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My Days of Adventure by Ernest Alfred Vizetelly

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By Ernest Alfred Vizetelly

Le Petit Homme Rouge

Author of "The Court of the Tuileries 1852-70" etc.

With A Frontispiece

London, 1914


O husbandmen of hill and dale,
O dressers of the vines,
O sea-tossed fighters of the gale,
O hewers of the mines,
O wealthy ones who need not strive,
O sons of learning, art,
O craftsmen of the city's hive,
O traders of the man,
Hark to the cannon's thunder-call
Appealing to the brave!
Your France is wounded, and may fall
Beneath the foreign grave!
Then gird your loins! Let none delay
Her glory to maintain;
Drive out the foe, throw off his sway,
Win back your land again!

1870. E.A.V.


While this volume is largely of an autobiographical character, it will be
found to contain also a variety of general information concerning the
Franco-German War of 1870-71, more particularly with respect to the second
part of that great struggle--the so-called "People's War" which followed
the crash of Sedan and the downfall of the Second French Empire. If I have
incorporated this historical matter in my book, it is because I have
repeatedly noticed in these later years that, whilst English people are
conversant with the main facts of the Sedan disaster and such subsequent
outstanding events as the siege of Paris and the capitulation of Metz,
they usually know very little about the manner in which the war generally
was carried on by the French under the virtual dictatorship of Gambetta.
Should England ever be invaded by a large hostile force, we, with our very
limited regular army, should probably be obliged to rely largely on
elements similar to those which were called to the field by the French
National Defence Government of 1870 after the regular armies of the Empire
had been either crushed at Sedan or closely invested at Metz. For that
reason I have always taken a keen interest in our Territorial Force, well
realizing what heavy responsibilities would fall upon it if a powerful
enemy should obtain a footing in this country. Some indication of those
responsibilities will be found in the present book.

Generally speaking, however, I have given only a sketch of the latter part
of the Franco-German War. To have entered into details on an infinity of
matters would have necessitated the writing of a very much longer work.
However, I have supplied, I think, a good deal of precise information
respecting the events which I actually witnessed, and in this connexion,
perhaps, I may have thrown some useful sidelights on the war generally;
for many things akin to those which I saw, occurred under more or less
similar circumstances in other parts of France.

People who are aware that I am acquainted with the shortcomings of the
French in those already distant days, and that I have watched, as closely
as most foreigners can watch, the evolution of the French army in these
later times, have often asked me what, to my thinking, would be the
outcome of another Franco-German War. For many years I fully anticipated
another struggle between the two Powers, and held myself in readiness to
do duty as a war-correspondent. I long thought, also, that the signal for
that struggle would be given by France. But I am no longer of that
opinion. I fully believe that all French statesmen worthy of the name
realize that it would be suicidal for France to provoke a war with her
formidable neighbour. And at the same time I candidly confess that I do
not know what some journalists mean by what they call the "New France." To
my thinking there is no "New France" at all. There was as much spirit, as
much patriotism, in the days of MacMahon, in the days of Boulanger, and at
other periods, as there is now. The only real novelty that I notice in the
France of to-day is the cultivation of many branches of sport and athletic
exercise. Of that kind of thing there was very little indeed when I was a
stripling. But granting that young Frenchmen of to-day are more athletic,
more "fit" than were those of my generation, granting, moreover, that the
present organization and the equipment of the French army are vastly
superior to what they were in 1870, and also that the conditions of
warfare have greatly changed, I feel that if France were to engage,
unaided, in a contest with Germany, she would again be worsted, and
worsted by her own fault.

She fully knows that she cannot bring into the field anything like as many
men as Germany; and it is in a vain hope of supplying the deficiency that
she has lately reverted from a two to a three years' system of military
service. The latter certainly gives her a larger effective for the first
contingencies of a campaign, but in all other respects it is merely a
piece of jugglery, for it does not add a single unit to the total number
of Frenchmen capable of bearing arms. The truth is, that during forty
years of prosperity France has been intent on racial suicide. In the whole
of that period only some 3,500,000 inhabitants have been added to her
population, which is now still under 40 millions; whereas that of Germany
has increased by leaps and bounds, and stands at about 66 millions. At the
present time the German birth-rate is certainly falling, but the numerical
superiority which Germany has acquired over France since the war of 1870
is so great that I feel it would be impossible for the latter to triumph
in an encounter unless she should be assisted by powerful allies. Bismarck
said in 1870 that God was on the side of the big battalions; and those
big battalions Germany can again supply. I hold, then, that no such
Franco-German war as the last one can again occur. Europe is now virtually
divided into two camps, each composed of three Powers, all of which would
be more or less involved in a Franco-German struggle. The allies and
friends on either side are well aware of it, and in their own interests
are bound to exert a restraining influence which makes for the maintenance
of peace. We have had evidence of this in the limitations imposed on the
recent Balkan War.

On the other hand, it is, of course, the unexpected which usually happens;
and whilst Europe generally remains armed to the teeth, and so many
jealousies are still rife, no one Power can in prudence desist from her
armaments. We who are the wealthiest nation in Europe spend on our
armaments, in proportion to our wealth and our population, less than any
other great Power. Yet some among us would have us curtail our
expenditure, and thereby incur the vulnerability which would tempt a foe.
Undoubtedly the armaments of the present day are great and grievous
burdens on the nations, terrible impediments to social progress, but they
constitute, unfortunately, our only real insurance against war, justifying
yet to-day, after so many long centuries, the truth of the ancient Latin
adage--_Si vis pacem, para bellum_.

It is, I think, unnecessary for me to comment here on the autobiographical
part of my book. It will, I feel, speak for itself. It treats of days long
past, and on a few points, perhaps, my memory may be slightly defective.
In preparing my narrative, however, I have constantly referred to my old
diaries, note-books and early newspaper articles, and have done my best to
abstain from all exaggeration. Whether this story of some of my youthful
experiences and impressions of men and things was worth telling or not is
a point which I must leave my readers to decide.


London, _January_ 1914.



















The Vizetelly Family--My Mother and her Kinsfolk--The _Illustrated Times_
and its Staff--My Unpleasant Disposition--Thackeray and my First
Half-Crown--School days at Eastbourne--Queen Alexandra--Garibaldi--A few
old Plays and Songs--Nadar and the "Giant" Balloon--My Arrival in France--
My Tutor Brossard--Berezowski's Attempt on Alexander II--My Apprenticeship
to Journalism--My first Article--I see some French Celebrities--Visits to
the Tuileries--At Compiègne--A few Words with Napoleon III--A
"Revolutionary" Beard.

This is an age of "Reminiscences," and although I have never played any
part in the world's affairs, I have witnessed so many notable things and
met so many notable people during the three-score years which I have
lately completed, that it is perhaps allowable for me to add yet another
volume of personal recollections to the many which have already poured
from the press. On starting on an undertaking of this kind it is usual, I
perceive by the many examples around me, to say something about one's
family and upbringing. There is less reason for me to depart from this
practice, as in the course of the present volume it will often be
necessary for me to refer to some of my near relations. A few years ago a
distinguished Italian philosopher and author, Angelo de Gubernatis, was
good enough to include me in a dictionary of writers belonging to the
Latin races, and stated, in doing so, that the Vizetellys were of French
origin. That was a rather curious mistake on the part of an Italian
writer, the truth being that the family originated at Ravenna, where some
members of it held various offices in the Middle Ages. Subsequently, after
dabbling in a conspiracy, some of the Vizzetelli fled to Venice and took
to glass-making there, until at last Jacopo, from whom I am descended,
came to England in the spacious days of Queen Elizabeth. From that time
until my own the men of my family invariably married English women, so
that very little Italian blood can flow in my veins.

Matrimonial alliances are sometimes of more than personal interest. One
point has particularly struck me in regard to those contracted by members
of my own family, this being the diversity of English counties from which
the men have derived their wives and the women their husbands. References
to Cheshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire,
Leicestershire, Berkshire, Bucks, Suffolk, Kent, Surrey, Sussex, and
Devonshire, in addition to Middlesex, otherwise London, appear in my
family papers. We have become connected with Johnstons, Burslems,
Bartletts, Pitts, Smiths, Wards, Covells, Randalls, Finemores, Radfords,
Hindes, Pollards, Lemprières, Wakes, Godbolds, Ansells, Fennells,
Vaughans, Edens, Scotts, and Pearces, and I was the very first member of
the family (subsequent to its arrival in England) to take a foreigner as
wife, she being the daughter of a landowner of Savoy who proceeded from
the Tissots of Switzerland. My elder brother Edward subsequently married a
Burgundian girl named Clerget, and my stepbrother Frank chose an American
one, _née_ Krehbiel, as his wife, these marriages occurring because
circumstances led us to live for many years abroad.

Among the first London parishes with which the family was connected was
St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, where my forerunner, the first Henry
Vizetelly, was buried in 1691, he then being fifty years of age, and where
my father, the second Henry of the name, was baptised soon after his birth
in 1820. St. Bride's, Fleet Street, was, however, our parish for many
years, as its registers testify, though in 1781 my great-grandfather was
resident in the parish of St. Ann's, Blackfriars, and was elected
constable thereof. At that date the family name, which figures in old
English registers under a variety of forms--Vissitaler, Vissitaly,
Visataly, Visitelly, Vizetely, etc.--was by him spelt Vizzetelly, as is
shown by documents now in the Guildhall Library; but a few years later he
dropped the second z, with the idea, perhaps, of giving the name a more
English appearance.

This great-grandfather of mine was, like his father before him, a printer
and a member of the Stationers' Company. He was twice married, having by
his first wife two sons, George and William, neither of whom left
posterity. The former, I believe, died in the service of the Honourable
East India Company. In June, 1775, however, my great-grandfather married
Elizabeth, daughter of James Hinde, stationer, of Little Moorfields, and
had by her, first, a daughter Elizabeth, from whom some of the Burslems
and Godbolds are descended; and, secondly, twins, a boy and a girl, who
were respectively christened James Henry and Mary Mehetabel. The former
became my grandfather. In August, 1816, he married, at St. Bride's, Martha
Jane Vaughan, daughter of a stage-coach proprietor of Chester, and had by
her a daughter, who died unmarried, and four sons--my father, Henry
Richard, and my uncles James, Frank, and Frederick Whitehead Vizetelly.

Some account of my grandfather is given in my father's "Glances Back
through Seventy Years," and I need not add to it here. I will only say
that, like his immediate forerunners, James Henry Vizetelly was a printer
and freeman of the city. A clever versifier, and so able as an amateur
actor that on certain occasions he replaced Edmund Kean on the boards when
the latter was hopelessly drunk, he died in 1840, leaving his two elder
sons, James and Henry, to carry on the printing business, which was then
established in premises occupying the site of the _Daily Telegraph_
building in Fleet Street.

In 1844 my father married Ellen Elizabeth, only child of John Pollard,
M.D., a member of the ancient Yorkshire family of the Pollards of Bierley
and Brunton, now chiefly represented, I believe, by the Pollards of Scarr
Hall. John Pollard's wife, Charlotte Maria Fennell, belonged to a family
which gave officers to the British Navy--one of them serving directly
under Nelson--and clergy to the Church of England. The Fennells were
related to the Brontë sisters through the latter's mother; and one was
closely connected with the Shackle who founded the original _John Bull_
newspaper. Those, then, were my kinsfolk on the maternal side. My mother
presented my father with seven children, of whom I was the sixth, being
also the fourth son. I was born on November 29, 1853, at a house called
Chalfont Lodge in Campden House Road, Kensington, and well do I remember
the great conflagration which destroyed the fine old historical mansion
built by Baptist Hicks, sometime a mercer in Cheapside and ultimately
Viscount Campden. But another scene which has more particularly haunted me
all through my life was that of my mother's sudden death in a saloon
carriage of an express train on the London and Brighton line. Though she
was in failing health, nobody thought her end so near; but in the very
midst of a journey to London, whilst the train was rushing on at full
speed, and no help could be procured, a sudden weakness came over her, and
in a few minutes she passed away. I was very young at the time, barely
five years old, yet everything still rises before me with all the
vividness of an imperishable memory. Again, too, I see that beautiful
intellectual brow and those lustrous eyes, and hear that musical voice,
and feel the gentle touch of that loving motherly hand. She was a woman of
attainments, fond of setting words to music, speaking perfect French, for
she had been partly educated at Evreux in Normandy, and having no little
knowledge of Greek and Latin literature, as was shown by her annotations
to a copy of Lemprière's "Classical Dictionary" which is now in my

About eighteen months after I was born, that is in the midst of the
Crimean War, my father founded, in conjunction with David Bogue, a
well-known publisher of the time, a journal called the _Illustrated
Times_, which for several years competed successfully with the
_Illustrated London News_. It was issued at threepence per copy, and an
old memorandum of the printers now lying before me shows that in the
paper's earlier years the average printings were 130,000 copies weekly--a
notable figure for that period, and one which was considerably exceeded
when any really important event occurred. My father was the chief editor
and manager, his leading coadjutor being Frederick Greenwood, who
afterwards founded the _Pall Mall Gazette_. I do not think that
Greenwood's connection with the _Illustrated Times_ and with my father's
other journal, the _Welcome Guest_, is mentioned in any of the accounts of
his career. The literary staff included four of the Brothers Mayhew--
Henry, Jules, Horace, and Augustus, two of whom, Jules and Horace, became
godfathers to my father's first children by his second wife. Then there
were also William and Robert Brough, Edmund Yates, George Augustus Sala,
Hain Friswell, W.B. Rands, Tom Robertson, Sutherland Edwards, James
Hannay, Edward Draper, and Hale White (father of "Mark Rutherford"), and
several artists and engravers, such as Birket Foster, "Phiz." Portch,
Andrews, Duncan, Skelton, Bennett, McConnell, Linton, London, and Horace
Harrall. I saw all those men in my early years, for my father was very
hospitably inclined, and they were often guests at Chalfont Lodge.

After my mother's death, my grandmother, _née_ Vaughan, took charge of the
establishment, and I soon became the terror of the house, developing a
most violent temper and acquiring the vocabulary of the roughest market
porter. My wilfulness was probably innate (nearly all the Vizetellys
having had impulsive wills of their own), and my flowery language was
picked up by perversely loitering to listen whenever there happened to be
a street row in Church Lane, which I had to cross on my way to or from
Kensington Gardens, my daily place of resort. At an early age I started
bullying my younger brother, I defied my grandmother, insulted the family
doctor because he was too fond of prescribing grey powders for my
particular benefit, and behaved abominably to the excellent Miss Lindup of
Sheffield Terrace, who endeavoured to instruct me in the rudiments of
reading, writing, and arithmetic. I frequently astonished or appalled the
literary men and artists who were my father's guests. I hated being
continually asked what I should like to be when I grew up, and the
slightest chaff threw me into a perfect paroxysm of passion. Whilst,
however, I was resentful of the authority of others, I was greatly
inclined to exercise authority myself--to such a degree, indeed, that my
father's servants generally spoke of me as "the young master," regardless
of the existence of my elder brothers.

Having already a retentive memory, I was set to learn sundry
"recitations," and every now and then was called upon to emerge from
behind the dining-room curtains and repeat "My Name is Norval" or "The
Spanish Armada," for the delectation of my father's friends whilst they
lingered over their wine. Disaster generally ensued, provoked either by
some genial chaff or well-meant criticism from such men as Sala and
Augustus Mayhew, and I was ultimately carried off--whilst venting
incoherent protests--to be soundly castigated and put to bed.

Among the real celebrities who occasionally called at Chalfont Lodge was
Thackeray, whom I can still picture sitting on one side of the fireplace,
whilst my father sat on the other, I being installed on the hearthrug
between them. Provided that I was left to myself, I could behave decently
enough, discreetly preserving silence, and, indeed, listening intently to
the conversation of my father's friends, and thereby picking up a very odd
mixture of knowledge. I was, I believe, a pale little chap with lank fair
hair and a wistful face, and no casual observer would have imagined that
my nature was largely compounded of such elements as enter into the
composition of Italian brigands, Scandinavian pirates, and wild Welshmen.
Thackeray, at all events, did not appear to think badly of the little boy
who sat so quietly at his feet. One day, indeed, when he came upon me and
my younger brother Arthur, with our devoted attendant Selina Horrocks,
in Kensington Gardens, he put into practice his own dictum that one could
never see a schoolboy without feeling an impulse to dip one's hand in
one's pocket. Accordingly he presented me with the first half-crown I ever
possessed, for though my father's gifts were frequent they were small. It
was understood, I believe, that I was to share the aforesaid half-crown
with my brother Arthur, but in spite of the many remonstrances of the
faithful Selina--a worthy West-country woman, who had largely taken my
mother's place--I appropriated the gift in its entirety, and became
extremely ill by reason of my many indiscreet purchases at a tuck-stall
which stood, if I remember rightly, at a corner of the then renowned
Kensington Flower Walk. This incident must have occurred late in
Thackeray's life. My childish recollection of him is that of a very big
gentleman with beaming eyes.

My grandmother's reign in my father's house was not of great duration, as
in February, 1861, he contracted a second marriage, taking on this
occasion as his wife a "fair maid of Kent," [Elizabeth Anne Ansell, of
Broadstairs; mother of my step-brother, Dr. Frank H. Vizetelly, editor of
the "Standard Dictionary," New York.] to whose entry into our home I was
at first violently opposed, but who promptly won me over by her
unremitting affection and kindness, eventually becoming the best and
truest friend of my youth and early manhood. My circumstances changed,
however, soon after that marriage, for as I was now nearly eight years old
it was deemed appropriate that I should be sent to a boarding-school, both
by way of improving my mind and of having some nonsense knocked out of me,
which, indeed, was promptly accomplished by the pugnacious kindness of my
schoolfellows. Among the latter was one, my senior by a few years, who
became a very distinguished journalist. I refer to the late Horace Voules,
so long associated with Labouchere's journal, _Truth_. My brother Edward
was also at the same school, and my brother Arthur came there a little

It was situated at Eastbourne, and a good deal has been written about it
in recent works on the history of that well-known watering-place, which,
when I was first sent there, counted less than 6000 inhabitants. Located
in the old town or village, at a distance of a mile or more from the sea,
the school occupied a building called "The Gables," and was an offshoot of
a former ancient school connected with the famous parish church. In my
time this "academy" was carried on as a private venture by a certain James
Anthony Bown, a portly old gentleman of considerable attainments.

I was unusually precocious in some respects, and though I frequently got
into scrapes by playing impish tricks--as, for instance, when I combined
with others to secure an obnoxious French master to his chair by means of
some cobbler's wax, thereby ruining a beautiful pair of peg-top trousers
which he had just purchased--I did not neglect my lessons, but secured a
number of "prizes" with considerable facility. When I was barely twelve
years old, not one of my schoolfellows--and some were sixteen and
seventeen years old--could compete with me in Latin, in which language
Bown ended by taking me separately. I also won three or four prizes for
"excelling" my successive classes in English grammar as prescribed by the
celebrated Lindley Murray.

In spite of my misdeeds (some of which, fortunately, were never brought
home to me), I became, I think, somewhat of a favourite with the worthy
James Anthony, for he lent me interesting books to read, occasionally had
me to supper in his own quarters, and was now and then good enough to
overlook the swollen state of my nose or the blackness of one of my eyes
when I had been having a bout with a schoolfellow or a young clodhopper of
the village. We usually fought with the village lads in Love Lane on
Sunday evenings, after getting over the playground wall. I received
firstly the nickname of Moses, through falling among some rushes whilst
fielding a ball at cricket; and secondly, that of Noses, because my nasal
organ, like that of Cyrano de Bergerac, suddenly grew to huge proportions,
in such wise that it embodied sufficient material for two noses of
ordinary dimensions. Its size was largely responsible for my defeats when
fighting, for I found it difficult to keep guard over such a prominent
organ and prevent my claret from being tapped.

Having generations of printers' ink mingled with my blood, I could not
escape the unkind fate which made me a writer of articles and books.
In conjunction with a chum named Clement Ireland I ran a manuscript school
journal, which included stories of pirates and highwaymen, illustrated
with lurid designs in which red ink was plentifully employed in order to
picture the gore which flowed so freely through the various tales.
My grandmother Vaughan was an inveterate reader of the _London Journal_
and the _Family Herald_, and whenever I went home for my holidays I used
to pounce upon those journals and devour some of the stories of the author
of "Minnegrey," as well as Miss Braddon's "Aurora Floyd" and "Henry
Dunbar." The perusal of books by Ainsworth, Scott, Lever, Marryat, James
Grant, G. P. R. James, Dumas, and Whyte Melville gave me additional
material for storytelling; and so, concocting wonderful blends of all
sorts of fiction, I spun many a yarn to my schoolfellows in the dormitory
in which I slept--yarns which were sometimes supplied in instalments,
being kept up for a week or longer.

My summer holidays were usually spent in the country, but at other times I
went to London, and was treated to interesting sights. At Kensington, in
my earlier years, I often saw Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort with
their children, notably the Princess Royal (Empress Frederick) and the
Prince of Wales (Edward VII). When the last-named married the "Sea-King's
daughter from over the sea"--since then our admired and gracious Queen
Alexandra--and they drove together through the crowded streets of London
on their way to Windsor, I came specially from Eastbourne to witness that
triumphal progress, and even now I can picture the young prince with his
round chubby face and little side-whiskers, and the vision of almost
tearfully-smiling beauty, in blue and white, which swept past my eager
boyish eyes.

During the Easter holidays of 1864 Garibaldi came to England. My uncle,
Frank Vizetelly, was the chief war-artist of that period, the predecessor,
in fact, of the late Melton Prior. He knew Garibaldi well, having first
met him during the war of 1859, and having subsequently accompanied him
during his campaign through Sicily and then on to Naples--afterwards,
moreover, staying with him at Caprera. And so my uncle carried me and his
son, my cousin Albert, to Stafford House (where he had the _entrée_), and
the grave-looking Liberator patted us on the head, called us his children,
and at Frank Vizetelly's request gave us photographs of himself. I then
little imagined that I should next see him in France, at the close of the
war with Germany, during a part of which my brother Edward acted as one of
his orderly officers.

My father, being at the head of a prominent London newspaper, often
received tickets for one and another theatre. Thus, during my winter
holidays, I saw many of the old pantomimes at Drury Lane and elsewhere. I
also well remember Sothern's "Lord Dundreary," and a play called "The
Duke's Motto," which was based on Paul Féval's novel, "Le Bossu." I
frequently witnessed the entertainments given by the German Reeds, Corney
Grain, and Woodin, the clever quick-change artist. I likewise remember
Leotard the acrobat at the Alhambra, and sundry performances at the old
Pantheon, where I heard such popular songs as "The Captain with the
Whiskers" and "The Charming Young Widow I met in the Train." Nigger
ditties were often the "rage" during my boyhood, and some of them, like
"Dixie-land" and "So Early in the Morning," still linger in my memory.
Then, too, there were such songs as "Billy Taylor," "I'm Afloat," "I'll
hang my Harp on a Willow Tree," and an inane composition which contained
the lines--

"When a lady elopes
Down a ladder of ropes,
She may go, she may go,
She may go to--Hongkong--for me!"

In those schoolboy days of mine, however, the song of songs, to my
thinking, was one which we invariably sang on breaking up for the
holidays. Whether it was peculiar to Eastbourne or had been derived from
some other school I cannot say. I only know that the last verse ran,
approximately, as follows:

"Magistrorum is a borum,
Hic-haec-hoc has made his bow.
Let us cry: 'O cockalorum!'
That's the Latin for us now.
Alpha, beta, gamma, delta,
Off to Greece, for we are free!
Helter, skelter, melter, pelter,
We're the lads for mirth and spree!"

For "cockalorum," be it noted, we frequently substituted the name of some
particularly obnoxious master.

To return to the interesting sights of my boyhood, I have some
recollection of the Exhibition of 1862, but can recall more vividly a
visit to the Crystal Palace towards the end of the following year, when I
there saw the strange house-like oar of the "Giant" balloon in which
Nadar, the photographer and aeronaut, had lately made, with his wife and
others, a memorable and disastrous aerial voyage. Readers of Jules Verne
will remember that Nadar figures conspicuously in his "Journey to the
Moon." Quite a party of us went to the Palace to see the "Giant's" car,
and Nadar, standing over six feet high, with a great tangled mane of
frizzy flaxen hair, a ruddy moustache, and a red shirt _à la_ Garibaldi,
took us inside it and showed us all the accommodation it contained for
eating, sleeping and photographic purposes. I could not follow what he
said, for I then knew only a few French words, and I certainly had no idea
that I should one day ascend into the air with him in a car of a very
different type, that of the captive balloon which, for purposes of
military observation, he installed on the Place Saint Pierre at
Montmartre, during the German siege of Paris.

A time came when my father disposed of his interest in the _Illustrated
Times_ and repaired to Paris to take up the position of Continental
representative of the _Illustrated London News_. My brother Edward, at
that time a student at the École des Beaux Arts, then became his
assistant, and a little later I was taken across the Channel with my
brother Arthur to join the rest of the family. We lived, first, at
Auteuil, and then at Passy, where I was placed in a day-school called the
Institution Nouissel, where lads were prepared for admission to the State
or municipal colleges. There had been some attempt to teach me French at
Eastbourne, but it had met with little success, partly, I think, because
I was prejudiced against the French generally, regarding them as a mere
race of frog-eaters whom we had deservedly whacked at Waterloo. Eventually
my prejudices were in a measure overcome by what I heard from our
drill-master, a retired non-commissioned officer, who had served in the
Crimea, and who told us some rousing anecdotes about the gallantry of
"our allies" at the Alma and elsewhere. In the result, the old sergeant's
converse gave me "furiously to think" that there might be some good in the
French after all.

At Nouissel's I acquired some knowledge of the language rapidly enough,
and I was afterwards placed in the charge of a tutor, a clever scamp named
Brossard, who prepared me for the Lycée Bonaparte (now Condorcet), where I
eventually became a pupil, Brossard still continuing to coach me with a
view to my passing various examinations, and ultimately securing the usual
_baccalauréat_, without which nobody could then be anything at all in
France. In the same way he coached Evelyn Jerrold, son of Blanchard and
grandson of Douglas Jerrold, both of whom were on terms of close
friendship with the Vizetellys. But while Brossard was a clever man, he
was also an unprincipled one, and although I was afterwards indebted to
him for an introduction to old General Changarnier, to whom he was
related, it would doubtless have been all the better if he had not
introduced me to some other people with whom he was connected. He lived
for a while with a woman who was not his wife, and deserted her for a girl
of eighteen, whom he also abandoned, in order to devote himself to a
creature in fleshings who rode a bare-backed steed at the Cirque de
l'Impératrice. When I was first introduced to her "behind the scenes," she
was bestriding a chair, and smoking a pink cigarette, and she addressed me
as _mon petit_. Briefly, the moral atmosphere of Brossard's life was not
such as befitted him to be a mentor of youth.

Let me now go back a little. At the time of the great Paris Exhibition of
1867 I was in my fourteenth year. The city was then crowded with
royalties, many of whom I saw on one or another occasion. I was in the
Bois de Boulogne with my father when, after a great review, a shot was
fired at the carriage in which Napoleon III and his guest, Alexander II of
Russia, were seated side by side. I saw equerry Raimbeaux gallop forward
to screen the two monarchs, and I saw the culprit seized by a sergeant of
our Royal Engineers, attached to the British section of the Exhibition.
Both sovereigns stood up in the carriage to show that they were uninjured,
and it was afterwards reported that the Emperor Napoleon said to the
Emperor Alexander: "If that shot was fired by an Italian it was meant for
me; if by a Pole, it was meant for your Majesty." Whether those words were
really spoken, or were afterwards invented, as such things often are, by
some clever journalist, I cannot say; but the man proved to be a Pole
named Berezowski, who was subsequently sentenced to transportation for

It was in connection with this attempt on the Czar that I did my first
little bit of journalistic work. By my father's directions, I took a few
notes and made a hasty little sketch of the surroundings. This and my
explanations enabled M. Jules Pelcoq, an artist of Belgian birth, whom my
father largely employed on behalf of the _Illustrated London News_, to
make a drawing which appeared on the first page of that journal's next
issue. I do not think that any other paper in the world was able to supply
a pictorial representation of Berezowski's attempt.

I have said enough, I think, to show that I was a precocious lad, perhaps,
indeed, a great deal too precocious. However, I worked very hard in those
days. My hours at Bonaparte were from ten to twelve and from two to four.
I had also to prepare home-lessons for the Lycée, take special lessons
from Brossard, and again lessons in German from a tutor named With. Then,
too, my brother Edward ceasing to act as my father's assistant in order to
devote himself to journalism on his own account, I had to take over a part
of his duties. One of my cousins, Montague Vizetelly (son of my uncle
James, who was the head of our family), came from England, however, to
assist my father in the more serious work, such as I, by reason of my
youth, could not yet perform. My spare time was spent largely in taking
instructions to artists or fetching drawings from them. At one moment I
might be at Mont-martre, and at another in the Quartier Latin, calling on
Pelcoq, Anastasi, Janet Lange, Gustave Janet, Pauquet, Thorigny, Gaildrau,
Deroy, Bocourt, Darjou, Lix, Moulin, Fichot, Blanchard, or other artists
who worked for the _Illustrated London News_. Occasionally a sketch was
posted to England, but more frequently I had to despatch some drawing on
wood by rail. Though I have never been anything but an amateurish
draughtsman myself, I certainly developed a critical faculty, and acquired
a knowledge of different artistic methods, during my intercourse with so
many of the _dessinateurs_ of the last years of the Second Empire.

By-and-by more serious duties were allotted to me. The "Paris Fashions"
design then appearing every month in the _Illustrated London News_ was for
a time prepared according to certain dresses which Worth and other famous
costumiers made for empresses, queens, princesses, great ladies, and
theatrical celebrities; and, accompanying Pelcoq or Janet when they went
to sketch those gowns (nowadays one would simply obtain photographs), I
took down from _la première_, or sometimes from Worth himself, full
particulars respecting materials and styles, in order that the descriptive
letterpress, which was to accompany the illustration, might be correct.

In this wise I served my apprenticeship to journalism. My father naturally
revised my work. The first article, all my own, which appeared in print
was one on that notorious theatrical institution, the Claque. I sent it to
_Once a Week_, which E. S. Dallas then edited, and knowing that he was
well acquainted with my father, and feeling very diffident respecting the
merits of what I had written, I assumed a _nom de plume_ ("Charles
Ludhurst") for the occasion, Needless to say that I was delighted when
I saw the article in print, and yet more so when I received for it a
couple of guineas, which I speedily expended on gloves, neckties, and a
walking-stick. Here let me say that we were rather swagger young fellows
at Bonaparte. We did not have to wear hideous ill-fitting uniforms like
other Lycéens, but endeavoured to present a very smart appearance. Thus
we made it a practice to wear gloves and to carry walking-sticks or canes
on our way to or from the Lycée. I even improved on that by buying
"button-holes" at the flower-market beside the Madeleine, and this idea
"catching on," as the phrase goes, quite a commotion occurred one morning
when virtually half my classmates were found wearing flowers--for it
happened to be La Saint Henri, the _fête_-day of the Count de Chambord,
and both our Proviseur and our professor imagined that this was, on our
part, a seditious Legitimist demonstration. There were, however, very few
Legitimists among us, though Orleanists and Republicans were numerous.

I have mentioned that my first article was on the Claque, that
organisation established to encourage applause in theatres, it being held
that the Parisian spectator required to be roused by some such method.
Brossard having introduced me to the _sous-chef_ of the Claque at the
Opéra Comique, I often obtained admission to that house as a _claqueur_.
I even went to a few other theatres in the same capacity. Further,
Brossard knew sundry authors and journalists, and took me to the Café de
Suède and the Café de Madrid, where I saw and heard some of the
celebrities of the day. I can still picture the great Dumas, loud of voice
and exuberant in gesture whilst holding forth to a band of young
"spongers," on whom he was spending his last napoleons. I can also see
Gambetta--young, slim, black-haired and bearded, with a full sensual
underlip--seated at the same table as Delescluze, whose hair and beard,
once red, had become a dingy white, whose figure was emaciated and
angular, and whose yellowish, wrinkled face seemed to betoken that he was
possessed by some fixed idea. What that idea was, the Commune subsequently
showed. Again, I can see Henri Rochefort and Gustave Flourens together:
the former straight and sinewy, with a great tuft of very dark curly hair,
flashing eyes and high and prominent cheekbones; while the latter, tall
and bald, with long moustaches and a flowing beard, gazed at you in an
eager imperious way, as if he were about to issue some command.

Other men who helped to overthrow the Empire also became known to me. My
father, whilst engaged in some costly litigation respecting a large
castellated house which he had leased at Le Vésinet, secured Jules Favre
as his advocate, and on various occasions I went with him to Favre's
residence. Here let me say that my father, in spite of all his interest in
French literature, did not know the language. He could scarcely express
himself in it, and thus he always made it a practice to have one of his
sons with him, we having inherited our mother's linguistic gifts. Favre's
command of language was great, but his eloquence was by no means rousing,
and I well remember that when he pleaded for my father, the three judges
of the Appeal Court composed themselves to sleep, and did not awaken until
the counsel opposed to us started banging his fist and shouting in
thunderous tones. Naturally enough, as the judges never heard our side of
the case, but only our adversary's, they decided against us.

Some retrenchment then became necessary on my father's part, and he sent
my step-mother, her children and my brother Arthur, to Saint Servan in
Brittany, where he rented a house which was called "La petite Amélia,"
after George III's daughter of that name, who, during some interval of
peace between France and Great Britain, went to stay at Saint Servan for
the benefit of her health. The majority of our family having repaired
there and my cousin Monty returning to England some time in 1869, I
remained alone with my father in Paris. We resided in what I may call a
bachelor's flat at No. 16, Rue de Miromesnil, near the Elysée Palace. The
principal part of the house was occupied by the Count and Countess de
Chateaubriand and their daughters. The Countess was good enough to take
some notice of me, and subsequently, when she departed for Combourg at the
approach of the German siege, she gave me full permission to make use, if
necessary, of the coals and wood left in the Chateaubriand cellars.

In 1869, the date I have now reached, I was in my sixteenth year, still
studying, and at the same time giving more and more assistance to my
father in connection with his journalistic work. He has included in his
"Glances Back" some account of the facilities which enabled him to secure
adequate pictorial delineation of the Court life of the Empire. He has
told the story of Moulin, the police-agent, who frequently watched over
the Emperor's personal safety, and who also supplied sketches of Court
functions for the use of the _Illustrated London News_. Napoleon III
resembled his great-uncle in at least one respect. He fully understood the
art of advertisement; and, in his desire to be thought well of in England,
he was always ready to favour English journalists. Whilst a certain part
of the London Press preserved throughout the reign a very critical
attitude towards the Imperial policy, it is certain that some of the Paris
correspondents were in close touch with the Emperor's Government, and that
some of them were actually subsidized by it.

The best-informed man with respect to Court and social events was
undoubtedly Mr. Felix Whiteburst of _The Daily Telegraph_, whom I well
remember. He had the _entrée_ at the Tuileries and elsewhere, and there
were occasions when very important information was imparted to him with a
view to its early publication in London. For the most part, however,
Whitehurst confined himself to chronicling events or incidents occurring
at Court or in Bonapartist high society. Anxious to avoid giving offence,
he usually glossed over any scandal that occurred, or dismissed it airily,
with the _désinvolture_ of a _roué_ of the Regency. Withal, he was an
extremely amiable man, very condescending towards me when we met, as
sometimes happened at the Tuileries itself.

I had to go there on several occasions to meet Moulin, the
detective-artist, by appointment, and a few years ago this helped me to
write a book which has been more than once reprinted. [Note] I utilized in
it many notes made by me in 1869-70, notably with respect to the Emperor
and Empress's private apartments, the kitchens, and the arrangements made
for balls and banquets. I am not aware at what age a young fellow is
usually provided with his first dress-suit, but I know that mine was made
about the time I speak of. I was then, I suppose, about five feet five
inches in height, and my face led people to suppose that I was eighteen or
nineteen years of age.

[Note: The work in question was entitled "The Court of the Tuileries,
1852-1870," by "Le Petit Homme Rouge"--a pseudonym which I have since used
when producing other books. "The Court of the Tuileries" was founded in
part on previously published works, on a quantity of notes and memoranda
made by my father, other relatives, and myself, and on some of the private
papers of one of my wife's kinsmen, General Mollard, who after greatly
distinguishing himself at the Tchernaya and Magenta, became for a time an
aide-de-camp to Napoleon III.]

In the autumn of 1869, I fell rather ill from over-study--I had already
begun to read up Roman law--and, on securing a holiday, I accompanied my
father to Compiègne, where the Imperial Court was then staying. We were
not among the invited guests, but it had been arranged that every facility
should be given to the _Illustrated London News_ representatives in order
that the Court _villegiatura_ might be fully depicted in that journal. I
need not recapitulate my experiences on this occasion. There is an account
of our visit in my father's "Glances Back," and I inserted many additional
particulars in my "Court of the Tuileries." I may mention, however, that
it was at Compiègne that I first exchanged a few words with Napoleon III.

One day, my father being unwell (the weather was intensely cold), I
proceeded to the château [We slept at the Hôtel de la Cloche, but
had the _entrée_ to the château at virtually any time.] accompanied only
by our artist, young M. Montbard, who was currently known as "Apollo" in
the Quartier Latin, where he delighted the _habitués_ of the Bal Bullier
by a style of choregraphy in comparison with which the achievements
subsequently witnessed at the notorious Moulin Rouge would have sunk into
insignificance. Montbard had to make a couple of drawings on the day I
have mentioned, and it so happened that, whilst we were going about with
M. de la Ferrière, the chamberlain on duty, Napoleon III suddenly appeared
before us. Directly I was presented to him he spoke to me in English,
telling me that he often saw the _Illustrated London News_, and that the
illustrations of French life and Paris improvements (in which he took so
keen an interest) were very ably executed. He asked me also how long I had
been in France, and where I had learnt the language. Then, remarking that
it was near the _déjeuner_ hour, he told M. de la Ferrière to see that
Montbard and myself were suitably entertained.

I do not think that I had any particular political opinions at that time.
Montbard, however, was a Republican--in fact, a future Communard--and I
know that he did not appreciate his virtually enforced introduction to the
so-called "Badinguet." Still, he contrived to be fairly polite, and
allowed the Emperor to inspect the sketch he was making. There was to be a
theatrical performance at the château that evening, and it had already
been arranged that Montbard should witness it. On hearing, however, that
it had been impossible to provide my father and myself with seats, on
account of the great demand for admission on the part of local magnates
and the officers of the garrison, the Emperor was good enough to say,
after I had explained that my father's indisposition would prevent him
from attending: "Voyons, vous pourrez bien trouver une petite place pour
ce jeune homme. Il n'est pas si grand, et je suis sûr que cela lui fera
plaisir." M. de la Ferrière bowed, and thus it came to pass that I
witnessed the performance after all, being seated on a stool behind some
extremely beautiful women whose white shoulders repeatedly distracted my
attention from the stage. In regard to Montbard there was some little
trouble, as M. de la Ferrière did not like the appearance of his
"revolutionary-looking beard," the sight of which, said he, might greatly
alarm the Empress. Montbard, however, indignantly refused to shave it off,
and ten months later the "revolutionary beards" were predominant, the
power and the pomp of the Empire having been swept away amidst all the
disasters of invasion.



Napoleon's Plans for a War with Prussia--The Garde Mobile and the French
Army generally--Its Armament--The "White Blouses" and the Paris Riots--The
Emperor and the Elections of 1869--The Troppmann and Pierre Bonaparte
Affairs--Captain the Hon. Dennis Bingham--The Ollivier Ministry--French
Campaigning Plans--Frossard and Bazaine--The Negotiations with Archduke
Albert and Count Vimeroati--The War forced on by Bismarck--I shout "A
Berlin!"--The Imperial Guard and General Bourbaki--My Dream of seeing a
War--My uncle Frank Vizetelly and his Campaigns--"The Siege of Pekin"--
Organization of the French Forces--The Information Service--I witness the
departure of Napoleon III and the Imperial Prince from Saint Cloud.

There was no little agitation in France during the years 1868 and 1869.
The outcome first of the Schleswig-Holstein war, and secondly of the war
between Prussia and Austria in 1866, had alarmed many French politicians.
Napoleon III had expected some territorial compensation in return for his
neutrality at those periods, and it is certain that Bismarck, as chief
Prussian minister, had allowed him to suppose that he would be able to
indemnify himself for his non-intervention in the afore-mentioned
contests. After attaining her ends, however, Prussia turned an unwilling
ear to the French Emperor's suggestions, and from that moment a
Franco-German war became inevitable. Although, as I well remember,
there was a perfect "rage" for Bismarck "this" and Bismarck "that" in
Paris--particularly for the Bismarck colour, a shade of Havana brown--the
Prussian statesman, who had so successfully "jockeyed" the Man of Destiny,
was undoubtedly a well hated and dreaded individual among the Parisians,
at least among all those who thought of the future of Europe. Prussian
policy, however, was not the only cause of anxiety in France, for at the
same period the Republican opposition to the Imperial authority was
steadily gaining strength in the great cities, and the political
concessions by which Napoleon III sought to disarm it only emboldened it
to make fresh demands.

In planning a war on Prussia, the Emperor was influenced both by national
and by dynastic considerations. The rise of Prussia--which had become head
of the North German Confederation--was without doubt a menace not only to
French ascendency on the Continent, but also to France's general
interests. On the other hand, the prestige of the Empire having been
seriously impaired, in France itself, by the diplomatic defeats which
Bismarck had inflicted on Napoleon, it seemed that only a successful war,
waged on the Power from which France had received those successive
rebuffs, could restore the aforesaid prestige and ensure the duration of
the Bonaparte dynasty.

Even nowadays, in spite of innumerable revelations, many writers continue
to cast all the responsibility of the Franco-German War on Germany, or, to
be more precise, on Prussia as represented by Bismarck. That, however, is
a great error. A trial of strength was regarded on both sides as
inevitable, and both sides contributed to bring it about. Bismarck's share
in the conflict was to precipitate hostilities, selecting for them what he
judged to be an opportune moment for his country, and thereby preventing
the Emperor Napoleon from maturing his designs. The latter did not intend
to declare war until early in 1871; the Prussian statesman brought it
about in July, 1870.

The Emperor really took to the war-path soon after 1866. A great military
council was assembled, and various measures were devised to strengthen the
army. The principal step was the creation of a territorial force called
the Garde Mobile, which was expected to yield more than half a million
men. Marshal Niel, who was then Minister of War, attempted to carry out
this scheme, but was hampered by an insufficiency of money. Nowadays, I
often think of Niel and the Garde Mobile when I read of Lord Haldane,
Colonel Seely, and our own "terriers." It seems to me, at times, as if the
clock had gone back more than forty years.

Niel died in August, 1869, leaving his task in an extremely unfinished
state, and Marshal Le Boeuf, who succeeded him, persevered with it in a
very faint-hearted way. The regular army, however, was kept in fair
condition, though it was never so strong as it appeared to be on paper.
There was a system in vogue by which a conscript of means could avoid
service by supplying a _remplaçant_. Originally, he was expected to
provide his _remplaçant_ himself; but, ultimately, he only had to pay a
sum of money to the military authorities, who undertook to find a man to
take his place. Unfortunately, in thousands of instances, over a term of
some years, the _remplaçants_ were never provided at all. I do not suggest
that the money was absolutely misappropriated, but it was diverted to
other military purposes, and, in the result, there was always a
considerable shortage in the annual contingent.

The creature comforts of the men were certainly well looked after. My
particular chum at Bonaparte was the son of a general-officer, and I
visited more than one barracks or encampment. Without doubt, there was
always an abundance of good sound food. Further, the men were well-armed.
All military authorities are agreed, I believe, that the Chassepot
rifle--invented in or about 1866--was superior to the Dreyse needle-gun,
which was in use in the Prussian army. Then, too, there was Colonel de
Reffye's machine-gun or _mitrailleuse_, in a sense the forerunner of the
Gatling and the Maxim. It was first devised, I think, in 1863, and,
according to official statements, some three or four years later there
were more than a score of _mitrailleuse_ batteries. With regard to other
ordnance, however, that of the French was inferior to that of the Germans,
as was conclusively proved at Sedan and elsewhere. In many respects the
work of army reform, publicly advised by General Trochu in a famous
pamphlet, and by other officers in reports to the Emperor and the Ministry
of War, proceeded at a very slow pace, being impeded by a variety of
considerations. The young men of the large towns did not take kindly to
the idea of serving in the new Garde Mobile. Having escaped service in the
regular army, by drawing exempting "numbers" or by paying for
_remplaçants_, they regarded it as very unfair that they should be called
upon to serve at all, and there were serious riots in various parts of
France at the time of their first enrolment in 1868. Many of them failed
to realize the necessities of the case. There was no great wave of
patriotism sweeping through the country. The German danger was not yet
generally apparent. Further, many upholders of the Imperial authority
shook their heads in deprecation of this scheme of enrolling and arming so
many young men, who might suddenly blossom into revolutionaries and turn
their weapons against the powers of the day.

There was great unrest in Paris in 1868, the year of Henri Rochefort's
famous journal _La Lanterne_. Issue after issue of that bitterly-penned
effusion was seized and confiscated, and more than once did I see vigilant
detectives snatch copies from people in the streets. In June, 1869, we had
general elections, accompanied by rioting on the Boulevards. It was then
that the "White Blouse" legend arose, it being alleged that many of the
rioters were _agents provocateurs_ in the pay of the Prefecture of Police,
and wore white blouses expressly in order that they might be known to the
sergents-de-ville and the Gardes de Paris who were called upon to quell
the disturbances. At first thought, it might seem ridiculous that any
Government should stir up rioting for the mere sake of putting it down,
but it was generally held that the authorities wished some disturbances to
occur in order, first, that the middle-classes might be frightened by the
prospect of a violent revolution, and thereby induced to vote for
Government candidates at the elections; and, secondly, that some of the
many real Revolutionaries might be led to participate in the rioting in
such wise as to supply a pretext for arresting them.

I was with my mentor Brossard and my brother Edward one night in June when
a "Madeleine-Bastille" omnibus was overturned on the Boulevard Montmartre
and two or three newspaper kiosks were added to it by way of forming a
barricade, the purpose of which was by no means clear. The great crowd of
promenaders seemed to regard the affair as capital fun until the police
suddenly came up, followed by some mounted men of the Garde de Paris,
whereupon the laughing spectators became terrified and suddenly fled for
their lives. With my companions I gazed on the scene from the _entresol_
of the Café Mazarin. It was the first affair of the kind I had ever
witnessed, and for that reason impressed itself more vividly on my mind
than several subsequent and more serious ones. In the twinkling of an eye
all the little tables set out in front of the cafés were deserted, and
tragi-comical was the sight of the many women with golden chignons
scurrying away with their alarmed companions, and tripping now and again
over some fallen chair whilst the pursuing cavalry clattered noisily along
the foot-pavements. A Londoner might form some idea of the scene by
picturing a charge from Leicester Square to Piccadilly Circus at the hour
when Coventry Street is most thronged with undesirables of both sexes.

The majority of the White Blouses and their friends escaped unhurt, and
the police and the guards chiefly expended their vigour on the spectators
of the original disturbance. Whether this had been secretly engineered by
the authorities for one of the purposes I previously indicated, must
always remain a moot point. In any case it did not incline the Parisians
to vote for the Government candidates. Every deputy returned for the city
on that occasion was an opponent of the Empire, and in later years I was
told by an ex-Court official that when Napoleon became acquainted with the
result of the pollings he said, in reference to the nominees whom he had
favoured, "Not one! not a single one!" The ingratitude of the Parisians,
as the Emperor styled it, was always a thorn in his side; yet he should
have remembered that in the past the bulk of the Parisians had seldom, if
ever, been on the side of constituted authority.

Later that year came the famous affair of the Pantin crimes, and I was
present with my father when Troppmann, the brutish murderer of the Kinck
family, stood his trial at the Assizes. But, quite properly, my father
would not let me accompany him when he attended the miscreant's execution
outside the prison of La Roquette. Some years later, however, I witnessed
the execution of Prévost on the same spot; and at a subsequent date I
attended both the trial and the execution of Caserio--the assassin of
President Carnot--at Lyons. Following Troppmann's case, in the early days
of 1870 came the crime of the so-called Wild Boar of Corsica, Prince
Pierre Bonaparte (grandfather of the present Princess George of Greece),
who shot the young journalist Victor Noir, when the latter went with
Ulrich de Fonvielle, aeronaut as well as journalist, to call him out on
behalf of the irrepressible Henri Rochefort. I remember accompanying one
of our artists, Gaildrau, when a sketch was made of the scene of the
crime, the Prince's drawing-room at Auteuil, a peculiar semi-circular,
panelled and white-painted apartment furnished in what we should call in
England a tawdry mid-Victorian style. On the occasion of Noir's funeral my
father and myself were in the Champs Elysées when the tumultuous
revolutionary procession, in which Rochefort figured conspicuously, swept
down the famous avenue along which the victorious Germans were to march
little more than a year afterwards. Near the Rond-point the _cortège_ was
broken up and scattered by the police, whose violence was extreme.
Rochefort, brave enough on the duelling-ground, fainted away, and was
carried off in a vehicle, his position as a member of the Legislative Body
momentarily rendering him immune from arrest. Within a month, however, he
was under lock and key, and some fierce rioting ensued in the north of

During the spring, my father went to Ireland as special commissioner of
the _Illustrated London News_ and the _Pall Mall Gazette_, in order to
investigate the condition of the tenantry and the agrarian crimes which
were then so prevalent there. Meantime, I was left in Paris, virtually "on
my own," though I was often with my elder brother Edward. About this time,
moreover, a friend of my father's began to take a good deal of interest in
me. This was Captain the Hon. Dennis Bingham, a member of the Clanmorris
family, and the regular correspondent of the _Pall Mall Gazette_ in Paris.
He subsequently became known as the author of various works on the
Bonapartes and the Bourbons, and of a volume of recollections of Paris
life, in which I am once or twice mentioned. Bingham was married to a very
charming lady of the Laoretelle family, which gave a couple of historians
to France, and I was always received most kindly at their home near the
Arc de Triomphe. Moreover, Bingham often took me about with him in my
spare time, and introduced me to several prominent people. Later, during
the street fighting at the close of the Commune in 1871, we had some
dramatic adventures together, and on one occasion Bingham saved my life.

The earlier months of 1870 went by very swiftly amidst a multiplicity of
interesting events. Emile Ollivier had now become chief Minister, and an
era of liberal reforms appeared to have begun. It seemed, moreover, as if
the Minister's charming wife were for her part intent on reforming the
practices of her sex in regard to dress, for she resolutely set her face
against the extravagant toilettes of the ladies of the Court, repeatedly
appearing at the Tuileries in the most unassuming attire, which, however,
by sheer force of contrast, rendered her very conspicuous there. The
patronesses of the great _couturiers_ were quite irate at receiving such a
lesson from a _petite bourgeoise_; but all who shared the views expressed
by President Dupin a few years previously respecting the "unbridled luxury
of women," were naturally delighted.

Her husband's attempts at political reform were certainly well meant, but
the Republicans regarded him as a renegade and the older Imperialists as
an intruder, and nothing that he did gave satisfaction. The concession of
the right of public meeting led to frequent disorders at Belleville and
Montmartre, and the increased freedom of the Press only acted as an
incentive to violence of language. Nevertheless, when there came a
Plebiscitum--the last of the reign--to ascertain the country's opinion
respecting the reforms devised by the Emperor and Ollivier, a huge
majority signified approval of them, and thus the "liberal Empire" seemed
to be firmly established. If, however, the nation at large had known what
was going on behind the scenes, both in diplomatic and in military
spheres, the result of the Plebiscitum would probably have been very

Already on the morrow of the war between Prussia and Austria (1866) the
Emperor, as I previously indicated, had begun to devise a plan of campaign
in regard to the former Power, taking as his particular _confidants_ in
the matter General Lebrun, his _aide-de-camp_, and General Frossard, the
governor of the young Imperial Prince. Marshal Niel, as War Minister, was
cognizant of the Emperor's conferences with Lebrun and Frossard, but does
not appear to have taken any direct part in the plans which were devised.
They were originally purely defensive plans, intended to provide for any
invasion of French territory from across the Rhine. Colonel Baron Stoffel,
the French military _attaché_ at Berlin, had frequently warned the War
Office in Paris respecting the possibility of a Prussian attack and the
strength of the Prussian armaments, which, he wrote, would enable King
William (with the assistance of the other German rulers) to throw a force
of nearly a million men into Alsace-Lorraine. Further, General Ducrot, who
commanded the garrison at Strasburg, became acquainted with many things
which he communicated to his relative, Baron de Bourgoing, one of the
Emperor's equerries.

There is no doubt that these various communications reached Napoleon III;
and though he may have regarded both the statements of Stoffel and those
of Ducrot as exaggerated, he was certainly sufficiently impressed by them
to order the preparation of certain plans. Frossard, basing himself on the
operations of the Austrians in December, 1793, and keeping in mind the
methods by which Hoche, with the Moselle army, and Pichegru, with the
Rhine army, forced them back from the French frontier, drafted a scheme of
defence in which he foresaw the battle of Wörth, but, through following
erroneous information, greatly miscalculated the probable number of
combatants. He set forth in his scheme that the Imperial Government could
not possibly allow Alsace-Lorraine and Champagne to be invaded without a
trial of strength at the very outset; and Marshal Bazaine, who, at some
period or other, annotated a copy of Frossard's scheme, signified his
approval of that dictum, but added significantly that good tactical
measures should be adopted. He himself demurred to Frossard's plans,
saying that he was no partisan of a frontal defence, but believed in
falling on the enemy's flanks and rear. Yet, as we know, MacMahon fought
the battle of Wörth under conditions in many respects similar to those
which Frossard had foreseen.

However, the purely defensive plans on which Napoleon III at first worked,
were replaced in 1868 by offensive ones, in which General Lebrun took a
prominent part, both from the military and from the diplomatic
standpoints. It was not, however, until March, 1870, that the Archduke
Albert of Austria came to Paris to confer with the French Emperor.
Lebrun's plan of campaign was discussed by them, and Marshal Le Boeuf and
Generals Frossard and Jarras were privy to the negotiations. It was
proposed that France, Austria, and Italy should invade Germany conjointly;
and, according to Le Boeuf, the first-named Power could place 400,000 men
on the frontier in a fortnight's time. Both Austria and Italy, however,
required forty-two days to mobilize their forces, though the former
offered to provide two army corps during the interval. When Lebrun
subsequently went to Vienna to come to a positive decision and arrange
details, the Archduke Albert pointed out that the war ought to begin in
the spring season, for, said he, the North Germans would be able to
support the cold and dampness of a winter campaign far better than the
allies. That was an absolutely correct forecast, fully confirmed by all
that took place in France during the winter of 1870-1871.

But Prussia heard of what was brewing. Austria was betrayed to her by
Hungary; and Italy and France could not come to an understanding on the
question of Rome. At the outset Prince Napoleon (Jérome) was concerned in
the latter negotiations, which were eventually conducted by Count
Vimercati, the Italian military _attaché_ in Paris. Napoleon, however,
steadily refused to withdraw his forces from the States of the Church and
to allow Victor Emmanuel to occupy Rome. Had he yielded on those points
Italy would certainly have joined him, and Austria--however much Hungarian
statesmen might have disliked it--would, in all probability, have followed
suit. By the policy he pursued in this matter, the French Emperor lost
everything, and prevented nothing. On the one hand, France was defeated
and the Empire of the Bonapartes collapsed; whilst, on the other, Rome
became Italy's true capital.

Bismarck was in no way inclined to allow the negotiations for an
anti-Prussian alliance to mature. They dragged on for a considerable time,
but the Government of Napoleon III was not particularly disturbed thereat,
as it felt certain that victory would attend the French arms at the
outset, and that Italy and Austria would eventually give support.
Bismarck, however, precipitated events. Already in the previous year
Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen had been a candidate for the
throne of Spain. That candidature had been withdrawn in order to avert a
conflict between France and Germany; but now it was revived at Bismarck's
instigation in order to bring about one.

I have said, I think, enough to show--in fairness to Germany--that the war
of 1870 was not an unprovoked attack on France. The incidents--such as the
Ems affair--which directly led up to it were after all only of secondary
importance, although they bulked so largely at the time of their
occurrence. I well remember the great excitement which prevailed in Paris
during the few anxious days when to the man in the street the question of
peace or war seemed to be trembling in the balance, though in reality that
question was already virtually decided upon both sides. Judging by all
that has been revealed to us during the last forty years, I do not think
that M. Emile Ollivier, the Prime Minister, would have been able to modify
the decision of the fateful council held at Saint Cloud even if he had
attended it. Possessed by many delusions, the bulk of the imperial
councillors were too confident of success to draw back, and, besides,
Bismarck and Moltke were not disposed to let France draw back. They were
ready, and they knew right well that opportunity is a fine thing.

It was on July 15 that the Duc de Gramont, the Imperial Minister of
Foreign Affairs, read his memorable statement to the Legislative Body, and
two days later a formal declaration of war was signed. Paris at once
became delirious with enthusiasm, though, as we know by all the telegrams
from the Prefects of the departments, the provinces generally desired that
peace might be preserved.

Resident in Paris, and knowing at that time very little about the rest of
France--for I had merely stayed during my summer holidays at such seaside
resorts as Trouville, Deauville, Beuzeval, St. Malo, and St. Servan--I
undoubtedly caught the Parisian fever, and I dare say that I sometimes
joined in the universal chorus of "À Berlin!" Mere lad as I was, in spite
of my precocity, I shared also the universal confidence in the French
army. In that confidence many English military men participated. Only
those who, like Captain Hozier of _The Times_, had closely watched
Prussian methods during the Seven Weeks' War in 1866, clearly realized
that the North German kingdom possessed a thoroughly well organized
fighting machine, led by officers of the greatest ability, and capable of
effecting something like a revolution in the art of war.

France was currently thought stronger than she really was. Of the good
physique of her men there could be no doubt. Everybody who witnessed the
great military pageants of those times was impressed by the bearing of the
troops and their efficiency under arms. And nobody anticipated that they
would be so inferior to the Germans in numbers as proved to be the case,
and that the generals would show themselves so inferior in mental calibre
to the commanders of the opposing forces. The Paris garrison, it is true,
was no real criterion of the French army generally, though foreigners were
apt to judge the latter by what they saw of it in the capital. The troops
stationed there were mostly picked men, the garrison being very largely
composed of the Imperial Guard. The latter always made a brilliant
display, not merely by reason of its somewhat showy uniforms, recalling at
times those of the First Empire, but also by the men's fine _physique_ and
their general military proficiency. They certainly fought well in some of
the earlier battles of the war. Their commander was General Bourbaki, a
fine soldierly looking man, the grandson of a Greek pilot who acted as
intermediary between Napoleon I and his brother Joseph, at the time of the
former's expedition to Egypt. It was this original Bourbaki who carried to
Napoleon Joseph's secret letters reporting Josephine's misconduct in her
husband's absence, misconduct which Napoleon condoned at the time, though
it would have entitled him to a divorce nine years before he decided on

With the spectacle of the Imperial Guard constantly before their eyes, the
Parisians of July, 1870, could not believe in the possibility of defeat,
and, moreover, at the first moment it was not believed that the Southern
German States would join North Germany against France. Napoleon III and
his confidential advisers well knew, however, what to think on that point,
and the delusions of the man in the street departed when, on July 20,
Bavaria, Würtemberg, Baden, and Hesse-Darmstadt announced their intention
of supporting Prussia and the North German Confederation. Still, this did
not dismay the Parisians, and the shouts of "To Berlin! To Berlin!" were
as frequent as ever.

It had long been one of my dreams to see and participate in the great
drama of war. All boys, I suppose, come into the world with pugnacious
instincts. There must be few, too, who never "play at soldiers." My own
interest in warfare and soldiering had been steadily fanned from my
earliest childhood. In the first place, I had been incessantly confronted
by all the scenes of war depicted in the _Illustrated Times_ and the
_Illustrated London News_, those journals being posted to me regularly
every week whilst I was still only a little chap at Eastbourne. Further,
the career of my uncle, Frank Vizetelly, exercised a strange fascination
over me. Born in Fleet Street in September, 1830, he was the youngest of
my father's three brothers. Educated with Gustave Doré, he became an
artist for the illustrated Press, and, in 1850, represented the
_Illustrated Times_ as war-artist in Italy, being a part of the time with
the French and at other moments with the Sardinian forces. That was the
first of his many campaigns. His services being afterwards secured by the
_Illustrated London News_, he next accompanied Garibaldi from Palermo to
Naples. Then, at the outbreak of the Civil War in the United States, he
repaired thither with Howard Russell, and, on finding obstacles placed in
his way on the Federal side, travelled "underground" to Richmond and
joined the Confederates. The late Duke of Devonshire, the late Lord
Wolseley, and Francis Lawley were among his successive companions. At one
time he and the first-named shared the same tent and lent socks and shirts
to one another.

Now and again, however, Frank Vizetelly came to England after running the
blockade, stayed a few weeks in London, and then departed for America once
more, yet again running the blockade on his way. This he did on at least
three occasions. His next campaign was the war of 1866, when he was with
the Austrian commander Benedek. For a few years afterwards he remained in
London assisting his eldest brother James to run what was probably the
first of the society journals, _Echoes of the Clubs_, to which Mortimer
Collins and the late Sir Edmund Monson largely contributed. However, Frank
Vizetelly went back to America once again, this time with Wolseley on the
Red River Expedition. Later, he was with Don Carlos in Spain and with the
French in Tunis, whence he proceeded to Egypt. He died on the field of
duty, meeting his death when Hicks Pasha's little army was annihilated in
the denies of Kashgil, in the Soudan.

Now, in the earlier years, when Frank Vizetelly returned from Italy or
America, he was often at my father's house at Kensington, and I heard
him talk of Napoleon III, MacMahon, Garibaldi, Victor Emmanuel, Cialdini,
Robert Lee, Longstreet, Stonewall Jackson, and Captain Semmes.
Between-times I saw all the engravings prepared after his sketches, and I
regarded him and them with a kind of childish reverence. I can picture him
still, a hale, bluff, tall, and burly-looking man, with short dark hair,
blue eyes and a big ruddy moustache. He was far away the best known member
of our family in my younger days, when anonymity in journalism was an
almost universal rule. In the same way, however, as everybody had heard of
Howard Russell, the war correspondent of the _Times_, so most people had
heard of Frank Vizetelly, the war-artist of the _Illustrated_. He was,
by-the-by, in the service of the _Graphic_ when he was killed.

I well remember being alternately amused and disgusted by a French
theatrical delineation of an English war correspondent, given in a
spectacular military piece which I witnessed a short time after my first
arrival in Paris. It was called "The Siege of Pekin," and had been
concocted by Mocquard, the Emperor Napoleon's secretary. All the "comic
business" in the affair was supplied by a so-called war correspondent of
the _Times_, who strutted about in a tropical helmet embellished with a
green Derby veil, and was provided with a portable desk and a huge
umbrella. This red-nosed and red-whiskered individual was for ever talking
of having to do this and that for "the first paper of the first country in
the world," and, in order to obtain a better view of an engagement, he
deliberately planted himself between the French and Chinese combatants. I
should doubtless have derived more amusement from his tomfoolery had I not
already known that English war correspondents did not behave in any such
idiotic manner, and I came away from the performance with strong feelings
of resentment respecting so outrageous a caricature of a profession
counting among its members the uncle whom I so much admired.

Whatever my dreams may have been, I hardly anticipated that I should join
that profession myself during the Franco-German war. The Lycées "broke up"
in confusion, and my father decided to send me to join my stepmother and
the younger members of the family at Saint Servan, it being his intention
to go to the front with my elder brother Edward. But Simpson, the veteran
Crimean War artist, came over to join the so-called Army of the Rhine, and
my brother, securing an engagement from the _New York Times_, set out on
his own account. Thus I was promptly recalled to Paris, where my father
had decided to remain. In those days the journey from Brittany to the
capital took many long and wearisome hours, and I made it in a third-class
carriage of a train crowded with soldiers of all arms, cavalry, infantry,
and artillery. Most of them were intoxicated, and the grossness of their
language and manners was almost beyond belief. That dreadful night spent
on the boards of a slowly-moving and jolting train, [There were then no
cushioned seats in French third-class carriages.] amidst drunken and
foul-mouthed companions, gave me, as it were, a glimpse of the other side
of the picture--that is, of several things which lie behind the glamour of

It must have been about July 25 when I returned to Paris. A decree had
just been issued appointing the Empress as Regent in the absence of the
Emperor, who was to take command of the Army of the Rhine. It had
originally been intended that there should be three French armies, but
during the conferences with Archduke Albert in the spring, that plan was
abandoned in favour of one sole army under the command of Napoleon III.
The idea underlying the change was to avoid a superfluity of
staff-officers, and to augment the number of actual combatants. Both Le
Boeuf and Lebrun approved of the alteration, and this would seem to
indicate that there were already misgivings on the French side in regard
to the inferior strength of their effectives. The army was divided into
eight sections, that is, seven army corps, and the Imperial Guard.
Bourbaki, as already mentioned, commanded the Guard, and at the head of
the army corps were (1) MacMahon, (2) Frossard, (3) Bazaine, (4)
Ladmerault, (5) Failly, (6) Canrobert, and (7) Félix Douay. Both Frossard
and Failly, however, were at first made subordinate to Bazaine. The head
of the information service was Colonel Lewal, who rose to be a general and
Minister of War under the Republic, and who wrote some commendable works
on tactics; and immediately under him were Lieut.-Colonel Fay, also
subsequently a well-known general, and Captain Jung, who is best
remembered perhaps by his inquiries into the mystery of the Man with the
Iron Mask. I give those names because, however distinguished those three
men may have become in later years, the French intelligence service at the
outset of the war was without doubt extremely faulty, and responsible for
some of the disasters which occurred.

On returning to Paris one of my first duties was to go in search of
Moulin, the detective-artist whom I mentioned in my first chapter. I found
him in his somewhat squalid home in the Quartier Mouffetard, surrounded by
a tribe of children, and he immediately informed me that he was one of the
"agents" appointed to attend the Emperor on the campaign. The somewhat
lavish Imperial _équipage_, on which Zola so frequently dilated in "The
Downfall," had, I think, already been despatched to Metz, where the
Emperor proposed to fix his headquarters, and the escort of Cent Gardes
was about to proceed thither. Moulin told me, however, that he and two of
his colleagues were to travel in the same train as Napoleon, and it was
agreed that he should forward either to Paris or to London, as might prove
most convenient, such sketches as he might from time to time contrive to
make. He suggested that there should be one of the Emperor's departure
from Saint Cloud, and that in order to avoid delay I should accompany him
on the occasion and take it from him. We therefore went down together on
July 28, promptly obtained admittance to the château, where Moulin took
certain instructions, and then repaired to the railway-siding in the park,
whence the Imperial train was to start.

Officers and high officials, nearly all in uniform, were constantly going
to and fro between the siding and the château, and presently the Imperial
party appeared, the Emperor being between the Empress and the young
Imperial Prince. Quite a crowd of dignitaries followed. I do not recollect
seeing Emile Ollivier, though he must have been present, but I took
particular note of Rouher, the once all-powerful minister, currently
nicknamed the Vice-Emperor, and later President of the Senate. In spite of
his portliness, he walked with a most determined stride, held his head
very erect, and spoke in his customary loud voice. The Emperor, who wore
the undress uniform of a general, looked very grave and sallow. The
disease which eventually ended in his death had already become serious,
[I have given many particulars of it in my two books, "The Court of the
Tuileries, 1862-1870" (Chatto and Windus), and "Republican France,
1870-1912" (Holden and Hardingham).] and only a few days later, that is,
during the Saarbrucken affair (August 2), he was painfully affected by it.
Nevertheless, he had undertaken to command the Army of France! The
Imperial Prince, then fourteen years of age, was also in uniform, it
having been arranged that he should accompany his father to the front, and
he seemed to be extremely animated and restless, repeatedly turning to
exchange remarks with one or another officer near him. The Empress, who
was very simply gowned, smiled once or twice in response to some words
which fell from her husband, but for the most part she looked as serious
as he did. Whatever Emile Ollivier may have said about beginning this war
with a light heart, it is certain that these two sovereigns of France
realized, at that hour of parting, the magnitude of the issues at stake.
After they had exchanged a farewell kiss, the Empress took her eager young
son in her arms and embraced him fondly, and when we next saw her face we
could perceive the tears standing in her eyes. The Emperor was already
taking his seat and the boy speedily sprang after him. Did the Empress at
that moment wonder when, where, and how she would next see them again?
Perchance she did. Everything, however, was speedily in readiness for
departure. As the train began to move, both the Emperor and the Prince
waved their hands from the windows, whilst all the enthusiastic Imperial
dignitaries flourished their hats and raised a prolonged cry of "Vive
l'Empereur!" It was not, perhaps, so loud as it might have been; but,
then, they were mostly elderly men. Moulin, during the interval, had
contrived to make something in the nature of a thumb-nail sketch; I had
also taken a few notes myself; and thus provided I hastened back to Paris.



First French Defeats--A Great Victory rumoured--The Marseillaise, Capoul
and Marie Sass--Edward Vizetelly brings News of Forbach to Paris--Emile
Ollivier again--His Fall from Power--Cousin Montauban, Comte de Palikao--
English War Correspondents in Paris--Gambetta calls me "a Little Spy"--
More French Defeats--Palikao and the Defence of Paris--Feats of a Siege--
Wounded returning from the Front--Wild Reports of French Victories--The
Quarries of Jaumont--The Anglo-American Ambulance--The News of Sedan--
Sala's Unpleasant Adventure--The Fall of the Empire.

It was, I think, two days after the Emperor's arrival at Metz that the
first Germans--a detachment of Badeners--entered French territory. Then,
on the second of August came the successful French attack on Saarbrucken,
a petty affair but a well-remembered one, as it was on this occasion that
the young Imperial Prince received the "baptism of fire." Appropriately
enough, the troops, whose success he witnessed, were commanded by his late
governor, General Frossard. More important was the engagement at
Weissenburg two days later, when a division of the French under General
Abel Douay was surprised by much superior forces, and utterly overwhelmed,
Douay himself being killed during the fighting. Yet another two days
elapsed, and then the Crown Prince of Prussia--later the Emperor
Frederick--routed MacMahon at Wörth, in spite of a vigorous resistance,
carried on the part of the French Cuirassiers, under General the Vicomte
de Bonnemains, to the point of heroism. In later days the general's son
married a handsome and wealthy young lady of the bourgeoisie named
Marguerite Crouzet, whom, however, he had to divorce, and who afterwards
became notorious as the mistress of General Boulanger.

Curiously enough, on the very day of the disaster of Wörth a rumour of a
great French victory spread through Paris. My father had occasion to send
me to his bankers in the Rue Vivienne, and on making my way to the
Boulevards, which I proposed to follow, I was amazed to see the
shopkeepers eagerly setting up the tricolour flags which they habitually
displayed on the Emperor's fête-day (August 15). Nobody knew exactly how
the rumours of victory had originated, nobody could give any precise
details respecting the alleged great success, but everybody believed in
it, and the enthusiasm was universal. It was about the middle of the day
when I repaired to the Rue Vivienne, and after transacting my business
there, I turned into the Place de la Bourse, where a huge crowd was
assembled. The steps of the exchange were also covered with people, and
amidst a myriad eager gesticulations a perfect babel of voices was
ascending to the blue sky. One of the green omnibuses, which in those days
ran from the Bourse to Passy, was waiting on the square, unable to depart
owing to the density of the crowd; and all at once, amidst a scene of
great excitement and repeated shouts of "La Marseillaise!" "La
Marseillaise!" three or four well-dressed men climbed on to the vehicle,
and turning towards the mob of speculators and sightseers covering the
steps of the Bourse, they called to them repeatedly: "Silence! Silence!"
The hubbub slightly subsided, and thereupon one of the party on the
omnibus, a good-looking slim young fellow with a little moustache, took
off his hat, raised his right arm, and began to sing the war-hymn of the
Revolution. The stanza finished, the whole assembly took up the refrain.

Since the days of the Coup d'État, the Marseillaise had been banned in
France, the official imperial air being "Partant pour la Syrie," a
military march composed by the Emperor's mother, Queen Hortense, with
words by Count Alexandre de Laborde, who therein pictured a handsome young
knight praying to the Blessed Virgin before his departure for Palestine,
and soliciting of her benevolence that he might "prove to be the bravest
brave, and love the fairest fair." During the twenty years of the third
Napoleon's rule, Paris had heard the strains of "Partant pour la Syrie"
many thousand times, and, though they were tuneful enough, had become
thoroughly tired of them. To stimulate popular enthusiasm in the war the
Ollivier Cabinet had accordingly authorized the playing and singing of the
long-forbidden "Marseillaise," which, although it was well-remembered by
the survivors of '48, and was hummed even by the young Republicans of
Belleville and the Quartier Latin, proved quite a novelty to half the
population, who were destined to hear it again and again and again from
that period until the present time.

The young vocalist who sang it from the top of a Passy-Bourse omnibus on
that fateful day of Wörth, claimed to be a tenor, but was more correctly a
tenorino, his voice possessing far more sweetness than power. He was
already well-known and popular, for he had taken the part of Romeo in
Gounod's well-known opera based on the Shakespearean play. Like many
another singer, Victor Capoul might have become forgotten before very
long, but a curious circumstance, having nothing to do with vocalism,
diffused and perpetuated his name. He adopted a particular way of dressing
his hair, "plastering" a part of it down in a kind of semi-circle over the
forehead; and the new style "catching on" among young Parisians, the
"coiffure Capoul" eventually went round the world. It is exemplified in
certain portraits of King George V.

In those war-days Capoul sang the "Marseillaise" either at the Opéra
Comique or the Théâtre Lyrique; but at the Opera it was sung by Marie
Sass, then at the height of her reputation. I came in touch with her a few
years later when she was living in the Paris suburbs, and more than once,
when we both travelled to the city in the same train, I had the honour of
assisting her to alight from it--this being no very easy matter, as la
Sass was the very fattest and heaviest of all the _prime donne_ that I
have ever seen.

On the same day that MacMahon was defeated at Wörth, Frossard was badly
beaten at Forbach, an engagement witnessed by my elder brother Edward,
[Born January 1, 1847, and therefore in 1870 in his twenty-fourth year.]
who, as I previously mentioned, had gone to the front for an American
journal. Finding it impossible to telegraph the news of this serious
French reverse, he contrived to make his way to Paris on a locomotive-
engine, and arrived at our flat in the Rue de Miromesnil looking as black
as any coal-heaver. When he had handed his account of the affair to Ryan,
the Paris representative of the _New York Times_, it was suggested that
his information might perhaps be useful to the French Minister of War. So
he hastened to the Ministry, where the news he brought put a finishing
touch to the dismay of the officials, who were already staggering under
the first news of the disaster of Wörth.

Paris, jubilant over an imaginary victory, was enraged by the tidings of
Wörth and Forbach. Already dreading some Revolutionary enterprise, the
Government declared the city to be in a state of siege, thereby placing it
under military authority. Although additional men had recently been
enrolled in the National Guard the arming of them had been intentionally
delayed, precisely from a fear of revolutionary troubles, which the
_entourage_ of the Empress-Regent at Saint Cloud feared from the very
moment of the first defeats. I recollect witnessing on the Place Venddme
one day early in August a very tumultuous gathering of National Guards who
had flocked thither in order to demand weapons of the Prime Minister, that
is, Emile Ollivier, who in addition to the premiership, otherwise the
"Presidency of the Council," held the offices of Keeper of the Seals and
Minister of Justice, this department then having its offices in one of the
buildings of the Place Vendôme. Ollivier responded to the demonstration by
appearing on the balcony of his private room and delivering a brief
speech, which, embraced a vague promise to comply with the popular demand.
In point of fact, however, nothing of the kind was done during his term of

Whilst writing these lines I hear that this much-abused statesman has just
passed away at Saint Gervais-les-Bains in Upper Savoy (August 20, 1913).
Born at Marseilles in July, 1825, he lived to complete his eighty-eighth
year. His second wife (née Gravier), to whom I referred in a previous
chapter, survives him. I do not wish to be unduly hard on his memory. He
came, however, of a very Republican family, and in his earlier years he
personally evinced what seemed to be most staunch Republicanism. When he
was first elected as a member of the Legislative Body in 1857, he publicly
declared that he would appear before that essentially Bonapartist assembly
as one of the spectres of the crime of the Coup d'Etat. But subsequently
M. de Morny baited him with a lucrative appointment connected with the
Suez Canal. Later still, the Empress smiled on him, and finally he took
office under the Emperor, thereby disgusting nearly every one of his
former friends and associates.

I believe, however, that Ollivier was sincerely convinced of the
possibility of firmly establishing a liberal-imperialist _regime_. But
although various reforms were carried out under his auspices, it is quite
certain that he was not allowed a perfectly free hand. Nor was he fully
taken into confidence with respect to the Emperor's secret diplomatic and
military policy. That was proved by the very speech in which he spoke of
entering upon the war with Prussia "with a light heart"; for in his very
next sentences he spoke of that war as being absolutely forced upon
France, and of himself and his colleagues as having done all that was
humanly and honourably possible to avoid it. Assuredly he would not have
spoken quite as he did had he realized at the time that Bismarck had
merely forced on the war in order to defeat the Emperor Napoleon's
intention to invade Germany in the ensuing spring. The public provocation
on Prussia's part was, as I previously showed, merely her reply to the
secret provocation offered by France, as evidenced by all the negotiations
with Archduke Albert on behalf of Austria, and with Count Vimercati on
behalf of Italy. On all those matters Ollivier was at the utmost but very
imperfectly informed. Finally, be it remembered that he was absent from
the Council at Saint Cloud at which war was finally decided upon.

At a very early hour on the morning of Sunday, August 7--the day following
Wörth and Forbach--the Empress Eugénie came in all haste and sore
distress from Saint Cloud to the Tuileries. The position was very serious,
and anxious conferences were held by the ministers. When the Legislative
Body met on the morrow, a number of deputies roundly denounced the manner
in which the military operations were being conducted. One deputy, a
certain Guyot-Montpeyroux, who was well known for the outspokenness of his
language, horrified the more devoted Imperialists by describing the French
forces as an army of lions led by jackasses. On the following day Ollivier
and his colleagues resigned office. Their position had become untenable,
though little if any responsibility attached to them respecting the
military operations. The Minister of War, General Dejean, had been merely
a stop-gap, appointed to carry out the measures agreed upon before his
predecessor, Marshal Le Boeuf, had gone to the front as Major General of
the army.

It was felt; however, among the Empress's _entourage_ that the new Prime
Minister ought to be a military man of energy, devoted, moreover, to the
Imperial _régime_. As the marshals and most of the conspicuous generals of
the time were already serving in the field, it was difficult to find any
prominent individual possessed of the desired qualifications. Finally,
however, the Empress was prevailed upon to telegraph to an officer whom
she personally disliked, this being General Cousin-Montauban, Comte de
Palikao. He was certainly, and with good reason, devoted to the Empire,
and in the past he had undoubtedly proved himself to be a man of energy.
But he was at this date in his seventy-fifth year--a fact often overlooked
by historians of the Franco-German war--and for that very reason, although
he had solicited a command in the field at the first outbreak of
hostilities, it had been decided to decline his application, and to leave
him at Lyons, where he had commanded the garrison for five years past.

Thirty years of Palikao's life had been spent in Algeria, contending,
during most of that time, against the Arabs; but in 1860 he had been
appointed commander of the French expedition to China, where with a small
force he had conducted hostilities with the greatest vigour, repeatedly
decimating or scattering the hordes of Chinamen who were opposed to him,
and, in conjunction with the English, victoriously taking Pekin. A kind of
stain rested on the expedition by reason of the looting of the Chinese
Emperor's summer-palace, but the entire responsibility of that affair
could not be cast on the French commander, as he only continued and
completed what the English began. On his return to France, Napoleon III
created him Comte de Palikao (the name being taken from one of his Chinese
victories), and in addition wished the Legislative Body to grant him a
_dotation_. However, the summer-palace looting scandal prevented this,
much to the Emperor's annoyance, and subsequent to the fall of the Empire
it was discovered that, by Napoleon's express orders, the War Ministry had
paid Palikao a sum of about £60,000, diverting that amount of money (in
accordance with the practices of the time) from the purpose originally
assigned to it in the Estimates.

This was not generally known when Palikao became Chief Minister. He was
then what might be called a very well preserved old officer, but his lungs
had been somewhat affected by a bullet-wound of long standing, and this he
more than once gave as a reason for replying with the greatest brevity to
interpellations in the Chamber. Moreover, as matters went from bad to
worse, this same lung trouble became a good excuse for preserving absolute
silence on certain inconvenient occasions. When, however, Palikao was
willing to speak he often did so untruthfully, repeatedly adding the
_suggestio falsi_ to the _suppressio veri_. As a matter of fact, he, like
other fervent partisans of the dynasty, was afraid to let the Parisians
know the true state of affairs. Besides, he himself was often ignorant of
it. He took office (he was the third War Minister in fifty days) without
any knowledge whatever of the imperial plan of campaign, or the steps to
be adopted in the event of further French reverses, and a herculean task
lay before this septuagenarian officer, who by experience knew right well
how to deal with Arabs and Chinamen, but had never had to contend with
European troops. Nevertheless, he displayed zeal and activity in his new
semi-political and semi-military position. He greatly assisted MacMahon to
reconstitute his army at Châlons, he planned the organization of three
more army corps, and he started on the work of placing Paris in a state of
defence, whilst his colleague, Clément Duvernois, the new Minister of
Commerce, began gathering flocks and herds together, in order that the
city, if besieged, might have the necessary means of subsistence.

At this time there were quite a number of English "war" as well as "own"
correspondents in Paris. The former had mostly returned from Metz, whither
they had repaired at the time of the Emperor's departure for the front. At
the outset it had seemed as though the French would allow foreign
journalists to accompany them on their "promenade to Berlin," but, on
reverses setting in, all official recognition was denied to newspaper men,
and, moreover, some of the representatives of the London Press had a very
unpleasant time at Metz, being arrested there as spies and subjected to
divers indignities. I do not remember whether they were ordered back to
Paris or whether they voluntarily withdrew to the capital on their
position with the army becoming untenable; but in any case they arrived in
the city and lingered there for a time, holding daily symposiums at the
Grand Café at the corner of the Ruè Scribe, on the Boulevards.

From time to time I went there with my father, and amongst, this galaxy
of journalistic talent I met certain men with whom I had spoken in my
childhood. One of them, for instance, was George Augustus Sala, and
another was Henry Mayhew, the famous author of "London Labour and the
London Poor," he being accompanied by his son Athol. Looking back, it
seems to me that, in spite of all their brilliant gifts, neither Sala nor
Henry Mayhew was fitted to be a correspondent in the field, and they were
certainly much better placed in Paris than at the headquarters of the Army
of the Rhine. Among the resident correspondents who attended the
gatherings at the Grand Café were Captain Bingham, Blanchard (son of
Douglas) Jerrold, and the jaunty Bower, who had once been tried for his
life and acquitted by virtue of the "unwritten law" in connection with
an _affaire passíonelle_ in which he was the aggrieved party. For more
than forty years past, whenever I have seen a bluff looking elderly
gentleman sporting a buff-waistcoat and a white-spotted blue necktie,
I have instinctively thought of Bower, who wore such a waistcoat and such
a necktie, with the glossiest of silk hats and most shapely of
patent-leather boots, throughout the siege of Paris, when he was fond of
dilating on the merits of boiled ostrich and stewed elephant's foot, of
which expensive dainties he partook at his club, after the inmates of the
Jardin des Plantes had been slaughtered.

Bower represented the _Morning Advertiser_. I do not remember seeing Bowes
of the _Standard_ at the gatherings I have referred to, or Crawford of the
_Daily News_, who so long wrote his Paris letters at a little café
fronting the Bourse. But it was certainly at the Grand Café that I first
set eyes on Labouchere, who, like Sala, was installed at the neighbouring
Grand Hotel, and was soon to become famous as the _Daily News_' "Besieged
Resident." As for Mr. Thomas Gibson Bowles, who represented the _Morning
Post_ during the German Siege, I first set eyes on him at the British
Embassy, when he had a beautiful little moustache (which I greatly envied)
and wore his hair nicely parted down the middle. _Eheu! fugaces labuntur

Sala was the life and soul of those gatherings at the Grand Café, always
exuberantly gay, unless indeed the conversation turned on the prospects of
the French forces, when he railed at them without ceasing. Blanchard
Jerrold, who was well acquainted with the spy system of the Empire,
repeatedly warned Sala to be cautious--but in vain; and the eventual
result of his outspokenness was a very unpleasant adventure on the eve of
the Empire's fall. In the presence of all those distinguished men of the
pen, I myself mostly preserved, as befitted my age, a very discreet
silence, listening intently, but seldom opening my lips unless it were to
accept or refuse another cup of coffee, or some _sirop de groseille_ or
_grenadine_. I never touched any intoxicant excepting claret at my meals,
and though, in my Eastbourne days, I had, like most boys of my time,
experimented with a clay pipe and some dark shag, I did not smoke. My
father personally was extremely fond of cigars, but had he caught me
smoking one, he would, I believe, have knocked me down.

In connection with those Grand Café gatherings I one day had a little
adventure. It had been arranged that I should meet my father there, and
turning into the Boulevards from the Madeleine I went slowly past what was
then called the Rue Basse du Rempart. I was thinking of something or
other--I do not remember what, but in any case I was absorbed in thought,
and inadvertently I dogged the footsteps of two black-coated gentlemen who
were deep in conversation. I was almost unconscious of their presence, and
in any case I did not hear a word of what they were saying. But all at
once one of them turned round, and said to me angrily: "Veux-tu bien t'en
aller, petit espion!" otherwise: "Be off, little spy!" I woke up as it
were, looked at him, and to my amazement recognized Gambetta, whom I had
seen several times already, when I was with my mentor Brossard at either
the Café de Suède or the Café de Madrid. At the same time, however, his
companion also turned round, and proved to be Jules Simon, who knew me
through a son of his. This was fortunate, for he immediately exclaimed:
"Why, no! It is young Vizetelly, a friend of my son's," adding, "Did you
wish to speak to me?"

I replied in the negative, saying that I had not even recognized him from
behind, and trying to explain that it was purely by chance that I had been
following him and M. Gambetta. "You know me, then?" exclaimed the future
dictator somewhat sharply; whereupon I mentioned that he had been pointed
out to me more than once, notably when he was in the company of M.
Delescluze. "Ah, oui, fort bien," he answered. "I am sorry if I spoke as I
did. But"--and here he turned to Simon--"one never knows, one can never
take too many precautions. The Spaniard would willingly send both of us to
Mazas." By "the Spaniard," of course, he meant the Empress Eugénie, just
as people meant Marie-Antoinette when they referred to "the Austrian"
during the first Revolution. That ended the affair. They both shook hands
with me, I raised my hat, and hurried on to the Grand Café, leaving them
to their private conversation. This was the first time that I ever
exchanged words with Gambetta. The incident must have occurred just after
his return from Switzerland, whither he had repaired fully anticipating
the triumph of the French arms, returning, however, directly he heard of
the first disasters. Simon and he were naturally drawn together by their
opposition to the Empire, but they were men of very different characters,
and some six months later they were at daggers drawn.

Events moved rapidly during Palikao's ministry. Reviving a former
proposition of Jules Favre's, Gambetta proposed to the Legislative Body
the formation of a Committee of National Defence, and one was ultimately
appointed; but the only member of the Opposition included in it was
Thiers. In the middle of August there were some revolutionary disturbances
at La Villette. Then, after the famous conference at Châlons, where
Rouher, Prince Napoleon, and others discussed the situation with the
Emperor and MacMahon, Trochu was appointed Military Governor of Paris,
where he soon found himself at loggerheads with Palikao. Meantime, the
French under Bazaine, to whom the Emperor was obliged to relinquish the
supreme command--the Opposition deputies particularly insisting on
Bazaine's appointment in his stead--were experiencing reverse after
reverse. The battle of Courcelles or Pange, on August 14, was followed two
days later by that of Vionville or Mars-la-Tour, and, after yet another
two days, came the great struggle of Gravelotte, and Bazaine was thrown
back on Metz.

At the Châlons conference it had been decided that the Emperor should
return to Paris and that MacMahon's army also should retreat towards the
capital. But Palikao telegraphed to Napoleon: "If you abandon Bazaine
there will be Revolution in Paris, and you yourself will be attacked by
all the enemy's forces. Paris will defend herself from all assault from
outside. The fortifications are completed." It has been argued that the
plan to save Bazaine might have succeeded had it been immediately carried
into effect, and in accordance, too, with Palikao's ideas; but the
original scheme was modified, delay ensued, and the French were outmarched
by the Germans, who came up with them at Sedan. As for Palikao's statement
that the Paris fortifications were completed at the time when he
despatched his telegram, that was absolutely untrue. The armament of the
outlying forts had scarcely begun, and not a single gun was in position on
any one of the ninety-five bastions of the ramparts. On the other hand,
Palikao was certainly doing all he could for the city. He had formed the
aforementioned Committee of Defence, and under his auspices the fosse or
ditch in front of the ramparts was carried across the sixty-nine roads
leading into Paris, whilst drawbridges were installed on all these points,
with armed lunettes in front of them. Again, redoubts were thrown up in
advance of some of the outlying forts, or on spots where breaks occurred
in the chain of defensive works.

At the same time, ships' guns were ordered up from Cherbourg, Brest,
Lorient, and Toulon, together with naval gunners to serve them. Sailors,
customhouse officers, and provincial gendarmes were also conveyed to Paris
in considerable numbers. Gardes-mobiles, francs-tireurs, and even firemen
likewise came from the provinces, whilst the work of provisioning the city
proceeded briskly, the Chamber never hesitating to vote all the money
asked of it. At the same time, whilst there were many new arrivals in
Paris, there were also many departures from the city. The general fear of
a siege spread rapidly. Every day thousands of well-to-do middle-class
folk went off in order to place themselves out of harm's way; and at the
same time thousands of foreigners were expelled on the ground that, in the
event of a siege occurring, they would merely be "useless mouths." In
contrast with that exodus was the great inrush of people from the suburbs
of Paris. They poured into the city unceasingly, from villas, cottages,
and farms, employing every variety of vehicle to convey their furniture
and other household goods, their corn, flour, wine, and other produce.
There was a block at virtually every city gate, so many were the folk
eager for shelter within the protecting ramparts raised at the instigation
of Thiers some thirty years previously.

In point of fact, although the Germans were not yet really marching on
Paris--for Bazaine's army had to be bottled up, and MacMahon's disposed
of, before there could be an effective advance on the French capital--it
was imagined in the city and its outskirts that the enemy might arrive at
any moment. The general alarm was intensified when, on the night of August
21, a large body of invalided men, who had fought at Weissenburg or Worth,
made their way into Paris, looking battle and travel-stained, some with
their heads bandaged, others with their arms in slings, and others limping
along with the help of sticks. It is difficult to conceive by what
aberration the authorities allowed the Parisians to obtain that woeful
glimpse of the misfortunes of France. The men in question ought never to
have been sent to Paris at all. They might well have been cared for
elsewhere. As it happened, the sorry sight affected all who beheld it.
Some were angered by it, others depressed, and others well-nigh terrified.

As a kind of set-off, however, to that gloomy spectacle, fresh rumours of
French successes began to circulate. There was a report that Bazaine's
army had annihilated the whole of Prince Frederick-Charles's cavalry, and,
in particular, there was a most sensational account of how three German
army-corps, including the famous white Cuirassiers to which Bismarck
belonged, had been tumbled into the "Quarries of Jaumont" and there
absolutely destroyed! I will not say that there is no locality named
Jaumont, but I cannot find any such place mentioned in Joanne's elaborate
dictionary of the communes of France, and possibly it was as mythical as
was the alleged German disaster, the rumours of which momentarily revived
the spirits of the deluded Parisians, who were particularly pleased to
think that the hated Bismarck's regiment had been annihilated.

On or about August 30, a friend of my eldest brother Adrian, a medical
man named Blewitt, arrived in Paris with the object of joining an
Anglo-American ambulance which was being formed in connection with the Red
Cross Society. Dr. Blewitt spoke a little French, but he was not well
acquainted with the city, and I was deputed to assist him whilst he
remained there. An interesting account of the doings of the ambulance in
question was written some sixteen or seventeen years ago by Dr. Charles
Edward Ryan, of Glenlara, Tipperary, who belonged to it. Its head men were
Dr. Marion-Sims and Dr. Frank, others being Dr. Ryan, as already
mentioned, and Drs. Blewitt, Webb, May, Nicholl, Hayden, Howett,
Tilghmann, and last but not least, the future Sir William MacCormack. Dr.
Blewitt had a variety of business to transact with the officials of the
French Red Cross Society, and I was with him at his interviews with its
venerable-looking President, the Count de Flavigny, and others. It is of
interest to recall that at the outbreak of the war the society's only
means was an income of £5 6_s._ 3_d._, but that by August 28 its receipts
had risen to nearly £112,000. By October it had expended more than
£100,000 in organizing thirty-two field ambulances. Its total outlay
during the war exceeded half a million sterling, and in its various field,
town, and village ambulances no fewer than 110,000 men were succoured and

In Paris the society's headquarters were established at the Palace de
l'Industrie in the Champs Elysées, and among the members of its principal
committee were several ladies of high rank. I well remember seeing there
that great leader of fashion, the Marquise de Galliffet, whose elaborate
ball gowns I had more than once admired at Worth's, but who, now that
misfortune had fallen upon France, was, like all her friends, very plainly
garbed in black. At the Palais de l'Industrie I also found Mme. de
MacMahon, short and plump, but full of dignity and energy, as became a
daughter of the Castries. I remember a brief address which she delivered
to the Anglo-American Ambulance on the day when it quitted Paris, and in
which she thanked its members for their courage and devotion in coming
forward, and expressed her confidence, and that of all her friends, in the
kindly services which they would undoubtedly bestow upon every sufferer
who came under their care.

I accompanied the ambulance on its march through Paris to the Eastern
Hallway Station. When it was drawn up outside the Palais de l'Industrie,
Count de Flavigny in his turn made a short but feeling speech, and
immediately afterwards the _cortége_ started. At the head of it were three
young ladies, the daughters of Dr. Marion-Sims, who carried respectively
the flags of France, England, and the United States. Then came the chief
surgeons, the assistant-surgeons, the dressers and male nurses, with some
waggons of stores bringing up the rear. I walked, I remember, between
Dr. Blewitt and Dr. May. On either side of the procession were members of
the Red Cross Society, carrying sticks or poles tipped with collection
bags, into which money speedily began to rain. We crossed the Place de la
Concorde, turned up the Rue Royale, and then followed the main Boulevards
as far, I think, as the Boulevard de Strasbourg. There were crowds of
people on either hand, and our progress was necessarily slow, as it was
desired to give the onlookers full time to deposit their offerings in the
collection-bags. From the Cercle Impérial at the corner of the Champs
Elysées, from the Jockey Club, the Turf Club, the Union, the Chemins-de-
Fer, the Ganaches, and other clubs on or adjacent to the Boulevards, came
servants, often in liveries, bearing with them both bank-notes and gold.
Everybody seemed anxious to give something, and an official of the society
afterwards told me that the collection had proved the largest it had ever
made. There was also great enthusiasm all along the line of route, cries
of "Vivent les Anglais! Vivent les Américains!" resounding upon every

The train by which the ambulance quitted Paris did not start until a very
late hour in the evening. Prior to its departure most of us dined at a
restaurant near the railway-station. No little champagne was consumed at
this repast, and, unaccustomed as I was to the sparkling wine of the
Marne, it got, I fear, slightly into my head. However, my services as
interpreter were requisitioned more than once by some members of the
ambulance in connection with certain inquiries which they wished to make
of the railway officials; and I recollect that when some question arose of
going in and out of the station, and reaching the platform again without
let or hindrance--the departure of the train being long delayed--the
_sous-chef de gare_ made me a most courteous bow, and responded: "À vous,
messieurs, tout est permis. There are no regulations for you!" At last the
train started, proceeding on its way to Soissons, where it arrived at
daybreak on August 29, the ambulance then hastening to join MacMahon, and
reaching him just in time to be of good service at Sedan. I will only add
here that my friend Dr. Blewitt was with Dr. Frank at Balan and Bazeilles,
where the slaughter was so terrible. The rest of the ambulance's dramatic
story must be read in Dr. Ryan's deeply interesting pages.

Whilst the Parisians were being beguiled with stories of how the Prince of
Saxe-Meiningen had written to his wife telling her that the German troops
were suffering terribly from sore feet, the said troops were in point of
fact lustily outmarching MacMahon's forces. On August 30, General de
Failly was badly worsted at Beaumont, and on the following day MacMahon
was forced to move on Sedan. The first reports which reached Paris
indicated, as usual, very favourable results respecting the contest there.
My friend Captain Bingham, however, obtained some correct information--
from, I believe, the British Embassy--and I have always understood that it
was he who first made the terrible truth known to one of the deputies of
the Opposition party, who hastened to convey it to Thiers. The battle of
Sedan was fought on Thursday, September 1; but it was only on Saturday,
September 3, that Palikao shadowed forth the disaster in the Chamber,
stating that MacMahon had failed to effect a junction with Bazaine, and
that, after alternate reverses and successes--that is, driving a part of
the German army into the Meuse!--he had been obliged to retreat on Sedan
and Mézières, some portion of his forces, moreover, having been compelled
to cross the Belgian frontier.

That tissue of inaccuracies, devised perhaps to palliate the effect of the
German telegrams of victory which were now becoming known to the
incredulous Parisians, was torn to shreds a few hours later when the
Legislative Body assembled for a night-sitting. Palikao was then obliged
to admit that the French army and the Emperor Napoleon had surrendered to
the victorious German force. Jules Favre, who was the recognized leader of
the Republican Opposition, thereupon brought forward a motion of
dethronement, proposing that the executive authority should be vested in a
parliamentary committee. In accordance with the practice of the Chamber,
Farve's motion had to be referred to its _bureaux_, or ordinary
committees, and thus no decision was arrived at that night, it being
agreed that the Chamber should reassemble on the morrow at noon.

The deputies separated at a very late hour. My father and myself were
among all the anxious people who had assembled on the Place de la Concorde
to await the issue of the debate. Wild talk was heard on every side,
imprecations were levelled at the Empire, and it was already suggested
that the country had been sold to the foreigner. At last, as the crowd
became extremely restless, the authorities, who had taken their
precautions in consequence of the revolutionary spirit which was abroad,
decided to disperse it. During the evening a considerable body of mounted
Gardes de Paris had been stationed in or near the Palais de l'Industrie,
and now, on instructions being conveyed to their commander, they suddenly
cantered down the Champs Elysées and cleared the square, chasing people
round and round the fountains and the seated statues of the cities of
France, until they fled by way either of the quays, the Rue de Rivoti, or
the Rue Royale. The vigour which the troops displayed did not seem of good
augury for the adversaries of the Empire. Without a doubt Revolution was
already in the air, but everything indicated that the authorities were
quite prepared to contend with it, and in all probability successfully.

It was with difficulty that my father and myself contrived to avoid the
troopers and reach the Avenue Gabriel, whence we made our way home.
Meantime there had been disturbances in other parts of Paris. On the
Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle a band of demonstrators had come into collision
with the police, who had arrested several of them. Thus, as I have already
mentioned, the authorities seemed to be as vigilant and as energetic as
ever. But, without doubt, on that night of Saturday, September 3, the
secret Republican associations were very active, sending the _mot d'ordre_
from one to another part of the city, so that all might be ready for
Revolution when the Legislative Body assembled on the morrow.

It was on this same last night of the Empire that George Augustus Sala met
with the very unpleasant adventure to which I previously referred. During
the evening he went as usual to the Grand Café, and meeting Blanchard
Jerrold there, he endeavoured to induce him to go to supper at the Café du
Helder. Sala being in an even more talkative mood than usual, and--now
that he had heard of the disaster of Sedan--more than ever inclined to
express his contempt of the French in regard to military matters, Jerrold
declined the invitation, fearing, as he afterwards said to my father in my
presence, that some unpleasantness might well ensue, as Sala, in spite of
all remonstrances, would not cease "gassing." Apropos of that expression,
it is somewhat amusing to recall that Sala at one time designed for
himself an illuminated visiting-card, on which appeared his initials G. A.
S. in letters of gold, the A being intersected by a gas-lamp diffusing
many vivid rays of light, whilst underneath it was a scroll bearing the
appropriate motto, "Dux est Lux."

But, to return to my story, Jerrold having refused the invitation; Sala
repaired alone to the Café du Helder, an establishment which in those
imperial times was particularly patronized by officers of the Paris
garrison and officers from the provinces on leave. It was the height of
folly for anybody to "run down" the French army in such a place, unless,
indeed, he wished to have a number of duels on his hands. It is true that
on the night of September 3, there may have been few, if any, military men
at the Helder. Certain it is, however, that whilst Sala was supping in the
principal room upstairs, he entered into conversation with other people,
spoke incautiously, as he had been doing for a week past, and on departing
from the establishment was summarily arrested and conveyed to the Poste de
Police on the Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle. The cells there were already more
or less crowded with roughs who had been arrested during the disturbance
earlier in the evening, and when a police official thrust Sala into their
midst, at the same time calling him a vile Prussian spy, the patriotism of
the other prisoners was immediately aroused, though, for the most part,

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