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Paris, 6th April, 1848. It seems to me that a considerable reaction is taking place in the state of public opinion in Paris. From the commencement it was evident that the Republic was not accepted, but crammed down the throats of the upper and middle classes, against the stomach of their sense. The working-class is now awaking from its dream, and begins to think that Mr. Louis Blanc is little better than an ass. He is currently known by the name of Louis Blague, as Lamartine is cut down to la Tartine, and Ledru-Rollin degraded into Legueux-Coquin. These soubriquets, if not very polished, are, nevertheless, exceedingly pointed jokes, and may inflict a deeper wound on the Provisional Government, than even the flagellations of Emile de Girardin, with all their unanswerable truth and logic. Against such weapons, power is without arms, offensive or defensive. It may withstand the artillery of reason, but cannot resist the archery of ridicule. The elections of officers for the National Guards have commenced, and the friends of order have been successful beyond the expectation of even the most sanguine. The great questions addressed to the candidates for the grade of Colonel yesterday, were: Are you for order? Are you for freedom of deliberation in the National Assembly? And to these the demand : Are you Republican (whether of the Veille or the Lendemain) was of quite secondary importance. In the departments, generally, the Republic is far from popular : indeed, the imposition of 45 centimes additionels, i. e. an increase of 45 per cent. on the direct taxation of the country, has given a motive to hostile opposition, which makes a direct appeal to every proprietor of even half an acre of land, and you know how numerous a class is this. The Provisionals, as I expected, have failed in their attempt to persuade any general officer to accept the war department on the terms they proposed. M. Arago, late Minister of Marine and ad interim Minister of War, has been obliged to have himself gazetted as Minister of War, and Minister of Marine, ad interim.
Mr. Smith O'Brien got rather a hard crust to masticate from Citoyen de la Tartine, on Monday ; he, however, sweetened it a little by inviting the "tongue-tied and enchained slave” to dine with him on the following day. The slave O'Gorman, it is said, remains here to study the mode of constructing barricades, and the tactics of streetfighting, in Paris.
Paris, April 20th, 1848. * *
We have now reached the end of the second act of this melodramatic revolution, and the grand military tableau, with which it concludes, is at this moment defiling through the mud of Paris, to the sound of trumpet and drum, with bands playing at intervals the “ Marsellaise,”
,” “ Nourri par la Patrie,” the “ Chant du Départ,” etc., followed by shouts of Vive la République, and, thank goodness, à bas les Communistes ! A considerable body of troops of
the line have come into town to-day, to receive their new colours from the Provisionals, and ten thousand of them are to remain in garrison here, and take a part of the heavy and incessant duty which the National Guards have had to perform for the last two months. I have just returned from the Barrière de l'Etoile, where the colours are distributed, but will not describe the scene, as the newspapers will give you a full and detailed account of the members of the Provisional Government, and the Estrade on which they are seated, surrounded by general officers, councillors of state, judges of all the courts of law, and, in short, every kind of notability they can get together. The whole of Paris is to be illuminated this evening, and the festoons of lamps in the Avenue des Champs Elysées are arranged just as they formerly were on the King's Fête.
Poor old man I fear he has done what in him lav, to render monarchy contemptible, if not impossible, in France ! I am told that, as be crossed the Tuileries Gardens, to escape to his coucou on the Place de la Discorde, he did nothing but wring his hands, and sob out convulsively-Comme Charles X? Comme Charles X! But, how different was his flight from that king's journey to the coast, surrounded by his guards and friends, to embark for England in a vessel placed at his disposal by the state. He travelled like a king, though a dethroned one, not like an impudent charlatan escaping from the vengeance of bis dupes, a vengeance only tempered by derision and contempt. Unfortunately, the evil he has done survives his fall, and there are months and years of misery in store for France, and, above all, for Paris. Paris, whose whole existence depended on the luxe against which the deluded people are now taught to inveigh, on the riches, whom every act of the government is calculated to impoverish, on the étrangers, whom these new democratic institutions and the insecurity of property, will effectually deter from settling in this country, or again investing money here. Many Frenchmen are in despair at the prospect before them. As I was walking with Fyesterday, we met a friend of his—" Eh bien ! mon cher," said F
ou en sommes nous ? Qu'est-ce-que nous allons dévenir ? Mon ami, repondit il, le Français n'a plus rien à faire que de payer sa dernière dette envers la Patrie, en lui donnant dix francs pour un Passeport pour l'Etranger. Mais que faire à l'Etranger,” asked F “ Se mettre Professeur de Langues dans une Pension, ou, si celà ne réussissait pas, dresser des Chiens savans et les montrer dans la rue.” I tell you this just as it occurred; it needs no comment! The country is surely unfortunate enough in being governed by such men as those now in power, even were they united and harmonious in their opinions. General Thiars, the new Minister at Berne, was lamenting their want of accord to Lamartine, who is the blindest of optimists. “ Mais, mon cher Géné. ral,” said he, “ je vous assure que nous sommes ouze tétes dans un bonnet. Hélas !” said the General, who seems to be more of a soldier than of a courtier, je vois bien onze bonnets, mais pas une téte. I will not vouch that the dialogue occurred, but the fact is incontestable.
Paris, April 30th, 1848. * *
I have just returned from a visit to the new hall destined to receive the National Assembly. It is a large, oblong building, covering about two-thirds of the court of the old Chambre des Députés, exceedingly plain, not to say mesquin, and altogether of a most provisoire character. Dr. Lardner invited F-- and me to join a party which he had arranged for this little bit of sight-seeing, and, for once, I feel really glad to have been included in an expedition of the sort. F-- breakfasted with me, and after finishing our cutlets, which Joseph cooked to our perfect satisfaction, we adjourned at once to the chamber. Here we found Lardner, with Milnes, Sir Howard Elpliinstone, and two or three other Englishmen, whom I did not know. After waiting about a quarter of an hour, we were admitted to the hall, the interior of which is not unlike an immense omnibus à stalles, à neuf cents places, with a high box at one end for the president, or driver. The seats are covered with green serge, and the whole concern what the republicans would call sévère, which, in any other language than theirs, means shabby. We had not been long there, when Lamartine walked in, with his wife. He is rather tall, and very thin. His face is colourless, unless a sallowness, almost amounting to a tinge of yellow, may be called colour. His eyes small and dim; and his whole countenance expressive ra. ther of unrest and ill health, than of the fire and energy which he has displayed on several very trying occasions. Altogether, one would have passed him in a crowd, without supposing that he was the man to have imposed on an infuriated mob the tri-coloured flag, when, with knives and pistols at his breast, they clamoured for that symbol of blood and terror, the drapeau rouge.
F--- persuaded me, yesterday, to go with him to the Français, to hear Rachel sing, or rather chant, the “ Marseillaise.” I am glad I did so, for this performance of hers will be one of the historical pictures of the revolution. It is a horrible sight, and a worthy sequel to the part of Phèdre, which she had just played. There was in her voice, her face, and her gestures, such a concentration of hate, revenge, and thirst for blood, as she recited the words :-“Qu'un sang impur abreuve nos sillons,” that she looked like a murderess, a fury, a fiend,-like anything, indeed, rather than a woman. Ledru Rollin, her lover, as he is called (but what a profanation of the word !) was not there, which I regretted, for I wished to have a nearer view of him than I obtained at the fete de la Fraternité,—fraternity, with 300,000 bayonets for its emblem! He is now somewhat more chary of exhibiting himself and his vices in public, than he was before the publication of the “ Nouvelles de la Cour,” which you must have seen in the “ Constitutionnel.” These “ sales calomnies," as he calls them, have made him very sore ; and he protests that, since the 24th of February, he has daily devoted twenty hours out of the four and twenty, to the service of the republic. The “ Constitutionnel,” however, has him there again; and argues, that had he slept more, and
worked less, the gain to the republic would have been great. He has just opened the wound afresh, by an article in the official paper, in which he modestly compares himself to the finest fruit on the tree, upon which, as such, the worm and wasp,-his detractors,—are certain to settle and prey the earliest! He will bring upon himself, either from Thiers or Lávallette, another and sharper sting. Their wit is pointed by politeness, and pierces all the deeper for the violence with which he meets it.
May 1st. I had written so far, when I discovered that it was time to prepare for dinner, and, in consequence, deferred the conclusion of my letter until to day.
The elections are nearly completed; the results being already published for fifty-nine departments. Lamartine is named for nine different places, and always at the head, or very nearly at the bead, of the poll. Throughout France, the great majority of the electors have given their votes in favour of the Moderate party, and the Exaltados are, of course, in a phrensy of disappointment. As you will have seen by the papers, there have been very serious disturbances at Rouen, Limoges, Nimes, Castel-Sarrasin, and various other places; and although the advantage has generally remained with the partisans of law and order, it has not been gained without a considerable and lamentable amount of blood-shed. I greatly fear that we shall have a fresh outbreak in Paris, before long. Ledru Rollin's party are highly discontented with the elections, and with the political feel. ing of the majority of the country. Although far inferior in point of numbers to the party of Lamartine, their desperate, dare-devil determination of purpose, makes them very formidable. I, for one, should not be at all surprised to see the hall of the Assembly cleared by Ledru-Rollin, at the head of the Garde Républicaine and the rabble, as the hall at St. Cloud was by Napoléon and his grenadiers. Our chief hope is in the spirit which now animates the troops, who have vowed, should an opportunity arise, to wash out the stain which the cowardice and indecision of Louis Philippe brought upon their arms during the three days of February.
There was to have been a grand fête on Thursday,-civil, military, bucolic, idyllic, gastronomic, and æsthetic, in the Champ de Mars, but it has been postponed to the 10th of May, in consequence of the vast preparations required. One of the chief features of the programme, is a dinner of many thousand covers, at which will assist deputations of the National Guards, of the civil and military functionaries, and of all the corps d'état, or guilds of the various trades in Paris. Should I be still in France, I shall endeavour to see as much as much as possible of the fête, and will send you some account of it.
I see the d'H- occasionally, and they are not so much cast down as might have been expected. His pension has been paid, up to the present time ; but I greatly fear that, what with ex
travagance, improvidence, and mismanagement, the government will not long be in a condition to do honour to its engagements of any description. I was dining at Morel's the other day, and in the evening General and Mme. d’Au - came to pay them a visit. Poor people! they are sad sufferers from the revolution. He has been placed on the retired list, and loses his peerage ; and she, her situation as lady of honour to the queen. I met her, yesterday, as I came out of the Chamber of Deputies, driving in a “milor," with little Blanche d'A—, now a young lady of sixteen. Her two brothers (d’A-), each in command of a division, have likewise been shelved; and, altogether, the position of the family is very lamentable. Poor Madame de S- I hear, is utterly penniless, and is endeavouring to procure pupils, in order to earn wherewithal to buy food for her five children. I will go no further in my catalogue of miseries, as I would rather raise your spirits than depress them.
Paris, May 3rd, 1848. * * *
The National Assembly is about to meet, and I am sorry to say that their debates are expected to give rise to serious disturbances and to bloodshed in the streets of Paris. There has already been a great deal of fighting at Rouen, at Elbeuf, and in several other places, and the ultra-demagogues in this city are highly disappointed and exasperated at the result of the elections, which have generally been favourable to the moderate party. We are in daily expectation of hearing the rappel beaten. The gamins of Paris have composed some words for the rappel, which run thus :
“ Prends ton sac
Sur ton dos,
Soldat !" If you try them, you will find that they are an excellent substitute for the old rub-dub-dub composition. We have had some little fisty-cuff quarrels in the streets, in consequence of the bons citoyens tearing down some socialist affiches, which certain mauvais citoyens had stuck upon the walls in every quarter of the town. These communist gents are of opinion that all property should be divided amongst the sovereign people, rich and poor taking share and share alike. They generously offer a full pardon to the rich, who have so long kept the poor out of their rights, if they give in their adhesion to the socialist doctrine; but threaten them with summary justice, if they obstinately refuse to become converts. There is also à manifesto pasted up by a socialist club, from the Dept des Bouches du Rhône, in which they invite all men to live with them as brothers, and express their intention to cut the throats of all such persons as are so ill-advised as to decline their polite invitation.
I went on Sunday afternoon to a private view of the hall, recently erected for the sittings of the National Assembly. It is a very