Bengal Magazine/1875/A Scene from Contemporary History

A Scene from Contemporary History (1875)
by Toru Dutt

Bengal Magazine, Vol III, Issues June-July 1875.

2026293A Scene from Contemporary History1875Toru Dutt

Time 17th July 1851

On the Tribune M Victor Hugo—But publications of another colour, journals of another shade expressing most incontestably the view of Government, for they are sold in the streets with privilege, and to the exclusion of all the others—these cry to us—"you are right,—the monarchy of legitimacy is impossible, the monarchy of right divine and of principle is dead, but the other, the monarchy of glory, the empire—this is not only possible but necessary” Such is the language held out to us

It is the other side of the monarchical question Let us examine it And first of all—the monarchy of glory—do you say! Hold You have glory? show it to us (Merriment) I should be curious to see the glory of this our present Government (Laughter and cheers on the left)—the glory which belongs to you!

Let us see it Your glory where is it? I search fox it I look around me, of what is it composed?

M Lepic—You had better ask your father

M Victor Hugo—What are the elements of it? What is it that I have before me? What is it that we have before our eyes? All our liberties takwn as it were in a trap, one after the other, and garotted, universal suffrage, betrayed, given up, mutilated, socialist programmes ending in a jesuitical policy, for Government, an immense intrigue (Movement,) which history will perhaps call a plot (Great sensation), I do not know what extraordinary secret understanding it is that gives to the Republic, the Empire for its end, and which makes of five hundred thousand functionaries a sort of Bonapartist free-masonry in the midst of the nation! All reform adjourned or abused, disproportionate and onerous taxes on the people maintained or re-established, a state of siege fettering five departments, Paris and Lyons put under surveillance, amnesty refused, transportation aggravated, deportation voted, groans at the kasbah of Bone, tortures at Belle-Isle, casemates where matting would not be left to rot, but where men are left to rot!———(Sensation) The press tracked, the jury picked,—not enough of justice and a great deal too much of police, misery below, anarchy above, arbitrariness, pressure, iniquity! Outside,—the skeleton of the Roman Republic (Applause on the left)

Voice on the right—It is the indictment of the Republic

M the President—Let him go on Do not interrupt him This confirms that the tribune is free Continue (Very good! Very good! from the left)

M Charras—In spite of you

M Victor Hugo—The gallows, that is to say, Austria (Movement) standing over Hungary, over Milan, over Vwnice, Sicily given up to fusillade, the hope of nationalities in France destroyed, the inner tie of peoples rent asunder, every where right trod under foot, in the north, as in the south, at Cassel as at Palermo, a hidden coalition of kings which waits only for the occasion, our diplomacy mute,—I do not wish to say accomplice, somebody who is always cowardly before somebody who is always insolent, Turkey left without support against the Czar and forced to abandon the proscribed, Kossuth dying in a dungeon of Asia Minor,—behold where we are! France bends down her head, Napoleon shudders with shame in his tomb, and five or six thousand rogues cry—Long live the emperor! Is it all this that you call your glory forsooth? (Profound agitation)

M Be Ladevansaye—It is the Republic which has given us all this

M the President—It is also to the Government of the Republic that one attributes all this as a reproach

M Victor Hugo—Now,about your empire, let us talk of it I wish to talk of it much (Laughter on the left)

M Viellard—Nobody thinks of it, as you know very well

M Victor Hugo—Gentlemen, murmurs as much as you like but no equivocation I am told nobody thinks of the empire I have a habit of tearing away masks

Nobody thinks of the empire do you say? What signifies then these paid cries of—Long live the emperor! A simple question,—Who pays for them?

Nobody thinks of the empire, you have just heard it! What signifies then these words of General Changarmer, those allusions to the pretorians debauched, applauded by you? What signifies these words of M Thiers, equally applauded by you,—The empire— it’s a fact accomplished?

What signifies this ridiculous and begged petition for the prolongation of powers?

What is the prolongation if you please? It is the consulat for life Whither leads the consulat for life? To the empire Gentlemen, there is here an intrigue! An intrigue I tell you! I have the right to sift it I shall sift it Come, let us let the broad light of day upon it

France must not be taken by surprise, to find itself one fine morning saddled with an emperor without knowing why' (Applause)

An emperor! Let us discuss the pretention a little What! Because there has been a man who gained the battle of Marengo, and who has reigned,—you wish to reign, you who have not gained but the battle of Satory! (Laughter)

M Ferdinand Barrota—These three years be gains a battle, that of order against anarchy

M Victor Hugo—What! Because ten centuries ago, Charlemagne after forty years of glory, let fall upon the face of the globe a sceptre and a sword so huge that no body afterwards, has been able or has dared to touch them,—and yet there were in the interval men who were called Philippe-Augustus, Francis the first, Henry the Fourth, Louis the Fourteenth! What! Because a thousand years after,—for it requires not less than a thousand years of gestation to Humanity to produce similar men, because a thousand years after, another genius came, who picked up this sword and this sceptre, who stood straight up over the continent, who made history so gigantic and grand that it dazzles still, who enchained Revolution in France and unchained it in Europe, who has given to his name the brilliant synonyms of Rivoh, Jena, Essling, Friedland, Montmirail! What! Because after ten years of a glory immense, of a glory almost fabulous on acoount of its grandeur, he has, in his turn, let fall from exhaustion, this sceptre and this glaive that had accomplished so many colossal things, you come, you, you wish, you, to take them up after him, as he took them up, he, Napoleon, after Charlemagne, and grasp in your little hands this sceptre of Titans, this sword of giants! And why? (Long applause) What! After Augustus, Augustulus! What! Because we have had Napoleon the Great, we must have Napoleon the Little! (Applause on the left, cries and hisses on the right The sitting is interrupted for several minutes Inexpressible tumult)

Voice from the left—M the President, we have heard M Berryer, the right must hear M Victor Hugo Silence the majority

M Savatier-Laroche—Respect is due to great orators (From the left,—Very good!)

M De La Moskowa—M the President ought to make the Government of the Republic respected in the person of the President of the Republic

M Lepic—The Republic is dishonored!

M De La Moskowa—These gentlemen cry, Long live the Republic, and insult the President

M Ernest Do Giradin—Napoleon Bonaparte has obtained six millions of votes, you insult the elect of the people! (Great agitation on the ministerial benches M the President tries in vain to make himself heard in the midst of the noise)

M De La Moskowa—And from the ministerial benches not a word of indignation bursts forth at such words!

M Baroche, minister for foreign affairs—Discuss,but do not insult

M the President—You have the right to contest the abrogation of article 45 according to law, bat you have not the right to insult! (Applause of the extreme left redoubles and covers the voice of M the President)

M The Minister for foreign affairs—You discuss projects that do not exist, and you insult! (Applause from the extreme left continues)

A Member of the extreme left—It was necessary to defend the Republic yesterday when it was attacked!

M the President—The opposition has affected to cover with applause both mine observation and the observation of the minister which mine had preceded

I said to M Victor Hugo that he has perfectly the right to contest the suitability of demanding the revision of article 45, in terms of law, but that he has not the right of discussing under an insulting form a personal candidateship which is not at stake

Voice from the extreme left—But yes,—it is at stake

M Charras—You have seen it yourself, at Dijon, face to face

M the President—I call you to order here, because I am President At Dijon I respected the proprieties, and I was silent

M Charras—They have not done the same by you

M Victor Hugo—I reply to M the minister and to M the President, who accuse mo of insulting the President of the Republic, that, having constitutional right to accuse M the President of the Republic, I shall use that right on the day I shall judge suitable, and I shall not lose my time in offending him, but it is not insluting him to say that ho is not a great man (Loud protests on some benches of the right)

M Briffaut—Your insults cannot attain him

M Do Caularneourt—There are calumnies which are powerless to reach him, know that well

M the President—If you go on, after my warning, I shall call you to order

M Victor Hugo—Here is what I have got to say, and M the President will not hinder me completing my explanation (Great agitation)

What we ask from M the President, responsible for the Republic, what we hope from him, what we have the right to expect firmly from him, is, not that he should hold power like a great man, but, that he should quit it like an honest man

On the left—Very good, very good!

M Clary—Do not calumniate him in the meantime

M Victor Hugo—Those who insult him are amongst his friends, who say, that on the second Sunday of May he will not resign the power entrusted to him purely and simply, as he ought unless he be a seditious plotter

Voice from the left —And a perjurer!

M Vellard—These are calumnies, M Victor Hugo knows it well

M Victor Hugo—Gentlemen of the majority, you have suppressed the liberty of the press, would you suppress the liberty of the tribune? (Movement) I come not to ask a favor, I demand liberty of speech The soldier, hindered in doing his duty, breaks his sword, if the liberty of the tribune is dead, tell me so, that I may destroy my commission On the day the tribune shall be no longer free, I shall descend, never to mount it again (From the right,—A dreadful calamity, truly!) The tribune without liberty is acceptable only to the orator without self-respect (Profound sensation)

Well, I shall see if the tribune is respected I continue No! After Napoleon the Great, I would not have Napoleon the Little!

Come, let us respect great things A truce to parodies! To be able to put an eagle upon the flags, one must have an eagle at the Tuileries! Where is the eagle? (Long applause)

M Leon Faucher The orator insults the President of the Republic (Yes! Yes! From the right)

M the President—You insult the President of the Republic (Yes! Yes! From the right M Abatticci gesticulates vehemently)

M Victor Hugo—I continue—

Gentlemen, like all the world, like you all, I have held in my hands these newspapers, these tracts, these pamphlets, imperialist or Cæsarist, as it is called to-day An idea strikes me, and it is impossible for me not to communicate it to the Assembly (Immense agitation, the orator continues—)

Yes, it is impossible for me not to let it break forth before this assembly What would say this soldier, this great soldier, who is laid there at the Invalids, and in whose shadow men fake shelter, and whose name they invoke so often and so strangely, what whould this Napoleon say, who, amidst so many prodigious battles, went eight hundred leagues from Pans to provoke the old Muscovite barbarism in the great duel of 1812, what would this sublime spirit say, who saw with horror the possibility of a Cossack Europe, and who, certes, whatever were his instincts for authority, would prefer Republican Europe to it, what would he say, he! if from the depths of his tomb he could see, that his empire, his glorious and warlike empire, has to-day for paynegyrists, for apologists, for theorists and for reconstncters, whom? men, who, in our radiant and free epoch, turn towards the North with a despair which would be laughable if it were not monstrous? Men, who, each time that they hear us pronounce the words, democracy, liberty, humanity, progress, lie down flat on the ground with terror and attach their ears to the earth to discover if they cannot hoax at last, the approach of the Russian canon!

(Loud applause on the left Clamour on the right All the right rise up and cover with cries the last words of the orator,— Order! Order! Order!)

(Several ministers rise on their benches and protest with vivacity against the words of the speaker—The tumult goes on increasing —Violent apostrophes are lanced at the orator by a great number of members—M,M Binneau, General Gourgoud and many other representatives seated on the front benches of the right make themselves remarked by their animation)

M The Minister for foreign affairs—You know well that this is not true! In the name of France, we protest

M De Rance—We demand the call to order

M Do Crouseilles, Minister of Public Instruction—Make a personal application of your words To whom do you apply them? Name! Name!

M the President—I call you to order, Monsieur Victor Hugo, because notwithstanding my warnings, you do not cease to insult

Voices on the right—He is an insulter hued for a salary!

M Chapot—Let the orator tell us for whom his words are meant

M De Staplande—Name those that you accuse, if you have the courage! (Tumultuous agitation)

Several voices on the right—You are an infamous calumniator—It is a cowardice and an insolence (Order! Order!)

M the President—With the noise you make, you have hindered the hearing of the call to order that I have pronounced

M Victor Hugo—I demand the right of explanation (Loud and prolonged cries)

M De Heeckeren—Let him, let him play out has part

M Leon Faucher, Minister, of the Interior—The orator

(Interruption from the left) the orator

Voice from the left—You have not the word!

M the President—Let M Victor Hugo explain himself

He is called to order

M The Minister of the Interior—how,gentlemen, an orator may hero insult the President of the Republic (Loud interruption from the left)

M Victor Hugo—Let me explain I do not cede the word to you

M the President—You have not the word It is not for you to act as the police of the Assembly M Victor Hugo is called to order, he demands to explain, I give him the word, and you render the police impassible if you wish to usurp my functions

M Victor Hugo—Gentlemen,you shall see the danger of precipitate interruptions (Louder! Louder!) I have been called to order, and an honorable member whom I have not the honor of knowing

M Bourbousson It’s I M Bourbousson

M Victor Hugo—Says that it is necessary to pass a censure on me

Voice from the right—Yes! Yes!

M Victor Hugo—Why? For having qualifed, as it is my right to do (Denials horn the right,) for having qualified the authors of the Cæsarist pamphlets (Cries horn the right—M Victor Hugo leans forward to the shorthand reporter of the "Moniteur" and asks instant communication of the phrase of his discourse which has provoked the emotion of the Assembly)

Voice from the right—M Victor Hugo has not the right to make a change of the phrase in the "Moniteur”

M the President—The assembly rose up against the words which must have been gathered up by the shorthand writer of the "Moniteur" The call to order applies to these words, such as you pronounced thorn, and as they shall certainly stand Now, in explaining yourself, if you change them, the Assembly shall judge of it

M Victor Hugo—As the shorthand reporter of the "Moniteur" has gathered them from my mouth (Several interruptions)

Several Members—You have changed them! You have spoken to the short hand reporter (Confused noises)

M De Panat and other members—You have nothing to fear The words shall appear in the "Moniteur" as they came forth from the mouth of the orator

M Victor Hugo—Gentlemen,to-morrow when you shall read the "Monteur" (Cries from the right) when you shall read therein this phrase that you have interrupted and that you have not heard, this phrase, in which I said that Napoleon would be astonished, would be indignant to see his empire, his glorious empire has this day for theorists and for reconstructers, whom? Men, who, each time that we pronounce the words, democracy, libeity, humanity, progress, lie down flat with terror, and attach their ears to the ground to discover if they cannot hear at last the approach of the Russian canon

Voice from the right—To whom do you apply thus?

Voice from the left—To Romieu! To the red spectre! To the red flag!

M Victor Hugo—I have been called to order for this!

M the President to M Victor Hugo—You cannot isolate a phrase from your entire discourse And all this came at the suit of an insulting comparison, between the emperor who is no more, and the President of the Republic who exists (Prolongod agitation —A great number of members descend into the Half-circle, and it is not without trouble that, on the order of M the President, the ushers make them retake their places and bring about a little silence and order)

M Victor Hugo—You shall recognise to-morrow the truth of my words

Voice from the right—You said—You

M Victor Hugo—Never,and I say from the top of this tribune that never did it enter into my mind for a single moment to address myself to any one whoever he may be in the Assembly (Protests and noisy laughter from the right)

M the President—Then the insult remains quite entire for M The President of the Republic.

M De Heeckeren—If it does not regard us, why say it to us and not reserve the thing for the "Evénement"

M Victor Hugo turning towards the President—It is not about the President of the Republic that the discussion is now

M the President—You have dragged him down as low as possible

M Victor Hugo—The question is not about that!

M the President—Say that you did not wish to insult M the President of the Republic in your parallel, that’s brave forsooth! (The agitation continues, apostrophes of an extreme violence are addressed to the orator and exchanged between several members of the right and of the left)

(M Léfebverc-Duruflé coming near the tribune gives to the orator a sheet of paper which he prays ham to read)

M Victor Hugo, after having read it—Here is the observation that is transmitted. to me, I shall give it instant satisfaction Listen

That which has revolted the Assembly is, that you said you, and that you have not spoken indirectly

The author of this observation shall find to morrow in reading the "Moniteur," that I did not say you, that I did speak indirectly, that I did not address myself to anybody directly in the Assembly, and I repeat that I do not address any one

Let the misunderstanding cease

Voice from the right—Very well! Very well! Let it aside!

M the President—Let the Assembly get out of the state into which you have put it

Gentlemen, please to keep silence

M Victor Hugo—You will read tomorrow the "Moniteur" which has gathered up my words, and you will regret your precipitation Never did I think for a single moment of a single member of this Assembly, I declare it, and I leave my call to order upon the conscience of M the President (Movement—Very good! Very good!)

One minute more, and I descend from the tribune

(Silence is re-established on all the benches The orator turns towards the right)

Legitimate monarchy, Imperial monarchy, what would you have with us? We are men of another age For us, we have no flours de lys but Fontenoy, no eagle but Eylau and Wagram

I have already told you,—you are the past By what right do you put the present in question? What is there common between you and it? Against whom and for whom do you coalise? And then what signifies this coalition? What is the meaning of this alliance? What is the object of this hand of the empire which I see grasped in the hand of legitimacy? Legitimists, the empire killed the Due D’ Enghien! Impenalists, the legitimacy shot Murat! (Strong impression)

You,—you grasp hands! Take care, you mix spots and stains of blood! (Sensation)

And then what do you hope? To destroy the Republic? You undertake there a hard task Have you well thought of it? When a labourer has worked eighteen hours, when a people has worked eighteen centuries, and when they have at last the one and the other received their payment, try then to take by force from this labourer his hire, and from tins people its republic (Applause)

Do you know what makes the Republic strong? Do you know what makes it invincible? Do you know what makes it indestructible? I have already told it to you in commencing and in terminating I shall repeat it to you It is because it is the sum of the labour of generations, it is because it is the product accumulated of anterior efforts, it is because it is a historical result as as a political fact, it is because it makes, so to say, a part of the actual climate of civilisation, it is because it is the form absolute, supreme, necessary, of the time in which we live, it is because it is the air we breathe,—and because when once the nations have respired this air—be of this quite sure, they cannot under any circumstances breathe in another! Yes, do you know what makes the Republic imperishable? it is that it identifies itself on one side with the age, and on the other with the people! It is the Idea of the one, and the Crown of the other! (Bravo! Bravo!)

Gentlemen, whose work it is to revise the law, I have asked you what you desired What I desire—I shall tell you All my politics, it is here, in two words—It is necessary to suppress in the social order a certain degree of misery, and in the political order a certain spirit of ambition No more pauperism, no more monarchy France shall not be-tranquil, except when by the power of her institutions work and bread being given to the one and all hope being taken away from the other, we shall see for ever disappear from the midst of us, all those who stretch forth the hand, from beggars for a penny to pretenders to a throne (Explosion of applause—Cries and murmurs from the right)


The French Hansard is generally a much more readable book than the English which has a soporific effect, at least on my constitution The allusion to M Victor Hugo's father was made because he was a distinguished colonel in the service of the first Napoleon Most of the speakers against M Victor Hugo obtained places and fat saliries under the late Empire For the rest,—no explanation seems to be necessary, but the following poem from "Les Châtunents" may staid as a fitting pendant to the scene, given above.

All Europe at his nod inclined
With terror dumb
Art thou his ape? March, march behind,
Tom Thumb, Tom Thumb

Napoleon by the cannon's light,
Through smoke and cloud,
Guided across the hottest fight
The eagle proud
He forced his way in, at Aicole
And out, with drum—
There’s gold for thee, regale thy soul,
Tom Thumb, Tom Thumb

Berlin, Vienna, Moscow,—all
Before him bent,
Not more an angel could appal
On vengeance sent
He! Forts and fields! He! Kings and chuals!
'Tis he succumb!
But thou,—for thee, lo, here are girls,
Tom Thumb, Tom Thumb

He rode o’er mountains and o’er plains,
And held confined
Within his palm, the guiding reins,
Of all mankind
His glories would the navies sink
So vast their sum!
For thee—see blood, come run and drink,
Tom Thumb, Tom Thumb

Dark, dark archangel—but he fell!
Earth felt the sound,
And ocean opened by a spell
Its gulf profound
Down headlong—but his name through time
Shall overcome—
Thou too shalt drown, but drown in slime
Tom Thumb, Tom Thumb




JULY, 1875


As with this number the Bengal Magazine completes its third year, we desire to give our best thanks to our supporters, and especially to those gentlemen who have assisted us with their literary contributions, though we must own that our gratitude is of that lively sort which is fed with expectations of receiving similar and even greater favours in future We have certainly no reason to complain of the apathy of the public, but at the same tune we shall be thankful for more enlarged support, and, for our part, from the next issue of this Magazine, we shall try to deserve that support

For some time past the Magazine has been somewhat irregular in its appearance Our readers may take our word for it that this irregularity has not at all been owing to us personally,—it has been entirely owing to the Evil One who is generally supposed to preside over the art of printing We have now made arrangements in consequence of which the Magazine will, we trust, come out on the first day of every month

But punctuality is not the only value winch we promise to cultivate We shall try to improve the Magazine in other respects Hitherto we have been some hat remiss in discussing the current topics of the day,—those thousand and one subjects which are agitating Indian society, and have busied ourselves chiefly with the Past, and with what may be called the permanent forms of literature However valuable these latter may be—and they are of great value to every educated man—they fail to excite the interest of that numerous class of people who pay greater regard to the Present than to the Past We purpose, therefore, in future, not indeed to neglect the Past and the Permanent, but, in addition, to court, more than before, the Present

We purpose to improve the Magazine in another direction Hitherto we have been somewhat careless in reviewing Bengali books, but in future we intend to notice every Bengali book that is sent to us We hope and trust that by making these improvements we shall render the Bengal Magazine more popular than it has hitherto been


No 2

Time, 15th July, 1870


M Thiers on the tribune—If there ever has been a day, an hour, in which one could say, without exaggeration, that history looks at us, it is this hour and this day, and it appears to me that e cry body should think thereupon seriously

When war shall be declared, there will be no person more zealous, more eager than myself to give to the Government the means of which it shall have need to make the war victorious (Very good! Very good! From the left)

It is not then a tournament of patriotism that we hold here

I maintain that my patriotism is, not superior, but equal to that of all those who are in this place (Approbation from the left)

What is the matter in discussion? To give or to refuse to, the Government the means that it demands? No, I protest against such a thought

What is the matter in discussion? The matter in discussion is a declaration of war made at this tribune by the ministry, and I express myself constitutionally, as you will admit Well! Is it for the ministry, for the ministry alone, to declare war? Should we not, we also, have a word? And before we have that word, must we not have an instant of reflection—(Interruptions from the right)

M Jules Favre—People do not reflect before putting Europe on fire, we certainly have seen this (Exclamations)

M Thiers—I have told you that history looks at us, I add that France also and the world look at us The gravity of circumstances cannot be exaggerated, know, that from the decision you are going to issue may result the death of thousands of men (Exclamations from the centre and the right—Very good! From the left—The noise drowns the voice of the orator)

M Granier de Cassagnac—We know it well we have our children there (Diverse moments)

M De Tillancourt—Do not interrupt! You shall reply

M Thiers—And if I demand of you one instant of reflection, it is that in this moment a recollection besieges my spirit!—Before taking a resolution so grave, a resolution upon which will depend, I repeat it, the fate of the country and of Europe, gentlemen, recall to your mind the 6th of May 1866 You had refused me the word then, when I signalised to you the dangers that wore preparing (Approbation from the left—Exclamations from the right)

When I showed to you what was preparing you listened to me one day, the next day, the decisive day you refused to listen to me It appears to me that this recollection alone, this recollection ought to make you stop one moment, and to inspire you with the desire of listening to me one minute without interrupting me (Very good! From the left—Speak’)

Let me tell you one thing you will cry out against it, but I am quite decided to listen to your murmurs, and if it be necessary to brave them (Yes, Very good! From the left)

You are where you were in 1866

From the left—Yes! Yes! It is just that!

M Thieis,—Well! You did not listen to me then, and do you know what that has cost France!—(Noises from the centre and from the right)

M Le Marquis de Piré—Endeavour not to be as you were in 1848

M Le Comte de la Tour—In 1866 you demanded neutrality only M Thiers You did not ask for anything else

M Thiers—Thatis not exact But to-day the principal demand that was addressed to Prussia, that which ought to be the principal and which the ministry had assured us was the only one, this demand has received a favourable reply (Denials from a great number of benches) You will not tire me (From the left Very good! Very good!)

I have the sentiment that I represent here—

M Horace de Choiseul—Independence!

M Thiers—Not the passion nor the transports of the country but its well-considered interests

Several voices—We listen to you

M Le Comte do Keratry—I demand the word

M Thiers—I have the certitude, the conscience in myself that I fulfil a difficult duty that of resisting passions patriotic, if you will, but imprudent (Come then!)

From the left —Yes! Yes! Very goody Very good!

M Thiers—Be convinced that when a man has lived forty years—(Interruptions) in the midst of agitations and political vicissitudes and when he fulfils his duty and has the certainty of fulfilling it, nothing can shake him, not even outrage

M Le President Schneider—I just now demanded from the majority calm and silence so that one may hear I demand immediately from this side (pointing to the left) that the orator may not be interrupted

From the left—We applauded we did not interrupt!

M Eugene Pelletan, sharply—We do not interrupt M Le President!

We protest against the interruptions of the majority

M Le President Schneider—Your applause hinders the orator from being heard

M Glais-Bizoin—We reply to the murmurs and to the interruptions that come from yonder

M Le President Schneider—I demand again for once the most complete silence, that our discussion may conserve its dignity (Very good! Very good!)

M Thiers—It appears to me that upon a subject so grave, were there not but one individual, the lowest in the country, who had a doubt, you ought to listen to him, yes, were there not but one, but I am not alone

Voice from the left—No! No! We are with you

From the right—How many?

M Horace do Choiseul—If the elections had been free we would have been more numerous (Exclamations)

M Le Marquis do Prié—Recall to your mind M Thiers, the energetic nobleness with which you have branded the legislative defections of 1815 and do not imitate them

M Le President Schneider—M de Piré, be pleased not to interrupt

M Thiers—Were I alone—(Interruption)—were I alone, yet for the gravity of the subject, you ought to hear me (Speak! Speak!)

M Cosserat—We cannot hear, will the orator be pleased to mount the tribune! (Yes! Yes!)

M Thiers—Well! Gentlemen, is it true, yes or not, tha upon the main point that is to say, upon the candidateship of the Prince of Hohenzollern your demand has been heard, and right done to it? Is it true that you break upon a question of susceptibility, very honorable I dare say, but that still you break upon a question of susceptibility? (Movement)

Well, gentlemen, would you that men say, would you that all Eupe say that the great thing was gianted, and that for a question of form you resolved to shed torrents of blood (Noisy denials from the right and from the centre—Approbation from the left)

M Le Maiquis do Prié—It is just the contrary!

M Thiers—Take the responsibility of it!

M Le Marquis de Piré—Yes! Yes!

M Glais-Bizoin—No!

M Le President Schneider—M De Piré, cease, I pray you, do not interrupt with this animation (Very good!)

M Thiers—Here, gentlemen, each of us ought to take the reponsibility that he thinks he is able to bear (From the right Yes! Yes! The whole of it!)

M Thiers—As for me, careful of my memory—

M Brotteau—We also!

M Thiers—I would not that any body should say—(Interruptions) that I took the responsibility of a war founded upon such motives

The great thing ha been granted, and it is form a detail of form that you break! (No! No! Yes! Yes!)

You will reply to me

I demand then in the face of the country that a know ledge be given to us of the despatches upon which is founded the resolution that has just been announced to us, for we must not dissimulate it, it is a declaration of war!

(Certainly! Prolonged movement)

M Granier de Cassagnac—I should think that is plain!

M Thiers—Gentlemen,I know of what men are capable when under the empire of passionate emotions For me, if I had the honor of directing, in this conjuncture, the destinies of my country—(New interruptions) You know well by my presence uprrn these benches that it is not a regret that I express, but I repeat, that if I had been placed in this dolorous but great conjuncture, I would have contrived to give to my country some instants of reflection before taking for it a resolution so grave

M Birotteau—When one is insulted there no need for one to reflect

M Thiers—As to me, let me give you in two words the explanation of my conduct and of my language, let me tell you that I regard this war as supremely imprudent This declaration may hurt you, but I have assuredly the right to hold an opinion on such a question I love my country, I have been affected more grievously than any body by the events of 1866, more than any body I desire a reparation, in my profound conviction and, if I may dare to say it, in my experience, the occasion is badly chosen (Interruption)

Some members from the left—Very good!

M Thiers—More than any body, I repeat it, I desire the reparation of the evets of 1866, but I find the occasion detestably chosen (Denals)

Some members from the left—Yes!

M Thiers—Without any doubt Prussia is gravely in the wrong, very gravely Since a long time in truth she has been telling us that site was busy only with the affairs of Germany, with the destiny only of the German fatherland, and all of a sudden, we have found her upon the Pyrennees, preparing a candidateship that France must or may regard as an offence to her dignity, and as an enterprise against her interests (Very good! Very good! from the centre and from the right)

You addressed Europe, and Europe with a warmth win cli does honor to herself, desired that upon the essential point right be done to you, upon this point in effect you have had satisfaction the candidateship of the Prince of Hohoniollein has been withdrawn

From the centre and from the right—But no, no!

From the left—Very good! Go on!

M Thiers—You have expressed your opinion, let me tell you mine in a few words This urgency which you are so eager to use, it is yours, it has been voted, you are going to enjoy it, you are going to have the power of giving yourself up to all the ardour of your sentiments, let me express to you mine, all sorrowful though they be, and if you do not understand, that in this moment I fulfil a duty, and the most painful duty of my life, I pity you (Very good! Very good! From the left—Protestations from the centre and the right)

Yes, as to myself, I am tranquil about my memory I am sure of what is reserved for it, for the act to which I give myself up at this moment, but for you I am certain there shall be days when you shall regret your precipitation (Come then! Come then!)

(From the left—Very good! Very Good!)

M Thiers—Ah well! as to myself—

M Le Marquis do Piré, with violence—You are the antipatriotic trumpet of disaster (Do not interrupt!) Go to Coblentz! (Several members who surround M De Piré make him sit down)

M Thiers—Abuse me,—insult me,—I am ready to submit to every thing to save the blood of my fellow-citizens that you are ready to shed so imprudently!

M The Keeper of the Great, Seal—No!No!

M Le Maiquis de Piré—I do not speak of your person I speak of your principles

M Le President Schneider—M De Prió the demonstrations of your colleagues dispense the President from enjoining you silence

M Thiers—I suffer, be believe it, to have to speak thus

M Le Marquis do Piré—It is we he suffer to hear you? (Diverse exclamations)

M Thiers—It is my conviction, I repeat it to you in two words, for if I wished to demonstrate it to you, you would not listen to me, you choose ill this occasion for the reparation that you desire, and which I desire like you

M Gambetta—Very good!

M Thiers—Full of this sentiment, hen I see that yielding to your passions, you do not wish to take one instant for reflection, that you do not wish to demand a sight of the despatches upon which your judgment could be stayed, I say, gentlemen, permit me this expression, that you do not fulfil in all their extent the duties which are imposed upon you

M Le Baron Jerôme David—Keep your lessons, we dispense with them

M Thiers—Say what you like, but it is very imprudent of you to let the country suspect that it is a party resolution that you take to-day (Animated and numerous protestations)

I am ready to vote to the Government all the necessary means when the war shall be definitively declared, but I desire to know the despatches upon which is founded this declaration of war The Chamber shall do what it likes, I await to see what it is going to (10, but I decline, as to myself, the responsibility of a war so little justified (Animated approbation and applause from several benches of the left)


This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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