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My Days of Adventure by Ernest Alfred Vizetelly

Part 3 out of 5

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Guard. It appears that it had originally been derived from certain members
of the Red Cross Society, who, when it became necessary to bury the dead
and tend the wounded after an encounter in the environs of Paris, often
came in contact with the Germans. The report was, of course, limited to
the statement that Bazaine was negotiating a surrender, not that he had
actually capitulated. The Government's denial of it can only be described
as a quibble--of the kind to which at times even British Governments stoop
when faced by inconvenient questions in the House of Commons--and, as we
shall soon see, the gentlemen of the National Defence spent a _très
mauvais quart d'heure_ as a result of the _suppressio veri_ of which they
were guilty. Similar "bad quarters of an hour" have fallen upon
politicians in other countries, including our own, under somewhat similar

On October 30, Thiers, after travelling all over Europe, pleading his
country's cause at every great Court, arrived in Paris with a safe-conduct
from Bismarck, in order to lay before the Government certain proposals for
an armistice, which Russia, Great Britain, Austria, and Italy were
prepared to support. And alas! he also brought with him the news that Metz
had actually fallen--having capitulated, indeed, on October 27, the very
day on which Pyat had issued his announcement. There was consternation at
the Hôtel-de-Ville when this became known, and the gentlemen of the
Government deeply but vainly regretted the futile tactics to which they
had so foolishly stooped. To make matters worse, we received in the
evening intelligence that the Germans had driven Carré de Bellemare's men
out of Le Bourget after some brief but desperate fighting. Trochu declared
that he had no need of the Bourget position, that it had never entered
into his scheme of defence, and that Bellemare had been unduly zealous in
attacking and taking it from the Germans. If that were the case, however,
why had not the Governor of Paris ordered Le Bourget to be evacuated
immediately after its capture, without waiting for the Germans to re-take
it at the bayonet's point? Under the circumstances, the Parisians were
naturally exasperated. Tumultuous were the scenes on the Boulevards that
evening, and vehement and threatening were the speeches at the clubs.

When the Parisians quitted their homes on the morning of Monday, the 31st,
they found the city placarded with two official notices, one respecting
the arrival of Thiers and the proposals for an armistice, and the second
acknowledging the disaster of Metz. A hurricane of indignation at once
swept through the city. Le Bourget lost! Metz taken! Proposals for an
armistice with the detested Prussians entertained! Could Trochu's plan and
Bazaine's plan be synonymous, then? The one word "Treachery!" was on every
lip. When noon arrived the Place de l'Hôtel-de-Ville was crowded with
indignant people. Deputations, composed chiefly of officers of the
National Guard, interviewed the Government, and were by no means satisfied
with the replies which they received from Jules Ferry and others.
Meantime, the crowd on the square was increasing in numbers. Several
members of the Government attempted to prevail on it to disperse; but no
heed was paid to them.

At last a free corps commanded by Tibaldi, an Italian conspirator of
Imperial days, effected an entrance into the Hotel-de-Ville, followed by a
good many of the mob. In the throne-room they were met by Jules Favre,
whose attempts to address them failed, the shouts of "La Commune! La
Commune!" speedily drowning his voice. Meantime, two shots were fired by
somebody on the square, a window was broken, and the cry of the invaders
became "To arms! to arms! Our brothers are being butchered!" In vain did
Trochu and Rochefort endeavour to stem the tide of invasion. In vain,
also, did the Government, assembled in the council-room, offer to submit
itself to the suffrages of the citizens, to grant the election of
municipal councillors, and to promise that no armistice should be signed
without consulting the population. The mob pressed on through one room
after another, smashing tables, desks, and windows on their way, and all
at once the very apartment where the Government were deliberating was, in
its turn, invaded, several officers of the National Guard, subsequently
prominent at the time of the Commune, heading the intruders and demanding
the election of a Commune and the appointment of a new administration
under the presidency of Dorian, the popular Minister of Public Works.

Amidst the ensuing confusion, M. Ernest Picard, a very corpulent,
jovial-looking advocate, who was at the head of the department of
Finances, contrived to escape; but all his colleagues were surrounded,
insulted by the invaders, and summoned to resign their posts. They refused
to do so, and the wrangle was still at its height when Gustave Flourens
and his Belleville sharpshooters reached the Place de l'Hôtel-de-Ville.
Flourens entered the building, which at this moment was occupied by some
seven or eight thousand men, and proposed that the Commune should be
elected by acclamation. This was agreed upon; Dorian's name--though, by
the way, he was a wealthy ironmaster, and in no sense a Communard--being
put at the head of the list. This included Flourens himself, Victor Hugo,
Louis Blanc, Raspail, Mottu, Delescluze, Blanqui, Ledru-Rollin, Rochefort,
Félix Pyat, Ranvier, and Avrial. Then Flourens, in his turn, entered the
council-room, climbed on to the table, and summoned the captive members of
the Government to resign; Again they refused to do so, and were therefore
placed under arrest. Jules Ferry and Emmanuel Arago managed to escape,
however, and some friendly National Guards succeeded in entering the
building and carrying off General Trochu. Ernest Picard, meanwhile, had
been very active in devising plans for the recapture of the Hôtel-de-Ville
and providing for the safety of various Government departments. Thus, when
Flourens sent a lieutenant to the treasury demanding the immediate payment
of _£600,000(!)_ the request was refused, and the messenger placed under
arrest. Nevertheless, the insurgents made themselves masters of several
district town-halls.

But Jules Ferry was collecting the loyal National Guards together, and at
half-past eleven o'clock that night they and some Mobiles marched on the
Hôtel-de-Ville. The military force which had been left there by the
insurgents was not large. A parley ensued, and while it was still in
progress, an entire battalion of Mobiles effected an entry by a
subterranean passage leading from an adjacent barracks. Delescluze and
Flourens then tried to arrange terms with Dorian, but Jules Ferry would
accept no conditions. The imprisoned members of the Government were
released, and the insurgent leaders compelled to retire. About this time
Trochu and Ducrot arrived on the scene, and between three and four o'clock
in the morning I saw them pass the Government forces in review on the

On the following day, all the alleged conventions between M. Dorian and
the Red Republican leaders were disavowed. There was, however, a conflict
of opinion as to whether those leaders should be arrested or not, some
members of the Government admitting that they had promised Delescluze and
others that they should not be prosecuted. In consequence of this dispute,
several officials, including Edmond Adam, Keratry's successor as Prefect
of Police, resigned their functions. A few days later, twenty-one of the
insurgent leaders were arrested, Pyat being among them, though nothing was
done in regard to Flourens and Blanqui, both of whom had figured
prominently in the affair.

On November 3 we had a plebiscitum, the question put to the Parisians
being: "Does the population of Paris, yes or no, maintain the powers of
the Government of National Defence?" So far as the civilian element--which
included the National Guards--was concerned, the ballot resulted as
follows: Voting "Yes," 321,373 citizens; voting "No," 53,585 citizens. The
vote of the army, inclusive of the Mobile Guard, was even more pronounced:
"Yes," 236,623; "No," 9063, Thus the general result was 557,996 votes in
favour of the Government, and 62,638 against it--the proportion being 9 to
1 for the entire male population of the invested circle. This naturally
rendered the authorities jubilant.

But the affair of October 31 had deplorable consequences with regard to
the armistice negotiations. This explosion of sedition alarmed the German
authorities. They lost confidence in the power of the National Defence to
carry out such terms as might be stipulated, and, finally, Bismarck
refused to allow Paris to be revictualled during the period requisite for
the election of a legislative assembly--which was to have decided the
question of peace or war--unless one fort, and possibly more than one,
were surrendered to him. Thiers and Favre could not accept such a
condition, and thus the negotiations were broken off. Before Thiers
quitted Bismarck, however, the latter significantly told him that the
terms of peace at that juncture would be the cession of Alsace to Germany,
and the payment of three milliards of francs as an indemnity; but that
after the fall of Paris the terms would be the cession of both Alsace and
Lorraine, and a payment of five milliards.

In the earlier days of the siege there was no rationing of provisions,
though the price of meat was fixed by Government decree. At the end of
September, however, the authorities decided to limit the supply to a
maximum of 500 oxen and 4000 sheep per diem. It was decided also that the
butchers' shops should only open on every fourth day, when four days' meat
should be distributed at the official prices. During the earlier period
the daily ration ranged from 80 to 100 grammes, that is, about 2-2/3 oz.
to 3-1/3 oz. in weight, one-fifth part of it being bone in the case of
beef, though, with respect to mutton, the butchers were forbidden to make
up the weight with any bones which did not adhere to the meat. At the
outset of the siege only twenty or thirty horses were slaughtered each
day; but on September 30 the number had risen to 275. A week later there
were nearly thirty shops in Paris where horseflesh was exclusively sold,
and scarcely a day elapsed without an increase in their number. Eventually
horseflesh became virtually the only meat procurable by all classes of the
besieged, but in the earlier period it was patronized chiefly by the
poorer folk, the prices fixed for it by authority being naturally lower
than those edicted for beef and mutton.

With regard to the arrangements made by my father and myself respecting
food, they were, in the earlier days of the siege, very simple. We were
keeping no servant at our flat in the Rue de Miromesnil. The concierge of
the house, and his wife, did all such work as we required. This concierge,
whose name was Saby, had been a Zouave, and had acted as orderly to his
captain in Algeria. He was personally expert in the art of preparing
"couscoussou" and other Algerian dishes, and his wife was a thoroughly
good cook _à la française_. Directly meat was rationed, Saby said to me:
"The allowance is very small; you and Monsieur votre père will be able to
eat a good deal more than that. Now, some of the poorer folk cannot afford
to pay for butchers' meat, they are contented with horseflesh, which is
not yet rationed, and are willing to sell their ration cards. You can well
afford to buy one or two of them, and in that manner secure extra
allowances of beef or mutton."

That plan was adopted, and for a time everything went on satisfactorily.
On a few occasions I joined the queue outside our butcher's in the Rue de
Penthièvre, and waited an hour or two to secure our share of meat, We were
not over-crowded in that part of Paris. A great many members of the
aristocracy and bourgeoisie, who usually dwelt there, had left the city
with their families and servants prior to the investment; and thus the
queues and the waits were not so long as in the poorer and more densely
populated districts. Saby, however, often procured our meat himself or
employed somebody else to do so, for women were heartily glad of the
opportunity to earn half a franc or so by acting as deputy for other

We had secured a small supply of tinned provisions, and would have
increased it if the prices had not gone up by leaps and bounds, in such
wise that a tin of corned beef or something similar, which one saw priced
in the morning at about 5 francs, was labelled 20 francs a few hours
later. Dry beans and peas were still easily procurable, but fresh
vegetables at once became both rare and costly. Potatoes failed us at an
early date. On the other hand, jam and preserved fruit could be readily
obtained at the grocer's at the corner of our street. The bread slowly
deteriorated in quality, but was still very fair down to the date of my
departure from Paris (November 8 [See the following chapter.]). Milk and
butter, however, became rare--the former being reserved for the hospitals,
the ambulances, the mothers of infants, and so forth--whilst one sighed in
vain for a bit of Gruyère, Roquefort, Port-Salut, Brie, or indeed any
other cheese.

Saby, who was a very shrewd fellow, had conceived a brilliant idea before
the siege actually began. The Chateaubriands having quitted the house
and removed their horses from the stables, he took possession of the
latter, purchased some rabbits--several does and a couple of bucks--laid
in a supply of food for them, and resolved to make his fortune by
rabbit-breeding. He did not quite effect his purpose, but rabbits are so
prolific that he was repaid many times over for the trouble which he took
in rearing them. For some time he kept the affair quite secret. More than
once I saw him going in and out of the stables, without guessing the
reason; but one morning, having occasion to speak to him, I followed him
and discovered the truth. He certainly bred several scores of rabbits
during the course of the siege, merely ceasing to do so when he found it
impossible to continue feeding the animals. On two or three occasions
we paid him ten francs or so for a rabbit, and that was certainly
"most-favoured-nation treatment;" for, at the same period, he was charging
twenty and twenty-five francs to other people. Cooks, with whom he
communicated, came to him from mansions both near and far. He sold quite a
number of rabbits to Baron Alphonse de Rothschild's _chef_ at the rate of
£2 apiece, and others to Count Pillet-Will at about the same price, so
that, so far as his pockets were concerned, he in no wise suffered by the
siege of Paris.

We were blessed with an abundance of charcoal for cooking purposes, and of
coals and wood for ordinary fires, having at our disposal not only the
store in our own cellars, but that which the Chateaubriand family had left
behind. The cold weather set in very soon, and firing was speedily in
great demand. Our artist Jules Pelcoq, who lived in the Rue Lepic at
Montmartre, found himself reduced to great straits in this respect,
nothing being procurable at the dealers' excepting virtually green wood
which had been felled a short time previously in the Bois de Boulogne and
Bois de Vincennes. On a couple of occasions Pelcoq and I carried some
coals in bags to his flat, and my father, being anxious for his comfort,
wished to provide him with a larger supply. Saby was therefore
requisitioned to procure a man who would undertake to convey some coals in
a handcart to Montmartre. The man was found, and paid for his services in
advance. But alas! the coals never reached poor Pelcoq. When we next saw
the man who had been engaged, he told us that he had been intercepted on
his way by some National Guards, who had asked him what his load was, and,
on discovering that it consisted of coals, had promptly confiscated them
and the barrow also, dragging the latter to some bivouac on the ramparts.
I have always doubted that story, however, and incline to the opinion that
our improvised porter had simply sold the coals and pocketed the proceeds.

One day, early in November, when our allowance of beef or mutton was
growing small by degrees and beautifully less and infrequent--horseflesh
becoming more and more _en évidence_ at the butchers' shops, [Only 1-1/2
oz. of beef or mutton was now allowed per diem, but in lieu thereof you
could obtain 1/4 lb. of horseflesh.] I had occasion to call on one of our
artists, Blanchard, who lived in the Faubourg Saint Germain. When we had
finished our business he said to me: "Ernest, it is my _fête_ day. I am
going to have a superb dinner. My brother-in-law, who is an official of
the Eastern Railway Line, is giving it in my honour. Come with me;
I invite you." We thereupon went to his brother-in-law's flat, where I was
most cordially received, and before long we sat down at table in a warm
and well-lighted dining-room, the company consisting of two ladies and
three men, myself included.

The soup, I think, had been prepared from horseflesh with the addition of
a little Liebig's extract of meat; but it was followed by a beautiful leg
of mutton, with beans a la Bretonne and--potatoes! I had not tasted a
potato for weeks past, for in vain had the ingenious Saby endeavoured to
procure some. But the crowning triumph of the evening was the appearance
of a huge piece of Gruyère cheese, which at that time was not to be seen
in a single shop in Paris. Even Chevet, that renowned purveyor of
dainties, had declared that he had none.

My surprise in presence of the cheese and the potatoes being evident,
Blanchard's brother-in-law blandly informed me that he had stolen them.
"There is no doubt," said he, "that many tradespeople hold secret stores
of one thing and another, but wish prices to rise still higher than they
are before they produce them. I did not, however, take those potatoes or
that cheese from any shopkeeper's cellar. But, in the store-places of the
railway company to which I belong, there are tons and tons of provisions,
including both cheese and potatoes, for which the consignees never apply,
preferring, as they do, to leave them there until famine prices are
reached. Well, I have helped myself to just a few things, so as to give
Blanchard a good dinner this evening. As for the leg of mutton, I bribed
the butcher--not with money, he might have refused it--but with cheese and
potatoes, and it was fair exchange." When I returned home that evening I
carried in my pockets more than half a pound of Gruyère and two or three
pounds of potatoes, which my father heartily welcomed. The truth about the
provisions which were still stored at some of the railway dépôts was soon
afterwards revealed to the authorities.

Although my father was then only fifty years of age and had plenty of
nervous energy, his health was at least momentarily failing him. He had
led an extremely strenuous life ever since his twentieth year, when my
grandfather's death had cast great responsibilities on him. He had also
suffered from illnesses which required that he should have an ample supply
of nourishing food. So long as a fair amount of ordinary butcher's meat
could be procured, he did not complain; but when it came to eating
horseflesh two or three times a week he could not undertake it, although,
only a year or two previously, he had attended a great _banquet
hippophagique_ given in Paris, and had then even written favourably of
_viande de cheval_ in an article he prepared on the subject. For my own
part, being a mere lad, I had a lad's appetite and stomach, and I did not
find horseflesh so much amiss, particularly as prepared with garlic and
other savouries by Mme. Saby's expert hands. But, after a day or two, my
father refused to touch it. For three days, I remember, he tried to live
on bread, jam, and preserved fruit; but the sweetness of such a diet
became nauseous to him--even as it became nauseous to our soldiers when
the authorities bombarded them with jam in South Africa. It was very
difficult to provide something to my father's taste; there was no poultry
and there were no eggs. It was at this time that Saby sold us a few
rabbits, but, again, _toujours lapin_ was not satisfactory.

People were now beginning to partake of sundry strange things. Bats were
certainly eaten before the siege ended, though by no means in such
quantities as some have asserted. However, there were already places where
dogs and cats, skinned and prepared for cooking, were openly displayed for
sale. Labouchere related, also, that on going one day into a restaurant
and seeing _cochon de lait_, otherwise sucking-pig, mentioned in the menu,
he summoned the waiter and cross-questioned him on the subject, as he
greatly doubted whether there were any sucking-pigs in all Paris. "Is it
sucking-pig?" he asked the waiter. "Yes, monsieur," the man replied.
But Labby was not convinced. "Is it a little pig?" he inquired. "Yes,
monsieur, quite a little one." "Is it a young pig?" pursued Labby, who
was still dubious. The waiter hesitated, and at last replied, "Well, I
cannot be sure, monsieur, if it is quite young." "But it must be young if
it is little, as you say. Come, what is it, tell me?" "Monsieur, it is a
guinea-pig!" Labby bounded from his chair, took his hat, and fled. He did
not feel equal to guinea-pig, although he was very hungry.

Perhaps, however, Labouchere's best story of those days was that of the
old couple who, all other resources failing them, were at last compelled
to sacrifice their little pet dog. It came up to table nicely roasted, and
they both looked at it for a moment with a sigh. Then Monsieur summoned up
his courage and helped Madame to the tender viand. She heaved another
sigh, but, making a virtue of necessity, began to eat, and whilst she was
doing so she every now and then deposited a little bone on the edge of her
plate. There was quite a collection of little bones there by the time she
had finished, and as she leant back in her chair and contemplated them she
suddenly exclaimed: "Poor little Toto! If he had only been alive what a
fine treat he would have had!"

To return, however, to my father and myself, I must mention that there was
a little English tavern and eating-house in the Rue de Miromesnil, kept by
a man named Lark, with whom I had some acquaintance. We occasionally
procured English ale from him, and one day, late in October, when I was
passing his establishment, he said to me: "How is your father? He seems to
be looking poorly. Aren't you going to leave with the others?" I inquired
of Lark what he meant by his last question; whereupon he told me that if I
went to the Embassy I should see a notice in the consular office
respecting the departure of British subjects, arrangements having been
made to enable all who desired to quit Paris to do so. I took the hint and
read the notice, which ran as Lark had stated, with this addendum: "The
Embassy _cannot_, however, charge itself with the expense of assisting
British subjects to leave Paris." Forthwith I returned home and imparted
the information I had obtained to my father.

Beyond setting up that notice in the Consul's office, the Embassy took no
steps to acquaint British subjects generally with the opportunity which
was offered them to escape bombardment and famine. It is true that it was
in touch with the British Charitable Fund and that the latter made the
matter known to sundry applicants for assistance. But the British colony
still numbered 1000 people, hundreds of whom would have availed themselves
of this opportunity had it only come to their knowledge. My father
speedily made up his mind to quit the city, and during the next few days
arrangements were made with our artists and others so that the interests
of the _Illustrated London News_ might in no degree suffer by his absence.
Our system had long been perfected, and everything worked well after our
departure. I may add here, because it will explain something which
follows, that my father distributed all the money he could possibly spare
among those whom he left behind, in such wise that on quitting Paris we
had comparatively little, and--as the sequel showed--insufficient money
with us. But it was thought that we should be able to secure whatever we
might require on arriving at Versailles.



I leave Paris with my Father--Jules Favre, Wodehouse, and Washburne--
Through Charenton to Créteil--At the Outposts--First Glimpses of the
Germans--A Subscription to shoot the King of Prussia--The Road to
Brie-Comte-Robert--Billets for the Night--Chats with German Soldiers--The
Difficulty with the Poorer Refugees--Mr. Wodehouse and my Father--On the
Way to Corbeil--A Franco-German Flirtation--Affairs at Corbeil--On the
Road in the Rain--Longjumeau--A Snow-storm--The Peasant of Champlan--
Arrival at Versailles.

Since Lord Lyons's departure from Paris, the Embassy had remained in
the charge of the second Secretary, Mr. Wodehouse, and the Vice-Consul.
In response to the notice set up in the latter's office, and circulated
also among a tithe of the community by the British Charitable Fund, it was
arranged that sixty or seventy persons should accompany the Secretary and
Vice-Consul out of the city, the military attacheé, Colonel Claremont,
alone remaining there. The provision which the Charitable Fund made for
the poorer folk consisted of a donation of £4 to each person, together
with some three pounds of biscuits and a few ounces of chocolate to munch
on the way. No means of transport, however, were provided for these
people, though it was known that we should have to proceed to
Versailles--where the German headquarters were installed--by a very
circuitous route, and that the railway lines were out.

We were to have left on November 2, at the same time as a number of
Americans, Russians, and others, and it had been arranged that everybody
should meet at an early hour that morning at the Charenton gate on the
south-east side of Paris. On arriving there, however, all the English who
joined the gathering were ordered to turn back, as information had been
received that permission to leave the city was refused them. This caused
no little consternation among the party, but the order naturally had
to be obeyed, and half angrily and half disconsolately many a disappointed
Briton returned to his recent quarters. We afterwards learnt that Jules
Favre, the Foreign Minister, had in the first instance absolutely refused
to listen to the applications of Mr. Wodehouse, possibly because Great
Britain had not recognized the French Republic; though if such were indeed
the reason, it was difficult to understand why the Russians received very
different treatment, as the Czar, like the Queen, had so far abstained
from any official recognition of the National Defence. On the other hand,
Favre may, perhaps, have shared the opinion of Bismarck, who about this
time tersely expressed his opinion of ourselves in the words: "England no
longer counts"--so low, to his thinking, had we fallen in the comity of
nations under our Gladstone _cum_ Granville administration.

Mr. Wodehouse, however, in his unpleasant predicament, sought the
assistance of his colleague, Mr. Washburne, the United States Minister,
and the latter, who possessed more influence in Paris than any other
foreign representative, promptly put his foot down, declaring that he
himself would leave the city if the British subjects were still refused
permission to depart. Favre then ungraciously gave way; but no sooner had
his assent been obtained than it was discovered that the British Foreign
Office had neglected to apply to Bismarck for permission for the English
leaving Paris to pass through the German lines. Thus delay ensued, and it
was only on the morning of November 8 that the English departed at the
same time as a number of Swiss citizens and Austrian subjects.

The Charenton gate was again the appointed meeting-place. On our way
thither, between six and seven o'clock in the morning, we passed many a
long queue waiting outside butchers' shops for pittances of meat, and
outside certain municipal dépôts where after prolonged waiting a few
thimblesful of milk were doled out to those who could prove that they had
young children. Near the Porte de Charenton a considerable detachment of
the National Guard was drawn up as if to impart a kind of solemnity to the
approaching exodus of foreigners. A couple of young staff-officers were
also in attendance, with a mounted trumpeter and another trooper carrying
the usual white flag on a lance.

The better-circumstanced of our party were in vehicles purchased for the
occasion, a few also being mounted on valuable horses, which it was
desired to save from the fate which eventually overtook most of the
animals that remained in Paris. Others were in hired cabs, which were not
allowed, however, to proceed farther than the outposts; while a good many
of the poorer members of the party were in specially engaged omnibuses,
which also had to turn back before we were handed over to a German escort;
the result being that their occupants were left to trudge a good many
miles on foot before other means of transport were procured. In that
respect the Swiss and the Austrians were far better cared-for than the
English. Although the weather was bitterly cold, Mr. Wodehouse, my father,
myself, a couple of Mr. Wodehouse's servants, and a young fellow who had
been connected, I think, with a Paris banking-house, travelled in an open
pair-horse break. The Vice-Consul and his wife, who were also accompanying
us, occupied a small private omnibus.

Before passing out of Paris we were all mustered and our _laisser-passers_
were examined. Those held by British subjects emanated invariably from the
United States Embassy, being duly signed by Mr. Washburne, so that we
quitted the city virtually as American citizens. At last the procession
was formed, the English preceding the Swiss and the Austrians, whilst in
the rear, strangely enough, came several ambulance vans flaunting the red
cross of Geneva. Nobody could account for their presence with us, but as
the Germans were accused of occasionally firing on flags of truce, they
were sent, perhaps, so as to be of service in the event of any mishap
occurring. All being ready, we crossed the massive drawbridge of the Porte
de Charenton, and wound in and out of the covered way which an advanced
redoubt protected. A small detachment of light cavalry then joined us, and
we speedily crossed the devastated track known as the "military zone,"
where every tree had been felled at the moment of the investment.
Immediately afterwards we found ourselves in the narrow winding streets of
Charenton, which had been almost entirely deserted by their inhabitants,
but were crowded with soldiers who stood at doors and windows, watching
our curious caravan. The bridge across the Marne was mined, but still
intact, and defended at the farther end by an entrenched and loopholed
redoubt, faced by some very intricate and artistic chevaux-de-frise. Once
across the river, we wound round to the left, through the village of
Alfort, where all the villas and river-side restaurants had been turned
into military posts; and on looking back we saw the huge Charenton
madhouse surmounting a wooded height and flying a large black flag. At the
outset of the siege it had been suggested that the more harmless inmates
should be released rather than remain exposed to harm from chance German
shells; but the director of the establishment declared that in many
instances insanity intensified patriotic feeling, and that if his patients
were set at liberty they would at least desire to become members of the
Government. So they were suffered to remain in their exposed position.

We went on, skirting the estate of Charentonneau, where the park wall had
been blown down and many of the trees felled. On our right was the fort of
Charenton, armed with big black naval guns. All the garden walls on our
line of route had been razed or loopholed. The road was at times
barricaded with trees, or intersected by trenches, and it was not without
difficulty that we surmounted those impediments. At Petit Créteil we were
astonished to see a number of market-gardeners working as unconcernedly as
in times of peace. It is true that the village was covered by the fire of
the Charenton fort, and that the Germans would have incurred great risk in
making a serious attack on it. Nevertheless, small parties of them
occasionally crept down and exchanged shots with the Mobiles who were
stationed there, having their headquarters at a deserted inn, on reaching
which we made our first halt.

The hired vehicles were now sent back to Paris, and after a brief interval
we went on again, passing through an aperture in a formidable-looking
barricade. We then readied Créteil proper, and there the first serious
traces of the havoc of war were offered to our view. The once pleasant
village was lifeless. Every house had been broken into and plundered,
every door and every window smashed. Smaller articles of furniture, and so
forth, had been removed, larger ones reduced to fragments. An infernal
spirit of destruction had swept through the place; and yet, mark this, we
were still within the French lines.

Our progress along the main street being suddenly checked by another huge
barricade, we wound round to the right, and at last reached a house where
less than a score of Mobiles were gathered, protected from sudden assault
by a flimsy barrier of planks, casks, stools, and broken chairs. This was
the most advanced French outpost in the direction we were following. We
passed it, crossing some open fields where a solitary man was calmly
digging potatoes, risking his life at every turn of his spade, but knowing
that every pound of the precious tuber that he might succeed in taking
into Paris would there fetch perhaps as much as ten francs.

Again we halted, and the trumpeter and the trooper with the white flag
rode on to the farther part of the somewhat scattered village. Suddenly
the trumpet's call rang out through the sharp, frosty air, and then we
again moved on, passing down another village street where several gaunt
starving cats attempted to follow us, with desperate strides and piteous
mews. Before long, we perceived, standing in the middle of the road before
us, a couple of German soldiers in long great-coats and boots reaching to
the shins. One of them was carrying a white flag. A brief conversation
ensued with them, for they both spoke French, and one of them knew English
also. Soon afterwards, from behind a stout barricade which we saw ahead,
three or four of their officers arrived, and somewhat stiff and
ceremonious salutes were exchanged between them and the French officers in
charge of our party.

Our arrival had probably been anticipated. At all events, a big and
very welcome fire of logs and branches was blazing near by, and whilst
one or two officers on either side, together with Colonel Claremont and
some officials of the British Charitable Fund, were attending to the
safe-conducts of her then Majesty's subjects, the other French and German
officers engaged in conversation round the fire I have mentioned. The
latter were probably Saxons; at all events, they belonged to the forces of
the Crown Prince, afterwards King, of Saxony, who commanded this part of
the investing lines, and with whom the principal English war-correspondent
was Archibald Forbes, freshly arrived from the siege of Metz. The recent
fall of that stronghold and the conduct of Marshal Bazaine supplied the
chief subject of the conversation carried on at the Créteil outposts
between the officers of the contending nations. Now and then, too, came a
reference to Sedan and the overthrow of the Bonapartist Empire. The entire
conversation was in French--I doubt, indeed, if our French custodians
could speak German--and the greatest courtesy prevailed; though the French
steadily declined the Hamburg cigars which their adversaries offered them.

I listened awhile to the conversation, but when the safe-conduct for my
father and myself had been examined, I crossed to the other side of the
road in order to scan the expanse of fields lying in that direction. All
at once I saw a German officer, mounted on a powerful-looking horse,
galloping over the rough ground in our direction. He came straight towards
me. He was a well-built, middle-aged man of some rank--possibly a colonel.
Reining in his mount, he addressed me in French, asking several questions.
When, however, I had told him who we were, he continued the conversation
in English and inquired if I had brought any newspapers out of Paris. Now,
we were all pledged not to give any information of value to the enemy, but
I had in my pockets copies of two of the most violent prints then
appearing in the city--that is to say, _La Patrie en Danger_, inspired by
Blanqui, and _Le Combat_, edited by Felix Pyat. The first-named was all
sound and fury, and the second contained a subscription list for a
pecuniary reward and rifle of honour to be presented to the Frenchman who
might fortunately succeed in killing the King of Prussia. As the German
officer was so anxious to ascertain what the popular feeling in Paris
might be, and whether it favoured further resistance, it occurred to me,
in a spirit of devilment as it were, to present him with the aforesaid
journals, for which he expressed his heartfelt thanks, and then galloped

As I never met him again, I cannot say how he took the invectives and the
"murder-subscription." Perhaps it was not quite right of me to foist on
him, as examples of genuine Parisian opinion, two such papers as those I
gave him; but, then, all is fair not merely in love but in war also, and
in regard to the contentions of France and Germany, my sympathies were
entirely on the side of France.

We had not yet been transferred to the German escort which was waiting for
us, when all at once we heard several shots fired from the bank of the
Marne, whereupon a couple of German dragoons galloped off in that
direction. The firing ceased as abruptly as it had begun, and then,
everything being in readiness so far as we were concerned, Colonel
Claremont, the Charitable Fund people, the French officers and cavalry,
and the ambulance waggons retraced their way to Paris, whilst our caravan
went on in the charge of a detachment of German dragoons. Not for long,
however, for the instructions received respecting us were evidently
imperfect. The reader will have noticed that we left Paris on its
southeastern side, although our destination was Versailles, which lies
south-west of the capital, being in that direction only some eleven miles
distant. Further, on quitting Créteil, instead of taking a direct route
to the city of Louis Quatorze, we made, as the reader will presently see,
an immense _détour,_ so that our journey to Versailles lasted three full
days. This occurred because the Germans wished to prevent us from seeing
anything of the nearer lines of investment and the preparations which had
already begun for the bombardment of Paris.

On our departure from Créteil, however, our route was not yet positively
fixed, so we presently halted, and an officer of our escort rode off to
take further instructions, whilst we remained near a German outpost, where
we could not help noticing how healthy-looking, stalwart, and well-clad
the men were. Orders respecting our movements having arrived, we set out
again at a walking pace, perhaps because so many of our party were on
foot. Troops were posted near every side-road that we passed. Officers
constantly cantered up, inquiring for news respecting the position of
affairs in Paris, wishing to know, in particular, if the National Defence
ministers were still prisoners of the populace, and whether there was now
a Red Republic with Blanqui at its head. What astounded them most was to
hear that, although Paris was taking more and more to horseflesh, it was,
as yet, by no means starving, and that, so far as famine might be
concerned, it would be able to continue resisting for some months longer.
In point of fact, this was on November 8, and the city did not surrender
until January 28. But the German officers would not believe what we said
respecting the resources of the besieged; they repeated the same questions
again and again, and still looked incredulous, as if, indeed, they thought
that we were fooling them.

At Boissy-Saint Léger we halted whilst the British, Austrian, and Swiss
representatives interviewed the general in command there. He was installed
in a trim little, château, in front of which was the quaintest sentry-box
I have ever seen, for it was fashioned of planks, logs, and all sorts of
scraps of furniture, whilst beside it lay a doll's perambulator and a
little boy's toy-cart. But we again set out, encountering near Gros-Bois a
long line of heavily-laden German provision-wagons; and presently, without
addressing a word to any of us, the officer of our escort gave a command,
his troopers wheeled round and galloped away, leaving us to ourselves.

By this time evening was approaching, and the vehicles of our party drove
on at a smart trot, leaving the unfortunate pedestrians a long way in the
rear. Nobody seemed to know exactly where we were, but some passing
peasants informed us that we were on the road to Basle, and that the
nearest locality was Brie-Comte-Robert. The horses drawing the conveyances
of the Swiss and Austrian representatives were superior to those harnessed
to Mr. Wodehouse's break, so we were distanced on the road, and on
reaching Brie found that all the accommodation of the two inns--I can
scarcely call them hotels--had been allotted to the first arrivals. Mr.
Wodehouse's party secured a lodging in a superior-looking private house,
whilst my father, myself, and about thirty others repaired to the _mairie_
for billets.

A striking scene met my eyes there. By this time night had fallen. In a
room which was almost bare of furniture, the mayor was seated at a little
table on which two candles were burning. On either side of him stood a
German infantryman with rifle and fixed bayonet. Here and there, too, were
several German hussars, together with ten or a dozen peasants of the
locality. And the unfortunate mayor, in a state of semi-arrest, was
striving to comply with the enemy's requisitions of food, forage, wine,
horses, and vehicles, the peasants meanwhile protesting that they had
already been despoiled of everything, and had nothing whatever left. "So
you want me to be shot?" said the mayor to them, at last. "You know very
well that the things must be found. Go and get them together. Do the best
you can. We will see afterwards."

When--acting as usual as my father's interpreter--I asked the mayor for
billets, he raised his arms to the ceiling. "I have no beds," said he.
"Every bit of available bedding, excepting at the inns, has been
requisitioned for the Prussian ambulances. I might find some straw, and
there are outhouses and empty rooms. But there are so many of you, and I
do not know how I can accommodate you all."

It was not, however, the duty of my father or myself to attend to the
requirements of the whole party. That was the duty rather of the Embassy
officials, so I again pressed the mayor to give me at least a couple of
decent billets. He thought for a moment, then handed me a paper bearing a
name and address, whereupon we, my father and myself, went off. But it was
pitch-dark, and as we could not find the place indicated, we returned to
the _mairie_, where, after no little trouble, a second paper was given me.
By this time the poorer members of the party had been sent to sheds and so
forth, where they found some straw to lie upon. The address on my second
paper was that of a basket-maker, whose house was pointed out to us. We
were very cordially received there, and taken to a room containing a bed
provided with a _sommier élastique_. But there was no mattress, no sheet,
no blanket, no bolster, no pillow--everything of that kind having been
requisitioned for the German ambulances; and I recollect that two or three
hours later, when my father and myself retired to rest in that icy
chamber, the window of which was badly broken, we were glad to lay our
heads on a couple of hard baskets, having left our bags in Mr. Wodehouse's

Before trying to sleep, however, we required food; for during the day we
had consumed every particle of a cold rabbit and some siege-bread which we
had brought out of Paris. The innkeepers proved to be extremely
independent and irritable, and we could obtain very little from them.
Fortunately, we discovered a butcher's, secured some meat from him, and
prevailed on the wife of our host, the basket-maker, to cook it for us. We
then went out again, and found some cafés and wine-shops which were
crowded with German soldiery. Wine and black coffee were obtainable there,
and whilst we refreshed ourselves, more than one German soldier, knowing
either French or English, engaged us in conversation. My own German was at
that time very limited, for I had not taken kindly to the study of the
language, and had secured, moreover, but few opportunities to attempt to
converse in it. However, I well remember some of the German soldiers
declaring that they were heartily sick of the siege, and expressing a hope
that the Parisians would speedily surrender, so that they, the Germans,
might return to the Fatherland in ample time to get their Christmas trees
ready. A good-looking and apparently very genial Uhlan also talked to me
about the Parisian balloons, relating that, directly any ascent was
observed, news of it was telegraphed along all the investing lines, that
every man had orders to fire if the aerial craft came approximately within
range, and that he and his comrades often tried to ride a balloon down.

After a wretched night, we washed at the pump in the basket-maker's yard,
and breakfasted off bread and _café noir_. Milk, by the way, was as scarce
at Brie as in Paris itself, the Germans, it was said, having carried off
all the cows that had previously supplied France with the far-famed Brie
cheese. We now discovered that, in order to reach Versailles, we should
have to proceed in the first instance to Corbeil, some fifteen miles
distant, when we should be within thirty miles of the German headquarters.
That was pleasant news, indeed! We had already made a journey of over
twenty miles, and now another of some five-and-forty miles lay before us.
And yet, had we only been allowed to take the proper route, we should have
reached Versailles after travelling merely eleven miles beyond Paris!

Under the circumstances, the position of the unfortunate pedestrians was a
very unpleasant one, and my father undertook to speak on their behalf to
Mr. Wodehouse, pointing out to him that it was unfair to let these
unfortunate people trudge all the way to Versailles.

"But what am I to do?" Mr. Wodehouse replied. "I am afraid that no
vehicles can be obtained here."

"The German authorities will perhaps help you in the matter," urged my

"I doubt it. But please remember that everybody was warned before leaving
Paris that he would do so at his own risk and peril, and that the Embassy
could not charge itself with the expense."

"That is exactly what surprised me," said my father. "I know that the
Charitable Fund has done something, but I thought that the Embassy would
have done more."

"I had no instructions," replied Mr. Wodehouse.

"But, surely, at such a time as this, a man initiates his own

"Perhaps so; but I had no money."

On hearing this, my father, for a moment, almost lost his temper.
"Surely, Mr. Wodehouse," said he, "you need only have gone to Baron de
Rothschild--he would have let you have whatever money you required."
[I have reconstructed the above dialogue from my diary, which I posted up
on reaching Versailles.]

Mr. Wodehouse looked worried. He was certainly a most amiable man, but he
was not, I think, quite the man for the situation. Moreover, like my
father, he was in very poor health at this time. Still, he realized that
he must try to effect something, and eventually, with the assistance of
the mayor and the German authorities, a few farm-carts were procured for
the accommodation of the poorer British subjects. During the long interval
which had elapsed, however, a good many men had gone off of their own
accord, tired of waiting, and resolving to try their luck in one and
another direction. Thus our procession was a somewhat smaller one when we
at last quitted Brie-Comte-Robert for Corbeil.

We met many German soldiers on our way--at times large detachments of
them--and we scarcely ever covered a mile of ground without being
questioned respecting the state of affairs in Paris and the probable
duration of its resistance, our replies invariably disappointing the
questioners, so anxious were they to see the war come to an end. This was
particularly the case with a young non-commissioned officer who jumped on
the step of Mr. Wodehouse's break, and engaged us in conversation whilst
we continued on our way. Before leaving us he remarked, I remember, that
he would very much like to pay a visit to England; whereupon my father
answered that he would be very much pleased to see him there, provided,
however, that he would come by himself and not with half a million of
armed comrades.

While the German soldiers were numerous, the peasants whom we met on the
road were few and far between. On reaching the little village of
Lieusaint, however, a number of people rushed to the doors of their houses
and gazed at us in bewilderment, for during the past two months the only
strangers they had seen had been German soldiers, and they could not
understand the meaning of our civilian caravan of carriages and carts. At
last we entered Corbeil, and followed the main street towards the old
stone bridge by which we hoped to cross the Seine, but we speedily
discovered that it had been blown up, and that we could only get to the
other side of the river by a pontoon-bridge lower down. This having been
effected, we drove to the principal hotel, intending to put up there for
the night, as it had become evident that we should be unable to reach
Versailles at a reasonable hour.

However, the entire hotel was in the possession of German officers,
several of whom we found flirting with the landlady's good-looking
daughter--who, as she wore a wedding ring, was, I presume, married. I well
recollect that she made some reference to the ladies of Berlin, whereupon
one of the lieutenants who were ogling her, gallantly replied that they
were not half so charming as the ladies of Corbeil. The young woman
appeared to appreciate the compliment, for, on the lieutenant rising to
take leave of her, she graciously gave him her hand, and said to him with
a smile: "Au plaisir de vous revoir, monsieur."

But matters were very different with the old lady, her mother, who,
directly the coast was clear, began to inveigh against the Germans in good
set terms, describing them, I remember, as semi-savages who destroyed
whatever they did not steal. She was particularly irate with them for not
allowing M. Darblay, the wealthy magnate of the grain and flour trade, and
at the same time mayor of Corbeil, to retain a single carriage or a single
horse for his own use. Yet he had already surrendered four carriages and
eight horses to them, and only wished to keep a little gig and a cob.

We obtained a meal at the hotel, but found it impossible to secure a bed
there, so we sallied forth into the town on an exploring expedition. On
all sides we observed notices indicating the rate of exchange of French
and German money, and the place seemed to be full of tobacconists' shops,
which were invariably occupied by German Jews trading in Hamburg cigars.
On inquiring at a café respecting accommodation, we were told that we
should only obtain it with difficulty, as the town was full of troops,
including more than a thousand sick and wounded, fifteen or twenty of whom
died every day. At last we crossed the river again, and found quarters at
an inferior hotel, the top-floor of which had been badly damaged by some
falling blocks of stone at the time when the French blew up the town
bridge. However, our beds were fairly comfortable, and we had a good
night's rest.

Black coffee was again the only available beverage in the morning. No milk
was to be had, nor was there even a scrap of sugar. In these respects
Corbeil was even worse off than Paris. The weather had now changed, and
rain was falling steadily. We plainly had a nasty day before us.
Nevertheless, another set of carts was obtained for the poorer folk of our
party, on mustering which one man was found to be missing. He had fallen
ill, we were told, and could not continue the journey. Presently,
moreover, the case was discovered to be one of smallpox, which disease had
lately broken out in Paris. Leaving the sufferer to be treated at the
already crowded local hospital, we set out, and, on emerging from the
town, passed a drove of a couple of hundred oxen, and some three hundred
sheep, in the charge of German soldiers. We had scarcely journeyed another
mile when, near Essonnes, noted for its paper-mills, one of our carts
broke down, which was scarcely surprising, the country being hilly, the
roads heavy, and the horses spavined. Again, the rain was now pouring in
torrents, to the very great discomfort of the occupants of the carts, as
well as that of Mr. Wodehouse's party in the break. But there was no help
for it, and so on we drove mile after mile, until we were at last
absolutely soaked.

The rain had turned to sleet by the time we reached Longjumeau, famous for
its handsome and amorous postilion. Two-thirds of the shops there were
closed, and the inns were crowded with German soldiers, so we drove on in
the direction of Palaiseau. But we had covered only about half the
distance when a snow-storm overtook us, and we had to seek shelter at
Champlan. A German officer there assisted in placing our vehicles under
cover, but the few peasants whom we saw eyeing us inquisitively from the
doors of their houses declared that the only thing they could let us have
to eat was dry bread, there being no meat, no eggs, no butter, no cheese,
in the whole village. Further, they averred that they had not even a pint
of wine to place at our disposal. "The Germans have taken everything,"
they said; "we have 800 of them in and around the village, and there are
not more than a dozen of us left here, all the rest having fled to Paris
when the siege began."

The outlook seemed bad, but Mr. Wodehouse's valet, a shrewd and energetic
man of thirty or thereabouts, named Frost, said to me, "I don't believe
all this. I dare say that if some money is produced we shall be able to
get something." Accordingly we jointly tackled a disconsolate-looking
fellow, who, if I remember rightly, was either the village wheelwright or
blacksmith; and, momentarily leaving the question of food on one side, we
asked him if he had not at least a fire in his house at which we might
warm ourselves. Our party included a lady, the Vice-Consul's wife, and
although she was making the journey in a closed private omnibus, she was
suffering from the cold. This was explained to the man whom we addressed,
and when he had satisfied himself that we were not Germans in disguise, he
told us that we might come into his house and warm ourselves until the
storm abated. Some nine or ten of us, including the lady I have mentioned,
availed ourselves of this permission, and the man led us upstairs to a
first-floor room, where a big wood-fire was blazing. Before it sat his
wife and his daughter, both of them good specimens of French rustic
beauty. With great good-nature, they at once made room for us, and added
more fuel to the fire.

Half the battle was won, and presently we were regaled with all that they
could offer us in the way of food--that is, bread and baked pears, which
proved very acceptable. Eventually, after looking out of the window in
order to make quite sure that no Germans were loitering near the house,
our host locked the door of the room, and turning towards a big pile of
straw, fire-wood, and household utensils, proceeded to demolish it, until
he disclosed to view a small cask--a half hogshead, I think--which, said
he, in a whisper, contained wine. It was all that he had been able to
secrete. On the arrival of the enemy in the district a party of officers
had come to his house and ordered their men to remove the rest of his
wine, together with nearly all his bedding, and every fowl and every pig
that he possessed. "They have done the same all over the district," the
man added, "and you should see some of the châteaux--they have been
absolutely stripped of their contents."

His face brightened when we told him that Paris seemed resolved on no
surrender, and that, according to official reports, she would have a
sufficiency of bread to continue resisting until the ensuing month of
February. In common with most of his countrymen, our host of Champlan held
that, whatever else might happen, the honour of the nation would at least
be saved if the Germans could only be kept out of Paris; and thus he was
right glad to hear that the city's defence would be prolonged.

He was well remunerated for his hospitality, and on the weather slightly
improving we resumed our journey to Versailles, following the main road by
way of Palaiseau and Jouy-en-Josas, and urging the horses to their
quickest pace whilst the light declined and the evening shadows gathered
around us.



War-correspondents at Versailles--Dr. Russell--Lord Adare--David Dunglas
Home and his Extraordinary Career--His _Séances_ at Versallies--An Amusing
Interview with Colonel Beauchamp Walker--Parliament's Grant for British
Refugees--Generals Duff and Hazen, U.S.A.--American Help--Glimpses of
King William and Bismarck--Our Safe-Conducts--From Versailles to Saint
Germain-en-Laye--Trouble at Mantes--The German Devil of Destructiveness--
From the German to the French Lines--A Train at Last--Through Normandy and
Maine--Saint Servan and its English Colony--I resolve to go to the Front.

It was dark when we at last entered Versailles by the Avenue de Choisy. We
saw some sentries, but they did not challenge us, and we went on until we
struck the Avenue de Paris, where we passed the Prefecture, every one of
whose windows was a blaze of light. King, later Emperor, William had his
quarters there; Bismarck, however, residing at a house in the Rue de
Provence belonging to the French General de Jessé. Winding round the Place
d'Armes, we noticed that one wing of Louis XIV's famous palace had its
windows lighted, being appropriated to hospital purposes, and that four
batteries of artillery were drawn up on the square, perhaps as a hint to
the Versaillese to be on their best behaviour. However, we drove on, and a
few moments later we pulled up outside the famous Hôtel des Réservoirs.

There was no possibility of obtaining accommodation there. From its
ground-floor to its garrets the hotel was packed with German princes,
dukes, dukelets, and their suites, together with a certain number of
English, American, and other war-correspondents. Close by, however--
indeed, if I remember rightly, on the other side of the way--there was a
café, whither my father and myself directed our steps. We found it crowded
with officers and newspaper men, and through one or other of the latter we
succeeded in obtaining comfortable lodgings in a private house. The
_Illustrated London News_ artist with the German staff was Landells, son
of the engraver of that name, and we speedily discovered his whereabouts.
He was sharing rooms with Hilary Skinner, the _Daily News_ representative
at Versailles; and they both gave us a cordial greeting.

The chief correspondent at the German headquarters was William Howard
Russell of the _Times_, respecting whom--perhaps because he kept himself
somewhat aloof from his colleagues--a variety of scarcely good-natured
stories were related; mostly designed to show that he somewhat
over-estimated his own importance. One yarn was to the effect that
whenever the Doctor mounted his horse, it was customary for the Crown
Prince of Prussia--afterwards the Emperor Frederick--to hold his stirrup
leather for him. Personally, I can only say that, on my father calling
with me on Russell, he received us very cordially indeed (he had
previously met my father, and had well known my uncle Frank), and that
when we quitted Versailles, as I shall presently relate, he placed his
courier and his private omnibus at our disposal, in after years one of my
cousins, the late Montague Vizetelly, accompanied Russell to South
America. I still have some letters which the latter wrote me respecting
Zola's novel "La Débâcle," in which he took a great interest.

Another war-correspondent at Versailles was the present Earl of Dunraven,
then not quite thirty years of age, and known by the courtesy title of
Lord Adare. He had previously acted as the _Daily Telegraph's_
representative with Napier's expedition against Theodore of Abyssinia, and
was now staying at Versailles, on behalf, I think, of the same journal.
His rooms at the Hôtel des Réservoirs were shared by Daniel Dunglas Home,
the medium, with whom my father and myself speedily became acquainted.
Very tall and slim, with blue eyes and an abundance of yellowish hair,
Home, at this time about thirty-seven years of age, came of the old stock
of the Earls of Home, whose name figures so often in Scottish history. His
father was an illegitimate son of the tenth earl, and his mother belonged
to a family which claimed to possess the gift of "second sight." Home
himself--according to his own account--began to see visions and receive
mysterious warnings at the period of his mother's death, and as time
elapsed his many visitations from the other world so greatly upset the
aunt with whom he was living--a Mrs. McNeill Cook of Greeneville,
Connecticut [He had been taken from Scotland to America when he was about
nine years old.]--that she ended by turning him out-of-doors. Other
people, however, took an unhealthy delight in seeing their furniture
move about without human agency, and in receiving more or less ridiculous
messages from spirit-land; and in folk of this description Home found some
useful friends.

He came to London in the spring of 1855, and on giving a _séance_ at Cox's
Hotel, in Jermyn Street, he contrived to deceive Sir David Brewster (then
seventy-four years old), but was less successful with another
septuagenarian, Lord Brougham. Later, he captured the imaginative Sir
Edward Bulwer (subsequently Lord Lytton), who as author of "Zanoni" was
perhaps fated to believe in him, and he also impressed Mrs. Browning, but
not Browning himself The latter, indeed, depicted Home as "Sludge, the
Medium." Going to Italy for a time, the already notorious adventurer gave
_séances_ in a haunted villa near Florence, but on becoming converted to
the Catholic faith in 1856 he was received in private audience by that
handsome, urbane, but by no means satisfactory pontiff, Pio Nono, who,
however, eight years later caused him to be summarily expelled from Rome
as a sorcerer in league with the Devil.

Meantime, Home had ingratiated himself with a number of crowned heads--
Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie, in whose presence he gave _séances_
at the Tuileries, Fontainebleau, and Biarritz; the King of Prussia, by
whom he was received at Baden-Baden; and Queen Sophia of Holland, who gave
him hospitality at the Hague. On marrying a Russian lady, the daughter of
General Count de Kroll, he was favoured with presents by the Czar
Alexander II, and after returning to England became one of the
"attractions" of Milner-Gibson's drawing-room--Mrs. Gibson, a daughter of
the Rev. Sir Thomas Gery Cullum, being one of the early English
patronesses of so-called spiritualism, to a faith in which she was
"converted" by Home, whom she first met whilst travelling on the
Continent. I remember hearing no little talk about him in my younger days.
Thackeray's friend, Robert Bell, wrote an article about him in _The
Cornhill_, which was the subject of considerable discussion. Bell, I
think, was also mixed up in the affair of the "Davenport Brothers," one of
whose performances I remember witnessing. They were afterwards effectively
shown up in Paris by Vicomte Alfred de Caston. Home, for his part, was
scarcely taken seriously by the Parisians, and when, at a _séance_ given
in presence of the Empress Eugénie, he blundered grossly and repeatedly
about her father, the Count of Montijo, he received an intimation that his
presence at Court could be dispensed with. He then consoled himself by
going to Peterhof and exhibiting his powers to the Czar.

Certain Scotch and English scientists, such as Dr. Lockhart Robertson, Dr.
Robert Chambers, and Dr. James Manby Gully--the apostle of hydropathy, who
came to grief in the notorious Bravo case--warmly supported Home. So did
Samuel Carter Hall and his wife, William Howitt, and Gerald Massey; and he
ended by establishing a so-called "Spiritual Athenaeum" in Sloane Street.
A wealthy widow of advanced years, a Mrs. Jane Lyon, became a subscriber
to that institution, and, growing infatuated with Home, made him a present
of some £30,000, and settled on him a similar amount to be paid at her
death. But after a year or two she repented of her infatuation, and took
legal proceedings to recover her money. She failed to substantiate some of
her charges, but Vice-Chancellor Giffard, who heard the case, decided it
in her favour, in his judgment describing Home as a needy and designing
man. Home, I should add, was at this time a widower and at loggerheads
with his late wife's relations in Russia, in respect to her property.

Among the arts ascribed to Home was that called levitation, in practising
which he was raised in the air by an unseen and unknown force, and
remained suspended there; this being, so to say, the first step towards
human flying without the assistance of any biplane, monoplane, or other
mechanical contrivance. The first occasion on which Home is said to have
displayed this power was in the late fifties, when he was at a château
near Bordeaux as the guest of the widow of Théodore Ducos, the nephew of
Bonaparte's colleague in the Consulate. In the works put forward on Home's
behalf--one of them, called "Incidents in my Life," was chiefly written,
it appears, by his friend and solicitor, a Mr. W.M. Wilkinson--it is also
asserted that his power of levitation was attested in later years by Lord
Lindsay, subsequently Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, and by the present
Earl of Dunraven. We are told, indeed, that on one occasion the last-named
actually saw Home float out of a room by one window, and into it again by
another one. I do not know whether Home also favoured Professor Crookes
with any exhibition of this kind, but the latter certainly expressed an
opinion that some of Home's feats were genuine.

When my father and I first met him at Versailles he was constantly in the
company of Lord Adare. He claimed to be acting as the correspondent of a
Californian journal, but his chief occupation appeared to be the giving of
_séances_ for the entertainment of all the German princes and princelets
staying at the Hôtel des Réservoirs. Most of these highnesses and
mightinesses formed part of what the Germans themselves sarcastically
called their "Ornamental Staff," and as Moltke seldom allowed them any
real share in the military operations, they doubtless found in Home's
performances some relief from the _taedium vitae_ which overtook them
during their long wait for the capitulation of Paris. Now that Metz had
fallen, that was the chief question which occupied the minds of all the
Germans assembled at Versailles, [Note] and Home was called upon to
foretell when it would take place. On certain occasions, I believe, he
evoked the spirits of Frederick the Great, Napoleon, Blücher, and others,
in order to obtain from them an accurate forecast. At another time he
endeavoured to peer into the future by means of crystal-gazing, in which
he required the help of a little child. "My experiments have not
succeeded," he said one day, while we were sitting with him at the café
near the Hôtel des Réservoirs; "but that is not my fault. I need an
absolutely pure-minded child, and can find none here, for this French race
is corrupt from its very infancy." He was fasting at this time, taking
apparently nothing but a little _eau sucrée_ for several days at a
stretch. "The spirits will not move me unless I do this," he said. "To
bring them to me, I have to contend against the material part of my

[Note: The Germans regarded it as the more urgent at the time of my
arrival at Versailles, as only a few data previously (November 9), the new
French Army of the Loire under D'Aurelle de Paladines had defeated the
Bavarians at Coulmiers, and thereby again secured possession of Orleans.]

A couple of years later, after another visit to St. Petersburg, where,
it seems, he was again well received by the Czar and again married a lady
of the Russian nobility, Home's health began to fail him, perhaps on
account of the semi-starvation to which at intervals he subjected himself.
I saw him occasionally during his last years, when, living at Auteuil, he
was almost a neighbour of mine. He died there in 1886, being then about
fifty-three years old. Personally, I never placed faith in him. I regarded
him at the outset with great curiosity, but some time before the war
I had read a good deal about Cagliostro, Saint Germain, Mesmer, and
other charlatans, also attending a lecture about them at the Salle des
Conferences; and all that, combined with the exposure of the Davenport
Brothers and other spiritualists and illusionists, helped to prejudice me
against such a man as Home. At the same time, this so-called "wizard of
the nineteenth century" was certainly a curious personality, possessed, I
presume, of considerable suggestive powers, which at times enabled him to
make others believe as he desired. We ought to have had Charcot's opinion
of his case.

As it had taken my father and myself three days to reach Versailles from
Paris, and we could not tell what other unpleasant experiences the future
might hold in store for us, our pecuniary position gave rise to some
concern. I mentioned previously that we quitted the capital with
comparatively little money, and it now seemed as if our journey might
become a long and somewhat costly affair, particularly as the German staff
wished to send us off through Northern France and thence by way of
Belgium. On consulting Landells, Skinner, and some other correspondents,
it appeared that several days might elapse before we could obtain
remittances from England. On the other hand, every correspondent clung to
such money as he had in his possession, for living was very expensive at
Versailles, and at any moment some emergency might arise necessitating an
unexpected outlay. It was suggested, however, that we should apply to
Colonel Beauchamp Walker, who was the official British representative with
the German headquarters' staff, for, we were told, Parliament, in its
generosity, had voted a sum of £4000 to assist any needy British subjects
who might come out of Paris, and Colonel Walker had the handling of the
money in question.

Naturally enough, my father began by demurring to this suggestion, saying
that he could not apply _in formâ pauperis_ for charity. But it was
pointed out that he need do no such thing. "Go to Walker," it was said,
"explain your difficulty, and offer him a note of hand or a draft on the
_Illustrated_, and if desired half a dozen of us will back it." Some such
plan having been decided on, we called upon Colonel Walker on the second
or third day of our stay at Versailles.

His full name was Charles Pyndar Beauchamp Walker. Born in 1817, he had
seen no little service. He had acted as an _aide-de-camp_ to Lord Lucan in
the Crimea, afterwards becoming Lieutenant-Colonel of the 2nd Dragoon
Guards. He was in India during the final operations for the suppression of
the Mutiny, and subsequently in China during the Franco-British expedition
to that country. During the Austro-Prussian war of 1866 he was attached as
British Commissioner to the forces of the Crown Prince of Prussia, and
witnessed the battle of Königgratz. He served in the same capacity during
the Franco-German War, when he was at Weissenburg, Wörth, and Sedan. In
later years he became a major-general, a lieutenant-general, a K.C.B., and
Colonel of the 2nd Dragoon Guards; and from 1878 until his retirement in
1884 he acted as Inspector General of military education. I have set out
those facts because I have no desire to minimise Walker's services and
abilities. But I cannot help smiling at a sentence which I found in the
account of him given in the "Dictionary of National Biography." It refers
to his duties during the Franco-German War, and runs as follows: "The
irritation of the Germans against England, and the number of roving
Englishmen, made his duty not an easy one, but he was well qualified for
it by his tact and geniality, and his action met with the full approval of
the Government."

The Government in question would have approved anything. But let that
pass. We called on the colonel at about half-past eleven in the morning,
and were shown into a large and comfortably furnished room, where
decanters and cigars were prominently displayed on a central table. In ten
minutes' time the colonel appeared, arrayed in a beautiful figured
dressing-gown with a tasselled girdle. I knew that the British officer was
fond of discarding his uniform, and I was well aware that French officers
also did so when on furlough in Paris, but it gave my young mind quite a
shock to see her Majesty's military representative with King William
arrayed in a gaudy dressing-gown in the middle of the day. He seated
himself, and querulously inquired of my father what his business was. It
was told him very briefly. He frowned, hummed, hawed, threw himself back
in his armchair, and curtly exclaimed, "I am not a money-lender!"

The fact that the _Illustrated London News_ was the world's premier
journal of its class went for nothing. The offers of the other
correspondents of the English Press to back my father's signature were
dismissed with disdain. When the colonel was reminded that he held a
considerable amount of money voted by Parliament, he retorted: "That is
for necessitous persons! But you ask me to _lend_ you money!" "Quite so,"
my father replied; "I do not wish to be a charge on the Treasury. I simply
want a loan, as I have a difficult and perhaps an expensive journey before
me." "How much do you want?" snapped the colonel. "Well," said my father,
"I should feel more comfortable if I had a thousand francs (£40) in my
pocket." "Forty pounds!" cried Colonel Walker, as if lost in amazement.
And getting up from his chair he went on, in the most theatrical manner
possible: "Why, do you know, sir, that if I were to let you have forty
pounds, I might find myself in the greatest possible difficulty.
To-morrow--perhaps, even to-night--there might be hundreds of our
suffering fellow-countrymen outside the gates of Versailles, and I unable
to relieve them!" "But," said my father quietly, "you would still be
holding £3960, Colonel Walker." The colonel glared, and my father, not
caring to prolong such an interview, walked out of the room, followed by

A good many of the poorer people who quitted Paris with us never repaired
to Versailles at all, but left us at Corbeil or elsewhere to make their
way across France as best they could. Another party, about one hundred
strong, was, however, subsequently sent out of the capital with the
assistance of Mr. Washburne, and in their case Colonel Walker had to
expend some money. But every grant was a very niggardly one, and it would
not surprise me to learn that the bulk of the money voted by Parliament
was ultimately returned to the Treasury--which circumstance would probably
account for the "full approval" which the Government bestowed on the
colonel's conduct at this period. He died early in 1894, and soon
afterwards some of his correspondence was published in a volume entitled
"Days of a Soldier's Life." On reading a review of that work in one of the
leading literary journals, I was struck by a passage in which Walker was
described as a disappointed and embittered man, who always felt that his
merits were not sufficiently recognized, although he was given a
knighthood and retired with the honorary rank of general. I presume
that his ambition was at least a viscounty, if not an earldom, and a
field-marshal's _bâton_.

On leaving the gentleman whose "tact and geniality" are commemorated in
the "Dictionary of National Biography," we repaired--my father and I--to
the café where most of the English newspaper men met. Several were there,
and my father was at once assailed with inquiries respecting his interview
with Colonel Walker. His account of it led to some laughter and a variety
of comments, which would scarcely have improved the colonel's temper. I
remember, however, that Captain, afterwards Colonel Sir, Henry Hozier, the
author of "The Seven Weeks' War," smiled quietly, but otherwise kept his
own counsel. At last my father was asked what he intended to do under the
circumstances, and he replied that he meant to communicate with England as
speedily as possible, and remain in the interval at Versailles, although
he particularly wished to get away.

Now, it happened that among the customers at the café there were two
American officers, one being Brigadier-General Duff, a brother of Andrew
Halliday, the dramatic author and essayist, whose real patronymic was also
Duff. My father knew Halliday through their mutual friends Henry Mayhew
and the Broughs. The other American officer was Major-General William
Babcook Hazen, whose name will be found occasionally mentioned in that
popular record of President Garfield's career, "From Log Cabin to White
House." During the Civil War in the United States he had commanded a
division in Sherman's march to the sea. He also introduced the cold-wave
signal system into the American army, and in 1870-71 he was following the
operations of the Germans on behalf of his Government.

I do not remember whether General Duff (who, I have been told, is still
alive) was also at Versailles in an official capacity, but in the course
of conversation he heard of my father's interview with Colonel Walker, and
spoke to General Hazen on the subject. Hazen did not hesitate, but came to
my father, had a brief chat with him, unbuttoned his uniform, produced a
case containing bank-notes, and asked my father how much he wanted,
telling him not to pinch himself. The whole transaction was completed in a
few minutes. My father was unwilling to take quite as much as he had asked
of Colonel Walker, but General Hazen handed him some £20 or £30 in notes,
one or two of which were afterwards changed, for a handsome consideration,
by one of the German Jews who then infested Versailles and profited by the
scarcity of gold. We were indebted, then, on two occasions to the
representatives of the United States. The _laisser-passer_ enabling us to
leave Paris had been supplied by Mr. Washburne, and the means of
continuing our journey in comfort were furnished by General Hazen. I raise
my hat to the memory of both those gentlemen.

During the few days that we remained at Versailles, we caught glimpses of
King William and Bismarck, both of whom we had previously seen in Paris in
1867, when they were the guests of Napoleon III. I find in my diary a
memorandum, dictated perhaps by my father: "Bismarck much fatter and
bloated." We saw him one day leaving the Prefecture, where the King had
his quarters. He stood for a moment outside, chatting and laughing noisily
with some other German personages, then strode away with a companion. He
was only fifty-five years old, and was full of vigour at that time, even
though he might have put on flesh during recent years, and therefore have
renounced dancing--his last partner in the waltz having been Mme. Carette,
the Empress Eugénie's reader, whom he led out at one of the '67 balls at
the Tuileries. Very hale and hearty, too, looked the King whom Bismarck
was about to turn into an Emperor. Yet the victor of Sedan was already
seventy-three years old. I only saw him on horseback during my stay at
Versailles. My recollections of him, Bismarck, and Moltke, belong more
particularly to the year 1872, when I was in Berlin in connexion with the
famous meeting of the three Emperors.

My father and myself had kept in touch with Mr. Wodehouse, from whom we
learnt that we should have to apply to the German General commanding
at Versailles with respect to any further safe-conducts. At first we were
informed that there could be no departure from the plan of sending us out
of France by way of Epernay, Reims, and Sedan, and this by no means
coincided with the desires of most of the Englishmen who had come out of
Paris, they wishing to proceed westward, and secure a passage across the
Channel from Le Hâvre or Dieppe. My father and myself also wanted to go
westward, but in order to make our way into Brittany, my stepmother and
her children being at Saint Servan, near Saint Malo. At last the German
authorities decided to give us the alternative routes of Mantes and Dreux,
the first-named being the preferable one for those people who were bound
for England. It was chosen also by my father, as the Dreux route would
have led us into a region where hostilities were in progress, and where we
might suddenly have found ourselves "held up."

The entire party of British refugees was now limited to fifteen or sixteen
persons, some, tired of waiting, having taken themselves off by the Sedan
route, whilst a few others--such as coachmen and grooms--on securing
employment from German princes and generals, resolved to stay at
Versailles. Mr. Wodehouse also remained there for a short time. Previously
in poor health, he had further contracted a chill during our three days'
drive in an open vehicle. As most of those who were going on to England at
once now found themselves almost insolvent, it was arranged to pay their
expenses through the German lines, and to give each of them a sum of fifty
shillings, so that they might make their way Channelwards when they had
reached an uninvaded part of France. Colonel Walker, of course, parted
with as little money as possible.

At Versailles it was absolutely impossible to hire vehicles to take us as
far as Mantes, but we were assured that conveyances might be procured at
Saint Germain-en-Laye; and it was thus that Dr. Russell lent my father his
little omnibus for the journey to the last-named town, at the same time
sending his courier to assist in making further arrangements. I do not
recollect that courier's nationality, but he spoke English, French, and
German, and his services were extremely useful. We drove to Saint Germain
by way of Rocquencourt, where we found a number of country-folk gathered
by the roadside with little stalls, at which they sold wine and fruit to
the German soldiers. This part of the environs of Paris seemed to have
suffered less than the eastern and southern districts. So far, there had
been only one sortie on this side--that made by Ducrot in the direction of
La Malmaison. It had, however, momentarily alarmed the investing forces,
and whilst we were at Versailles I learnt that, on the day in question,
everything had been got ready for King William's removal to Saint Germain
in the event of the French achieving a real success. But it proved to be a
small affair, Ducrot's force being altogether incommensurate with the
effort required of it.

At Saint Germain, Dr. Russell's courier assisted in obtaining conveyances
for the whole of our party, and we were soon rolling away in the direction
of Mantes-la-Jolie, famous as the town where William the Conqueror, whilst
bent on pillage and destruction, received the injuries which caused his
death. Here we had to report ourselves to the German Commander, who, to
the general consternation, began by refusing its permission to proceed. He
did so because most of the safe-conducts delivered to us at Versailles,
had, in the first instance, only stated that we were to travel by way of
Sedan; the words "or Mantes or Dreux" being afterwards added between the
lines. That interlineation was irregular, said the General at Mantes; it
might even be a forgery; at all events, he could not recognize it, so we
must go back whence we had come, and quickly, too--indeed, he gave us just
half an hour to quit the town! But it fortunately happened that in a few
of the safe-conducts there was no interlineation whatever, the words
"Sedan or Mantes or Dreux" being duly set down in the body of the
document, and on this being pointed out, the General came to the
conclusion that we were not trying to impose on him. He thereupon
cancelled his previous order, and decided that, as dusk was already
falling, we might remain at Mantes that night, and resume our journey on
the morrow at 5.45 a.m., in the charge of a cavalry escort.

Having secured a couple of beds, and ordered some dinner at one of the
inns, my father and I strolled about the town, which was full of Uhlans
and Hussars. The old stone bridge across the Seine had been blown up by
the French before their evacuation of the town, and a part of the railway
line had also been destroyed by them. But the Germans were responsible for
the awful appearance of the railway-station. Never since have I seen
anything resembling it. A thousand panes of glass belonging to windows or
roofing had been shivered to atoms. Every mirror in either waiting or
refreshment-rooms had been pounded to pieces; every gilt frame broken into
little bits. The clocks lay about in small fragments; account-books and
printed forms had been torn to scraps; partitions, chairs, tables,
benches, boxes, nests of drawers, had been hacked, split, broken, reduced
to mere strips of wood. The large stoves were overturned and broken, and
the marble refreshment counter--some thirty feet long, and previously one
of the features of the station--now strewed the floor in particles,
suggesting gravel. It was, indeed, an amazing sight, the more amazing as
no such work of destruction could have been accomplished without extreme
labour. When we returned to the inn for dinner, I asked some questions.
"Who did it?" "The first German troops that came here," was the answer.
"Why did they do it?--was it because your men had cut the telegraph wires
and destroyed some of the permanent way?" "Oh no! They expected to find
something to drink in the refreshment-room, and when they discovered that
everything had been taken away, they set about breaking the fixtures!"
Dear, nice, placid German soldiers, baulked, for a few minutes, of some of
the wine of France!

In the morning we left Mantes by moonlight at the appointed hour,
unaccompanied, however, by any escort. Either the Commandant had forgotten
the matter, or his men had overslept themselves. In the outskirts, we were
stopped by a sentry, who carried our pass to a guard-house, where a
noncommissioned officer inspected it by the light of a lantern. Then on we
went again for another furlong or so, when we were once more challenged,
this time by the German advanced-post. As we resumed our journey, we
perceived, in the rear, a small party of Hussars, who did not follow us,
but wheeled suddenly to the left, bent, no doubt, on some reconnoitering
expedition. We were now beyond the German lines, and the dawn was
breaking. Yonder was the Seine, with several islands lying on its bosom,
and some wooded heights rising beyond it. Drawing nearer to the river, we
passed through the village of Rolleboise, which gives its name to the
chief tunnel on the Western Line, and drove across the debatable ground
where French Francstireurs were constantly on the prowl for venturesome
Uhlans. At last we got to Bonnières, a little place of some seven or eight
hundred inhabitants, on the limits of Seine-et-Oise; and there we had to
alight, for the vehicles, which had brought us from Saint Germain, could
proceed no further.

Fortunately, we secured others, and went on towards the village of
Jeufosse, where the nearest French outposts were established. We were
displaying the white flag, but the first French sentries we met, young
fellows of the Mobile Guard, refused for a little while to let us pass.
Eventually they referred the matter to an officer, who, on discovering
that we were English and had come from Paris, began to chat with us in a
very friendly manner, asking all the usual questions about the state of
affairs in the capital, and expressing the usual satisfaction that the
city could still hold out. When we took leave, he cordially wished us _bon
voyage_, and on we hastened, still following the course of the Seine, to
the little town of Vernon. Its inquisitive inhabitants at once surrounded
us, eager to know who we were, whence we had come, and whither we were
going. But we did not tarry many minutes, for we suddenly learnt that the
railway communication with Rouen only began at Gaillon, several leagues
further on, and that there was only one train a day. The question which
immediately arose was--could we catch it?

On we went, then, once more, this time up, over, and down a succession of
steep hills, until at last we reached Gaillon station, and found to our
delight that the train would not start for another twenty minutes. All our
companions took tickets for Rouen, whence they intended to proceed to
Dieppe or Le Hâvre. But my father and I branched off before reaching the
Norman capital, and, after, arriving at Elbeuf, travelled through the
departments of the Eure and the Orne, passing Alençon on our way to Le
Mans. On two or three occasions we had to change from one train to
another. The travelling was extremely slow, and there were innumerable
stoppages. The lines were constantly encumbered with vans laden with
military supplies, and the stations were full of troops going in one and
another direction. In the waiting-rooms one found crowds of officers lying
on the couches, the chairs, and the tables, and striving to snatch a few
hours' sleep; whilst all over the floors and the platforms soldiers had
stretched themselves for the same purpose. Very seldom could any food be
obtained, but I luckily secured a loaf, some cheese, and a bottle of wine
at Alençon. It must have been about one o'clock in the morning when we at
last reached Le Mans, and found that there would be no train going to
Rennes for another four or five hours.

The big railway-station of Le Mans was full of reinforcements for the Army
of the Loire. After strolling about for a few minutes, my father and I
sat down on the platform with our backs against a wall, for not a bench or
a stool was available. Every now and again some train prepared to start,
men were hastily mustered, and then climbed into all sorts of carriages
and vans. A belated general rushed along, accompanied by eager
_aides-de-camp_. Now and again a rifle slipped from the hand of some
Mobile Guard who had been imbibing too freely, and fell with a clatter on
the platform. Then stores were bundled into trucks, whistles sounded,
engines puffed, and meanwhile, although men were constantly departing, the
station seemed to be as crowded as ever. When at last I got up to stretch
myself, I noticed, affixed to the wall against which I had been leaning, a
proclamation of Gambetta's respecting D'Aurelle de Paladines' victory over
Von der Tann at Orleans. In another part of the station were lithographed
notices emanating from the Prefect of the department, and reciting a
variety of recent Government decrees and items of war news, skirmishes,
reconnaissances, and so forth. At last, however, our train came in. It was
composed almost entirely of third-class carriages with wooden seats, and
we had to be content with that accommodation.

Another long and wearisome journey then began. Again we travelled slowly,
again there were innumerable stoppages, again we passed trains crowded
with soldiers, or crammed full of military stores. At some place where we
stopped there was a train conveying some scores of horses, mostly poor,
miserable old creatures. I looked and wondered at the sight of them. "They
have come from England," said a fellow-passenger; "every boat from
Southampton to Saint Malo brings over quite a number." It was unpleasant
to think that such sorry-looking beasts had been shipped by one's own
countrymen. However, we reached Rennes at last, and were there able to get
a good square meal, and also to send a telegram to my stepmother,
notifying her of our early arrival. It was, however, at a late hour that
we arrived at Saint Malo, whence we drove to La Petite Amelia at Saint

The latter town then contained a considerable colony of English people,
among whom the military element predominated. Quite a number of half-pay
or retired officers had come to live there with their families, finding
Jersey overcrowded and desiring to practise economy. The colony also
included several Irish landlords in reduced circumstances, who had quitted
the restless isle to escape assassination at the hands of "Rory of the
Hills" and folk of his stamp. In addition, there were several maiden
ladies of divers ages, but all of slender means; one or two courtesy lords
of high descent, but burdened with numerous offspring; together with a
riding-master who wrote novels, and an elderly clergyman appointed by the
Bishop of Gibraltar. I dare say there may have been a few black sheep in
the colony; but the picture which Mrs. Annie Edwardes gave of it in her
novel, "Susan Fielding," was exaggerated, though there was truth in the
incidents which she introduced into another of her works, "Ought We to
Visit Her?" On the whole, the Saint Servan colony was a very respectable
one, even if it was not possessed of any great means. Going there during
my holidays, I met many young fellows of my own age or thereabouts, and
mostly belonging to military families. There were also several charming
girls, both English and Irish. With the young fellows I boated, with the
young ladies I played croquet.

Now, whilst my father and I had been shut up in Paris, we had frequently
written to my stepmother by balloon-post, and on some of our letters being
shown to the clergyman of the colony, he requested permission to read them
to his congregation--which he frequently did, omitting, of course, the
more private passages, but giving all the items of news and comments on
the situation which the letters contained. As a matter of fact, this
helped the reverend gentleman out of a difficulty. He was an excellent
man, but, like many others of his cloth, he did not know how to preach. In
fact, a year or two later, I myself wrote one or two sermons for him,
working into them certain matters of interest to the colony. During the
earlier part of the siege of Paris, however, the reading of my father's
letters and my own from the pulpit at the close of the usual service saved
the colony's pastor from the trouble of composing a bad sermon, or of
picking out an indifferent one from some forgotten theological work. My
father, on arriving at Saint Servan, secluded himself as far as possible,
so as to rest awhile before proceeding to England; but I went about much
as usual; and my letters read from the pulpit, and sundry other matters,
having made me a kind of "public character," I was at once pounced upon in
the streets, carried off to the club and to private houses, and there
questioned and cross-questioned by a dozen or twenty Crimean and Indian
veteran officers who were following the progress of the war with a
passionate interest.

A year or two previously, moreover, my stepmother had formed a close
friendship with one of the chief French families of the town. The father,
a retired officer of the French naval service, was to have commanded a
local Marching Battalion, but he unfortunately sickened and died, leaving
his wife with one daughter, a beautiful girl who was of about my own age.
Now, this family had been joined by the wife's parents, an elderly couple,
who, on the approach of the Germans to Paris, had quitted the suburb where
they resided. I was often with these friends at Saint Servan, and on
arriving there from Paris, our conversation naturally turned on the war.
As the old gentleman's house in the environs of the capital was well
within the French lines, he had not much reason to fear for its safety,
and, moreover, he had taken the precaution to remove his valuables into
the city. But he was sorely perturbed by all the conflicting news
respecting the military operations in the provinces, the reported
victories which turned out to be defeats, the adverse rumours concerning
the condition of the French forces, the alleged scandal of the Camp of
Conlie, where the more recent Breton levies were said to be dying off like
rotten sheep, and many other matters besides. Every evening when I called
on these friends the conversation was the same. The ladies, the
grandmother, the daughter, and the granddaughter, sat there making
garments for the soldiers or preparing lint for the wounded--those being
the constant occupations of the women of Brittany during all the hours
they could spare from their household duties--and meanwhile the old
gentleman discussed with me both the true and the spurious news of the
day. The result of those conversations was that, as soon as my father
had betaken himself to England, I resolved to go to the front myself,
ascertain as much of the truth as I could, and become, indeed, a
war-correspondent on "my own." In forming that decision I was influenced,
moreover, by one of those youthful dreams which life seldom, if ever,



First Efforts of the National Defence Delegates--La Motte-Rouge and his
Dyed Hair--The German Advance South of Paris--Moltke and King William--
Bourges, the German Objective--Characteristics of Beauce, Perche, and
Sologne--French Evacuation of Orleans--Gambetta arrives at Tours--His
Coadjutor, Charles Louis de Saulces de Freycinet--Total Forces of the
National Defence on Gambetta's Arrival--D'Aurelle de Paladines supersedes
La Motte-Rouge--The Affair of Châteaudun--Cambriels--Garibaldi--Jessie
White Mario--Edward Vizetelly--Catholic Hatred of Garibaldi--The Germans
at Dijon--The projected Relief of Paris--Trochu's Errors and Ducrot's
Schemes--The French Victory of Coulmiers--Change of Plan in Paris--My
Newspaper Work--My Brother Adrian Vizetelly--The General Position.

When I reached Brittany, coming from Paris, early in the second fortnight
of November, the Provincial Delegation of the Government of National
Defence was able to meet the Germans with very considerable forces. But
such had not been the case immediately after Sedan. As I pointed out
previously--quite apart from the flower of the old Imperial Army, which
was beleaguered around Metz--a force far too large for mere purposes of
defence was confined within the lines with which the Germans invested
Paris. In the provinces, the number of troops ready to take the field was
very small indeed. Old Crémieux, the Minister of Justice, was sent out of
Paris already on September 12, and took with him a certain General Lefort,
who was to attend to matters of military organization in the provinces.
But little or no confidence was placed in the resources there. The
military members of the National Defence Government--General Trochu, its
President, and General Le Flò, its Minister of War, had not the slightest
idea that provincial France might be capable of a great effort. They
relied chiefly on the imprisoned army of Paris, as is shown by all their
despatches and subsequent apologies. However, Glais-Bizoin followed
Crémieux to Tours, where it had been arranged that the Government
Delegation should instal itself, and he was accompanied by Admiral
Fourichon, the Minister of Marine. On reaching the Loire region, the new
authorities found a few battalions of Mobile Guards, ill-armed and
ill-equipped, a battalion of sharpshooters previously brought from
Algeria, one or two batteries of artillery, and a cavalry division of four
regiments commanded by General Reyau. This division had been gathered
together in the final days of the Empire, and was to have been sent to
Mezieres, to assist MacMahon in his effort to succour Bazaine; but on
failing to get there, it had made just a few vain attempts to check the
Germans in their advance on Paris, and had then fallen back to the south
of the capital.

General Lefort's first task was to collect the necessary elements for an
additional army corps--the 15th--and he summoned to his assistance the
veteran General de la Motte-Rouge, previously a very capable officer, but
now almost a septuagenarian, whose particular fad it was to dye his hair,
and thereby endeavour to make himself look no more than fifty. No doubt,
hi the seventeenth century, the famous Prince de Condé with the eagle
glance took a score of wigs with him when he started on a campaign; but
even such a practice as that is not suited to modern conditions of
warfare, though be it admitted that it takes less time to change one's wig
than to have one's hair dyed. The latter practice may, of course, help a
man to cut a fine figure on parade, but it is of no utility in the field.
In a controversy which arose after the publication of Zola's novel "La
Débâole," there was a conflict of evidence as to whether the cheeks of
Napoleon III were or were not rouged in order to conceal his ghastly
pallor on the fatal day of Sedan. That may always remain a moot point; but
it is, I think, certain that during the last two years of his rule his
moustache and "imperial" were dyed.

But let me return to the National Defence. Paris, as I formerly mentioned,
was invested on September 19. On the 22nd a Bavarian force occupied the
village of Longjumeau, referred to in my account of my journey to
Versailles. A couple of days later, the Fourth Division of German cavalry,
commanded by Prince Albert (the elder) of Prussia, started southward
through the departments of Eure-et-Loir and Loiret, going towards Artenay
in the direction of Orleans. This division, which met at first with little
opposition, belonged to a force which was detached from the main army
of the Crown Prince of Prussia, and placed under the command of the
Grand-Duke Frederick Francis of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Near this
"Armée-Abtheilung," as the Germans called it, was the first Bavarian army
corps, which had fought at Bazeilles on the day of Sedan. It was commanded
by General von und zu der Tann-Rathsamhausen, commonly called Von der
Tann, _tout court_.

As Prince Albert of Prussia, on drawing near to Artenay, found a good many
French soldiers, both regulars and irregulars, that is Francs-tireurs,
located in the district, he deemed it best to retire on Toury and
Pithiviers. But his appearance so far south had sufficed to alarm the
French commander at Orleans, General de Polhès, who at once, ordered his
men to evacuate the city and retire, partly on Blois, and partly on La
Motte-Beuvron. This pusillanimity incensed the Delegates of the National
Defence, and Polhès was momentarily superseded by General Reyau, and later
(October 5) by La Motte-Rouge.

It is known, nowadays, that the Germans were at first perplexed as to the
best course to pursue after they had completed the investment of Paris.
Moltke had not anticipated a long siege of the French capital. He had
imagined that the city would speedily surrender, and that the war would
then come to an end. Fully acquainted with the tract of country lying
between the Rhine and Paris, he had much less knowledge of other parts of
France; and, moreover, although he had long known how many men could be
placed in the field by the military organisation of the Empire, he
undoubtedly underestimated the further resources of the French, and did
not anticipate any vigorous provincial resistance. His sovereign, King
William, formed a more correct estimate respecting the prolongation of the
struggle, and, as was mentioned by me in my previous book--"Republican
France"--he more than once rectified the mistakes which were made by the
great German strategist.

The invader's objective with respect to central France was Bourges, the
old capital of Berry, renowned for its ordnance and ammunition works, and,
in the days when the troops of our Henry V overran France, the scene of
Charles VII's retirement, before he was inspirited either by Agnes Sorel
or by Joan of Arc. To enable an army coming from the direction of Paris to
seize Bourges, it is in the first instance necessary--as a reference to
any map of France will show--to secure possession of Orleans, which is
situated at the most northern point, the apex, so to say, of the course of
the Loire, and is only about sixty-eight miles from Paris. At the same
time it is advisable that any advance upon Orleans should be covered,
westward, by a corresponding advance on Chartres, and thence on
Châteaudun. This became the German plan, and whilst a force under General
von Wittich marched on Chartres, Von der Tann's men approached Orleans
through the Beauce region.

From the forest of Dourdan on the north to the Loire on the south, and
from the Chartres region on the west to the Gatinais on the east, this
great grain-growing plateau (the scene of Zola's famous novel "La Terre")
is almost level. Although its soil is very fertile there are few
watercourses in Beauce, none of them, moreover, being of a nature to
impede the march of an army. The roads are lined with stunted elms, and
here and there a small copse, a straggling farm, a little village, may be
seen, together with many a row of stacks, the whole forming in late autumn
and in winter--when hurricanes, rain, and snow-storms sweep across the
great expanse--as dreary a picture as the most melancholy-minded
individual could desire. Whilst there is no natural obstacle to impede the
advance of an invader, there is also no cover for purposes of defence. All
the way from Chartres to Orleans the high-road is not once intersected by
a river. Nearly all of the few streams which exist thereabouts run from
south to north, and they supply no means of defence against an army coming
from the direction of Paris. The region is one better suited for the
employment of cavalry and artillery than for that of foot-soldiers.

The Chartres country is better watered than Beaude. Westward, in both
of the districts of Perche, going either towards Mortagne or towards
Nogent-le-Rotrou, the country is more hilly and more wooded; and hedges,
ditches, and dingle paths abound there. In such districts infantry can
well be employed for defensive purposes. Beyond the Loir--not the Loire--
S.S.W. of Chartres, is the Pays Dunois, that is the district of
Châteaudun, a little town protected on the north and the west by the Loir
and the Conie, and by the hills between which those rivers flow, but open
to any attack on the east, from which direction, indeed, the Germans
naturally approached it.

Beyond the Loire, to the south-east of Beauce and Orleans, lies the
sheep-breeding region called Sologne, which the Germans would have had to
cross had they prosecuted their intended march on Bourges. Here cavalry
and artillery are of little use, the country abounding in streams, ponds,
and marshes. Quite apart, however, from natural obstacles, no advance on
Bourges could well be prosecuted so long as the French held Orleans; and
even when that city had fallen into the hands of the Germans, the presence
of large French forces on the west compelled the invaders to carry
hostilities in that direction and abandon their projected march southward.
Thus the campaign in which I became interested was carried on principally
in the departments of Eure-et-Loir, Loiret, Loir-et-Cher, and Sarthe, to
terminate, at last, in Mayenne.

Great indiscipline prevailed among the troops whom La Motte-Rouge had
under his orders. An attack by Von der Tann to the north of Orleans on
October 10, led to the retreat of a part of the French forces. On the
following day, when the French had from 12,000 to 13,000 men engaged, they
were badly defeated, some 1800 of their men being put _hors de combat_,
and as many being taken prisoners. This reverse, which was due partly to
some mistakes made by La Motte-Rouge, and partly to the inferior quality
of his troops, led to the immediate evacuation of Orleans. Now, it was
precisely at this moment that Gambetta appeared upon the scene. He had
left Paris, it will be remembered, on October 7; on the 8th he was at
Rouen, on the 9th he joined the other Government delegates at Tours, and
on the 10th--the eve of La Motte-Rouge's defeat--he became Minister of War
as well as Minister of the Interior.

Previously the portfolio for war had been held in the provinces by Admiral
Fourichon, with General Lefort as his assistant; but Fourichon had
resigned in connexion with a Communalist rising which had taken place at
Lyons towards the end of September, when the Prefect, Challemel-Lacour,
was momentarily made a prisoner by the insurgents, but was afterwards
released by some loyal National Guards. [See my book, "The Anarchists:
Their Faith and their Record," John Lane, 1911.] Complaining that General
Mazure, commander of the garrison, had not done his duty on this occasion,
Challemel-Lacour caused him to be arrested, and Fourichon, siding with the
general, thereupon resigned the War Ministry, Crémieux taking it over
until Gambetta's arrival. It may well be asked how one could expect the
military affairs of France to prosper when they were subordinated to such
wretched squabbles.

Among the men whom Gambetta found at Tours, was an engineer, who,
after the Revolution of September 4, had been appointed Prefect of
Tarn-et-Garonne, but who, coming into conflict with the extremists of
Montauban, much as Challemel-Lacour had come into conflict with those of
Lyons, had promptly resigned his functions. His name was Charles Louis de
Saulces de Freycinet, and, though he was born at Foix near the Pyrenees,
he belonged to an ancient family of Dauphiné. At this period (October,
1870), Freycinet had nearly completed his forty-second year. After
qualifying as an engineer at the Ecole Polytechnique, he had held various
posts at Mont-de-Marsan, Chartres, and Bordeaux, before securing in 1864
the position of traffic-manager to the Chemin de Fer du Midi. Subsequently
he was entrusted with various missions abroad, and in 1869 the Institute
of France crowned a little work of his on the employment of women and
children in English factories. Mining engineering was his speciality, but
he was extremely versatile and resourceful, and immediately attracted the
notice of Gambetta. Let it be said to the latter's credit that in that
hour of crisis he cast all prejudices aside. He cared nothing for the
antecedents of any man who was willing to cooperate in the defence of
France; and thus, although Freycinet came of an ancient-aristocratic
house, and had made his way under the Empire, which had created him first
a chevalier and then an officer of the Legion of Honour, Gambetta at once
selected him to act as his chef-de-cabinet, and delegate in military

At this moment the National Defence had in or ready for the field only
40,000 regular infantry, a like number of Mobile Guards, from 5000 to 6000
cavalry, and about 100 guns, some of antiquated models and with very few
men to serve them. There were certainly a good many men at various
regimental dépôts, together with Mobile Guards and National Guards in all
the uninvaded provinces of France; but all these had to be drilled,
equipped, and armed. That was the first part of the great task which lay
before Gambetta and Freycinet. Within a month, however--leaving aside what
was done in other parts of the country--France had on the Loire alone an
army of 100,000 men, who for a moment, at all events, turned the tide of
war. At the same time I would add that, before Gambetta's arrival on the
scene, the National Defence Delegates had begun to concentrate some small
bodies of troops both in Normandy and in Picardy and Artois, the latter
forming the first nucleus of the Army of the North which Faidherbe
afterwards commanded. Further, in the east of France there was a force
under General Cambriels, whose object was to cut the German communications
in the Vosges.

Von der Tann, having defeated La Motte-Rouge, occupied Orleans, whilst the
French withdrew across the Loire to La Motte-Beuvron and Gien, south and
south-east of their former position. Gambetta had to take action
immediately. He did so by removing La Motte-Rouge from his command, which
he gave to D'Aurelle de Paladines. The latter, a general on the reserve
list, with a distinguished record, was in his sixty-sixth year, having
been born at Languedoc in 1804. He had abilities as an organiser, and was
known to be a disciplinarian, but he was growing old, and looked
confidence both in himself and in his men. At the moment of D'Aurelle's
appointment, Von der Tann wished to advance on Bourges, in accordance with
Moltke's instructions, and, in doing so, he proposed to evacuate Orleans;
but this was forbidden by King William and the Crown Prince, and in the
result the Bavarian general suffered a repulse at Salbris, which checked
his advance southward. Still covering Bourges and Vierzon, D'Aurelle soon
had 60,000 men under his orders, thanks to the efforts of Gambetta and
Freyeinet. But the enemy were now making progress to the west of Orleans,
in which direction the tragic affair of Châteaudun occurred on October 18.
The German column operating on that side under General von Wittich,
consisted of 6000 infantry, four batteries, and a cavalry regiment, which
advanced on Châteaudun from the east, and, on being resisted by the
villagers of Varize and Civry, shot them down without mercy, and set all
their houses (about 130 in number) on fire. Nevertheless, that punishment
did not deter the National Guards of Châteaudun, and the Francs-tireurs
who had joined them, from offering the most strenuous opposition to the
invaders, though the latter's numerical superiority alone was as seven
to one. The fierce fight was followed by terrible scenes. Most of the
Francs-tireurs, who had not fallen in the engagement, effected a retreat,
and on discovering this, the infuriated Germans, to whom the mere name of
Franc-tireur was as a red rag to a bull, did not scruple to shoot down a
number of non-combatants, including women and children.

I remember the excitement which the news of the Châteaudun affair
occasioned in besieged Paris; and when I left the capital a few weeks
later I heard it constantly spoken of. In vain did the Germans strive to
gloss over the truth. The proofs were too numerous and the reality was too
dreadful. Two hundred and thirty-five of the devoted little town's houses
were committed to the flames. For the first time in the whole course of
the war women were deliberately assaulted, and a couple of German Princes
disgraced their exalted station in a drunken and incendiary orgie.

Meantime, in the east of France, Cambriels had failed in his attempt to
cut the German communications, and had been compelled to beat a retreat.
It must be said for him that his troops were a very sorry lot, who could
not be depended upon. Not only were they badly disciplined and addicted to
drunkenness, but they took to marauding and pillage, and were in no degree
a match for the men whom the German General von Werder led against them.
Garibaldi, the Italian Liberator, had offered his sword to France, soon
after the fall of the Second Empire. On October 8--that is, a day before
Gambetta--he arrived at Tours, to arrange for a command, like that of
Cambriels, in the east of France. The little Army of the Vosges, which was
eventually constituted under his orders, was made up of very heterogeneous
elements. Italians, Switzers, Poles, Hungarians, Englishmen, as well as
Frenchmen, were to be found in its ranks. The general could not be called
a very old man, being indeed only sixty-three years of age, but he had led
an eventful and arduous life; and, as will be remembered, ever since the
affair of Aspromonte in 1862, he had been lame, and had gradually become
more and more infirm. He had with him, however, two of his sons, Menotti
and Ricoiotti (the second a more competent soldier than the first),
and several, able men, such as his compatriot Lobbia, and the Pole,
Bosak-Hauké. His chief of staff, Bordone, previously a navy doctor, was,
however, a very fussy individual who imagined himself to be a military
genius. Among the Englishmen with Garibaldi were Robert Middleton and my
brother Edward Vizetelly; and there was an Englishwoman, Jessie White
Mario, daughter of White the boat-builder of Cowes, and widow of Mario,
Garibaldi's companion in arms in the glorious Liberation days. My brother
often told me that Mme. Mario was equally at home in an ambulance or in a
charge, for she was an excellent nurse and an admirable horsewoman as well
as a good shot. She is one of the women of whom I think when I hear or
read that the members of the completing sex cannot fight. But that of
course is merely the opinion of some medical and newspaper men.

Mme. Mario contributed a certain number of articles to the _Daily News_.
So did my brother--it was indeed as _Daily News_ correspondent that he
first joined Garibaldi's forces--but he speedily became an orderly to the
general, and later a captain on the staff. He was at the battles of Dijon
and Autun, and served under Lobbia in the relief of Langres. Some French
historians of these later days have written so slightingly of the little
Army of the Vosges, that I am sorry my brother did not leave any permanent
record of his experiences. Garibaldi's task was no easy one. In the first
instance, the National Defence hesitated to employ him; secondly, they
wished to subordinate him to Cambriels, and he declined to take any such
position; not that he objected to serve under any superior commander
who would treat him fairly, but because he, Garibaldi, was a freethinker,
and knew that he was bitterly detested by the fervently Catholic generals,
such as Cambriels. As it happened, he secured an independent command. But
in exercising it he had to co-operate with Cambriels in various ways, and
in later years my brother told me how shamefully Cambriels acted more than
once towards the Garibaldian force. It was indeed a repetition of what had
occurred at the very outset of the war, when such intense jealousy had
existed among certain marshals and generals that one had preferred to let
another be defeated rather than march "at the sound of the guns" to his

I also remember my brother telling me that when Langres (which is in the
Haute Marne, west of the Aube and the Côte d'Or) was relieved by Lobbia's
column, the commander of the garrison refused at first to let the
Garibaldians enter the town. He was prepared to surrender to the Germans,
if necessary; but the thought that he, a devout Catholic, should owe any
assistance to such a band of unbelieving brigands as the Garibaldian
enemies of the Pope was absolutely odious to him. Fortunately, this kind
of feeling did not show itself in western France. There was, at one
moment, some little difficulty respecting the position of Cathélineau, the
descendant of the famous Vendéen leader, but, on the whole, Catholics,
Royalists, and Republicans loyally supported one another, fired by a
common patriotism.

The failure of Cambriel's attempts to cut the German communications, and
the relatively small importance of the Garibaldian force, inspired
Gambetta with the idea of forming a large Army of the East which, with
Langres, Belfort, and Besançon as its bases, would vigorously assume the
offensive in that part of France. Moltke, however, had already sent
General von Werder orders to pursue the retreating Cambriels. Various
engagements, late in October, were followed by a German march on Dijon.
There were at this time 12,000 or 13,000 Mobile Guards in the Côte d'Or,
but no general in command of them. Authority was exercised by a civilian,
Dr. Lavalle. The forces assembled at Dijon and Beaune amounted, inclusive
of regulars and National Guards, to about 20,000 men, but they were very
badly equipped and armed, and their officers were few in number and of
very indifferent ability. Werder came down on Dijon in a somewhat
hesitating way, like a man who is not sure of his ground or of the
strength of the enemy in front of him. But the French were alarmed by his
approach, and on October 30 Dijon was evacuated, and soon afterwards
occupied by Werder with two brigades.

Three days previously Metz had surrendered, and France was reeling under
the unexpected blow in spite of all the ardent proclamations with which
Gambetta strove to impart hope and stimulate patriotism. Bazaine's
capitulation naturally implied the release of the forces under Prince
Frederick Charles, by which he had been invested, and their transfer to
other parts of France for a more vigorous prosecution of the invasion.
Werder, after occupying Dijon, was to have gone westward through the
Nivernais in order to assist other forces in the designs on Bourges. But
some days before Metz actually fell, Moltke sent him different
instructions, setting forth that he was to take no further account of
Bourges, but to hold Dijon, and concentrate at Vesoul, keeping a watch on
Langres and Besançon. For a moment, however, 3600 French under an officer
named Fauconnet suddenly recaptured Dijon, though there were more than
10,000 Badeners installed there under General von Beyer. Unfortunately
Fauconnet was killed in the affair, a fresh evacuation of the Burgundian
capital ensued, and the Germans then remained in possession of the city
for more than a couple of months.

In the west the army of the Loire was being steadily increased and
consolidated, thanks to the untiring efforts of Gambetta, Freycinet,
and D'Aurelle, the last of whom certainly contributed largely to the
organization of the force, though he was little inclined to quit his lines
and assume the offensive. It was undoubtedly on this army that Gambetta
based his principal hopes. The task assigned to it was greater than those
allotted to any of the other armies which were gradually assuming
shape--being, indeed, the relief of beleaguered Paris.

Trochu's own memoirs show that at the outset of the siege his one thought
was to remain on the defensive. In this connexion it is held, nowadays,
that he misjudged the German temperament, that remembering the vigorous
attempts of the Allies on Sebastopol--he was, as we know, in the Crimea,
at the time--he imagined that the Germans would make similarly vigorous
attempts on Paris. He did not expect a long and so to say passive siege, a
mere blockade during which the investing army would simply content itself
with repulsing the efforts of the besieged to break through its lines. He
knew that the Germans had behaved differently in the case of Strasbourg
and some other eastern strongholds, and anticipated a similar line of
action with respect to the French capital. But the Germans preferred to
follow a waiting policy towards both Metz and Paris. It has been said that
this was less the idea of Moltke than that of Bismarck, whose famous
phrase about letting the Parisians stew in their own juice will be
remembered. But one should also recollect that both Metz and Paris were
defended by great forces, and that there was little likelihood of any
_coup de main_ succeeding; whilst, as for bombardment, though it might
have some moral, it would probably have very little material effect. Metz
was not really bombarded, and the attempt to bombard Paris was deferred
for several months. When it at last took place a certain number of
buildings were damaged, 100 persons were killed and 200 persons wounded--a
material effect which can only be described as absolutely trivial in the
case of so great and so populous a city.

Trochu's idea to remain merely on the defensive did not appeal to his
coadjutor General Ducrot. The latter had wished to break through the
German lines on the day of Sedan, and he now wished to break through them
round Paris. Various schemes occurred to him. One was to make a sortie in
the direction of Le Bourget and the plain of Saint Denis, but it seemed
useless to attempt to break out on the north, as the Germans held Laon,
Soissons, La Fère, and Amiens. There was also an idea of making an attempt
on the south, in the direction of Villejuif, but everything seemed to
indicate that the Germans were extremely strong on this side of the city
and occupied no little of the surrounding country. The question of a
sortie on the east, across the Marne, was also mooted and dismissed for
various reasons; the idea finally adopted being to break out by way of
the Gennevilliers peninsula formed by the course of the Seine on the
north-west, and then (the heights of Cormeil having been secured) to cross
the Oise, and afterwards march on Rouen, where it would be possible to
victual the army. Moreover, instructions were to be sent into the
provinces in order that both the forces on the Loire and those in the
north might bear towards Normandy, and there join the army from Paris, in
such wise that there would be a quarter of a million men between Dieppe,
Rouen, and Caen. Trochu ended by agreeing to this scheme, and even
entertained a hope that he might be able to revictual Paris by way of the
Seine, for which purpose a flotilla of boats was prepared. Ducrot and he
expected to be ready by November 15 or 20, but it is said that they were
hampered in their preparations by the objections raised by Guiod and
Chabaud-Latour, the former an engineer, and the latter an artillery
general. Moreover, the course of events in the provinces suddenly caused a
complete reversal of Ducrot's plans.

On November 9, D'Aurelle de Paladines defeated Von der Tann at Coulmiers,
west of Orleans. The young French troops behaved extremely well, but the
victory not being followed up with sufficient vigour by D'Aurelle,
remained somewhat incomplete, though it constrained the Germans to
evacuate Orleans. On the whole this was the first considerable success
achieved by the French since the beginning of the war, and it did much to
revive the spirits which had been drooping since the fall of Metz. Another
of its results was to change Ducrot's plans respecting the Paris sortie.
He and Trochu had hitherto taken little account of the provincial armies,
and the success of Coulmiers came to them as a surprise and a revelation.
There really was an army of the Loire, then, and it was advancing on Paris
from Orleans. The Parisian forces must therefore break out on the
south-east and join hands with this army of relief in or near the forest
of Fontainebleau. Thus, all the preparations for a sortie by way of
Gennevilliers were abandoned, and followed by others for an attempt in the
direction of Champigny.

Such was roughly the position at the time when I reached Brittany and
conceived the idea of joining the French forces on the Loire and
forwarding some account of their operations to England. During my stay in
Paris with my father I had assisted him in preparing several articles, and
had written others on my own account. My eldest brother, Adrian Vizetelly,
was at this time assistant-secretary at the Institution of Naval
Architects. He had been a student at the Royal School of Naval
Architecture with the Whites, Elgars, Yarrows, Turnbulls, and other famous
shipbuilders, and on quitting it had taken the assistant-secretaryship in
question as an occupation pending some suitable vacancy in the Government
service or some large private yard. The famous naval constructor, E. J.
Reed, had started in life in precisely the same post, and it was, indeed,
at his personal suggestion that my brother took it. A year or two later he
and his friend Dr. Francis Elgar, subsequently Director of Dockyards and
one of the heads of the Fairfield Shipbuilding Company, were assisting

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