the drunken soldiers, the mourning families, the dying, the dead, the horror, the blood, and the tears,—I cite them all to appear at the bar of the civilized world.
Let the living facts, the bleeding facts, therefore, speak for themselves. Let us hear the witnesses. I was the last person who went in. The firing still continued. Three poor wretches were wounded when they came in; two of them died, after a quarter of an hour of horrible agony: the third was still alive when I left the shop at four o'clock; however, as I afterwards learned, he did not survive his wound. One of the unhappy beings who had taken refuge in the shop produced a deep impression on me.
He was a man of about thirty, with light hair, wearing a gray paletot. He was going with his wife to dine with his family in Faubourg Montmartre, when he was stopped on the boulevard by the passage of the column of troops. At the very beginning, at the first discharge, both he and his wife fell down; he rose and was dragged into the wine-shop, but he no longer had his wife on his arm, and his despair cannot be described. In spite of all we could say, he insisted that the door should be opened so that he might run and look for his wife amid the grape-shot that was sweeping the street.
It was all we could do to keep him with us for an hour. A fortnight afterwards I was informed that the poor wretch, having threatened to apply the lex talionis to M. Bonaparte, had been arrested and sent to Brest, on his way to Cayenne. About four o'clock, I left the shop. The artillery soon took part with the musketry.
A few minutes were sufficient to cover the pavement with dead bodies; the houses were riddled with balls, and this paroxysm of fury on the part of the troops continued for three quarters of an hour. One must himself have seen in order to be bold enough to speak of it, and to attest the truth of so unspeakable a deed. There was a desire to produce a deep impression. That was all. A musket-shot was fired from the midst of the troops, and it was easy to see that it had been fired in the air, from the smoke which rose perpendicularly.
This was the signal for firing on the people and charging them with the bayonet without warning. This is a significant fact, and proves that the military wanted the pretence of a motive for beginning the massacre which followed. From Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle they must have fired also on the Maison Billecoq, for it was struck at the corner of the wall on the Aubusson side, and the ball, having traversed the wall, penetrated the interior of the house. Not only does General Magnan's official report seem to deny this rumour, but I assert that the discharge was instantaneous from Porte Saint-Denis to Porte Montmartre, and that there was not, previously to the general discharge, a single shot fired separately, either from the windows or by the soldiers, from Faubourg Saint-Denis to Boulevard des Italiens.
At last we saw the soldiers before us level their muskets and threaten us. At the same moment the balls flew over our heads, and all around us. I can swear that, up to that time, there was neither barricade nor insurgents; there were hunters, and there was game flying from them,—that is all. We meet with the same simile in the testimony of another witness:—. At these words they went their way quickly and with confidence; but it was merely a watchword which meant death ; for they had gone only a few steps before they fell.
The soldiers broke into the bookseller's house. The bookseller endeavoured to explain matters; he was taken out, alone, before his own door, and his wife and daughters had only time to throw themselves between him and the soldiers when he fell dead. His wife had her thigh traversed by a ball, while his daughter was saved by the steel of her stays.
I have been informed that his wife has since gone mad. The murders committed there have been proved. The two booksellers were massacred on the pavement. The other prisoners were put to death in the shops. One of them fled by Rue du Sentier, from which he was only a few yards away. He reached it amid a shower of balls which carried away his cap. The other could only succeed in raising himself on his knees, in which position, with his hands clasped, he besought the soldiers to spare his life; but he fell at once, shot dead.
All these unfortunate creatures had fallen victims of the first volley fired by the troops and the gendarmerie, who were stationed on the opposite side of the boulevard. They all fled at the first discharge, took a few steps, then fell to rise no more. One young man had taken refuge in a gateway, and tried to shelter himself behind the projection of the wall towards the boulevards.
After ten minutes of badly aimed shots, he was hit, in spite of all his efforts to render himself as small as possible by drawing himself up to his full height, and he too was seen to fall, to rise no more. One man, who was in the courtyard, went mad with fright. The cellars were filled with women who had sought refuge there, but in vain.
The soldiers fired into the shops and the cellar windows. From Tortoni's to the Gymnase Theatre similar things took place.
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This lasted more than an hour. The insurrection crystallized with the abolition of privileges on August 4, Bonaparte was only 19 years old. The revolutionary legislative assembly, which was to transform the absolute monarchy into a constitutional monarchy, gave way to the Convention in , which set up the First French Republic. The new regime tried to find a balance between the moderates Girondins and the more radical faction Montagnards. After the king was executed in , political life was irredeemably and dramatically changed.
The same year, , because of their allegiance to the Convention, and opposition to Corsican Independence, the Bonapartes were forced to leave the island and seek refuge in Toulon, on the south coast of France. On 10 August , Napoleon was present at the storming of the Palais des Tuileries, during which the palace was sacked and pillaged, the Royal Guard massacred and the Royal family forced to seek refuge at the Assembly.
Profoundly influenced by this dramatic experience, Napoleon would later focus all his attention on avoiding popular uprising in Paris during his reign. This plan also aimed to oblige the enemy European powers of the Republic, united in coalition, to let go of the front that they had opened in France in April and May were marked by a series of victories, but in the summer , the Austrians took the advantage. On 15 November , Napoleon launched an attack near Rivoli, and after three days of fighting, achieved victory.
The Austrians signed the treaty of Campoformio on 17 October Seven victories in seven months against a much larger army demonstrated that General Bonaparte was a great strategist. It was during this first campaign that Napoleon began to create the image of his invincibility and divine providence. He is everywhere and sees everything. He is sent by the Great Nation. Keeping the expedition secret for as long as possible was crucial; to slow any possible counter-attack by the English Navy, commanded by Admiral Nelson, Napoleon had his ships leave from different ports.
Landing in Alexandria on 1 July , Napoleon and his troops were faced with a very hot climate and an uninhabitable terrain, blessed with very few resources. Nevertheless, the French army challenged and overturned the army of Mamluks, reputed warriors, kidnapped in their youth in Muslim countries and attached to a sultan or caliph, whose leader, on the orders of Mourad Bey, had taken power with Ibrahim Bey in Egypt , at the Battle of the Pyramids near Cairo on 21 July.
The French settlement in Cairo provoked an uprising of the native inhabitants which was harshly suppressed. At the same time, the French fleet lay in Abukir Bay, believing itself to be safe and protected. But on 1 August , Admiral Nelson blocked the French fleet from escaping and bombarded the ships. It was a disaster for the French fleet: 1, sailors were killed and almost all the ships were sunk. On top of this, the Syrian conquest, launched in January , finished in defeat. Despite the land-based victory at Abukir on 25 July , Napoleon decided to return to France, arriving back in Paris on 16 October.
The departure of the French on 30 August confirmed English dominance in the region. The military campaign also provided the opportunity for a scientific expedition. Napoleon was accompanied by scholars, geologists, botanists, chemists, and doctors. Besides offering logistical support and treatment for the soldiers, the scientists also made detailed drawings of the temples, pyramids and present-day towns, studied the arabo-islamic social customs and discovered the flora and fauna of Egypt.
Find out more about the Egyptian Campaign. In the Directory was a government in decline, corrupt and hated by the French. He gave a confused speech in front of the assemblies; this caused trouble in the ranks, and Bonaparte was heckled by the men present. Order was restored thanks to the intervention of General Murat and his troops. The next morning, the constitution for a new, provisional government was passed. Revealing his political ambitions, Bonaparte imposed himself as candidate for First Consul.
Find out more. Austria and England were not prepared to accept the emergence in European politics of a Republican France under an ambitious First Consul Bonaparte. General Moreau was sent to fight Austrian presence in Germany, while Bonaparte looked to repeat his previous exploits of the first Italian campaign. After numerous diplomatic exchanges, England signed the peace treaty of Amiens in Europe entered a period of relative peace….
In order to catch the enemy unawares, Napoleon and his entire army, including canons, munitions and horses, crossed the Alps. During May there was heavy snow and the Austrians, who could not believe it, were taken completely by surprise. Looking to wipe the slate clean on an unequal, monarchist and catholic society, the French Revolution had suppressed Catholicism and abolished the clergy.
The creation of a secular cult, unpopular and poorly supported by the population, had severely disrupted French society and succeeded only in setting French citizens against each other. Concerned for civic peace, Bonaparte entered into discussion with the Holy See the central government of the Catholic Church , resulting in the signature of the Concordat on 15 July Nevertheless, Bonaparte reinforced his control over the church by obtaining the power to name bishops, and the introduction of an oath of loyalty to the government that the clergy had to take. After the disruption of the Revolution, this decoration intended to bring together French citizens based on values and talents such as courage, civic ingenuity, and art.
It was not a military award; civilians, industrialists, scientists and artists, and men and women alike, could all receive the honour.