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A Short Account of the Commune of Paris

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In another important particular the Paris of the Commune differed from the Paris of the Bourgeois: the officials of the Commune were at least clean-handed. The outside sum allowed as payment for any official was at the rate of £240 a year, and that maximum was never reached. The administration was carried on (often by workmen) at workmen's payments.

     The clemency of the Commune is in strange contrast with the murderous names which have been showered upon them. From the first skirmish the Versaillese began to shoot their prisoners of war, and always maltreated them brutally. In spite of the decree passed by the Commune no reprisals were made, though in any ordinary war they would have followed, as a matter of course; and this, though ambulances were fired at by the Versaillese, and many women slain on their errand of mercy. And one may say, parenthetically, that throughout the siege the Parisian women, wives, and sweethearts of the workmen- among the honestest and most affectionate women in the world, be it said- acted with extraordinary courage and devotion, It is related that, in one of the skirmishes about the walls of Paris, an engineer officer, taken prisoner by the Communards, said to the captain to whom he was brought, "Well; I know my fate. Shot me at once, then!" The captain shrugged his shoulders in amusement, and brought him to Delescluze, then the delegate for war. The old man looked, and said, "Sign your name not to serve against the Commune again, and you are free." The officer overwhelmed with amazement, begged leave to grasp his hand, and so departed. This anecdote give a type, not only of the way the Commune treated its prisoners, but also of the cowardly lies which the bourgeois press circulated about them, though it saw nothing shameful in the frightful barbarities practiced by the defenders of Law and Order.

     Although argument would be wasted on those who condemn the execution of the hostages in the face of the Versailles atrocities, and of the fact that they had forfeited their lives by the laws of war over and over again, we may yet mention that they were not shot, especially the larger number of them


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