The History of a Crime, by Victor Hugo

Chapter vi.

Denis Dussoubs

Gaston Dussoubs was one of the bravest members of the Left. He was a Representative of the Haute–Vienne. At the time of his first appearance in the Assembly he wore, as formerly did Théophile Gautier, a red waistcoat, and the shudder which Gautier’s waistcoat caused among the men of letters in 1830, Gaston Dussoubs’ waistcoat caused among the Royalists of 1851. M. Parisis, Bishop of Langres, who would have had no objection to a red hat, was terrified by Gaston Dussoubs’ red waistcoat. Another source of horror to the Right was that Dussoubs had, it was said, passed three years at Belle Isle as a political prisoner, a penalty incurred by the “Limoges Affair.” Universal Suffrage had, it would seem, taken him thence to place him in the Assembly. To go from the prison to the Senate is certainly not very surprising in our changeful times, although it is sometimes followed by a return from the Senate to the prison. But the Right was mistaken, the culprit of Limoges was, not Gaston Dussoubs, but his brother Denis.

In fine, Gaston Dussoubs inspired fear. He was witty, courageous, and gentle.

In the summer of 1851 I went to dine every day at the Concièrgerie with my two sons and my two imprisoned friends. These great hearts and great minds, Vacquerie, Meurice, Charles, and François Victor, attracted men of like quality. The livid half-light that crept in through latticed and barred windows disclosed a family circle at which there often assembled eloquent orators, among others Crémieux, and powerful and charming writers, including Peyrat.

One day Michel de Bourges brought to us Gaston Dussoubs.

Gaston Dussoubs lived in the Faubourg St. Germain, near the Assembly.

On the 2d of December we did not see him at our meetings. He was ill, “nailed down” as he wrote me, by rheumatism of the joints, and compelled to keep his bed.

He had a brother younger than himself, whom we have just mentioned, Denis Dussoubs. On the morning of the 4th his brother went to see him.

Gaston Dussoubs knew of the coup d’état, and was exasperated at being obliged to remain in bed. He exclaimed, “I am dishonored. There will be barricades, and my sash will not be there!”

“Yes,” said his brother. “It will be there!”


“Lend it to me.”

“Take it.”

Denis took Gaston’s sash, and went away.

We shall see Denis Dussoubs later on.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56