The History of a Crime, by Victor Hugo

Chapter xiv.

The D’orsay Barracks

It was half-past three.

The arrested Representatives entered into the courtyard of the barracks, a huge parallelogram closed in and commanded by high walls. These walls are pierced by three tiers of windows, and posses that dismal appearance which distinguishes barracks, schools, and prisons.

This courtyard is entered by an arched portal which extends through all the breadth of the front of the main building. This archway, under which the guard-house has been made, is close on the side of the quay by large solid folding doors, and on one side of the courtyard by an iron grated gateway. They closed the door and the grated gateway upon the Representatives. They “set them at liberty” in the bolted and guarded courtyard.

“Let them stroll about,” said an officer.

The air was cold, the sky was gray. Some soldiers, in their shirt-sleeves and wearing foraging caps, busy with fatigue duty, went hither and thither amongst the prisoners.

First M. Grimault and then M. Antony Thouret instituted a roll-call. The Representatives made a ring around them. Lherbette said laughingly, “This just suits the barracks. We look like sergeant-majors who have come to report.” They called over the seven hundred and fifty names of the Representatives. To each name they answered “Absent” or “Present,” and the secretary jotted down with a pencil those who were present. When the name of Morny was reached, some one cried out, “At Clichy!” At the name of Persigny, the same voice exclaimed, “At Poissy!” The inventor of these two jokes, which by the way are very poor, has since allied himself to the Second of December, to Morny and Persigny; he has covered his cowardice with the embroidery of a senator.

The roll-call verified the presence of two hundred and twenty Representatives, whose names were as follows:—

Le Duc de Luynes, d’Andigné de la Chasse, Antony Thouret, Arène, Audren de Kerdrel (Ille-et-Vilaine), Audren de Kerdrel (Morbihan), de Balzac, Barchou de Penhoen, Barillon, O. Barrot, Barthélemy Saint–Hilaire, Quentin Bauchard, G. deBeaumont, Béchard, Behaghel, de Belèvze, Benoist-d’Azy, de Benardy, Berryer, de Berset, Basse, Betting de Lancastel, Blavoyer, Bocher, Boissié, de Botmillan, Bouvatier, le Duc de Broglie, de la Broise, de Bryas, Buffet, Caillet du Tertre, Callet, Camus de la Guibourgère, Canet, de Castillon, de Cazalis, Admiral Cécile, Chambolle, Chamiot, Champannet, Chaper, Chapot, de Charencey, Chasseigne, Chauvin, Chazant, de Chazelles, Chegaray, Comte de Coislin, Colfavru, Colas de la Motte, Coquerel, de Corcelles, Cordier, Corne, Creton, Daguilhon, Pujol, Dahirel, Vicomte Dambray, Marquis de Dampierre, de Brotonne, de Fontaine, de Fontenay, Vicomte de Sèze, Desmars, de la Devansaye, Didier, Dieuleveult, Druet–Desvaux, A. Dubois, Dufaure, Dufougerais, Dufour, Dufournel, Marc Dufraisse, P. Duprat, Duvergier de Hauranne, Étienne, Vicomte de Falloux, de Faultrier, Faure (Rhône), Favreau, Ferre, des Ferrès, Vicomte de Flavigny, de Foblant, Frichon, Gain, Gasselin, Germonière, de Gicquiau, de Goulard, de Gouyon, de Grandville, de Grasset, Grelier–Dufougerais, Grévy, Grillon, Grimault, Gros, Guislier de la Tousche, Harscouët de Saint–Georges, Marquis d’Havrincourt, Hennequin, d’Hespel, Houel, Hovyn–Tranchère, Huot, Joret, Jouannet, de Kéranflech, de Kératry, de Kéridec, de Kermazec, de Kersauron Penendreff, Lèo de Laborde, Laboulie, Lacave, Oscar Lafayette, Lafosse, Lagarde, Lagrenée Laimé, Lainé, Comte Lanjuinais, Larabit, de Larcy, J. de Lasteyrie, Latrade, Laureau, Laurenceau, General Marquis de Lauriston, de Laussat, Lefebvre de Grosriez, Legrand, Legros–Desvaux, Lemaire, Emile Leroux, Lespérut, de l’Espinoy, Lherbette, de Linsaval, de Luppé, Maréchal, Martin de Villers, Maze–Saunay, Mèze, Arnauld de Melun, Anatole de Melun, Merentié, Michaud, Mispoulet, Monet, Duc de Montebello, de Montigny, Moulin, Murat–Sistrière, Alfred Nettement, d’Olivier, General Oudinot, Duc de Reggio, Paillat, Duparc, Passy, Emile Péan, Pécoul, Casimir Perier, Pidoux, Pigeon, de Piogé, Piscatory, Proa, Prudhomme, Querhoent, Randoing, Raudot, Raulin, de Ravinel, de Rémusat, Renaud, Rezal, Comte de Rességuier, Henri de Riancey, Rigal, de la Rochette, Rodat, de Roquefeuille des Rotours de Chaulieu, Rouget–Lafosse, Rouillé, Roux–Carbonel, Saint–Beuve, de Saint–Germain, General Comte de Saint–Priest, Salmon (Meuse), Marquis Sauvaire–Barthélemy, de Serré, Comte de Sesmaisons, Simonot, de Staplande, de Surville, Marquis de Talhouet, Talon, Tamisier, Thuriot de la Rosière, de Tinguy, Comte de Tocqueville, de la Tourette, Comte de Tréveneue, Mortimer–Ternaux, de Vatimesnil, Baron de Vandoeuvre, Vernhette (Hérault), Vernhette (Aveyron), Vézin, Vitet, Comte de Vogué.

After this list of names may be read as follows in the shorthand report:—

“The roll-call having been completed, General Oudinot asked the Representatives who were scattered about in the courtyard to come round him, and made the following announcement to them —

“‘The Captain–Adjutant-Major, who has remained here to command the barracks, has just received an order to have rooms prepared for us, where we are to withdraw, as we are considered to be in custody. (Hear! hear!) Do you wish me to bring the Adjutant–Major here! (No, no; it is useless.) I will tell him that he had better execute his orders.’ (Yes, yes, that is right.)”

The Representatives remained “penned” and “strolling” about in this yard for two long hours. They walked about arm in arm. They walked quickly, so as to warm themselves. The men of the Right said to the men of the Left, “Ah! if you had only voted the proposals of the Questors!” They also exclaimed: “Well, how about the invisible sentry!”8 And they laughed. Then Marc Dufraisse answered, “Deputies of the People! deliberate in peace!” It was then the turn of the Left to laugh. Nevertheless, there was no bitterness. The cordiality of a common misfortune reigned amongst them.

They questioned his ex-ministers about Louis Bonaparte. They asked Admiral Cécile, “Now, really, what does this mean?” The Admiral answered by this definition: “It is a small matter.” M. Vézin added, “He wishes History to call him ‘Sire.’” “Poor Sire, then,” said M. de Camas de la Guibourgère. M. Odilon Barrot exclaimed, “What a fatality, that we should have been condemned to employ this man!”

This said, these heights attained, political philosophy was exhausted, and they ceased talking.

On the right, by the side of the door, there was a canteen elevated a few steps above the courtyard. “Let us promote this canteen to the dignity of a refreshment room,” said the ex-ambassador to China, M. de Lagrenée. They entered, some went up to the stove, others asked for a basin of soup. MM. Favreau, Piscatory, Larabit, and Vatimesnil took refuge in a corner. In the opposite corner drunken soldiers chatted with the maids of the barracks. M. de Kératry, bent with his eighty years, was seated near the stove on an old worm-eaten chair; the chair tottered; the old man shivered.

Towards four o’clock a regiment of Chasseurs de Vincennes arrived in the courtyard with their platters, and began to eat, singing, with loud bursts of merriment. M. de Broglie looked at them and said to M. Piscatory, “It is a strange spectacle to see the porringers of the Janissaries vanished from Constantinople reappearing at Paris!”

Almost at the same moment a staff officer informed the Representatives on behalf of General Forey that the apartments assigned to them were ready, and requested them to follow him. They were taken into the eastern building, which is the wing of the barracks farthest from the Palace of the Council of State; they were conducted to the third floor. They expected chambers and beds. They found long rooms, vast garrets with filthy walls and low ceilings, furnished with wooden tables and benches. These were the “apartments.” These garrets, which adjoin each other, all open on the same corridor, a narrow passage, which runs the length of the main building. In one of these rooms they saw, thrown into a corner, side-drums, a big drum, and various instruments of military music. The Representatives scattered themselves about in these rooms. M. de Tocqueville, who was ill, threw his overcoat on the floor in the recess of a window, and lay down. He remained thus stretched upon the ground for several hours.

These rooms were warmed very badly by cast-iron stoves, shaped like hives. A Representative wishing to poke the fire, upset one, and nearly set fire to the wooden flooring.

The last of these rooms looked out on the quay. Antony Thouret opened a window and leaned out. Several Representatives joined him. The soldiers who were bivouacking below on the pavement, caught sight of them and began to shout, “Ah! there they are, those rascals at ‘twenty-five francs a day,’ who wish to cut down our pay!” In fact, on the preceding evening, the police had spread this calumny through the barracks that a proposition had been placed on the Tribune to lessen the pay of the troops. They had even gone so far as to name the author of this proposition. Antony Thouret attempted to undeceive the soldiers. An officer cried out to him, “It is one of your party who made the proposal. It is Lamennais!”

In about an hour and a half there were ushered into these rooms MM. Vallette, Bixio, and Victor Lefranc, who had come to join their colleagues and constitute themselves prisoners.

Night came. They were hungry. Several had not eaten since the morning. M. Howyn de Tranchère, a man of considerable kindness and devotion, who had acted as porter at the Mairie, acted as forager at the barracks. He collected five francs from each Representative, and they sent and ordered a dinner for two hundred and twenty from the Café d’Orsay, at the corner of the Quay, and the Rue du Bac. They dined badly, but merrily. Cookshop mutton, bad wine, and cheese. There was no bread. They ate as they best could, one standing, another on a chair, one at a table, another astride on his bench, with his plate before him, “as at a ball-room supper,” a dandy of the Right said laughingly, Thuriot de la Rosière, son of the regicide Thuriot. M. de Rémusat buried his head in his hands. Emile Péan said to him, “We shall get over it.” And Gustave de Beaumont cried out, addressing himself to the Republicans, “And your friends of the Left! Will they preserve their honor? Will there be an insurrection at least?” They passed each other the dishes and plates, the Right showing marked attention to the Left. “Here is the opportunity to bring about a fusion,” said a young Legitimist. Troopers and canteen men waited upon them. Two or three tallow candles burnt and smoked on each table. There were few glasses. Right and Left drank from the same. “Equality, fraternity,” exclaimed the Marquis Sauvaire–Barthélemy, of the Right. And Victor Hannequin answered him, “But not Liberty.”

Colonel Feray, the son-in-law of Marshal Bugeaud, was in command at the barracks; he offered the use of his drawing-room to M. de Broglie and to M. Odilon Barrot, who accepted it. The barrack doors were opened to M. de Kératry, on account of his great age, to M. Dufaure, as his wife had just been confined, and to M. Etienne, on account of the wound which he had received that morning in the Rue de Bourgogne. At the same time there were added to the two hundred and twenty MM. Eugène Sue, Benoist (du Rhône), Fayolle, Chanay, Toupet des Vignes, Radoubt–Lafosse, Arbey, and Teillard–Latérisse, who up to that time had been detained in the new Palace of Foreign Affairs.

Towards eight o’clock in the evening, when dinner was over, the restrictions were a little relaxed, and the intermediate space between the door and the barred gate of the barracks began to be littered with carpet bags and articles of toilet sent by the families of the imprisoned Representatives.

The Representatives were summoned by their names. Each went down in turn, and briskly remounted with his cloak, his coverlet, or his foot-warmer. A few ladies succeeded in making their way to their husbands. M.M. Chambolle was able to press his son’s hand through the bars.

Suddenly a voice called out, “Oho! We are going to spend the night here.” Mattresses were brought in, which were thrown on the tables, on the floor, anywhere.

Fifty or sixty Representatives found resting-places on them. The greater number remained on their benches. Marc Dufraisse settled himself to pass the night on a footstool, leaning on a table. Happy was the man who had a chair.

Nevertheless, cordiality and gaiety did not cease to prevail. “Make room for the ‘Burgraves!’” said smilingly a venerable veteran of the Right. A young Republican Representative rose, and offered him his mattress. They pressed on each offers of overcoats, cloaks, and coverlets.

“Reconciliation,” said Chamiot, while offering the half of his mattress to the Duc de Luynes. The Duc de Luynes, who had 80,000 francs a year, smiled, and replied to Chamiot, “You are St. Martin, and I am the beggar.”

M. Paillet, the well-known barrister, who belonged to the “Third Estate,” used to say, “I passed the night on a Bonapartist straw mattress, wrapped in a burnouse of the Mountain, my feet in a Democratic and Socialist sheepskin, and my head in a Legitimist cotton nightcap.” The Representatives, although prisoners in the barracks, could stroll about freely. They were allowed to go down into the courtyard. M. Cordier (of Calvados) came upstairs again, saying, “I have just spoken to the soldiers. They did not know that their generals had been arrested. They appeared surprised and discontented.” This incident raised the prisoners’ hopes.

Representative Michel Renaud of the Basses–Pyrénees, found several of his compatriots of the Basque country amongst the Chasseurs de Vincennes who occupied the courtyard. Some had voted for him, and reminded him of the fact. They added, “Ah! We would again vote for the ‘Red’ list.” One of them, quite a young man, took him aside, and said to him. “Do you want any money, sir? I have a forty-sous piece in my pocket.”

Towards ten o’clock in the evening a great hubbub arose in the courtyard. The doors and the barred gate turned noisily upon their hinges. Something entered which rumbled like thunder. They leaned out of window, and saw at the foot of the steps a sort of big, oblong chest, painted black, yellow, red, and green, on four wheels, drawn by post-horses, and surrounded by men in long overcoats, and with fierce-looking faces, holding torches. In the gloom, and with the help of imagination, this vehicle appeared completely black. A door could be seen, but no other opening. It resembled a great coffin on wheels. “What is that? Is it a hearse?” “No, it is a police-van.” “And those people, are they undertakers?” “No, they are jailers.” “And for whom has this come?”

“For you, gentlemen!” cried out a voice.

It was the voice of an officer; and the vehicle which had just entered was in truth a police-van.

At the same time a word of command was heard: “First squadron to horse.” And five minutes afterwards the Lancers who were to escort the vehicle formed in line in the courtyard.

Then arose in the barracks the buzz of a hive of angry bees. The Representatives ran up and down the stairs, and went to look at the police-van close at hand. Some of them touched it, and could not believe their eyes. M. Piscatory met M. Chambolle, and cried out to him, “I am leaving in it!” M. Berryer met Eugène Sue, and they exchanged these words: “Where are you going?” “To Mount Valérien. And you?” “I do not know.”

At half-past ten the roll-call of those who were to leave began. Police agents stationed themselves at a table between two candles in a parlor at the foot of the stairs, and the Representatives were summoned two by two. The Representatives agreed not to answer to their names, and to reply to each name which should be called out, “He is not here.” But those “Burgraves” who had accepted the hospitality of Colonel Feray considered such petty resistance unworthy of them, and answered to the calling out of their names. This drew the others after them. Everybody answered. Amongst the Legitimists some serio-comic scenes were enacted. They who alone were not threatened insisted on believing that they were in danger. They would not let one of their orators go. They embraced him, and held him back, almost with tears, crying out, “Do not go away! Do you know where they are taking you? Think of the trenches of Vincennes!”

The Representatives, having been summoned two by two, as we have just said, filed in the parlor before the police agents, and then they were ordered to get into the “robbers’ box.” The stowage was apparently made at haphazard and promiscuously; nevertheless, later, by the difference of the treatment accorded to the Representatives in the various prisons, it was apparent that this promiscuous loading had perhaps been somewhat prearranged. When the first vehicle was full, a second, of a similar construction drew up. The police agents, pencil and pocket-book in hand, noted down the contents of each vehicle. These men knew the Representatives. When Marc Dufraisse, called in his turn, entered the parlor, he was accompanied by Benoist (du Rhône). “Ah! here is Marc Dufraisse,” said the attendant who held the pencil. When asked for his name, Benoist replied “Benoist.” “Du Rhône,” added the police agent; and he continued, “for there are also Benoist d’Azy and Benoist–Champy.”

The loading of each vehicle occupied nearly half an hour. The successive arrivals had raised the number of imprisoned Representatives to two hundred and thirty-two Their embarkation, or, to use the expression of M. de Vatimesnil, their “barrelling up,” which began a little after ten in the evening, was not finished until nearly seven o’clock in the morning. When there were no more police-vans available omnibuses were brought in. These various vehicles were portioned off into three detachments, each escorted by Lancers. The first detachment left towards one o’clock in the morning, and was driven to Mont Valérien; the second towards five o’clock, and was driven to Mazas; the third towards half-past six, to Vincennes.

As this business occupied a long time, those who had not yet been called benefited by the mattresses and tried to sleep. Thus, from time to time, silence reigned in the upper rooms. In the midst of one of these pauses M. Bixio sat upright, and raising his voice, cried out, “Gentlemen, what do you think of ‘passive obedience’?” An unanimous burst of laughter was the reply. Again, during one of these pauses another voice exclaimed —

“Romieu will be a senator.”

Emile Péan asked —

“What will become of the Red Spectre?”

“He will enter the priesthood,” answered Antony Thouret, “and will turn into the Black Spectre.”

Other exclamations which the historians of the Second of December have spread abroad were not uttered. Thus, Marc Dufraisse never made the remark with which the men of Louis Bonaparte have wished to excuse their crimes: “If the President does not shoot all those among us who resist, he does not understand his business.”

For the coup d’état such a remark might be convenient; but for History it is false.

The interior of the police-vans was lighted while the Representatives were entering. The air-holes of each compartment were not closed. In this manner Marc Dufraisse through the aperture could see M. du Rémusat in the opposite cell to his own. M. du Rémusat had entered the van coupled with M. Duvergier de Hauranne.

“Upon my word, Monsieur Marc Dufraisse,” exclaimed Duvergier de Hauranne when they jostled each other in the gangway of the vehicle, “upon my word, if any one had said to me, ‘You will go to Marzas in a police-van,’ I should have said, ‘It is improbable;’ but if they had added, ‘You will go with Marc Dufraisse,’ I should have said, ‘It is impossible!’”

As soon as the vehicle was full, five or six policemen entered and stood in the gangway. The door was shut, the steps were thrown up, and they drove off.

When all the police-vans had been filled, there were still some Representatives left. As we have said, omnibuses were brought into requisition. Into these Representatives were thrust, one upon the other, rudely, without deference for either age or name. Colonel Feray, on horseback, superintended and directed operations. As he mounted the steps of the last vehicle but one, the Duc de Montebello cried out to him, “To-day is the anniversary of the battle of Austerlitz, and the son-in-law of Marshal Bugeaud compels the son of Marshal Lannes to enter a convict’s van.”

When the last omnibus was reached, there were only seventeen places for eighteen Representatives. The most active mounted first. Antony Thouret, who himself alone equalled the whole of the Right, for he had as much mind as Thiers and as much stomach as Murat; Antony Thouret, corpulent and lethargic, was the last. When he appeared on the threshold of the omnibus in all his hugeness, a cry of alarm arose; — Where was he going to sit?

Antony Thouret, noticing Berryer at the bottom of the omnibus, went straight up to him, sat down on his knees, and quietly said to him, “You wanted ‘compression,’ Monsieur Berryer. Now you have it.”

8 Michel de Bourges had thus characterized Louis Bonaparte as the guardian of the Republic against the Monarchical parties.

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