The History of a Crime, by Victor Hugo

Chapter x.

The Black Door

M. Dupin is a matchless disgrace.

Later on he had his reward. It appears that he became some sort of an Attorney–General at the Court of Appeal.

M. Dupin renders to Louis Bonaparte the service of being in his place the meanest of men.

To continue this dismal history.

The Representatives of the Right, in their first bewilderment caused by the coup d’état, hastened in large numbers to M. Daru, who was Vice–President of the Assembly, and at the same time one of the Presidents of the Pyramid Club. This Association had always supported the policy of the Elysée, but without believing that a coup d’état was premeditated. M. Daru lived at No. 75, Rue de Lille.

Towards ten o’clock in the morning about a hundred of these Representatives had assembled at M. Daru’s home. They resolved to attempt to penetrate into the Hall where the Assembly held its sittings. The Rue de Lille opens out into the Rue de Bourgogne, almost opposite the little door by which the Palace is entered, and which is called the Black Door.

They turned their steps towards this door, with M. Daru at their head. They marched arm in arm and three abreast. Some of them had put on their scarves of office. They took them off later on.

The Black Door, half-open as usual, was only guarded by two sentries.

Some of the most indignant, and amongst them M. de Kerdrel, rushed towards this door and tried to pass. The door, however, was violently shut, and there ensued between the Representatives and the sergents de ville who hastened up, a species of struggle, in which a Representative had his wrist sprained.

At the same time a battalion which was drawn up on the Place de Bourgogne moved on, and came at the double towards the group of Representatives. M. Daru, stately and firm, signed to the commander to stop; the battalion halted, and M. Daru, in the name of the Constitution, and in his capacity as Vice–President of the Assembly, summoned the soldiers to lay down their arms, and to give free passage to the Representatives of the Sovereign People.

The commander of the battalion replied by an order to clear the street immediately, declaring that there was no longer an Assembly; that as for himself, he did not know what the Representatives of the People were, and that if those persons before him did not retire of their own accord, he would drive them back by force.

“We will only yield to violence,” said M. Daru.

“You commit high treason,” added M. de Kerdrel.

The officer gave the order to charge.

The soldiers advanced in close order.

There was a moment of confusion; almost a collision. The Representatives, forcibly driven back, ebbed into the Rue de Lille. Some of them fell down. Several members of the Right were rolled in the mud by the soldiers. One of them, M. Etienne, received a blow on the shoulder from the butt-end of a musket. We may here add that a week afterwards M. Etienne was a member of that concern which they styled the Consultative Committee. He found the coup d’état to his taste, the blow with the butt-end of a musket included.

They went back to M. Daru’s house, and on the way the scattered group reunited, and was even strengthened by some new-comers.

“Gentlemen,” said M. Daru, “the President has failed us, the Hall is closed against us. I am the Vice–President; my house is the Palace of the Assembly.”

He opened a large room, and there the Representatives of the Right installed themselves. At first the discussions were somewhat noisy. M. Daru, however, observed that the moments were precious, and silence was restored.

The first measure to be taken was evidently the deposition of the President of the Republic by virtue of Article 68 of the Constitution. Some Representatives of the party which was called Burgraves sat round a table and prepared the deed of deposition.

As they were about to read it aloud a Representative who came in from out of doors appeared at the door of the room, and announced to the Assembly that the Rue de Lille was becoming filled with troops, and that the house was being surrounded.

There was not a moment to lose.

M. Benoist-d’Azy said, “Gentlemen, let us go to the Mairie of the tenth arrondissement; there we shall be able to deliberate under the protection of the tenth legion, of which our colleague, General Lauriston, is the colonel.”

M. Daru’s house had a back entrance by a little door which was at the bottom of the garden. Most of the Representatives went out that way.

M. Daru was about to follow them. Only himself, M. Odilon Barrot, and two or three others remained in the room, when the door opened. A captain entered, and said to M. Daru —

“Sir, you are my prisoner.”

“Where am I to follow you?” asked M. Daru.

“I have orders to watch over you in your own house.”

The house, in truth, was militarily occupied, and it was thus that M. Daru was prevented from taking part in the sitting at the Mairie of the tenth arrondissement.

The officer allowed M. Odilon Barrot to go out.

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38