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Paris, June 2nd, 1848.
* Although I do not intend to fill my paper and send off my letter until Sunday, I cannot resist the temptation to indulge in a little causerie with you this rainy morning. Yesterday being the fête de l'ascension, and a close holiday at all the public offices, I was glad to accompany F--, H--, and their two eldest boys, on a trip to Montinorency. You cannot conceive the relief we all experienced in being, for a few hours, beyond the reach of drums, and of organs grinding patriotic airs. We called at the De Bertheux', where we found Monsieur with two friends, enjoying their morning rubber of dummy-whist, and Madame with an amusing M. Vander Hoven, watching young de Bertheux and a camarade de collége, who was spending the holiday with bim, at their game of billiards. They all seemed so happy in themselves, and the park and gardens around them looked so peaceful and orderly, that one might have fancied himself a hundred miles away from Paris, and a hundred years away from a revolution. And yet they, in common with all society in France, are on the very brink of an abyss, into which the slightest accident may precipitate them. As you will have seen by the papers, the Procureur-Général has demanded permission of the Assembly to take proceedings against Louis Blanc, whom he has strong reasons to suspect of being implicated in the plot of the 15th May. The matter has been referred to a committee of eighteen members, who are so much annoyed and alarmed at being charged with a responsibility which ought to have been shared by the whole Chamber, that they have, it is said, agreed to keep secret the name of their reporter. I shall, probably, have more to tell you on this subject before I close my letter. I dined in the Rue Roquépine, on Wednesday, with Capt. Devereux, Chamier (the clergyman), M. le citoyen-vicomte d'Arlincourt, and a very agreeable Mr. Clive. M. d'Arlincourt was, as usual, full of narrative; but as society is in too restless and feverish a state, just now, to listen to a roman improvisé of three volumes, he was reduced to let off the steam by the safety-valves of anecdotes and canards, of which the following is a specimen. After the National Assembly had proclaimed the republic, at the Théâtre des Folies Législatives, they were repeatedly called for by the public, to be greeted with shouts of applause, to receive a shower of bouquets, and to undergo a torture of hand-shaking, almost as agonising as the vice or the thumb-screw. As they made their appearance for the seventeenth time, Béranger, the chansonnier, found himself side by side with Lacordaire, the dominicain. “ Cher Collègue, said the friar, pointing to the Tree of Liberty in the centre of the Place du Palais-Bourbon, “les Parisiens sont très naifs, de choisir pour symbole de la Liberté le peuple lié (peuplier).” Mon père," replied the poet, “le mot est bon; en voici le change :
Il aurait fallu que le chêne
Fut l'arbre de la Liberté;
Avec le fruit qu'il eut porté
Les animaux qui l'ont planté. The story got wind, and the epigrams were so keen and true, that the knight of the lyre and the holy friar both wisely resolved to resign their seats. There are strange tales afloat with regard to some of M. de Lamartine’s diplomatic appointments. His late tailor, M. Santis, now consul at Valence, figured in quite another part of the gazette, some fifteen months ago. M. Suau de Varennes, again, named consul-general at Smyrna, was a chevalier d'industrie, condemned by the police correctionelle to five years imprisonment, for swindling. His appointment, however, was cancelled, in consequence of the police refusing him a passport. And lastly, M. Guillemot, sent to Athens as Minister Plenipotentiary, has twice failed in his engagements as a jobber in the Coulisse of the Bourse. He is a duck, no doubt, like all La Tartine's protégés, but unfortunately, lame of both legs. How convenient it is to butter the bread on both sides ; above, for one's own profit ; below, for the advantage of one's friends; and ail at the expense of the public! Whilst the Foreign Office thus ennobles itself, the Home Office vies with it in claims to well-earned distinction. There is a melodrame in rehearsal, for the courts of justice, the hero of which is a certain Riancourt, sous-commissaire at Havre, who is said to have filled up a long career of crime with the crowning act of assassination. The police are in pursuit of this ruffian, who has for weeks exercised unlimited
in one of the first commercial towns in France. In case my letter should be opened at the post-office, I think it is but fair to state, that although M. d'Arlincourt was guilty of the calembourg du peuple lié, and recited the verses attributed to Béranger, all the rest of the story is a broderie of my own, for the faulty design of which, if faulty it be, the citoyen-vicomte is in no way answerable. Moreover, it may be interesting to the Cabinet-noir to be informed, that all I have said is the soft echo of what is daily and loudly proclaimed in every salon in Paris.
June érd. M. Portalis made out so strong a case against Louis Blanc, that the committee decided, by a majority of fifteen against three, that the authorisation to prosecute should be granted. Jules Favre, undersecretary of state at the Home Office, with Ledru-Rollin, and one of the most violent amongst the republican party, was named reporter. The question is to be debated in the house to-day, and it is expected that, in the course of the discussion, and at the trial of the conspirators, strange revelations will be made, involving the complicity of persons, holding the highest official rank, in many scandalous and illegal transactions. There is now no doubt about Lamartine having given instructions for the supply of arms and ammunition to
Sobrier. Caussidière showed his written order to that effect, the other night, at a club, where he met a body of the electors of the Dept. de la Seine, whose votes he solicits at the approaching election. Madame B-— told me, yesterday, that she had the best authority for stating, that Lamartine not only kept up communications with him, but actually received the scoundrel at his private dinnertable.
June 4th. The debate on the Procureur Général's application to be allowed to prosecute Louis Blanc, is over, and the recommendation of the committee has been set aside by a majority of thirty-two votes. So dastardly is the Chamber, that at the commencement of the sitting it was suggested that the conclusions of the committee should be adopted without discussion ; in order to fix the whole responsibility of the matter on the shoulders of the luckless committee-men. This proposition was, however, rejected, and after a stormy debate, the Chamber proceeded to vote par assis et lévé. At the first trial, Flocon and Crémieux were the only members on the ministerial bench who stood up to oppose, the motion ; Crémieux, Minister of Justice, voting against the demand of the law-officers of the Republic. The result was declared to be doubtful. At the second trial
, three or four ministers, who had before remained seated, fol. lowed the example of Flocon and Crémieux; the Minister for Foreign Affairs, leaving his late colleague (Jules Favre) in the lurch ;--the result still doubtsul.' At the third trial, this time by division, according to the English system, the remainder of the ministerial flock followed their bell-wether, and the Assembly, cowardly and demoralised, left their astonished committee in a minority of thirty-two. M. Portalis resigned his functions as Procureur Gén rel last night, and M Lacrosse, indignant at the partiality of the President Buchéz, has likewise thrown up his office as one of the secretaries of the Chamber. There is so evident a desire on the part of the government, to involve all the circumstances connected with the outrage of the 15th May, in doubt and obscurity, that suspicions, attaching to the Provisional Cabinet, are growing into strong presumptions, which will probably ripen into convictions, if the Barbès-Blanqui trial be not ultimately quashed. There is an universal feeling of disgust and abhorrence, in Paris, at the manner in which the affairs of the country are administered. In three different houses, yesterday, I heard such cries of lamentation, and self-accusal, as would have appeared impossible six months ago. Que nous sommes de vilaines gens ! Quel malheur d'étre né Français ! Oh! que j'ai honte de mon pays! In the provinces, I am told, the same feeling is equally strong; and should the Republic continue much longer under the same system of misrule, or no rule, I am convinced that the result will be the dismemberment of France. Normandy, Brittany and Guienne, Languedoc, Provence, and Lorraine, Alsace, Flanders, and Picardy, will not long endure a state of things which leaves their
trade, their industry, and their tranquillity, at the mercy of a few thousand ruffians in Paris and Lyons.
Paris, June 6th, 1848. I hasten to correct an error in my last letter, to the effect, that the Minister for Foreign Affairs voted against the conclusions of the Committee, on the demand for Louis Blanc's impeachment. I was led into this error by the report of the matter, as given in the “ Presse,” which paper now makes the amende honorable to M. Bastide, the only member of the Ministry, or of the Executive Council, who acted in a loyal and upright spirit. The Assemblée Nationale is alternately the Théatre des Folies Législatives, and the Salle des Scandales Ministériels. A piece which had been, for many days, under rehearsal at the Council and in the Committeerooms, was yesterday performed with such heat and violence, as beggars all description; and which can only find a parallel in the very worst days of the Convention. The debate is thus summed up in the “ Presse :"
What a degrading spectacle! That which is the most holy and respected in the world, - Justice, -represented, alas ! in the person of M. Crémieux,-exposed, during two whole hours, in the pillory of the tribune, before the gaze of an Assembly, more humiliated, if possible, than indignant. Two phrases will suffice to give the pith of this discussion, what say we ?--of this parliamentary prize-fight. M. M. Portalis and Laudrin say to M. Crémieux : • You are a liar !” and M. Crémieux replies, “ It is you who lie !" M. Jules Favre, in support of the assertion of M. M. Landrin and Portalis, and in reply to M. Crémieux, who desires that his testimony should be received in preference to that of his adversaries, hints broadly enough, that in such a case, testimony is not counted only, but weighed also." He goes on to say,
“As regards the Ministry, I cannot in honour continue to form part of it; and as for the Executive Council, I blush for them, when I see that their whole policy consists in never saying either yes or no. They are in this dilemma,-either they considered the prosecution inopportune, in which case it was their duty to accept the Pro
énéral's resignation; or else they approved it, and then they could not but be aware that in authorising the demand they set their seal to it.”
The whole Government is a mere rope of sand, and the vessel of the State has no real moorings, but merely the deceptive semblance of such. Fortunately, the whole nation, forwarned, are at hand to lend assistance, in case it should be stranded. She will be got off again, I have no doubt, and, with another crew in charge, float securely for many years,
June 71h. On Saturday last, I went with M--, and a party of bis friends, to see a curious collection of portraits, busts, letters, and various other documents connected with the first French Revolution. They are the property of M. de St. Albin, who has a fine old-fashioned hotel in the Rue Vieille du Temple. Amongst the portraits are those of · Mirabeau ; of Danton, with his mastiff-like countenance ; of Robespierre ; of St. Just, well described by Carlile ; his hair is brown, cut short across the forehead, and at the sides falling long upon his shoulders; his expression that of a stupid and somewhat full-blown Jesuit. Then there is Boissy d'Anglas; Couthon, who looks like a jolly, well-to-do farmer; respectable Pétion; and the infamous Marat, with poor
Charlotte Corday by his side. There is a miniature of Madame Rɔland, not so beautiful as “my fancy painted her;" irregular features, bad complexion, coarse, untidy hair, in short, the “astonishing woman” Barbaroux describes, does not fascinate by the spells of her loveliness. Then there is a coarse, water-colour drawing of the unfortunate Marie Antoinette, taken at the Conciergerie, in a close cap, short, grey curls, a livid yellow complexion, and with a haggard, care-worn, desperate expression of countenance. Oh! how unlike the noble, gracious, courtly portrait in the Versailles Gallery! It is a sad sight. In another room are the whole dramatis persona of “the Diamond Necklace;" Cagliostro, de la Motte, husband and wife, and the vulgar, red-nosed cardinal-archbishop, De Rohan. Amongst the papers are the Proclamation to the Section des Piques, to which Robespierre had just affixed the two first letters of his name, when bis jaw was shattered by a pistol-bullet,--the stains of his blood are still on the paper; and the notes of the last plaidoirie of Camille Desmoulins, once Procureur de la Lanterne, now, himself arraigned at the bar of Fouquier-Tinville, Procureur de la Guillotine. It is altoge her an exhibition de circonstance, which no one, I should think, can view without sad and serious emotion. And yet, one cannot but be amused also. One of the numerous letters of the Buonaparte family, is from Jerôme to his mother, begging her to remove him from his school, where he is so bullied by the bigger boys that he vows he will run away, if he is not taken away. Then, at the end of one of Napoleon's Milan despatches, there is written, in his own hand : “Ma femme ne vient pas ; elle a des amants à Paris qui la rétiennent. Je donne toutes les femmes au diable, et n'ai de cæur que pour mes bons amis.” And at the bottom of another: “ Tdchez de trouver une place dans la diplomatie pour mon frere, ou un consulat quelque part en Italie.” Strange, is it not?
June 8th. The government has at last given some token of life and vigour, in the law which it has proposed for the suppression of mob-meetings in the public thoroughfares of the metropolis .And this was not done until it was absolutely required, in the interest and for the protection of the well-disposed majority of the population. Ever since the