Great People

Victor Hugo


From The Memoirs of Victor Hugo by Victor Hugo

Parts: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15


LOUIS BONAPARTE


I. HIS DEBUTS.

Upon his arrival in Paris Louis Bonaparte took up his residence in the Place Vendome. Mlle. Georges went to see him. They conversed at some length. In the course of the conversation Louis Bonaparte led Mlle. Georges to a window from which ,the column with the statue of Napoleon I. upon it was visible and said:

"I gaze at that all day long."

"It's pretty high!" observed Mlle. George.

September 24, 1848.

Louis Napoleon appeared at the National Assembly today. He seated himself on the seventh bench of the third section on the left, between M. Vieillard and M. Havin.

He looks young, has a black moustache and goatee, and a parting in his hair, a black cravat, a black coat buttoned up, a turned-down collar, and white gloves. Perrin and Leon Faucher, seated immediately below him, did not once turn their heads. In a few minutes the galleries began to turn their opera-glasses upon the prince, and the prince gazed at the galleries through his own glass.


September 26.

Louis Bonaparte ascended the tribune (3.15 P.M.). Black frock-coat, grey trousers. He read from a crumpled paper in his hand. He was listened to with deep attention. He pronounced the word "compatriots" with a foreign accent. When he had finished a few cries of "Long live the Republic!" were raised.

He returned leisurely to his place. His cousin Napoleon, son of Jerome, who so greatly resembles the Emperor, leaned over M. Vieillard to congratulate him.

Louis Bonaparte seated himself without saying a word to his two neighbours. He is silent, but he seems to be embarrassed rather than taciturn.


October 9.

While the question of the presidency was being raised Louis Bonaparte absented himself from the Assembly. When the Antony Thouret amendment, excluding members of the royal and imperial families was being debated, however, he reappeared. He seated himself at the extremity of his bench, beside his former tutor, M. Vieillard, and listened in silence, leaning his chin upon his hand, or twisting his moustache.

All at once he rose and, amid extraordinary agitation, walked slowly towards the tribune. One half of the Assembly shouted: "The vote!" The other half shouted: "Speak!"

M. Sarrans was in the tribune. The president said:

"M. Sarrans will allow M. Louis Napoleon Bonaparte to speak."

He made a few insignificant remarks and descended from the tribune amid a general laugh of stupefaction.


November 1848.

On November 19 I dined at Odilon Barrot's at Bougival.

There were present MM. de Rémusat, de Tocqueville, Girardin, Leon Faucher, a member of the English Parliament and his wife, who is ugly but witty and has beautiful teeth, Mme. Odilon Barrot and her mother.

Towards the middle of the dinner Louis Bonaparte arrived with his cousin, the son of Jerome, and M. Abbatucci, Representative.

Louis Bonaparte is distinguished, cold, gentle, intelligent, with a certain measure of deference and dignity, a German air and black moustache; he bears no resemblance whatever to the Emperor.

He ate little, spoke little, and laughed little, although the party was a merry one.

Mme. Odilon Barrot seated him on her left. The Englishman was on her right.

M. de Rémusat, who was seated between the prince and myself, remarked to me loud enough for Louis Bonaparte to hear:

"I give my best wishes to Louis Bonaparte and my vote to Cavaignac."

Louis Bonaparte at the time was feeding Mme. Odilon Barrot's greyhound with fried gudgeons.

II. HIS ELEVATION TO THE PRESIDENCY.

December 1848.

The proclamation of Louis Bonaparte as President of the Republic was made on December 20.

The weather, which up to then had been admirable, and reminded one more of the approach of spring than of the beginning of winter, suddenly changed. December 20 was the first cold day of the year. Popular superstition had it that the sun of Austerlitz was becoming clouded.

This proclamation was made in a somewhat unexpected manner. It had been announced for Friday. It was made suddenly on Wednesday.

Towards 3 o'clock the approaches to the Assembly were occupied by troops. A regiment of infantry was massed in rear of the Palais d'Orsay; a regiment of dragoons was echeloned along the quay. The troopers shivered and looked moody. The population assembled in great uneasiness, not knowing what it all meant. For some days a Bonapartist movement had been vaguely spoken of. The faubourgs, it was said, were to turn out and march to the Assembly shouting: "Long live the Emperor!" The day before the Funds had dropped 3 francs. Napoleon Bonaparte, greatly alarmed, came to see me.

The Assembly resembled a public square. It was a number of groups rather than a parliament. In the tribune a very useful bill for regulating the publicity of the sessions and substituting the State Printing Office, the former Royal Printing Office, for the printing office of the "Moniteur," was being discussed, but no one listened. M. Bureau de Puzy, the questor, was speaking.

Suddenly there was a stir in the Assembly, which was being invaded by a crowd of Deputies who entered by the door on the left. It was the committee appointed to count the votes and was returning to announce the result of the election to the Presidency. It was 4 o'clock, the chandeliers were lighted, there was an immense crowd in the public galleries, all the ministers were present. Cavaignac, calm, attired in a black frock-coat, and not wearing any decoration, was in his place. He kept his right hand thrust in the breast of his buttoned frock-coat, and made no reply to M. Bastide, who now and then whispered in his ear. M. Fayet, Bishop of Orleans, occupied a chair in front of the General. Which prompted the Bishop of Langres, the Abbé Parisis, to remark: "That is the place of a dog, not a bishop."

Lamartine was absent.

The ~rapporteur~ of the committee, M. Waldeck-Rousseau, read a cold discourse that was coldly listened to. When he reached the enumeration of the votes cast, and came to Lamartine's total, 17,910 votes, the Right burst into a laugh. A mean vengeance, sarcasm of the unpopular men of yesterday for the unpopular man of to-day.

Cavaignac took leave in a few brief and dignified words, which were applauded by the whole Assembly. He announced that the Ministry had resigned in a body, and that he, Cavaignac, laid down the power. He thanked the Assembly with emotion. A few Representatives wept.

Then President Marrast proclaimed "the citizen Louis Bonaparte" President of the Republic.

A few Representatives about the bench where Louis Bonaparte sat applauded. The remainder of the Assembly preserved a glacial silence. They were leaving the lover for the husband.

Armand Marrast called upon the elect of the nation to take the oath of office. There was a stir.

Louis Bonaparte, buttoned up in a black frock-coat, the decoration of Representative of the people and the star of the Legion of Honour on his breast, entered by the door on the right, ascended the tribune, repeated in a calm voice the words of the oath that President Marrast dictated to him, called upon God and men to bear witness, then read, with a foreign accent which was displeasing, a speech that was interrupted at rare intervals by murmurs of approval. He eulogized Cavaignac, and the eulogy was noted and applauded.

After a few minutes he descended from the tribune, not like Cavaignac, amid the acclamations of the Chamber, but amid an immense shout of "Long live the Republic!" Somebody shouted "Hurrah for the Constitution!"

Before leaving Louis Bonaparte went over to his former tutor, M. Vieillard, who was seated in the eighth section on the left, and shook hands with him. Then the President of the Assembly invited the committee to accompany the President of the Republic to his palace and have rendered to him the honours due to his rank. The word caused the Mountain to murmur. I shouted from my bench: "To his functions!"

The President of the Assembly announced that the President of the Republic had charged M. Odilon Barrot with the formation of a Cabinet, and that the names of the new Ministers would be announced to the Assembly in a Message; that, in fact, a supplement to the Moniteur would be distributed to the Representatives that very evening.

It was remarked, for everything was remarked on that day which began a decisive phase in the history of the country, that President Marrast called Louis Bonaparte "citizen" and Odilon Barrot "monsieur."

Meanwhile the ushers, their chief Deponceau at their head, the officers of the Chamber, the questors, and among them General Lebreton in full uniform, had grouped themselves below the tribune; several Representatives had joined them; there was a stir indicating that Louis Bonaparte was about to leave the enclosure. A few Deputies rose. There were shouts of "Sit down! Sit down!"

Louis Bonaparte went out. The malcontents, to manifest their indifference, wanted to continue the debate on the Printing Office Bill. But the Assembly was too agitated even to remain seated. It rose in a tumult and the Chamber was soon empty. It was half past 4. The proceedings had lasted half an hour.

As I left the Assembly, alone, and avoided as a man who had disdained the opportunity to be a Minister, I passed in the outer hall, at the foot of the stairs, a group in which I noticed Montalembert, and also Changarnier in the uniform of a lieutenant-general of the National Guard. Changarnier had just been escorting Louis Bonaparte to the Elysee. I heard him say: "All passed off well."

When I found myself in the Place de la Revolution, there were no longer either troops or crowd; all had disappeared. A few passers-by came from the Champs-Elysees. The night was dark and cold. A bitter wind blew from the river, and at the same time a heavy storm-cloud breaking in the west covered the horizon with silent flashes of lightning. A December wind with August lightning--such were the omens of that day.

III. THE FIRST OFFICIAL DINNER.

December 24, 1848.

Louis Bonaparte gave his first dinner last evening, Saturday the 23rd, two days after his elevation to the Presidency of the Republic.

The Chamber had adjourned for the Christmas holidays. I was at home in my new lodging in the Rue de la Tour d'Auvergne, occupied with I know not what bagatelles, ~totus in illis~, when a letter addressed to me and brought by a dragoon was handed to me. I opened the envelope, and this is what I read:

The orderly officer on duty has the honour to inform Monsieur the General Changarnier that he is invited to dinner at the Elysee-National on Saturday, at 7 o'clock.

I wrote below it: "Delivered by mistake to M. Victor Hugo," and sent the letter back by the dragoon who had brought it. An hour later came another letter from M. de Persigny, Prince Louis's former companion in plots, to-day his private secretary. This letter contained profuse apologies for the error committed and advised me that I was among those invited. My letter had been addressed by mistake to M. Conti, the Representative from Corsica.

At the head of M. de Persigny's letter, written with a pen, were the words: "Household of the President."

I remarked that the form of these invitations was exactly similar to the form employed by King Louis Philippe. As I did not wish to do anything that might resemble intentional coldness, I dressed; it was half past 6, and I set out immediately for the Elysee.

Half past 7 struck as I arrived there.

As I passed I glanced at the sinister portal of the Praslin mansion adjoining the Elysee. The large green carriage entrance, enframed between two Doric pillars of the time of the Empire, was closed, gloomy, and vaguely outlined by the light of a street lamp. One of the double doors of the entrance to the Elysee was closed; two soldiers of the line were on guard. The court-yard was scarcely lighted, and a mason in his working clothes with a ladder on his shoulder was crossing it; nearly all the windows of the outhouses on the right had been broken, and were mended with paper. I entered by the door on the perron. Three servants in black coats received me; one opened the door, another took my mantle, the third said: "Monsieur, on the first floor!" I ascended the grand staircase. There were a carpet and flowers on it, but that chilly and unsettled air about it peculiar to places into which one is moving.

On the first floor an usher asked:

"Monsieur has come to dinner?"

"Yes," I said. "Are they at table?"

"Yes, Monsieur."

"In that case, I am off."

"But, Monsieur," exclaimed the usher, "nearly everybody arrived after the dinner had begun; go in. Monsieur is expected."

I remarked this military and imperial punctuality, which used to be customary with Napoleon. With the Emperor 7 o'clock meant 7 o'clock.

I crossed the ante-chamber, then a salon, and entered the dining-room. It was a square room wainscotted in the Empire style with white wood. On the walls were engravings and pictures of very poor selection, among them "Mary Stuart listening to Rizzio," by the painter Ducis. Around the room was a sideboard. In the middle was a long table with rounded ends at which about fifteen guests were seated. One end of the table, that furthest from the entrance, was raised, and here the President of the Republic was seated between two women, the Marquise de Hallays-Coëtquen, née Princess de Chimay (Tallien) being on his right, and Mme. Conti, mother of the Representative, on his left.

The President rose when I entered. I went up to him. We grasped each other's hand.

"I have improvised this dinner," he said. "I invited only a few dear friends, and I hoped that I could comprise you among them. I thank you for coming. You have come to me, as I went to you, simply. I thank you."

He again grasped my hand. Prince de la Moskowa, who was next to General Changarnier, made room for me beside him, and I seated myself at the table. I ate quickly, for the President had interrupted the dinner to enable me to catch up with the company. The second course had been reached.

Opposite to me was General Rulhières, an ex-peer, the Representative Conti and Lucien Murat. The other guests were unknown to me. Among them was a young major of cavalry, decorated with the Legion of Honour. This major alone was in uniform; the others wore evening dress. The Prince had a rosette of the Legion of Honour in his buttonhole.

Everybody conversed with his neighbour. Louis Bonaparte appeared to prefer his neighbour on the right to his neighbour on the left. The Marquise de Hallays is thirty-six years old, and looks her age. Fine eyes, not much hair, an ugly mouth, white skin, a shapely neck, charming arms, the prettiest little hands in the world, admirable shoulders. At present she is separated from M. de Hallays. She has had eight children, the first seven by her husband. She was married fifteen years ago. During the early period of their marriage she used to fetch her husband from the drawing-room, even in the daytime, and take him off to bed. Sometimes a servant would enter and say: "Madame the Marquise is asking for Monsieur the Marquis." The Marquis would obey the summons. This made the company who happened to be present laugh. To-day the Marquis and Marquise have fallen out.

"She was the mistress of Napoleon, son of Jerome, you know," said Prince de la Moskowa to me, sotto voce, "now she is Louis's mistress."

"Well," I answered, "changing a Napoleon for a Louis is an everyday occurrence."

These bad puns did not prevent me from eating and observing.

The two women seated beside the President had square-topped chairs. The President's chair was surmounted with a little round top. As I was about to draw some inference from this I looked at the other chairs and saw that four or five guests, myself among them, had chairs similar to that of the President. The chairs were covered with red velvet with gilt headed nails. A more serious thing I noticed was that everybody addressed the President of the Republic as "Monseigneur" and "your Highness." I who had called him "Prince," had the air of a demagogue.

When we rose from table the Prince asked after my wife, and then apologized profusely for the rusticity of the service.

"I am not yet installed," he said. "The day before yesterday, when I arrived here, there was hardly a mattress for me to sleep upon."

The dinner was a very ordinary one, and the Prince did well to excuse himself. The service was of common white china and the silverware bourgeois, worn, and gross. In the middle of the table was a rather fine vase of craquelé, ornamented with ormolu in the bad taste of the time of Louis XVI.

However, we heard music in an adjoining hall.

"It is a surprise," said the President to us, "they are the musicians from the Opera."

A minute afterwards programmes written with a pen were handed round. They indicated that the following five selections were being played:

1. Priere de la "Muette." 2. Fantaisie sur des airs favoris de la "Reine Hortense." 3. Final de "Robert Bruce". 4. "Marche Republicaine." 5. "La Victoire," pas redoublé.

In the rather uneasy state of mind I, like the whole of France, was in at that moment, I could not help remarking this "Victory" piece coming after the "Republican March."

I rose from table still hungry.

We went into the grand salon, which was separated from the dining-room by the smaller salon that I had passed through on entering.

This grand salon was extremely ugly. It was white, with figures on panels, after the fashion of those of Pompeii, the whole of the furniture being in the Empire style with the exception of the armchairs, which were in tapestry and gold and in fairly good taste. There were three arched windows to which three large mirrors of the same shape at the other end of the salon formed pendants and one of which, the middle one, was a door. The window curtains were of fine white satin richly flowered.

While the Prince de la Moskowa and I were talking Socialism, the Mountain, Communism, etc., Louis Bonaparte came up and took me aside.

He asked me what I thought of the situation. I was reserved. I told him that a good beginning had been made; that the task was a difficult but a grand one; that what he had to do was to reassure the bourgeoisie and satisfy the people, to give tranquillity to the former, work to the latter, and life to all; that after the little governments, those of the elder Bourbons, Louis Philippe, and the Republic of February, a great one was required; that the Emperor had made a great government through war, and that he himself ought to make a great one through peace; that the French people having been illustrious for three centuries did not propose to become ignoble; that it was his failure to appreciate this high-mindedness of the people and the national pride that was the chief cause of Louis Philippe's downfall; that, in a word, he must decorate peace.

"How?" asked Louis Napoleon.

"By all the greatness of art, literature and science, by the victories of industry and progress. Popular labour can accomplish miracles. And then, France is a conquering nation; when she does not make conquests with the sword, she wants to make them with the mind. Know this and act accordingly. Ignore it and you will be lost."

He looked thoughtful and went away. Then he returned, thanked me warmly, and we continued to converse.

We spoke about the press. I advised him to respect it profoundly and at the same time to establish a State press. "The State without a newspaper, in the midst of newspapers," I observed, "restricting itself to governing while publicity and polemics are the rule, reminds one of the knights of the fifteenth century who obstinately persisted in fighting against cannon with swords; they were always beaten. I grant that it was noble; you will grant that it was foolish."

He spoke of the Emperor. "It is here," he said, "that I saw him for the last time. I could not re-enter this palace without emotion. The Emperor had me brought to him and laid his hand on my head. I was seven years old. It was in the grand salon downstairs."

Then Louis Bonaparte talked about La Malmaison. He said:

"They have respected it. I visited the place in detail about six weeks ago. This is how I came to do so. I had gone to see M. Odilon Barrot at Bougival.

"'Dine with me,' he said.

"' I will with pleasure.' It was 3 o'clock. 'What shall we do until dinner time?'

"'Let us go and see La Malmaison,' suggested M. Barrot.

"We went. Nobody else was with us. Arrived at La Malmaison we rang the bell. A porter opened the gate, M. Barrot spoke:

"'We want to see La Malmaison.'

"'Impossible!' replied the porter.

"'What do you mean, impossible?'

"'I have orders.'

"'From whom?'

"'From her Majesty Queen Christine, to whom the château belongs at present.'

"'But monsieur here is a stranger who has come expressly to visit the place.'

"'Impossible!'

"'Well,' exclaimed M. Odilon Barrot, 'it's funny that this door should be closed to the Emperor's nephew!'

"The porter started and threw his cap on the ground. He was an old soldier, to whom the post had been granted as a pension.

"'The Emperor's nephew!' he cried. 'Oh! Sire, enter!'

"He wanted to kiss my clothes.

"We visited the château. Everything is still about in its place. I recognised nearly everything, the First Consul's study, the chamber of his mother, my own. The furniture in several rooms has not been changed. I found a little armchair I had when I was a child."

I said to the Prince: "You see, thrones disappear, arm-chairs remain.

While we were talking a few persons came, among others M. Duclerc, the ex-Minister of Finance of the Executive Committee, an old woman in black velvet whom I did not know, and Lord Normanby, the English Ambassador, whom the President quickly took into an adjoining salon. I saw Lord Normanby taken aside in the same way by Louis Philippe.

The President in his salon had an air of timidity and did not appear at home. He came and went from group to group more like an embarrassed stranger than the master of the house. However, his remarks are ~a propos~ and sometimes witty.

He endeavoured to get my opinion anent his Ministry, but in vain. I would say nothing either good or bad about it.

Besides, the Ministry is only a mask, or, more properly speaking, a screen that hides a baboon. Thiers is behind it. This is beginning to bother Louis Bonaparte. He has to contend against eight Ministers, all of whom seek to belittle him. Each is pulling his own way. Among these Ministers some are his avowed enemies. Nominations, promotions, and lists arrive all made out from the Place Saint Georges. They have to be accepted, signed and endorsed.

Yesterday Louis Bonaparte complained about it to the Prince de la Moskowa, remarking wittily: "They want to make of me a Prince Albert of the Republic."

Odilon Barrot appeared mournful and discouraged. To-day he left the council with a crushed air. M. de la Moskowa encountered him.

"Hello!" said he, "how goes it?"

"Pray for us!" replied Odilon Barrot.

"Whew!" said Moskowa, "this is tragical!"

"What are we to do?" went on Odilon Barrot. "How are we to rebuild this old society in which everything is collapsing? Efforts to prop it up only help to bring it down. If you touch it, it topples over. Ah! pray for us!"

And he raised his eyes skywards.

I quitted the Elysee about 10 o'clock. As I was going the President said to me: "Wait a minute." Then he went into an adjoining room and came out again a moment later with some papers which he placed in my hand, saying: "For Madame Victor Hugo."

They were tickets of admission to the gallery of the Garde-Meuble for the review that is to be held to-day.

And as I went home I thought a good deal. I thought about this abrupt moving in, this trial of etiquette, this bourgeois-republican-imperial mixture, this surface of a deep, unfathomed quantity that to-day is called the President of the Republic, his entourage, the whole circumstances of his position. This man who can be, and is, addressed at one and the same time and from all sides at once as: prince, highness, monsieur, monseigneur and citizen, is not one of the least curious and characteristic factors of the situation.

Everything that is happening at this moment stamps its mark upon this personage who sticks at nothing to attain his ends.

IV. THE FIRST MONTH.

January. 1849.

The first month of Louis Bonaparte's presidency is drawing to a close. This is how we stand at present:

Old-time Bonapartists are cropping up. MM. Jules Favre, Billault and Carteret are paying court--politically Speaking--to the Princess Mathilde Demidoff. The Duchess d'Orleans is residing with her two children in a little house at Ems, where she lives modestly yet royally. All the ideas of February are brought up one after the other; 1849, disappointed, is turning its back on 1848. The generals want amnesty, the wise want disarmament. The Constituent Assembly's term is expiring and the Assembly is in savage mood in consequence. M. Guizot is publishing his book _On Democracy in France_. Louis Philippe is in London, Pius IX. is at Gaete, M. Barrot is in power; the bourgeoisie has lost Paris, Catholicism has lost Rome. The sky is rainy and gloomy, with a ray of sunshine now and then. Mlle. Ozy shows herself quite naked in the role of Eve at the Porte Saint Martin; Fréderick Lemaitre is playing "L'Auberge des Adrets" there. Five per cents are at 74, potatoes cost 8 cents the bushel, at the market a pike can be bought for 20 sous. M. Ledru-Rollin is trying to force the country into war, M. Prudhon is trying to force it into bankruptcy. General Cavaignac takes part in the sessions of the Assembly in a grey waist-coat, and passes his time gazing at the women in the galleries through big ivory opera-glasses. M. de Lamartine gets 25,000 francs for his "Toussaint L'Ouverture." Louis Bonaparte gives grand dinners to M. Thiers, who had him captured, and to M. Mole, who had him condemned. Vienna, Milan, and Berlin are becoming calmer. Revolutionary fires are paling and seem to be dying out everywhere on the surface, but the peoples are still deeply stirred. The King of Prussia is getting ready to seize his sceptre again and the Emperor of Russia to draw his sword. There has been an earthquake at Havre, the cholera is at Fécamp; Arnal is leaving the Gymnase, and the Academy is nominating the Duke de Noailles as Chateaubriand's successor.

V. FEELING HIS WAY.

January, 1849.

At Odilon Barrot's ball on January 28 M. Thiers went up to M. Leon Faucher and said: "Make So-and-So a prefect." M. Leon Faucher made a grimace, which is an easy thing for him to do, and said: "Monsieur Thiers, there are objections." "That's funny!" retorted Thiers, "it is precisely the answer the President of the Republic gave to me the day I said: 'Make M. Faucher a Minister!'"

At this ball it was remarked that Louis Bonaparte sought Berryer's company, attached himself to him and led him into quiet corners. The Prince looked as though he were following Berryer, and Berryer as though he were trying to avoid the Prince.

At 11 o'clock the President said to Berryer: "Come with me to the Opera."

Berryer excused himself. "Prince," said he, "it would give rise to gossip. People would believe I am engaged in a love affair!"

"Pish!" replied Louis Bonaparte laughingly, "Representatives are inviolable!"

The Prince went away alone, and the following quatrain was circulated:

~En vain l'empire met du fard, On baisse ses yeux et sa robe. Et Berryer-Joseph so derobe A Napoléon-Putiphar~.


February, 1849.

Although he is animated with the best intentions in the world and has a very visible quantity of intelligence and aptitude, I fear that Louis Bonaparte will find his task too much for him. To him, France, the century, the new spirit, the instincts peculiar to the soil and the period are so many closed books. He looks without understanding them at minds that are working, Paris, events, men, things and ideas. He belongs to that class of ignorant persons who are called princes and to that category of foreigners who are called ~êmigrês~. To those who examine him closely he has the air of a patient rather than of a governing man.

There is nothing of the Bonapartes about him, either in his face or manner. He probably is not a Bonaparte. The free and easy ways of Queen Hortense are remembered. "He is a memento of Holland!" said Alexis de Saint Priest to me yesterday. Louis Bonaparte certainly possesses the cold manner of the Dutch.

Louis Bonaparte knows so little about Paris that the first time I saw him he said to me:

"I have been hunting for you. I went to your former residence. What is this Place des Vosges?"

"It is the Place Royale," I said.

"Ah!" he continued, "is it an old place?"

He wanted to see Beranger. He went to Passy twice without being able to find him at home. His cousin Napoleon timed his visit more happily and found Béranger by his fireside. He asked him:

"What do you advise my cousin to do?"

"To observe the Constitution."

"And what ought he to avoid?"

"Violating the Constitution."

Béranger could not be induced to say anything else.


Yesterday, December 5, 1850, I was at the Français. Rachel played "Adrienne Lecouvreur." Jerome Bonaparte occupied a box next to mine. During an entr'acte I paid him a visit. We chatted. He said to me:

"Louis is mad. He is suspicious of his friends and delivers himself into the hands of his enemies. He is suspicious of his family and allows himself to be bound hand and foot by the old Royalist parties. On my return to France I was better received by Louis Philippe at the Tuileries than I am at the Elysee by my nephew. I said to him the other day before one of his ministers (Fould): 'Just remember a little! When you were a candidate for the presidency, Monsieur here (I pointed to Fould) called upon me in the Rue d'Alger, where I lived, and begged me in the name of MM. Thiers, Mole, Duvergier de Hauranne, Berryer, and Bugeaud to enter the lists for the presidency. He told me that never would you get the "Constitutionnel;" that in Mole's opinion you were an idiot, and that Thiers looked upon you as a blockhead; that I alone could rally everybody to me and win against Cavaignac. I refused. I told them that you represented youth and the future, that you had a quarter of a century before you, whereas I could hardly count upon eight or ten years; that I was an invalid and wanted to be let alone. That is what these people were doing and that is what I did. And you forget all this! And you make these gentlemen the masters! And you show the door to your cousin, my son, who defended you in the Assembly and devoted himself to furthering your candidacy! And you are strangling universal suffrage, which made you what you are! I' faith I shall say like Mole that you are an idiot, and like Thiers that you are a blockhead!'"

The King of Westphalia paused for a moment, then continued:

"And do you know, Monsieur Victor Hugo, what he replied to me? 'You will see!' No one knows what is at the bottom of that man!"

Continue: The Memoirs of Victor Hugo, Part 14

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