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'than the rest—a mere lad without whisker or mous- CHAP.
XIV 'tache—had covered me. In an instant I dashed my -—*-^
'wife, who had just stepped back, against the pier
'between the windows, when a shot struck the ceil
'ing immediately over our heads, and covered us
'with dust and broken plaster. In a second after, I
'placed her upon the floor; and in another, a volley
'came against the whole front of the house, the
'balcony, and windows; one shot broke the mirror
'over the chimney-piece, another the shade of the
'clock ; every pane of glass but one was smashed; the
'curtains and window-frames cut: the room, in short,
'was riddled. The iron balcony, though rather low,
'was a great protection; still fire-balls entered the
'room, and in the pause for reloading I drew my
'wife to the door, and took refuge in the back-rooms
'of the house. The rattle of musketry was incessant
'for more than a quarter of an hour after this; and
'in a very few minutes the guns were unlimbered
'and pointed at the "Magasin " of M. Sallandrouze,
'five houses on our right. What the object or
'meaning of all this might be was a perfect enigma
'to every individual in the house, French or foreigners.
'Some thought the troops had turned round and
'joined the Reds; others suggested that they must
'have been fired upon somewhere, though they cer
'tainly had not from our house or any other on the
'Boulevard Montmartre, or we must have seen it
'from the balcony. . . . This wanton fusilade must
'have been the result of a panic, lest the windows
'should have been lined with concealed enemies, and
CHAP, 'they wanted to secure their skins by the first fire, or v_^-L, 'else it was a sanguinary impulse. . . . The men, as 'I have already stated, fired volley upon volley for 'more than a quarter of an hour without any return; 'they shot down many of the unhappy individuals 'who remained on the Boulevard and could not 'obtain an entrance into any house; some persons 'were killed close to our door.' * The like of what was calmly seen by this English officer, was seen with frenzied horror by thousands of French men and women.
If the officers in general abstained from ordering the slaughter, Colonel Rochefort did not follow their example. He was an officer in the Lancers, and he had already done execution with his horsemen amongst the chairs and the idlers in the neighbourhood of Tortoni's; but afterwards imagining a shot to have been fired from a part of the Boulevard occupied by infantry, he put himself at the head of a detachment which made a charge upon the crowd; and the military historian of these events relates with triumph that about thirty corpses, almost all of them in the clothes of gentlemen, were the trophies of this exploit.t Along a distance of a thousand yards, going eastward from the Rue Richelieu, the dead bodies were strewed upon the foot-pavement of the Boulevard, but at several spots they lay in heaps. Some CHAP, of the people mortally struck would be able to stagger <—*-^ blindly for a pace or two until they were tripped up by a corpse, and this, perhaps, is why a large proportion of the bodies lay heaped one on the other. Before one shop-front they counted thirty-three corpses. By the peaceful little nook or court which is called the Cite" Bergere they counted thirty-seven. The slayers were many thousands of armed soldiery: the slain were of a number that never will be reckoned; but amongst all these slayers and all these slain there was not one combatant. There was no fight, no riot, no fray, no quarrel, no dispute.* What happened was a slaughter of unarmed men, and women, and children. Where they lay, the dead bore witness. Corpses lying apart struck deeper into people's memory than the dead who were lying in heaps. Some were haunted with the look of an old man with silver hair, whose only weapon was the umbrella which lay at his side. Some shuddered because of seeing the gay idler of the Boulevard sitting dead against the wall of a house, and scarce parted from the cigar which lay on the ground near his hand. Some carried in their minds the sight of a printer's boy leaning back against a shop-front, because, though the lad was killed, the proof-sheets which he was carrying had remained in his hands, and were red with his blood, and were fluttering in the wind.t The
* Letter from Captain Jesse, first printed in the 'Times,' 13th December 1851, and given also in the ' Annual Register.'
t This was in the Boulevard Poissoniere. Mauduit, pp. 217, 218. Mauduit speaks of these thirty killed as armed men, but it is well proved that there were no armed men in the Boulevard Poissoniere, and I have therefore no difficulty in rejecting that part of his statement.
* I speak here of the Boulevard from the Rue du Sentier to the western extremity of the Boulevard Montmartre.
f For accounts of the state of the Boulevard after the massacre, see the written statements of eyewitnesses supplied to Victor Hugo, and printed in his narrative. It will be seen that I do not adopt M. Victor Hugo's conclusions; but there is no reason for questioning the authenticity or the truth of the statements which he has collected.
CHAP, military historian of these achievements permitted •—^-^ himself to speak with a kind of joy of the number of women who suffered. After accusing the gentler sex of the crime of sheltering men from the fire of the troops, the Colonel writes it down that 'many an 'Amazon of the Boulevard has paid dearly for her 'imprudent collusion with that new sort of barricade;' and then he goes on to express a hope that women will profit by the example and derive from it 'a 'lesson for the future.' * One woman, who fell and died clasping her child, was suffered to keep her hold in death as in life, for the child too was killed. Words which long had been used for making figures of speech, recovered their ancient use, being wanted again in the world for the picturing of things real and physical. Musket-shots do not shed much blood in proportion to the slaughter which they work; but still in so many places the foot-pavement was wet and red, that, except by care, no one could pass along it without gathering blood. Round each of the trees in the Boulevards a little space of earth is left unpaved in order to give room for the expansion of the trunk. The blood, collecting in pools upon the asphalte, drained down at last into these hollows, and there becoming coagulated, it remained for more than a day, and was observed by many. 'Their blood,' says the English officer before quoted,—' their blood lay in the 'hollows round the trees the next morning when we CHAR
* Mauduit, p. 278.
XIV 'passed at twelve o'clock/ 'The Boulevards and the —,—^
4 adjacent streets/ he goes on to say, 'were- at some 4 points a perfect shambles/* Incredible as it may seem, artillery was brought to bear upon some of the houses in the Boulevard. On its north side the houses were so battered that the foot-pavement beneath them was laden with plaster and such ruins as field-guns can bring down.
The soldiers broke into many houses and hunted the inmates from floor to floor, and caught them at last and slaughtered them. These things, no doubt, they did under a notion that shots had been fired from the house which they entered; but it is certain that in almost all these instances, if not in every one of them, the impression was false. One or two soldiers would be seen rushing furiously at some particular door, and this sight leading their comrades to imagine that a shot had been fired from the windows above, was enough to bring into the accused house a whole band of slaughterers. The Sallandrouze carpet warehouse was thus entered. Fourteen helpless people shrank for safety behind some piles of carpets. The soldiers killed them crouching.
Whilst these things were being done upon the slaughter Boulevard, four brigades were converging upon the pari° r streets where resistance, though of a rash and feeble kind, had been really attempted. One after another the barricades were battered by artillery, and then carried without a serious struggle; but things had
* Mauduit, p. 278.