<--Previous Up Next-->
High Resolution Image
Archbishop of Paris. That night more buildings still were burning; and the flaring light, the terrors, and cannon firing on either side, made such a city of it as words cannot tell of.
The 25th morning, however, still rose on this great battle of the streets. Wroblewski still held the Butte aux Cailles in due military form, from whence, the day before, he had repulse the Versaillese again and again, and elsewhere more irregular resistance still went on; but again the position was turned, and the best officer of the Commune had to retreat with a handful of men. That evening Delescluze walked quietly into the storm of bullets, and left his life gloriously. As the prisoners of the Versaillese increased, so did the massacres, which were now on the big scale, mitrailleuses taking the place of the platoon.
On the 26th, after a fierce fight, the Place de la Bastille fell, and the battle grew more and more confused, especially as the weather, hitherto fine, was now become rainy and thick; this day the fifty-two hostages, who were being taken from La Roquette to the Rue Haxo, were shot. Jecker, of Mexican stock-jobbing infamy, had been shot in the morning of the same day.
The 27th, there was still fighting in Belleville and La Villette. The cemetery of Pere la Chaise was taken; all the cannon were gone, ammunition failed for the musketry, and by eleven o'clock at night all was over. The fort of Vincennes unarmed surrendered last.
Thus was extinguished the despair of Paris; but though the fighting was over, the killing went on merrily; for instance, in the prision of La Roquette alone nine hundred prisoners were slain in cold blood, and without any pretence of form of trial. The courts martial disposed of others. "Have you taken arms, or served the Commune? Show your hands." If the judge thought the man looked likely, "classé"e; was the word; if anyone was spared, "e;ordinaire"e; was pronounced, and he was kept for Versailles. None were released sex — or age made no difference. Those who were "e;classés"e; were shot at once; perhaps they were not the unluckiest. It may be said, if it be necessary, that few died other than manfully. In more than one case men were shot by mistake. Several members of the Commune were killed many times over. Varlin, a working man, one of the best and most capable members of the Commune — a true hero of Revolution — was dragged up to the Rue des Rosiers, at Montmartre, where Lecomte and Thomas were killed on the 18th of March, and was there beaten half to death before he was shot.
It need not be said that the Reactionary Press egged on these murders to the utmost. The wholesale slaughter went on for the first few days of June; the courts martial till the middle of the month. Twenty thousand in all were killed in Paris in cold blood, besides those slain in Versailles.
But those who were dead had ended their suffering at least. There were prisoners besides: people arrested wholesale, men, women, and children, in nine days 40,000 of them for one item. The treatment of these poor people could scarcely be credible if it were not attested by the Reactionary Press itself, which, with a baseness unexampled, one must hope, rejoiced in the sufferings of these martyrs of the people. Space fails to tell the story of the sickening horrors of the penfold of Satory. Nothing more hideous is known to history, not even the quarries of Syracuse, wherein the Athenians expiated the crime of defeat ; and they were at least combatants: upwards of 399,000 denunciations were made; in all, probably, 50,000 people were actually arrested. Of these, some were released after long months of imprisonment in cruel prisons, hulks, and forts. Some (at least 1,179) died on the hands of their tormentors. Some were condemned to deportation, some were shot after a regular trial.
A few words to point out the meaning of this revolt, suppressed with such inhuman cruelty. Undoubtedly, the occasion of it rose from the indignation of the people of Paris at the cowardice and treachery of their rulers during the German siege; these worthies, as we have said before, undoubtedly had all the time one eye upon the Prussians and another on the Revolutionists, actual or possible, and this it was which paralyzed their defense, as it was bound to do.
Then after the surrender, Paris found itself face to face with a