« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
pestered us, that my friend, with the consent of the owner who sat by, took a piece of bamboo from a heap of them laying on the wharf, and breaking it in two, gave me one half, wherewith to drive away our persecutors. This, however, had no sooner been done, than the man who gave my friend leave to take the stick came up, and with an infinite variety of gestures, and a half whining half threatening tone, demanded payment for the stick. Although rather annoyed, we could not help laughing at the trick and the fellow's impudence, but to get rid of him I gave himn a few grani ; and the rest of the beggarly crew were soon dispersed by a gensd’arme, whom some Syracusan gentlemen, seeing the annoyance to which we were exposed, sent to our relief. But few persons were on the promenade, and but one solitary carriage, which, after racing up and down at a desperate pace for a few minutes, disappeared. This promenade is of very considerable length-on one side open to the sea, on the other shut in by the city walls, under which is a tolerably well-planted garden, filled with flowers and luxuriant oleanders; and the path for the promenaders along the side of the garden is shaded by a row of trees, between each of which is suspended a lamp. Seated under the shadow of these trees, we passed a couple of hours very pleasantly, chatting over the various adventures we had met with, comparing Syracuse as it is with what it was, and conjecturing what our friends at home were doing. At length, when we began to think that we had made a mistake about there being a band, it being now after ten o'clock, the lamps were lighted, and the musicians took their places in the orchestra, the promenaders became more numerous, and the scene almost one of fairy land; the numerous lights among the trees enabling us to discover the curiously garbed company, among which were several ladies in their black mantillas. The effect produced was one of enchantment. On the shore opposite to us stood the solitary columns of the Temple of Jupiter, just revealed in the pale light of the moon, whose silvery rays danced on the ripples of the sea caused by the small craft making for the inner harbour. The scene, too, was greatly enhanced by the fine military band, which played exquisitely. After playing upwards of an hour, the Bohemian polka was suddenly struck up as a finale, and we then re-entered the deserted-looking city; and after a fruitless search for a café, during which, however, we observed numerous reading-rooms, which seem so much the fashion in Sicily, we returned to our hotel
, somewhat fatigued with our day's sight-seeing. Although in modern Syracuse there is little to be seen, and it is most sultry and oppressive, surrounded as it is by high fortifications, which prevent the air from circulating through the streets, yet it is unique and singular in appearance, and the romance of the place is aided by the Asiatic look of the people, and the sombre mantillas of the women. The surrounding country, too, is full of interest, not only to the antiquarian and historian, but also to the lover of nature, and of a sunny sky and placid sea.
September 27.—Before daybreak this morning Old Boy awoke us, and, whilst we were at breakfast, packed our traps on the sumpter-horse; which done, he returned to us, and, with his “Com along o'me, gen'lemen," we followed him, and found our muleteer already perched high on an old white mare. We therefore mounted our respective steeds my friend, the mule; and “Little Gen'leman," the beautiful fat big-belly horse
with English saddle, which fully supported Old Boy's description. It was, however, but a sorry brute on its fore-legs, and fell with me several times.
Wishing our very civil and amusing old guide good-bye, who, to show he knew something of the English and their country, asked for only a “ tara more to drinke to de healts of the English,” we commenced our journey. Pressing through the crowd of noisy gipsy-looking peasants, who nearly blocked up the gateway, we passed our friend the doganier, who gave us a very polite bow and very knowing grin, and soon found ourselves in the open country.
Our muleteer led the way at an amble of between five and six miles an hour; his boy running by his side, with whom, however, he occasionally changed places, but always, when he did so, giving into the boys care the charm he otherwise carried fastened to his finger. Breaking off the road, we traversed vast downs, where hardly a blade of vegetation was to be seen, and only a solitary shepherd tending his flock of small black sheep; or a herd of horses, among which I had great difficulty in preventing mine from running;
Suddenly descending, we rode through deep gullies, and crossed most romantic-looking ravines, through which rushed the mountain-torrent, and on whose banks the oleander and numerous beautiful shrubs and flowers flourished and perfumed the air. Fording these torrents, we climbed up the steep and rugged sides of the ravines, and rode for miles over lofty mountains, where no habitation but the solitary tower of the shepherd was visible.
Ascending, we at length arrived at the summit of the ridge of mountains which bounds the vast plain between Leutini and Catania, and then descended through the picturesque forest of chestnut-trees, from which we had a lovely view of Etna and Catania, and still further in the distance to the right the coast of Calabria, washed by the sunny Mediterranean, whose waters appeared almost beneath us.
Arrived at the huts situate at the bottom of the ridge, we stopped to rest, and feed our horses, for half an hour, but where we were unable to obtain either bread, fruit, wine, or even clean water; the only things the old woman could offer us being a rickety three-legged stool, and equally rickety chair. Remounting, we traversed the plain to the sea-shore, where we passed the mouth of the River Quitini, and then continued our route along the margin of the sea, whose waves dashed over our horses' feet, and covered us with their spray.
Again turning inland, we crossed the River Giaretta by the bridge ; and then hastening over the long dusty road, reached Catania about five o'clock, much to the surprise and delight of Placido, who seemed in ecstasies at seeing us again-and much to our own surprise and pleasure in again meeting our American friend, who had been detained at Catania for want of a conveyance.
Sept.-VOL. LXXXVII. NO. CCCXLV.
LAMARTINE AND THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT.*
LAMARTINE does not disguise from his readers that the assumption of power by himself and his colleagues was as illegal as it was audacious. “ An arbitrary election,” he says, “ made by a small band of insurgents at the foot of an invaded throne was nothing but an usurpation. Their functions might be contested alike by royalty and by the people.” By dint, however, of drinking wine with the dragoons of the Quay d'Orsay, embracing armed Amazons, and forcing their way through a crowd rendered “idiotical by too much license” (c'était la demence de la liberté), they ultimately succeeded in reaching the great door of the Hôtel de Ville; and, assisted by M. Flottard, an employé in the Préfecture, after the lapse of some time obtained the use of a room, or rather cellar, where there was a table and chairs, and the narrow dungeon-like approach to which they filled with their armed followers. The usurpation of places in the provisional cabinet by Marrast, Flocon, Paguerre, and Louis Blanc is not denied by Lamartine. But he justly enough remarks—“What legal title could the government have appealed to, to expel the new comers ? It had itself no other title but that of its usurpation over anarchy, and its courage in casting itself between civil war and the people. The others had done as much ; and place was made for them by virtue of their audacity and the dangers they had run.”
“It was necessary,” says Lamartine, with garrulous ingenuousness, “that the government should inform the people and the departments as to the persons who had thrown themselves at the head of the movement in order to rule it.” And the poet-orator, undertaking the duties at once of president of the council and home minister, issued a first manifesto, in which he spoke of the mission of ruling having been imposed on the members of government, of strong institutions, and of “liberty, equality, and fraternity,” as the proposed principles of government. This was followed by an address to the army; wherein it was announced, in a similar manner, that the Provisional Government had sprung from an imperious necessity, and that the army was called upon to lend the government its support
, and to fraternise with the people. There was at this time no mention made of usurpation of power; but it was held out that the people who had made the revolution should possibly, at some future period, be allowed to have a voice in ratifying the power of those who in the mean time had acted upon the principle, that actual possession by usurpation was better than a prospective nomination by acclamation. Many general officers, and among them Duvivier, Bedeau, and Lamoricière, gave in their adhesion to the government. The garrison of Vincennes likewise sent in its submission. At least 200,000 men blocked
up the approaches to the Hôtel de Ville; and, pressed on all sides, the members of government took boldly on themselves the responsibility of life and death. Each would seize a pen, tear off a fragment of paper and write upon his knee or hat the decree asked for. “ Thousands of orders of this kind, signed by Lamartine, Marie, Arago, Ledru Rollin, Flocon, and Louis Blanc, circulated among the crowd during these first few hours." This, it will be perceived, is a very brief and summary manner of accounting for some hasty mandates which history may
* Histoire de la Révolution de 1848. Par A. de Lamartine. Paris, 1849.
have to bring against Lamartine and his colleagues as issued at this great crisis. . “ Flames, blood, hunger, and danger,” says Lamartine, “ could not wait for the slow formalities of a government of calm. It was a government of lightning amidst a tempest.” In one of those desperate moments, when the armed crowd was giving one of its terrible assaults to the Hôtel de Ville, Lamartine said to Arago, " Have you ever calculated by how many chances fewer than this morning our heads hang to our shoulders?" “ Yes,” answered the illustrious academician, with the calm smile of a man completely detached from existence, “all the bad chances are for us; but there is one good chance,-namely, that we may save the nation from a downfal. That must suffice to make us accept all the others ;" and he shook his white hairs before the poet-orator.
These white hairs of the astronomer-royal, Lamartine tells us, like those of M. Dupont, had a great effect with the people. He recurs to this influence of respect for age, so fortunate for the Provisional Government, upon several different occasions. At one period of the crush, M. Dupont was protected by a woman, who holding by the back of his chair, and pointing to the old man with tears of pity in her eyes, at one moment declaimed against the brutaily of those who oppressed him, at another opposed her own body to the weapons which threatened the life of the venerable member for the department De l'Eure.
The difficulties of the Provisional Government were increased by the question as to whether the interregnum was to end in monarchy or in a republic; but the poet-orator says, “instinct is the lightning of reason;" and the instincts of all pointed directly and unmistakably to a republic: if they did not, there was perchance a power, without and around, that bade their instincts feel that there was no compromise between their safety and their will. The Republic was accordingly proclaimed, but with the reserve of being ratified by the national will. A tricoloured flag was hoisted at a window; hundreds of bits of paper announcing the great fact were scattered among the crowd; it passed from mouth to mouth; " and,” says the poet, " the expression of a sentiment kept down for half a century in the hearts of the existing generation, now burst unanimously from the lips of all.” The proclamation of the Republic gave breathing time to the government. Lamartine and Marie remained at the Hôtel de Ville; Ledru Rollin, Arago, and the other ministers, repaired to their several official residences. But all night the struggle continued with the mob, the more unruly portions of which every now and then attempted to invade the Hôtel de Ville. They were driven back by a due admixture of force and eloquence. “ Lamartine,” the auto-biographer relates, “ was especially called upon to act. His high stature, and his sonorous voice, adapted him well for conflicts with a crowd. His clothes were in tatters, his neck bared, his hair covered with dust, smoke, and perspiration. He went out and came in again, rather carried than escorted by groups of citizens, national guards, and students, who had attached themselves to his steps without being personally known to him, and who formed the staff of devotion around the person of the chief of a revolution."
At night, all that remained were about 3000 or 4000 men, who bivouacked in the yards, corridors, and saloons, and outside, around four guns loaded with grape-shot. This persistent group was composed of conspirators, members of secret societies, and revolutionists of all times;
some who had fought and been disappointed in 1815 and in 1830; others who sought, in the explosion that had taken place, to overthrow the foundations of all society. Among them also were men who only looked upon a revolution as an opportunity for committing crimes with impunity; the greater part of the latter were liberated convicts, and the refuse of the most vicious population of a great city. These groups shouted, argued, and fired guns all night long. Some proposed a red flag, others a black flag-emblems of mourning which should not be laid aside until due revenge had been obtained on society and property. Fanaticism, delirium, drunkenness, and fever, suggested still more extravagant ideas; among which not the least popular were, that the government should be chosen out of the combatants themselves, or that the people should govern itself, protected by the bayonets of the insurrectionists.
The most serious opposition arose, however, from the party of the Réforme newspaper. Among the names put forward, the ultra-republicans saw only that of Ledru Rollin, which was familiar to them as that of a Republican before the event. Flocon, Louis Blanc, and Albert, were among the groups outside, talking, exhorting, pacifying. Lagrange, uncertain yet what government to recognise, wandered about the Hôtel de Ville, where he had established himself governor, sword in hand, and having two pistols in his waist. The crowd gathered round him as round an apparition from the dungeons ; and he harangued them in deep and hollow tones, with extraordinary gesticulations, his hair and dress being in strange disorder. The ferocity of the mob kept increasing as night advanced.
Several times the crowd had come to knock at the door of the room where the Provisional Government was sitting, threatening to exterminate it, and refusing obedience to its decrees. First of all Crémieux, and after him Marie, had succeeded, by dint of resolution and supplication, in getting the crowd to retrace its steps as far as the court-yard of the palace. They had reconquered the moral authority of the government. Seven times since nightfall had Lamartine left his pen, to throw himself, followed by a few faithful citizens, into the corridors, and as far as the steps of the Hôtel de Ville, to ask from those disorderly masses obedience or death. Each time-received at first with imprecations and murmurs --- he had succeeded in putting aside the swords, daggers, and bayonets, brandished in the hands of drunken or maddened men; had improvised a tribune at a window, a balustrade, or a step, and had caused the arms to be lowered, the shouts to die away, applause to break forth, and tears of reason and enthusiasm to flow.
The last time a happy witticism, which concealed a reproach under the form of a joke, had saved him. An excited mob occupied the steps of the Hôtel de Ville. Gun-shots fired at the windows threatened the destruction of the small body of volunteers who remained to oppose themselves to this new invasion. Every voice was exhausted, every arm useless-supplications vain. Lamartine was sought for once more, and he went forth. Arrived at the stair of the ground-floor, he found a few National Guards, some pupils of the Polytechnic School, and a few intrepid citizens, struggling body to body with the invaders. At his name-at his appearance, this conflict ceased for a moment; the crowd made way for him. Lamartine saw the steps of the great staircase covered to the right and to the left with combatants, who formed a hedge of steel, extending down to the courts and to the square. Some were respectful friends, who loaded him with caresses and blessings; but the greater number were irritated and excited; their brows were frowning beneath the weight of suspicions; their looks were full of jealousy; their gestures were threatening. He pretended not to see these signs of anger, but continued his way to the level of the great central court-yard, where the bodies of the dead had been deposited, and where a forest of steel waved over the heads of thousands of armed men. From that point a wider staircase leads to the left, to the great entrance of Henry IV., which opens upon La place de Grève,