My Days of Adventure / The Fall of France, 1870-71

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MY DAYS OF ADVENTURE

THE FALL OF FRANCE, 1870-71

By Ernest Alfred Vizetelly

Le Petit Homme Rouge

Author of “The Court of the Tuileries 1852-70” etc.

With A Frontispiece

London, 1914

THE PEOPLE’S WAR

  O husbandmen of hill and dale,

    O dressers of the vines,

  O sea-tossed fighters of the gale,

    O hewers of the mines,

  O wealthy ones who need not strive,

    O sons of learning, art,

  O craftsmen of the city’s hive,

    O traders of the man,

  Hark to the cannon’s thunder-call

    Appealing to the brave!

  Your France is wounded, and may fall

    Beneath the foreign grave!

  Then gird your loins! Let none delay

    Her glory to maintain;

  Drive out the foe, throw off his sway,

    Win back your land again!

1870. E.A.V.

PREFACE

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

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

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

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

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

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

E.A.V.

London, January 1914.

CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTORY—SOME EARLY RECOLLECTIONS

II. THE OUTBREAK OF THE FRANCO-GERMAN WAR
III. ON THE ROAD TO REVOLUTION
IV. FROM REVOLUTION TO SIEGE
V. BESIEGED
VI. MORE ABOUT THE SIEGE DAYS
VII. FROM PARIS TO VERSAILLES
VIII. FROM VERSAILLES TO BRITTANY
IX. THE WAR IN THE PROVINCES
X. WITH THE “ARMY OF BRITTANY”
XI. BEFORE LE MANS
XII. LE MANS AND AFTER
XIII. THE BITTER END
INDEX

MY DAYS OF ADVENTURE

I

INTRODUCTORY—SOME EARLY RECOLLECTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  ”When a lady elopes

   Down a ladder of ropes,

   She may go, she may go,

   She may go to—Hongkong—for me!”

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

  ”Magistrorum is a borum,

     Hic-haec-hoc has made his bow.

   Let us cry: ‘O cockalorum!’

     That’s the Latin for us now.

   Alpha, beta, gamma, delta,

     Off to Greece, for we are free!

   Helter, skelter, melter, pelter,

     We’re the lads for mirth and spree!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II

THE OUTBREAK OF THE FRANCO-GERMAN WAR

Napoleon’s Plans for a War with Prussia—The Garde Mobile and the French

Army generally—Its Armament—The “White Blouses” and the Paris Riots—The

Emperor and the Elections of 1869—The Troppmann and Pierre Bonaparte

Affairs—Captain the Hon. Dennis Bingham—The Ollivier Ministry—French

Campaigning Plans—Frossard and Bazaine—The Negotiations with Archduke

Albert and Count Vimeroati—The War forced on by Bismarck—I shout “A

Berlin!”—The Imperial Guard and General Bourbaki—My Dream of seeing a

War—My uncle Frank Vizetelly and his Campaigns—”The Siege of Pekin”—

Organization of the French Forces—The Information Service—I witness the

departure of Napoleon III and the Imperial Prince from Saint Cloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

During the spring, my father went to Ireland as special commissioner of
the Illustrated London News and the Pall Mall Gazette, in order to
investigate the condition of the tenantry and the agrarian crimes which
were then so prevalent there. Meantime, I was left in Paris, virtually “on
my own,” though I was often with my elder brother Edward. About this time,
moreover, a friend of my father’s began to take a good deal of interest in
me. This was Captain the Hon. Dennis Bingham, a member of the Clanmorris
family, and the regular correspondent of the Pall Mall Gazette in Paris.
He subsequently became known as the author of various works on the
Bonapartes and the Bourbons, and of a volume of recollections of Paris
life, in which I am once or twice mentioned. Bingham was married to a very
charming lady of the Laoretelle family, which gave a couple of historians
to France, and I was always received most kindly at their hom