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Louis Philippe page 2


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The prohibition was obeyed; the banquet was not held. The Opposition journals published a manifesto, stating that in abstaining from the banquet they were governed by feelings of moderation and humanity, but that there remained for them yet to accomplish a great act of firmness and justice. On Tuesday, the 22nd, this great act was performed. M. Odilon Barrot laid upon the table of the Chamber of Deputies an Act of Impeachment, signed by 53 members of the Opposition, which was couched in the following terms: - "We propose to impeach the Ministry as guilty -

  1. Of having betrayed abroad the honour and interests of France.
  2. Falsified the principles of the constitution, violated the guarantees of liberty, and attacked the rights of citizens.
  3. Of having, by systematic corruption, attempted to substitute for the free expression of public opinion the sordid calculations of private interests, thus perverting representative Government.
  4. Of having trafficked in public functions and privileges.
  5. Of having ruined the finances of the State, and thus compromised the national grandeur and strength.
  6. Of having violently despoiled citizens of an inherent right, guaranteed by the Charter, by the law, and by precedents. 7. Of having, by a counter-revolutionary policy, placed in jeopardy the fruits of two revolutions, and thrown the country into perturbation."

The President, M. Sauzet, instantly adjourned the Chamber without reading the document. In the meantime, great numbers of people arrived in Paris from the country, and immense multitudes from all the faubourgs assembled at the Madéleine, in the Champs Elysées, and at the Place de la Concorde, consisting, for the most part, of workmen and artisans. The people seemed violently agitated, as if prepared for the most desperate issues. The troops were under arms, however, and the King, who was in the gayest humour, laughed with his courtiers at the pretensions of Barrot and the reformers. The excitement, however, increased every moment. When the troops came near the crowd they were received with hisses and assailed with stones. The Rue Royale, the Rue de Rivoli, and Rue St. Honoré, were cleared and occupied by cavalry, and the populace were driven into the back streets, where some barricades were constructed, and some occasional shots exchanged between the military and the insurgents. The principal struggles, however, were between the people and the Municipal Guard, which they abhorred. Wherever they met through the city, the conflict became fierce, sanguinary, and ruthless. But the National Guard had no such animosity against the people; on the contrary, they sympathised with them thoroughly, raised with them the cry of "Vive la Réforme," and refused to act against them. The King could not be got to believe this fact till the last moment. To the peers, deputies, generals, and officials, who hurried to the Tuileries, he put but one question, "Can it be true, can it be possible, that the National Guard have made common cause with Thiers, Barrot, the National, and the agitators for reform?" We are told that the mournful, despairing looks of peers, deputies, generals, and officials, betrayed the real truth to the astounded monarch.

On the 23rd, the aspect of the insurgent multitude became more fierce, daring, and determined. Guizot had announced the resignation of his Cabinet; the King had sent for Count Molé, then for M. Thiers, who was asked to form a new Ministry. He declined unless Odilon Barrot became one of his colleagues. The King gave a reluctant consent, but Barrot was not prepared to sanction measures of military repression. Marshal Bugeaud, the hero of Algiers, whose exploits there made his name terrible, had been appointed Commander-in-Chief of the first military division, and of the National Guards of Paris, but the National Guards were not prepared to fight against the people. The people, knowing this, shouted, "Vive la Garde Nationale!" and the National Guard shouted, " Vive la Réforme!" In the evening, about seven o'clock, an immense body of the working classes formed in procession, headed by men carrying blazing torches, and marching along the Boulevards, chanted two lines of the Girondists' song -
"Mourir pour la patrie,

C'est le sort le plus beau, le plus digne d'envie!"

This was only interrupted by the cries of "A bas Quizot! " "A bas les Ministres!" These cries, everywhere received with electrical enthusiasm, were uttered with the greatest bitterness about Guizot's house, where an incident occurred that, whether intended or not, sealed the fate of the Orleans dynasty. The people were pressing on the military, and in the confusion a man named Lagrange stepped forward and shot the commanding officer. The troops then fired point blank into the dense mass, and many were killed. When the firing ceased, a funeral procession was rapidly formed, the bodies were collected and placed upon a large cart, their still bleeding wounds exposed under the glare of torchlight. In this way they were borne to the Place de Bastille, moving slowly, while in solemn tones and low monotonous cadences, the vast multitude chanted the dirge, "Mourir pour la Patrie." The effect may be imagined: it thrilled the whole city with feelings of horror and revenge.

But for this incident the monarchy might have been saved. As the storm increased in violence, the King was compelled to give way. The resignation of Guizot and the triumph of reform had been received with joyful acclamations. The barricades had been abandoned; the troops and people had fraternised; the joyful news had spread in every direction that blood had ceased to flow, and that peace was happily restored. The Boulevards were crowded with people, old men, women, and children, and the peaceable bourgeois sallied forth to express their satisfaction as on a high festival. The city began to be illuminated, and all seemed likely to end happily, when a cry of horror was raised, and exclamations were uttered of "Abominable treachery, inhuman barbarity, thus to draw us out of the barricades, and then to shoot us down Î - to be guilty of massacre! " They stopped not to inquire the cause of this deplorable catastrophe. Maleville and Arago hastened to the office of the National, to learn the details from the editor. " Alas!" said he, " after what has already passed, there is but one cry - the cry for vengeance. The people look upon the troops who fired as the assassins of an unarmed population, and the Government can be no longer saved." New barricades were now raised at the end of almost every street, and the astonished army, who had received no orders either to attack or retreat, remained passive spectators of the insurrection, a prey to emotions of terror and grief. At day-break, on the 23rd, Paris was a vast battle-field. Upon the barricades, hastily constructed of overturned omnibuses, carts, furniture, and large paving-stones, were seen glistening weapons of every size and form. " Vengeance, vengeance, for the murders committed under the windows of Guizot! " was the only cry. The people did not for a moment doubt that the deed was done by the order of that minister. Their feelings were still more inflamed by the appointment of Bugeaud. Even at this moment, however, the King could with difficulty be brought to see his position. " To say that the people require reform," observed His Majesty, " is to repeat a mere casual coffee-house remark. Turbulent demagogues may talk of reform, but the people do not, and indeed they are too sensible to require it." However, his eyes were opened at last, when too late, and a proclamation was issued announcing that Barrot and Thiers were charged by the King with the formation of a Ministry; that the Chamber would be dissolved; that General Lamoricière was Commander- in-Chief of the National Guard of Paris, instead of Bugeaud (whose appointment was cancelled); and concluding with the words, " Liberté, Ordre, Union, Réforme." Barrot himself rode along the Boulevards to explain the nature of the changes, but without effect. The people had lost all faith in the King; they would trust him no more; nothing would satisfy them but his dethronement. On the morning of the 24th of February, the Royal family were assembled in the gallery of Maria, where breakfast was about to be served. At this moment it was announced to the King that the troops were quitting their ranks, and delivering up their arms to the people. "Sire," said the Queen, "mount your horse, and, if necessary, know how to die. From the balcony of the Tuileries the eyes of your wife and your children will follow and speed you!" He left the room, and presently re-appeared in military uniform, descended to the courtyard, mounted his horse, and passed some regiments in review. But there were among the troops two battalions of the National Guard, who received their Sovereign with the shout of " Vive la Réforme!" Dismayed and paralysed, he instantly dismounted, and returned to his apartments. The Tuileries were now filled with deputies and functionaries of all parties and ranks, all bringing the same tidings, that the city was in possession of the insurgents; that the army had fraternised with the people; that the Ecole Polytechnique were behind the barricades; that the troops had delivered up their muskets and cartouches, and that the revolution was everywhere triumphant. The fatal word, "abdication," was pronounced. The King faltered, but the heroic Queen energetically resisted. " Sire," she exclaimed, " a king should never lose his crown without making an effort to defend it." But, while she spoke, the insurgents were attacking the last post which protected the Tuileries. The fusillade which thundered in the Place du Carrousel reverberated in the chamber in which the King then stood, and already an armed multitude was entering the palace of the ancient kings of France.

At this moment, the King seized a pen and signed his act of abdication, in the following terms: - " I abdicate the crown which I held by the will of the nation, and which I accepted, to restore peace and concord among

Frenchmen. Finding it impossible to accomplish this task, I leave the crown to my grandson, the Count of Paris. May he be more fortunate than I have been!

"Louis Philippe." A. few minutes after this abdication was signed, the following placard was posted on the walls of Paris: - "Citizens of Paris, - The King abdicates in favour of the Count of Paris, with the Duchess d'Orleans for Regent. A general amnesty. A dissolution of the Chamber. An appeal to the country."

The moment the abdication was signed in favour of the Count de Paris, with his mother as Regent, the following proclamation was issued: - "The King has: abdicated. The crown bestowed by the Revolution of July, is now placed upon the head of a child, protected by his mother. They are both under the safeguard of the honour and courage of the Parisian population. All cause of division among us has ceased to exist. Orders have been given to the troops of the line, to return to their respective quarters. Our brave army can be better employed than in shedding their blood in such a deplorable collision."

Meantime, the Duchess of Orleans proceeded to the Place de la Concorde, and thence to the Chamber of Deputies. As she departed from the Tuileries, the tumultuous insurgents were rushing in. She had scarcely entered the Chamber of Deputies, when, like a surging deluge, the populace invaded that place also. There were about 300 members present, M. Sauzet in the chair. It was announced that the Duchess of Orleans had arrived with her two sons, and desired to be admitted. A door was thrown open, and she entered, accompanied by her brother-in-law, the Duke de Nemours. She sat in an arm-chair in the semi-circle, which was crowded with officers and soldiers of the National Guard. M. Dupin then rose, and announced that the King had abdicated in favour of his grandson, the Count de Paris. A voice from the gallery shouted, " C'est trop tard!" It was indeed "too late," for these words were the signal for a fearful tumult; the deputies and National Guards gathered round the Royal family. M. Marie ascended the tribune, and demanded that a Provisional Government should be formed. M. Cremieux declared that they could do nothing else at that moment. "I have the greatest respect, " he said, " for the Duchess of Orleans, and I have just now conducted the Royal family to the carriages which bore them away. A law already voted disposes of the Regency, and I cannot admit that it should be abrogated at this moment. Since we have come to the point of undergoing a revolution, let us appeal to the country. I propose a Provisional Government of five members."

M. Odilon Barrot here entered, and ascending the tribune in the midst of tremendous excitement, made a courageous attempt to save the monarchy. "Our duty," he said, "is clearly traced out; it calls on us to unite ourselves to what is most generous in the heart of the nation. The crown of July rests on the head of a child. What I conceive to be most fitting for the situation is this: the Regency of the Duchess of Orleans, and an appeal to the country, to an extent sanctioned by law. Such is my opinion, and I cannot consent to assume the responsibility of any other situation." He had scarcely spoken these words, when an immense crowd burst into the Chamber, armed with swords, pikes, and muskets, and bearing tri-coloured flags. The President put on his hat, which occasioned fierce cries of " Off with your hat, President Î " and at the same instant, several muskets were pointed at his head. M. Ledru Rollin mounted the tribune, and at length succeeded in raising his voice above the tumult, exclaiming, amidst deafening shouts of applause, "In the name of the people, I protest against the kind of government which has just been proposed. I do so, in the name of the citizens whom I see before me; who for the last two days have been fighting, and who will, if necessary, again combat this evening. I demand, in the name of the people, that a provisional government be established. "The insurgents responded to this, by shouldering their muskets and brandishing their swords.

M. de Lamartine then rose and delivered an eloquent address in favour of a provisional government, at the same time remarking that he shared in the sentiments of grief that agitated the Assembly, in beholding " the most afflicting spectacle that human annals could present - that of a Princess coming forward with her innocent son, after having quitted her deserted palace, to place herself under the protection of the nation; but, if he shared in that testimony of respect for a great misfortune, he also shared in the solicitude - in the admiration - inspired by a people now fighting during two days against a perfidious government, for the purpose of re-establishing order and liberty."

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