Chateaubriand's memoirs, XXXII, 1

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XXXI, 8 << Chateaubriand's memoirs >> XXXII, 2


Mémoires d'Outre-tombe


Book XXXII, chapter 1
The July Revolution: the 26th of July



The decrees, dated the 25th of July, were published in the Moniteur on the 26th. The secret had been so well kept that neither the Marshal Duke of Ragusa, Major-General of the Guard, who was in command, nor Monsieur Mangin, Prefect of Police, were appraised of it. The Prefect for the Seine only knew of his orders via the Moniteur, as did the Under-Secretary of State for War, though it was these various leaders who had the disposition of the various armed forces. The Prince de Polignac, charged in the interim with Monsieur de Bourmont’s portfolio, was so unconcerned with this trivial business of the decrees, that he spent the 26th presiding at an award ceremony at the War Ministry.

The King left for the hunt on the 26th, before the Moniteur had arrived at Saint-Cloud, and he did not return from Rambouillet until midnight.

At last the Duke of Ragusa received word from Monsieur de Polignac:

‘Your Excellency is aware of the extraordinary measures which the King, in his wisdom and his feelings of affection for his people, has judged necessary to maintain the rights of the Crown and public order. In these vital circumstances, His Majesty counts on your zeal to ensure order and calm in the whole area under your command.’

This audacity displayed by the weakest of men, against a force which was about to crush an empire, could never be explained except as a kind of hallucination, resulting from the advice of a miserable clique who are never to be found when danger threatens. The newspaper editors, having consulted Messieurs Dupin, Odilon Barrot, Barthe, and Mérilhou, resolved to publish their papers without clearance, in order to be arrested and then plead the illegality of the decrees. They met at the offices of the National: Monsieur Thiers drafted a protest which was signed by forty-four journalists, and which appeared, on the morning of the 27th, in the National and Le Temps.

At the end of the day a handful of Deputies met at the house of Monsieur Laborde. They agreed to meet the following day at Monsieur Casimir Périer’s. There appeared, for the first time, one of the three powers which would occupy the scene: the Monarchy was located in the Chamber of Deputies, the Usurpation at the Palais-Royal, and the Republic at the Hôtel de Ville. In the evening, crowds assembled at the Palais-Royal; they threw stones at Monsieur de Polignac’s carriage. When the Duke of Ragusa saw the King at Saint-Cloud, on his return from Rambouillet, the King asked him the news from Paris: ‘Stocks are down. – By how much?’ the Dauphin asked. ‘By three francs’, the Marshal replied. ‘They will recover’, the Dauphin replied; and everyone left.