Les Misérables by Victor Hugo 8


This is what had taken place that same night at the La Force:--

An escape had been planned between Babet, Brujon, Guelemer, and
Thenardier, although Thenardier was in close confinement. Babet had
arranged the matter for his own benefit, on the same day, as the reader
has seen from Montparnasse's account to Gavroche. Montparnasse was to
help them from outside.

Brujon, after having passed a month in the punishment cell, had had
time, in the first place, to weave a rope, in the second, to mature a
plan. In former times, those severe places where the discipline of the
prison delivers the convict into his own hands, were composed of four
stone walls, a stone ceiling, a flagged pavement, a camp bed, a grated
window, and a door lined with iron, and were called dungeons; but the
dungeon was judged to be too terrible; nowadays they are composed of an
iron door, a grated window, a camp bed, a flagged pavement, four stone
walls, and a stone ceiling, and are called chambers of punishment. A
little light penetrates towards mid-day. The inconvenient point about
these chambers which, as the reader sees, are not dungeons, is that they
allow the persons who should be at work to think.

So Brujon meditated, and he emerged from the chamber of punishment with
a rope. As he had the name of being very dangerous in the Charlemagne
courtyard, he was placed in the New Building. The first thing he found
in the New Building was Guelemer, the second was a nail; Guelemer, that
is to say, crime; a nail, that is to say, liberty. Brujon, of whom it
is high time that the reader should have a complete idea, was, with an
appearance of delicate health and a profoundly premeditated languor, a
polished, intelligent sprig, and a thief, who had a caressing glance,
and an atrocious smile. His glance resulted from his will, and his
smile from his nature. His first studies in his art had been directed
to roofs. He had made great progress in the industry of the men who tear
off lead, who plunder the roofs and despoil the gutters by the process
called double pickings.

The circumstance which put the finishing touch on the moment peculiarly
favorable for an attempt at escape, was that the roofers were re-laying
and re-jointing, at that very moment, a portion of the slates on the
prison. The Saint-Bernard courtyard was no longer absolutely isolated
from the Charlemagne and the Saint-Louis courts. Up above there were
scaffoldings and ladders; in other words, bridges and stairs in the
direction of liberty.

The New Building, which was the most cracked and decrepit thing to be
seen anywhere in the world, was the weak point in the prison. The walls
were eaten by saltpetre to such an extent that the authorities had been
obliged to line the vaults of the dormitories with a sheathing of wood,
because stones were in the habit of becoming detached and falling on
the prisoners in their beds. In spite of this antiquity, the authorities
committed the error of confining in the New Building the most
troublesome prisoners, of placing there "the hard cases," as they say in
prison parlance.

The New Building contained four dormitories, one above the other, and a
top story which was called the Bel-Air (Fine Air). A large chimney-flue,
probably from some ancient kitchen of the Dukes de la Force, started
from the groundfloor, traversed all four stories, cut the dormitories,
where it figured as a flattened pillar, into two portions, and finally
pierced the roof.

Guelemer and Brujon were in the same dormitory. They had been placed, by
way of precaution, on the lower story. Chance ordained that the heads of
their beds should rest against the chimney.

Thenardier was directly over their heads in the top story known as
Fine-Air. The pedestrian who halts on the Rue Culture-Sainte-Catherine,
after passing the barracks of the firemen, in front of the porte-cochere
of the bathing establishment, beholds a yard full of flowers and shrubs
in wooden boxes, at the extremity of which spreads out a little white
rotunda with two wings, brightened up with green shutters, the bucolic
dream of Jean Jacques.

Not more than ten years ago, there rose above that rotunda an enormous
black, hideous, bare wall by which it was backed up.

This was the outer wall of La Force.

This wall, beside that rotunda, was Milton viewed through Berquin.

Lofty as it was, this wall was overtopped by a still blacker roof, which
could be seen beyond. This was the roof of the New Building. There
one could descry four dormer-windows, guarded with bars; they were the
windows of the Fine-Air.

A chimney pierced the roof; this was the chimney which traversed the

The Bel-Air, that top story of the New Building, was a sort of large
hall, with a Mansard roof, guarded with triple gratings and double doors
of sheet iron, which were studded with enormous bolts. When one entered
from the north end, one had on one's left the four dormer-windows, on
one's right, facing the windows, at regular intervals, four square,
tolerably vast cages, separated by narrow passages, built of masonry
to about the height of the elbow, and the rest, up to the roof, of iron

Thenardier had been in solitary confinement in one of these cages since
the night of the 3d of February. No one was ever able to discover how,
and by what connivance, he succeeded in procuring, and secreting a
bottle of wine, invented, so it is said, by Desrues, with which
a narcotic is mixed, and which the band of the Endormeurs, or
Sleep-compellers, rendered famous.

There are, in many prisons, treacherous employees, half-jailers,
half-thieves, who assist in escapes, who sell to the police an
unfaithful service, and who turn a penny whenever they can.

On that same night, then, when Little Gavroche picked up the two lost
children, Brujon and Guelemer, who knew that Babet, who had escaped that
morning, was waiting for them in the street as well as Montparnasse,
rose softly, and with the nail which Brujon had found, began to pierce
the chimney against which their beds stood. The rubbish fell on Brujon's
bed, so that they were not heard. Showers mingled with thunder shook
the doors on their hinges, and created in the prison a terrible and
opportune uproar. Those of the prisoners who woke, pretended to fall
asleep again, and left Guelemer and Brujon to their own devices. Brujon
was adroit; Guelemer was vigorous. Before any sound had reached the
watcher, who was sleeping in the grated cell which opened into the
dormitory, the wall had, been pierced, the chimney scaled, the iron
grating which barred the upper orifice of the flue forced, and the two
redoubtable ruffians were on the roof. The wind and rain redoubled, the
roof was slippery.

"What a good night to leg it!" said Brujon.

An abyss six feet broad and eighty feet deep separated them from the
surrounding wall. At the bottom of this abyss, they could see the musket
of a sentinel gleaming through the gloom. They fastened one end of the
rope which Brujon had spun in his dungeon to the stumps of the iron bars
which they had just wrenched off, flung the other over the outer wall,
crossed the abyss at one bound, clung to the coping of the wall, got
astride of it, let themselves slip, one after the other, along the rope,
upon a little roof which touches the bath-house, pulled their rope after
them, jumped down into the courtyard of the bath-house, traversed it,
pushed open the porter's wicket, beside which hung his rope, pulled
this, opened the porte-cochere, and found themselves in the street.

Three-quarters of an hour had not elapsed since they had risen in bed in
the dark, nail in hand, and their project in their heads.

A few moments later they had joined Babet and Montparnasse, who were
prowling about the neighborhood.

They had broken their rope in pulling it after them, and a bit of it
remained attached to the chimney on the roof. They had sustained no
other damage, however, than that of scratching nearly all the skin off
their hands.

That night, Thenardier was warned, without any one being able to explain
how, and was not asleep.

Towards one o'clock in the morning, the night being very dark, he saw
two shadows pass along the roof, in the rain and squalls, in front of
the dormer-window which was opposite his cage. One halted at the window,
long enough to dart in a glance. This was Brujon.

Thenardier recognized him, and understood. This was enough.

Thenardier, rated as a burglar, and detained as a measure of precaution
under the charge of organizing a nocturnal ambush, with armed force, was
kept in sight. The sentry, who was relieved every two hours, marched
up and down in front of his cage with loaded musket. The Fine-Air was
lighted by a skylight. The prisoner had on his feet fetters weighing
fifty pounds. Every day, at four o'clock in the afternoon, a jailer,
escorted by two dogs,--this was still in vogue at that time,--entered
his cage, deposited beside his bed a loaf of black bread weighing two
pounds, a jug of water, a bowl filled with rather thin bouillon, in
which swam a few Mayagan beans, inspected his irons and tapped the bars.
This man and his dogs made two visits during the night.

Thenardier had obtained permission to keep a sort of iron bolt which he
used to spike his bread into a crack in the wall, "in order to preserve
it from the rats," as he said. As Thenardier was kept in sight,
no objection had been made to this spike. Still, it was remembered
afterwards, that one of the jailers had said: "It would be better to let
him have only a wooden spike."

At two o'clock in the morning, the sentinel, who was an old soldier, was
relieved, and replaced by a conscript. A few moments later, the man with
the dogs paid his visit, and went off without noticing anything, except,
possibly, the excessive youth and "the rustic air" of the "raw recruit."
Two hours afterwards, at four o'clock, when they came to relieve the
conscript, he was found asleep on the floor, lying like a log near
Thenardier's cage. As for Thenardier, he was no longer there. There was
a hole in the ceiling of his cage, and, above it, another hole in the
roof. One of the planks of his bed had been wrenched off, and probably
carried away with him, as it was not found. They also seized in his cell
a half-empty bottle which contained the remains of the stupefying wine
with which the soldier had been drugged. The soldier's bayonet had

At the moment when this discovery was made, it was assumed that
Thenardier was out of reach. The truth is, that he was no longer in the
New Building, but that he was still in great danger.

Thenardier, on reaching the roof of the New Building, had found the
remains of Brujon's rope hanging to the bars of the upper trap of the
chimney, but, as this broken fragment was much too short, he had not
been able to escape by the outer wall, as Brujon and Guelemer had done.

When one turns from the Rue des Ballets into the Rue du Roi-de-Sicile,
one almost immediately encounters a repulsive ruin. There stood on
that spot, in the last century, a house of which only the back wall now
remains, a regular wall of masonry, which rises to the height of the
third story between the adjoining buildings. This ruin can be recognized
by two large square windows which are still to be seen there; the middle
one, that nearest the right gable, is barred with a worm-eaten beam
adjusted like a prop. Through these windows there was formerly visible a
lofty and lugubrious wall, which was a fragment of the outer wall of La

The empty space on the street left by the demolished house is
half-filled by a fence of rotten boards, shored up by five stone posts.
In this recess lies concealed a little shanty which leans against the
portion of the ruin which has remained standing. The fence has a gate,
which, a few years ago, was fastened only by a latch.

It was the crest of this ruin that Thenardier had succeeded in reaching,
a little after one o'clock in the morning.

How had he got there? That is what no one has ever been able to explain
or understand. The lightning must, at the same time, have hindered
and helped him. Had he made use of the ladders and scaffoldings of the
slaters to get from roof to roof, from enclosure to enclosure, from
compartment to compartment, to the buildings of the Charlemagne court,
then to the buildings of the Saint-Louis court, to the outer wall, and
thence to the hut on the Rue du Roi-de-Sicile? But in that itinerary
there existed breaks which seemed to render it an impossibility. Had
he placed the plank from his bed like a bridge from the roof of the
Fine-Air to the outer wall, and crawled flat, on his belly on the coping
of the outer wall the whole distance round the prison as far as the hut?
But the outer wall of La Force formed a crenellated and unequal line;
it mounted and descended, it dropped at the firemen's barracks, it rose
towards the bath-house, it was cut in twain by buildings, it was not
even of the same height on the Hotel Lamoignon as on the Rue Pavee;
everywhere occurred falls and right angles; and then, the sentinels must
have espied the dark form of the fugitive; hence, the route taken by
Thenardier still remains rather inexplicable. In two manners, flight was
impossible. Had Thenardier, spurred on by that thirst for liberty which
changes precipices into ditches, iron bars into wattles of osier, a
legless man into an athlete, a gouty man into a bird, stupidity into
instinct, instinct into intelligence, and intelligence into genius, had
Thenardier invented a third mode? No one has ever found out.

The marvels of escape cannot always be accounted for. The man who makes
his escape, we repeat, is inspired; there is something of the star and
of the lightning in the mysterious gleam of flight; the effort towards
deliverance is no less surprising than the flight towards the sublime,
and one says of the escaped thief: "How did he contrive to scale that
wall?" in the same way that one says of Corneille: "Where did he find
the means of dying?"

At all events, dripping with perspiration, drenched with rain, with his
clothes hanging in ribbons, his hands flayed, his elbows bleeding, his
knees torn, Thenardier had reached what children, in their figurative
language, call the edge of the wall of the ruin, there he had stretched
himself out at full length, and there his strength had failed him. A
steep escarpment three stories high separated him from the pavement of
the street.

The rope which he had was too short.

There he waited, pale, exhausted, desperate with all the despair which
he had undergone, still hidden by the night, but telling himself that
the day was on the point of dawning, alarmed at the idea of hearing the
neighboring clock of Saint-Paul strike four within a few minutes, an
hour when the sentinel was relieved and when the latter would be found
asleep under the pierced roof, staring in horror at a terrible depth, at
the light of the street lanterns, the wet, black pavement, that pavement
longed for yet frightful, which meant death, and which meant liberty.

He asked himself whether his three accomplices in flight had succeeded,
if they had heard him, and if they would come to his assistance. He
listened. With the exception of the patrol, no one had passed through
the street since he had been there. Nearly the whole of the descent of
the market-gardeners from Montreuil, from Charonne, from Vincennes,
and from Bercy to the markets was accomplished through the Rue

Four o'clock struck. Thenardier shuddered. A few moments later, that
terrified and confused uproar which follows the discovery of an escape
broke forth in the prison. The sound of doors opening and shutting, the
creaking of gratings on their hinges, a tumult in the guard-house, the
hoarse shouts of the turnkeys, the shock of musket-butts on the pavement
of the courts, reached his ears. Lights ascended and descended past the
grated windows of the dormitories, a torch ran along the ridge-pole of
the top story of the New Building, the firemen belonging in the barracks
on the right had been summoned. Their helmets, which the torch lighted
up in the rain, went and came along the roofs. At the same time,
Thenardier perceived in the direction of the Bastille a wan whiteness
lighting up the edge of the sky in doleful wise.

He was on top of a wall ten inches wide, stretched out under the heavy
rains, with two gulfs to right and left, unable to stir, subject to the
giddiness of a possible fall, and to the horror of a certain arrest,
and his thoughts, like the pendulum of a clock, swung from one of these
ideas to the other: "Dead if I fall, caught if I stay." In the midst of
this anguish, he suddenly saw, the street being still dark, a man who
was gliding along the walls and coming from the Rue Pavee, halt in the
recess above which Thenardier was, as it were, suspended. Here this
man was joined by a second, who walked with the same caution, then by
a third, then by a fourth. When these men were re-united, one of them
lifted the latch of the gate in the fence, and all four entered
the enclosure in which the shanty stood. They halted directly under
Thenardier. These men had evidently chosen this vacant space in order
that they might consult without being seen by the passers-by or by the
sentinel who guards the wicket of La Force a few paces distant. It
must be added, that the rain kept this sentinel blocked in his box.
Thenardier, not being able to distinguish their visages, lent an ear to
their words with the desperate attention of a wretch who feels himself

Thenardier saw something resembling a gleam of hope flash before his
eyes,--these men conversed in slang.

The first said in a low but distinct voice:--

"Let's cut. What are we up to here?"

The second replied: "It's raining hard enough to put out the very
devil's fire. And the bobbies will be along instanter. There's a soldier
on guard yonder. We shall get nabbed here."

These two words, icigo and icicaille, both of which mean ici, and which
belong, the first to the slang of the barriers, the second to the slang
of the Temple, were flashes of light for Thenardier. By the icigo he
recognized Brujon, who was a prowler of the barriers, by the icicaille
he knew Babet, who, among his other trades, had been an old-clothes
broker at the Temple.

The antique slang of the great century is no longer spoken except in
the Temple, and Babet was really the only person who spoke it in all
its purity. Had it not been for the icicaille, Thenardier would not have
recognized him, for he had entirely changed his voice.

In the meanwhile, the third man had intervened.

"There's no hurry yet, let's wait a bit. How do we know that he doesn't
stand in need of us?"

By this, which was nothing but French, Thenardier recognized
Montparnasse, who made it a point in his elegance to understand all
slangs and to speak none of them.

As for the fourth, he held his peace, but his huge shoulders betrayed
him. Thenardier did not hesitate. It was Guelemer.

Brujon replied almost impetuously but still in a low tone:--

"What are you jabbering about? The tavern-keeper hasn't managed to cut
his stick. He don't tumble to the racket, that he don't! You have to be
a pretty knowing cove to tear up your shirt, cut up your sheet to make
a rope, punch holes in doors, get up false papers, make false keys, file
your irons, hang out your cord, hide yourself, and disguise yourself!
The old fellow hasn't managed to play it, he doesn't understand how to
work the business."

Babet added, still in that classical slang which was spoken by
Poulailler and Cartouche, and which is to the bold, new, highly colored
and risky argot used by Brujon what the language of Racine is to the
language of Andre Chenier:--

"Your tavern-keeper must have been nabbed in the act. You have to be
knowing. He's only a greenhorn. He must have let himself be taken in
by a bobby, perhaps even by a sheep who played it on him as his pal.
Listen, Montparnasse, do you hear those shouts in the prison? You have
seen all those lights. He's recaptured, there! He'll get off with twenty
years. I ain't afraid, I ain't a coward, but there ain't anything more
to do, or otherwise they'd lead us a dance. Don't get mad, come with us,
let's go drink a bottle of old wine together."

"One doesn't desert one's friends in a scrape," grumbled Montparnasse.

"I tell you he's nabbed!" retorted Brujon. "At the present moment, the
inn-keeper ain't worth a ha'penny. We can't do nothing for him. Let's be
off. Every minute I think a bobby has got me in his fist."

Montparnasse no longer offered more than a feeble resistance; the fact
is, that these four men, with the fidelity of ruffians who never abandon
each other, had prowled all night long about La Force, great as was
their peril, in the hope of seeing Thenardier make his appearance on the
top of some wall. But the night, which was really growing too fine,--for
the downpour was such as to render all the streets deserted,--the cold
which was overpowering them, their soaked garments, their hole-ridden
shoes, the alarming noise which had just burst forth in the prison, the
hours which had elapsed, the patrol which they had encountered, the
hope which was vanishing, all urged them to beat a retreat. Montparnasse
himself, who was, perhaps, almost Thenardier's son-in-law, yielded. A
moment more, and they would be gone. Thenardier was panting on his wall
like the shipwrecked sufferers of the Meduse on their raft when they
beheld the vessel which had appeared in sight vanish on the horizon.

He dared not call to them; a cry might be heard and ruin everything. An
idea occurred to him, a last idea, a flash of inspiration; he drew from
his pocket the end of Brujon's rope, which he had detached from the
chimney of the New Building, and flung it into the space enclosed by the

This rope fell at their feet.

"A widow,"[37] said Babet.

"My tortouse!"[38] said Brujon.

"The tavern-keeper is there," said Montparnasse.

They raised their eyes. Thenardier thrust out his head a very little.

"Quick!" said Montparnasse, "have you the other end of the rope,


"Knot the two pieces together, we'll fling him the rope, he can fasten
it to the wall, and he'll have enough of it to get down with."

Thenardier ran the risk, and spoke:--

"I am paralyzed with cold."

"We'll warm you up."

"I can't budge."

"Let yourself slide, we'll catch you."

"My hands are benumbed."

"Only fasten the rope to the wall."

"I can't."

"Then one of us must climb up," said Montparnasse.

"Three stories!" ejaculated Brujon.

An ancient plaster flue, which had served for a stove that had been used
in the shanty in former times, ran along the wall and mounted almost
to the very spot where they could see Thenardier. This flue, then much
damaged and full of cracks, has since fallen, but the marks of it are
still visible.

It was very narrow.

"One might get up by the help of that," said Montparnasse.

"By that flue?" exclaimed Babet, "a grown-up cove, never! it would take
a brat."

"A brat must be got," resumed Brujon.

"Where are we to find a young 'un?" said Guelemer.

"Wait," said Montparnasse. "I've got the very article."

He opened the gate of the fence very softly, made sure that no one was
passing along the street, stepped out cautiously, shut the gate behind
him, and set off at a run in the direction of the Bastille.

Seven or eight minutes elapsed, eight thousand centuries to Thenardier;
Babet, Brujon, and Guelemer did not open their lips; at last the gate
opened once more, and Montparnasse appeared, breathless, and followed by
Gavroche. The rain still rendered the street completely deserted.

Little Gavroche entered the enclosure and gazed at the forms of these
ruffians with a tranquil air. The water was dripping from his hair.
Guelemer addressed him:--

"Are you a man, young 'un?"

Gavroche shrugged his shoulders, and replied:--

"A young 'un like me's a man, and men like you are babes."

"The brat's tongue's well hung!" exclaimed Babet.

"The Paris brat ain't made of straw," added Brujon.

"What do you want?" asked Gavroche.

Montparnasse answered:--

"Climb up that flue."

"With this rope," said Babet.

"And fasten it," continued Brujon.

"To the top of the wall," went on Babet.

"To the cross-bar of the window," added Brujon.

"And then?" said Gavroche.

"There!" said Guelemer.

The gamin examined the rope, the flue, the wall, the windows, and made
that indescribable and disdainful noise with his lips which signifies:--

"Is that all!"

"There's a man up there whom you are to save," resumed Montparnasse.

"Will you?" began Brujon again.

"Greenhorn!" replied the lad, as though the question appeared a most
unprecedented one to him.

And he took off his shoes.

Guelemer seized Gavroche by one arm, set him on the roof of the shanty,
whose worm-eaten planks bent beneath the urchin's weight, and handed
him the rope which Brujon had knotted together during Montparnasse's
absence. The gamin directed his steps towards the flue, which it was
easy to enter, thanks to a large crack which touched the roof. At the
moment when he was on the point of ascending, Thenardier, who saw life
and safety approaching, bent over the edge of the wall; the first light
of dawn struck white upon his brow dripping with sweat, upon his livid
cheek-bones, his sharp and savage nose, his bristling gray beard, and
Gavroche recognized him.

"Hullo! it's my father! Oh, that won't hinder."

And taking the rope in his teeth, he resolutely began the ascent.

He reached the summit of the hut, bestrode the old wall as though it had
been a horse, and knotted the rope firmly to the upper cross-bar of the

A moment later, Thenardier was in the street.

As soon as he touched the pavement, as soon as he found himself out
of danger, he was no longer either weary, or chilled or trembling; the
terrible things from which he had escaped vanished like smoke, all that
strange and ferocious mind awoke once more, and stood erect and free,
ready to march onward.

These were this man's first words:--

"Now, whom are we to eat?"

It is useless to explain the sense of this frightfully transparent
remark, which signifies both to kill, to assassinate, and to plunder. To
eat, true sense: to devour.

"Let's get well into a corner," said Brujon. "Let's settle it in three
words, and part at once. There was an affair that promised well in the
Rue Plumet, a deserted street, an isolated house, an old rotten gate on
a garden, and lone women."

"Well! why not?" demanded Thenardier.

"Your girl, Eponine, went to see about the matter," replied Babet.

"And she brought a biscuit to Magnon," added Guelemer. "Nothing to be
made there."

"The girl's no fool," said Thenardier. "Still, it must be seen to."

"Yes, yes," said Brujon, "it must be looked up."

In the meanwhile, none of the men seemed to see Gavroche, who, during
this colloquy, had seated himself on one of the fence-posts; he waited
a few moments, thinking that perhaps his father would turn towards him,
then he put on his shoes again, and said:--

"Is that all? You don't want any more, my men? Now you're out of your
scrape. I'm off. I must go and get my brats out of bed."

And off he went.

The five men emerged, one after another, from the enclosure.

When Gavroche had disappeared at the corner of the Rue des Ballets,
Babet took Thenardier aside.

"Did you take a good look at that young 'un?" he asked.

"What young 'un?"

"The one who climbed the wall and carried you the rope."

"Not particularly."

"Well, I don't know, but it strikes me that it was your son."

"Bah!" said Thenardier, "do you think so?"


[Illustration: Slang b7-1-slang]


Pigritia is a terrible word.

It engenders a whole world, la pegre, for which read theft, and a hell,
la pegrenne, for which read hunger.

Thus, idleness is the mother.

She has a son, theft, and a daughter, hunger.

Where are we at this moment? In the land of slang.

What is slang? It is at one and the same time, a nation and a dialect;
it is theft in its two kinds; people and language.

When, four and thirty years ago, the narrator of this grave and sombre
history introduced into a work written with the same aim as this[39] a
thief who talked argot, there arose amazement and clamor.--"What! How!
Argot! Why, argot is horrible! It is the language of prisons, galleys,
convicts, of everything that is most abominable in society!" etc., etc.

We have never understood this sort of objections.

Since that time, two powerful romancers, one of whom is a profound
observer of the human heart, the other an intrepid friend of the people,
Balzac and Eugene Sue, having represented their ruffians as talking
their natural language, as the author of The Last Day of a Condemned
Man did in 1828, the same objections have been raised. People repeated:
"What do authors mean by that revolting dialect? Slang is odious! Slang
makes one shudder!"

Who denies that? Of course it does.

When it is a question of probing a wound, a gulf, a society, since when
has it been considered wrong to go too far? to go to the bottom? We have
always thought that it was sometimes a courageous act, and, at least, a
simple and useful deed, worthy of the sympathetic attention which duty
accepted and fulfilled merits. Why should one not explore everything,
and study everything? Why should one halt on the way? The halt is a
matter depending on the sounding-line, and not on the leadsman.

Certainly, too, it is neither an attractive nor an easy task to
undertake an investigation into the lowest depths of the social order,
where terra firma comes to an end and where mud begins, to rummage in
those vague, murky waves, to follow up, to seize and to fling, still
quivering, upon the pavement that abject dialect which is dripping with
filth when thus brought to the light, that pustulous vocabulary each
word of which seems an unclean ring from a monster of the mire and the
shadows. Nothing is more lugubrious than the contemplation thus in
its nudity, in the broad light of thought, of the horrible swarming of
slang. It seems, in fact, to be a sort of horrible beast made for the
night which has just been torn from its cesspool. One thinks one beholds
a frightful, living, and bristling thicket which quivers, rustles,
wavers, returns to shadow, threatens and glares. One word resembles a
claw, another an extinguished and bleeding eye, such and such a phrase
seems to move like the claw of a crab. All this is alive with
the hideous vitality of things which have been organized out of

Now, when has horror ever excluded study? Since when has malady banished
medicine? Can one imagine a naturalist refusing to study the viper, the
bat, the scorpion, the centipede, the tarantula, and one who would
cast them back into their darkness, saying: "Oh! how ugly that is!" The
thinker who should turn aside from slang would resemble a surgeon
who should avert his face from an ulcer or a wart. He would be like
a philologist refusing to examine a fact in language, a philosopher
hesitating to scrutinize a fact in humanity. For, it must be stated
to those who are ignorant of the case, that argot is both a literary
phenomenon and a social result. What is slang, properly speaking? It is
the language of wretchedness.

We may be stopped; the fact may be put to us in general terms, which is
one way of attenuating it; we may be told, that all trades, professions,
it may be added, all the accidents of the social hierarchy and all
forms of intelligence, have their own slang. The merchant who says:
"Montpellier not active, Marseilles fine quality," the broker on 'change
who says: "Assets at end of current month," the gambler who says: "Tiers
et tout, refait de pique," the sheriff of the Norman Isles who says:
"The holder in fee reverting to his landed estate cannot claim the
fruits of that estate during the hereditary seizure of the real estate
by the mortgagor," the playwright who says: "The piece was hissed,"
the comedian who says: "I've made a hit," the philosopher who says:
"Phenomenal triplicity," the huntsman who says: "Voileci allais,
Voileci fuyant," the phrenologist who says: "Amativeness, combativeness,
secretiveness," the infantry soldier who says: "My shooting-iron," the
cavalry-man who says: "My turkey-cock," the fencing-master who says:
"Tierce, quarte, break," the printer who says: "My shooting-stick and
galley,"--all, printer, fencing-master, cavalry dragoon, infantry-man,
phrenologist, huntsman, philosopher, comedian, playwright, sheriff,
gambler, stock-broker, and merchant, speak slang. The painter who says:
"My grinder," the notary who says: "My Skip-the-Gutter," the hairdresser
who says: "My mealyback," the cobbler who says: "My cub," talks slang.
Strictly speaking, if one absolutely insists on the point, all the
different fashions of saying the right and the left, the sailor's port
and starboard, the scene-shifter's court-side, and garden-side, the
beadle's Gospel-side and Epistle-side, are slang. There is the slang of
the affected lady as well as of the precieuses. The Hotel Rambouillet
nearly adjoins the Cour des Miracles. There is a slang of duchesses,
witness this phrase contained in a love-letter from a very great lady
and a very pretty woman of the Restoration: "You will find in this
gossip a fultitude of reasons why I should libertize."[40] Diplomatic
ciphers are slang; the pontifical chancellery by using 26 for Rome,
grkztntgzyal for despatch, and abfxustgrnogrkzu tu XI. for the Due de
Modena, speaks slang. The physicians of the Middle Ages who, for
carrot, radish, and turnip, said Opoponach, perfroschinum,
reptitalmus, dracatholicum, angelorum, postmegorum, talked slang. The
sugar-manufacturer who says: "Loaf, clarified, lumps, bastard, common,
burnt,"--this honest manufacturer talks slang. A certain school of
criticism twenty years ago, which used to say: "Half of the works of
Shakespeare consists of plays upon words and puns,"--talked slang. The
poet, and the artist who, with profound understanding, would designate
M. de Montmorency as "a bourgeois," if he were not a judge of verses and
statues, speak slang. The classic Academician who calls flowers "Flora,"
fruits, "Pomona," the sea, "Neptune," love, "fires," beauty, "charms,"
a horse, "a courser," the white or tricolored cockade, "the rose of
Bellona," the three-cornered hat, "Mars' triangle,"--that classical
Academician talks slang. Algebra, medicine, botany, have each their
slang. The tongue which is employed on board ship, that wonderful
language of the sea, which is so complete and so picturesque, which was
spoken by Jean Bart, Duquesne, Suffren, and Duperre, which mingles with
the whistling of the rigging, the sound of the speaking-trumpets, the
shock of the boarding-irons, the roll of the sea, the wind, the gale,
the cannon, is wholly a heroic and dazzling slang, which is to the
fierce slang of the thieves what the lion is to the jackal.

No doubt. But say what we will, this manner of understanding the word
slang is an extension which every one will not admit. For our part,
we reserve to the word its ancient and precise, circumscribed and
determined significance, and we restrict slang to slang. The veritable
slang and the slang that is pre-eminently slang, if the two words can be
coupled thus, the slang immemorial which was a kingdom, is nothing
else, we repeat, than the homely, uneasy, crafty, treacherous, venomous,
cruel, equivocal, vile, profound, fatal tongue of wretchedness. There
exists, at the extremity of all abasement and all misfortunes, a last
misery which revolts and makes up its mind to enter into conflict
with the whole mass of fortunate facts and reigning rights; a fearful
conflict, where, now cunning, now violent, unhealthy and ferocious
at one and the same time, it attacks the social order with pin-pricks
through vice, and with club-blows through crime. To meet the needs of
this conflict, wretchedness has invented a language of combat, which is

To keep afloat and to rescue from oblivion, to hold above the gulf, were
it but a fragment of some language which man has spoken and which would,
otherwise, be lost, that is to say, one of the elements, good or bad, of
which civilization is composed, or by which it is complicated, to extend
the records of social observation; is to serve civilization itself. This
service Plautus rendered, consciously or unconsciously, by making two
Carthaginian soldiers talk Phoenician; that service Moliere rendered,
by making so many of his characters talk Levantine and all sorts of
dialects. Here objections spring up afresh. Phoenician, very good!
Levantine, quite right! Even dialect, let that pass! They are tongues
which have belonged to nations or provinces; but slang! What is the use
of preserving slang? What is the good of assisting slang "to survive"?

To this we reply in one word, only. Assuredly, if the tongue which a
nation or a province has spoken is worthy of interest, the language
which has been spoken by a misery is still more worthy of attention and

It is the language which has been spoken, in France, for example, for
more than four centuries, not only by a misery, but by every possible
human misery.

And then, we insist upon it, the study of social deformities and
infirmities, and the task of pointing them out with a view to remedy,
is not a business in which choice is permitted. The historian of manners
and ideas has no less austere a mission than the historian of events.
The latter has the surface of civilization, the conflicts of crowns, the
births of princes, the marriages of kings, battles, assemblages, great
public men, revolutions in the daylight, everything on the exterior;
the other historian has the interior, the depths, the people who toil,
suffer, wait, the oppressed woman, the agonizing child, the secret war
between man and man, obscure ferocities, prejudices, plotted
iniquities, the subterranean, the indistinct tremors of multitudes, the
die-of-hunger, the counter-blows of the law, the secret evolution of
souls, the go-bare-foot, the bare-armed, the disinherited, the orphans,
the unhappy, and the infamous, all the forms which roam through the
darkness. He must descend with his heart full of charity, and severity
at the same time, as a brother and as a judge, to those impenetrable
casemates where crawl, pell-mell, those who bleed and those who deal the
blow, those who weep and those who curse, those who fast and those
who devour, those who endure evil and those who inflict it. Have these
historians of hearts and souls duties at all inferior to the historians
of external facts? Does any one think that Alighieri has any fewer
things to say than Machiavelli? Is the under side of civilization any
less important than the upper side merely because it is deeper and more
sombre? Do we really know the mountain well when we are not acquainted
with the cavern?

Let us say, moreover, parenthetically, that from a few words of what
precedes a marked separation might be inferred between the two classes
of historians which does not exist in our mind. No one is a good
historian of the patent, visible, striking, and public life of peoples,
if he is not, at the same time, in a certain measure, the historian
of their deep and hidden life; and no one is a good historian of the
interior unless he understands how, at need, to be the historian of the
exterior also. The history of manners and ideas permeates the history
of events, and this is true reciprocally. They constitute two different
orders of facts which correspond to each other, which are always
interlaced, and which often bring forth results. All the lineaments
which providence traces on the surface of a nation have their parallels,
sombre but distinct, in their depths, and all convulsions of the depths
produce ebullitions on the surface. True history being a mixture of all
things, the true historian mingles in everything.

Man is not a circle with a single centre; he is an ellipse with a double
focus. Facts form one of these, and ideas the other.

Slang is nothing but a dressing-room where the tongue having some
bad action to perform, disguises itself. There it clothes itself in
word-masks, in metaphor-rags. In this guise it becomes horrible.

One finds it difficult to recognize. Is it really the French tongue, the
great human tongue? Behold it ready to step upon the stage and to retort
upon crime, and prepared for all the employments of the repertory of
evil. It no longer walks, it hobbles; it limps on the crutch of the
Court of Miracles, a crutch metamorphosable into a club; it is called
vagrancy; every sort of spectre, its dressers, have painted its face, it
crawls and rears, the double gait of the reptile. Henceforth, it is apt
at all roles, it is made suspicious by the counterfeiter, covered with
verdigris by the forger, blacked by the soot of the incendiary; and the
murderer applies its rouge.

When one listens, by the side of honest men, at the portals of society,
one overhears the dialogues of those who are on the outside.
One distinguishes questions and replies. One perceives, without
understanding it, a hideous murmur, sounding almost like human accents,
but more nearly resembling a howl than an articulate word. It is slang.
The words are misshapen and stamped with an indescribable and fantastic
bestiality. One thinks one hears hydras talking.

It is unintelligible in the dark. It gnashes and whispers, completing
the gloom with mystery. It is black in misfortune, it is blacker still
in crime; these two blacknesses amalgamated, compose slang. Obscurity
in the atmosphere, obscurity in acts, obscurity in voices. Terrible,
toad-like tongue which goes and comes, leaps, crawls, slobbers, and
stirs about in monstrous wise in that immense gray fog composed of rain
and night, of hunger, of vice, of falsehood, of injustice, of nudity, of
suffocation, and of winter, the high noonday of the miserable.

Let us have compassion on the chastised. Alas! Who are we ourselves? Who
am I who now address you? Who are you who are listening to me? And are
you very sure that we have done nothing before we were born? The earth
is not devoid of resemblance to a jail. Who knows whether man is not a
recaptured offender against divine justice? Look closely at life. It is
so made, that everywhere we feel the sense of punishment.

Are you what is called a happy man? Well! you are sad every day. Each
day has its own great grief or its little care. Yesterday you were
trembling for a health that is dear to you, to-day you fear for your
own; to-morrow it will be anxiety about money, the day after to-morrow
the diatribe of a slanderer, the day after that, the misfortune of some
friend; then the prevailing weather, then something that has been broken
or lost, then a pleasure with which your conscience and your vertebral
column reproach you; again, the course of public affairs. This without
reckoning in the pains of the heart. And so it goes on. One cloud is
dispelled, another forms. There is hardly one day out of a hundred which
is wholly joyous and sunny. And you belong to that small class who are
happy! As for the rest of mankind, stagnating night rests upon them.

Thoughtful minds make but little use of the phrase: the fortunate and
the unfortunate. In this world, evidently the vestibule of another,
there are no fortunate.

The real human division is this: the luminous and the shady. To diminish
the number of the shady, to augment the number of the luminous,--that
is the object. That is why we cry: Education! science! To teach reading,
means to light the fire; every syllable spelled out sparkles.

However, he who says light does not, necessarily, say joy. People suffer
in the light; excess burns. The flame is the enemy of the wing. To burn
without ceasing to fly,--therein lies the marvel of genius.

When you shall have learned to know, and to love, you will still suffer.
The day is born in tears. The luminous weep, if only over those in


Slang is the tongue of those who sit in darkness.

Thought is moved in its most sombre depths, social philosophy is bidden
to its most poignant meditations, in the presence of that enigmatic
dialect at once so blighted and rebellious. Therein lies chastisement
made visible. Every syllable has an air of being marked. The words of
the vulgar tongue appear therein wrinkled and shrivelled, as it were,
beneath the hot iron of the executioner. Some seem to be still smoking.
Such and such a phrase produces upon you the effect of the shoulder of a
thief branded with the fleur-de-lys, which has suddenly been laid bare.
Ideas almost refuse to be expressed in these substantives which are
fugitives from justice. Metaphor is sometimes so shameless, that one
feels that it has worn the iron neck-fetter.

Moreover, in spite of all this, and because of all this, this strange
dialect has by rights, its own compartment in that great impartial case
of pigeon-holes where there is room for the rusty farthing as well as
for the gold medal, and which is called literature. Slang, whether the
public admit the fact or not has its syntax and its poetry. It is a
language. Yes, by the deformity of certain terms, we recognize the
fact that it was chewed by Mandrin, and by the splendor of certain
metonymies, we feel that Villon spoke it.

That exquisite and celebrated verse--

          Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?
          But where are the snows of years gone by?

is a verse of slang. Antam--ante annum--is a word of Thunes slang, which
signified the past year, and by extension, formerly. Thirty-five years
ago, at the epoch of the departure of the great chain-gang, there could
be read in one of the cells at Bicetre, this maxim engraved with a
nail on the wall by a king of Thunes condemned to the galleys: Les dabs
d'antan trimaient siempre pour la pierre du Coesre. This means Kings in
days gone by always went and had themselves anointed. In the opinion of
that king, anointment meant the galleys.

The word decarade, which expresses the departure of heavy vehicles at
a gallop, is attributed to Villon, and it is worthy of him. This word,
which strikes fire with all four of its feet, sums up in a masterly
onomatopoeia the whole of La Fontaine's admirable verse:--

          Six forts chevaux tiraient un coche.
          Six stout horses drew a coach.

From a purely literary point of view, few studies would prove more
curious and fruitful than the study of slang. It is a whole language
within a language, a sort of sickly excrescence, an unhealthy graft
which has produced a vegetation, a parasite which has its roots in the
old Gallic trunk, and whose sinister foliage crawls all over one side of
the language. This is what may be called the first, the vulgar aspect of
slang. But, for those who study the tongue as it should be studied, that
is to say, as geologists study the earth, slang appears like a veritable
alluvial deposit. According as one digs a longer or shorter distance
into it, one finds in slang, below the old popular French, Provencal,
Spanish, Italian, Levantine, that language of the Mediterranean ports,
English and German, the Romance language in its three varieties, French,
Italian, and Romance Romance, Latin, and finally Basque and Celtic. A
profound and unique formation. A subterranean edifice erected in common
by all the miserable. Each accursed race has deposited its layer, each
suffering has dropped its stone there, each heart has contributed its
pebble. A throng of evil, base, or irritated souls, who have traversed
life and have vanished into eternity, linger there almost entirely
visible still beneath the form of some monstrous word.

Do you want Spanish? The old Gothic slang abounded in it. Here is
boffete, a box on the ear, which is derived from bofeton; vantane,
window (later on vanterne), which comes from vantana; gat, cat, which
comes from gato; acite, oil, which comes from aceyte. Do you want
Italian? Here is spade, sword, which comes from spada; carvel, boat,
which comes from caravella. Do you want English? Here is bichot, which
comes from bishop; raille, spy, which comes from rascal, rascalion;
pilche, a case, which comes from pilcher, a sheath. Do you want German?
Here is the caleur, the waiter, kellner; the hers, the master, herzog
(duke). Do you want Latin? Here is frangir, to break, frangere; affurer,
to steal, fur; cadene, chain, catena. There is one word which crops up
in every language of the continent, with a sort of mysterious power and
authority. It is the word magnus; the Scotchman makes of it his mac,
which designates the chief of the clan; Mac-Farlane, Mac-Callumore, the
great Farlane, the great Callumore[41]; slang turns it into meck and
later le meg, that is to say, God. Would you like Basque? Here is
gahisto, the devil, which comes from gaiztoa, evil; sorgabon, good
night, which comes from gabon, good evening. Do you want Celtic? Here is
blavin, a handkerchief, which comes from blavet, gushing water; menesse,
a woman (in a bad sense), which comes from meinec, full of stones;
barant, brook, from baranton, fountain; goffeur, locksmith, from goff,
blacksmith; guedouze, death, which comes from guenn-du, black-white.
Finally, would you like history? Slang calls crowns les malteses, a
souvenir of the coin in circulation on the galleys of Malta.

In addition to the philological origins just indicated, slang possesses
other and still more natural roots, which spring, so to speak, from the
mind of man itself.

In the first place, the direct creation of words. Therein lies the
mystery of tongues. To paint with words, which contains figures
one knows not how or why, is the primitive foundation of all human
languages, what may be called their granite.

Slang abounds in words of this description, immediate words, words
created instantaneously no one knows either where or by whom, without
etymology, without analogies, without derivatives, solitary, barbarous,
sometimes hideous words, which at times possess a singular power of
expression and which live. The executioner, le taule; the forest,
le sabri; fear, flight, taf; the lackey, le larbin; the mineral,
the prefect, the minister, pharos; the devil, le rabouin. Nothing is
stranger than these words which both mask and reveal. Some, le rabouin,
for example, are at the same time grotesque and terrible, and produce on
you the effect of a cyclopean grimace.

In the second place, metaphor. The peculiarity of a language which is
desirous of saying all yet concealing all is that it is rich in figures.
Metaphor is an enigma, wherein the thief who is plotting a stroke,
the prisoner who is arranging an escape, take refuge. No idiom is more
metaphorical than slang: devisser le coco (to unscrew the nut), to twist
the neck; tortiller (to wriggle), to eat; etre gerbe, to be tried; a
rat, a bread thief; il lansquine, it rains, a striking, ancient figure
which partly bears its date about it, which assimilates long oblique
lines of rain, with the dense and slanting pikes of the lancers, and
which compresses into a single word the popular expression: it rains
halberds. Sometimes, in proportion as slang progresses from the first
epoch to the second, words pass from the primitive and savage sense to
the metaphorical sense. The devil ceases to be le rabouin, and becomes
le boulanger (the baker), who puts the bread into the oven. This is
more witty, but less grand, something like Racine after Corneille, like
Euripides after AEschylus. Certain slang phrases which participate
in the two epochs and have at once the barbaric character and the
metaphorical character resemble phantasmagories. Les sorgueuers vont
solliciter des gails a la lune--the prowlers are going to steal horses
by night,--this passes before the mind like a group of spectres. One
knows not what one sees.

In the third place, the expedient. Slang lives on the language. It uses
it in accordance with its fancy, it dips into it hap-hazard, and it
often confines itself, when occasion arises, to alter it in a gross and
summary fashion. Occasionally, with the ordinary words thus deformed and
complicated with words of pure slang, picturesque phrases are formed, in
which there can be felt the mixture of the two preceding elements, the
direct creation and the metaphor: le cab jaspine, je marronne que la
roulotte de Pantin trime dans le sabri, the dog is barking, I suspect
that the diligence for Paris is passing through the woods. Le dab est
sinve, la dabuge est merloussiere, la fee est bative, the bourgeois is
stupid, the bourgeoise is cunning, the daughter is pretty. Generally,
to throw listeners off the track, slang confines itself to adding to
all the words of the language without distinction, an ignoble tail, a
termination in aille, in orgue, in iergue, or in uche. Thus: Vousiergue
trouvaille bonorgue ce gigotmuche? Do you think that leg of mutton
good? A phrase addressed by Cartouche to a turnkey in order to find out
whether the sum offered for his escape suited him.

The termination in mar has been added recently.

Slang, being the dialect of corruption, quickly becomes corrupted
itself. Besides this, as it is always seeking concealment, as soon as
it feels that it is understood, it changes its form. Contrary to what
happens with every other vegetation, every ray of light which falls
upon it kills whatever it touches. Thus slang is in constant process of
decomposition and recomposition; an obscure and rapid work which never
pauses. It passes over more ground in ten years than a language in ten
centuries. Thus le larton (bread) becomes le lartif; le gail (horse)
becomes le gaye; la fertanche (straw) becomes la fertille; le momignard
(brat), le momacque; les fiques (duds), frusques; la chique (the
church), l'egrugeoir; le colabre (neck), le colas. The devil is at
first, gahisto, then le rabouin, then the baker; the priest is a
ratichon, then the boar (le sanglier); the dagger is le vingt-deux
(twenty-two), then le surin, then le lingre; the police are railles,
then roussins, then rousses, then marchands de lacets (dealers in
stay-laces), then coquers, then cognes; the executioner is le taule,
then Charlot, l'atigeur, then le becquillard. In the seventeenth
century, to fight was "to give each other snuff"; in the nineteenth
it is "to chew each other's throats." There have been twenty different
phrases between these two extremes. Cartouche's talk would have been
Hebrew to Lacenaire. All the words of this language are perpetually
engaged in flight like the men who utter them.

Still, from time to time, and in consequence of this very movement,
the ancient slang crops up again and becomes new once more. It has its
headquarters where it maintains its sway. The Temple preserved the slang
of the seventeenth century; Bicetre, when it was a prison, preserved the
slang of Thunes. There one could hear the termination in anche of
the old Thuneurs. Boyanches-tu (bois-tu), do you drink? But perpetual
movement remains its law, nevertheless.

If the philosopher succeeds in fixing, for a moment, for purposes of
observation, this language which is incessantly evaporating, he falls
into doleful and useful meditation. No study is more efficacious and
more fecund in instruction. There is not a metaphor, not an analogy, in
slang, which does not contain a lesson. Among these men, to beat means
to feign; one beats a malady; ruse is their strength.

For them, the idea of the man is not separated from the idea of
darkness. The night is called la sorgue; man, l'orgue. Man is a
derivative of the night.

They have taken up the practice of considering society in the light
of an atmosphere which kills them, of a fatal force, and they speak of
their liberty as one would speak of his health. A man under arrest is a
sick man; one who is condemned is a dead man.

The most terrible thing for the prisoner within the four walls in which
he is buried, is a sort of glacial chastity, and he calls the dungeon
the castus. In that funereal place, life outside always presents itself
under its most smiling aspect. The prisoner has irons on his feet; you
think, perhaps, that his thought is that it is with the feet that one
walks? No; he is thinking that it is with the feet that one dances; so,
when he has succeeded in severing his fetters, his first idea is that
now he can dance, and he calls the saw the bastringue (public-house
ball).--A name is a centre; profound assimilation.--The ruffian has two
heads, one of which reasons out his actions and leads him all his life
long, and the other which he has upon his shoulders on the day of his
death; he calls the head which counsels him in crime la sorbonne,
and the head which expiates it la tronche.--When a man has no longer
anything but rags upon his body and vices in his heart, when he has
arrived at that double moral and material degradation which the word
blackguard characterizes in its two acceptations, he is ripe for crime;
he is like a well-whetted knife; he has two cutting edges, his
distress and his malice; so slang does not say a blackguard, it says
un reguise.--What are the galleys? A brazier of damnation, a hell. The
convict calls himself a fagot.--And finally, what name do malefactors
give to their prison? The college. A whole penitentiary system can be
evolved from that word.

Does the reader wish to know where the majority of the songs of the
galleys, those refrains called in the special vocabulary lirlonfa, have
had their birth?

Let him listen to what follows:--

There existed at the Chatelet in Paris a large and long cellar. This
cellar was eight feet below the level of the Seine. It had neither
windows nor air-holes, its only aperture was the door; men could enter
there, air could not. This vault had for ceiling a vault of stone, and
for floor ten inches of mud. It was flagged; but the pavement had rotted
and cracked under the oozing of the water. Eight feet above the floor,
a long and massive beam traversed this subterranean excavation from side
to side; from this beam hung, at short distances apart, chains three
feet long, and at the end of these chains there were rings for the
neck. In this vault, men who had been condemned to the galleys were
incarcerated until the day of their departure for Toulon. They were
thrust under this beam, where each one found his fetters swinging in the
darkness and waiting for him.

The chains, those pendant arms, and the necklets, those open hands,
caught the unhappy wretches by the throat. They were rivetted and
left there. As the chain was too short, they could not lie down. They
remained motionless in that cavern, in that night, beneath that beam,
almost hanging, forced to unheard-of efforts to reach their bread, jug,
or their vault overhead, mud even to mid-leg, filth flowing to their
very calves, broken asunder with fatigue, with thighs and knees giving
way, clinging fast to the chain with their hands in order to obtain some
rest, unable to sleep except when standing erect, and awakened every
moment by the strangling of the collar; some woke no more. In order to
eat, they pushed the bread, which was flung to them in the mud, along
their leg with their heel until it reached their hand.

How long did they remain thus? One month, two months, six months
sometimes; one stayed a year. It was the antechamber of the galleys.
Men were put there for stealing a hare from the king. In this
sepulchre-hell, what did they do? What man can do in a sepulchre, they
went through the agonies of death, and what can man do in hell, they
sang; for song lingers where there is no longer any hope. In the waters
of Malta, when a galley was approaching, the song could be heard before
the sound of the oars. Poor Survincent, the poacher, who had gone
through the prison-cellar of the Chatelet, said: "It was the rhymes that
kept me up." Uselessness of poetry. What is the good of rhyme?

It is in this cellar that nearly all the slang songs had their birth.
It is from the dungeon of the Grand-Chatelet of Paris that comes
the melancholy refrain of the Montgomery galley: "Timaloumisaine,
timaloumison." The majority of these:

       Icicaille est la theatre        Here is the theatre
       Du petit dardant.               Of the little archer (Cupid).

Do what you will, you cannot annihilate that eternal relic in the heart
of man, love.

In this world of dismal deeds, people keep their secrets. The secret is
the thing above all others. The secret, in the eyes of these wretches,
is unity which serves as a base of union. To betray a secret is to
tear from each member of this fierce community something of his own
personality. To inform against, in the energetic slang dialect, is
called: "to eat the bit." As though the informer drew to himself a
little of the substance of all and nourished himself on a bit of each
one's flesh.

What does it signify to receive a box on the ear? Commonplace metaphor
replies: "It is to see thirty-six candles."

Here slang intervenes and takes it up: Candle, camoufle. Thereupon, the
ordinary tongue gives camouflet[42] as the synonym for soufflet. Thus,
by a sort of infiltration from below upwards, with the aid of metaphor,
that incalculable, trajectory slang mounts from the cavern to the
Academy; and Poulailler saying: "I light my camoufle," causes Voltaire
to write: "Langleviel La Beaumelle deserves a hundred camouflets."

Researches in slang mean discoveries at every step. Study and
investigation of this strange idiom lead to the mysterious point of
intersection of regular society with society which is accursed.

The thief also has his food for cannon, stealable matter, you, I,
whoever passes by; le pantre. (Pan, everybody.)

Slang is language turned convict.

That the thinking principle of man be thrust down ever so low, that it
can be dragged and pinioned there by obscure tyrannies of fatality,
that it can be bound by no one knows what fetters in that abyss, is
sufficient to create consternation.

Oh, poor thought of miserable wretches!

Alas! will no one come to the succor of the human soul in that darkness?
Is it her destiny there to await forever the mind, the liberator, the
immense rider of Pegasi and hippo-griffs, the combatant of heroes of
the dawn who shall descend from the azure between two wings, the radiant
knight of the future? Will she forever summon in vain to her assistance
the lance of light of the ideal? Is she condemned to hear the fearful
approach of Evil through the density of the gulf, and to catch glimpses,
nearer and nearer at hand, beneath the hideous water of that dragon's
head, that maw streaked with foam, and that writhing undulation of
claws, swellings, and rings? Must it remain there, without a gleam
of light, without hope, given over to that terrible approach, vaguely
scented out by the monster, shuddering, dishevelled, wringing its arms,
forever chained to the rock of night, a sombre Andromeda white and naked
amid the shadows!


As the reader perceives, slang in its entirety, slang of four hundred
years ago, like the slang of to-day, is permeated with that sombre,
symbolical spirit which gives to all words a mien which is now mournful,
now menacing. One feels in it the wild and ancient sadness of those
vagrants of the Court of Miracles who played at cards with packs of
their own, some of which have come down to us. The eight of clubs, for
instance, represented a huge tree bearing eight enormous trefoil leaves,
a sort of fantastic personification of the forest. At the foot of this
tree a fire was burning, over which three hares were roasting a huntsman
on a spit, and behind him, on another fire, hung a steaming pot, whence
emerged the head of a dog. Nothing can be more melancholy than these
reprisals in painting, by a pack of cards, in the presence of stakes
for the roasting of smugglers and of the cauldron for the boiling of
counterfeiters. The diverse forms assumed by thought in the realm
of slang, even song, even raillery, even menace, all partook of this
powerless and dejected character. All the songs, the melodies of some
of which have been collected, were humble and lamentable to the point of
evoking tears. The pegre is always the poor pegre, and he is always
the hare in hiding, the fugitive mouse, the flying bird. He hardly
complains, he contents himself with sighing; one of his moans has come
down to us: "I do not understand how God, the father of men, can torture
his children and his grandchildren and hear them cry, without himself
suffering torture."[43] The wretch, whenever he has time to think, makes
himself small before the low, and frail in the presence of society;
he lies down flat on his face, he entreats, he appeals to the side of
compassion; we feel that he is conscious of his guilt.

Towards the middle of the last century a change took place, prison songs
and thieves' ritournelles assumed, so to speak, an insolent and jovial
mien. The plaintive malure was replaced by the larifla. We find in the
eighteenth century, in nearly all the songs of the galleys and prisons,
a diabolical and enigmatical gayety. We hear this strident and lilting
refrain which we should say had been lighted up by a phosphorescent
gleam, and which seems to have been flung into the forest by a
will-o'-the-wisp playing the fife:--

                    Miralabi suslababo
                    Mirliton ribonribette
                    Surlababi mirlababo
                    Mirliton ribonribo.

This was sung in a cellar or in a nook of the forest while cutting a
man's throat.

A serious symptom. In the eighteenth century, the ancient melancholy of
the dejected classes vanishes. They began to laugh. They rally the grand
meg and the grand dab. Given Louis XV. they call the King of France "le
Marquis de Pantin." And behold, they are almost gay. A sort of gleam
proceeds from these miserable wretches, as though their consciences were
not heavy within them any more. These lamentable tribes of darkness have
no longer merely the desperate audacity of actions, they possess the
heedless audacity of mind. A sign that they are losing the sense of
their criminality, and that they feel, even among thinkers and dreamers,
some indefinable support which the latter themselves know not of. A
sign that theft and pillage are beginning to filter into doctrines and
sophisms, in such a way as to lose somewhat of their ugliness, while
communicating much of it to sophisms and doctrines. A sign, in short, of
some outbreak which is prodigious and near unless some diversion shall

Let us pause a moment. Whom are we accusing here? Is it the eighteenth
century? Is it philosophy? Certainly not. The work of the eighteenth
century is healthy and good and wholesome. The encyclopedists, Diderot
at their head; the physiocrates, Turgot at their head; the philosophers,
Voltaire at their head; the Utopians, Rousseau at their head,--these are
four sacred legions. Humanity's immense advance towards the light is due
to them. They are the four vanguards of the human race, marching towards
the four cardinal points of progress. Diderot towards the beautiful,
Turgot towards the useful, Voltaire towards the true, Rousseau towards
the just. But by the side of and above the philosophers, there were the
sophists, a venomous vegetation mingled with a healthy growth, hemlock
in the virgin forest. While the executioner was burning the great
books of the liberators of the century on the grand staircase of the
court-house, writers now forgotten were publishing, with the King's
sanction, no one knows what strangely disorganizing writings, which were
eagerly read by the unfortunate. Some of these publications, odd to
say, which were patronized by a prince, are to be found in the Secret
Library. These facts, significant but unknown, were imperceptible on the
surface. Sometimes, in the very obscurity of a fact lurks its danger.
It is obscure because it is underhand. Of all these writers, the one
who probably then excavated in the masses the most unhealthy gallery was
Restif de La Bretonne.

This work, peculiar to the whole of Europe, effected more ravages in
Germany than anywhere else. In Germany, during a given period, summed up
by Schiller in his famous drama The Robbers, theft and pillage rose up
in protest against property and labor, assimilated certain specious and
false elementary ideas, which, though just in appearance, were absurd in
reality, enveloped themselves in these ideas, disappeared within them,
after a fashion, assumed an abstract name, passed into the state of
theory, and in that shape circulated among the laborious, suffering, and
honest masses, unknown even to the imprudent chemists who had prepared
the mixture, unknown even to the masses who accepted it. Whenever a fact
of this sort presents itself, the case is grave. Suffering engenders
wrath; and while the prosperous classes blind themselves or fall asleep,
which is the same thing as shutting one's eyes, the hatred of the
unfortunate classes lights its torch at some aggrieved or ill-made
spirit which dreams in a corner, and sets itself to the scrutiny of
society. The scrutiny of hatred is a terrible thing.

Hence, if the ill-fortune of the times so wills it, those fearful
commotions which were formerly called jacqueries, beside which purely
political agitations are the merest child's play, which are no longer
the conflict of the oppressed and the oppressor, but the revolt of
discomfort against comfort. Then everything crumbles.

Jacqueries are earthquakes of the people.

It is this peril, possibly imminent towards the close of the eighteenth
century, which the French Revolution, that immense act of probity, cut

The French Revolution, which is nothing else than the idea armed with
the sword, rose erect, and, with the same abrupt movement, closed the
door of ill and opened the door of good.

It put a stop to torture, promulgated the truth, expelled miasma,
rendered the century healthy, crowned the populace.

It may be said of it that it created man a second time, by giving him a
second soul, the right.

The nineteenth century has inherited and profited by its work, and
to-day, the social catastrophe to which we lately alluded is simply
impossible. Blind is he who announces it! Foolish is he who fears it!
Revolution is the vaccine of Jacquerie.

Thanks to the Revolution, social conditions have changed. Feudal and
monarchical maladies no longer run in our blood. There is no more of
the Middle Ages in our constitution. We no longer live in the days when
terrible swarms within made irruptions, when one heard beneath his feet
the obscure course of a dull rumble, when indescribable elevations from
mole-like tunnels appeared on the surface of civilization, where the
soil cracked open, where the roofs of caverns yawned, and where one
suddenly beheld monstrous heads emerging from the earth.

The revolutionary sense is a moral sense. The sentiment of right, once
developed, develops the sentiment of duty. The law of all is
liberty, which ends where the liberty of others begins, according to
Robespierre's admirable definition. Since '89, the whole people has
been dilating into a sublime individual; there is not a poor man, who,
possessing his right, has not his ray of sun; the die-of-hunger feels
within him the honesty of France; the dignity of the citizen is an
internal armor; he who is free is scrupulous; he who votes reigns. Hence
incorruptibility; hence the miscarriage of unhealthy lusts; hence eyes
heroically lowered before temptations. The revolutionary wholesomeness
is such, that on a day of deliverance, a 14th of July, a 10th of August,
there is no longer any populace. The first cry of the enlightened and
increasing throngs is: death to thieves! Progress is an honest man; the
ideal and the absolute do not filch pocket-handkerchiefs. By whom were
the wagons containing the wealth of the Tuileries escorted in 1848? By
the rag-pickers of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Rags mounted guard over
the treasure. Virtue rendered these tatterdemalions resplendent. In
those wagons in chests, hardly closed, and some, even, half-open, amid a
hundred dazzling caskets, was that ancient crown of France, studded with
diamonds, surmounted by the carbuncle of royalty, by the Regent diamond,
which was worth thirty millions. Barefooted, they guarded that crown.

Hence, no more Jacquerie. I regret it for the sake of the skilful. The
old fear has produced its last effects in that quarter; and henceforth
it can no longer be employed in politics. The principal spring of the
red spectre is broken. Every one knows it now. The scare-crow scares
no longer. The birds take liberties with the mannikin, foul creatures
alight upon it, the bourgeois laugh at it.


This being the case, is all social danger dispelled? Certainly not.
There is no Jacquerie; society may rest assured on that point; blood
will no longer rush to its head. But let society take heed to the manner
in which it breathes. Apoplexy is no longer to be feared, but phthisis
is there. Social phthisis is called misery.

One can perish from being undermined as well as from being struck by

Let us not weary of repeating, and sympathetic souls must not forget
that this is the first of fraternal obligations, and selfish hearts must
understand that the first of political necessities consists in thinking
first of all of the disinherited and sorrowing throngs, in solacing,
airing, enlightening, loving them, in enlarging their horizon to a
magnificent extent, in lavishing upon them education in every form, in
offering them the example of labor, never the example of idleness,
in diminishing the individual burden by enlarging the notion of the
universal aim, in setting a limit to poverty without setting a limit
to wealth, in creating vast fields of public and popular activity, in
having, like Briareus, a hundred hands to extend in all directions to
the oppressed and the feeble, in employing the collective power for that
grand duty of opening workshops for all arms, schools for all aptitudes,
and laboratories for all degrees of intelligence, in augmenting
salaries, diminishing trouble, balancing what should be and what is,
that is to say, in proportioning enjoyment to effort and a glut to need;
in a word, in evolving from the social apparatus more light and more
comfort for the benefit of those who suffer and those who are ignorant.

And, let us say it, all this is but the beginning. The true question is
this: labor cannot be a law without being a right.

We will not insist upon this point; this is not the proper place for

If nature calls itself Providence, society should call itself foresight.

Intellectual and moral growth is no less indispensable than material
improvement. To know is a sacrament, to think is the prime necessity,
truth is nourishment as well as grain. A reason which fasts from science
and wisdom grows thin. Let us enter equal complaint against stomachs and
minds which do not eat. If there is anything more heart-breaking than
a body perishing for lack of bread, it is a soul which is dying from
hunger for the light.

The whole of progress tends in the direction of solution. Some day we
shall be amazed. As the human race mounts upward, the deep layers emerge
naturally from the zone of distress. The obliteration of misery will be
accomplished by a simple elevation of level.

We should do wrong were we to doubt this blessed consummation.

The past is very strong, it is true, at the present moment. It censures.
This rejuvenation of a corpse is surprising. Behold, it is walking and
advancing. It seems a victor; this dead body is a conqueror. He arrives
with his legions, superstitions, with his sword, despotism, with his
banner, ignorance; a while ago, he won ten battles. He advances, he
threatens, he laughs, he is at our doors. Let us not despair, on our
side. Let us sell the field on which Hannibal is encamped.

What have we to fear, we who believe?

No such thing as a back-flow of ideas exists any more than there exists
a return of a river on its course.

But let those who do not desire a future reflect on this matter. When
they say "no" to progress, it is not the future but themselves that
they are condemning. They are giving themselves a sad malady; they are
inoculating themselves with the past. There is but one way of rejecting
To-morrow, and that is to die.

Now, no death, that of the body as late as possible, that of the soul
never,--this is what we desire.

Yes, the enigma will utter its word, the sphinx will speak, the problem
will be solved.

Yes, the people, sketched out by the eighteenth century, will be
finished by the nineteenth. He who doubts this is an idiot! The future
blossoming, the near blossoming forth of universal well-being, is a
divinely fatal phenomenon.

Immense combined propulsions direct human affairs and conduct them
within a given time to a logical state, that is to say, to a state of
equilibrium; that is to say, to equity. A force composed of earth and
heaven results from humanity and governs it; this force is a worker
of miracles; marvellous issues are no more difficult to it than
extraordinary vicissitudes. Aided by science, which comes from one man,
and by the event, which comes from another, it is not greatly alarmed
by these contradictions in the attitude of problems, which seem
impossibilities to the vulgar herd. It is no less skilful at causing a
solution to spring forth from the reconciliation of ideas, than a lesson
from the reconciliation of facts, and we may expect anything from that
mysterious power of progress, which brought the Orient and the Occident
face to face one fine day, in the depths of a sepulchre, and made the
imaums converse with Bonaparte in the interior of the Great Pyramid.

In the meantime, let there be no halt, no hesitation, no pause in the
grandiose onward march of minds. Social philosophy consists essentially
in science and peace. Its object is, and its result must be, to dissolve
wrath by the study of antagonisms. It examines, it scrutinizes, it
analyzes; then it puts together once more, it proceeds by means of
reduction, discarding all hatred.

More than once, a society has been seen to give way before the wind
which is let loose upon mankind; history is full of the shipwrecks of
nations and empires; manners, customs, laws, religions,--and some fine
day that unknown force, the hurricane, passes by and bears them all
away. The civilizations of India, of Chaldea, of Persia, of Syria, of
Egypt, have disappeared one after the other. Why? We know not. What are
the causes of these disasters? We do not know. Could these societies
have been saved? Was it their fault? Did they persist in the fatal vice
which destroyed them? What is the amount of suicide in these terrible
deaths of a nation and a race? Questions to which there exists no reply.
Darkness enwraps condemned civilizations. They sprung a leak, then they
sank. We have nothing more to say; and it is with a sort of terror that
we look on, at the bottom of that sea which is called the past, behind
those colossal waves, at the shipwreck of those immense vessels,
Babylon, Nineveh, Tarsus, Thebes, Rome, beneath the fearful gusts which
emerge from all the mouths of the shadows. But shadows are there, and
light is here. We are not acquainted with the maladies of these ancient
civilizations, we do not know the infirmities of our own. Everywhere
upon it we have the right of light, we contemplate its beauties, we
lay bare its defects. Where it is ill, we probe; and the sickness once
diagnosed, the study of the cause leads to the discovery of the remedy.
Our civilization, the work of twenty centuries, is its law and its
prodigy; it is worth the trouble of saving. It will be saved. It is
already much to have solaced it; its enlightenment is yet another point.
All the labors of modern social philosophies must converge towards
this point. The thinker of to-day has a great duty--to auscultate

We repeat, that this auscultation brings encouragement; it is by this
persistence in encouragement that we wish to conclude these pages, an
austere interlude in a mournful drama. Beneath the social mortality, we
feel human imperishableness. The globe does not perish, because it has
these wounds, craters, eruptions, sulphur pits, here and there, nor
because of a volcano which ejects its pus. The maladies of the people do
not kill man.

And yet, any one who follows the course of social clinics shakes his
head at times. The strongest, the tenderest, the most logical have their
hours of weakness.

Will the future arrive? It seems as though we might almost put
this question, when we behold so much terrible darkness. Melancholy
face-to-face encounter of selfish and wretched. On the part of
the selfish, the prejudices, shadows of costly education, appetite
increasing through intoxication, a giddiness of prosperity which dulls,
a fear of suffering which, in some, goes as far as an aversion for the
suffering, an implacable satisfaction, the I so swollen that it bars the
soul; on the side of the wretched covetousness, envy, hatred of seeing
others enjoy, the profound impulses of the human beast towards assuaging
its desires, hearts full of mist, sadness, need, fatality, impure and
simple ignorance.

Shall we continue to raise our eyes to heaven? is the luminous point
which we distinguish there one of those which vanish? The ideal
is frightful to behold, thus lost in the depths, small, isolated,
imperceptible, brilliant, but surrounded by those great, black menaces,
monstrously heaped around it; yet no more in danger than a star in the
maw of the clouds.



The reader has probably understood that Eponine, having recognized
through the gate, the inhabitant of that Rue Plumet whither Magnon had
sent her, had begun by keeping the ruffians away from the Rue Plumet,
and had then conducted Marius thither, and that, after many days spent
in ecstasy before that gate, Marius, drawn on by that force which draws
the iron to the magnet and a lover towards the stones of which is built
the house of her whom he loves, had finally entered Cosette's garden as
Romeo entered the garden of Juliet. This had even proved easier for him
than for Romeo; Romeo was obliged to scale a wall, Marius had only
to use a little force on one of the bars of the decrepit gate which
vacillated in its rusty recess, after the fashion of old people's teeth.
Marius was slender and readily passed through.

As there was never any one in the street, and as Marius never entered
the garden except at night, he ran no risk of being seen.

Beginning with that blessed and holy hour when a kiss betrothed these
two souls, Marius was there every evening. If, at that period of
her existence, Cosette had fallen in love with a man in the least
unscrupulous or debauched, she would have been lost; for there are
generous natures which yield themselves, and Cosette was one of them.
One of woman's magnanimities is to yield. Love, at the height where it
is absolute, is complicated with some indescribably celestial blindness
of modesty. But what dangers you run, O noble souls! Often you give the
heart, and we take the body. Your heart remains with you, you gaze upon
it in the gloom with a shudder. Love has no middle course; it either
ruins or it saves. All human destiny lies in this dilemma. This dilemma,
ruin, or safety, is set forth no more inexorably by any fatality than
by love. Love is life, if it is not death. Cradle; also coffin. The same
sentiment says "yes" and "no" in the human heart. Of all the things that
God has made, the human heart is the one which sheds the most light,
alas! and the most darkness.

God willed that Cosette's love should encounter one of the loves which

Throughout the whole of the month of May of that year 1832, there were
there, in every night, in that poor, neglected garden, beneath that
thicket which grew thicker and more fragrant day by day, two beings
composed of all chastity, all innocence, overflowing with all the
felicity of heaven, nearer to the archangels than to mankind, pure,
honest, intoxicated, radiant, who shone for each other amid the shadows.
It seemed to Cosette that Marius had a crown, and to Marius that Cosette
had a nimbus. They touched each other, they gazed at each other, they
clasped each other's hands, they pressed close to each other; but there
was a distance which they did not pass. Not that they respected it;
they did not know of its existence. Marius was conscious of a barrier,
Cosette's innocence; and Cosette of a support, Marius' loyalty. The
first kiss had also been the last. Marius, since that time, had not gone
further than to touch Cosette's hand, or her kerchief, or a lock of her
hair, with his lips. For him, Cosette was a perfume and not a woman.
He inhaled her. She refused nothing, and he asked nothing. Cosette was
happy, and Marius was satisfied. They lived in this ecstatic state which
can be described as the dazzling of one soul by another soul. It was
the ineffable first embrace of two maiden souls in the ideal. Two swans
meeting on the Jungfrau.

At that hour of love, an hour when voluptuousness is absolutely mute,
beneath the omnipotence of ecstasy, Marius, the pure and seraphic
Marius, would rather have gone to a woman of the town than have raised
Cosette's robe to the height of her ankle. Once, in the moonlight,
Cosette stooped to pick up something on the ground, her bodice fell
apart and permitted a glimpse of the beginning of her throat. Marius
turned away his eyes.

What took place between these two beings? Nothing. They adored each

At night, when they were there, that garden seemed a living and a sacred
spot. All flowers unfolded around them and sent them incense; and they
opened their souls and scattered them over the flowers. The wanton and
vigorous vegetation quivered, full of strength and intoxication, around
these two innocents, and they uttered words of love which set the trees
to trembling.

What words were these? Breaths. Nothing more. These breaths sufficed to
trouble and to touch all nature round about. Magic power which we
should find it difficult to understand were we to read in a book these
conversations which are made to be borne away and dispersed like smoke
wreaths by the breeze beneath the leaves. Take from those murmurs of two
lovers that melody which proceeds from the soul and which accompanies
them like a lyre, and what remains is nothing more than a shade; you
say: "What! is that all!" eh! yes, childish prattle, repetitions,
laughter at nothing, nonsense, everything that is deepest and most
sublime in the world! The only things which are worth the trouble of
saying and hearing!

The man who has never heard, the man who has never uttered these
absurdities, these paltry remarks, is an imbecile and a malicious
fellow. Cosette said to Marius:--

"Dost thou know?--"

[In all this and athwart this celestial maidenliness, and without either
of them being able to say how it had come about, they had begun to call
each other thou.]

"Dost thou know? My name is Euphrasie."

"Euphrasie? Why, no, thy name is Cosette."

"Oh! Cosette is a very ugly name that was given to me when I was
a little thing. But my real name is Euphrasie. Dost thou like that

"Yes. But Cosette is not ugly."

"Do you like it better than Euphrasie?"

"Why, yes."

"Then I like it better too. Truly, it is pretty, Cosette. Call me

And the smile that she added made of this dialogue an idyl worthy of a
grove situated in heaven. On another occasion she gazed intently at him
and exclaimed:--

"Monsieur, you are handsome, you are good-looking, you are witty, you
are not at all stupid, you are much more learned than I am, but I bid
you defiance with this word: I love you!"

And Marius, in the very heavens, thought he heard a strain sung by a

Or she bestowed on him a gentle tap because he coughed, and she said to

"Don't cough, sir; I will not have people cough on my domain without my
permission. It's very naughty to cough and to disturb me. I want you to
be well, because, in the first place, if you were not well, I should be
very unhappy. What should I do then?"

And this was simply divine.

Once Marius said to Cosette:--

"Just imagine, I thought at one time that your name was Ursule."

This made both of them laugh the whole evening.

In the middle of another conversation, he chanced to exclaim:--

"Oh! One day, at the Luxembourg, I had a good mind to finish breaking
up a veteran!" But he stopped short, and went no further. He would have
been obliged to speak to Cosette of her garter, and that was impossible.
This bordered on a strange theme, the flesh, before which that immense
and innocent love recoiled with a sort of sacred fright.

Marius pictured life with Cosette to himself like this, without anything
else; to come every evening to the Rue Plumet, to displace the old and
accommodating bar of the chief-justice's gate, to sit elbow to elbow
on that bench, to gaze through the trees at the scintillation of the
on-coming night, to fit a fold of the knee of his trousers into the
ample fall of Cosette's gown, to caress her thumb-nail, to call her
thou, to smell of the same flower, one after the other, forever,
indefinitely. During this time, clouds passed above their heads. Every
time that the wind blows it bears with it more of the dreams of men than
of the clouds of heaven.

This chaste, almost shy love was not devoid of gallantry, by any means.
To pay compliments to the woman whom a man loves is the first method of
bestowing caresses, and he is half audacious who tries it. A compliment
is something like a kiss through a veil. Voluptuousness mingles there
with its sweet tiny point, while it hides itself. The heart draws back
before voluptuousness only to love the more. Marius' blandishments, all
saturated with fancy, were, so to speak, of azure hue. The birds when
they fly up yonder, in the direction of the angels, must hear such
words. There were mingled with them, nevertheless, life, humanity, all
the positiveness of which Marius was capable. It was what is said in
the bower, a prelude to what will be said in the chamber; a lyrical
effusion, strophe and sonnet intermingled, pleasing hyperboles of
cooing, all the refinements of adoration arranged in a bouquet and
exhaling a celestial perfume, an ineffable twitter of heart to heart.

"Oh!" murmured Marius, "how beautiful you are! I dare not look at you.
It is all over with me when I contemplate you. You are a grace. I know
not what is the matter with me. The hem of your gown, when the tip of
your shoe peeps from beneath, upsets me. And then, what an enchanted
gleam when you open your thought even but a little! You talk
astonishingly good sense. It seems to me at times that you are a
dream. Speak, I listen, I admire. Oh Cosette! how strange it is and how
charming! I am really beside myself. You are adorable, Mademoiselle. I
study your feet with the microscope and your soul with the telescope."

And Cosette answered:--

"I have been loving a little more all the time that has passed since
this morning."

Questions and replies took care of themselves in this dialogue, which
always turned with mutual consent upon love, as the little pith figures
always turn on their peg.

Cosette's whole person was ingenuousness, ingenuity, transparency,
whiteness, candor, radiance. It might have been said of Cosette that she
was clear. She produced on those who saw her the sensation of April
and dawn. There was dew in her eyes. Cosette was a condensation of the
auroral light in the form of a woman.

It was quite simple that Marius should admire her, since he adored her.
But the truth is, that this little school-girl, fresh from the convent,
talked with exquisite penetration and uttered, at times, all sorts of
true and delicate sayings. Her prattle was conversation. She never made
a mistake about anything, and she saw things justly. The woman feels and
speaks with the tender instinct of the heart, which is infallible.

No one understands so well as a woman, how to say things that are, at
once, both sweet and deep. Sweetness and depth, they are the whole of
woman; in them lies the whole of heaven.

In this full felicity, tears welled up to their eyes every instant. A
crushed lady-bug, a feather fallen from a nest, a branch of hawthorn
broken, aroused their pity, and their ecstasy, sweetly mingled with
melancholy, seemed to ask nothing better than to weep. The most
sovereign symptom of love is a tenderness that is, at times, almost

And, in addition to this,--all these contradictions are the lightning
play of love,--they were fond of laughing, they laughed readily and with
a delicious freedom, and so familiarly that they sometimes presented the
air of two boys.

Still, though unknown to hearts intoxicated with purity, nature is
always present and will not be forgotten. She is there with her brutal
and sublime object; and however great may be the innocence of souls, one
feels in the most modest private interview, the adorable and mysterious
shade which separates a couple of lovers from a pair of friends.

They idolized each other.

The permanent and the immutable are persistent. People live, they smile,
they laugh, they make little grimaces with the tips of their lips, they
interlace their fingers, they call each other thou, and that does not
prevent eternity.

Two lovers hide themselves in the evening, in the twilight, in the
invisible, with the birds, with the roses; they fascinate each other in
the darkness with their hearts which they throw into their eyes, they
murmur, they whisper, and in the meantime, immense librations of the
planets fill the infinite universe.


They existed vaguely, frightened at their happiness. They did not notice
the cholera which decimated Paris precisely during that very month. They
had confided in each other as far as possible, but this had not extended
much further than their names. Marius had told Cosette that he was an
orphan, that his name was Marius Pontmercy, that he was a lawyer, that
he lived by writing things for publishers, that his father had been a
colonel, that the latter had been a hero, and that he, Marius, was on
bad terms with his grandfather who was rich. He had also hinted at being
a baron, but this had produced no effect on Cosette. She did not
know the meaning of the word. Marius was Marius. On her side, she
had confided to him that she had been brought up at the Petit-Picpus
convent, that her mother, like his own, was dead, that her father's name
was M. Fauchelevent, that he was very good, that he gave a great deal
to the poor, but that he was poor himself, and that he denied himself
everything though he denied her nothing.

Strange to say, in the sort of symphony which Marius had lived since he
had been in the habit of seeing Cosette, the past, even the most recent
past, had become so confused and distant to him, that what Cosette told
him satisfied him completely. It did not even occur to him to tell her
about the nocturnal adventure in the hovel, about Thenardier, about the
burn, and about the strange attitude and singular flight of her father.
Marius had momentarily forgotten all this; in the evening he did not
even know that there had been a morning, what he had done, where he had
breakfasted, nor who had spoken to him; he had songs in his ears which
rendered him deaf to every other thought; he only existed at the hours
when he saw Cosette. Then, as he was in heaven, it was quite natural
that he should forget earth. Both bore languidly the indefinable burden
of immaterial pleasures. Thus lived these somnambulists who are called

Alas! Who is there who has not felt all these things? Why does there
come an hour when one emerges from this azure, and why does life go on

Loving almost takes the place of thinking. Love is an ardent
forgetfulness of all the rest. Then ask logic of passion if you will.
There is no more absolute logical sequence in the human heart than there
is a perfect geometrical figure in the celestial mechanism. For Cosette
and Marius nothing existed except Marius and Cosette. The universe
around them had fallen into a hole. They lived in a golden minute. There
was nothing before them, nothing behind. It hardly occurred to Marius
that Cosette had a father. His brain was dazzled and obliterated. Of
what did these lovers talk then? We have seen, of the flowers, and
the swallows, the setting sun and the rising moon, and all sorts of
important things. They had told each other everything except everything.
The everything of lovers is nothing. But the father, the realities, that
lair, the ruffians, that adventure, to what purpose? And was he very
sure that this nightmare had actually existed? They were two, and they
adored each other, and beyond that there was nothing. Nothing else
existed. It is probable that this vanishing of hell in our rear is
inherent to the arrival of paradise. Have we beheld demons? Are there
any? Have we trembled? Have we suffered? We no longer know. A rosy cloud
hangs over it.

So these two beings lived in this manner, high aloft, with all that
improbability which is in nature; neither at the nadir nor at the
zenith, between man and seraphim, above the mire, below the ether, in
the clouds; hardly flesh and blood, soul and ecstasy from head to foot;
already too sublime to walk the earth, still too heavily charged with
humanity to disappear in the blue, suspended like atoms which are
waiting to be precipitated; apparently beyond the bounds of destiny;
ignorant of that rut; yesterday, to-day, to-morrow; amazed, rapturous,
floating, soaring; at times so light that they could take their flight
out into the infinite; almost prepared to soar away to all eternity.
They slept wide-awake, thus sweetly lulled. Oh! splendid lethargy of the
real overwhelmed by the ideal.

Sometimes, beautiful as Cosette was, Marius shut his eyes in her
presence. The best way to look at the soul is through closed eyes.

Marius and Cosette never asked themselves whither this was to lead them.
They considered that they had already arrived. It is a strange claim on
man's part to wish that love should lead to something.


Jean Valjean suspected nothing.

Cosette, who was rather less dreamy than Marius, was gay, and that
sufficed for Jean Valjean's happiness. The thoughts which Cosette
cherished, her tender preoccupations, Marius' image which filled her
heart, took away nothing from the incomparable purity of her beautiful,
chaste, and smiling brow. She was at the age when the virgin bears her
love as the angel his lily. So Jean Valjean was at ease. And then, when
two lovers have come to an understanding, things always go well; the
third party who might disturb their love is kept in a state of perfect
blindness by a restricted number of precautions which are always the
same in the case of all lovers. Thus, Cosette never objected to any of
Jean Valjean's proposals. Did she want to take a walk? "Yes, dear little
father." Did she want to stay at home? Very good. Did he wish to pass
the evening with Cosette? She was delighted. As he always went to bed at
ten o'clock, Marius did not come to the garden on such occasions until
after that hour, when, from the street, he heard Cosette open the long
glass door on the veranda. Of course, no one ever met Marius in the
daytime. Jean Valjean never even dreamed any longer that Marius was in
existence. Only once, one morning, he chanced to say to Cosette: "Why,
you have whitewash on your back!" On the previous evening, Marius, in a
transport, had pushed Cosette against the wall.

Old Toussaint, who retired early, thought of nothing but her sleep, and
was as ignorant of the whole matter as Jean Valjean.

Marius never set foot in the house. When he was with Cosette, they hid
themselves in a recess near the steps, in order that they might neither
be seen nor heard from the street, and there they sat, frequently
contenting themselves, by way of conversation, with pressing each
other's hands twenty times a minute as they gazed at the branches of the
trees. At such times, a thunderbolt might have fallen thirty paces from
them, and they would not have noticed it, so deeply was the revery of
the one absorbed and sunk in the revery of the other.

Limpid purity. Hours wholly white; almost all alike. This sort of love
is a recollection of lily petals and the plumage of the dove.

The whole extent of the garden lay between them and the street. Every
time that Marius entered and left, he carefully adjusted the bar of the
gate in such a manner that no displacement was visible.

He usually went away about midnight, and returned to Courfeyrac's
lodgings. Courfeyrac said to Bahorel:--

"Would you believe it? Marius comes home nowadays at one o'clock in the

Bahorel replied:--

"What do you expect? There's always a petard in a seminary fellow."

At times, Courfeyrac folded his arms, assumed a serious air, and said to

"You are getting irregular in your habits, young man."

Courfeyrac, being a practical man, did not take in good part this
reflection of an invisible paradise upon Marius; he was not much in the
habit of concealed passions; it made him impatient, and now and then he
called upon Marius to come back to reality.

One morning, he threw him this admonition:--

"My dear fellow, you produce upon me the effect of being located in
the moon, the realm of dreams, the province of illusions, capital,
soap-bubble. Come, be a good boy, what's her name?"

But nothing could induce Marius "to talk." They might have torn out his
nails before one of the two sacred syllables of which that ineffable
name, Cosette, was composed. True love is as luminous as the dawn and as
silent as the tomb. Only, Courfeyrac saw this change in Marius, that his
taciturnity was of the beaming order.

During this sweet month of May, Marius and Cosette learned to know these
immense delights. To dispute and to say you for thou, simply that they
might say thou the better afterwards. To talk at great length with very
minute details, of persons in whom they took not the slightest interest
in the world; another proof that in that ravishing opera called love,
the libretto counts for almost nothing.

For Marius, to listen to Cosette discussing finery.

For Cosette, to listen to Marius talk in politics;

To listen, knee pressed to knee, to the carriages rolling along the Rue
de Babylone;

To gaze upon the same planet in space, or at the same glowworm gleaming
in the grass;

To hold their peace together; a still greater delight than conversation;

Etc., etc.

In the meantime, divers complications were approaching.

One evening, Marius was on his way to the rendezvous, by way of the
Boulevard des Invalides. He habitually walked with drooping head. As he
was on the point of turning the corner of the Rue Plumet, he heard some
one quite close to him say:--

"Good evening, Monsieur Marius."

He raised his head and recognized Eponine.

This produced a singular effect upon him. He had not thought of that
girl a single time since the day when she had conducted him to the Rue
Plumet, he had not seen her again, and she had gone completely out of
his mind. He had no reasons for anything but gratitude towards her, he
owed her his happiness, and yet, it was embarrassing to him to meet her.

It is an error to think that passion, when it is pure and happy, leads
man to a state of perfection; it simply leads him, as we have noted, to
a state of oblivion. In this situation, man forgets to be bad, but
he also forgets to be good. Gratitude, duty, matters essential and
important to be remembered, vanish. At any other time, Marius would have
behaved quite differently to Eponine. Absorbed in Cosette, he had not
even clearly put it to himself that this Eponine was named Eponine
Thenardier, and that she bore the name inscribed in his father's will,
that name, for which, but a few months before, he would have so ardently
sacrificed himself. We show Marius as he was. His father himself was
fading out of his soul to some extent, under the splendor of his love.

He replied with some embarrassment:--

"Ah! so it's you, Eponine?"

"Why do you call me you? Have I done anything to you?"

"No," he answered.

Certainly, he had nothing against her. Far from it. Only, he felt that
he could not do otherwise, now that he used thou to Cosette, than say
you to Eponine.

As he remained silent, she exclaimed:--


Then she paused. It seemed as though words failed that creature formerly
so heedless and so bold. She tried to smile and could not. Then she


Then she paused again, and remained with downcast eyes.

"Good evening, Mr. Marius," said she suddenly and abruptly; and away she


The following day was the 3d of June, 1832, a date which it is necessary
to indicate on account of the grave events which at that epoch hung on
the horizon of Paris in the state of lightning-charged clouds. Marius,
at nightfall, was pursuing the same road as on the preceding evening,
with the same thoughts of delight in his heart, when he caught sight
of Eponine approaching, through the trees of the boulevard. Two days
in succession--this was too much. He turned hastily aside, quitted the
boulevard, changed his course and went to the Rue Plumet through the Rue

This caused Eponine to follow him to the Rue Plumet, a thing which
she had not yet done. Up to that time, she had contented herself with
watching him on his passage along the boulevard without ever seeking to
encounter him. It was only on the evening before that she had attempted
to address him.

So Eponine followed him, without his suspecting the fact. She saw him
displace the bar and slip into the garden.

She approached the railing, felt of the bars one after the other, and
readily recognized the one which Marius had moved.

She murmured in a low voice and in gloomy accents:--

"None of that, Lisette!"

She seated herself on the underpinning of the railing, close beside the
bar, as though she were guarding it. It was precisely at the point where
the railing touched the neighboring wall. There was a dim nook there, in
which Eponine was entirely concealed.

She remained thus for more than an hour, without stirring and without
breathing, a prey to her thoughts.

Towards ten o'clock in the evening, one of the two or three persons who
passed through the Rue Plumet, an old, belated bourgeois who was making
haste to escape from this deserted spot of evil repute, as he skirted
the garden railings and reached the angle which it made with the wall,
heard a dull and threatening voice saying:--

"I'm no longer surprised that he comes here every evening."

The passer-by cast a glance around him, saw no one, dared not peer into
the black niche, and was greatly alarmed. He redoubled his pace.

This passer-by had reason to make haste, for a very few instants later,
six men, who were marching separately and at some distance from each
other, along the wall, and who might have been taken for a gray patrol,
entered the Rue Plumet.

The first to arrive at the garden railing halted, and waited for the
others; a second later, all six were reunited.

These men began to talk in a low voice.

"This is the place," said one of them.

"Is there a cab [dog] in the garden?" asked another.

"I don't know. In any case, I have fetched a ball that we'll make him

"Have you some putty to break the pane with?"


"The railing is old," interpolated a fifth, who had the voice of a

"So much the better," said the second who had spoken. "It won't screech
under the saw, and it won't be hard to cut."

The sixth, who had not yet opened his lips, now began to inspect
the gate, as Eponine had done an hour earlier, grasping each bar in
succession, and shaking them cautiously.

Thus he came to the bar which Marius had loosened. As he was on the
point of grasping this bar, a hand emerged abruptly from the darkness,
fell upon his arm; he felt himself vigorously thrust aside by a push
in the middle of his breast, and a hoarse voice said to him, but not

"There's a dog."

At the same moment, he perceived a pale girl standing before him.

The man underwent that shock which the unexpected always brings. He
bristled up in hideous wise; nothing is so formidable to behold as
ferocious beasts who are uneasy; their terrified air evokes terror.

He recoiled and stammered:--

"What jade is this?"

"Your daughter."

It was, in fact, Eponine, who had addressed Thenardier.

At the apparition of Eponine, the other five, that is to say,
Claquesous, Guelemer, Babet, Brujon, and Montparnasse had noiselessly
drawn near, without precipitation, without uttering a word, with the
sinister slowness peculiar to these men of the night.

Some indescribable but hideous tools were visible in their hands.
Guelemer held one of those pairs of curved pincers which prowlers call

"Ah, see here, what are you about there? What do you want with us? Are
you crazy?" exclaimed Thenardier, as loudly as one can exclaim and still
speak low; "what have you come here to hinder our work for?"

Eponine burst out laughing, and threw herself on his neck.

"I am here, little father, because I am here. Isn't a person allowed to
sit on the stones nowadays? It's you who ought not to be here. What
have you come here for, since it's a biscuit? I told Magnon so. There's
nothing to be done here. But embrace me, my good little father! It's a
long time since I've seen you! So you're out?"

Thenardier tried to disentangle himself from Eponine's arms, and

"That's good. You've embraced me. Yes, I'm out. I'm not in. Now, get
away with you."

But Eponine did not release her hold, and redoubled her caresses.

"But how did you manage it, little pa? You must have been very clever to
get out of that. Tell me about it! And my mother? Where is mother? Tell
me about mamma."

Thenardier replied:--

"She's well. I don't know, let me alone, and be off, I tell you."

"I won't go, so there now," pouted Eponine like a spoiled child; "you
send me off, and it's four months since I saw you, and I've hardly had
time to kiss you."

And she caught her father round the neck again.

"Come, now, this is stupid!" said Babet.

"Make haste!" said Guelemer, "the cops may pass."

The ventriloquist's voice repeated his distich:--

     "Nous n' sommes pas le jour de l'an,
                              "This isn't New Year's day
     A becoter papa, maman."
                               To peck at pa and ma."

Eponine turned to the five ruffians.

"Why, it's Monsieur Brujon. Good day, Monsieur Babet. Good day,
Monsieur Claquesous. Don't you know me, Monsieur Guelemer? How goes it,

"Yes, they know you!" ejaculated Thenardier. "But good day, good
evening, sheer off! leave us alone!"

"It's the hour for foxes, not for chickens," said Montparnasse.

"You see the job we have on hand here," added Babet.

Eponine caught Montparnasse's hand.

"Take care," said he, "you'll cut yourself, I've a knife open."

"My little Montparnasse," responded Eponine very gently, "you must have
confidence in people. I am the daughter of my father, perhaps. Monsieur
Babet, Monsieur Guelemer, I'm the person who was charged to investigate
this matter."

It is remarkable that Eponine did not talk slang. That frightful tongue
had become impossible to her since she had known Marius.

She pressed in her hand, small, bony, and feeble as that of a skeleton,
Guelemer's huge, coarse fingers, and continued:--

"You know well that I'm no fool. Ordinarily, I am believed. I have
rendered you service on various occasions. Well, I have made inquiries;
you will expose yourselves to no purpose, you see. I swear to you that
there is nothing in this house."

"There are lone women," said Guelemer.

"No, the persons have moved away."

"The candles haven't, anyway!" ejaculated Babet.

And he pointed out to Eponine, across the tops of the trees, a light
which was wandering about in the mansard roof of the pavilion. It was
Toussaint, who had stayed up to spread out some linen to dry.

Eponine made a final effort.

"Well," said she, "they're very poor folks, and it's a hovel where there
isn't a sou."

"Go to the devil!" cried Thenardier. "When we've turned the house upside
down and put the cellar at the top and the attic below, we'll tell
you what there is inside, and whether it's francs or sous or

And he pushed her aside with the intention of entering.

"My good friend, Mr. Montparnasse," said Eponine, "I entreat you, you
are a good fellow, don't enter."

"Take care, you'll cut yourself," replied Montparnasse.

Thenardier resumed in his decided tone:--

"Decamp, my girl, and leave men to their own affairs!"

Eponine released Montparnasse's hand, which she had grasped again, and

"So you mean to enter this house?"

"Rather!" grinned the ventriloquist.

Then she set her back against the gate, faced the six ruffians who were
armed to the teeth, and to whom the night lent the visages of demons,
and said in a firm, low voice:--

"Well, I don't mean that you shall."

They halted in amazement. The ventriloquist, however, finished his grin.
She went on:--

"Friends! Listen well. This is not what you want. Now I'm talking. In
the first place, if you enter this garden, if you lay a hand on this
gate, I'll scream, I'll beat on the door, I'll rouse everybody, I'll
have the whole six of you seized, I'll call the police."

"She'd do it, too," said Thenardier in a low tone to Brujon and the

She shook her head and added:--

"Beginning with my father!"

Thenardier stepped nearer.

"Not so close, my good man!" said she.

He retreated, growling between his teeth:--

"Why, what's the matter with her?"

And he added:--


She began to laugh in a terrible way:--

"As you like, but you shall not enter here. I'm not the daughter of
a dog, since I'm the daughter of a wolf. There are six of you, what
matters that to me? You are men. Well, I'm a woman. You don't frighten
me. I tell you that you shan't enter this house, because it doesn't suit
me. If you approach, I'll bark. I told you, I'm the dog, and I don't
care a straw for you. Go your way, you bore me! Go where you please, but
don't come here, I forbid it! You can use your knives. I'll use kicks;
it's all the same to me, come on!"

She advanced a pace nearer the ruffians, she was terrible, she burst out

"Pardine! I'm not afraid. I shall be hungry this summer, and I shall be
cold this winter. Aren't they ridiculous, these ninnies of men, to think
they can scare a girl! What! Scare? Oh, yes, much! Because you have
finical poppets of mistresses who hide under the bed when you put on a
big voice, forsooth! I ain't afraid of anything, that I ain't!"

She fastened her intent gaze upon Thenardier and said:--

"Not even of you, father!"

Then she continued, as she cast her blood-shot, spectre-like eyes upon
the ruffians in turn:--

"What do I care if I'm picked up to-morrow morning on the pavement of
the Rue Plumet, killed by the blows of my father's club, or whether I'm
found a year from now in the nets at Saint-Cloud or the Isle of Swans in
the midst of rotten old corks and drowned dogs?"

She was forced to pause; she was seized by a dry cough, her breath came
from her weak and narrow chest like the death-rattle.

She resumed:--

"I have only to cry out, and people will come, and then slap, bang!
There are six of you; I represent the whole world."

Thenardier made a movement towards her.

"Don't approach!" she cried.

He halted, and said gently:--

"Well, no; I won't approach, but don't speak so loud. So you intend to
hinder us in our work, my daughter? But we must earn our living all the
same. Have you no longer any kind feeling for your father?"

"You bother me," said Eponine.

"But we must live, we must eat--"


So saying, she seated herself on the underpinning of the fence and

       "Mon bras si dodu,            "My arm so plump,
        Ma jambe bien faite           My leg well formed,
        Et le temps perdu."           And time wasted."

She had set her elbow on her knee and her chin in her hand, and she
swung her foot with an air of indifference. Her tattered gown permitted
a view of her thin shoulder-blades. The neighboring street lantern
illuminated her profile and her attitude. Nothing more resolute and more
surprising could be seen.

The six rascals, speechless and gloomy at being held in check by a girl,
retreated beneath the shadow cast by the lantern, and held counsel with
furious and humiliated shrugs.

In the meantime she stared at them with a stern but peaceful air.

"There's something the matter with her," said Babet. "A reason. Is she
in love with the dog? It's a shame to miss this, anyway. Two women, an
old fellow who lodges in the back-yard, and curtains that ain't so bad
at the windows. The old cove must be a Jew. I think the job's a good

"Well, go in, then, the rest of you," exclaimed Montparnasse. "Do the
job. I'll stay here with the girl, and if she fails us--"

He flashed the knife, which he held open in his hand, in the light of
the lantern.

Thenardier said not a word, and seemed ready for whatever the rest

Brujon, who was somewhat of an oracle, and who had, as the reader knows,
"put up the job," had not as yet spoken. He seemed thoughtful. He had
the reputation of not sticking at anything, and it was known that he
had plundered a police post simply out of bravado. Besides this he made
verses and songs, which gave him great authority.

Babet interrogated him:--

"You say nothing, Brujon?"

Brujon remained silent an instant longer, then he shook his head in
various ways, and finally concluded to speak:--

"See here; this morning I came across two sparrows fighting, this
evening I jostled a woman who was quarrelling. All that's bad. Let's

They went away.

As they went, Montparnasse muttered:--

"Never mind! if they had wanted, I'd have cut her throat."

Babet responded

"I wouldn't. I don't hit a lady."

At the corner of the street they halted and exchanged the following
enigmatical dialogue in a low tone:--

"Where shall we go to sleep to-night?"

"Under Pantin [Paris]."

"Have you the key to the gate, Thenardier?"


Eponine, who never took her eyes off of them, saw them retreat by the
road by which they had come. She rose and began to creep after them
along the walls and the houses. She followed them thus as far as the

There they parted, and she saw these six men plunge into the gloom,
where they appeared to melt away.


After the departure of the ruffians, the Rue Plumet resumed its
tranquil, nocturnal aspect. That which had just taken place in this
street would not have astonished a forest. The lofty trees, the copses,
the heaths, the branches rudely interlaced, the tall grass, exist in
a sombre manner; the savage swarming there catches glimpses of sudden
apparitions of the invisible; that which is below man distinguishes,
through the mists, that which is beyond man; and the things of which we
living beings are ignorant there meet face to face in the night. Nature,
bristling and wild, takes alarm at certain approaches in which she
fancies that she feels the supernatural. The forces of the gloom know
each other, and are strangely balanced by each other. Teeth and claws
fear what they cannot grasp. Blood-drinking bestiality, voracious
appetites, hunger in search of prey, the armed instincts of nails
and jaws which have for source and aim the belly, glare and smell out
uneasily the impassive spectral forms straying beneath a shroud, erect
in its vague and shuddering robe, and which seem to them to live with
a dead and terrible life. These brutalities, which are only matter,
entertain a confused fear of having to deal with the immense obscurity
condensed into an unknown being. A black figure barring the way stops
the wild beast short. That which emerges from the cemetery intimidates
and disconcerts that which emerges from the cave; the ferocious fear the
sinister; wolves recoil when they encounter a ghoul.


While this sort of a dog with a human face was mounting guard over the
gate, and while the six ruffians were yielding to a girl, Marius was by
Cosette's side.

Never had the sky been more studded with stars and more charming, the
trees more trembling, the odor of the grass more penetrating; never had
the birds fallen asleep among the leaves with a sweeter noise; never had
all the harmonies of universal serenity responded more thoroughly to the
inward music of love; never had Marius been more captivated, more happy,
more ecstatic.

But he had found Cosette sad; Cosette had been weeping. Her eyes were

This was the first cloud in that wonderful dream.

Marius' first word had been: "What is the matter?"

And she had replied: "This."

Then she had seated herself on the bench near the steps, and while he
tremblingly took his place beside her, she had continued:--

"My father told me this morning to hold myself in readiness, because he
has business, and we may go away from here."

Marius shivered from head to foot.

When one is at the end of one's life, to die means to go away; when one
is at the beginning of it, to go away means to die.

For the last six weeks, Marius had little by little, slowly, by degrees,
taken possession of Cosette each day. As we have already explained, in
the case of first love, the soul is taken long before the body; later
on, one takes the body long before the soul; sometimes one does not take
the soul at all; the Faublas and the Prudhommes add: "Because there is
none"; but the sarcasm is, fortunately, a blasphemy. So Marius possessed
Cosette, as spirits possess, but he enveloped her with all his soul, and
seized her jealously with incredible conviction. He possessed her smile,
her breath, her perfume, the profound radiance of her blue eyes, the
sweetness of her skin when he touched her hand, the charming mark which
she had on her neck, all her thoughts. Therefore, he possessed all
Cosette's dreams.

He incessantly gazed at, and he sometimes touched lightly with his
breath, the short locks on the nape of her neck, and he declared to
himself that there was not one of those short hairs which did not belong
to him, Marius. He gazed upon and adored the things that she wore, her
knot of ribbon, her gloves, her sleeves, her shoes, her cuffs, as sacred
objects of which he was the master. He dreamed that he was the lord of
those pretty shell combs which she wore in her hair, and he even said to
himself, in confused and suppressed stammerings of voluptuousness which
did not make their way to the light, that there was not a ribbon of her
gown, not a mesh in her stockings, not a fold in her bodice, which was
not his. Beside Cosette he felt himself beside his own property, his
own thing, his own despot and his slave. It seemed as though they had
so intermingled their souls, that it would have been impossible to tell
them apart had they wished to take them back again.--"This is mine."
"No, it is mine." "I assure you that you are mistaken. This is my
property." "What you are taking as your own is myself."--Marius was
something that made a part of Cosette, and Cosette was something which
made a part of Marius. Marius felt Cosette within him. To have Cosette,
to possess Cosette, this, to him, was not to be distinguished from
breathing. It was in the midst of this faith, of this intoxication, of
this virgin possession, unprecedented and absolute, of this sovereignty,
that these words: "We are going away," fell suddenly, at a blow, and
that the harsh voice of reality cried to him: "Cosette is not yours!"

Marius awoke. For six weeks Marius had been living, as we have said,
outside of life; those words, going away! caused him to re-enter it

He found not a word to say. Cosette merely felt that his hand was very
cold. She said to him in her turn: "What is the matter?"

He replied in so low a tone that Cosette hardly heard him:--

"I did not understand what you said."

She began again:--

"This morning my father told me to settle all my little affairs and to
hold myself in readiness, that he would give me his linen to put in a
trunk, that he was obliged to go on a journey, that we were to go away,
that it is necessary to have a large trunk for me and a small one for
him, and that all is to be ready in a week from now, and that we might
go to England."

"But this is outrageous!" exclaimed Marius.

It is certain, that, at that moment, no abuse of power, no violence, not
one of the abominations of the worst tyrants, no action of Busiris, of
Tiberius, or of Henry VIII., could have equalled this in atrocity,
in the opinion of Marius; M. Fauchelevent taking his daughter off to
England because he had business there.

He demanded in a weak voice:--

"And when do you start?"

"He did not say when."

"And when shall you return?"

"He did not say when."

Marius rose and said coldly:--

"Cosette, shall you go?"

Cosette turned toward him her beautiful eyes, all filled with anguish,
and replied in a sort of bewilderment:--


"To England. Shall you go?"

"Why do you say you to me?"

"I ask you whether you will go?"

"What do you expect me to do?" she said, clasping her hands.

"So, you will go?"

"If my father goes."

"So, you will go?"

Cosette took Marius' hand, and pressed it without replying.

"Very well," said Marius, "then I will go elsewhere."

Cosette felt rather than understood the meaning of these words.
She turned so pale that her face shone white through the gloom. She

"What do you mean?"

Marius looked at her, then raised his eyes to heaven, and answered:

When his eyes fell again, he saw Cosette smiling at him. The smile of a
woman whom one loves possesses a visible radiance, even at night.

"How silly we are! Marius, I have an idea."

"What is it?"

"If we go away, do you go too! I will tell you where! Come and join me
wherever I am."

Marius was now a thoroughly roused man. He had fallen back into reality.
He cried to Cosette:--

"Go away with you! Are you mad? Why, I should have to have money, and I
have none! Go to England? But I am in debt now, I owe, I don't know how
much, more than ten louis to Courfeyrac, one of my friends with whom you
are not acquainted! I have an old hat which is not worth three francs,
I have a coat which lacks buttons in front, my shirt is all ragged, my
elbows are torn, my boots let in the water; for the last six weeks I
have not thought about it, and I have not told you about it. You only
see me at night, and you give me your love; if you were to see me in the
daytime, you would give me a sou! Go to England! Eh! I haven't enough to
pay for a passport!"

He threw himself against a tree which was close at hand, erect, his brow
pressed close to the bark, feeling neither the wood which flayed his
skin, nor the fever which was throbbing in his temples, and there he
stood motionless, on the point of falling, like the statue of despair.

He remained a long time thus. One could remain for eternity in such
abysses. At last he turned round. He heard behind him a faint stifled
noise, which was sweet yet sad.

It was Cosette sobbing.

She had been weeping for more than two hours beside Marius as he

He came to her, fell at her knees, and slowly prostrating himself, he
took the tip of her foot which peeped out from beneath her robe, and
kissed it.

She let him have his way in silence. There are moments when a woman
accepts, like a sombre and resigned goddess, the religion of love.

"Do not weep," he said.

She murmured:--

"Not when I may be going away, and you cannot come!"

He went on:--

"Do you love me?"

She replied, sobbing, by that word from paradise which is never more
charming than amid tears:--

"I adore you!"

He continued in a tone which was an indescribable caress:--

"Do not weep. Tell me, will you do this for me, and cease to weep?"

"Do you love me?" said she.

He took her hand.

"Cosette, I have never given my word of honor to any one, because my
word of honor terrifies me. I feel that my father is by my side. Well, I
give you my most sacred word of honor, that if you go away I shall die."

In the tone with which he uttered these words there lay a melancholy so
solemn and so tranquil, that Cosette trembled. She felt that chill which
is produced by a true and gloomy thing as it passes by. The shock made
her cease weeping.

"Now, listen," said he, "do not expect me to-morrow."


"Do not expect me until the day after to-morrow."

"Oh! Why?"

"You will see."

"A day without seeing you! But that is impossible!"

"Let us sacrifice one day in order to gain our whole lives, perhaps."

And Marius added in a low tone and in an aside:--

"He is a man who never changes his habits, and he has never received any
one except in the evening."

"Of what man are you speaking?" asked Cosette.

"I? I said nothing."

"What do you hope, then?"

"Wait until the day after to-morrow."

"You wish it?"

"Yes, Cosette."

She took his head in both her hands, raising herself on tiptoe in order
to be on a level with him, and tried to read his hope in his eyes.

Marius resumed:--

"Now that I think of it, you ought to know my address: something might
happen, one never knows; I live with that friend named Courfeyrac, Rue
de la Verrerie, No. 16."

He searched in his pocket, pulled out his penknife, and with the blade
he wrote on the plaster of the wall:--

"16 Rue de la Verrerie."

In the meantime, Cosette had begun to gaze into his eyes once more.

"Tell me your thought, Marius; you have some idea. Tell it to me. Oh!
tell me, so that I may pass a pleasant night."

"This is my idea: that it is impossible that God should mean to part us.
Wait; expect me the day after to-morrow."

"What shall I do until then?" said Cosette. "You are outside, you go,
and come! How happy men are! I shall remain entirely alone! Oh! How sad
I shall be! What is it that you are going to do to-morrow evening? tell

"I am going to try something."

"Then I will pray to God and I will think of you here, so that you may
be successful. I will question you no further, since you do not wish it.
You are my master. I shall pass the evening to-morrow in singing that
music from Euryanthe that you love, and that you came one evening to
listen to, outside my shutters. But day after to-morrow you will come
early. I shall expect you at dusk, at nine o'clock precisely, I warn
you. Mon Dieu! how sad it is that the days are so long! On the stroke of
nine, do you understand, I shall be in the garden."

"And I also."

And without having uttered it, moved by the same thought, impelled by
those electric currents which place lovers in continual communication,
both being intoxicated with delight even in their sorrow, they fell into
each other's arms, without perceiving that their lips met while their
uplifted eyes, overflowing with rapture and full of tears, gazed upon
the stars.

When Marius went forth, the street was deserted. This was the moment
when Eponine was following the ruffians to the boulevard.

While Marius had been dreaming with his head pressed to the tree, an
idea had crossed his mind; an idea, alas! that he himself judged to be
senseless and impossible. He had come to a desperate decision.


At that epoch, Father Gillenormand was well past his ninety-first
birthday. He still lived with Mademoiselle Gillenormand in the Rue des
Filles-du-Calvaire, No. 6, in the old house which he owned. He was, as
the reader will remember, one of those antique old men who await death
perfectly erect, whom age bears down without bending, and whom even
sorrow cannot curve.

Still, his daughter had been saying for some time: "My father is
sinking." He no longer boxed the maids' ears; he no longer thumped
the landing-place so vigorously with his cane when Basque was slow in
opening the door. The Revolution of July had exasperated him for the
space of barely six months. He had viewed, almost tranquilly, that
coupling of words, in the Moniteur: M. Humblot-Conte, peer of France.
The fact is, that the old man was deeply dejected. He did not bend, he
did not yield; this was no more a characteristic of his physical than
of his moral nature, but he felt himself giving way internally. For four
years he had been waiting for Marius, with his foot firmly planted, that
is the exact word, in the conviction that that good-for-nothing young
scamp would ring at his door some day or other; now he had reached
the point, where, at certain gloomy hours, he said to himself, that
if Marius made him wait much longer--It was not death that was
insupportable to him; it was the idea that perhaps he should never see
Marius again. The idea of never seeing Marius again had never entered
his brain until that day; now the thought began to recur to him, and
it chilled him. Absence, as is always the case in genuine and natural
sentiments, had only served to augment the grandfather's love for the
ungrateful child, who had gone off like a flash. It is during December
nights, when the cold stands at ten degrees, that one thinks oftenest of
the son.

M. Gillenormand was, or thought himself, above all things, incapable
of taking a single step, he--the grandfather, towards his grandson; "I
would die rather," he said to himself. He did not consider himself
as the least to blame; but he thought of Marius only with profound
tenderness, and the mute despair of an elderly, kindly old man who is
about to vanish in the dark.

He began to lose his teeth, which added to his sadness.

M. Gillenormand, without however acknowledging it to himself, for it
would have rendered him furious and ashamed, had never loved a mistress
as he loved Marius.

He had had placed in his chamber, opposite the head of his bed, so that
it should be the first thing on which his eyes fell on waking, an
old portrait of his other daughter, who was dead, Madame Pontmercy,
a portrait which had been taken when she was eighteen. He gazed
incessantly at that portrait. One day, he happened to say, as he gazed
upon it:--

"I think the likeness is strong."

"To my sister?" inquired Mademoiselle Gillenormand. "Yes, certainly."

"The old man added:--

"And to him also."

Once as he sat with his knees pressed together, and his eyes almost
closed, in a despondent attitude, his daughter ventured to say to him:--

"Father, are you as angry with him as ever?"

She paused, not daring to proceed further.

"With whom?" he demanded.

"With that poor Marius."

He raised his aged head, laid his withered and emaciated fist on the
table, and exclaimed in his most irritated and vibrating tone:--

"Poor Marius, do you say! That gentleman is a knave, a wretched
scoundrel, a vain little ingrate, a heartless, soulless, haughty, and
wicked man!"

And he turned away so that his daughter might not see the tear that
stood in his eye.

Three days later he broke a silence which had lasted four hours, to say
to his daughter point-blank:--

"I had the honor to ask Mademoiselle Gillenormand never to mention him
to me."

Aunt Gillenormand renounced every effort, and pronounced this acute
diagnosis: "My father never cared very much for my sister after her
folly. It is clear that he detests Marius."

"After her folly" meant: "after she had married the colonel."

However, as the reader has been able to conjecture, Mademoiselle
Gillenormand had failed in her attempt to substitute her favorite, the
officer of lancers, for Marius. The substitute, Theodule, had not been a
success. M. Gillenormand had not accepted the quid pro quo. A vacancy
in the heart does not accommodate itself to a stop-gap. Theodule, on his
side, though he scented the inheritance, was disgusted at the task
of pleasing. The goodman bored the lancer; and the lancer shocked the
goodman. Lieutenant Theodule was gay, no doubt, but a chatter-box,
frivolous, but vulgar; a high liver, but a frequenter of bad company; he
had mistresses, it is true, and he had a great deal to say about them,
it is true also; but he talked badly. All his good qualities had a
defect. M. Gillenormand was worn out with hearing him tell about the
love affairs that he had in the vicinity of the barracks in the Rue
de Babylone. And then, Lieutenant Gillenormand sometimes came in his
uniform, with the tricolored cockade. This rendered him downright
intolerable. Finally, Father Gillenormand had said to his daughter:
"I've had enough of that Theodule. I haven't much taste for warriors
in time of peace. Receive him if you choose. I don't know but I prefer
slashers to fellows that drag their swords. The clash of blades in
battle is less dismal, after all, than the clank of the scabbard on
the pavement. And then, throwing out your chest like a bully and
lacing yourself like a girl, with stays under your cuirass, is doubly
ridiculous. When one is a veritable man, one holds equally aloof
from swagger and from affected airs. He is neither a blusterer nor a
finnicky-hearted man. Keep your Theodule for yourself."

It was in vain that his daughter said to him: "But he is your
grandnephew, nevertheless,"--it turned out that M. Gillenormand, who
was a grandfather to the very finger-tips, was not in the least a

In fact, as he had good sense, and as he had compared the two, Theodule
had only served to make him regret Marius all the more.

One evening,--it was the 24th of June, which did not prevent Father
Gillenormand having a rousing fire on the hearth,--he had dismissed his
daughter, who was sewing in a neighboring apartment. He was alone in
his chamber, amid its pastoral scenes, with his feet propped on the
andirons, half enveloped in his huge screen of coromandel lacquer, with
its nine leaves, with his elbow resting on a table where burned two
candles under a green shade, engulfed in his tapestry armchair, and in
his hand a book which he was not reading. He was dressed, according
to his wont, like an incroyable, and resembled an antique portrait by
Garat. This would have made people run after him in the street, had not
his daughter covered him up, whenever he went out, in a vast bishop's
wadded cloak, which concealed his attire. At home, he never wore a
dressing gown, except when he rose and retired. "It gives one a look of
age," said he.

Father Gillenormand was thinking of Marius lovingly and bitterly; and,
as usual, bitterness predominated. His tenderness once soured always
ended by boiling and turning to indignation. He had reached the point
where a man tries to make up his mind and to accept that which rends his
heart. He was explaining to himself that there was no longer any reason
why Marius should return, that if he intended to return, he should
have done it long ago, that he must renounce the idea. He was trying to
accustom himself to the thought that all was over, and that he should
die without having beheld "that gentleman" again. But his whole nature
revolted; his aged paternity would not consent to this. "Well!" said
he,--this was his doleful refrain,--"he will not return!" His bald head
had fallen upon his breast, and he fixed a melancholy and irritated gaze
upon the ashes on his hearth.

In the very midst of his revery, his old servant Basque entered, and

"Can Monsieur receive M. Marius?"

The old man sat up erect, pallid, and like a corpse which rises under
the influence of a galvanic shock. All his blood had retreated to his
heart. He stammered:--

"M. Marius what?"

"I don't know," replied Basque, intimidated and put out of countenance
by his master's air; "I have not seen him. Nicolette came in and said to
me: 'There's a young man here; say that it is M. Marius.'"

Father Gillenormand stammered in a low voice:--

"Show him in."

And he remained in the same attitude, with shaking head, and his eyes
fixed on the door. It opened once more. A young man entered. It was

Marius halted at the door, as though waiting to be bidden to enter.

His almost squalid attire was not perceptible in the obscurity caused by
the shade. Nothing could be seen but his calm, grave, but strangely sad

It was several minutes before Father Gillenormand, dulled with amazement
and joy, could see anything except a brightness as when one is in the
presence of an apparition. He was on the point of swooning; he saw
Marius through a dazzling light. It certainly was he, it certainly was

At last! After the lapse of four years! He grasped him entire, so to
speak, in a single glance. He found him noble, handsome, distinguished,
well-grown, a complete man, with a suitable mien and a charming air. He
felt a desire to open his arms, to call him, to fling himself forward;
his heart melted with rapture, affectionate words swelled and overflowed
his breast; at length all his tenderness came to the light and reached
his lips, and, by a contrast which constituted the very foundation of
his nature, what came forth was harshness. He said abruptly:--

"What have you come here for?"

Marius replied with embarrassment:--


M. Gillenormand would have liked to have Marius throw himself into his
arms. He was displeased with Marius and with himself. He was conscious
that he was brusque, and that Marius was cold. It caused the goodman
unendurable and irritating anxiety to feel so tender and forlorn
within, and only to be able to be hard outside. Bitterness returned. He
interrupted Marius in a peevish tone:--

"Then why did you come?"

That "then" signified: If you do not come to embrace me. Marius looked
at his grandfather, whose pallor gave him a face of marble.


"Have you come to beg my pardon? Do you acknowledge your faults?"

He thought he was putting Marius on the right road, and that "the child"
would yield. Marius shivered; it was the denial of his father that was
required of him; he dropped his eyes and replied:--

"No, sir."

"Then," exclaimed the old man impetuously, with a grief that was
poignant and full of wrath, "what do you want of me?"

Marius clasped his hands, advanced a step, and said in a feeble and
trembling voice:--

"Sir, have pity on me."

These words touched M. Gillenormand; uttered a little sooner, they would
have rendered him tender, but they came too late. The grandfather rose;
he supported himself with both hands on his cane; his lips were white,
his brow wavered, but his lofty form towered above Marius as he bowed.

"Pity on you, sir! It is youth demanding pity of the old man of
ninety-one! You are entering into life, I am leaving it; you go to the
play, to balls, to the cafe, to the billiard-hall; you have wit, you
please the women, you are a handsome fellow; as for me, I spit on my
brands in the heart of summer; you are rich with the only riches that
are really such, I possess all the poverty of age; infirmity, isolation!
You have your thirty-two teeth, a good digestion, bright eyes, strength,
appetite, health, gayety, a forest of black hair; I have no longer even
white hair, I have lost my teeth, I am losing my legs, I am losing my
memory; there are three names of streets that I confound incessantly,
the Rue Charlot, the Rue du Chaume, and the Rue Saint-Claude, that
is what I have come to; you have before you the whole future, full of
sunshine, and I am beginning to lose my sight, so far am I advancing
into the night; you are in love, that is a matter of course, I am
beloved by no one in all the world; and you ask pity of me! Parbleu!
Moliere forgot that. If that is the way you jest at the courthouse,
Messieurs the lawyers, I sincerely compliment you. You are droll."

And the octogenarian went on in a grave and angry voice:--

"Come, now, what do you want of me?"

"Sir," said Marius, "I know that my presence is displeasing to you, but
I have come merely to ask one thing of you, and then I shall go away

"You are a fool!" said the old man. "Who said that you were to go away?"

This was the translation of the tender words which lay at the bottom of
his heart:--

"Ask my pardon! Throw yourself on my neck!"

M. Gillenormand felt that Marius would leave him in a few moments, that
his harsh reception had repelled the lad, that his hardness was driving
him away; he said all this to himself, and it augmented his grief; and
as his grief was straightway converted into wrath, it increased his
harshness. He would have liked to have Marius understand, and Marius did
not understand, which made the goodman furious.

He began again:--

"What! you deserted me, your grandfather, you left my house to go no
one knows whither, you drove your aunt to despair, you went off, it is
easily guessed, to lead a bachelor life; it's more convenient, to play
the dandy, to come in at all hours, to amuse yourself; you have given me
no signs of life, you have contracted debts without even telling me to
pay them, you have become a smasher of windows and a blusterer, and, at
the end of four years, you come to me, and that is all you have to say
to me!"

This violent fashion of driving a grandson to tenderness was productive
only of silence on the part of Marius. M. Gillenormand folded his arms;
a gesture which with him was peculiarly imperious, and apostrophized
Marius bitterly:--

"Let us make an end of this. You have come to ask something of me, you
say? Well, what? What is it? Speak!"

"Sir," said Marius, with the look of a man who feels that he is falling
over a precipice, "I have come to ask your permission to marry."

M. Gillenormand rang the bell. Basque opened the door half-way.

"Call my daughter."

A second later, the door was opened once more, Mademoiselle Gillenormand
did not enter, but showed herself; Marius was standing, mute, with
pendant arms and the face of a criminal; M. Gillenormand was pacing back
and forth in the room. He turned to his daughter and said to her:--

"Nothing. It is Monsieur Marius. Say good day to him. Monsieur wishes to
marry. That's all. Go away."

The curt, hoarse sound of the old man's voice announced a strange degree
of excitement. The aunt gazed at Marius with a frightened air, hardly
appeared to recognize him, did not allow a gesture or a syllable to
escape her, and disappeared at her father's breath more swiftly than a
straw before the hurricane.

In the meantime, Father Gillenormand had returned and placed his back
against the chimney-piece once more.

"You marry! At one and twenty! You have arranged that! You have only
a permission to ask! a formality. Sit down, sir. Well, you have had a
revolution since I had the honor to see you last. The Jacobins got the
upper hand. You must have been delighted. Are you not a Republican since
you are a Baron? You can make that agree. The Republic makes a good
sauce for the barony. Are you one of those decorated by July? Have you
taken the Louvre at all, sir? Quite near here, in the Rue Saint-Antoine,
opposite the Rue des Nonamdieres, there is a cannon-ball incrusted in
the wall of the third story of a house with this inscription: 'July
28th, 1830.' Go take a look at that. It produces a good effect. Ah!
those friends of yours do pretty things. By the way, aren't they
erecting a fountain in the place of the monument of M. le Duc de Berry?
So you want to marry? Whom? Can one inquire without indiscretion?"

He paused, and, before Marius had time to answer, he added violently:--

"Come now, you have a profession? A fortune made? How much do you earn
at your trade of lawyer?"

"Nothing," said Marius, with a sort of firmness and resolution that was
almost fierce.

"Nothing? Then all that you have to live upon is the twelve hundred
livres that I allow you?"

Marius did not reply. M. Gillenormand continued:--

"Then I understand the girl is rich?"

"As rich as I am."

"What! No dowry?"



"I think not."

"Utterly naked! What's the father?"

"I don't know."

"And what's her name?"

"Mademoiselle Fauchelevent."



"Pttt!" ejaculated the old gentleman.

"Sir!" exclaimed Marius.

M. Gillenormand interrupted him with the tone of a man who is speaking
to himself:--

"That's right, one and twenty years of age, no profession, twelve
hundred livres a year, Madame la Baronne de Pontmercy will go and
purchase a couple of sous' worth of parsley from the fruiterer."

"Sir," repeated Marius, in the despair at the last hope, which was
vanishing, "I entreat you! I conjure you in the name of Heaven, with
clasped hands, sir, I throw myself at your feet, permit me to marry

The old man burst into a shout of strident and mournful laughter,
coughing and laughing at the same time.

"Ah! ah! ah! You said to yourself: 'Pardine! I'll go hunt up that old
blockhead, that absurd numskull! What a shame that I'm not twenty-five!
How I'd treat him to a nice respectful summons! How nicely I'd get along
without him! It's nothing to me, I'd say to him: "You're only too happy
to see me, you old idiot, I want to marry, I desire to wed Mamselle
No-matter-whom, daughter of Monsieur No-matter-what, I have no shoes,
she has no chemise, that just suits; I want to throw my career, my
future, my youth, my life to the dogs; I wish to take a plunge into
wretchedness with a woman around my neck, that's an idea, and you must
consent to it!" and the old fossil will consent.' Go, my lad, do as
you like, attach your paving-stone, marry your Pousselevent, your
Coupelevent--Never, sir, never!"



At the tone in which that "never" was uttered, Marius lost all hope. He
traversed the chamber with slow steps, with bowed head, tottering and
more like a dying man than like one merely taking his departure. M.
Gillenormand followed him with his eyes, and at the moment when the
door opened, and Marius was on the point of going out, he advanced four
paces, with the senile vivacity of impetuous and spoiled old gentlemen,
seized Marius by the collar, brought him back energetically into the
room, flung him into an armchair and said to him:--

"Tell me all about it!"

"It was that single word "father" which had effected this revolution.

Marius stared at him in bewilderment. M. Gillenormand's mobile face was
no longer expressive of anything but rough and ineffable good-nature.
The grandsire had given way before the grandfather.

"Come, see here, speak, tell me about your love affairs, jabber, tell me
everything! Sapristi! how stupid young folks are!"

"Father--" repeated Marius.

The old man's entire countenance lighted up with indescribable radiance.

"Yes, that's right, call me father, and you'll see!"

There was now something so kind, so gentle, so openhearted, and so
paternal in this brusqueness, that Marius, in the sudden transition from
discouragement to hope, was stunned and intoxicated by it, as it were.
He was seated near the table, the light from the candles brought out
the dilapidation of his costume, which Father Gillenormand regarded with

"Well, father--" said Marius.

"Ah, by the way," interrupted M. Gillenormand, "you really have not a
penny then? You are dressed like a pickpocket."

He rummaged in a drawer, drew forth a purse, which he laid on the table:
"Here are a hundred louis, buy yourself a hat."

"Father," pursued Marius, "my good father, if you only knew! I love her.
You cannot imagine it; the first time I saw her was at the Luxembourg,
she came there; in the beginning, I did not pay much heed to her, and
then, I don't know how it came about, I fell in love with her. Oh! how
unhappy that made me! Now, at last, I see her every day, at her own
home, her father does not know it, just fancy, they are going away, it
is in the garden that we meet, in the evening, her father means to take
her to England, then I said to myself: 'I'll go and see my grandfather
and tell him all about the affair. I should go mad first, I should die,
I should fall ill, I should throw myself into the water. I absolutely
must marry her, since I should go mad otherwise.' This is the whole
truth, and I do not think that I have omitted anything. She lives in a
garden with an iron fence, in the Rue Plumet. It is in the neighborhood
of the Invalides."

Father Gillenormand had seated himself, with a beaming countenance,
beside Marius. As he listened to him and drank in the sound of his
voice, he enjoyed at the same time a protracted pinch of snuff. At
the words "Rue Plumet" he interrupted his inhalation and allowed the
remainder of his snuff to fall upon his knees.

"The Rue Plumet, the Rue Plumet, did you say?--Let us see!--Are there
not barracks in that vicinity?--Why, yes, that's it. Your cousin
Theodule has spoken to me about it. The lancer, the officer. A gay girl,
my good friend, a gay girl!--Pardieu, yes, the Rue Plumet. It is what
used to be called the Rue Blomet.--It all comes back to me now. I have
heard of that little girl of the iron railing in the Rue Plumet. In a
garden, a Pamela. Your taste is not bad. She is said to be a very tidy
creature. Between ourselves, I think that simpleton of a lancer has been
courting her a bit. I don't know where he did it. However, that's not
to the purpose. Besides, he is not to be believed. He brags, Marius! I
think it quite proper that a young man like you should be in love. It's
the right thing at your age. I like you better as a lover than as a
Jacobin. I like you better in love with a petticoat, sapristi! with
twenty petticoats, than with M. de Robespierre. For my part, I will do
myself the justice to say, that in the line of sans-culottes, I have
never loved any one but women. Pretty girls are pretty girls, the deuce!
There's no objection to that. As for the little one, she receives you
without her father's knowledge. That's in the established order of
things. I have had adventures of that same sort myself. More than one.
Do you know what is done then? One does not take the matter ferociously;
one does not precipitate himself into the tragic; one does not make
one's mind to marriage and M. le Maire with his scarf. One simply
behaves like a fellow of spirit. One shows good sense. Slip along,
mortals; don't marry. You come and look up your grandfather, who is a
good-natured fellow at bottom, and who always has a few rolls of louis
in an old drawer; you say to him: 'See here, grandfather.' And the
grandfather says: 'That's a simple matter. Youth must amuse itself, and
old age must wear out. I have been young, you will be old. Come, my boy,
you shall pass it on to your grandson. Here are two hundred pistoles.
Amuse yourself, deuce take it!' Nothing better! That's the way the
affair should be treated. You don't marry, but that does no harm. You
understand me?"

Marius, petrified and incapable of uttering a syllable, made a sign with
his head that he did not.

The old man burst out laughing, winked his aged eye, gave him a slap on
the knee, stared him full in the face with a mysterious and beaming air,
and said to him, with the tenderest of shrugs of the shoulder:--

"Booby! make her your mistress."

Marius turned pale. He had understood nothing of what his grandfather
had just said. This twaddle about the Rue Blomet, Pamela, the barracks,
the lancer, had passed before Marius like a dissolving view. Nothing of
all that could bear any reference to Cosette, who was a lily. The good
man was wandering in his mind. But this wandering terminated in words
which Marius did understand, and which were a mortal insult to Cosette.
Those words, "make her your mistress," entered the heart of the strict
young man like a sword.

He rose, picked up his hat which lay on the floor, and walked to the
door with a firm, assured step. There he turned round, bowed deeply to
his grandfather, raised his head erect again, and said:--

"Five years ago you insulted my father; to-day you have insulted my
wife. I ask nothing more of you, sir. Farewell."

Father Gillenormand, utterly confounded, opened his mouth, extended his
arms, tried to rise, and before he could utter a word, the door closed
once more, and Marius had disappeared.

The old man remained for several minutes motionless and as though
struck by lightning, without the power to speak or breathe, as though
a clenched fist grasped his throat. At last he tore himself from his
arm-chair, ran, so far as a man can run at ninety-one, to the door,
opened it, and cried:--

"Help! Help!"

His daughter made her appearance, then the domestics. He began again,
with a pitiful rattle: "Run after him! Bring him back! What have I done
to him? He is mad! He is going away! Ah! my God! Ah! my God! This time
he will not come back!"

He went to the window which looked out on the street, threw it open with
his aged and palsied hands, leaned out more than half-way, while Basque
and Nicolette held him behind, and shouted:--

"Marius! Marius! Marius! Marius!"

But Marius could no longer hear him, for at that moment he was turning
the corner of the Rue Saint-Louis.

The octogenarian raised his hands to his temples two or three times
with an expression of anguish, recoiled tottering, and fell back into an
arm-chair, pulseless, voiceless, tearless, with quivering head and lips
which moved with a stupid air, with nothing in his eyes and nothing
any longer in his heart except a gloomy and profound something which
resembled night.



That same day, towards four o'clock in the afternoon, Jean Valjean was
sitting alone on the back side of one of the most solitary slopes in the
Champ-de-Mars. Either from prudence, or from a desire to meditate, or
simply in consequence of one of those insensible changes of habit which
gradually introduce themselves into the existence of every one, he now
rarely went out with Cosette. He had on his workman's waistcoat,
and trousers of gray linen; and his long-visored cap concealed his

He was calm and happy now beside Cosette; that which had, for a time,
alarmed and troubled him had been dissipated; but for the last week or
two, anxieties of another nature had come up. One day, while walking
on the boulevard, he had caught sight of Thenardier; thanks to his
disguise, Thenardier had not recognized him; but since that day, Jean
Valjean had seen him repeatedly, and he was now certain that Thenardier
was prowling about in their neighborhood.

This had been sufficient to make him come to a decision.

Moreover, Paris was not tranquil: political troubles presented this
inconvenient feature, for any one who had anything to conceal in his
life, that the police had grown very uneasy and very suspicious, and
that while seeking to ferret out a man like Pepin or Morey, they might
very readily discover a man like Jean Valjean.

Jean Valjean had made up his mind to quit Paris, and even France, and go
over to England.

He had warned Cosette. He wished to set out before the end of the week.

He had seated himself on the slope in the Champ-de-Mars, turning over
all sorts of thoughts in his mind,--Thenardier, the police, the journey,
and the difficulty of procuring a passport.

He was troubled from all these points of view.

Last of all, an inexplicable circumstance which had just attracted his
attention, and from which he had not yet recovered, had added to his
state of alarm.

On the morning of that very day, when he alone of the household was
stirring, while strolling in the garden before Cosette's shutters
were open, he had suddenly perceived on the wall, the following line,
engraved, probably with a nail:--

16 Rue de la Verrerie.

This was perfectly fresh, the grooves in the ancient black mortar were
white, a tuft of nettles at the foot of the wall was powdered with the
fine, fresh plaster.

This had probably been written on the preceding night.

What was this? A signal for others? A warning for himself?

In any case, it was evident that the garden had been violated, and that
strangers had made their way into it.

He recalled the odd incidents which had already alarmed the household.

His mind was now filling in this canvas.

He took good care not to speak to Cosette of the line written on the
wall, for fear of alarming her.

In the midst of his preoccupations, he perceived, from a shadow cast by
the sun, that some one had halted on the crest of the slope immediately
behind him.

He was on the point of turning round, when a paper folded in four fell
upon his knees as though a hand had dropped it over his head.

He took the paper, unfolded it, and read these words written in large
characters, with a pencil:--


Jean Valjean sprang hastily to his feet; there was no one on the slope;
he gazed all around him and perceived a creature larger than a
child, not so large as a man, clad in a gray blouse and trousers of
dust-colored cotton velvet, who was jumping over the parapet and who
slipped into the moat of the Champde-Mars.

Jean Valjean returned home at once, in a very thoughtful mood.


Marius had left M. Gillenormand in despair. He had entered the house
with very little hope, and quitted it with immense despair.

However, and those who have observed the depths of the human heart will
understand this, the officer, the lancer, the ninny, Cousin Theodule,
had left no trace in his mind. Not the slightest. The dramatic poet
might, apparently, expect some complications from this revelation made
point-blank by the grandfather to the grandson. But what the drama would
gain thereby, truth would lose. Marius was at an age when one believes
nothing in the line of evil; later on comes the age when one believes
everything. Suspicions are nothing else than wrinkles. Early youth
has none of them. That which overwhelmed Othello glides innocuous over
Candide. Suspect Cosette! There are hosts of crimes which Marius could
sooner have committed.

He began to wander about the streets, the resource of those who suffer.
He thought of nothing, so far as he could afterwards remember. At two
o'clock in the morning he returned to Courfeyrac's quarters and flung
himself, without undressing, on his mattress. The sun was shining
brightly when he sank into that frightful leaden slumber which permits
ideas to go and come in the brain. When he awoke, he saw Courfeyrac,
Enjolras, Feuilly, and Combeferre standing in the room with their hats
on and all ready to go out.

Courfeyrac said to him:--

"Are you coming to General Lamarque's funeral?"

It seemed to him that Courfeyrac was speaking Chinese.

He went out some time after them. He put in his pocket the pistols which
Javert had given him at the time of the adventure on the 3d of February,
and which had remained in his hands. These pistols were still loaded. It
would be difficult to say what vague thought he had in his mind when he
took them with him.

All day long he prowled about, without knowing where he was going; it
rained at times, he did not perceive it; for his dinner, he purchased a
penny roll at a baker's, put it in his pocket and forgot it. It appears
that he took a bath in the Seine without being aware of it. There are
moments when a man has a furnace within his skull. Marius was passing
through one of those moments. He no longer hoped for anything; this
step he had taken since the preceding evening. He waited for night with
feverish impatience, he had but one idea clearly before his mind;--this
was, that at nine o'clock he should see Cosette. This last happiness
now constituted his whole future; after that, gloom. At intervals, as
he roamed through the most deserted boulevards, it seemed to him that he
heard strange noises in Paris. He thrust his head out of his revery and
said: "Is there fighting on hand?"

At nightfall, at nine o'clock precisely, as he had promised Cosette,
he was in the Rue Plumet. When he approached the grating he forgot
everything. It was forty-eight hours since he had seen Cosette; he was
about to behold her once more; every other thought was effaced, and
he felt only a profound and unheard-of joy. Those minutes in which one
lives centuries always have this sovereign and wonderful property, that
at the moment when they are passing they fill the heart completely.

Marius displaced the bar, and rushed headlong into the garden. Cosette
was not at the spot where she ordinarily waited for him. He traversed
the thicket, and approached the recess near the flight of steps: "She
is waiting for me there," said he. Cosette was not there. He raised his
eyes, and saw that the shutters of the house were closed. He made the
tour of the garden, the garden was deserted. Then he returned to
the house, and, rendered senseless by love, intoxicated, terrified,
exasperated with grief and uneasiness, like a master who returns home at
an evil hour, he tapped on the shutters. He knocked and knocked again,
at the risk of seeing the window open, and her father's gloomy face
make its appearance, and demand: "What do you want?" This was nothing in
comparison with what he dimly caught a glimpse of. When he had rapped,
he lifted up his voice and called Cosette.--"Cosette!" he cried;
"Cosette!" he repeated imperiously. There was no reply. All was over. No
one in the garden; no one in the house.

Marius fixed his despairing eyes on that dismal house, which was as
black and as silent as a tomb and far more empty. He gazed at the stone
seat on which he had passed so many adorable hours with Cosette. Then he
seated himself on the flight of steps, his heart filled with sweetness
and resolution, he blessed his love in the depths of his thought, and
he said to himself that, since Cosette was gone, all that there was left
for him was to die.

All at once he heard a voice which seemed to proceed from the street,
and which was calling to him through the trees:--

"Mr. Marius!"

He started to his feet.

"Hey?" said he.

"Mr. Marius, are you there?"


"Mr. Marius," went on the voice, "your friends are waiting for you at
the barricade of the Rue de la Chanvrerie."

This voice was not wholly unfamiliar to him. It resembled the hoarse,
rough voice of Eponine. Marius hastened to the gate, thrust aside the
movable bar, passed his head through the aperture, and saw some one who
appeared to him to be a young man, disappearing at a run into the gloom.


Jean Valjean's purse was of no use to M. Mabeuf. M. Mabeuf, in his
venerable, infantile austerity, had not accepted the gift of the stars;
he had not admitted that a star could coin itself into louis d'or. He
had not divined that what had fallen from heaven had come from Gavroche.
He had taken the purse to the police commissioner of the quarter, as
a lost article placed by the finder at the disposal of claimants. The
purse was actually lost. It is unnecessary to say that no one claimed
it, and that it did not succor M. Mabeuf.

Moreover, M. Mabeuf had continued his downward course.

His experiments on indigo had been no more successful in the Jardin des
Plantes than in his garden at Austerlitz. The year before he had owed
his housekeeper's wages; now, as we have seen, he owed three quarters
of his rent. The pawnshop had sold the plates of his Flora after the
expiration of thirteen months. Some coppersmith had made stewpans of
them. His copper plates gone, and being unable to complete even the
incomplete copies of his Flora which were in his possession, he had
disposed of the text, at a miserable price, as waste paper, to a
second-hand bookseller. Nothing now remained to him of his life's work.
He set to work to eat up the money for these copies. When he saw that
this wretched resource was becoming exhausted, he gave up his garden
and allowed it to run to waste. Before this, a long time before, he had
given up his two eggs and the morsel of beef which he ate from time
to time. He dined on bread and potatoes. He had sold the last of his
furniture, then all duplicates of his bedding, his clothing and his
blankets, then his herbariums and prints; but he still retained his most
precious books, many of which were of the greatest rarity, among others,
Les Quadrins Historiques de la Bible, edition of 1560; La Concordance
des Bibles, by Pierre de Besse; Les Marguerites de la Marguerite, of
Jean de La Haye, with a dedication to the Queen of Navarre; the book de
la Charge et Dignite de l'Ambassadeur, by the Sieur de Villiers
Hotman; a Florilegium Rabbinicum of 1644; a Tibullus of 1567, with this
magnificent inscription: Venetiis, in aedibus Manutianis; and lastly, a
Diogenes Laertius, printed at Lyons in 1644, which contained the famous
variant of the manuscript 411, thirteenth century, of the Vatican, and
those of the two manuscripts of Venice, 393 and 394, consulted with
such fruitful results by Henri Estienne, and all the passages in Doric
dialect which are only found in the celebrated manuscript of the twelfth
century belonging to the Naples Library. M. Mabeuf never had any fire
in his chamber, and went to bed at sundown, in order not to consume
any candles. It seemed as though he had no longer any neighbors: people
avoided him when he went out; he perceived the fact. The wretchedness of
a child interests a mother, the wretchedness of a young man interests a
young girl, the wretchedness of an old man interests no one. It is, of
all distresses, the coldest. Still, Father Mabeuf had not entirely lost
his childlike serenity. His eyes acquired some vivacity when they rested
on his books, and he smiled when he gazed at the Diogenes Laertius,
which was a unique copy. His bookcase with glass doors was the
only piece of furniture which he had kept beyond what was strictly

One day, Mother Plutarque said to him:--

"I have no money to buy any dinner."

What she called dinner was a loaf of bread and four or five potatoes.

"On credit?" suggested M. Mabeuf.

"You know well that people refuse me."

M. Mabeuf opened his bookcase, took a long look at all his books, one
after another, as a father obliged to decimate his children would gaze
upon them before making a choice, then seized one hastily, put it
in under his arm and went out. He returned two hours later, without
anything under his arm, laid thirty sous on the table, and said:--

"You will get something for dinner."

From that moment forth, Mother Plutarque saw a sombre veil, which was
never more lifted, descend over the old man's candid face.

On the following day, on the day after, and on the day after that, it
had to be done again.

M. Mabeuf went out with a book and returned with a coin. As the
second-hand dealers perceived that he was forced to sell, they purchased
of him for twenty sous that for which he had paid twenty francs,
sometimes at those very shops. Volume by volume, the whole library
went the same road. He said at times: "But I am eighty;" as though he
cherished some secret hope that he should arrive at the end of his days
before reaching the end of his books. His melancholy increased. Once,
however, he had a pleasure. He had gone out with a Robert Estienne,
which he had sold for thirty-five sous under the Quai Malaquais, and he
returned with an Aldus which he had bought for forty sous in the Rue des
Gres.--"I owe five sous," he said, beaming on Mother Plutarque. That day
he had no dinner.

He belonged to the Horticultural Society. His destitution became known
there. The president of the society came to see him, promised to
speak to the Minister of Agriculture and Commerce about him, and did
so.--"Why, what!" exclaimed the Minister, "I should think so! An old
savant! a botanist! an inoffensive man! Something must be done for him!"
On the following day, M. Mabeuf received an invitation to dine with the
Minister. Trembling with joy, he showed the letter to Mother Plutarque.
"We are saved!" said he. On the day appointed, he went to the Minister's
house. He perceived that his ragged cravat, his long, square coat, and
his waxed shoes astonished the ushers. No one spoke to him, not even the
Minister. About ten o'clock in the evening, while he was still waiting
for a word, he heard the Minister's wife, a beautiful woman in a
low-necked gown whom he had not ventured to approach, inquire: "Who is
that old gentleman?" He returned home on foot at midnight, in a driving
rain-storm. He had sold an Elzevir to pay for a carriage in which to go

He had acquired the habit of reading a few pages in his Diogenes
Laertius every night, before he went to bed. He knew enough Greek to
enjoy the peculiarities of the text which he owned. He had now no other
enjoyment. Several weeks passed. All at once, Mother Plutarque fell ill.
There is one thing sadder than having no money with which to buy bread
at the baker's and that is having no money to purchase drugs at the
apothecary's. One evening, the doctor had ordered a very expensive
potion. And the malady was growing worse; a nurse was required. M.
Mabeuf opened his bookcase; there was nothing there. The last volume had
taken its departure. All that was left to him was Diogenes Laertius.
He put this unique copy under his arm, and went out. It was the 4th of
June, 1832; he went to the Porte Saint-Jacques, to Royal's successor,
and returned with one hundred francs. He laid the pile of five-franc
pieces on the old serving-woman's nightstand, and returned to his
chamber without saying a word.

On the following morning, at dawn, he seated himself on the overturned
post in his garden, and he could be seen over the top of the hedge,
sitting the whole morning motionless, with drooping head, his eyes
vaguely fixed on the withered flower-beds. It rained at intervals; the
old man did not seem to perceive the fact.

In the afternoon, extraordinary noises broke out in Paris. They
resembled shots and the clamors of a multitude.

Father Mabeuf raised his head. He saw a gardener passing, and

"What is it?"

The gardener, spade on back, replied in the most unconcerned tone:--

"It is the riots."

"What riots?"

"Yes, they are fighting."

"Why are they fighting?"

"Ah, good Heavens!" ejaculated the gardener.

"In what direction?" went on M. Mabeuf.

"In the neighborhood of the Arsenal."

Father Mabeuf went to his room, took his hat, mechanically sought for a
book to place under his arm, found none, said: "Ah! truly!" and went off
with a bewildered air.



Of what is revolt composed? Of nothing and of everything. Of an
electricity disengaged, little by little, of a flame suddenly darting
forth, of a wandering force, of a passing breath. This breath encounters
heads which speak, brains which dream, souls which suffer, passions
which burn, wretchedness which howls, and bears them away.


At random. Athwart the state, the laws, athwart prosperity and the
insolence of others.

Irritated convictions, embittered enthusiasms, agitated indignations,
instincts of war which have been repressed, youthful courage which has
been exalted, generous blindness; curiosity, the taste for change,
the thirst for the unexpected, the sentiment which causes one to
take pleasure in reading the posters for the new play, and love,
the prompter's whistle, at the theatre; the vague hatreds, rancors,
disappointments, every vanity which thinks that destiny has bankrupted
it; discomfort, empty dreams, ambitious that are hedged about, whoever
hopes for a downfall, some outcome, in short, at the very bottom, the
rabble, that mud which catches fire,--such are the elements of revolt.
That which is grandest and that which is basest; the beings who prowl
outside of all bounds, awaiting an occasion, bohemians, vagrants,
vagabonds of the cross-roads, those who sleep at night in a desert of
houses with no other roof than the cold clouds of heaven, those who,
each day, demand their bread from chance and not from toil, the unknown
of poverty and nothingness, the bare-armed, the bare-footed, belong to
revolt. Whoever cherishes in his soul a secret revolt against any deed
whatever on the part of the state, of life or of fate, is ripe for riot,
and, as soon as it makes its appearance, he begins to quiver, and to
feel himself borne away with the whirlwind.

Revolt is a sort of waterspout in the social atmosphere which forms
suddenly in certain conditions of temperature, and which, as it eddies
about, mounts, descends, thunders, tears, razes, crushes, demolishes,
uproots, bearing with it great natures and small, the strong man and the
feeble mind, the tree trunk and the stalk of straw. Woe to him whom it
bears away as well as to him whom it strikes! It breaks the one against
the other.

It communicates to those whom it seizes an indescribable and
extraordinary power. It fills the first-comer with the force of events;
it converts everything into projectiles. It makes a cannon-ball of a
rough stone, and a general of a porter.

If we are to believe certain oracles of crafty political views, a little
revolt is desirable from the point of view of power. System: revolt
strengthens those governments which it does not overthrow. It puts
the army to the test; it consecrates the bourgeoisie, it draws out
the muscles of the police; it demonstrates the force of the social
framework. It is an exercise in gymnastics; it is almost hygiene. Power
is in better health after a revolt, as a man is after a good rubbing

Revolt, thirty years ago, was regarded from still other points of view.

There is for everything a theory, which proclaims itself "good sense";
Philintus against Alcestis; mediation offered between the false and the
true; explanation, admonition, rather haughty extenuation which, because
it is mingled with blame and excuse, thinks itself wisdom, and is often
only pedantry. A whole political school called "the golden mean" has
been the outcome of this. As between cold water and hot water, it is
the lukewarm water party. This school with its false depth, all on the
surface, which dissects effects without going back to first causes,
chides from its height of a demi-science, the agitation of the public

If we listen to this school, "The riots which complicated the affair
of 1830 deprived that great event of a portion of its purity. The
Revolution of July had been a fine popular gale, abruptly followed
by blue sky. They made the cloudy sky reappear. They caused that
revolution, at first so remarkable for its unanimity, to degenerate into
a quarrel. In the Revolution of July, as in all progress accomplished by
fits and starts, there had been secret fractures; these riots rendered
them perceptible. It might have been said: 'Ah! this is broken.' After
the Revolution of July, one was sensible only of deliverance; after the
riots, one was conscious of a catastrophe.

"All revolt closes the shops, depresses the funds, throws the Exchange
into consternation, suspends commerce, clogs business, precipitates
failures; no more money, private fortunes rendered uneasy, public credit
shaken, industry disconcerted, capital withdrawing, work at a discount,
fear everywhere; counter-shocks in every town. Hence gulfs. It has been
calculated that the first day of a riot costs France twenty millions,
the second day forty, the third sixty, a three days' uprising costs
one hundred and twenty millions, that is to say, if only the financial
result be taken into consideration, it is equivalent to a disaster, a
shipwreck or a lost battle, which should annihilate a fleet of sixty
ships of the line.

"No doubt, historically, uprisings have their beauty; the war of the
pavements is no less grandiose, and no less pathetic, than the war of
thickets: in the one there is the soul of forests, in the other the
heart of cities; the one has Jean Chouan, the other has a Jeanne.
Revolts have illuminated with a red glare all the most original points
of the Parisian character, generosity, devotion, stormy gayety, students
proving that bravery forms part of intelligence, the National Guard
invincible, bivouacs of shopkeepers, fortresses of street urchins,
contempt of death on the part of passers-by. Schools and legions clashed
together. After all, between the combatants, there was only a difference
of age; the race is the same; it is the same stoical men who died at the
age of twenty for their ideas, at forty for their families. The
army, always a sad thing in civil wars, opposed prudence to audacity.
Uprisings, while proving popular intrepidity, also educated the courage
of the bourgeois.

"This is well. But is all this worth the bloodshed? And to the bloodshed
add the future darkness, progress compromised, uneasiness among the
best men, honest liberals in despair, foreign absolutism happy in these
wounds dealt to revolution by its own hand, the vanquished of 1830
triumphing and saying: 'We told you so!' Add Paris enlarged, possibly,
but France most assuredly diminished. Add, for all must needs be told,
the massacres which have too often dishonored the victory of order grown
ferocious over liberty gone mad. To sum up all, uprisings have been

Thus speaks that approximation to wisdom with which the bourgeoisie,
that approximation to the people, so willingly contents itself.

For our parts, we reject this word uprisings as too large, and
consequently as too convenient. We make a distinction between one
popular movement and another popular movement. We do not inquire whether
an uprising costs as much as a battle. Why a battle, in the first place?
Here the question of war comes up. Is war less of a scourge than an
uprising is of a calamity? And then, are all uprisings calamities? And
what if the revolt of July did cost a hundred and twenty millions? The
establishment of Philip V. in Spain cost France two milliards. Even at
the same price, we should prefer the 14th of July. However, we reject
these figures, which appear to be reasons and which are only words. An
uprising being given, we examine it by itself. In all that is said by
the doctrinarian objection above presented, there is no question of
anything but effect, we seek the cause.

We will be explicit.


There is such a thing as an uprising, and there is such a thing as
insurrection; these are two separate phases of wrath; one is in the
wrong, the other is in the right. In democratic states, the only ones
which are founded on justice, it sometimes happens that the fraction
usurps; then the whole rises and the necessary claim of its rights may
proceed as far as resort to arms. In all questions which result from
collective sovereignty, the war of the whole against the fraction is
insurrection; the attack of the fraction against the whole is revolt;
according as the Tuileries contain a king or the Convention, they
are justly or unjustly attacked. The same cannon, pointed against the
populace, is wrong on the 10th of August, and right on the 14th of
Vendemiaire. Alike in appearance, fundamentally different in reality;
the Swiss defend the false, Bonaparte defends the true. That which
universal suffrage has effected in its liberty and in its sovereignty
cannot be undone by the street. It is the same in things pertaining
purely to civilization; the instinct of the masses, clear-sighted
to-day, may be troubled to-morrow. The same fury legitimate when
directed against Terray and absurd when directed against Turgot. The
destruction of machines, the pillage of warehouses, the breaking of
rails, the demolition of docks, the false routes of multitudes, the
refusal by the people of justice to progress, Ramus assassinated by
students, Rousseau driven out of Switzerland and stoned,--that is
revolt. Israel against Moses, Athens against Phocian, Rome against
Cicero,--that is an uprising; Paris against the Bastille,--that is
insurrection. The soldiers against Alexander, the sailors against
Christopher Columbus,--this is the same revolt; impious revolt;
why? Because Alexander is doing for Asia with the sword that which
Christopher Columbus is doing for America with the compass; Alexander
like Columbus, is finding a world. These gifts of a world to
civilization are such augmentations of light, that all resistance in
that case is culpable. Sometimes the populace counterfeits fidelity to
itself. The masses are traitors to the people. Is there, for example,
anything stranger than that long and bloody protest of dealers in
contraband salt, a legitimate chronic revolt, which, at the decisive
moment, on the day of salvation, at the very hour of popular victory,
espouses the throne, turns into chouannerie, and, from having been an
insurrection against, becomes an uprising for, sombre masterpieces of
ignorance! The contraband salt dealer escapes the royal gibbets, and
with a rope's end round his neck, mounts the white cockade. "Death to
the salt duties," brings forth, "Long live the King!" The assassins of
Saint-Barthelemy, the cut-throats of September, the manslaughterers of
Avignon, the assassins of Coligny, the assassins of Madam Lamballe, the
assassins of Brune, Miquelets, Verdets, Cadenettes, the companions of
Jehu, the chevaliers of Brassard,--behold an uprising. La Vendee is
a grand, catholic uprising. The sound of right in movement is
recognizable, it does not always proceed from the trembling of excited
masses; there are mad rages, there are cracked bells, all tocsins do not
give out the sound of bronze. The brawl of passions and ignorances
is quite another thing from the shock of progress. Show me in what
direction you are going. Rise, if you will, but let it be that you may
grow great. There is no insurrection except in a forward direction. Any
other sort of rising is bad; every violent step towards the rear is a
revolt; to retreat is to commit a deed of violence against the human
race. Insurrection is a fit of rage on the part of truth; the pavements
which the uprising disturbs give forth the spark of right. These
pavements bequeath to the uprising only their mud. Danton against Louis
XIV. is insurrection; Hebert against Danton is revolt.

Hence it results that if insurrection in given cases may be, as
Lafayette says, the most holy of duties, an uprising may be the most
fatal of crimes.

There is also a difference in the intensity of heat; insurrection is
often a volcano, revolt is often only a fire of straw.

Revolt, as we have said, is sometimes found among those in power.
Polignac is a rioter; Camille Desmoulins is one of the governing powers.

Insurrection is sometimes resurrection.

The solution of everything by universal suffrage being an absolutely
modern fact, and all history anterior to this fact being, for the space
of four thousand years, filled with violated right, and the suffering of
peoples, each epoch of history brings with it that protest of which it
is capable. Under the Caesars, there was no insurrection, but there was

The facit indignatio replaces the Gracchi.

Under the Caesars, there is the exile to Syene; there is also the man of
the Annales. We do not speak of the immense exile of Patmos who, on his
part also, overwhelms the real world with a protest in the name of the
ideal world, who makes of his vision an enormous satire and casts on
Rome-Nineveh, on Rome-Babylon, on Rome-Sodom, the flaming reflection of
the Apocalypse. John on his rock is the sphinx on its pedestal; we may
understand him, he is a Jew, and it is Hebrew; but the man who writes
the Annales is of the Latin race, let us rather say he is a Roman.

As the Neros reign in a black way, they should be painted to match. The
work of the graving-tool alone would be too pale; there must be poured
into the channel a concentrated prose which bites.

Despots count for something in the question of philosophers. A word that
is chained is a terrible word. The writer doubles and trebles his style
when silence is imposed on a nation by its master. From this silence
there arises a certain mysterious plenitude which filters into thought
and there congeals into bronze. The compression of history produces
conciseness in the historian. The granite solidity of such and such a
celebrated prose is nothing but the accumulation effected by the tyrant.

Tyranny constrains the writer to conditions of diameter which are
augmentations of force. The Ciceronian period, which hardly sufficed
for Verres, would be blunted on Caligula. The less spread of sail in
the phrase, the more intensity in the blow. Tacitus thinks with all his

The honesty of a great heart, condensed in justice and truth, overwhelms
as with lightning.

Be it remarked, in passing, that Tacitus is not historically superposed
upon Caesar. The Tiberii were reserved for him. Caesar and Tacitus
are two successive phenomena, a meeting between whom seems to be
mysteriously avoided, by the One who, when He sets the centuries on the
stage, regulates the entrances and the exits. Caesar is great, Tacitus
is great; God spares these two greatnesses by not allowing them to clash
with one another. The guardian of justice, in striking Caesar, might
strike too hard and be unjust. God does not will it. The great wars
of Africa and Spain, the pirates of Sicily destroyed, civilization
introduced into Gaul, into Britanny, into Germany,--all this glory
covers the Rubicon. There is here a sort of delicacy of the divine
justice, hesitating to let loose upon the illustrious usurper the
formidable historian, sparing Caesar Tacitus, and according extenuating
circumstances to genius.

Certainly, despotism remains despotism, even under the despot of genius.
There is corruption under all illustrious tyrants, but the moral pest is
still more hideous under infamous tyrants. In such reigns, nothing veils
the shame; and those who make examples, Tacitus as well as Juvenal,
slap this ignominy which cannot reply, in the face, more usefully in the
presence of all humanity.

Rome smells worse under Vitellius than under Sylla. Under Claudius and
under Domitian, there is a deformity of baseness corresponding to the
repulsiveness of the tyrant. The villainy of slaves is a direct product
of the despot; a miasma exhales from these cowering consciences wherein
the master is reflected; public powers are unclean; hearts are small;
consciences are dull, souls are like vermin; thus it is under Caracalla,
thus it is under Commodus, thus it is under Heliogabalus, while, from
the Roman Senate, under Caesar, there comes nothing but the odor of the
dung which is peculiar to the eyries of the eagles.

Hence the advent, apparently tardy, of the Tacituses and the Juvenals;
it is in the hour for evidence, that the demonstrator makes his

But Juvenal and Tacitus, like Isaiah in Biblical times, like Dante in
the Middle Ages, is man; riot and insurrection are the multitude, which
is sometimes right and sometimes wrong.

In the majority of cases, riot proceeds from a material fact;
insurrection is always a moral phenomenon. Riot is Masaniello;
insurrection, Spartacus. Insurrection borders on mind, riot on the
stomach; Gaster grows irritated; but Gaster, assuredly, is not always in
the wrong. In questions of famine, riot, Buzancais, for example, holds a
true, pathetic, and just point of departure. Nevertheless, it remains
a riot. Why? It is because, right at bottom, it was wrong in form. Shy
although in the right, violent although strong, it struck at random; it
walked like a blind elephant; it left behind it the corpses of old
men, of women, and of children; it wished the blood of inoffensive and
innocent persons without knowing why. The nourishment of the people is a
good object; to massacre them is a bad means.

All armed protests, even the most legitimate, even that of the 10th of
August, even that of July 14th, begin with the same troubles. Before
the right gets set free, there is foam and tumult. In the beginning, the
insurrection is a riot, just as a river is a torrent. Ordinarily it ends
in that ocean: revolution. Sometimes, however, coming from those lofty
mountains which dominate the moral horizon, justice, wisdom, reason,
right, formed of the pure snow of the ideal, after a long fall from
rock to rock, after having reflected the sky in its transparency and
increased by a hundred affluents in the majestic mien of triumph,
insurrection is suddenly lost in some quagmire, as the Rhine is in a

All this is of the past, the future is another thing. Universal suffrage
has this admirable property, that it dissolves riot in its inception,
and, by giving the vote to insurrection, it deprives it of its arms.
The disappearance of wars, of street wars as well as of wars on the
frontiers, such is the inevitable progression. Whatever To-day may be,
To-morrow will be peace.

However, insurrection, riot, and points of difference between the former
and the latter,--the bourgeois, properly speaking, knows nothing of such
shades. In his mind, all is sedition, rebellion pure and simple, the
revolt of the dog against his master, an attempt to bite whom must be
punished by the chain and the kennel, barking, snapping, until such day
as the head of the dog, suddenly enlarged, is outlined vaguely in the
gloom face to face with the lion.

Then the bourgeois shouts: "Long live the people!"

This explanation given, what does the movement of June, 1832, signify,
so far as history is concerned? Is it a revolt? Is it an insurrection?

It may happen to us, in placing this formidable event on the stage, to
say revolt now and then, but merely to distinguish superficial facts,
and always preserving the distinction between revolt, the form, and
insurrection, the foundation.

This movement of 1832 had, in its rapid outbreak and in its melancholy
extinction, so much grandeur, that even those who see in it only an
uprising, never refer to it otherwise than with respect. For them, it
is like a relic of 1830. Excited imaginations, say they, are not to be
calmed in a day. A revolution cannot be cut off short. It must needs
undergo some undulations before it returns to a state of rest, like a
mountain sinking into the plain. There are no Alps without their Jura,
nor Pyrenees without the Asturias.

This pathetic crisis of contemporary history which the memory of
Parisians calls "the epoch of the riots," is certainly a characteristic
hour amid the stormy hours of this century. A last word, before we enter
on the recital.

The facts which we are about to relate belong to that dramatic and
living reality, which the historian sometimes neglects for lack of time
and space. There, nevertheless, we insist upon it, is life, palpitation,
human tremor. Petty details, as we think we have already said, are, so
to speak, the foliage of great events, and are lost in the distance of
history. The epoch, surnamed "of the riots," abounds in details of
this nature. Judicial inquiries have not revealed, and perhaps have not
sounded the depths, for another reason than history. We shall therefore
bring to light, among the known and published peculiarities, things
which have not heretofore been known, about facts over which have passed
the forgetfulness of some, and the death of others. The majority of the
actors in these gigantic scenes have disappeared; beginning with the
very next day they held their peace; but of what we shall relate, we
shall be able to say: "We have seen this." We alter a few names, for
history relates and does not inform against, but the deed which we shall
paint will be genuine. In accordance with the conditions of the book
which we are now writing, we shall show only one side and one episode,
and certainly, the least known at that, of the two days, the 5th and the
6th of June, 1832, but we shall do it in such wise that the reader may
catch a glimpse, beneath the gloomy veil which we are about to lift, of
the real form of this frightful public adventure.


In the spring of 1832, although the cholera had been chilling all
minds for the last three months and had cast over their agitation an
indescribable and gloomy pacification, Paris had already long been ripe
for commotion. As we have said, the great city resembles a piece of
artillery; when it is loaded, it suffices for a spark to fall, and the
shot is discharged. In June, 1832, the spark was the death of General

Lamarque was a man of renown and of action. He had had in succession,
under the Empire and under the Restoration, the sorts of bravery
requisite for the two epochs, the bravery of the battle-field and the
bravery of the tribune. He was as eloquent as he had been valiant; a
sword was discernible in his speech. Like Foy, his predecessor, after
upholding the command, he upheld liberty; he sat between the left and
the extreme left, beloved of the people because he accepted the chances
of the future, beloved of the populace because he had served the
Emperor well; he was, in company with Comtes Gerard and Drouet, one
of Napoleon's marshals in petto. The treaties of 1815 removed him as
a personal offence. He hated Wellington with a downright hatred which
pleased the multitude; and, for seventeen years, he majestically
preserved the sadness of Waterloo, paying hardly any attention to
intervening events. In his death agony, at his last hour, he clasped to
his breast a sword which had been presented to him by the officers of
the Hundred Days. Napoleon had died uttering the word army, Lamarque
uttering the word country.

His death, which was expected, was dreaded by the people as a loss, and
by the government as an occasion. This death was an affliction. Like
everything that is bitter, affliction may turn to revolt. This is what
took place.

On the preceding evening, and on the morning of the 5th of June, the day
appointed for Lamarque's burial, the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, which the
procession was to touch at, assumed a formidable aspect. This tumultuous
network of streets was filled with rumors. They armed themselves as best
they might. Joiners carried off door-weights of their establishment
"to break down doors." One of them had made himself a dagger of a
stocking-weaver's hook by breaking off the hook and sharpening the
stump. Another, who was in a fever "to attack," slept wholly dressed
for three days. A carpenter named Lombier met a comrade, who asked him:
"Whither are you going?" "Eh! well, I have no weapons." "What then?"
"I'm going to my timber-yard to get my compasses." "What for?" "I don't
know," said Lombier. A certain Jacqueline, an expeditious man, accosted
some passing artisans: "Come here, you!" He treated them to ten sous'
worth of wine and said: "Have you work?" "No." "Go to Filspierre,
between the Barriere Charonne and the Barriere Montreuil, and you will
find work." At Filspierre's they found cartridges and arms. Certain
well-known leaders were going the rounds, that is to say, running from
one house to another, to collect their men. At Barthelemy's, near the
Barriere du Trone, at Capel's, near the Petit-Chapeau, the drinkers
accosted each other with a grave air. They were heard to say: "Have you
your pistol?" "Under my blouse." "And you?" "Under my shirt." In the
Rue Traversiere, in front of the Bland workshop, and in the yard of
the Maison-Brulee, in front of tool-maker Bernier's, groups whispered
together. Among them was observed a certain Mavot, who never remained
more than a week in one shop, as the masters always discharged him
"because they were obliged to dispute with him every day." Mavot was
killed on the following day at the barricade of the Rue Menilmontant.
Pretot, who was destined to perish also in the struggle, seconded Mavot,
and to the question: "What is your object?" he replied: "Insurrection."
Workmen assembled at the corner of the Rue de Bercy, waited for a
certain Lemarin, the revolutionary agent for the Faubourg Saint-Marceau.
Watchwords were exchanged almost publicly.

On the 5th of June, accordingly, a day of mingled rain and sun, General
Lamarque's funeral procession traversed Paris with official military
pomp, somewhat augmented through precaution. Two battalions, with draped
drums and reversed arms, ten thousand National Guards, with their swords
at their sides, escorted the coffin. The hearse was drawn by young men.
The officers of the Invalides came immediately behind it, bearing laurel
branches. Then came an innumerable, strange, agitated multitude, the
sectionaries of the Friends of the People, the Law School, the Medical
School, refugees of all nationalities, and Spanish, Italian, German,
and Polish flags, tricolored horizontal banners, every possible sort of
banner, children waving green boughs, stone-cutters and carpenters who
were on strike at the moment, printers who were recognizable by their
paper caps, marching two by two, three by three, uttering cries, nearly
all of them brandishing sticks, some brandishing sabres, without order
and yet with a single soul, now a tumultuous rout, again a column.
Squads chose themselves leaders; a man armed with a pair of pistols in
full view, seemed to pass the host in review, and the files separated
before him. On the side alleys of the boulevards, in the branches of the
trees, on balconies, in windows, on the roofs, swarmed the heads of men,
women, and children; all eyes were filled with anxiety. An armed throng
was passing, and a terrified throng looked on.

The Government, on its side, was taking observations. It observed with
its hand on its sword. Four squadrons of carabineers could be seen in
the Place Louis XV. in their saddles, with their trumpets at their head,
cartridge-boxes filled and muskets loaded, all in readiness to march;
in the Latin country and at the Jardin des Plantes, the Municipal Guard
echelonned from street to street; at the Halle-aux-Vins, a squadron of
dragoons; at the Greve half of the 12th Light Infantry, the other
half being at the Bastille; the 6th Dragoons at the Celestins; and the
courtyard of the Louvre full of artillery. The remainder of the troops
were confined to their barracks, without reckoning the regiments of the
environs of Paris. Power being uneasy, held suspended over the menacing
multitude twenty-four thousand soldiers in the city and thirty thousand
in the banlieue.

Divers reports were in circulation in the cortege. Legitimist tricks
were hinted at; they spoke of the Duc de Reichstadt, whom God had marked
out for death at that very moment when the populace were designating
him for the Empire. One personage, whose name has remained unknown,
announced that at a given hour two overseers who had been won over,
would throw open the doors of a factory of arms to the people. That
which predominated on the uncovered brows of the majority of those
present was enthusiasm mingled with dejection. Here and there, also, in
that multitude given over to such violent but noble emotions, there were
visible genuine visages of criminals and ignoble mouths which said: "Let
us plunder!" There are certain agitations which stir up the bottoms of
marshes and make clouds of mud rise through the water. A phenomenon to
which "well drilled" policemen are no strangers.

The procession proceeded, with feverish slowness, from the house of the
deceased, by way of the boulevards as far as the Bastille. It rained
from time to time; the rain mattered nothing to that throng. Many
incidents, the coffin borne round the Vendome column, stones thrown at
the Duc de Fitz-James, who was seen on a balcony with his hat on his
head, the Gallic cock torn from a popular flag and dragged in the mire,
a policeman wounded with a blow from a sword at the Porte Saint-Martin,
an officer of the 12th Light Infantry saying aloud: "I am a Republican,"
the Polytechnic School coming up unexpectedly against orders to remain
at home, the shouts of: "Long live the Polytechnique! Long live the
Republic!" marked the passage of the funeral train. At the Bastille,
long files of curious and formidable people who descended from the
Faubourg Saint-Antoine, effected a junction with the procession, and a
certain terrible seething began to agitate the throng.

One man was heard to say to another: "Do you see that fellow with a
red beard, he's the one who will give the word when we are to fire." It
appears that this red beard was present, at another riot, the Quenisset
affair, entrusted with this same function.

The hearse passed the Bastille, traversed the small bridge, and reached
the esplanade of the bridge of Austerlitz. There it halted. The crowd,
surveyed at that moment with a bird'seye view, would have presented the
aspect of a comet whose head was on the esplanade and whose tail spread
out over the Quai Bourdon, covered the Bastille, and was prolonged on
the boulevard as far as the Porte Saint-Martin. A circle was traced
around the hearse. The vast rout held their peace. Lafayette spoke and
bade Lamarque farewell. This was a touching and august instant, all
heads uncovered, all hearts beat high.

All at once, a man on horseback, clad in black, made his appearance
in the middle of the group with a red flag, others say, with a pike
surmounted with a red liberty-cap. Lafayette turned aside his head.
Exelmans quitted the procession.

This red flag raised a storm, and disappeared in the midst of it. From
the Boulevard Bourdon to the bridge of Austerlitz one of those clamors
which resemble billows stirred the multitude. Two prodigious shouts went
up: "Lamarque to the Pantheon!--Lafayette to the Town-hall!" Some young
men, amid the declamations of the throng, harnessed themselves and
began to drag Lamarque in the hearse across the bridge of Austerlitz and
Lafayette in a hackney-coach along the Quai Morland.

In the crowd which surrounded and cheered Lafayette, it was noticed
that a German showed himself named Ludwig Snyder, who died a centenarian
afterwards, who had also been in the war of 1776, and who had fought at
Trenton under Washington, and at Brandywine under Lafayette.

In the meantime, the municipal cavalry on the left bank had been set
in motion, and came to bar the bridge, on the right bank the dragoons
emerged from the Celestins and deployed along the Quai Morland. The men
who were dragging Lafayette suddenly caught sight of them at the corner
of the quay and shouted: "The dragoons!" The dragoons advanced at a
walk, in silence, with their pistols in their holsters, their swords in
their scabbards, their guns slung in their leather sockets, with an air
of gloomy expectation.

They halted two hundred paces from the little bridge. The carriage in
which sat Lafayette advanced to them, their ranks opened and allowed it
to pass, and then closed behind it. At that moment the dragoons and the
crowd touched. The women fled in terror. What took place during that
fatal minute? No one can say. It is the dark moment when two clouds come
together. Some declare that a blast of trumpets sounding the charge was
heard in the direction of the Arsenal others that a blow from a dagger
was given by a child to a dragoon. The fact is, that three shots were
suddenly discharged: the first killed Cholet, chief of the squadron,
the second killed an old deaf woman who was in the act of closing her
window, the third singed the shoulder of an officer; a woman screamed:
"They are beginning too soon!" and all at once, a squadron of dragoons
which had remained in the barracks up to this time, was seen to debouch
at a gallop with bared swords, through the Rue Bassompierre and the
Boulevard Bourdon, sweeping all before them.

Then all is said, the tempest is loosed, stones rain down, a fusillade
breaks forth, many precipitate themselves to the bottom of the bank, and
pass the small arm of the Seine, now filled in, the timber-yards of the
Isle Louviers, that vast citadel ready to hand, bristle with combatants,
stakes are torn up, pistol-shots fired, a barricade begun, the young men
who are thrust back pass the Austerlitz bridge with the hearse at a run,
and the municipal guard, the carabineers rush up, the dragoons ply their
swords, the crowd disperses in all directions, a rumor of war flies to
all four quarters of Paris, men shout: "To arms!" they run, tumble down,
flee, resist. Wrath spreads abroad the riot as wind spreads a fire.


Nothing is more extraordinary than the first breaking out of a riot.
Everything bursts forth everywhere at once. Was it foreseen? Yes. Was it
prepared? No. Whence comes it? From the pavements. Whence falls it? From
the clouds. Here insurrection assumes the character of a plot; there
of an improvisation. The first comer seizes a current of the throng
and leads it whither he wills. A beginning full of terror, in which is
mingled a sort of formidable gayety. First come clamors, the shops are
closed, the displays of the merchants disappear; then come isolated
shots; people flee; blows from gun-stocks beat against portes cocheres,
servants can be heard laughing in the courtyards of houses and saying:
"There's going to be a row!"

A quarter of an hour had not elapsed when this is what was taking place
at twenty different spots in Paris at once.

In the Rue Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie, twenty young men, bearded and
with long hair, entered a dram-shop and emerged a moment later, carrying
a horizontal tricolored flag covered with crape, and having at their
head three men armed, one with a sword, one with a gun, and the third
with a pike.

In the Rue des Nonaindieres, a very well-dressed bourgeois, who had a
prominent belly, a sonorous voice, a bald head, a lofty brow, a black
beard, and one of these stiff mustaches which will not lie flat, offered
cartridges publicly to passers-by.

In the Rue Saint-Pierre-Montmartre, men with bare arms carried about a
black flag, on which could be read in white letters this inscription:
"Republic or Death!" In the Rue des Jeuneurs, Rue du Cadran, Rue
Montorgueil, Rue Mandar, groups appeared waving flags on which could be
distinguished in gold letters, the word section with a number. One of
these flags was red and blue with an almost imperceptible stripe of
white between.

They pillaged a factory of small-arms on the Boulevard Saint-Martin, and
three armorers' shops, the first in the Rue Beaubourg, the second in the
Rue Michel-le-Comte, the other in the Rue du Temple. In a few minutes,
the thousand hands of the crowd had seized and carried off two hundred
and thirty guns, nearly all double-barrelled, sixty-four swords, and
eighty-three pistols. In order to provide more arms, one man took the
gun, the other the bayonet.

Opposite the Quai de la Greve, young men armed with muskets installed
themselves in the houses of some women for the purpose of firing. One
of them had a flint-lock. They rang, entered, and set about making
cartridges. One of these women relates: "I did not know what cartridges
were; it was my husband who told me."

One cluster broke into a curiosity shop in the Rue des Vielles
Haudriettes, and seized yataghans and Turkish arms.

The body of a mason who had been killed by a gun-shot lay in the Rue de
la Perle.

And then on the right bank, the left bank, on the quays, on the
boulevards, in the Latin country, in the quarter of the Halles, panting
men, artisans, students, members of sections read proclamations and
shouted: "To arms!" broke street lanterns, unharnessed carriages,
unpaved the streets, broke in the doors of houses, uprooted trees,
rummaged cellars, rolled out hogsheads, heaped up paving-stones, rough
slabs, furniture and planks, and made barricades.

They forced the bourgeois to assist them in this. They entered the
dwellings of women, they forced them to hand over the swords and guns
of their absent husbands, and they wrote on the door, with whiting: "The
arms have been delivered"; some signed "their names" to receipts for
the guns and swords and said: "Send for them to-morrow at the Mayor's
office." They disarmed isolated sentinels and National Guardsmen in
the streets on their way to the Townhall. They tore the epaulets from
officers. In the Rue du Cimitiere-Saint-Nicholas, an officer of the
National Guard, on being pursued by a crowd armed with clubs and foils,
took refuge with difficulty in a house, whence he was only able to
emerge at nightfall and in disguise.

In the Quartier Saint-Jacques, the students swarmed out of their
hotels and ascended the Rue Saint-Hyacinthe to the Cafe du Progress,
or descended to the Cafe des Sept-Billards, in the Rue des Mathurins.
There, in front of the door, young men mounted on the stone
corner-posts, distributed arms. They plundered the timber-yard in the
Rue Transnonain in order to obtain material for barricades. On a single
point the inhabitants resisted, at the corner of the Rue Sainte-Avoye
and the Rue Simon-Le-Franc, where they destroyed the barricade with
their own hands. At a single point the insurgents yielded; they
abandoned a barricade begun in the Rue de Temple after having fired on
a detachment of the National Guard, and fled through the Rue de la
Corderie. The detachment picked up in the barricade a red flag, a
package of cartridges, and three hundred pistol-balls. The National
Guardsmen tore up the flag, and carried off its tattered remains on the
points of their bayonets.

All that we are here relating slowly and successively took place
simultaneously at all points of the city in the midst of a vast tumult,
like a mass of tongues of lightning in one clap of thunder. In less than
an hour, twenty-seven barricades sprang out of the earth in the quarter
of the Halles alone. In the centre was that famous house No. 50, which
was the fortress of Jeanne and her six hundred companions, and which,
flanked on the one hand by a barricade at Saint-Merry, and on the other
by a barricade of the Rue Maubuee, commanded three streets, the Rue
des Arcis, the Rue Saint-Martin, and the Rue Aubry-le-Boucher, which
it faced. The barricades at right angles fell back, the one of the
Rue Montorgueil on the Grande-Truanderie, the other of the Rue
Geoffroy-Langevin on the Rue Sainte-Avoye. Without reckoning innumerable
barricades in twenty other quarters of Paris, in the Marais, at
Mont-Sainte-Genevieve; one in the Rue Menilmontant, where was visible
a porte cochere torn from its hinges; another near the little bridge of
the Hotel-Dieu made with an "ecossais," which had been unharnessed and
overthrown, three hundred paces from the Prefecture of Police.

At the barricade of the Rue des Menetriers, a well-dressed man
distributed money to the workmen. At the barricade of the Rue Grenetat,
a horseman made his appearance and handed to the one who seemed to be
the commander of the barricade what had the appearance of a roll of
silver. "Here," said he, "this is to pay expenses, wine, et caetera."
A light-haired young man, without a cravat, went from barricade to
barricade, carrying pass-words. Another, with a naked sword, a blue
police cap on his head, placed sentinels. In the interior, beyond the
barricades, the wine-shops and porters' lodges were converted into
guard-houses. Otherwise the riot was conducted after the most scientific
military tactics. The narrow, uneven, sinuous streets, full of angles
and turns, were admirably chosen; the neighborhood of the Halles, in
particular, a network of streets more intricate than a forest. The
Society of the Friends of the People had, it was said, undertaken to
direct the insurrection in the Quartier Sainte-Avoye. A man killed in
the Rue du Ponceau who was searched had on his person a plan of Paris.

That which had really undertaken the direction of the uprising was a
sort of strange impetuosity which was in the air. The insurrection
had abruptly built barricades with one hand, and with the other seized
nearly all the posts of the garrison. In less than three hours, like a
train of powder catching fire, the insurgents had invaded and occupied,
on the right bank, the Arsenal, the Mayoralty of the Place Royale, the
whole of the Marais, the Popincourt arms manufactory, la Galiote, the
Chateau-d'Eau, and all the streets near the Halles; on the left bank,
the barracks of the Veterans, Sainte-Pelagie, the Place Maubert, the
powder magazine of the Deux-Moulins, and all the barriers. At five
o'clock in the evening, they were masters of the Bastille, of the
Lingerie, of the Blancs-Manteaux; their scouts had reached the Place
des Victoires, and menaced the Bank, the Petits-Peres barracks, and the
Post-Office. A third of Paris was in the hands of the rioters.

The conflict had been begun on a gigantic scale at all points; and, as a
result of the disarming domiciliary visits, and armorers' shops hastily
invaded, was, that the combat which had begun with the throwing of
stones was continued with gun-shots.

About six o'clock in the evening, the Passage du Saumon became the field
of battle. The uprising was at one end, the troops were at the other.
They fired from one gate to the other. An observer, a dreamer, the
author of this book, who had gone to get a near view of this volcano,
found himself in the passage between the two fires. All that he had to
protect him from the bullets was the swell of the two half-columns which
separate the shops; he remained in this delicate situation for nearly
half an hour.

Meanwhile the call to arms was beaten, the National Guard armed in
haste, the legions emerged from the Mayoralities, the regiments from
their barracks. Opposite the passage de l'Ancre a drummer received a
blow from a dagger. Another, in the Rue du Cygne, was assailed by thirty
young men who broke his instrument, and took away his sword. Another was
killed in the Rue Grenier-Saint-Lazare. In the Rue-Michelle-Comte, three
officers fell dead one after the other. Many of the Municipal Guards, on
being wounded, in the Rue des Lombards, retreated.

In front of the Cour-Batave, a detachment of National Guards found a red
flag bearing the following inscription: Republican revolution, No. 127.
Was this a revolution, in fact?

The insurrection had made of the centre of Paris a sort of inextricable,
tortuous, colossal citadel.

There was the hearth; there, evidently, was the question. All the rest
was nothing but skirmishes. The proof that all would be decided there
lay in the fact that there was no fighting going on there as yet.

In some regiments, the soldiers were uncertain, which added to the
fearful uncertainty of the crisis. They recalled the popular ovation
which had greeted the neutrality of the 53d of the Line in July, 1830.
Two intrepid men, tried in great wars, the Marshal Lobau and General
Bugeaud, were in command, Bugeaud under Lobau. Enormous patrols,
composed of battalions of the Line, enclosed in entire companies of the
National Guard, and preceded by a commissary of police wearing his scarf
of office, went to reconnoitre the streets in rebellion. The insurgents,
on their side, placed videttes at the corners of all open spaces, and
audaciously sent their patrols outside the barricades. Each side was
watching the other. The Government, with an army in its hand, hesitated;
the night was almost upon them, and the Saint-Merry tocsin began to make
itself heard. The Minister of War at that time, Marshal Soult, who had
seen Austerlitz, regarded this with a gloomy air.

These old sailors, accustomed to correct manoeuvres and having as
resource and guide only tactics, that compass of battles, are utterly
disconcerted in the presence of that immense foam which is called public

The National Guards of the suburbs rushed up in haste and disorder. A
battalion of the 12th Light came at a run from Saint-Denis, the 14th of
the Line arrived from Courbevoie, the batteries of the Military School
had taken up their position on the Carrousel; cannons were descending
from Vincennes.

Solitude was formed around the Tuileries. Louis Philippe was perfectly


During the last two years, as we have said, Paris had witnessed more
than one insurrection. Nothing is, generally, more singularly calm than
the physiognomy of Paris during an uprising beyond the bounds of
the rebellious quarters. Paris very speedily accustoms herself to
anything,--it is only a riot,--and Paris has so many affairs on hand,
that she does not put herself out for so small a matter. These colossal
cities alone can offer such spectacles. These immense enclosures alone
can contain at the same time civil war and an odd and indescribable
tranquillity. Ordinarily, when an insurrection commences, when the
shop-keeper hears the drum, the call to arms, the general alarm, he
contents himself with the remark:--

"There appears to be a squabble in the Rue Saint-Martin."


"In the Faubourg Saint-Antoine."

Often he adds carelessly:--

"Or somewhere in that direction."

Later on, when the heart-rending and mournful hubbub of musketry and
firing by platoons becomes audible, the shopkeeper says:--

"It's getting hot! Hullo, it's getting hot!"

A moment later, the riot approaches and gains in force, he shuts up his
shop precipitately, hastily dons his uniform, that is to say, he places
his merchandise in safety and risks his own person.

Men fire in a square, in a passage, in a blind alley; they take and
re-take the barricade; blood flows, the grape-shot riddles the fronts
of the houses, the balls kill people in their beds, corpses encumber the
streets. A few streets away, the shock of billiard-balls can be heard in
the cafes.

The theatres open their doors and present vaudevilles; the curious laugh
and chat a couple of paces distant from these streets filled with
war. Hackney-carriages go their way; passers-by are going to a dinner
somewhere in town. Sometimes in the very quarter where the fighting is
going on.

In 1831, a fusillade was stopped to allow a wedding party to pass.

At the time of the insurrection of 1839, in the Rue Saint-Martin a
little, infirm old man, pushing a hand-cart surmounted by a tricolored
rag, in which he had carafes filled with some sort of liquid, went and
came from barricade to troops and from troops to the barricade, offering
his glasses of cocoa impartially,--now to the Government, now to

Nothing can be stranger; and this is the peculiar character of uprisings
in Paris, which cannot be found in any other capital. To this end, two
things are requisite, the size of Paris and its gayety. The city of
Voltaire and Napoleon is necessary.

On this occasion, however, in the resort to arms of June 25th, 1832, the
great city felt something which was, perhaps, stronger than itself. It
was afraid.

Closed doors, windows, and shutters were to be seen everywhere, in the
most distant and most "disinterested" quarters. The courageous took to
arms, the poltroons hid. The busy and heedless passer-by disappeared.
Many streets were empty at four o'clock in the morning.

Alarming details were hawked about, fatal news was disseminated,--that
they were masters of the Bank;--that there were six hundred of them
in the Cloister of Saint-Merry alone, entrenched and embattled in the
church; that the line was not to be depended on; that Armand Carrel
had been to see Marshal Clausel and that the Marshal had said: "Get a
regiment first"; that Lafayette was ill, but that he had said to them,
nevertheless: "I am with you. I will follow you wherever there is room
for a chair"; that one must be on one's guard; that at night there would
be people pillaging isolated dwellings in the deserted corners of Paris
(there the imagination of the police, that Anne Radcliffe mixed up with
the Government was recognizable); that a battery had been established
in the Rue Aubry le Boucher; that Lobau and Bugeaud were putting their
heads together, and that, at midnight, or at daybreak at latest, four
columns would march simultaneously on the centre of the uprising, the
first coming from the Bastille, the second from the Porte Saint-Martin,
the third from the Greve, the fourth from the Halles; that perhaps,
also, the troops would evacuate Paris and withdraw to the Champ-de-Mars;
that no one knew what would happen, but that this time, it certainly was

People busied themselves over Marshal Soult's hesitations. Why did not
he attack at once? It is certain that he was profoundly absorbed. The
old lion seemed to scent an unknown monster in that gloom.

Evening came, the theatres did not open; the patrols circulated with
an air of irritation; passers-by were searched; suspicious persons were
arrested. By nine o'clock, more than eight hundred persons had been
arrested, the Prefecture of Police was encumbered with them, so was the
Conciergerie, so was La Force.

At the Conciergerie in particular, the long vault which is called the
Rue de Paris was littered with trusses of straw upon which lay a heap
of prisoners, whom the man of Lyons, Lagrange, harangued valiantly.
All that straw rustled by all these men, produced the sound of a heavy
shower. Elsewhere prisoners slept in the open air in the meadows, piled
on top of each other.

Anxiety reigned everywhere, and a certain tremor which was not habitual
with Paris.

People barricaded themselves in their houses; wives and mothers were
uneasy; nothing was to be heard but this: "Ah! my God! He has not come
home!" There was hardly even the distant rumble of a vehicle to be

People listened on their thresholds, to the rumors, the shouts, the
tumult, the dull and indistinct sounds, to the things that were
said: "It is cavalry," or: "Those are the caissons galloping," to the
trumpets, the drums, the firing, and, above all, to that lamentable
alarm peal from Saint-Merry.

They waited for the first cannon-shot. Men sprang up at the corners of
the streets and disappeared, shouting: "Go home!" And people made haste
to bolt their doors. They said: "How will all this end?" From moment to
moment, in proportion as the darkness descended, Paris seemed to take on
a more mournful hue from the formidable flaming of the revolt.



At the instant when the insurrection, arising from the shock of the
populace and the military in front of the Arsenal, started a movement
in advance and towards the rear in the multitude which was following the
hearse and which, through the whole length of the boulevards, weighed,
so to speak, on the head of the procession, there arose a frightful ebb.
The rout was shaken, their ranks were broken, all ran, fled, made their
escape, some with shouts of attack, others with the pallor of flight.
The great river which covered the boulevards divided in a twinkling,
overflowed to right and left, and spread in torrents over two hundred
streets at once with the roar of a sewer that has broken loose.

At that moment, a ragged child who was coming down through the Rue
Menilmontant, holding in his hand a branch of blossoming laburnum which
he had just plucked on the heights of Belleville, caught sight of an old
holster-pistol in the show-window of a bric-a-brac merchant's shop.

"Mother What's-your-name, I'm going to borrow your machine."

And off he ran with the pistol.

Two minutes later, a flood of frightened bourgeois who were fleeing
through the Rue Amelot and the Rue Basse, encountered the lad
brandishing his pistol and singing:--

               La nuit on ne voit rien,
               Le jour on voit tres bien,
               D'un ecrit apocrypha
               Le bourgeois s'ebouriffe,
               Pratiquez la vertu,
               Tutu, chapeau pointu![44]

It was little Gavroche on his way to the wars.

On the boulevard he noticed that the pistol had no trigger.

Who was the author of that couplet which served to punctuate his march,
and of all the other songs which he was fond of singing on occasion? We
know not. Who does know? Himself, perhaps. However, Gavroche was well
up in all the popular tunes in circulation, and he mingled with them his
own chirpings. An observing urchin and a rogue, he made a potpourri of
the voices of nature and the voices of Paris. He combined the repertory
of the birds with the repertory of the workshops. He was acquainted with
thieves, a tribe contiguous to his own. He had, it appears, been
for three months apprenticed to a printer. He had one day executed a
commission for M. Baour-Lormian, one of the Forty. Gavroche was a gamin
of letters.

Moreover, Gavroche had no suspicion of the fact that when he had offered
the hospitality of his elephant to two brats on that villainously
rainy night, it was to his own brothers that he had played the part of
Providence. His brothers in the evening, his father in the morning;
that is what his night had been like. On quitting the Rue des Ballets
at daybreak, he had returned in haste to the elephant, had artistically
extracted from it the two brats, had shared with them some sort of
breakfast which he had invented, and had then gone away, confiding
them to that good mother, the street, who had brought him up, almost
entirely. On leaving them, he had appointed to meet them at the same
spot in the evening, and had left them this discourse by way of a
farewell: "I break a cane, otherwise expressed, I cut my stick, or, as
they say at the court, I file off. If you don't find papa and mamma,
young 'uns, come back here this evening. I'll scramble you up some
supper, and I'll give you a shakedown." The two children, picked up by
some policeman and placed in the refuge, or stolen by some mountebank,
or having simply strayed off in that immense Chinese puzzle of a Paris,
did not return. The lowest depths of the actual social world are full of
these lost traces. Gavroche did not see them again. Ten or twelve weeks
had elapsed since that night. More than once he had scratched the back
of his head and said: "Where the devil are my two children?"

In the meantime, he had arrived, pistol in hand, in the Rue du
Pont-aux-Choux. He noticed that there was but one shop open in that
street, and, a matter worthy of reflection, that was a pastry-cook's
shop. This presented a providential occasion to eat another
apple-turnover before entering the unknown. Gavroche halted, fumbled in
his fob, turned his pocket inside out, found nothing, not even a sou,
and began to shout: "Help!"

It is hard to miss the last cake.

Nevertheless, Gavroche pursued his way.

Two minutes later he was in the Rue Saint-Louis. While traversing the
Rue du Parc-Royal, he felt called upon to make good the loss of the
apple-turnover which had been impossible, and he indulged himself in the
immense delight of tearing down the theatre posters in broad daylight.

A little further on, on catching sight of a group of comfortable-looking
persons, who seemed to be landed proprietors, he shrugged his shoulders
and spit out at random before him this mouthful of philosophical bile as
they passed:

"How fat those moneyed men are! They're drunk! They just wallow in good
dinners. Ask 'em what they do with their money. They don't know. They
eat it, that's what they do! As much as their bellies will hold."


The brandishing of a triggerless pistol, grasped in one's hand in the
open street, is so much of a public function that Gavroche felt his
fervor increasing with every moment. Amid the scraps of the Marseillaise
which he was singing, he shouted:--

"All goes well. I suffer a great deal in my left paw, I'm all broken
up with rheumatism, but I'm satisfied, citizens. All that the bourgeois
have to do is to bear themselves well, I'll sneeze them out subversive
couplets. What are the police spies? Dogs. And I'd just like to have
one of them at the end of my pistol. I'm just from the boulevard, my
friends. It's getting hot there, it's getting into a little boil, it's
simmering. It's time to skim the pot. Forward march, men! Let an impure
blood inundate the furrows! I give my days to my country, I shall never
see my concubine more, Nini, finished, yes, Nini? But never mind! Long
live joy! Let's fight, crebleu! I've had enough of despotism."

At that moment, the horse of a lancer of the National Guard having
fallen, Gavroche laid his pistol on the pavement, and picked up the
man, then he assisted in raising the horse. After which he picked up his
pistol and resumed his way. In the Rue de Thorigny, all was peace and
silence. This apathy, peculiar to the Marais, presented a contrast with
the vast surrounding uproar. Four gossips were chatting in a doorway.

Scotland has trios of witches, Paris has quartettes of old gossiping
hags; and the "Thou shalt be King" could be quite as mournfully hurled
at Bonaparte in the Carrefour Baudoyer as at Macbeth on the heath of
Armuyr. The croak would be almost identical.

The gossips of the Rue de Thorigny busied themselves only with their own
concerns. Three of them were portresses, and the fourth was a rag-picker
with her basket on her back.

All four of them seemed to be standing at the four corners of old age,
which are decrepitude, decay, ruin, and sadness.

The rag-picker was humble. In this open-air society, it is the
rag-picker who salutes and the portress who patronizes. This is caused
by the corner for refuse, which is fat or lean, according to the will of
the portresses, and after the fancy of the one who makes the heap. There
may be kindness in the broom.

This rag-picker was a grateful creature, and she smiled, with what a
smile! on the three portresses. Things of this nature were said:--

"Ah, by the way, is your cat still cross?"

"Good gracious, cats are naturally the enemies of dogs, you know. It's
the dogs who complain."

"And people also."

"But the fleas from a cat don't go after people."

"That's not the trouble, dogs are dangerous. I remember one year
when there were so many dogs that it was necessary to put it in the
newspapers. That was at the time when there were at the Tuileries great
sheep that drew the little carriage of the King of Rome. Do you remember
the King of Rome?"

"I liked the Duc de Bordeau better."

"I knew Louis XVIII. I prefer Louis XVIII."

"Meat is awfully dear, isn't it, Mother Patagon?"

"Ah! don't mention it, the butcher's shop is a horror. A horrible
horror--one can't afford anything but the poor cuts nowadays."

Here the rag-picker interposed:--

"Ladies, business is dull. The refuse heaps are miserable. No one throws
anything away any more. They eat everything."

"There are poorer people than you, la Vargouleme."

"Ah, that's true," replied the rag-picker, with deference, "I have a

A pause succeeded, and the rag-picker, yielding to that necessity for
boasting which lies at the bottom of man, added:--

"In the morning, on my return home, I pick over my basket, I sort my
things. This makes heaps in my room. I put the rags in a basket, the
cores and stalks in a bucket, the linen in my cupboard, the woollen
stuff in my commode, the old papers in the corner of the window,
the things that are good to eat in my bowl, the bits of glass in my
fireplace, the old shoes behind my door, and the bones under my bed."

Gavroche had stopped behind her and was listening.

"Old ladies," said he, "what do you mean by talking politics?"

He was assailed by a broadside, composed of a quadruple howl.

"Here's another rascal."

"What's that he's got in his paddle? A pistol?"

"Well, I'd like to know what sort of a beggar's brat this is?"

"That sort of animal is never easy unless he's overturning the

Gavroche disdainfully contented himself, by way of reprisal, with
elevating the tip of his nose with his thumb and opening his hand wide.

The rag-picker cried:--

"You malicious, bare-pawed little wretch!"

The one who answered to the name of Patagon clapped her hands together
in horror.

"There's going to be evil doings, that's certain. The errand-boy next
door has a little pointed beard, I have seen him pass every day with a
young person in a pink bonnet on his arm; to-day I saw him pass, and
he had a gun on his arm. Mame Bacheux says, that last week there was a
revolution at--at--at--where's the calf!--at Pontoise. And then, there
you see him, that horrid scamp, with his pistol! It seems that the
Celestins are full of pistols. What do you suppose the Government can
do with good-for-nothings who don't know how to do anything but contrive
ways of upsetting the world, when we had just begun to get a little
quiet after all the misfortunes that have happened, good Lord! to that
poor queen whom I saw pass in the tumbril! And all this is going to
make tobacco dearer. It's infamous! And I shall certainly go to see him
beheaded on the guillotine, the wretch!"

"You've got the sniffles, old lady," said Gavroche. "Blow your

And he passed on. When he was in the Rue Pavee, the rag-picker occurred
to his mind, and he indulged in this soliloquy:--

"You're in the wrong to insult the revolutionists, Mother
Dust-Heap-Corner. This pistol is in your interests. It's so that you may
have more good things to eat in your basket."

All at once, he heard a shout behind him; it was the portress Patagon
who had followed him, and who was shaking her fist at him in the
distance and crying:--

"You're nothing but a bastard."

"Oh! Come now," said Gavroche, "I don't care a brass farthing for that!"

Shortly afterwards, he passed the Hotel Lamoignon. There he uttered this

"Forward march to the battle!"

And he was seized with a fit of melancholy. He gazed at his pistol with
an air of reproach which seemed an attempt to appease it:--

"I'm going off," said he, "but you won't go off!"

One dog may distract the attention from another dog.[45] A very gaunt
poodle came along at the moment. Gavroche felt compassion for him.

"My poor doggy," said he, "you must have gone and swallowed a cask, for
all the hoops are visible."

Then he directed his course towards l'Orme-Saint-Gervais.


The worthy hair-dresser who had chased from his shop the two little
fellows to whom Gavroche had opened the paternal interior of the
elephant was at that moment in his shop engaged in shaving an old
soldier of the legion who had served under the Empire. They were
talking. The hair-dresser had, naturally, spoken to the veteran of the
riot, then of General Lamarque, and from Lamarque they had passed to
the Emperor. Thence sprang up a conversation between barber and
soldier which Prudhomme, had he been present, would have enriched with
arabesques, and which he would have entitled: "Dialogue between the
razor and the sword."

"How did the Emperor ride, sir?" said the barber.

"Badly. He did not know how to fall--so he never fell."

"Did he have fine horses? He must have had fine horses!"

"On the day when he gave me my cross, I noticed his beast. It was a
racing mare, perfectly white. Her ears were very wide apart, her saddle
deep, a fine head marked with a black star, a very long neck, strongly
articulated knees, prominent ribs, oblique shoulders and a powerful
crupper. A little more than fifteen hands in height."

"A pretty horse," remarked the hair-dresser.

"It was His Majesty's beast."

The hair-dresser felt, that after this observation, a short silence
would be fitting, so he conformed himself to it, and then went on:--

"The Emperor was never wounded but once, was he, sir?"

The old soldier replied with the calm and sovereign tone of a man who
had been there:--

"In the heel. At Ratisbon. I never saw him so well dressed as on that
day. He was as neat as a new sou."

"And you, Mr. Veteran, you must have been often wounded?"

"I?" said the soldier, "ah! not to amount to anything. At Marengo, I
received two sabre-blows on the back of my neck, a bullet in the right
arm at Austerlitz, another in the left hip at Jena. At Friedland,
a thrust from a bayonet, there,--at the Moskowa seven or eight
lance-thrusts, no matter where, at Lutzen a splinter of a shell crushed
one of my fingers. Ah! and then at Waterloo, a ball from a biscaien in
the thigh, that's all."

"How fine that is!" exclaimed the hair-dresser, in Pindaric accents, "to
die on the field of battle! On my word of honor, rather than die in bed,
of an illness, slowly, a bit by bit each day, with drugs, cataplasms,
syringes, medicines, I should prefer to receive a cannon-ball in my

"You're not over fastidious," said the soldier.

He had hardly spoken when a fearful crash shook the shop. The
show-window had suddenly been fractured.

The wig-maker turned pale.

"Ah, good God!" he exclaimed, "it's one of them!"


"A cannon-ball."

"Here it is," said the soldier.

And he picked up something that was rolling about the floor. It was a

The hair-dresser ran to the broken window and beheld Gavroche fleeing
at the full speed, towards the Marche Saint-Jean. As he passed the
hair-dresser's shop Gavroche, who had the two brats still in his mind,
had not been able to resist the impulse to say good day to him, and had
flung a stone through his panes.

"You see!" shrieked the hair-dresser, who from white had turned blue,
"that fellow returns and does mischief for the pure pleasure of it. What
has any one done to that gamin?"


In the meantime, in the Marche Saint-Jean, where the post had already
been disarmed, Gavroche had just "effected a junction" with a band led
by Enjolras, Courfeyrac, Combeferre, and Feuilly. They were armed after
a fashion. Bahorel and Jean Prouvaire had found them and swelled the
group. Enjolras had a double-barrelled hunting-gun, Combeferre the gun
of a National Guard bearing the number of his legion, and in his belt,
two pistols which his unbuttoned coat allowed to be seen, Jean Prouvaire
an old cavalry musket, Bahorel a rifle; Courfeyrac was brandishing an
unsheathed sword-cane. Feuilly, with a naked sword in his hand, marched
at their head shouting: "Long live Poland!"

They reached the Quai Morland. Cravatless, hatless, breathless, soaked
by the rain, with lightning in their eyes. Gavroche accosted them

"Where are we going?"

"Come along," said Courfeyrac.

Behind Feuilly marched, or rather bounded, Bahorel, who was like a fish
in water in a riot. He wore a scarlet waistcoat, and indulged in
the sort of words which break everything. His waistcoat astounded a
passer-by, who cried in bewilderment:--

"Here are the reds!"

"The reds, the reds!" retorted Bahorel. "A queer kind of fear,
bourgeois. For my part I don't tremble before a poppy, the little red
hat inspires me with no alarm. Take my advice, bourgeois, let's leave
fear of the red to horned cattle."

He caught sight of a corner of the wall on which was placarded the
most peaceable sheet of paper in the world, a permission to eat eggs, a
Lenten admonition addressed by the Archbishop of Paris to his "flock."

Bahorel exclaimed:--

"'Flock'; a polite way of saying geese."

And he tore the charge from the nail. This conquered Gavroche. From that
instant Gavroche set himself to study Bahorel.

"Bahorel," observed Enjolras, "you are wrong. You should have let that
charge alone, he is not the person with whom we have to deal, you are
wasting your wrath to no purpose. Take care of your supply. One does not
fire out of the ranks with the soul any more than with a gun."

"Each one in his own fashion, Enjolras," retorted Bahorel. "This
bishop's prose shocks me; I want to eat eggs without being permitted.
Your style is the hot and cold; I am amusing myself. Besides, I'm not
wasting myself, I'm getting a start; and if I tore down that charge,
Hercle! 'twas only to whet my appetite."

This word, Hercle, struck Gavroche. He sought all occasions for
learning, and that tearer-down of posters possessed his esteem. He
inquired of him:--

"What does Hercle mean?"

Bahorel answered:--

"It means cursed name of a dog, in Latin."

Here Bahorel recognized at a window a pale young man with a black beard
who was watching them as they passed, probably a Friend of the A B C. He
shouted to him:--

"Quick, cartridges, para bellum."

"A fine man! that's true," said Gavroche, who now understood Latin.

A tumultuous retinue accompanied them,--students, artists, young men
affiliated to the Cougourde of Aix, artisans, longshoremen, armed with
clubs and bayonets; some, like Combeferre, with pistols thrust into
their trousers.

An old man, who appeared to be extremely aged, was walking in the band.

He had no arms, and he made great haste, so that he might not be left
behind, although he had a thoughtful air.

Gavroche caught sight of him:--

"Keksekca?" said he to Courfeyrac.

"He's an old duffer."

It was M. Mabeuf.


Let us recount what had taken place.

Enjolras and his friends had been on the Boulevard Bourdon, near the
public storehouses, at the moment when the dragoons had made their
charge. Enjolras, Courfeyrac, and Combeferre were among those who had
taken to the Rue Bassompierre, shouting: "To the barricades!" In the Rue
Lesdiguieres they had met an old man walking along. What had attracted
their attention was that the goodman was walking in a zig-zag, as though
he were intoxicated. Moreover, he had his hat in his hand, although it
had been raining all the morning, and was raining pretty briskly at the
very time. Courfeyrac had recognized Father Mabeuf. He knew him through
having many times accompanied Marius as far as his door. As he was
acquainted with the peaceful and more than timid habits of the old
beadle-book-collector, and was amazed at the sight of him in the midst
of that uproar, a couple of paces from the cavalry charges, almost in
the midst of a fusillade, hatless in the rain, and strolling about among
the bullets, he had accosted him, and the following dialogue had been
exchanged between the rioter of fire and the octogenarian:--

"M. Mabeuf, go to your home."


"There's going to be a row."

"That's well."

"Thrusts with the sword and firing, M. Mabeuf."

"That is well."

"Firing from cannon."

"That is good. Where are the rest of you going?"

"We are going to fling the government to the earth."

"That is good."

And he had set out to follow them. From that moment forth he had not
uttered a word. His step had suddenly become firm; artisans had offered
him their arms; he had refused with a sign of the head. He advanced
nearly to the front rank of the column, with the movement of a man who
is marching and the countenance of a man who is sleeping.

"What a fierce old fellow!" muttered the students. The rumor spread
through the troop that he was a former member of the Convention,--an old
regicide. The mob had turned in through the Rue de la Verrerie.

Little Gavroche marched in front with that deafening song which made of
him a sort of trumpet.

He sang:       "Voici la lune qui paratt,
        Quand irons-nous dans la foret?
        Demandait Charlot a Charlotte.

             Tou tou tou
             Pour Chatou.
        Je n'ai qu'un Dieu, qu'un roi, qu'un liard, et qu'une botte.

        "Pour avoir bu de grand matin
         La rosee a meme le thym,
         Deux moineaux etaient en ribotte.

             Zi zi zi
             Pour Passy.
        Je n'ai qu'un Dieu, qu'un roi, qu'un liard, et qu'une botte.

       "Et ces deux pauvres petits loups,
        Comme deux grives estaient souls;
        Une tigre en riait dans sa grotte.

             Don don don
             Pour Meudon.
        Je n'ai qu'un Dieu, qu'un roi, qu'un liard, et qu'une botte.

       "L'un jurait et l'autre sacrait.
        Quand irons nous dans la foret?
        Demandait Charlot a Charlotte.

             Tin tin tin
             Pour Pantin.
         Je n'ai qu'un Dieu, qu'un roi, qu'un liard, et qu'une botte."[46]

They directed their course towards Saint-Merry.


The band augmented every moment. Near the Rue des Billettes, a man of
lofty stature, whose hair was turning gray, and whose bold and daring
mien was remarked by Courfeyrac, Enjolras, and Combeferre, but whom
none of them knew, joined them. Gavroche, who was occupied in singing,
whistling, humming, running on ahead and pounding on the shutters of the
shops with the butt of his triggerless pistol; paid no attention to this

It chanced that in the Rue de la Verrerie, they passed in front of
Courfeyrac's door.

"This happens just right," said Courfeyrac, "I have forgotten my purse,
and I have lost my hat."

He quitted the mob and ran up to his quarters at full speed. He seized
an old hat and his purse.

He also seized a large square coffer, of the dimensions of a large
valise, which was concealed under his soiled linen.

As he descended again at a run, the portress hailed him:--

"Monsieur de Courfeyrac!"

"What's your name, portress?"

The portress stood bewildered.

"Why, you know perfectly well, I'm the concierge; my name is Mother

"Well, if you call me Monsieur de Courfeyrac again, I shall call you
Mother de Veuvain. Now speak, what's the matter? What do you want?"

"There is some one who wants to speak with you."

"Who is it?"

"I don't know."

"Where is he?"

"In my lodge."

"The devil!" ejaculated Courfeyrac.

"But the person has been waiting your return for over an hour," said the

At the same time, a sort of pale, thin, small, freckled, and youthful
artisan, clad in a tattered blouse and patched trousers of ribbed
velvet, and who had rather the air of a girl accoutred as a man than of
a man, emerged from the lodge and said to Courfeyrac in a voice which
was not the least in the world like a woman's voice:--

"Monsieur Marius, if you please."

"He is not here."

"Will he return this evening?"

"I know nothing about it."

And Courfeyrac added:--

"For my part, I shall not return."

The young man gazed steadily at him and said:--

"Why not?"


"Where are you going, then?"

"What business is that of yours?"

"Would you like to have me carry your coffer for you?"

"I am going to the barricades."

"Would you like to have me go with you?"

"If you like!" replied Courfeyrac. "The street is free, the pavements
belong to every one."

And he made his escape at a run to join his friends. When he had
rejoined them, he gave the coffer to one of them to carry. It was only
a quarter of an hour after this that he saw the young man, who had
actually followed them.

A mob does not go precisely where it intends. We have explained that
a gust of wind carries it away. They overshot Saint-Merry and found
themselves, without precisely knowing how, in the Rue Saint-Denis.



The Parisians who nowadays on entering on the Rue Rambuteau at the end
near the Halles, notice on their right, opposite the Rue Mondetour, a
basket-maker's shop having for its sign a basket in the form of Napoleon
the Great with this inscription:--

                    NAPOLEON IS MADE
                    WHOLLY OF WILLOW,

have no suspicion of the terrible scenes which this very spot witnessed
hardly thirty years ago.

It was there that lay the Rue de la Chanvrerie, which ancient deeds
spell Chanverrerie, and the celebrated public-house called Corinthe.

The reader will remember all that has been said about the barricade
effected at this point, and eclipsed, by the way, by the barricade
Saint-Merry. It was on this famous barricade of the Rue de la
Chanvrerie, now fallen into profound obscurity, that we are about to
shed a little light.

May we be permitted to recur, for the sake of clearness in the recital,
to the simple means which we have already employed in the case of
Waterloo. Persons who wish to picture to themselves in a tolerably exact
manner the constitution of the houses which stood at that epoch near the
Pointe Saint-Eustache, at the northeast angle of the Halles of Paris,
where to-day lies the embouchure of the Rue Rambuteau, have only to
imagine an N touching the Rue Saint-Denis with its summit and the Halles
with its base, and whose two vertical bars should form the Rue de la
Grande-Truanderie, and the Rue de la Chanvrerie, and whose transverse
bar should be formed by the Rue de la Petite-Truanderie. The old Rue
Mondetour cut the three strokes of the N at the most crooked angles,
so that the labyrinthine confusion of these four streets sufficed to
form, on a space three fathoms square, between the Halles and the Rue
Saint-Denis on the one hand, and between the Rue du Cygne and the Rue
des Precheurs on the other, seven islands of houses, oddly cut up, of
varying sizes, placed crosswise and hap-hazard, and barely separated,
like the blocks of stone in a dock, by narrow crannies.

We say narrow crannies, and we can give no more just idea of those dark,
contracted, many-angled alleys, lined with eight-story buildings. These
buildings were so decrepit that, in the Rue de la Chanvrerie and the Rue
de la Petite-Truanderie, the fronts were shored up with beams running
from one house to another. The street was narrow and the gutter broad,
the pedestrian there walked on a pavement that was always wet, skirting
little stalls resembling cellars, big posts encircled with iron hoops,
excessive heaps of refuse, and gates armed with enormous, century-old
gratings. The Rue Rambuteau has devastated all that.

The name of Mondetour paints marvellously well the sinuosities of that
whole set of streets. A little further on, they are found still better
expressed by the Rue Pirouette, which ran into the Rue Mondetour.

The passer-by who got entangled from the Rue Saint-Denis in the Rue de
la Chanvrerie beheld it gradually close in before him as though he had
entered an elongated funnel. At the end of this street, which was very
short, he found further passage barred in the direction of the Halles
by a tall row of houses, and he would have thought himself in a blind
alley, had he not perceived on the right and left two dark cuts through
which he could make his escape. This was the Rue Mondetour, which on
one side ran into the Rue de Precheurs, and on the other into the Rue
du Cygne and the Petite-Truanderie. At the bottom of this sort of
cul-de-sac, at the angle of the cutting on the right, there was to be
seen a house which was not so tall as the rest, and which formed a sort
of cape in the street. It is in this house, of two stories only, that
an illustrious wine-shop had been merrily installed three hundred years
before. This tavern created a joyous noise in the very spot which old
Theophilus described in the following couplet:--

               La branle le squelette horrible
               D'un pauvre amant qui se pendit.[47]

The situation was good, and tavern-keepers succeeded each other there,
from father to son.

In the time of Mathurin Regnier, this cabaret was called the
Pot-aux-Roses, and as the rebus was then in fashion, it had for its
sign-board, a post (poteau) painted rose-color. In the last century, the
worthy Natoire, one of the fantastic masters nowadays despised by the
stiff school, having got drunk many times in this wine-shop at the
very table where Regnier had drunk his fill, had painted, by way of
gratitude, a bunch of Corinth grapes on the pink post. The keeper of the
cabaret, in his joy, had changed his device and had caused to be placed
in gilt letters beneath the bunch these words: "At the Bunch of Corinth
Grapes" ("Au Raisin de Corinthe"). Hence the name of Corinthe. Nothing
is more natural to drunken men than ellipses. The ellipsis is the
zig-zag of the phrase. Corinthe gradually dethroned the Pot-aux-Roses.
The last proprietor of the dynasty, Father Hucheloup, no longer
acquainted even with the tradition, had the post painted blue.

A room on the ground floor, where the bar was situated, one on the first
floor containing a billiard-table, a wooden spiral staircase piercing
the ceiling, wine on the tables, smoke on the walls, candles in broad
daylight,--this was the style of this cabaret. A staircase with a
trap-door in the lower room led to the cellar. On the second floor were
the lodgings of the Hucheloup family. They were reached by a staircase
which was a ladder rather than a staircase, and had for their entrance
only a private door in the large room on the first floor. Under the
roof, in two mansard attics, were the nests for the servants. The
kitchen shared the ground-floor with the tap-room.

Father Hucheloup had, possibly, been born a chemist, but the fact is
that he was a cook; people did not confine themselves to drinking alone
in his wine-shop, they also ate there. Hucheloup had invented a capital
thing which could be eaten nowhere but in his house, stuffed carps,
which he called carpes au gras. These were eaten by the light of a
tallow candle or of a lamp of the time of Louis XVI., on tables to which
were nailed waxed cloths in lieu of table-cloths. People came thither
from a distance. Hucheloup, one fine morning, had seen fit to notify
passers-by of this "specialty"; he had dipped a brush in a pot of black
paint, and as he was an orthographer on his own account, as well as
a cook after his own fashion, he had improvised on his wall this
remarkable inscription:--

                    CARPES HO GRAS.

One winter, the rain-storms and the showers had taken a fancy to
obliterate the S which terminated the first word, and the G which began
the third; this is what remained:--

                      CARPE HO RAS.

Time and rain assisting, a humble gastronomical announcement had become
a profound piece of advice.

In this way it came about, that though he knew no French, Father
Hucheloup understood Latin, that he had evoked philosophy from his
kitchen, and that, desirous simply of effacing Lent, he had equalled
Horace. And the striking thing about it was, that that also meant:
"Enter my wine-shop."

Nothing of all this is in existence now. The Mondetour labyrinth was
disembowelled and widely opened in 1847, and probably no longer exists
at the present moment. The Rue de la Chanvrerie and Corinthe have
disappeared beneath the pavement of the Rue Rambuteau.

As we have already said, Corinthe was the meeting-place if not the
rallying-point, of Courfeyrac and his friends. It was Grantaire who had
discovered Corinthe. He had entered it on account of the Carpe horas,
and had returned thither on account of the Carpes au gras. There they
drank, there they ate, there they shouted; they did not pay much, they
paid badly, they did not pay at all, but they were always welcome.
Father Hucheloup was a jovial host.

Hucheloup, that amiable man, as was just said, was a wine-shop-keeper
with a mustache; an amusing variety. He always had an ill-tempered air,
seemed to wish to intimidate his customers, grumbled at the people who
entered his establishment, and had rather the mien of seeking a quarrel
with them than of serving them with soup. And yet, we insist upon
the word, people were always welcome there. This oddity had attracted
customers to his shop, and brought him young men, who said to each
other: "Come hear Father Hucheloup growl." He had been a fencing-master.
All of a sudden, he would burst out laughing. A big voice, a good
fellow. He had a comic foundation under a tragic exterior, he asked
nothing better than to frighten you, very much like those snuff-boxes
which are in the shape of a pistol. The detonation makes one sneeze.

Mother Hucheloup, his wife, was a bearded and a very homely creature.

About 1830, Father Hucheloup died. With him disappeared the secret of
stuffed carps. His inconsolable widow continued to keep the wine-shop.
But the cooking deteriorated, and became execrable; the wine, which had
always been bad, became fearfully bad. Nevertheless, Courfeyrac and his
friends continued to go to Corinthe,--out of pity, as Bossuet said.

The Widow Hucheloup was breathless and misshapen and given to rustic
recollections. She deprived them of their flatness by her pronunciation.
She had a way of her own of saying things, which spiced her
reminiscences of the village and of her springtime. It had formerly been
her delight, so she affirmed, to hear the loups-de-gorge (rouges-gorges)
chanter dans les ogrepines (aubepines)--to hear the redbreasts sing in
the hawthorn-trees.

The hall on the first floor, where "the restaurant" was situated, was
a large and long apartment encumbered with stools, chairs, benches, and
tables, and with a crippled, lame, old billiard-table. It was reached
by a spiral staircase which terminated in the corner of the room at a
square hole like the hatchway of a ship.

This room, lighted by a single narrow window, and by a lamp that was
always burning, had the air of a garret. All the four-footed furniture
comported itself as though it had but three legs--the whitewashed walls
had for their only ornament the following quatrain in honor of Mame

          Elle etonne a dix pas, elle epouvente a deux,
          Une verrue habite en son nez hasardeux;
          On tremble a chaque instant qu'elle ne vous la mouche
          Et qu'un beau jour son nez ne tombe dans sa bouche.[48]

This was scrawled in charcoal on the wall.

Mame Hucheloup, a good likeness, went and came from morning till
night before this quatrain with the most perfect tranquillity. Two
serving-maids, named Matelote and Gibelotte,[49] and who had never been
known by any other names, helped Mame Hucheloup to set on the tables
the jugs of poor wine, and the various broths which were served to the
hungry patrons in earthenware bowls. Matelote, large, plump, redhaired,
and noisy, the favorite ex-sultana of the defunct Hucheloup, was
homelier than any mythological monster, be it what it may; still, as it
becomes the servant to always keep in the rear of the mistress, she was
less homely than Mame Hucheloup. Gibelotte, tall, delicate, white with a
lymphatic pallor, with circles round her eyes, and drooping lids, always
languid and weary, afflicted with what may be called chronic lassitude,
the first up in the house and the last in bed, waited on every one, even
the other maid, silently and gently, smiling through her fatigue with a
vague and sleepy smile.

Before entering the restaurant room, the visitor read on the door the
following line written there in chalk by Courfeyrac:--

          Regale si tu peux et mange si tu l'oses.[50]


Laigle de Meaux, as the reader knows, lived more with Joly than
elsewhere. He had a lodging, as a bird has one on a branch. The
two friends lived together, ate together, slept together. They had
everything in common, even Musichetta, to some extent. They were, what
the subordinate monks who accompany monks are called, bini. On the
morning of the 5th of June, they went to Corinthe to breakfast. Joly,
who was all stuffed up, had a catarrh which Laigle was beginning to
share. Laigle's coat was threadbare, but Joly was well dressed.

It was about nine o'clock in the morning, when they opened the door of

They ascended to the first floor.

Matelote and Gibelotte received them.

"Oysters, cheese, and ham," said Laigle.

And they seated themselves at a table.

The wine-shop was empty; there was no one there but themselves.

Gibelotte, knowing Joly and Laigle, set a bottle of wine on the table.

While they were busy with their first oysters, a head appeared at the
hatchway of the staircase, and a voice said:--

"I am passing by. I smell from the street a delicious odor of Brie
cheese. I enter." It was Grantaire.

Grantaire took a stool and drew up to the table.

At the sight of Grantaire, Gibelotte placed two bottles of wine on the

That made three.

"Are you going to drink those two bottles?" Laigle inquired of

Grantaire replied:--

"All are ingenious, thou alone art ingenuous. Two bottles never yet
astonished a man."

The others had begun by eating, Grantaire began by drinking. Half a
bottle was rapidly gulped down.

"So you have a hole in your stomach?" began Laigle again.

"You have one in your elbow," said Grantaire.

And after having emptied his glass, he added:--

"Ah, by the way, Laigle of the funeral oration, your coat is old."

"I should hope so," retorted Laigle. "That's why we get on well
together, my coat and I. It has acquired all my folds, it does not bind
me anywhere, it is moulded on my deformities, it falls in with all my
movements, I am only conscious of it because it keeps me warm. Old coats
are just like old friends."

"That's true," ejaculated Joly, striking into the dialogue, "an old goat
is an old abi" (ami, friend).

"Especially in the mouth of a man whose head is stuffed up," said

"Grantaire," demanded Laigle, "have you just come from the boulevard?"


"We have just seen the head of the procession pass, Joly and I."

"It's a marvellous sight," said Joly.

"How quiet this street is!" exclaimed Laigle. "Who would suspect that
Paris was turned upside down? How plainly it is to be seen that in
former days there were nothing but convents here! In this neighborhood!
Du Breul and Sauval give a list of them, and so does the Abbe Lebeuf.
They were all round here, they fairly swarmed, booted and barefooted,
shaven, bearded, gray, black, white, Franciscans, Minims, Capuchins,
Carmelites, Little Augustines, Great Augustines, old Augustines--there
was no end of them."

"Don't let's talk of monks," interrupted Grantaire, "it makes one want
to scratch one's self."

Then he exclaimed:--

"Bouh! I've just swallowed a bad oyster. Now hypochondria is taking
possession of me again. The oysters are spoiled, the servants are ugly.
I hate the human race. I just passed through the Rue Richelieu, in front
of the big public library. That pile of oyster-shells which is called
a library is disgusting even to think of. What paper! What ink! What
scrawling! And all that has been written! What rascal was it who said
that man was a featherless biped?[51] And then, I met a pretty girl of
my acquaintance, who is as beautiful as the spring, worthy to be called
Floreal, and who is delighted, enraptured, as happy as the angels,
because a wretch yesterday, a frightful banker all spotted with
small-pox, deigned to take a fancy to her! Alas! woman keeps on the
watch for a protector as much as for a lover; cats chase mice as well
as birds. Two months ago that young woman was virtuous in an attic, she
adjusted little brass rings in the eyelet-holes of corsets, what do
you call it? She sewed, she had a camp bed, she dwelt beside a pot
of flowers, she was contented. Now here she is a bankeress. This
transformation took place last night. I met the victim this morning in
high spirits. The hideous point about it is, that the jade is as pretty
to-day as she was yesterday. Her financier did not show in her face.
Roses have this advantage or disadvantage over women, that the traces
left upon them by caterpillars are visible. Ah! there is no morality on
earth. I call to witness the myrtle, the symbol of love, the laurel,
the symbol of air, the olive, that ninny, the symbol of peace, the
apple-tree which came nearest rangling Adam with its pips, and the
fig-tree, the grandfather of petticoats. As for right, do you know what
right is? The Gauls covet Clusium, Rome protects Clusium, and demands
what wrong Clusium has done to them. Brennus answers: 'The wrong that
Alba did to you, the wrong that Fidenae did to you, the wrong that the
Eques, the Volsci, and the Sabines have done to you. They were your
neighbors. The Clusians are ours. We understand neighborliness just as
you do. You have stolen Alba, we shall take Clusium.' Rome said: 'You
shall not take Clusium.' Brennus took Rome. Then he cried: 'Vae victis!'
That is what right is. Ah! what beasts of prey there are in this world!
What eagles! It makes my flesh creep."

He held out his glass to Joly, who filled it, then he drank and went on,
having hardly been interrupted by this glass of wine, of which no one,
not even himself, had taken any notice:--

"Brennus, who takes Rome, is an eagle; the banker who takes the grisette
is an eagle. There is no more modesty in the one case than in the other.
So we believe in nothing. There is but one reality: drink. Whatever your
opinion may be in favor of the lean cock, like the Canton of Uri, or
in favor of the fat cock, like the Canton of Glaris, it matters little,
drink. You talk to me of the boulevard, of that procession, et caetera,
et caetera. Come now, is there going to be another revolution? This
poverty of means on the part of the good God astounds me. He has to keep
greasing the groove of events every moment. There is a hitch, it won't
work. Quick, a revolution! The good God has his hands perpetually black
with that cart-grease. If I were in his place, I'd be perfectly simple
about it, I would not wind up my mechanism every minute, I'd lead the
human race in a straightforward way, I'd weave matters mesh by mesh,
without breaking the thread, I would have no provisional arrangements,
I would have no extraordinary repertory. What the rest of you call
progress advances by means of two motors, men and events. But, sad to
say, from time to time, the exceptional becomes necessary. The ordinary
troupe suffices neither for event nor for men: among men geniuses are
required, among events revolutions. Great accidents are the law; the
order of things cannot do without them; and, judging from the apparition
of comets, one would be tempted to think that Heaven itself finds actors
needed for its performance. At the moment when one expects it the least,
God placards a meteor on the wall of the firmament. Some queer star
turns up, underlined by an enormous tail. And that causes the death
of Caesar. Brutus deals him a blow with a knife, and God a blow with a
comet. Crac, and behold an aurora borealis, behold a revolution, behold
a great man; '93 in big letters, Napoleon on guard, the comet of 1811
at the head of the poster. Ah! what a beautiful blue theatre all studded
with unexpected flashes! Boum! Boum! extraordinary show! Raise your
eyes, boobies. Everything is in disorder, the star as well as the drama.
Good God, it is too much and not enough. These resources, gathered from
exception, seem magnificence and poverty. My friends, Providence has
come down to expedients. What does a revolution prove? That God is in a
quandry. He effects a coup d'etat because he, God, has not been able to
make both ends meet. In fact, this confirms me in my conjectures as
to Jehovah's fortune; and when I see so much distress in heaven and on
earth, from the bird who has not a grain of millet to myself without a
hundred thousand livres of income, when I see human destiny, which is
very badly worn, and even royal destiny, which is threadbare, witness
the Prince de Conde hung, when I see winter, which is nothing but a rent
in the zenith through which the wind blows, when I see so many rags even
in the perfectly new purple of the morning on the crests of hills, when
I see the drops of dew, those mock pearls, when I see the frost, that
paste, when I see humanity ripped apart and events patched up, and so
many spots on the sun and so many holes in the moon, when I see so
much misery everywhere, I suspect that God is not rich. The appearance
exists, it is true, but I feel that he is hard up. He gives a revolution
as a tradesman whose money-box is empty gives a ball. God must not be
judged from appearances. Beneath the gilding of heaven I perceive
a poverty-stricken universe. Creation is bankrupt. That is why I am
discontented. Here it is the 4th of June, it is almost night; ever since
this morning I have been waiting for daylight to come; it has not come,
and I bet that it won't come all day. This is the inexactness of an
ill-paid clerk. Yes, everything is badly arranged, nothing fits anything
else, this old world is all warped, I take my stand on the opposition,
everything goes awry; the universe is a tease. It's like children, those
who want them have none, and those who don't want them have them. Total:
I'm vexed. Besides, Laigle de Meaux, that bald-head, offends my sight.
It humiliates me to think that I am of the same age as that baldy.
However, I criticise, but I do not insult. The universe is what it is.
I speak here without evil intent and to ease my conscience. Receive,
Eternal Father, the assurance of my distinguished consideration. Ah!
by all the saints of Olympus and by all the gods of paradise, I was not
intended to be a Parisian, that is to say, to rebound forever, like a
shuttlecock between two battledores, from the group of the loungers to
the group of the roysterers. I was made to be a Turk, watching oriental
houris all day long, executing those exquisite Egyptian dances, as
sensuous as the dream of a chaste man, or a Beauceron peasant, or a
Venetian gentleman surrounded by gentlewomen, or a petty German prince,
furnishing the half of a foot-soldier to the Germanic confederation, and
occupying his leisure with drying his breeches on his hedge, that is to
say, his frontier. Those are the positions for which I was born! Yes, I
have said a Turk, and I will not retract. I do not understand how people
can habitually take Turks in bad part; Mohammed had his good points;
respect for the inventor of seraglios with houris and paradises with
odalisques! Let us not insult Mohammedanism, the only religion which is
ornamented with a hen-roost! Now, I insist on a drink. The earth is a
great piece of stupidity. And it appears that they are going to fight,
all those imbeciles, and to break each other's profiles and to massacre
each other in the heart of summer, in the month of June, when they might
go off with a creature on their arm, to breathe the immense heaps of
new-mown hay in the meadows! Really, people do commit altogether
too many follies. An old broken lantern which I have just seen at a
bric-a-brac merchant's suggests a reflection to my mind; it is time to
enlighten the human race. Yes, behold me sad again. That's what comes
of swallowing an oyster and a revolution the wrong way! I am growing
melancholy once more. Oh! frightful old world. People strive, turn each
other out, prostitute themselves, kill each other, and get used to it!"

And Grantaire, after this fit of eloquence, had a fit of coughing, which
was well earned.

"A propos of revolution," said Joly, "it is decidedly abberent that
Barius is in lub."

"Does any one know with whom?" demanded Laigle.



"Do! I tell you."

"Marius' love affairs!" exclaimed Grantaire. "I can imagine it. Marius
is a fog, and he must have found a vapor. Marius is of the race of
poets. He who says poet, says fool, madman, Tymbraeus Apollo. Marius and
his Marie, or his Marion, or his Maria, or his Mariette. They must make
a queer pair of lovers. I know just what it is like. Ecstasies in which
they forget to kiss. Pure on earth, but joined in heaven. They are souls
possessed of senses. They lie among the stars."

Grantaire was attacking his second bottle and, possibly, his second
harangue, when a new personage emerged from the square aperture of the
stairs. It was a boy less than ten years of age, ragged, very small,
yellow, with an odd phiz, a vivacious eye, an enormous amount of hair
drenched with rain, and wearing a contented air.

The child unhesitatingly making his choice among the three, addressed
himself to Laigle de Meaux.

"Are you Monsieur Bossuet?"

"That is my nickname," replied Laigle. "What do you want with me?"

"This. A tall blonde fellow on the boulevard said to me: 'Do you know
Mother Hucheloup?' I said: 'Yes, Rue Chanvrerie, the old man's widow;'
he said to me: 'Go there. There you will find M. Bossuet. Tell him from
me: "A B C".' It's a joke that they're playing on you, isn't it. He gave
me ten sous."

"Joly, lend me ten sous," said Laigle; and, turning to Grantaire:
"Grantaire, lend me ten sous."

This made twenty sous, which Laigle handed to the lad.

"Thank you, sir," said the urchin.

"What is your name?" inquired Laigle.

"Navet, Gavroche's friend."

"Stay with us," said Laigle.

"Breakfast with us," said Grantaire.

The child replied:--

"I can't, I belong in the procession, I'm the one to shout 'Down with

And executing a prolonged scrape of his foot behind him, which is the
most respectful of all possible salutes, he took his departure.

The child gone, Grantaire took the word:--

"That is the pure-bred gamin. There are a great many varieties of the
gamin species. The notary's gamin is called Skip-the-Gutter, the cook's
gamin is called a scullion, the baker's gamin is called a mitron,
the lackey's gamin is called a groom, the marine gamin is called the
cabin-boy, the soldier's gamin is called the drummer-boy, the painter's
gamin is called paint-grinder, the tradesman's gamin is called an
errand-boy, the courtesan gamin is called the minion, the kingly gamin
is called the dauphin, the god gamin is called the bambino."

In the meantime, Laigle was engaged in reflection; he said half aloud:--

"A B C, that is to say: the burial of Lamarque."

"The tall blonde," remarked Grantaire, "is Enjolras, who is sending you
a warning."

"Shall we go?" ejaculated Bossuet.

"It's raiding," said Joly. "I have sworn to go through fire, but not
through water. I don't wand to ged a gold."

"I shall stay here," said Grantaire. "I prefer a breakfast to a hearse."

"Conclusion: we remain," said Laigle. "Well, then, let us drink.
Besides, we might miss the funeral without missing the riot."

"Ah! the riot, I am with you!" cried Joly.

Laigle rubbed his hands.

"Now we're going to touch up the revolution of 1830. As a matter of
fact, it does hurt the people along the seams."

"I don't think much of your revolution," said Grantaire. "I don't
execrate this Government. It is the crown tempered by the cotton
night-cap. It is a sceptre ending in an umbrella. In fact, I think
that to-day, with the present weather, Louis Philippe might utilize his
royalty in two directions, he might extend the tip of the sceptre end
against the people, and open the umbrella end against heaven."

The room was dark, large clouds had just finished the extinction of
daylight. There was no one in the wine-shop, or in the street, every one
having gone off "to watch events."

"Is it mid-day or midnight?" cried Bossuet. "You can't see your hand
before your face. Gibelotte, fetch a light."

Grantaire was drinking in a melancholy way.

"Enjolras disdains me," he muttered. "Enjolras said: 'Joly is ill,
Grantaire is drunk.' It was to Bossuet that he sent Navet. If he had
come for me, I would have followed him. So much the worse for Enjolras!
I won't go to his funeral."

This resolution once arrived at, Bossuet, Joly, and Grantaire did not
stir from the wine-shop. By two o'clock in the afternoon, the table at
which they sat was covered with empty bottles. Two candles were burning
on it, one in a flat copper candlestick which was perfectly green, the
other in the neck of a cracked carafe. Grantaire had seduced Joly and
Bossuet to wine; Bossuet and Joly had conducted Grantaire back towards

As for Grantaire, he had got beyond wine, that merely moderate
inspirer of dreams, ever since mid-day. Wine enjoys only a conventional
popularity with serious drinkers. There is, in fact, in the matter
of inebriety, white magic and black magic; wine is only white magic.
Grantaire was a daring drinker of dreams. The blackness of a terrible
fit of drunkenness yawning before him, far from arresting him, attracted
him. He had abandoned the bottle and taken to the beerglass. The
beer-glass is the abyss. Having neither opium nor hashish on hand, and
being desirous of filling his brain with twilight, he had had recourse
to that fearful mixture of brandy, stout, absinthe, which produces the
most terrible of lethargies. It is of these three vapors, beer, brandy,
and absinthe, that the lead of the soul is composed. They are three
grooms; the celestial butterfly is drowned in them; and there are formed
there in a membranous smoke, vaguely condensed into the wing of the bat,
three mute furies, Nightmare, Night, and Death, which hover about the
slumbering Psyche.

Grantaire had not yet reached that lamentable phase; far from it. He was
tremendously gay, and Bossuet and Joly retorted. They clinked glasses.
Grantaire added to the eccentric accentuation of words and ideas,
a peculiarity of gesture; he rested his left fist on his knee with
dignity, his arm forming a right angle, and, with cravat untied, seated
astride a stool, his full glass in his right hand, he hurled solemn
words at the big maid-servant Matelote:--

"Let the doors of the palace be thrown open! Let every one be a member
of the French Academy and have the right to embrace Madame Hucheloup.
Let us drink."

And turning to Madame Hucheloup, he added:--

"Woman ancient and consecrated by use, draw near that I may contemplate

And Joly exclaimed:--

"Matelote and Gibelotte, dod't gib Grantaire anything more to drink.
He has already devoured, since this bording, in wild prodigality, two
francs and ninety-five centibes."

And Grantaire began again:--

"Who has been unhooking the stars without my permission, and putting
them on the table in the guise of candles?"

Bossuet, though very drunk, preserved his equanimity.

He was seated on the sill of the open window, wetting his back in the
falling rain, and gazing at his two friends.

All at once, he heard a tumult behind him, hurried footsteps, cries of
"To arms!" He turned round and saw in the Rue Saint-Denis, at the end
of the Rue de la Chanvrerie, Enjolras passing, gun in hand, and Gavroche
with his pistol, Feuilly with his sword, Courfeyrac with his sword, and
Jean Prouvaire with his blunderbuss, Combeferre with his gun, Bahorel
with his gun, and the whole armed and stormy rabble which was following

The Rue de la Chanvrerie was not more than a gunshot long. Bossuet
improvised a speaking-trumpet from his two hands placed around his
mouth, and shouted:--

"Courfeyrac! Courfeyrac! Hohee!"

Courfeyrac heard the shout, caught sight of Bossuet, and advanced a few
paces into the Rue de la Chanvrerie, shouting: "What do you want?" which
crossed a "Where are you going?"

"To make a barricade," replied Courfeyrac.

"Well, here! This is a good place! Make it here!"

"That's true, Aigle," said Courfeyrac.

And at a signal from Courfeyrac, the mob flung themselves into the Rue
de la Chanvrerie.


The spot was, in fact, admirably adapted, the entrance to the street
widened out, the other extremity narrowed together into a pocket
without exit. Corinthe created an obstacle, the Rue Mondetour was easily
barricaded on the right and the left, no attack was possible except
from the Rue Saint-Denis, that is to say, in front, and in full sight.
Bossuet had the comprehensive glance of a fasting Hannibal.

Terror had seized on the whole street at the irruption of the mob. There
was not a passer-by who did not get out of sight. In the space of a
flash of lightning, in the rear, to right and left, shops, stables,
area-doors, windows, blinds, attic skylights, shutters of every
description were closed, from the ground floor to the roof. A terrified
old woman fixed a mattress in front of her window on two clothes-poles
for drying linen, in order to deaden the effect of musketry. The
wine-shop alone remained open; and that for a very good reason, that the
mob had rushed into it.--"Ah my God! Ah my God!" sighed Mame Hucheloup.

Bossuet had gone down to meet Courfeyrac.

Joly, who had placed himself at the window, exclaimed:--

"Courfeyrac, you ought to have brought an umbrella. You will gatch

In the meantime, in the space of a few minutes, twenty iron bars had
been wrenched from the grated front of the wine-shop, ten fathoms of
street had been unpaved; Gavroche and Bahorel had seized in its passage,
and overturned, the dray of a lime-dealer named Anceau; this dray
contained three barrels of lime, which they placed beneath the piles
of paving-stones: Enjolras raised the cellar trap, and all the widow
Hucheloup's empty casks were used to flank the barrels of lime; Feuilly,
with his fingers skilled in painting the delicate sticks of fans, had
backed up the barrels and the dray with two massive heaps of blocks of
rough stone. Blocks which were improvised like the rest and procured
no one knows where. The beams which served as props were torn from
the neighboring house-fronts and laid on the casks. When Bossuet and
Courfeyrac turned round, half the street was already barred with
a rampart higher than a man. There is nothing like the hand of the
populace for building everything that is built by demolishing.

Matelote and Gibelotte had mingled with the workers. Gibelotte went and
came loaded with rubbish. Her lassitude helped on the barricade. She
served the barricade as she would have served wine, with a sleepy air.

An omnibus with two white horses passed the end of the street.

Bossuet strode over the paving-stones, ran to it, stopped the driver,
made the passengers alight, offered his hand to "the ladies," dismissed
the conductor, and returned, leading the vehicle and the horses by the

"Omnibuses," said he, "do not pass the Corinthe. Non licet omnibus adire

An instant later, the horses were unharnessed and went off at their
will, through the Rue Mondetour, and the omnibus lying on its side
completed the bar across the street.

Mame Hucheloup, quite upset, had taken refuge in the first story.

Her eyes were vague, and stared without seeing anything, and she cried
in a low tone. Her terrified shrieks did not dare to emerge from her

"The end of the world has come," she muttered.

Joly deposited a kiss on Mame Hucheloup's fat, red, wrinkled neck, and
said to Grantaire: "My dear fellow, I have always regarded a woman's
neck as an infinitely delicate thing."

But Grantaire attained to the highest regions of dithryamb. Matelote
had mounted to the first floor once more, Grantaire seized her round her
waist, and gave vent to long bursts of laughter at the window.

"Matelote is homely!" he cried: "Matelote is of a dream of ugliness!
Matelote is a chimaera. This is the secret of her birth: a Gothic
Pygmalion, who was making gargoyles for cathedrals, fell in love with
one of them, the most horrible, one fine morning. He besought Love to
give it life, and this produced Matelote. Look at her, citizens! She has
chromate-of-lead-colored hair, like Titian's mistress, and she is a good
girl. I guarantee that she will fight well. Every good girl contains
a hero. As for Mother Hucheloup, she's an old warrior. Look at her
moustaches! She inherited them from her husband. A hussar indeed! She
will fight too. These two alone will strike terror to the heart of the
banlieue. Comrades, we shall overthrow the government as true as there
are fifteen intermediary acids between margaric acid and formic acid;
however, that is a matter of perfect indifference to me. Gentlemen, my
father always detested me because I could not understand mathematics.
I understand only love and liberty. I am Grantaire, the good fellow.
Having never had any money, I never acquired the habit of it, and the
result is that I have never lacked it; but, if I had been rich, there
would have been no more poor people! You would have seen! Oh, if the
kind hearts only had fat purses, how much better things would go! I
picture myself Jesus Christ with Rothschild's fortune! How much good he
would do! Matelote, embrace me! You are voluptuous and timid! You have
cheeks which invite the kiss of a sister, and lips which claim the kiss
of a lover."

"Hold your tongue, you cask!" said Courfeyrac.

Grantaire retorted:--

"I am the capitoul[52] and the master of the floral games!"

Enjolras, who was standing on the crest of the barricade, gun in hand,
raised his beautiful, austere face. Enjolras, as the reader knows, had
something of the Spartan and of the Puritan in his composition. He would
have perished at Thermopylae with Leonidas, and burned at Drogheda with

"Grantaire," he shouted, "go get rid of the fumes of your wine somewhere
else than here. This is the place for enthusiasm, not for drunkenness.
Don't disgrace the barricade!"

This angry speech produced a singular effect on Grantaire. One would
have said that he had had a glass of cold water flung in his face. He
seemed to be rendered suddenly sober.

He sat down, put his elbows on a table near the window, looked at
Enjolras with indescribable gentleness, and said to him:--

"Let me sleep here."

"Go and sleep somewhere else," cried Enjolras.

But Grantaire, still keeping his tender and troubled eyes fixed on him,

"Let me sleep here,--until I die."

Enjolras regarded him with disdainful eyes:--

"Grantaire, you are incapable of believing, of thinking, of willing, of
living, and of dying."

Grantaire replied in a grave tone:--

"You will see."

He stammered a few more unintelligible words, then his head fell heavily
on the table, and, as is the usual effect of the second period of
inebriety, into which Enjolras had roughly and abruptly thrust him, an
instant later he had fallen asleep.


Bahorel, in ecstasies over the barricade, shouted:--

"Here's the street in its low-necked dress! How well it looks!"

Courfeyrac, as he demolished the wine-shop to some extent, sought to
console the widowed proprietress.

"Mother Hucheloup, weren't you complaining the other day because you
had had a notice served on you for infringing the law, because Gibelotte
shook a counterpane out of your window?"

"Yes, my good Monsieur Courfeyrac. Ah! good Heavens, are you going
to put that table of mine in your horror, too? And it was for the
counterpane, and also for a pot of flowers which fell from the attic
window into the street, that the government collected a fine of a
hundred francs. If that isn't an abomination, what is!"

"Well, Mother Hucheloup, we are avenging you."

Mother Hucheloup did not appear to understand very clearly the benefit
which she was to derive from these reprisals made on her account. She
was satisfied after the manner of that Arab woman, who, having received
a box on the ear from her husband, went to complain to her father, and
cried for vengeance, saying: "Father, you owe my husband affront for
affront." The father asked: "On which cheek did you receive the blow?"
"On the left cheek." The father slapped her right cheek and said: "Now
you are satisfied. Go tell your husband that he boxed my daughter's
ears, and that I have accordingly boxed his wife's."

The rain had ceased. Recruits had arrived. Workmen had brought under
their blouses a barrel of powder, a basket containing bottles of
vitriol, two or three carnival torches, and a basket filled with
fire-pots, "left over from the King's festival." This festival was very
recent, having taken place on the 1st of May. It was said that these
munitions came from a grocer in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine named Pepin.
They smashed the only street lantern in the Rue de la Chanvrerie,
the lantern corresponding to one in the Rue Saint-Denis, and all
the lanterns in the surrounding streets, de Mondetour, du Cygne, des
Precheurs, and de la Grande and de la Petite-Truanderie.

Enjolras, Combeferre, and Courfeyrac directed everything. Two barricades
were now in process of construction at once, both of them resting on the
Corinthe house and forming a right angle; the larger shut off the Rue
de la Chanvrerie, the other closed the Rue Mondetour, on the side of
the Rue de Cygne. This last barricade, which was very narrow, was
constructed only of casks and paving-stones. There were about fifty
workers on it; thirty were armed with guns; for, on their way, they had
effected a wholesale loan from an armorer's shop.

Nothing could be more bizarre and at the same time more motley than this
troop. One had a round-jacket, a cavalry sabre, and two holster-pistols,
another was in his shirt-sleeves, with a round hat, and a powder-horn
slung at his side, a third wore a plastron of nine sheets of gray paper
and was armed with a saddler's awl. There was one who was shouting:
"Let us exterminate them to the last man and die at the point of our
bayonet." This man had no bayonet. Another spread out over his coat the
cross-belt and cartridge-box of a National Guardsman, the cover of the
cartridge-box being ornamented with this inscription in red worsted:
Public Order. There were a great many guns bearing the numbers of the
legions, few hats, no cravats, many bare arms, some pikes. Add to
this, all ages, all sorts of faces, small, pale young men, and bronzed
longshoremen. All were in haste; and as they helped each other, they
discussed the possible chances. That they would receive succor about
three o'clock in the morning--that they were sure of one regiment, that
Paris would rise. Terrible sayings with which was mingled a sort of
cordial joviality. One would have pronounced them brothers, but they did
not know each other's names. Great perils have this fine characteristic,
that they bring to light the fraternity of strangers. A fire had been
lighted in the kitchen, and there they were engaged in moulding into
bullets, pewter mugs, spoons, forks, and all the brass table-ware of
the establishment. In the midst of it all, they drank. Caps and
buckshot were mixed pell-mell on the tables with glasses of wine. In
the billiard-hall, Mame Hucheloup, Matelote, and Gibelotte, variously
modified by terror, which had stupefied one, rendered another
breathless, and roused the third, were tearing up old dish-cloths and
making lint; three insurgents were assisting them, three bushy-haired,
jolly blades with beards and moustaches, who plucked away at the linen
with the fingers of seamstresses and who made them tremble.

The man of lofty stature whom Courfeyrac, Combeferre, and Enjolras had
observed at the moment when he joined the mob at the corner of the
Rue des Billettes, was at work on the smaller barricade and was making
himself useful there. Gavroche was working on the larger one. As for the
young man who had been waiting for Courfeyrac at his lodgings, and who
had inquired for M. Marius, he had disappeared at about the time when
the omnibus had been overturned.

Gavroche, completely carried away and radiant, had undertaken to get
everything in readiness. He went, came, mounted, descended, re-mounted,
whistled, and sparkled. He seemed to be there for the encouragement of
all. Had he any incentive? Yes, certainly, his poverty; had he wings?
yes, certainly, his joy. Gavroche was a whirlwind. He was constantly
visible, he was incessantly audible. He filled the air, as he was
everywhere at once. He was a sort of almost irritating ubiquity; no halt
was possible with him. The enormous barricade felt him on its haunches.
He troubled the loungers, he excited the idle, he reanimated the weary,
he grew impatient over the thoughtful, he inspired gayety in some,
and breath in others, wrath in others, movement in all, now pricking
a student, now biting an artisan; he alighted, paused, flew off again,
hovered over the tumult, and the effort, sprang from one party to
another, murmuring and humming, and harassed the whole company; a fly on
the immense revolutionary coach.

Perpetual motion was in his little arms and perpetual clamor in his
little lungs.

"Courage! more paving-stones! more casks! more machines! Where are you
now? A hod of plaster for me to stop this hole with! Your barricade
is very small. It must be carried up. Put everything on it, fling
everything there, stick it all in. Break down the house. A barricade is
Mother Gibou's tea. Hullo, here's a glass door."

This elicited an exclamation from the workers.

"A glass door? what do you expect us to do with a glass door, tubercle?"

"Hercules yourselves!" retorted Gavroche. "A glass door is an excellent
thing in a barricade. It does not prevent an attack, but it prevents the
enemy taking it. So you've never prigged apples over a wall where there
were broken bottles? A glass door cuts the corns of the National Guard
when they try to mount on the barricade. Pardi! glass is a treacherous
thing. Well, you haven't a very wildly lively imagination, comrades."

However, he was furious over his triggerless pistol. He went from one to
another, demanding: "A gun, I want a gun! Why don't you give me a gun?"

"Give you a gun!" said Combeferre.

"Come now!" said Gavroche, "why not? I had one in 1830 when we had a
dispute with Charles X."

Enjolras shrugged his shoulders.

"When there are enough for the men, we will give some to the children."

Gavroche wheeled round haughtily, and answered:--

"If you are killed before me, I shall take yours."

"Gamin!" said Enjolras.

"Greenhorn!" said Gavroche.

A dandy who had lost his way and who lounged past the end of the street
created a diversion! Gavroche shouted to him:--

"Come with us, young fellow! well now, don't we do anything for this old
country of ours?"

The dandy fled.


The journals of the day which said that that nearly impregnable
structure, of the barricade of the Rue de la Chanvrerie, as they call
it, reached to the level of the first floor, were mistaken. The fact is,
that it did not exceed an average height of six or seven feet. It was
built in such a manner that the combatants could, at their will, either
disappear behind it or dominate the barrier and even scale its crest by
means of a quadruple row of paving-stones placed on top of each other
and arranged as steps in the interior. On the outside, the front of the
barricade, composed of piles of paving-stones and casks bound together
by beams and planks, which were entangled in the wheels of Anceau's dray
and of the overturned omnibus, had a bristling and inextricable aspect.

An aperture large enough to allow a man to pass through had been made
between the wall of the houses and the extremity of the barricade which
was furthest from the wine-shop, so that an exit was possible at this
point. The pole of the omnibus was placed upright and held up with
ropes, and a red flag, fastened to this pole, floated over the

The little Mondetour barricade, hidden behind the wine-shop building,
was not visible. The two barricades united formed a veritable redoubt.
Enjolras and Courfeyrac had not thought fit to barricade the other
fragment of the Rue Mondetour which opens through the Rue des Precheurs
an issue into the Halles, wishing, no doubt, to preserve a possible
communication with the outside, and not entertaining much fear of
an attack through the dangerous and difficult street of the Rue des

With the exception of this issue which was left free, and which
constituted what Folard in his strategical style would have termed a
branch and taking into account, also, the narrow cutting arranged on the
Rue de la Chanvrerie, the interior of the barricade, where the wine-shop
formed a salient angle, presented an irregular square, closed on all
sides. There existed an interval of twenty paces between the grand
barrier and the lofty houses which formed the background of the street,
so that one might say that the barricade rested on these houses, all
inhabited, but closed from top to bottom.

All this work was performed without any hindrance, in less than an hour,
and without this handful of bold men seeing a single bear-skin cap or
a single bayonet make their appearance. The very bourgeois who still
ventured at this hour of riot to enter the Rue Saint-Denis cast a
glance at the Rue de la Chanvrerie, caught sight of the barricade, and
redoubled their pace.

The two barricades being finished, and the flag run up, a table was
dragged out of the wine-shop; and Courfeyrac mounted on the table.
Enjolras brought the square coffer, and Courfeyrac opened it. This
coffer was filled with cartridges. When the mob saw the cartridges, a
tremor ran through the bravest, and a momentary silence ensued.

Courfeyrac distributed them with a smile.

Each one received thirty cartridges. Many had powder, and set about
making others with the bullets which they had run. As for the barrel of
powder, it stood on a table on one side, near the door, and was held in

The alarm beat which ran through all Paris, did not cease, but it had
finally come to be nothing more than a monotonous noise to which they no
longer paid any attention. This noise retreated at times, and again drew
near, with melancholy undulations.

They loaded the guns and carbines, all together, without haste, with
solemn gravity. Enjolras went and stationed three sentinels outside the
barricades, one in the Rue de la Chanvrerie, the second in the Rue des
Precheurs, the third at the corner of the Rue de la Petite Truanderie.

Then, the barricades having been built, the posts assigned, the guns
loaded, the sentinels stationed, they waited, alone in those redoubtable
streets through which no one passed any longer, surrounded by those
dumb houses which seemed dead and in which no human movement palpitated,
enveloped in the deepening shades of twilight which was drawing on,
in the midst of that silence through which something could be felt
advancing, and which had about it something tragic and terrifying,
isolated, armed, determined, and tranquil.


During those hours of waiting, what did they do?

We must needs tell, since this is a matter of history.

While the men made bullets and the women lint, while a large saucepan
of melted brass and lead, destined to the bullet-mould smoked over a
glowing brazier, while the sentinels watched, weapon in hand, on the
barricade, while Enjolras, whom it was impossible to divert, kept an
eye on the sentinels, Combeferre, Courfeyrac, Jean Prouvaire, Feuilly,
Bossuet, Joly, Bahorel, and some others, sought each other out and
united as in the most peaceful days of their conversations in their
student life, and, in one corner of this wine-shop which had been
converted into a casement, a couple of paces distant from the redoubt
which they had built, with their carbines loaded and primed resting
against the backs of their chairs, these fine young fellows, so close to
a supreme hour, began to recite love verses.

What verses? These:--

               Vous rappelez-vous notre douce vie,
                 Lorsque nous etions si jeunes tous deux,
               Et que nous n'avions au coeur d'autre envie
                 Que d'etre bien mis et d'etre amoureux,

               Lorsqu'en ajoutant votre age a mon age,
                 Nous ne comptions pas a deux quarante ans,
               Et que, dans notre humble et petit menage,
                 Tout, meme l'hiver, nous etait printemps?

               Beaux jours! Manuel etait fier et sage,
                 Paris s'asseyait a de saints banquets,
               Foy lancait la foudre, et votre corsage
                 Avait une epingle ou je me piquais.

               Tout vous contemplait. Avocat sans causes,
                 Quand je vous menais au Prado diner,
               Vous etiez jolie au point que les roses
                 Me faisaient l'effet de se retourner.

               Je les entendais dire: Est elle belle!
                 Comme elle sent bon!  Quels cheveux a flots!
               Sous son mantelet elle cache une aile,
                 Son bonnet charmant est a peine eclos.

               J'errais avec toi, pressant ton bras souple.
                 Les passants crovaient que l'amour charme
               Avait marie, dans notre heureux couple,
                 Le doux mois d'avril au beau mois de mai.

               Nous vivions caches, contents, porte close,
                 Devorant l'amour, bon fruit defendu,
               Ma bouche n'avait pas dit une chose
                 Que deja ton coeur avait repondu.

               La Sorbonne etait l'endroit bucolique
                 Ou je t'adorais du soir au matin.
               C'est ainsi qu'une ame amoureuse applique
                 La carte du Tendre au pays Latin.

               O place Maubert! o place Dauphine!
                 Quand, dans le taudis frais et printanier,
               Tu tirais ton bas sur ton jambe fine,
                 Je voyais un astre au fond du grenier.

               J'ai fort lu Platon, mais rien ne m'en reste;
                 Mieux que Malebranche et que Lamennais,
               Tu me demontrais la bonte celeste
                 Avec une fleur que tu me donnais.

               Je t'obeissais, tu m' etais soumise;
                 O grenier dore! te lacer! te voir
               Aller et venir des l'aube en chemise,
                 Mirant ton jeune front a ton vieux miroir.

               Et qui done pourrait perde la memoire
                 De ces temps d'aurore et de firmament,
               De rubans, de fleurs, de gaze et de moire,
                 Ou l'amour begaye un argot charmant?

               Nos jardins etaient un pot de tulipe;
                 Tu masquais la vitre avec un jupon;
               Je prenais le bol de terre de pipe,
                 Et je te donnais le tasse en japon.

               Et ces grands malheurs qui nous faisaient rire!
                 Ton manchon brule, ton boa perdu!
               Et ce cher portrait du divin Shakespeare
                 Qu'un soir pour souper nons avons vendu!

               J'etais mendiant et toi charitable.
                 Je baisais au vol tes bras frais et ronds.
               Dante in folio nous servait de table
                 Pour manger gaiment un cent de marrons.

               La premiere fois qu'en mon joyeux bouge
                 Je pris un baiser a ton levre en feu,
               Quand tu t'en allais decoiffee et rouge,
                 Je restai tout pale et je crus en Dieu!

               Te rappelles-tu nos bonheurs sans nombre,
                 Et tous ces fichus changes en chiffons?
               Oh que de soupirs, de nos coeurs pleins d'ombre,
                 Se sont envoles dans les cieux profonds![53]

The hour, the spot, these souvenirs of youth recalled, a few stars
which began to twinkle in the sky, the funeral repose of those deserted
streets, the imminence of the inexorable adventure, which was in
preparation, gave a pathetic charm to these verses murmured in a low
tone in the dusk by Jean Prouvaire, who, as we have said, was a gentle

In the meantime, a lamp had been lighted in the small barricade, and in
the large one, one of those wax torches such as are to be met with on
Shrove-Tuesday in front of vehicles loaded with masks, on their way
to la Courtille. These torches, as the reader has seen, came from the
Faubourg Saint-Antoine.

The torch had been placed in a sort of cage of paving-stones closed on
three sides to shelter it from the wind, and disposed in such a fashion
that all the light fell on the flag. The street and the barricade
remained sunk in gloom, and nothing was to be seen except the red flag
formidably illuminated as by an enormous dark-lantern.

This light enhanced the scarlet of the flag, with an indescribable and
terrible purple.


Night was fully come, nothing made its appearance. All that they heard
was confused noises, and at intervals, fusillades; but these were rare,
badly sustained and distant. This respite, which was thus prolonged,
was a sign that the Government was taking its time, and collecting its
forces. These fifty men were waiting for sixty thousand.

Enjolras felt attacked by that impatience which seizes on strong souls
on the threshold of redoubtable events. He went in search of Gavroche,
who had set to making cartridges in the tap-room, by the dubious light
of two candles placed on the counter by way of precaution, on account of
the powder which was scattered on the tables. These two candles cast no
gleam outside. The insurgents had, moreover, taken pains not to have any
light in the upper stories.

Gavroche was deeply preoccupied at that moment, but not precisely with
his cartridges. The man of the Rue des Billettes had just entered
the tap-room and had seated himself at the table which was the least
lighted. A musket of large model had fallen to his share, and he held it
between his legs. Gavroche, who had been, up to that moment, distracted
by a hundred "amusing" things, had not even seen this man.

When he entered, Gavroche followed him mechanically with his eyes,
admiring his gun; then, all at once, when the man was seated, the street
urchin sprang to his feet. Any one who had spied upon that man up to
that moment, would have seen that he was observing everything in the
barricade and in the band of insurgents, with singular attention; but,
from the moment when he had entered this room, he had fallen into a sort
of brown study, and no longer seemed to see anything that was going on.
The gamin approached this pensive personage, and began to step around
him on tiptoe, as one walks in the vicinity of a person whom one is
afraid of waking. At the same time, over his childish countenance which
was, at once so impudent and so serious, so giddy and so profound, so
gay and so heart-breaking, passed all those grimaces of an old man which
signify: Ah bah! impossible! My sight is bad! I am dreaming! can this
be? no, it is not! but yes! why, no! etc. Gavroche balanced on his
heels, clenched both fists in his pockets, moved his neck around like a
bird, expended in a gigantic pout all the sagacity of his lower lip. He
was astounded, uncertain, incredulous, convinced, dazzled. He had the
mien of the chief of the eunuchs in the slave mart, discovering a
Venus among the blowsy females, and the air of an amateur recognizing
a Raphael in a heap of daubs. His whole being was at work, the instinct
which scents out, and the intelligence which combines. It was evident
that a great event had happened in Gavroche's life.

It was at the most intense point of this preoccupation that Enjolras
accosted him.

"You are small," said Enjolras, "you will not be seen. Go out of the
barricade, slip along close to the houses, skirmish about a bit in the
streets, and come back and tell me what is going on."

Gavroche raised himself on his haunches.

"So the little chaps are good for something! that's very lucky! I'll
go! In the meanwhile, trust to the little fellows, and distrust the big
ones." And Gavroche, raising his head and lowering his voice, added,
as he indicated the man of the Rue des Billettes: "Do you see that big
fellow there?"


"He's a police spy."

"Are you sure of it?"

"It isn't two weeks since he pulled me off the cornice of the Port
Royal, where I was taking the air, by my ear."

Enjolras hastily quitted the urchin and murmured a few words in a very
low tone to a longshoreman from the winedocks who chanced to be at hand.
The man left the room, and returned almost immediately, accompanied by
three others. The four men, four porters with broad shoulders, went
and placed themselves without doing anything to attract his attention,
behind the table on which the man of the Rue des Billettes was leaning
with his elbows. They were evidently ready to hurl themselves upon him.

Then Enjolras approached the man and demanded of him:--

"Who are you?"

At this abrupt query, the man started. He plunged his gaze deep into
Enjolras' clear eyes and appeared to grasp the latter's meaning. He
smiled with a smile than which nothing more disdainful, more energetic,
and more resolute could be seen in the world, and replied with haughty

"I see what it is. Well, yes!"

"You are a police spy?"

"I am an agent of the authorities."

"And your name?"


Enjolras made a sign to the four men. In the twinkling of an eye, before
Javert had time to turn round, he was collared, thrown down, pinioned
and searched.

They found on him a little round card pasted between two pieces of
glass, and bearing on one side the arms of France, engraved, and with
this motto: Supervision and vigilance, and on the other this note:
"JAVERT, inspector of police, aged fifty-two," and the signature of the
Prefect of Police of that day, M. Gisquet.

Besides this, he had his watch and his purse, which contained several
gold pieces. They left him his purse and his watch. Under the watch,
at the bottom of his fob, they felt and seized a paper in an envelope,
which Enjolras unfolded, and on which he read these five lines, written
in the very hand of the Prefect of Police:--

"As soon as his political mission is accomplished, Inspector Javert
will make sure, by special supervision, whether it is true that the
malefactors have instituted intrigues on the right bank of the Seine,
near the Jena bridge."

The search ended, they lifted Javert to his feet, bound his arms behind
his back, and fastened him to that celebrated post in the middle of the
room which had formerly given the wine-shop its name.

Gavroche, who had looked on at the whole of this scene and had approved
of everything with a silent toss of his head, stepped up to Javert and
said to him:--

"It's the mouse who has caught the cat."

All this was so rapidly executed, that it was all over when those about
the wine-shop noticed it.

Javert had not uttered a single cry.

At the sight of Javert bound to the post, Courfeyrac, Bossuet, Joly,
Combeferre, and the men scattered over the two barricades came running

Javert, with his back to the post, and so surrounded with ropes that he
could not make a movement, raised his head with the intrepid serenity of
the man who has never lied.

"He is a police spy," said Enjolras.

And turning to Javert: "You will be shot ten minutes before the
barricade is taken."

Javert replied in his most imperious tone:--

"Why not at once?"

"We are saving our powder."

"Then finish the business with a blow from a knife."

"Spy," said the handsome Enjolras, "we are judges and not assassins."

Then he called Gavroche:--

"Here you! go about your business! Do what I told you!"

"I'm going!" cried Gavroche.

And halting as he was on the point of setting out:--

"By the way, you will give me his gun!" and he added: "I leave you the
musician, but I want the clarionet."

The gamin made the military salute and passed gayly through the opening
in the large barricade.


The tragic picture which we have undertaken would not be complete, the
reader would not see those grand moments of social birth-pangs in a
revolutionary birth, which contain convulsion mingled with effort,
in their exact and real relief, were we to omit, in the sketch here
outlined, an incident full of epic and savage horror which occurred
almost immediately after Gavroche's departure.

Mobs, as the reader knows, are like a snowball, and collect as they
roll along, a throng of tumultuous men. These men do not ask each other
whence they come. Among the passers-by who had joined the rabble led by
Enjolras, Combeferre, and Courfeyrac, there had been a person wearing
the jacket of a street porter, which was very threadbare on the
shoulders, who gesticulated and vociferated, and who had the look of a
drunken savage. This man, whose name or nickname was Le Cabuc, and who
was, moreover, an utter stranger to those who pretended to know him,
was very drunk, or assumed the appearance of being so, and had seated
himself with several others at a table which they had dragged outside
of the wine-shop. This Cabuc, while making those who vied with him drunk
seemed to be examining with a thoughtful air the large house at the
extremity of the barricade, whose five stories commanded the whole
street and faced the Rue Saint-Denis. All at once he exclaimed:--

"Do you know, comrades, it is from that house yonder that we must fire.
When we are at the windows, the deuce is in it if any one can advance
into the street!"

"Yes, but the house is closed," said one of the drinkers.

"Let us knock!"

"They will not open."

"Let us break in the door!"

Le Cabuc runs to the door, which had a very massive knocker, and knocks.
The door opens not. He strikes a second blow. No one answers. A third
stroke. The same silence.

"Is there any one here?" shouts Cabuc.

Nothing stirs.

Then he seizes a gun and begins to batter the door with the butt end.

It was an ancient alley door, low, vaulted, narrow, solid, entirely of
oak, lined on the inside with a sheet of iron and iron stays, a genuine
prison postern. The blows from the butt end of the gun made the house
tremble, but did not shake the door.

Nevertheless, it is probable that the inhabitants were disturbed, for a
tiny, square window was finally seen to open on the third story, and at
this aperture appeared the reverend and terrified face of a gray-haired
old man, who was the porter, and who held a candle.

The man who was knocking paused.

"Gentlemen," said the porter, "what do you want?"

"Open!" said Cabuc.

"That cannot be, gentlemen."

"Open, nevertheless."

"Impossible, gentlemen."

Le Cabuc took his gun and aimed at the porter; but as he was below, and
as it was very dark, the porter did not see him.

"Will you open, yes or no?"

"No, gentlemen."

"Do you say no?"

"I say no, my goo--"

The porter did not finish. The shot was fired; the ball entered under
his chin and came out at the nape of his neck, after traversing the
jugular vein.

The old man fell back without a sigh. The candle fell and was
extinguished, and nothing more was to be seen except a motionless head
lying on the sill of the small window, and a little whitish smoke which
floated off towards the roof.

"There!" said Le Cabuc, dropping the butt end of his gun to the

He had hardly uttered this word, when he felt a hand laid on his
shoulder with the weight of an eagle's talon, and he heard a voice
saying to him:--

"On your knees."

The murderer turned round and saw before him Enjolras' cold, white face.

Enjolras held a pistol in his hand.

He had hastened up at the sound of the discharge.

He had seized Cabuc's collar, blouse, shirt, and suspender with his left

"On your knees!" he repeated.

And, with an imperious motion, the frail young man of twenty years bent
the thickset and sturdy porter like a reed, and brought him to his knees
in the mire.

Le Cabuc attempted to resist, but he seemed to have been seized by a
superhuman hand.

Enjolras, pale, with bare neck and dishevelled hair, and his woman's
face, had about him at that moment something of the antique Themis.
His dilated nostrils, his downcast eyes, gave to his implacable Greek
profile that expression of wrath and that expression of Chastity which,
as the ancient world viewed the matter, befit Justice.

The whole barricade hastened up, then all ranged themselves in a circle
at a distance, feeling that it was impossible to utter a word in the
presence of the thing which they were about to behold.

Le Cabuc, vanquished, no longer tried to struggle, and trembled in every

Enjolras released him and drew out his watch.

"Collect yourself," said he. "Think or pray. You have one minute."

"Mercy!" murmured the murderer; then he dropped his head and stammered a
few inarticulate oaths.

Enjolras never took his eyes off of him: he allowed a minute to pass,
then he replaced his watch in his fob. That done, he grasped Le Cabuc
by the hair, as the latter coiled himself into a ball at his knees and
shrieked, and placed the muzzle of the pistol to his ear. Many of those
intrepid men, who had so tranquilly entered upon the most terrible of
adventures, turned aside their heads.

An explosion was heard, the assassin fell to the pavement face

Enjolras straightened himself up, and cast a convinced and severe glance
around him. Then he spurned the corpse with his foot and said:--

"Throw that outside."

Three men raised the body of the unhappy wretch, which was still
agitated by the last mechanical convulsions of the life that had fled,
and flung it over the little barricade into the Rue Mondetour.

Enjolras was thoughtful. It is impossible to say what grandiose shadows
slowly spread over his redoubtable serenity. All at once he raised his

A silence fell upon them.

"Citizens," said Enjolras, "what that man did is frightful, what I have
done is horrible. He killed, therefore I killed him. I had to do it,
because insurrection must have its discipline. Assassination is even
more of a crime here than elsewhere; we are under the eyes of the
Revolution, we are the priests of the Republic, we are the victims of
duty, and must not be possible to slander our combat. I have, therefore,
tried that man, and condemned him to death. As for myself, constrained
as I am to do what I have done, and yet abhorring it, I have judged
myself also, and you shall soon see to what I have condemned myself."

Those who listened to him shuddered.

"We will share thy fate," cried Combeferre.

"So be it," replied Enjolras. "One word more. In executing this man,
I have obeyed necessity; but necessity is a monster of the old world,
necessity's name is Fatality. Now, the law of progress is, that monsters
shall disappear before the angels, and that Fatality shall vanish before
Fraternity. It is a bad moment to pronounce the word love. No matter, I
do pronounce it. And I glorify it. Love, the future is thine. Death, I
make use of thee, but I hate thee. Citizens, in the future there will
be neither darkness nor thunderbolts; neither ferocious ignorance, nor
bloody retaliation. As there will be no more Satan, there will be no
more Michael. In the future no one will kill any one else, the earth
will beam with radiance, the human race will love. The day will come,
citizens, when all will be concord, harmony, light, joy and life; it
will come, and it is in order that it may come that we are about to

Enjolras ceased. His virgin lips closed; and he remained for some time
standing on the spot where he had shed blood, in marble immobility. His
staring eye caused those about him to speak in low tones.

Jean Prouvaire and Combeferre pressed each other's hands silently, and,
leaning against each other in an angle of the barricade, they watched
with an admiration in which there was some compassion, that grave young
man, executioner and priest, composed of light, like crystal, and also
of rock.

Let us say at once that later on, after the action, when the bodies were
taken to the morgue and searched, a police agent's card was found on Le
Cabuc. The author of this book had in his hands, in 1848, the special
report on this subject made to the Prefect of Police in 1832.

We will add, that if we are to believe a tradition of the police, which
is strange but probably well founded, Le Cabuc was Claquesous. The fact
is, that dating from the death of Le Cabuc, there was no longer any
question of Claquesous. Claquesous had nowhere left any trace of his
disappearance; he would seem to have amalgamated himself with the
invisible. His life had been all shadows, his end was night.

The whole insurgent group was still under the influence of the emotion
of that tragic case which had been so quickly tried and so quickly
terminated, when Courfeyrac again beheld on the barricade, the small
young man who had inquired of him that morning for Marius.

This lad, who had a bold and reckless air, had come by night to join the



The voice which had summoned Marius through the twilight to the
barricade of the Rue de la Chanvrerie, had produced on him the effect
of the voice of destiny. He wished to die; the opportunity presented
itself; he knocked at the door of the tomb, a hand in the darkness
offered him the key. These melancholy openings which take place in the
gloom before despair, are tempting. Marius thrust aside the bar which
had so often allowed him to pass, emerged from the garden, and said: "I
will go."

Mad with grief, no longer conscious of anything fixed or solid in his
brain, incapable of accepting anything thenceforth of fate after those
two months passed in the intoxication of youth and love, overwhelmed at
once by all the reveries of despair, he had but one desire remaining, to
make a speedy end of all.

He set out at rapid pace. He found himself most opportunely armed, as he
had Javert's pistols with him.

The young man of whom he thought that he had caught a glimpse, had
vanished from his sight in the street.

Marius, who had emerged from the Rue Plumet by the boulevard, traversed
the Esplanade and the bridge of the Invalides, the Champs Elysees, the
Place Louis XV., and reached the Rue de Rivoli. The shops were open
there, the gas was burning under the arcades, women were making their
purchases in the stalls, people were eating ices in the Cafe Laiter,
and nibbling small cakes at the English pastry-cook's shop. Only a few
posting-chaises were setting out at a gallop from the Hotel des Princes
and the Hotel Meurice.

Marius entered the Rue Saint-Honore through the Passage Delorme. There
the shops were closed, the merchants were chatting in front of their
half-open doors, people were walking about, the street lanterns were
lighted, beginning with the first floor, all the windows were lighted as
usual. There was cavalry on the Place du Palais-Royal.

Marius followed the Rue Saint-Honore. In proportion as he left the
Palais-Royal behind him, there were fewer lighted windows, the shops
were fast shut, no one was chatting on the thresholds, the street grew
sombre, and, at the same time, the crowd increased in density. For the
passers-by now amounted to a crowd. No one could be seen to speak in
this throng, and yet there arose from it a dull, deep murmur.

Near the fountain of the Arbre-Sec, there were "assemblages", motionless
and gloomy groups which were to those who went and came as stones in the
midst of running water.

At the entrance to the Rue des Prouvaires, the crowd no longer walked.
It formed a resisting, massive, solid, compact, almost impenetrable
block of people who were huddled together, and conversing in low tones.
There were hardly any black coats or round hats now, but smock frocks,
blouses, caps, and bristling and cadaverous heads. This multitude
undulated confusedly in the nocturnal gloom. Its whisperings had the
hoarse accent of a vibration. Although not one of them was walking, a
dull trampling was audible in the mire. Beyond this dense portion of
the throng, in the Rue du Roule, in the Rue des Prouvaires, and in the
extension of the Rue Saint-Honore, there was no longer a single window
in which a candle was burning. Only the solitary and diminishing rows
of lanterns could be seen vanishing into the street in the distance. The
lanterns of that date resembled large red stars, hanging to ropes, and
shed upon the pavement a shadow which had the form of a huge spider.
These streets were not deserted. There could be descried piles of guns,
moving bayonets, and troops bivouacking. No curious observer passed that
limit. There circulation ceased. There the rabble ended and the army

Marius willed with the will of a man who hopes no more. He had been
summoned, he must go. He found a means to traverse the throng and to
pass the bivouac of the troops, he shunned the patrols, he avoided the
sentinels. He made a circuit, reached the Rue de Bethisy, and directed
his course towards the Halles. At the corner of the Rue des Bourdonnais,
there were no longer any lanterns.

After having passed the zone of the crowd, he had passed the limits of
the troops; he found himself in something startling. There was no longer
a passer-by, no longer a soldier, no longer a light, there was no one;
solitude, silence, night, I know not what chill which seized hold upon
one. Entering a street was like entering a cellar.

He continued to advance.

He took a few steps. Some one passed close to him at a run. Was it a
man? Or a woman? Were there many of them? he could not have told. It had
passed and vanished.

Proceeding from circuit to circuit, he reached a lane which he judged
to be the Rue de la Poterie; near the middle of this street, he came in
contact with an obstacle. He extended his hands. It was an overturned
wagon; his foot recognized pools of water, gullies, and paving-stones
scattered and piled up. A barricade had been begun there and abandoned.
He climbed over the stones and found himself on the other side of the
barrier. He walked very near the street-posts, and guided himself along
the walls of the houses. A little beyond the barricade, it seemed to him
that he could make out something white in front of him. He approached,
it took on a form. It was two white horses; the horses of the omnibus
harnessed by Bossuet in the morning, who had been straying at random all
day from street to street, and had finally halted there, with the weary
patience of brutes who no more understand the actions of men, than man
understands the actions of Providence.

Marius left the horses behind him. As he was approaching a street which
seemed to him to be the Rue du Contrat-Social, a shot coming no one
knows whence, and traversing the darkness at random, whistled close by
him, and the bullet pierced a brass shaving-dish suspended above his
head over a hairdresser's shop. This pierced shaving-dish was still
to be seen in 1848, in the Rue du Contrat-Social, at the corner of the
pillars of the market.

This shot still betokened life. From that instant forth he encountered
nothing more.

The whole of this itinerary resembled a descent of black steps.

Nevertheless, Marius pressed forward.


A being who could have hovered over Paris that night with the wing of
the bat or the owl would have had beneath his eyes a gloomy spectacle.

All that old quarter of the Halles, which is like a city within a
city, through which run the Rues Saint-Denis and Saint-Martin, where a
thousand lanes cross, and of which the insurgents had made their
redoubt and their stronghold, would have appeared to him like a dark and
enormous cavity hollowed out in the centre of Paris. There the glance
fell into an abyss. Thanks to the broken lanterns, thanks to the closed
windows, there all radiance, all life, all sound, all movement ceased.
The invisible police of the insurrection were on the watch everywhere,
and maintained order, that is to say, night. The necessary tactics of
insurrection are to drown small numbers in a vast obscurity, to multiply
every combatant by the possibilities which that obscurity contains. At
dusk, every window where a candle was burning received a shot. The light
was extinguished, sometimes the inhabitant was killed. Hence nothing was
stirring. There was nothing but fright, mourning, stupor in the houses;
and in the streets, a sort of sacred horror. Not even the long rows of
windows and stores, the indentations of the chimneys, and the roofs,
and the vague reflections which are cast back by the wet and muddy
pavements, were visible. An eye cast upward at that mass of shadows
might, perhaps, have caught a glimpse here and there, at intervals,
of indistinct gleams which brought out broken and eccentric lines, and
profiles of singular buildings, something like the lights which go and
come in ruins; it was at such points that the barricades were situated.
The rest was a lake of obscurity, foggy, heavy, and funereal, above
which, in motionless and melancholy outlines, rose the tower of
Saint-Jacques, the church of Saint-Merry, and two or three more of those
grand edifices of which man makes giants and the night makes phantoms.

All around this deserted and disquieting labyrinth, in the quarters
where the Parisian circulation had not been annihilated, and where a
few street lanterns still burned, the aerial observer might have
distinguished the metallic gleam of swords and bayonets, the dull rumble
of artillery, and the swarming of silent battalions whose ranks were
swelling from minute to minute; a formidable girdle which was slowly
drawing in and around the insurrection.

The invested quarter was no longer anything more than a monstrous
cavern; everything there appeared to be asleep or motionless, and, as we
have just seen, any street which one might come to offered nothing but

A wild darkness, full of traps, full of unseen and formidable shocks,
into which it was alarming to penetrate, and in which it was terrible to
remain, where those who entered shivered before those whom they awaited,
where those who waited shuddered before those who were coming. Invisible
combatants were entrenched at every corner of the street; snares of the
sepulchre concealed in the density of night. All was over. No more
light was to be hoped for, henceforth, except the lightning of guns,
no further encounter except the abrupt and rapid apparition of death.
Where? How? When? No one knew, but it was certain and inevitable. In
this place which had been marked out for the struggle, the Government
and the insurrection, the National Guard, and popular societies, the
bourgeois and the uprising, groping their way, were about to come into
contact. The necessity was the same for both. The only possible issue
thenceforth was to emerge thence killed or conquerors. A situation so
extreme, an obscurity so powerful, that the most timid felt themselves
seized with resolution, and the most daring with terror.

Moreover, on both sides, the fury, the rage, and the determination were
equal. For the one party, to advance meant death, and no one dreamed of
retreating; for the other, to remain meant death, and no one dreamed of

It was indispensable that all should be ended on the following day, that
triumph should rest either here or there, that the insurrection should
prove itself a revolution or a skirmish. The Government understood this
as well as the parties; the most insignificant bourgeois felt it. Hence
a thought of anguish which mingled with the impenetrable gloom of this
quarter where all was at the point of being decided; hence a redoubled
anxiety around that silence whence a catastrophe was on the point of
emerging. Here only one sound was audible, a sound as heart-rending
as the death rattle, as menacing as a malediction, the tocsin of
Saint-Merry. Nothing could be more blood-curdling than the clamor of
that wild and desperate bell, wailing amid the shadows.

As it often happens, nature seemed to have fallen into accord with what
men were about to do. Nothing disturbed the harmony of the whole effect.
The stars had disappeared, heavy clouds filled the horizon with their
melancholy folds. A black sky rested on these dead streets, as though an
immense winding-sheet were being outspread over this immense tomb.

While a battle that was still wholly political was in preparation in the
same locality which had already witnessed so many revolutionary events,
while youth, the secret associations, the schools, in the name of
principles, and the middle classes, in the name of interests, were
approaching preparatory to dashing themselves together, clasping and
throwing each other, while each one hastened and invited the last and
decisive hour of the crisis, far away and quite outside of this fatal
quarter, in the most profound depths of the unfathomable cavities of
that wretched old Paris which disappears under the splendor of happy
and opulent Paris, the sombre voice of the people could be heard giving
utterance to a dull roar.

A fearful and sacred voice which is composed of the roar of the brute
and of the word of God, which terrifies the weak and which warns the
wise, which comes both from below like the voice of the lion, and from
on high like the voice of the thunder.


Marius had reached the Halles.

There everything was still calmer, more obscure and more motionless than
in the neighboring streets. One would have said that the glacial peace
of the sepulchre had sprung forth from the earth and had spread over the

Nevertheless, a red glow brought out against this black background the
lofty roofs of the houses which barred the Rue de la Chanvrerie on
the Saint-Eustache side. It was the reflection of the torch which was
burning in the Corinthe barricade. Marius directed his steps towards
that red light. It had drawn him to the Marche-aux-Poirees, and he
caught a glimpse of the dark mouth of the Rue des Precheurs. He entered
it. The insurgents' sentinel, who was guarding the other end, did not
see him. He felt that he was very close to that which he had come in
search of, and he walked on tiptoe. In this manner he reached the elbow
of that short section of the Rue Mondetour which was, as the reader will
remember, the only communication which Enjolras had preserved with the
outside world. At the corner of the last house, on his left, he thrust
his head forward, and looked into the fragment of the Rue Mondetour.

A little beyond the angle of the lane and the Rue de la Chanvrerie which
cast a broad curtain of shadow, in which he was himself engulfed,
he perceived some light on the pavement, a bit of the wine-shop, and
beyond, a flickering lamp within a sort of shapeless wall, and men
crouching down with guns on their knees. All this was ten fathoms
distant from him. It was the interior of the barricade.

The houses which bordered the lane on the right concealed the rest of
the wine-shop, the large barricade, and the flag from him.

Marius had but a step more to take.

Then the unhappy young man seated himself on a post, folded his arms,
and fell to thinking about his father.

He thought of that heroic Colonel Pontmercy, who had been so proud a
soldier, who had guarded the frontier of France under the Republic, and
had touched the frontier of Asia under Napoleon, who had beheld Genoa,
Alexandria, Milan, Turin, Madrid, Vienna, Dresden, Berlin, Moscow, who
had left on all the victorious battle-fields of Europe drops of that
same blood, which he, Marius, had in his veins, who had grown gray
before his time in discipline and command, who had lived with his
sword-belt buckled, his epaulets falling on his breast, his cockade
blackened with powder, his brow furrowed with his helmet, in barracks,
in camp, in the bivouac, in ambulances, and who, at the expiration of
twenty years, had returned from the great wars with a scarred cheek, a
smiling countenance, tranquil, admirable, pure as a child, having done
everything for France and nothing against her.

He said to himself that his day had also come now, that his hour had
struck, that following his father, he too was about to show himself
brave, intrepid, bold, to run to meet the bullets, to offer his breast
to bayonets, to shed his blood, to seek the enemy, to seek death, that
he was about to wage war in his turn and descend to the field of battle,
and that the field of battle upon which he was to descend was the
street, and that the war in which he was about to engage was civil war!

He beheld civil war laid open like a gulf before him, and into this he
was about to fall. Then he shuddered.

He thought of his father's sword, which his grandfather had sold to a
second-hand dealer, and which he had so mournfully regretted. He said to
himself that that chaste and valiant sword had done well to escape from
him, and to depart in wrath into the gloom; that if it had thus fled, it
was because it was intelligent and because it had foreseen the future;
that it had had a presentiment of this rebellion, the war of the
gutters, the war of the pavements, fusillades through cellar-windows,
blows given and received in the rear; it was because, coming from
Marengo and Friedland, it did not wish to go to the Rue de la
Chanvrerie; it was because, after what it had done with the father, it
did not wish to do this for the son! He told himself that if that sword
were there, if after taking possession of it at his father's pillow,
he had dared to take it and carry it off for this combat of darkness
between Frenchmen in the streets, it would assuredly have scorched his
hands and burst out aflame before his eyes, like the sword of the angel!
He told himself that it was fortunate that it was not there and that
it had disappeared, that that was well, that that was just, that his
grandfather had been the true guardian of his father's glory, and that
it was far better that the colonel's sword should be sold at auction,
sold to the old-clothes man, thrown among the old junk, than that it
should, to-day, wound the side of his country.

And then he fell to weeping bitterly.

This was horrible. But what was he to do? Live without Cosette he could
not. Since she was gone, he must needs die. Had he not given her his
word of honor that he would die? She had gone knowing that; this meant
that it pleased her that Marius should die. And then, it was clear that
she no longer loved him, since she had departed thus without warning,
without a word, without a letter, although she knew his address! What
was the good of living, and why should he live now? And then, what!
should he retreat after going so far? should he flee from danger after
having approached it? should he slip away after having come and peeped
into the barricade? slip away, all in a tremble, saying: "After all, I
have had enough of it as it is. I have seen it, that suffices, this is
civil war, and I shall take my leave!" Should he abandon his friends who
were expecting him? Who were in need of him possibly! who were a mere
handful against an army! Should he be untrue at once to his love, to
country, to his word? Should he give to his cowardice the pretext of
patriotism? But this was impossible, and if the phantom of his father
was there in the gloom, and beheld him retreating, he would beat him on
the loins with the flat of his sword, and shout to him: "March on, you

Thus a prey to the conflicting movements of his thoughts, he dropped his

All at once he raised it. A sort of splendid rectification had just been
effected in his mind. There is a widening of the sphere of thought which
is peculiar to the vicinity of the grave; it makes one see clearly to
be near death. The vision of the action into which he felt that he
was, perhaps, on the point of entering, appeared to him no more
as lamentable, but as superb. The war of the street was suddenly
transfigured by some unfathomable inward working of his soul, before the
eye of his thought. All the tumultuous interrogation points of revery
recurred to him in throngs, but without troubling him. He left none of
them unanswered.

Let us see, why should his father be indignant? Are there not cases
where insurrection rises to the dignity of duty? What was there that was
degrading for the son of Colonel Pontmercy in the combat which was about
to begin? It is no longer Montmirail nor Champaubert; it is something
quite different. The question is no longer one of sacred territory,--but
of a holy idea. The country wails, that may be, but humanity applauds.
But is it true that the country does wail? France bleeds, but liberty
smiles; and in the presence of liberty's smile, France forgets her
wound. And then if we look at things from a still more lofty point of
view, why do we speak of civil war?

Civil war--what does that mean? Is there a foreign war? Is not all war
between men, war between brothers? War is qualified only by its object.
There is no such thing as foreign or civil war; there is only just and
unjust war. Until that day when the grand human agreement is concluded,
war, that at least which is the effort of the future, which is hastening
on against the past, which is lagging in the rear, may be necessary.
What have we to reproach that war with? War does not become a disgrace,
the sword does not become a disgrace, except when it is used for
assassinating the right, progress, reason, civilization, truth. Then
war, whether foreign or civil, is iniquitous; it is called crime.
Outside the pale of that holy thing, justice, by what right does
one form of man despise another? By what right should the sword of
Washington disown the pike of Camille Desmoulins? Leonidas against the
stranger, Timoleon against the tyrant, which is the greater? the one is
the defender, the other the liberator. Shall we brand every appeal
to arms within a city's limits without taking the object into a
consideration? Then note the infamy of Brutus, Marcel, Arnould von
Blankenheim, Coligny, Hedgerow war? War of the streets? Why not? That
was the war of Ambiorix, of Artevelde, of Marnix, of Pelagius. But
Ambiorix fought against Rome, Artevelde against France, Marnix against
Spain, Pelagius against the Moors; all against the foreigner. Well, the
monarchy is a foreigner; oppression is a stranger; the right divine is
a stranger. Despotism violates the moral frontier, an invasion violates
the geographical frontier. Driving out the tyrant or driving out the
English, in both cases, regaining possession of one's own territory.
There comes an hour when protestation no longer suffices; after
philosophy, action is required; live force finishes what the idea
has sketched out; Prometheus chained begins, Arostogeiton ends; the
encyclopedia enlightens souls, the 10th of August electrifies them.
After AEschylus, Thrasybulus; after Diderot, Danton. Multitudes have
a tendency to accept the master. Their mass bears witness to apathy.
A crowd is easily led as a whole to obedience. Men must be stirred up,
pushed on, treated roughly by the very benefit of their deliverance,
their eyes must be wounded by the true, light must be hurled at them
in terrible handfuls. They must be a little thunderstruck themselves at
their own well-being; this dazzling awakens them. Hence the necessity
of tocsins and wars. Great combatants must rise, must enlighten nations
with audacity, and shake up that sad humanity which is covered
with gloom by the right divine, Caesarian glory, force, fanaticism,
irresponsible power, and absolute majesty; a rabble stupidly occupied in
the contemplation, in their twilight splendor, of these sombre triumphs
of the night. Down with the tyrant! Of whom are you speaking? Do you
call Louis Philippe the tyrant? No; no more than Louis XVI. Both of them
are what history is in the habit of calling good kings; but principles
are not to be parcelled out, the logic of the true is rectilinear, the
peculiarity of truth is that it lacks complaisance; no concessions,
then; all encroachments on man should be repressed. There is a divine
right in Louis XVI., there is because a Bourbon in Louis Philippe; both
represent in a certain measure the confiscation of right, and, in order
to clear away universal insurrection, they must be combated; it must
be done, France being always the one to begin. When the master falls
in France, he falls everywhere. In short, what cause is more just, and
consequently, what war is greater, than that which re-establishes
social truth, restores her throne to liberty, restores the people to the
people, restores sovereignty to man, replaces the purple on the head of
France, restores equity and reason in their plenitude, suppresses every
germ of antagonism by restoring each one to himself, annihilates the
obstacle which royalty presents to the whole immense universal concord,
and places the human race once more on a level with the right? These
wars build up peace. An enormous fortress of prejudices, privileges,
superstitions, lies, exactions, abuses, violences, iniquities, and
darkness still stands erect in this world, with its towers of hatred.
It must be cast down. This monstrous mass must be made to crumble. To
conquer at Austerlitz is grand; to take the Bastille is immense.

There is no one who has not noticed it in his own case--the soul,--and
therein lies the marvel of its unity complicated with ubiquity, has
a strange aptitude for reasoning almost coldly in the most violent
extremities, and it often happens that heartbroken passion and profound
despair in the very agony of their blackest monologues, treat subjects
and discuss theses. Logic is mingled with convulsion, and the thread
of the syllogism floats, without breaking, in the mournful storm of
thought. This was the situation of Marius' mind.

As he meditated thus, dejected but resolute, hesitating in every
direction, and, in short, shuddering at what he was about to do, his
glance strayed to the interior of the barricade. The insurgents
were here conversing in a low voice, without moving, and there
was perceptible that quasi-silence which marks the last stage of
expectation. Overhead, at the small window in the third story Marius
descried a sort of spectator who appeared to him to be singularly
attentive. This was the porter who had been killed by Le Cabuc. Below,
by the lights of the torch, which was thrust between the paving-stones,
this head could be vaguely distinguished. Nothing could be stranger, in
that sombre and uncertain gleam, than that livid, motionless, astonished
face, with its bristling hair, its eyes fixed and staring, and its
yawning mouth, bent over the street in an attitude of curiosity. One
would have said that the man who was dead was surveying those who were
about to die. A long trail of blood which had flowed from that head,
descended in reddish threads from the window to the height of the first
floor, where it stopped.


[Illustration: The Grandeurs of Despair 4b-14-1-despair]


As yet, nothing had come. Ten o'clock had sounded from Saint-Merry.
Enjolras and Combeferre had gone and seated themselves, carbines in
hand, near the outlet of the grand barricade. They no longer addressed
each other, they listened, seeking to catch even the faintest and most
distant sound of marching.

Suddenly, in the midst of the dismal calm, a clear, gay, young voice,
which seemed to come from the Rue Saint-Denis, rose and began to sing
distinctly, to the old popular air of "By the Light of the Moon," this
bit of poetry, terminated by a cry like the crow of a cock:--

               Mon nez est en larmes,
               Mon ami Bugeaud,
               Prete moi tes gendarmes
               Pour leur dire un mot.

                  En capote bleue,
                  La poule au shako,
                  Voici la banlieue!

They pressed each other's hands.

"That is Gavroche," said Enjolras.

"He is warning us," said Combeferre.

A hasty rush troubled the deserted street; they beheld a being more
agile than a clown climb over the omnibus, and Gavroche bounded into the
barricade, all breathless, saying:--

"My gun! Here they are!"

An electric quiver shot through the whole barricade, and the sound of
hands seeking their guns became audible.

"Would you like my carbine?" said Enjolras to the lad.

"I want a big gun," replied Gavroche.

And he seized Javert's gun.

Two sentinels had fallen back, and had come in almost at the same moment
as Gavroche. They were the sentinels from the end of the street, and the
vidette of the Rue de la Petite-Truanderie. The vidette of the Lane des
Precheurs had remained at his post, which indicated that nothing was
approaching from the direction of the bridges and Halles.

The Rue de la Chanvrerie, of which a few paving-stones alone were dimly
visible in the reflection of the light projected on the flag, offered
to the insurgents the aspect of a vast black door vaguely opened into a

Each man had taken up his position for the conflict.

Forty-three insurgents, among whom were Enjolras, Combeferre,
Courfeyrac, Bossuet, Joly, Bahorel, and Gavroche, were kneeling inside
the large barricade, with their heads on a level with the crest of the
barrier, the barrels of their guns and carbines aimed on the stones as
though at loop-holes, attentive, mute, ready to fire. Six, commanded
by Feuilly, had installed themselves, with their guns levelled at their
shoulders, at the windows of the two stories of Corinthe.

Several minutes passed thus, then a sound of footsteps, measured, heavy,
and numerous, became distinctly audible in the direction of Saint-Leu.
This sound, faint at first, then precise, then heavy and sonorous,
approached slowly, without halt, without intermission, with a tranquil
and terrible continuity. Nothing was to be heard but this. It was that
combined silence and sound, of the statue of the commander, but this
stony step had something indescribably enormous and multiple about it
which awakened the idea of a throng, and, at the same time, the idea
of a spectre. One thought one heard the terrible statue Legion marching
onward. This tread drew near; it drew still nearer, and stopped. It
seemed as though the breathing of many men could be heard at the end of
the street. Nothing was to be seen, however, but at the bottom of that
dense obscurity there could be distinguished a multitude of metallic
threads, as fine as needles and almost imperceptible, which moved about
like those indescribable phosphoric networks which one sees beneath
one's closed eyelids, in the first mists of slumber at the moment
when one is dropping off to sleep. These were bayonets and gun-barrels
confusedly illuminated by the distant reflection of the torch.

A pause ensued, as though both sides were waiting. All at once, from the
depths of this darkness, a voice, which was all the more sinister, since
no one was visible, and which appeared to be the gloom itself speaking,

"Who goes there?"

At the same time, the click of guns, as they were lowered into position,
was heard.

Enjolras replied in a haughty and vibrating tone:--

"The French Revolution!"

"Fire!" shouted the voice.

A flash empurpled all the facades in the street as though the door of a
furnace had been flung open, and hastily closed again.

A fearful detonation burst forth on the barricade. The red flag fell.
The discharge had been so violent and so dense that it had cut the
staff, that is to say, the very tip of the omnibus pole.

Bullets which had rebounded from the cornices of the houses penetrated
the barricade and wounded several men.

The impression produced by this first discharge was freezing. The attack
had been rough, and of a nature to inspire reflection in the boldest.
It was evident that they had to deal with an entire regiment at the very

"Comrades!" shouted Courfeyrac, "let us not waste our powder. Let us
wait until they are in the street before replying."

"And, above all," said Enjolras, "let us raise the flag again."

He picked up the flag, which had fallen precisely at his feet.

Outside, the clatter of the ramrods in the guns could be heard; the
troops were re-loading their arms.

Enjolras went on:--

"Who is there here with a bold heart? Who will plant the flag on the
barricade again?"

Not a man responded. To mount on the barricade at the very moment when,
without any doubt, it was again the object of their aim, was simply
death. The bravest hesitated to pronounce his own condemnation. Enjolras
himself felt a thrill. He repeated:--

"Does no one volunteer?"


Since they had arrived at Corinthe, and had begun the construction of
the barricade, no attention had been paid to Father Mabeuf. M. Mabeuf
had not quitted the mob, however; he had entered the ground-floor of the
wine-shop and had seated himself behind the counter. There he had, so to
speak, retreated into himself. He no longer seemed to look or to think.
Courfeyrac and others had accosted him two or three times, warning him
of his peril, beseeching him to withdraw, but he did not hear them.
When they were not speaking to him, his mouth moved as though he were
replying to some one, and as soon as he was addressed, his lips became
motionless and his eyes no longer had the appearance of being alive.

Several hours before the barricade was attacked, he had assumed an
attitude which he did not afterwards abandon, with both fists planted
on his knees and his head thrust forward as though he were gazing over a
precipice. Nothing had been able to move him from this attitude; it did
not seem as though his mind were in the barricade. When each had gone
to take up his position for the combat, there remained in the tap-room
where Javert was bound to the post, only a single insurgent with a naked
sword, watching over Javert, and himself, Mabeuf. At the moment of the
attack, at the detonation, the physical shock had reached him and had,
as it were, awakened him; he started up abruptly, crossed the room,
and at the instant when Enjolras repeated his appeal: "Does no one
volunteer?" the old man was seen to make his appearance on the threshold
of the wine-shop. His presence produced a sort of commotion in the
different groups. A shout went up:--

"It is the voter! It is the member of the Convention! It is the
representative of the people!"

It is probable that he did not hear them.

He strode straight up to Enjolras, the insurgents withdrawing before him
with a religious fear; he tore the flag from Enjolras, who recoiled in
amazement and then, since no one dared to stop or to assist him, this
old man of eighty, with shaking head but firm foot, began slowly to
ascend the staircase of paving-stones arranged in the barricade. This
was so melancholy and so grand that all around him cried: "Off with your
hats!" At every step that he mounted, it was a frightful spectacle; his
white locks, his decrepit face, his lofty, bald, and wrinkled brow,
his amazed and open mouth, his aged arm upholding the red banner, rose
through the gloom and were enlarged in the bloody light of the torch,
and the bystanders thought that they beheld the spectre of '93 emerging
from the earth, with the flag of terror in his hand.

When he had reached the last step, when this trembling and terrible
phantom, erect on that pile of rubbish in the presence of twelve hundred
invisible guns, drew himself up in the face of death and as though
he were more powerful than it, the whole barricade assumed amid the
darkness, a supernatural and colossal form.

There ensued one of those silences which occur only in the presence of
prodigies. In the midst of this silence, the old man waved the red flag
and shouted:--

"Long live the Revolution! Long live the Republic! Fraternity! Equality!
and Death!"

Those in the barricade heard a low and rapid whisper, like the murmur
of a priest who is despatching a prayer in haste. It was probably the
commissary of police who was making the legal summons at the other end
of the street.

Then the same piercing voice which had shouted: "Who goes there?"


M. Mabeuf, pale, haggard, his eyes lighted up with the mournful flame of
aberration, raised the flag above his head and repeated:--

"Long live the Republic!"

"Fire!" said the voice.

A second discharge, similar to the first, rained down upon the

The old man fell on his knees, then rose again, dropped the flag
and fell backwards on the pavement, like a log, at full length, with
outstretched arms.

Rivulets of blood flowed beneath him. His aged head, pale and sad,
seemed to be gazing at the sky.

One of those emotions which are superior to man, which make him forget
even to defend himself, seized upon the insurgents, and they approached
the body with respectful awe.

"What men these regicides were!" said Enjolras.

Courfeyrac bent down to Enjolras' ear:--

"This is for yourself alone, I do not wish to dampen the enthusiasm. But
this man was anything rather than a regicide. I knew him. His name was
Father Mabeuf. I do not know what was the matter with him to-day. But he
was a brave blockhead. Just look at his head."

"The head of a blockhead and the heart of a Brutus," replied Enjolras.

Then he raised his voice:--

"Citizens! This is the example which the old give to the young. We
hesitated, he came! We were drawing back, he advanced! This is what
those who are trembling with age teach to those who tremble with fear!
This aged man is august in the eyes of his country. He has had a long
life and a magnificent death! Now, let us place the body under cover,
that each one of us may defend this old man dead as he would his
father living, and may his presence in our midst render the barricade

A murmur of gloomy and energetic assent followed these words.

Enjolras bent down, raised the old man's head, and fierce as he was, he
kissed him on the brow, then, throwing wide his arms, and handling this
dead man with tender precaution, as though he feared to hurt it, he
removed his coat, showed the bloody holes in it to all, and said:--

"This is our flag now."


They threw a long black shawl of Widow Hucheloup's over Father Mabeuf.
Six men made a litter of their guns; on this they laid the body, and
bore it, with bared heads, with solemn slowness, to the large table in
the tap-room.

These men, wholly absorbed in the grave and sacred task in which they
were engaged, thought no more of the perilous situation in which they

When the corpse passed near Javert, who was still impassive, Enjolras
said to the spy:--

"It will be your turn presently!"

During all this time, Little Gavroche, who alone had not quitted his
post, but had remained on guard, thought he espied some men stealthily
approaching the barricade. All at once he shouted:--

"Look out!"

Courfeyrac, Enjolras, Jean Prouvaire, Combeferre, Joly, Bahorel,
Bossuet, and all the rest ran tumultuously from the wine-shop. It was
almost too late. They saw a glistening density of bayonets undulating
above the barricade. Municipal guards of lofty stature were making
their way in, some striding over the omnibus, others through the cut,
thrusting before them the urchin, who retreated, but did not flee.

The moment was critical. It was that first, redoubtable moment of
inundation, when the stream rises to the level of the levee and when the
water begins to filter through the fissures of dike. A second more and
the barricade would have been taken.

Bahorel dashed upon the first municipal guard who was entering, and
killed him on the spot with a blow from his gun; the second killed
Bahorel with a blow from his bayonet. Another had already overthrown
Courfeyrac, who was shouting: "Follow me!" The largest of all, a sort of
colossus, marched on Gavroche with his bayonet fixed. The urchin took in
his arms Javert's immense gun, levelled it resolutely at the giant, and
fired. No discharge followed. Javert's gun was not loaded. The municipal
guard burst into a laugh and raised his bayonet at the child.

Before the bayonet had touched Gavroche, the gun slipped from the
soldier's grasp, a bullet had struck the municipal guardsman in the
centre of the forehead, and he fell over on his back. A second bullet
struck the other guard, who had assaulted Courfeyrac in the breast, and
laid him low on the pavement.

This was the work of Marius, who had just entered the barricade.


Marius, still concealed in the turn of the Rue Mondetour, had witnessed,
shuddering and irresolute, the first phase of the combat. But he had not
long been able to resist that mysterious and sovereign vertigo which may
be designated as the call of the abyss. In the presence of the imminence
of the peril, in the presence of the death of M. Mabeuf, that melancholy
enigma, in the presence of Bahorel killed, and Courfeyrac shouting:
"Follow me!" of that child threatened, of his friends to succor or to
avenge, all hesitation had vanished, and he had flung himself into the
conflict, his two pistols in hand. With his first shot he had saved
Gavroche, and with the second delivered Courfeyrac.

Amid the sound of the shots, amid the cries of the assaulted guards,
the assailants had climbed the entrenchment, on whose summit Municipal
Guards, soldiers of the line and National Guards from the suburbs could
now be seen, gun in hand, rearing themselves to more than half the
height of their bodies.

They already covered more than two-thirds of the barrier, but they did
not leap into the enclosure, as though wavering in the fear of some
trap. They gazed into the dark barricade as one would gaze into a lion's
den. The light of the torch illuminated only their bayonets, their
bear-skin caps, and the upper part of their uneasy and angry faces.

Marius had no longer any weapons; he had flung away his discharged
pistols after firing them; but he had caught sight of the barrel of
powder in the tap-room, near the door.

As he turned half round, gazing in that direction, a soldier took aim at
him. At the moment when the soldier was sighting Marius, a hand was laid
on the muzzle of the gun and obstructed it. This was done by some one
who had darted forward,--the young workman in velvet trousers. The shot
sped, traversed the hand and possibly, also, the workman, since he fell,
but the ball did not strike Marius. All this, which was rather to be
apprehended than seen through the smoke, Marius, who was entering the
tap-room, hardly noticed. Still, he had, in a confused way, perceived
that gun-barrel aimed at him, and the hand which had blocked it, and he
had heard the discharge. But in moments like this, the things which one
sees vacillate and are precipitated, and one pauses for nothing. One
feels obscurely impelled towards more darkness still, and all is cloud.

The insurgents, surprised but not terrified, had rallied. Enjolras had
shouted: "Wait! Don't fire at random!" In the first confusion, they
might, in fact, wound each other. The majority of them had ascended
to the window on the first story and to the attic windows, whence they
commanded the assailants.

The most determined, with Enjolras, Courfeyrac, Jean Prouvaire, and
Combeferre, had proudly placed themselves with their backs against the
houses at the rear, unsheltered and facing the ranks of soldiers and
guards who crowned the barricade.

All this was accomplished without haste, with that strange and
threatening gravity which precedes engagements. They took aim, point
blank, on both sides: they were so close that they could talk together
without raising their voices.

When they had reached this point where the spark is on the brink of
darting forth, an officer in a gorget extended his sword and said:--

"Lay down your arms!"

"Fire!" replied Enjolras.

The two discharges took place at the same moment, and all disappeared in

An acrid and stifling smoke in which dying and wounded lay with weak,
dull groans. When the smoke cleared away, the combatants on both sides
could be seen to be thinned out, but still in the same positions,
reloading in silence. All at once, a thundering voice was heard,

"Be off with you, or I'll blow up the barricade!"

All turned in the direction whence the voice proceeded.

Marius had entered the tap-room, and had seized the barrel of powder,
then he had taken advantage of the smoke, and the sort of obscure mist
which filled the entrenched enclosure, to glide along the barricade as
far as that cage of paving-stones where the torch was fixed. To tear
it from the torch, to replace it by the barrel of powder, to thrust the
pile of stones under the barrel, which was instantly staved in, with
a sort of horrible obedience,--all this had cost Marius but the time
necessary to stoop and rise again; and now all, National Guards,
Municipal Guards, officers, soldiers, huddled at the other extremity of
the barricade, gazed stupidly at him, as he stood with his foot on the
stones, his torch in his hand, his haughty face illuminated by a fatal
resolution, drooping the flame of the torch towards that redoubtable
pile where they could make out the broken barrel of powder, and giving
vent to that startling cry:--

"Be off with you, or I'll blow up the barricade!"

Marius on that barricade after the octogenarian was the vision of the
young revolution after the apparition of the old.

"Blow up the barricade!" said a sergeant, "and yourself with it!"

Marius retorted: "And myself also."

And he dropped the torch towards the barrel of powder.

But there was no longer any one on the barrier. The assailants,
abandoning their dead and wounded, flowed back pell-mell and in disorder
towards the extremity of the street, and there were again lost in the
night. It was a headlong flight.

The barricade was free.


All flocked around Marius. Courfeyrac flung himself on his neck.

"Here you are!"

"What luck!" said Combeferre.

"You came in opportunely!" ejaculated Bossuet.

"If it had not been for you, I should have been dead!" began Courfeyrac

"If it had not been for you, I should have been gobbled up!" added

Marius asked:--

"Where is the chief?"

"You are he!" said Enjolras.

Marius had had a furnace in his brain all day long; now it was a
whirlwind. This whirlwind which was within him, produced on him the
effect of being outside of him and of bearing him away. It seemed to him
that he was already at an immense distance from life. His two luminous
months of joy and love, ending abruptly at that frightful precipice,
Cosette lost to him, that barricade, M. Mabeuf getting himself killed
for the Republic, himself the leader of the insurgents,--all these
things appeared to him like a tremendous nightmare. He was obliged to
make a mental effort to recall the fact that all that surrounded him was
real. Marius had already seen too much of life not to know that nothing
is more imminent than the impossible, and that what it is always
necessary to foresee is the unforeseen. He had looked on at his own
drama as a piece which one does not understand.

In the mists which enveloped his thoughts, he did not recognize Javert,
who, bound to his post, had not so much as moved his head during the
whole of the attack on the barricade, and who had gazed on the revolt
seething around him with the resignation of a martyr and the majesty of
a judge. Marius had not even seen him.

In the meanwhile, the assailants did not stir, they could be heard
marching and swarming through at the end of the street but they did not
venture into it, either because they were awaiting orders or because
they were awaiting reinforcements before hurling themselves afresh on
this impregnable redoubt. The insurgents had posted sentinels, and some
of them, who were medical students, set about caring for the wounded.

They had thrown the tables out of the wine-shop, with the exception of
the two tables reserved for lint and cartridges, and of the one on
which lay Father Mabeuf; they had added them to the barricade, and had
replaced them in the tap-room with mattresses from the bed of the
widow Hucheloup and her servants. On these mattresses they had laid the
wounded. As for the three poor creatures who inhabited Corinthe, no one
knew what had become of them. They were finally found, however, hidden
in the cellar.

A poignant emotion clouded the joy of the disencumbered barricade.

The roll was called. One of the insurgents was missing. And who was
it? One of the dearest. One of the most valiant. Jean Prouvaire. He
was sought among the wounded, he was not there. He was sought among the
dead, he was not there. He was evidently a prisoner. Combeferre said to

"They have our friend; we have their agent. Are you set on the death of
that spy?"

"Yes," replied Enjolras; "but less so than on the life of Jean

This took place in the tap-room near Javert's post.

"Well," resumed Combeferre, "I am going to fasten my handkerchief to
my cane, and go as a flag of truce, to offer to exchange our man for

"Listen," said Enjolras, laying his hand on Combeferre's arm.

At the end of the street there was a significant clash of arms.

They heard a manly voice shout:--

"Vive la France! Long live France! Long live the future!"

They recognized the voice of Prouvaire.

A flash passed, a report rang out.

Silence fell again.

"They have killed him," exclaimed Combeferre.

Enjolras glanced at Javert, and said to him:--

"Your friends have just shot you."


A peculiarity of this species of war is, that the attack of the
barricades is almost always made from the front, and that the assailants
generally abstain from turning the position, either because they
fear ambushes, or because they are afraid of getting entangled in the
tortuous streets. The insurgents' whole attention had been directed,
therefore, to the grand barricade, which was, evidently, the spot always
menaced, and there the struggle would infallibly recommence. But Marius
thought of the little barricade, and went thither. It was deserted and
guarded only by the fire-pot which trembled between the paving-stones.
Moreover, the Mondetour alley, and the branches of the Rue de la Petite
Truanderie and the Rue du Cygne were profoundly calm.

As Marius was withdrawing, after concluding his inspection, he heard his
name pronounced feebly in the darkness.

"Monsieur Marius!"

He started, for he recognized the voice which had called to him two
hours before through the gate in the Rue Plumet.

Only, the voice now seemed to be nothing more than a breath.

He looked about him, but saw no one.

Marius thought he had been mistaken, that it was an illusion added by
his mind to the extraordinary realities which were clashing around
him. He advanced a step, in order to quit the distant recess where the
barricade lay.

"Monsieur Marius!" repeated the voice.

This time he could not doubt that he had heard it distinctly; he looked
and saw nothing.

"At your feet," said the voice.

He bent down, and saw in the darkness a form which was dragging itself
towards him.

It was crawling along the pavement. It was this that had spoken to him.

The fire-pot allowed him to distinguish a blouse, torn trousers of
coarse velvet, bare feet, and something which resembled a pool of blood.
Marius indistinctly made out a pale head which was lifted towards him
and which was saying to him:--

"You do not recognize me?"



Marius bent hastily down. It was, in fact, that unhappy child. She was
dressed in men's clothes.

"How come you here? What are you doing here?"

"I am dying," said she.

There are words and incidents which arouse dejected beings. Marius cried
out with a start:--

"You are wounded! Wait, I will carry you into the room! They will attend
to you there. Is it serious? How must I take hold of you in order not
to hurt you? Where do you suffer? Help! My God! But why did you come

And he tried to pass his arm under her, in order to raise her.

She uttered a feeble cry.

"Have I hurt you?" asked Marius.

"A little."

"But I only touched your hand."

She raised her hand to Marius, and in the middle of that hand Marius saw
a black hole.

"What is the matter with your hand?" said he.

"It is pierced."



"What with?"

"A bullet."


"Did you see a gun aimed at you?"

"Yes, and a hand stopping it."

"It was mine."

Marius was seized with a shudder.

"What madness! Poor child! But so much the better, if that is all, it is
nothing, let me carry you to a bed. They will dress your wound; one does
not die of a pierced hand."

She murmured:--

"The bullet traversed my hand, but it came out through my back. It is
useless to remove me from this spot. I will tell you how you can care
for me better than any surgeon. Sit down near me on this stone."

He obeyed; she laid her head on Marius' knees, and, without looking at
him, she said:--

"Oh! How good this is! How comfortable this is! There; I no longer

She remained silent for a moment, then she turned her face with an
effort, and looked at Marius.

"Do you know what, Monsieur Marius? It puzzled me because you entered
that garden; it was stupid, because it was I who showed you that house;
and then, I ought to have said to myself that a young man like you--"

She paused, and overstepping the sombre transitions that undoubtedly
existed in her mind, she resumed with a heartrending smile:--

"You thought me ugly, didn't you?"

She continued:--

"You see, you are lost! Now, no one can get out of the barricade. It was
I who led you here, by the way! You are going to die, I count upon that.
And yet, when I saw them taking aim at you, I put my hand on the muzzle
of the gun. How queer it is! But it was because I wanted to die before
you. When I received that bullet, I dragged myself here, no one saw
me, no one picked me up, I was waiting for you, I said: 'So he is not
coming!' Oh, if you only knew. I bit my blouse, I suffered so! Now I am
well. Do you remember the day I entered your chamber and when I
looked at myself in your mirror, and the day when I came to you on the
boulevard near the washerwomen? How the birds sang! That was a long time
ago. You gave me a hundred sous, and I said to you: 'I don't want your
money.' I hope you picked up your coin? You are not rich. I did not
think to tell you to pick it up. The sun was shining bright, and it was
not cold. Do you remember, Monsieur Marius? Oh! How happy I am! Every
one is going to die."

She had a mad, grave, and heart-breaking air. Her torn blouse disclosed
her bare throat.

As she talked, she pressed her pierced hand to her breast, where there
was another hole, and whence there spurted from moment to moment a
stream of blood, like a jet of wine from an open bung-hole.

Marius gazed at this unfortunate creature with profound compassion.

"Oh!" she resumed, "it is coming again, I am stifling!"

She caught up her blouse and bit it, and her limbs stiffened on the

At that moment the young cock's crow executed by little Gavroche
resounded through the barricade.

The child had mounted a table to load his gun, and was singing gayly the
song then so popular:--

   "En voyant Lafayette,             "On beholding Lafayette,
    Le gendarme repete:--             The gendarme repeats:--
    Sauvons nous! sauvons nous!       Let us flee! let us flee!
          sauvons nous!"                     let us flee!

Eponine raised herself and listened; then she murmured:--

"It is he."

And turning to Marius:--

"My brother is here. He must not see me. He would scold me."

"Your brother?" inquired Marius, who was meditating in the most bitter
and sorrowful depths of his heart on the duties to the Thenardiers which
his father had bequeathed to him; "who is your brother?"

"That little fellow."

"The one who is singing?"


Marius made a movement.

"Oh! don't go away," said she, "it will not be long now."

She was sitting almost upright, but her voice was very low and broken by

At intervals, the death rattle interrupted her. She put her face as near
that of Marius as possible. She added with a strange expression:--

"Listen, I do not wish to play you a trick. I have a letter in my pocket
for you. I was told to put it in the post. I kept it. I did not want to
have it reach you. But perhaps you will be angry with me for it when we
meet again presently? Take your letter."

She grasped Marius' hand convulsively with her pierced hand, but she no
longer seemed to feel her sufferings. She put Marius' hand in the pocket
of her blouse. There, in fact, Marius felt a paper.

"Take it," said she.

Marius took the letter.

She made a sign of satisfaction and contentment.

"Now, for my trouble, promise me--"

And she stopped.

"What?" asked Marius.

"Promise me!"

"I promise."

"Promise to give me a kiss on my brow when I am dead.--I shall feel it."

She dropped her head again on Marius' knees, and her eyelids closed. He
thought the poor soul had departed. Eponine remained motionless. All
at once, at the very moment when Marius fancied her asleep forever, she
slowly opened her eyes in which appeared the sombre profundity of death,
and said to him in a tone whose sweetness seemed already to proceed from
another world:--

"And by the way, Monsieur Marius, I believe that I was a little bit in
love with you."

She tried to smile once more and expired.


Marius kept his promise. He dropped a kiss on that livid brow, where the
icy perspiration stood in beads.

This was no infidelity to Cosette; it was a gentle and pensive farewell
to an unhappy soul.

It was not without a tremor that he had taken the letter which Eponine
had given him. He had immediately felt that it was an event of weight.
He was impatient to read it. The heart of man is so constituted that the
unhappy child had hardly closed her eyes when Marius began to think of
unfolding this paper.

He laid her gently on the ground, and went away. Something told him that
he could not peruse that letter in the presence of that body.

He drew near to a candle in the tap-room. It was a small note, folded
and sealed with a woman's elegant care. The address was in a woman's
hand and ran:--

"To Monsieur, Monsieur Marius Pontmercy, at M. Courfeyrac's, Rue de la
Verrerie, No. 16."

He broke the seal and read:--

 "My dearest, alas! my father insists on our setting out immediately.
 We shall be this evening in the Rue de l'Homme Arme, No. 7.
 In a week we shall be in England.  COSETTE.  June 4th."

Such was the innocence of their love that Marius was not even acquainted
with Cosette's handwriting.

What had taken place may be related in a few words. Eponine had been
the cause of everything. After the evening of the 3d of June she had
cherished a double idea, to defeat the projects of her father and the
ruffians on the house of the Rue Plumet, and to separate Marius and
Cosette. She had exchanged rags with the first young scamp she came
across who had thought it amusing to dress like a woman, while Eponine
disguised herself like a man. It was she who had conveyed to Jean
Valjean in the Champ de Mars the expressive warning: "Leave your house."
Jean Valjean had, in fact, returned home, and had said to Cosette:
"We set out this evening and we go to the Rue de l'Homme Arme with
Toussaint. Next week, we shall be in London." Cosette, utterly
overwhelmed by this unexpected blow, had hastily penned a couple of
lines to Marius. But how was she to get the letter to the post? She
never went out alone, and Toussaint, surprised at such a commission,
would certainly show the letter to M. Fauchelevent. In this dilemma,
Cosette had caught sight through the fence of Eponine in man's clothes,
who now prowled incessantly around the garden. Cosette had called to
"this young workman" and had handed him five francs and the letter,
saying: "Carry this letter immediately to its address." Eponine had put
the letter in her pocket. The next day, on the 5th of June, she went
to Courfeyrac's quarters to inquire for Marius, not for the purpose of
delivering the letter, but,--a thing which every jealous and loving soul
will comprehend,--"to see." There she had waited for Marius, or at least
for Courfeyrac, still for the purpose of seeing. When Courfeyrac had
told her: "We are going to the barricades," an idea flashed through her
mind, to fling herself into that death, as she would have done into any
other, and to thrust Marius into it also. She had followed Courfeyrac,
had made sure of the locality where the barricade was in process of
construction; and, quite certain, since Marius had received no warning,
and since she had intercepted the letter, that he would go at dusk to
his trysting place for every evening, she had betaken herself to the Rue
Plumet, had there awaited Marius, and had sent him, in the name of his
friends, the appeal which would, she thought, lead him to the barricade.
She reckoned on Marius' despair when he should fail to find Cosette; she
was not mistaken. She had returned to the Rue de la Chanvrerie herself.
What she did there the reader has just seen. She died with the tragic
joy of jealous hearts who drag the beloved being into their own death,
and who say: "No one shall have him!"

Marius covered Cosette's letter with kisses. So she loved him! For one
moment the idea occurred to him that he ought not to die now. Then
he said to himself: "She is going away. Her father is taking her to
England, and my grandfather refuses his consent to the marriage. Nothing
is changed in our fates." Dreamers like Marius are subject to supreme
attacks of dejection, and desperate resolves are the result. The fatigue
of living is insupportable; death is sooner over with. Then he reflected
that he had still two duties to fulfil: to inform Cosette of his
death and send her a final farewell, and to save from the impending
catastrophe which was in preparation, that poor child, Eponine's brother
and Thenardier's son.

He had a pocket-book about him; the same one which had contained
the note-book in which he had inscribed so many thoughts of love for
Cosette. He tore out a leaf and wrote on it a few lines in pencil:--

"Our marriage was impossible. I asked my grandfather, he refused; I have
no fortune, neither hast thou. I hastened to thee, thou wert no longer
there. Thou knowest the promise that I gave thee, I shall keep it. I
die. I love thee. When thou readest this, my soul will be near thee, and
thou wilt smile."

Having nothing wherewith to seal this letter, he contented himself with
folding the paper in four, and added the address:--

"To Mademoiselle Cosette Fauchelevent, at M. Fauchelevent's, Rue de
l'Homme Arme, No. 7."

Having folded the letter, he stood in thought for a moment, drew out
his pocket-book again, opened it, and wrote, with the same pencil, these
four lines on the first page:--

"My name is Marius Pontmercy. Carry my body to my grandfather, M.
Gillenormand, Rue des Filles-du-Calvaire, No. 6, in the Marais."

He put his pocketbook back in his pocket, then he called Gavroche.

The gamin, at the sound of Marius' voice, ran up to him with his merry
and devoted air.

"Will you do something for me?"

"Anything," said Gavroche. "Good God! if it had not been for you, I
should have been done for."

"Do you see this letter?"


"Take it. Leave the barricade instantly" (Gavroche began to scratch his
ear uneasily) "and to-morrow morning, you will deliver it at its address
to Mademoiselle Cosette, at M. Fauchelevent's, Rue de l'Homme Arme, No.

The heroic child replied

"Well, but! in the meanwhile the barricade will be taken, and I shall
not be there."

"The barricade will not be attacked until daybreak, according to all
appearances, and will not be taken before to-morrow noon."

The fresh respite which the assailants were granting to the barricade
had, in fact, been prolonged. It was one of those intermissions which
frequently occur in nocturnal combats, which are always followed by an
increase of rage.

"Well," said Gavroche, "what if I were to go and carry your letter

"It will be too late. The barricade will probably be blockaded, all
the streets will be guarded, and you will not be able to get out. Go at

Gavroche could think of no reply to this, and stood there in indecision,
scratching his ear sadly.

All at once, he took the letter with one of those birdlike movements
which were common with him.

"All right," said he.

And he started off at a run through Mondetour lane.

An idea had occurred to Gavroche which had brought him to a decision,
but he had not mentioned it for fear that Marius might offer some
objection to it.

This was the idea:--

"It is barely midnight, the Rue de l'Homme Arme is not far off; I will
go and deliver the letter at once, and I shall get back in time."



What are the convulsions of a city in comparison with the insurrections
of the soul? Man is a depth still greater than the people. Jean Valjean
at that very moment was the prey of a terrible upheaval. Every sort of
gulf had opened again within him. He also was trembling, like Paris,
on the brink of an obscure and formidable revolution. A few hours
had sufficed to bring this about. His destiny and his conscience had
suddenly been covered with gloom. Of him also, as well as of Paris, it
might have been said: "Two principles are face to face. The white angel
and the black angel are about to seize each other on the bridge of the
abyss. Which of the two will hurl the other over? Who will carry the

On the evening preceding this same 5th of June, Jean Valjean,
accompanied by Cosette and Toussaint had installed himself in the Rue de
l'Homme Arme. A change awaited him there.

Cosette had not quitted the Rue Plumet without making an effort at
resistance. For the first time since they had lived side by side,
Cosette's will and the will of Jean Valjean had proved to be distinct,
and had been in opposition, at least, if they had not clashed. There had
been objections on one side and inflexibility on the other. The abrupt
advice: "Leave your house," hurled at Jean Valjean by a stranger, had
alarmed him to the extent of rendering him peremptory. He thought that
he had been traced and followed. Cosette had been obliged to give way.

Both had arrived in the Rue de l'Homme Arme without opening their lips,
and without uttering a word, each being absorbed in his own personal
preoccupation; Jean Valjean so uneasy that he did not notice Cosette's
sadness, Cosette so sad that she did not notice Jean Valjean's

Jean Valjean had taken Toussaint with him, a thing which he had never
done in his previous absences. He perceived the possibility of not
returning to the Rue Plumet, and he could neither leave Toussaint behind
nor confide his secret to her. Besides, he felt that she was devoted and
trustworthy. Treachery between master and servant begins in curiosity.
Now Toussaint, as though she had been destined to be Jean Valjean's
servant, was not curious. She stammered in her peasant dialect of
Barneville: "I am made so; I do my work; the rest is no affair of mine."

In this departure from the Rue Plumet, which had been almost a flight,
Jean Valjean had carried away nothing but the little embalmed valise,
baptized by Cosette "the inseparable." Full trunks would have required
porters, and porters are witnesses. A fiacre had been summoned to the
door on the Rue de Babylone, and they had taken their departure.

It was with difficulty that Toussaint had obtained permission to pack up
a little linen and clothes and a few toilet articles. Cosette had taken
only her portfolio and her blotting-book.

Jean Valjean, with a view to augmenting the solitude and the mystery of
this departure, had arranged to quit the pavilion of the Rue Plumet only
at dusk, which had allowed Cosette time to write her note to Marius.
They had arrived in the Rue de l'Homme Arme after night had fully

They had gone to bed in silence.

The lodgings in the Rue de l'Homme Arme were situated on a back
court, on the second floor, and were composed of two sleeping-rooms, a
dining-room and a kitchen adjoining the dining-room, with a garret
where there was a folding-bed, and which fell to Toussaint's share. The
dining-room was an antechamber as well, and separated the two bedrooms.
The apartment was provided with all necessary utensils.

People re-acquire confidence as foolishly as they lose it; human nature
is so constituted. Hardly had Jean Valjean reached the Rue de l'Homme
Arme when his anxiety was lightened and by degrees dissipated. There
are soothing spots which act in some sort mechanically on the mind.
An obscure street, peaceable inhabitants. Jean Valjean experienced an
indescribable contagion of tranquillity in that alley of ancient Paris,
which is so narrow that it is barred against carriages by a transverse
beam placed on two posts, which is deaf and dumb in the midst of the
clamorous city, dimly lighted at mid-day, and is, so to speak, incapable
of emotions between two rows of lofty houses centuries old, which hold
their peace like ancients as they are. There was a touch of stagnant
oblivion in that street. Jean Valjean drew his breath once more there.
How could he be found there?

His first care was to place the inseparable beside him.

He slept well. Night brings wisdom; we may add, night soothes. On the
following morning he awoke in a mood that was almost gay. He thought the
dining-room charming, though it was hideous, furnished with an old round
table, a long sideboard surmounted by a slanting mirror, a dilapidated
arm-chair, and several plain chairs which were encumbered with
Toussaint's packages. In one of these packages Jean Valjean's uniform of
a National Guard was visible through a rent.

As for Cosette, she had had Toussaint take some broth to her room, and
did not make her appearance until evening.

About five o'clock, Toussaint, who was going and coming and busying
herself with the tiny establishment, set on the table a cold chicken,
which Cosette, out of deference to her father, consented to glance at.

That done, Cosette, under the pretext of an obstinate sick headache,
had bade Jean Valjean good night and had shut herself up in her chamber.
Jean Valjean had eaten a wing of the chicken with a good appetite, and
with his elbows on the table, having gradually recovered his serenity,
had regained possession of his sense of security.

While he was discussing this modest dinner, he had, twice or thrice,
noticed in a confused way, Toussaint's stammering words as she said
to him: "Monsieur, there is something going on, they are fighting in
Paris." But absorbed in a throng of inward calculations, he had paid no
heed to it. To tell the truth, he had not heard her. He rose and began
to pace from the door to the window and from the window to the door,
growing ever more serene.

With this calm, Cosette, his sole anxiety, recurred to his thoughts. Not
that he was troubled by this headache, a little nervous crisis, a young
girl's fit of sulks, the cloud of a moment, there would be nothing left
of it in a day or two; but he meditated on the future, and, as was his
habit, he thought of it with pleasure. After all, he saw no obstacle to
their happy life resuming its course. At certain hours, everything seems
impossible, at others everything appears easy; Jean Valjean was in the
midst of one of these good hours. They generally succeed the bad
ones, as day follows night, by virtue of that law of succession and
of contrast which lies at the very foundation of nature, and which
superficial minds call antithesis. In this peaceful street where he had
taken refuge, Jean Valjean got rid of all that had been troubling him
for some time past. This very fact, that he had seen many shadows, made
him begin to perceive a little azure. To have quitted the Rue
Plumet without complications or incidents was one good step already
accomplished. Perhaps it would be wise to go abroad, if only for a few
months, and to set out for London. Well, they would go. What difference
did it make to him whether he was in France or in England, provided he
had Cosette beside him? Cosette was his nation. Cosette sufficed for
his happiness; the idea that he, perhaps, did not suffice for Cosette's
happiness, that idea which had formerly been the cause of his fever
and sleeplessness, did not even present itself to his mind. He was in a
state of collapse from all his past sufferings, and he was fully entered
on optimism. Cosette was by his side, she seemed to be his; an optical
illusion which every one has experienced. He arranged in his own mind,
with all sorts of felicitous devices, his departure for England with
Cosette, and he beheld his felicity reconstituted wherever he pleased,
in the perspective of his revery.

As he paced to and fro with long strides, his glance suddenly
encountered something strange.

In the inclined mirror facing him which surmounted the sideboard, he saw
the four lines which follow:--

"My dearest, alas! my father insists on our setting out immediately. We
shall be this evening in the Rue de l'Homme Arme, No. 7. In a week we
shall be in England. COSETTE. June 4th."

Jean Valjean halted, perfectly haggard.

Cosette on her arrival had placed her blotting-book on the sideboard in
front of the mirror, and, utterly absorbed in her agony of grief, had
forgotten it and left it there, without even observing that she had left
it wide open, and open at precisely the page on which she had laid to
dry the four lines which she had penned, and which she had given in
charge of the young workman in the Rue Plumet. The writing had been
printed off on the blotter.

The mirror reflected the writing.

The result was, what is called in geometry, the symmetrical image; so
that the writing, reversed on the blotter, was righted in the mirror and
presented its natural appearance; and Jean Valjean had beneath his eyes
the letter written by Cosette to Marius on the preceding evening.

It was simple and withering.

Jean Valjean stepped up to the mirror. He read the four lines again, but
he did not believe them. They produced on him the effect of appearing in
a flash of lightning. It was a hallucination, it was impossible. It was
not so.

Little by little, his perceptions became more precise; he looked at
Cosette's blotting-book, and the consciousness of the reality returned
to him. He caught up the blotter and said: "It comes from there."
He feverishly examined the four lines imprinted on the blotter, the
reversal of the letters converted into an odd scrawl, and he saw no
sense in it. Then he said to himself: "But this signifies nothing; there
is nothing written here." And he drew a long breath with inexpressible
relief. Who has not experienced those foolish joys in horrible instants?
The soul does not surrender to despair until it has exhausted all

He held the blotter in his hand and contemplated it in stupid delight,
almost ready to laugh at the hallucination of which he had been the
dupe. All at once his eyes fell upon the mirror again, and again he
beheld the vision. There were the four lines outlined with inexorable
clearness. This time it was no mirage. The recurrence of a vision is a
reality; it was palpable, it was the writing restored in the mirror. He

Jean Valjean tottered, dropped the blotter, and fell into the old
arm-chair beside the buffet, with drooping head, and glassy eyes, in
utter bewilderment. He told himself that it was plain, that the light of
the world had been eclipsed forever, and that Cosette had written that
to some one. Then he heard his soul, which had become terrible once
more, give vent to a dull roar in the gloom. Try then the effect of
taking from the lion the dog which he has in his cage!

Strange and sad to say, at that very moment, Marius had not yet received
Cosette's letter; chance had treacherously carried it to Jean Valjean
before delivering it to Marius. Up to that day, Jean Valjean had not
been vanquished by trial. He had been subjected to fearful proofs; no
violence of bad fortune had been spared him; the ferocity of fate, armed
with all vindictiveness and all social scorn, had taken him for her prey
and had raged against him. He had accepted every extremity when it had
been necessary; he had sacrificed his inviolability as a reformed man,
had yielded up his liberty, risked his head, lost everything, suffered
everything, and he had remained disinterested and stoical to such a
point that he might have been thought to be absent from himself like a
martyr. His conscience inured to every assault of destiny, might have
appeared to be forever impregnable. Well, any one who had beheld his
spiritual self would have been obliged to concede that it weakened at
that moment. It was because, of all the tortures which he had undergone
in the course of this long inquisition to which destiny had doomed him,
this was the most terrible. Never had such pincers seized him hitherto.
He felt the mysterious stirring of all his latent sensibilities. He felt
the plucking at the strange chord. Alas! the supreme trial, let us say
rather, the only trial, is the loss of the beloved being.

Poor old Jean Valjean certainly did not love Cosette otherwise than as
a father; but we have already remarked, above, that into this paternity
the widowhood of his life had introduced all the shades of love; he
loved Cosette as his daughter, and he loved her as his mother, and he
loved her as his sister; and, as he had never had either a woman to
love or a wife, as nature is a creditor who accepts no protest, that
sentiment also, the most impossible to lose, was mingled with the
rest, vague, ignorant, pure with the purity of blindness, unconscious,
celestial, angelic, divine; less like a sentiment than like an instinct,
less like an instinct than like an imperceptible and invisible but real
attraction; and love, properly speaking, was, in his immense tenderness
for Cosette, like the thread of gold in the mountain, concealed and

Let the reader recall the situation of heart which we have already
indicated. No marriage was possible between them; not even that of
souls; and yet, it is certain that their destinies were wedded. With the
exception of Cosette, that is to say, with the exception of a childhood,
Jean Valjean had never, in the whole of his long life, known anything of
that which may be loved. The passions and loves which succeed each other
had not produced in him those successive green growths, tender green or
dark green, which can be seen in foliage which passes through the winter
and in men who pass fifty. In short, and we have insisted on it more
than once, all this interior fusion, all this whole, of which the sum
total was a lofty virtue, ended in rendering Jean Valjean a father to
Cosette. A strange father, forged from the grandfather, the son, the
brother, and the husband, that existed in Jean Valjean; a father in whom
there was included even a mother; a father who loved Cosette and adored
her, and who held that child as his light, his home, his family, his
country, his paradise.

Thus when he saw that the end had absolutely come, that she was escaping
from him, that she was slipping from his hands, that she was gliding
from him, like a cloud, like water, when he had before his eyes this
crushing proof: "another is the goal of her heart, another is the wish
of her life; there is a dearest one, I am no longer anything but her
father, I no longer exist"; when he could no longer doubt, when he
said to himself: "She is going away from me!" the grief which he felt
surpassed the bounds of possibility. To have done all that he had done
for the purpose of ending like this! And the very idea of being nothing!
Then, as we have just said, a quiver of revolt ran through him from
head to foot. He felt, even in the very roots of his hair, the immense
reawakening of egotism, and the _I_ in this man's abyss howled.

There is such a thing as the sudden giving way of the inward subsoil. A
despairing certainty does not make its way into a man without thrusting
aside and breaking certain profound elements which, in some cases, are
the very man himself. Grief, when it attains this shape, is a headlong
flight of all the forces of the conscience. These are fatal crises. Few
among us emerge from them still like ourselves and firm in duty. When
the limit of endurance is overstepped, the most imperturbable virtue is
disconcerted. Jean Valjean took the blotter again, and convinced himself
afresh; he remained bowed and as though petrified and with staring eyes,
over those four unobjectionable lines; and there arose within him such
a cloud that one might have thought that everything in this soul was
crumbling away.

He examined this revelation, athwart the exaggerations of revery, with
an apparent and terrifying calmness, for it is a fearful thing when a
man's calmness reaches the coldness of the statue.

He measured the terrible step which his destiny had taken without his
having a suspicion of the fact; he recalled his fears of the preceding
summer, so foolishly dissipated; he recognized the precipice, it was
still the same; only, Jean Valjean was no longer on the brink, he was at
the bottom of it.

The unprecedented and heart-rending thing about it was that he had
fallen without perceiving it. All the light of his life had departed,
while he still fancied that he beheld the sun.

His instinct did not hesitate. He put together certain circumstances,
certain dates, certain blushes and certain pallors on Cosette's part,
and he said to himself: "It is he."

The divination of despair is a sort of mysterious bow which never misses
its aim. He struck Marius with his first conjecture. He did not know the
name, but he found the man instantly. He distinctly perceived, in the
background of the implacable conjuration of his memories, the unknown
prowler of the Luxembourg, that wretched seeker of love adventures, that
idler of romance, that idiot, that coward, for it is cowardly to come
and make eyes at young girls who have beside them a father who loves

After he had thoroughly verified the fact that this young man was at
the bottom of this situation, and that everything proceeded from that
quarter, he, Jean Valjean, the regenerated man, the man who had so
labored over his soul, the man who had made so many efforts to resolve
all life, all misery, and all unhappiness into love, looked into his own
breast and there beheld a spectre, Hate.

Great griefs contain something of dejection. They discourage one with
existence. The man into whom they enter feels something within him
withdraw from him. In his youth, their visits are lugubrious; later on
they are sinister. Alas, if despair is a fearful thing when the blood is
hot, when the hair is black, when the head is erect on the body like
the flame on the torch, when the roll of destiny still retains its full
thickness, when the heart, full of desirable love, still possesses beats
which can be returned to it, when one has time for redress, when all
women and all smiles and all the future and all the horizon are before
one, when the force of life is complete, what is it in old age, when
the years hasten on, growing ever paler, to that twilight hour when one
begins to behold the stars of the tomb?

While he was meditating, Toussaint entered. Jean Valjean rose and asked

"In what quarter is it? Do you know?"

Toussaint was struck dumb, and could only answer him:--

"What is it, sir?"

Jean Valjean began again: "Did you not tell me that just now that there
is fighting going on?"

"Ah! yes, sir," replied Toussaint. "It is in the direction of

There is a mechanical movement which comes to us, unconsciously, from
the most profound depths of our thought. It was, no doubt, under
the impulse of a movement of this sort, and of which he was hardly
conscious, that Jean Valjean, five minutes later, found himself in the

Bareheaded, he sat upon the stone post at the door of his house. He
seemed to be listening.

Night had come.


How long did he remain thus? What was the ebb and flow of this tragic
meditation? Did he straighten up? Did he remain bowed? Had he been
bent to breaking? Could he still rise and regain his footing in his
conscience upon something solid? He probably would not have been able to
tell himself.

The street was deserted. A few uneasy bourgeois, who were rapidly
returning home, hardly saw him. Each one for himself in times of peril.
The lamp-lighter came as usual to light the lantern which was situated
precisely opposite the door of No. 7, and then went away. Jean Valjean
would not have appeared like a living man to any one who had examined
him in that shadow. He sat there on the post of his door, motionless as
a form of ice. There is congealment in despair. The alarm bells and
a vague and stormy uproar were audible. In the midst of all these
convulsions of the bell mingled with the revolt, the clock of Saint-Paul
struck eleven, gravely and without haste; for the tocsin is man; the
hour is God. The passage of the hour produced no effect on Jean Valjean;
Jean Valjean did not stir. Still, at about that moment, a brusque report
burst forth in the direction of the Halles, a second yet more violent
followed; it was probably that attack on the barricade in the Rue de la
Chanvrerie which we have just seen repulsed by Marius. At this double
discharge, whose fury seemed augmented by the stupor of the night, Jean
Valjean started; he rose, turning towards the quarter whence the noise
proceeded; then he fell back upon the post again, folded his arms, and
his head slowly sank on his bosom again.

He resumed his gloomy dialogue with himself.

All at once, he raised his eyes; some one was walking in the street, he
heard steps near him. He looked, and by the light of the lanterns, in
the direction of the street which ran into the Rue-aux-Archives, he
perceived a young, livid, and beaming face.

Gavroche had just arrived in the Rue l'Homme Arme.

Gavroche was staring into the air, apparently in search of something. He
saw Jean Valjean perfectly well but he took no notice of him.

Gavroche after staring into the air, stared below; he raised himself on
tiptoe, and felt of the doors and windows of the ground floor; they were
all shut, bolted, and padlocked. After having authenticated the fronts
of five or six barricaded houses in this manner, the urchin shrugged his
shoulders, and took himself to task in these terms:--


Then he began to stare into the air again.

Jean Valjean, who, an instant previously, in his then state of mind,
would not have spoken to or even answered any one, felt irresistibly
impelled to accost that child.

"What is the matter with you, my little fellow?" he said.

"The matter with me is that I am hungry," replied Gavroche frankly. And
he added: "Little fellow yourself."

Jean Valjean fumbled in his fob and pulled out a five-franc piece.

But Gavroche, who was of the wagtail species, and who skipped
vivaciously from one gesture to another, had just picked up a stone. He
had caught sight of the lantern.

"See here," said he, "you still have your lanterns here. You are
disobeying the regulations, my friend. This is disorderly. Smash that
for me."

And he flung the stone at the lantern, whose broken glass fell with
such a clatter that the bourgeois in hiding behind their curtains in the
opposite house cried: "There is 'Ninety-three' come again."

The lantern oscillated violently, and went out. The street had suddenly
become black.

"That's right, old street," ejaculated Gavroche, "put on your

And turning to Jean Valjean:--

"What do you call that gigantic monument that you have there at the end
of the street? It's the Archives, isn't it? I must crumble up those big
stupids of pillars a bit and make a nice barricade out of them."

Jean Valjean stepped up to Gavroche.

"Poor creature," he said in a low tone, and speaking to himself, "he is

And he laid the hundred-sou piece in his hand.

Gavroche raised his face, astonished at the size of this sou; he stared
at it in the darkness, and the whiteness of the big sou dazzled him.
He knew five-franc pieces by hearsay; their reputation was agreeable to
him; he was delighted to see one close to. He said:--

"Let us contemplate the tiger."

He gazed at it for several minutes in ecstasy; then, turning to Jean
Valjean, he held out the coin to him, and said majestically to him:--

"Bourgeois, I prefer to smash lanterns. Take back your ferocious beast.
You can't bribe me. That has got five claws; but it doesn't scratch me."

"Have you a mother?" asked Jean Valjean.

Gavroche replied:--

"More than you have, perhaps."

"Well," returned Jean Valjean, "keep the money for your mother!"

Gavroche was touched. Moreover, he had just noticed that the man who was
addressing him had no hat, and this inspired him with confidence.

"Truly," said he, "so it wasn't to keep me from breaking the lanterns?"

"Break whatever you please."

"You're a fine man," said Gavroche.

And he put the five-franc piece into one of his pockets.

His confidence having increased, he added:--

"Do you belong in this street?"

"Yes, why?"

"Can you tell me where No. 7 is?"

"What do you want with No. 7?"

Here the child paused, he feared that he had said too much; he thrust
his nails energetically into his hair and contented himself with

"Ah! Here it is."

An idea flashed through Jean Valjean's mind. Anguish does have these
gleams. He said to the lad:--

"Are you the person who is bringing a letter that I am expecting?"

"You?" said Gavroche. "You are not a woman."

"The letter is for Mademoiselle Cosette, is it not?"

"Cosette," muttered Gavroche. "Yes, I believe that is the queer name."

"Well," resumed Jean Valjean, "I am the person to whom you are to
deliver the letter. Give it here."

"In that case, you must know that I was sent from the barricade."

"Of course," said Jean Valjean.

Gavroche engulfed his hand in another of his pockets and drew out a
paper folded in four.

Then he made the military salute.

"Respect for despatches," said he. "It comes from the Provisional

"Give it to me," said Jean Valjean.

Gavroche held the paper elevated above his head.

"Don't go and fancy it's a love letter. It is for a woman, but it's for
the people. We men fight and we respect the fair sex. We are not as
they are in fine society, where there are lions who send chickens[55] to

"Give it to me."

"After all," continued Gavroche, "you have the air of an honest man."

"Give it to me quick."

"Catch hold of it."

And he handed the paper to Jean Valjean.

"And make haste, Monsieur What's-your-name, for Mamselle Cosette is

Gavroche was satisfied with himself for having produced this remark.

Jean Valjean began again:--

"Is it to Saint-Merry that the answer is to be sent?"

"There you are making some of those bits of pastry vulgarly called
brioches [blunders]. This letter comes from the barricade of the Rue de
la Chanvrerie, and I'm going back there. Good evening, citizen."

That said, Gavroche took himself off, or, to describe it more exactly,
fluttered away in the direction whence he had come with a flight like
that of an escaped bird. He plunged back into the gloom as though he
made a hole in it, with the rigid rapidity of a projectile; the alley of
l'Homme Arme became silent and solitary once more; in a twinkling, that
strange child, who had about him something of the shadow and of the
dream, had buried himself in the mists of the rows of black houses, and
was lost there, like smoke in the dark; and one might have thought that
he had dissipated and vanished, had there not taken place, a few minutes
after his disappearance, a startling shiver of glass, and had not the
magnificent crash of a lantern rattling down on the pavement once more
abruptly awakened the indignant bourgeois. It was Gavroche upon his way
through the Rue du Chaume.


Jean Valjean went into the house with Marius' letter.

He groped his way up the stairs, as pleased with the darkness as an owl
who grips his prey, opened and shut his door softly, listened to see
whether he could hear any noise,--made sure that, to all appearances,
Cosette and Toussaint were asleep, and plunged three or four matches
into the bottle of the Fumade lighter before he could evoke a spark, so
greatly did his hand tremble. What he had just done smacked of theft. At
last the candle was lighted; he leaned his elbows on the table, unfolded
the paper, and read.

In violent emotions, one does not read, one flings to the earth, so to
speak, the paper which one holds, one clutches it like a victim, one
crushes it, one digs into it the nails of one's wrath, or of one's joy;
one hastens to the end, one leaps to the beginning; attention is at
fever heat; it takes up in the gross, as it were, the essential points;
it seizes on one point, and the rest disappears. In Marius' note to
Cosette, Jean Valjean saw only these words:--

"I die. When thou readest this, my soul will be near thee."

In the presence of these two lines, he was horribly dazzled; he remained
for a moment, crushed, as it were, by the change of emotion which
was taking place within him, he stared at Marius' note with a sort of
intoxicated amazement, he had before his eyes that splendor, the death
of a hated individual.

He uttered a frightful cry of inward joy. So it was all over. The
catastrophe had arrived sooner than he had dared to hope. The being who
obstructed his destiny was disappearing. That man had taken himself off
of his own accord, freely, willingly. This man was going to his death,
and he, Jean Valjean, had had no hand in the matter, and it was through
no fault of his. Perhaps, even, he is already dead. Here his fever
entered into calculations. No, he is not dead yet. The letter had
evidently been intended for Cosette to read on the following morning;
after the two discharges that were heard between eleven o'clock and
midnight, nothing more has taken place; the barricade will not be
attacked seriously until daybreak; but that makes no difference, from
the moment when "that man" is concerned in this war, he is lost; he is
caught in the gearing. Jean Valjean felt himself delivered. So he was
about to find himself alone with Cosette once more. The rivalry would
cease; the future was beginning again. He had but to keep this note in
his pocket. Cosette would never know what had become of that man. All
that there requires to be done is to let things take their own course.
This man cannot escape. If he is not already dead, it is certain that he
is about to die. What good fortune!

Having said all this to himself, he became gloomy.

Then he went down stairs and woke up the porter.

About an hour later, Jean Valjean went out in the complete costume of
a National Guard, and with his arms. The porter had easily found in the
neighborhood the wherewithal to complete his equipment. He had a loaded
gun and a cartridge-box filled with cartridges.

He strode off in the direction of the markets.


In the meantime, Gavroche had had an adventure.

Gavroche, after having conscientiously stoned the lantern in the Rue du
Chaume, entered the Rue des Vielles-Haudriettes, and not seeing "even a
cat" there, he thought the opportunity a good one to strike up all the
song of which he was capable. His march, far from being retarded by his
singing, was accelerated by it. He began to sow along the sleeping or
terrified houses these incendiary couplets:--

               "L'oiseau medit dans les charmilles,
               Et pretend qu'hier Atala
               Avec un Russe s'en alla.
                    Ou vont les belles filles,
                         Lon la.

               "Mon ami Pierrot, tu babilles,
               Parce que l'autre jour Mila
               Cogna sa vitre et m'appela,
                    Ou vont les belles filles,
                         Lon la.

               "Les drolesses sont fort gentilles,
               Leur poison qui m'ensorcela
               Griserait Monsieur Orfila.
                    Ou vont les belles filles,
                         Lon la.

               "J'aime l'amour et les bisbilles,
               J'aime Agnes, j'aime Pamela,
               Lisa en m'allumant se brula.
                    Ou vont les belles filles,
                         Lon la.

               "Jadis, quand je vis les mantilles
               De Suzette et de Zeila,
               Mon ame aleurs plis se mela,
                    Ou vont les belles filles,
                         Lon la.

               "Amour, quand dans l'ombre ou tu brilles,
                Tu coiffes de roses Lola,
               Je me damnerais pour cela.
                    Ou vont les belles filles,
                         Lon la.

               "Jeanne a ton miroir tu t'habilles!
               Mon coeur un beau jour s'envola.
               Je crois que c'est Jeanne qui l'a.
                    Ou vont les belles filles,
                         Lon la.

               "Le soir, en sortant des quadrilles,
               Je montre aux etoiles Stella,
               Et je leur dis: 'Regardez-la.'
                    Ou vont les belles filles,
                         Lon la."[56]

Gavroche, as he sang, was lavish of his pantomime. Gesture is the strong
point of the refrain. His face, an inexhaustible repertory of masks,
produced grimaces more convulsing and more fantastic than the rents of a
cloth torn in a high gale. Unfortunately, as he was alone, and as it was
night, this was neither seen nor even visible. Such wastes of riches do

All at once, he stopped short.

"Let us interrupt the romance," said he.

His feline eye had just descried, in the recess of a carriage door,
what is called in painting, an ensemble, that is to say, a person and
a thing; the thing was a hand-cart, the person was a man from Auvergene
who was sleeping therein.

The shafts of the cart rested on the pavement, and the Auvergnat's head
was supported against the front of the cart. His body was coiled up on
this inclined plane and his feet touched the ground.

Gavroche, with his experience of the things of this world, recognized
a drunken man. He was some corner errand-man who had drunk too much and
was sleeping too much.

"There now," thought Gavroche, "that's what the summer nights are good
for. We'll take the cart for the Republic, and leave the Auvergnat for
the Monarchy."

His mind had just been illuminated by this flash of light:--

"How bully that cart would look on our barricade!"

The Auvergnat was snoring.

Gavroche gently tugged at the cart from behind, and at the Auvergnat
from the front, that is to say, by the feet, and at the expiration of
another minute the imperturbable Auvergnat was reposing flat on the

The cart was free.

Gavroche, habituated to facing the unexpected in all quarters, had
everything about him. He fumbled in one of his pockets, and pulled from
it a scrap of paper and a bit of red pencil filched from some carpenter.

He wrote:--

                         "French Republic."

    "Received thy cart."

    And he signed it:  "GAVROCHE."

That done, he put the paper in the pocket of the still snoring
Auvergnat's velvet vest, seized the cart shafts in both hands, and set
off in the direction of the Halles, pushing the cart before him at a
hard gallop with a glorious and triumphant uproar.

This was perilous. There was a post at the Royal Printing Establishment.
Gavroche did not think of this. This post was occupied by the National
Guards of the suburbs. The squad began to wake up, and heads were raised
from camp beds. Two street lanterns broken in succession, that ditty
sung at the top of the lungs. This was a great deal for those cowardly
streets, which desire to go to sleep at sunset, and which put the
extinguisher on their candles at such an early hour. For the last hour,
that boy had been creating an uproar in that peaceable arrondissement,
the uproar of a fly in a bottle. The sergeant of the banlieue lent an
ear. He waited. He was a prudent man.

The mad rattle of the cart, filled to overflowing the possible measure
of waiting, and decided the sergeant to make a reconnaisance.

"There's a whole band of them there!" said he, "let us proceed gently."

It was clear that the hydra of anarchy had emerged from its box and that
it was stalking abroad through the quarter.

And the sergeant ventured out of the post with cautious tread.

All at once, Gavroche, pushing his cart in front of him, and at the very
moment when he was about to turn into the Rue des Vielles-Haudriettes,
found himself face to face with a uniform, a shako, a plume, and a gun.

For the second time, he stopped short.

"Hullo," said he, "it's him. Good day, public order."

Gavroche's amazement was always brief and speedily thawed.

"Where are you going, you rascal?" shouted the sergeant.

"Citizen," retorted Gavroche, "I haven't called you 'bourgeois' yet. Why
do you insult me?"

"Where are you going, you rogue?"

"Monsieur," retorted Gavroche, "perhaps you were a man of wit yesterday,
but you have degenerated this morning."

"I ask you where are you going, you villain?"

Gavroche replied:--

"You speak prettily. Really, no one would suppose you as old as you are.
You ought to sell all your hair at a hundred francs apiece. That would
yield you five hundred francs."

"Where are you going? Where are you going? Where are you going, bandit?"

Gavroche retorted again:--

"What villainous words! You must wipe your mouth better the first time
that they give you suck."

The sergeant lowered his bayonet.

"Will you tell me where you are going, you wretch?"

"General," said Gavroche "I'm on my way to look for a doctor for my wife
who is in labor."

"To arms!" shouted the sergeant.

The master-stroke of strong men consists in saving themselves by the
very means that have ruined them; Gavroche took in the whole situation
at a glance. It was the cart which had told against him, it was the
cart's place to protect him.

At the moment when the sergeant was on the point of making his descent
on Gavroche, the cart, converted into a projectile and launched with all
the latter's might, rolled down upon him furiously, and the sergeant,
struck full in the stomach, tumbled over backwards into the gutter while
his gun went off in the air.

The men of the post had rushed out pell-mell at the sergeant's shout;
the shot brought on a general random discharge, after which they
reloaded their weapons and began again.

This blind-man's-buff musketry lasted for a quarter of an hour and
killed several panes of glass.

In the meanwhile, Gavroche, who had retraced his steps at full speed,
halted five or six streets distant and seated himself, panting, on the
stone post which forms the corner of the Enfants-Rouges.

He listened.

After panting for a few minutes, he turned in the direction where the
fusillade was raging, lifted his left hand to a level with his nose and
thrust it forward three times, as he slapped the back of his head with
his right hand; an imperious gesture in which Parisian street-urchindom
has condensed French irony, and which is evidently efficacious, since it
has already lasted half a century.

This gayety was troubled by one bitter reflection.

"Yes," said he, "I'm splitting with laughter, I'm twisting with
delight, I abound in joy, but I'm losing my way, I shall have to take a
roundabout way. If I only reach the barricade in season!"

Thereupon he set out again on a run.

And as he ran:--

"Ah, by the way, where was I?" said he.

And he resumed his ditty, as he plunged rapidly through the streets, and
this is what died away in the gloom:--

               "Mais il reste encore des bastilles,
               Et je vais mettre le hola
               Dans l'orde public que voila.
                    Ou vont les belles filles,
                         Lon la.

               "Quelqu'un veut-il jouer aux quilles?
               Tout l'ancien monde s'ecroula
               Quand la grosse boule roula.
                    Ou vont les belles filles,
                         Lon la.

               "Vieux bon peuple, a coups de bequilles,
               Cassons ce Louvre ou s'etala
               La monarchie en falbala.
                    Ou vont les belles filles,
                         Lon la.

               "Nous en avons force les grilles,
               Le roi Charles-Dix ce jour la,
               Tenait mal et se decolla.
                    Ou vont les belles filles,
                         Lon la."[57]

The post's recourse to arms was not without result. The cart was
conquered, the drunken man was taken prisoner. The first was put in the
pound, the second was later on somewhat harassed before the councils
of war as an accomplice. The public ministry of the day proved its
indefatigable zeal in the defence of society, in this instance.

Gavroche's adventure, which has lingered as a tradition in the quarters
of the Temple, is one of the most terrible souvenirs of the elderly
bourgeois of the Marais, and is entitled in their memories: "The
nocturnal attack by the post of the Royal Printing Establishment."



[Illustration: Frontispiece Volume Five ]

[Illustration: Titlepage Volume Five ]



The two most memorable barricades which the observer of social maladies
can name do not belong to the period in which the action of this work
is laid. These two barricades, both of them symbols, under two different
aspects, of a redoubtable situation, sprang from the earth at the time
of the fatal insurrection of June, 1848, the greatest war of the streets
that history has ever beheld.

It sometimes happens that, even contrary to principles, even contrary to
liberty, equality, and fraternity, even contrary to the universal vote,
even contrary to the government, by all for all, from the depths of its
anguish, of its discouragements and its destitutions, of its fevers, of
its distresses, of its miasmas, of its ignorances, of its darkness, that
great and despairing body, the rabble, protests against, and that the
populace wages battle against, the people.

Beggars attack the common right; the ochlocracy rises against demos.

These are melancholy days; for there is always a certain amount of night
even in this madness, there is suicide in this duel, and those words
which are intended to be insults--beggars, canaille, ochlocracy,
populace--exhibit, alas! rather the fault of those who reign than the
fault of those who suffer; rather the fault of the privileged than the
fault of the disinherited.

For our own part, we never pronounce those words without pain and
without respect, for when philosophy fathoms the facts to which they
correspond, it often finds many a grandeur beside these miseries. Athens
was an ochlocracy; the beggars were the making of Holland; the populace
saved Rome more than once; and the rabble followed Jesus Christ.

There is no thinker who has not at times contemplated the magnificences
of the lower classes.

It was of this rabble that Saint Jerome was thinking, no doubt, and of
all these poor people and all these vagabonds and all these miserable
people whence sprang the apostles and the martyrs, when he uttered this
mysterious saying: "Fex urbis, lex orbis,"--the dregs of the city, the
law of the earth.

The exasperations of this crowd which suffers and bleeds, its violences
contrary to all sense, directed against the principles which are its
life, its masterful deeds against the right, are its popular coups
d'etat and should be repressed. The man of probity sacrifices himself,
and out of his very love for this crowd, he combats it. But how
excusable he feels it even while holding out against it! How he
venerates it even while resisting it! This is one of those rare moments
when, while doing that which it is one's duty to do, one feels something
which disconcerts one, and which would dissuade one from proceeding
further; one persists, it is necessary, but conscience, though
satisfied, is sad, and the accomplishment of duty is complicated with a
pain at the heart.

June, 1848, let us hasten to say, was an exceptional fact, and almost
impossible of classification, in the philosophy of history. All the
words which we have just uttered, must be discarded, when it becomes
a question of this extraordinary revolt, in which one feels the holy
anxiety of toil claiming its rights. It was necessary to combat it, and
this was a duty, for it attacked the republic. But what was June, 1848,
at bottom? A revolt of the people against itself.

Where the subject is not lost sight of, there is no digression; may we,
then, be permitted to arrest the reader's attention for a moment on the
two absolutely unique barricades of which we have just spoken and which
characterized this insurrection.

One blocked the entrance to the Faubourg Saint Antoine; the other
defended the approach to the Faubourg du Temple; those before whom these
two fearful masterpieces of civil war reared themselves beneath the
brilliant blue sky of June, will never forget them.

The Saint-Antoine barricade was tremendous; it was three stories high,
and seven hundred feet wide. It barred the vast opening of the faubourg,
that is to say, three streets, from angle to angle; ravined, jagged,
cut up, divided, crenelated, with an immense rent, buttressed with piles
that were bastions in themselves throwing out capes here and there,
powerfully backed up by two great promontories of houses of the
faubourg, it reared itself like a cyclopean dike at the end of the
formidable place which had seen the 14th of July. Nineteen barricades
were ranged, one behind the other, in the depths of the streets
behind this principal barricade. At the very sight of it, one felt the
agonizing suffering in the immense faubourg, which had reached that
point of extremity when a distress may become a catastrophe. Of what was
that barricade made? Of the ruins of three six-story houses demolished
expressly, said some. Of the prodigy of all wraths, said others. It wore
the lamentable aspect of all constructions of hatred, ruin. It might be
asked: Who built this? It might also be said: Who destroyed this? It was
the improvisation of the ebullition. Hold! take this door! this grating!
this penthouse! this chimney-piece! this broken brazier! this cracked
pot! Give all! cast away all! Push this roll, dig, dismantle, overturn,
ruin everything! It was the collaboration of the pavement, the block of
stone, the beam, the bar of iron, the rag, the scrap, the broken pane,
the unseated chair, the cabbage-stalk, the tatter, the rag, and the
malediction. It was grand and it was petty. It was the abyss parodied
on the public place by hubbub. The mass beside the atom; the strip of
ruined wall and the broken bowl,--threatening fraternization of
every sort of rubbish. Sisyphus had thrown his rock there and Job his
potsherd. Terrible, in short. It was the acropolis of the barefooted.
Overturned carts broke the uniformity of the slope; an immense dray was
spread out there crossways, its axle pointing heavenward, and seemed a
scar on that tumultuous facade; an omnibus hoisted gayly, by main force,
to the very summit of the heap, as though the architects of this bit of
savagery had wished to add a touch of the street urchin humor to their
terror, presented its horseless, unharnessed pole to no one knows what
horses of the air. This gigantic heap, the alluvium of the revolt,
figured to the mind an Ossa on Pelion of all revolutions; '93 on '89,
the 9th of Thermidor on the 10th of August, the 18th of Brumaire on the
11th of January, Vendemiaire on Prairial, 1848 on 1830. The situation
deserved the trouble and this barricade was worthy to figure on the very
spot whence the Bastille had disappeared. If the ocean made dikes, it
is thus that it would build. The fury of the flood was stamped upon this
shapeless mass. What flood? The crowd. One thought one beheld hubbub
petrified. One thought one heard humming above this barricade as though
there had been over their hive, enormous, dark bees of violent progress.
Was it a thicket? Was it a bacchanalia? Was it a fortress? Vertigo
seemed to have constructed it with blows of its wings. There was
something of the cess-pool in that redoubt and something Olympian in
that confusion. One there beheld in a pell-mell full of despair, the
rafters of roofs, bits of garret windows with their figured paper,
window sashes with their glass planted there in the ruins awaiting
the cannon, wrecks of chimneys, cupboards, tables, benches, howling
topsyturveydom, and those thousand poverty-stricken things, the very
refuse of the mendicant, which contain at the same time fury and
nothingness. One would have said that it was the tatters of a people,
rags of wood, of iron, of bronze, of stone, and that the Faubourg Saint
Antoine had thrust it there at its door, with a colossal flourish of the
broom making of its misery its barricade. Blocks resembling headsman's
blocks, dislocated chains, pieces of woodwork with brackets having
the form of gibbets, horizontal wheels projecting from the rubbish,
amalgamated with this edifice of anarchy the sombre figure of the old
tortures endured by the people. The barricade Saint Antoine converted
everything into a weapon; everything that civil war could throw at the
head of society proceeded thence; it was not combat, it was a paroxysm;
the carbines which defended this redoubt, among which there were some
blunderbusses, sent bits of earthenware bones, coat-buttons, even the
casters from night-stands, dangerous projectiles on account of
the brass. This barricade was furious; it hurled to the clouds an
inexpressible clamor; at certain moments, when provoking the army, it
was covered with throngs and tempest; a tumultuous crowd of flaming
heads crowned it; a swarm filled it; it had a thorny crest of guns, of
sabres, of cudgels, of axes, of pikes and of bayonets; a vast red flag
flapped in the wind; shouts of command, songs of attack, the roll of
drums, the sobs of women and bursts of gloomy laughter from the starving
were to be heard there. It was huge and living, and, like the back of an
electric beast, there proceeded from it little flashes of lightning. The
spirit of revolution covered with its cloud this summit where rumbled
that voice of the people which resembles the voice of God; a strange
majesty was emitted by this titanic basket of rubbish. It was a heap of
filth and it was Sinai.

As we have said previously, it attacked in the name of the
revolution--what? The revolution. It--that barricade, chance, hazard,
disorder, terror, misunderstanding, the unknown--had facing it the
Constituent Assembly, the sovereignty of the people, universal suffrage,
the nation, the republic; and it was the Carmagnole bidding defiance to
the Marseillaise.

Immense but heroic defiance, for the old faubourg is a hero.

The faubourg and its redoubt lent each other assistance. The faubourg
shouldered the redoubt, the redoubt took its stand under cover of the
faubourg. The vast barricade spread out like a cliff against which
the strategy of the African generals dashed itself. Its caverns, its
excrescences, its warts, its gibbosities, grimaced, so to speak, and
grinned beneath the smoke. The mitraille vanished in shapelessness; the
bombs plunged into it; bullets only succeeded in making holes in it;
what was the use of cannonading chaos? and the regiments, accustomed to
the fiercest visions of war, gazed with uneasy eyes on that species of
redoubt, a wild beast in its boar-like bristling and a mountain by its
enormous size.

A quarter of a league away, from the corner of the Rue du Temple which
debouches on the boulevard near the Chateaud'Eau, if one thrust one's
head bodily beyond the point formed by the front of the Dallemagne shop,
one perceived in the distance, beyond the canal, in the street which
mounts the slopes of Belleville at the culminating point of the rise, a
strange wall reaching to the second story of the house fronts, a sort
of hyphen between the houses on the right and the houses on the left, as
though the street had folded back on itself its loftiest wall in order
to close itself abruptly. This wall was built of paving-stones. It was
straight, correct, cold, perpendicular, levelled with the square, laid
out by rule and line. Cement was lacking, of course, but, as in the case
of certain Roman walls, without interfering with its rigid architecture.
The entablature was mathematically parallel with the base. From distance
to distance, one could distinguish on the gray surface, almost invisible
loopholes which resembled black threads. These loopholes were separated
from each other by equal spaces. The street was deserted as far as the
eye could reach. All windows and doors were closed. In the background
rose this barrier, which made a blind thoroughfare of the street, a
motionless and tranquil wall; no one was visible, nothing was audible;
not a cry, not a sound, not a breath. A sepulchre.

The dazzling sun of June inundated this terrible thing with light.

It was the barricade of the Faubourg of the Temple.

As soon as one arrived on the spot, and caught sight of it, it was
impossible, even for the boldest, not to become thoughtful before
this mysterious apparition. It was adjusted, jointed, imbricated,
rectilinear, symmetrical and funereal. Science and gloom met there. One
felt that the chief of this barricade was a geometrician or a spectre.
One looked at it and spoke low.

From time to time, if some soldier, an officer or representative of the
people, chanced to traverse the deserted highway, a faint, sharp whistle
was heard, and the passer-by fell dead or wounded, or, if he escaped the
bullet, sometimes a biscaien was seen to ensconce itself in some closed
shutter, in the interstice between two blocks of stone, or in the
plaster of a wall. For the men in the barricade had made themselves two
small cannons out of two cast-iron lengths of gas-pipe, plugged up at
one end with tow and fire-clay. There was no waste of useless powder.
Nearly every shot told. There were corpses here and there, and pools of
blood on the pavement. I remember a white butterfly which went and came
in the street. Summer does not abdicate.

In the neighborhood, the spaces beneath the portes cocheres were
encumbered with wounded.

One felt oneself aimed at by some person whom one did not see, and one
understood that guns were levelled at the whole length of the street.

Massed behind the sort of sloping ridge which the vaulted canal forms
at the entrance to the Faubourg du Temple, the soldiers of the attacking
column, gravely and thoughtfully, watched this dismal redoubt, this
immobility, this passivity, whence sprang death. Some crawled flat on
their faces as far as the crest of the curve of the bridge, taking care
that their shakos did not project beyond it.

The valiant Colonel Monteynard admired this barricade with a
shudder.--"How that is built!" he said to a Representative. "Not one
paving-stone projects beyond its neighbor. It is made of porcelain."--At
that moment, a bullet broke the cross on his breast, and he fell.

"The cowards!" people said. "Let them show themselves. Let us see them!
They dare not! They are hiding!"

The barricade of the Faubourg du Temple, defended by eighty men,
attacked by ten thousand, held out for three days. On the fourth, they
did as at Zaatcha, as at Constantine, they pierced the houses, they came
over the roofs, the barricade was taken. Not one of the eighty cowards
thought of flight, all were killed there with the exception of the
leader, Barthelemy, of whom we shall speak presently.

The Saint-Antoine barricade was the tumult of thunders; the barricade
of the Temple was silence. The difference between these two redoubts
was the difference between the formidable and the sinister. One seemed a
maw; the other a mask.

Admitting that the gigantic and gloomy insurrection of June was composed
of a wrath and of an enigma, one divined in the first barricade the
dragon, and behind the second the sphinx.

These two fortresses had been erected by two men named, the one,
Cournet, the other, Barthelemy. Cournet made the Saint-Antoine
barricade; Barthelemy the barricade of the Temple. Each was the image of
the man who had built it.

Cournet was a man of lofty stature; he had broad shoulders, a red face,
a crushing fist, a bold heart, a loyal soul, a sincere and terrible eye.
Intrepid, energetic, irascible, stormy; the most cordial of men, the
most formidable of combatants. War, strife, conflict, were the very air
he breathed and put him in a good humor. He had been an officer in the
navy, and, from his gestures and his voice, one divined that he sprang
from the ocean, and that he came from the tempest; he carried the
hurricane on into battle. With the exception of the genius, there was
in Cournet something of Danton, as, with the exception of the divinity,
there was in Danton something of Hercules.

Barthelemy, thin, feeble, pale, taciturn, was a sort of tragic street
urchin, who, having had his ears boxed by a policeman, lay in wait for
him, and killed him, and at seventeen was sent to the galleys. He came
out and made this barricade.

Later on, fatal circumstance, in London, proscribed by all, Barthelemy
slew Cournet. It was a funereal duel. Some time afterwards, caught in
the gearing of one of those mysterious adventures in which passion
plays a part, a catastrophe in which French justice sees extenuating
circumstances, and in which English justice sees only death, Barthelemy
was hanged. The sombre social construction is so made that, thanks to
material destitution, thanks to moral obscurity, that unhappy being
who possessed an intelligence, certainly firm, possibly great, began
in France with the galleys, and ended in England with the gallows.
Barthelemy, on occasion, flew but one flag, the black flag.


Sixteen years count in the subterranean education of insurrection, and
June, 1848, knew a great deal more about it than June, 1832. So the
barricade of the Rue de la Chanvrerie was only an outline, and an embryo
compared to the two colossal barricades which we have just sketched; but
it was formidable for that epoch.

The insurgents under the eye of Enjolras, for Marius no longer looked
after anything, had made good use of the night. The barricade had been
not only repaired, but augmented. They had raised it two feet. Bars
of iron planted in the pavement resembled lances in rest. All sorts of
rubbish brought and added from all directions complicated the external
confusion. The redoubt had been cleverly made over, into a wall on the
inside and a thicket on the outside.

The staircase of paving-stones which permitted one to mount it like the
wall of a citadel had been reconstructed.

The barricade had been put in order, the tap-room disencumbered, the
kitchen appropriated for the ambulance, the dressing of the wounded
completed, the powder scattered on the ground and on the tables had been
gathered up, bullets run, cartridges manufactured, lint scraped, the
fallen weapons re-distributed, the interior of the redoubt cleaned, the
rubbish swept up, corpses removed.

They laid the dead in a heap in the Mondetour lane, of which they were
still the masters. The pavement was red for a long time at that spot.
Among the dead there were four National Guardsmen of the suburbs.
Enjolras had their uniforms laid aside.

Enjolras had advised two hours of sleep. Advice from Enjolras was a
command. Still, only three or four took advantage of it.

Feuilly employed these two hours in engraving this inscription on the
wall which faced the tavern:--

                     LONG LIVE THE PEOPLES!

These four words, hollowed out in the rough stone with a nail, could be
still read on the wall in 1848.

The three women had profited by the respite of the night to vanish
definitely; which allowed the insurgents to breathe more freely.

They had found means of taking refuge in some neighboring house.

The greater part of the wounded were able, and wished, to fight still.
On a litter of mattresses and trusses of straw in the kitchen, which had
been converted into an ambulance, there were five men gravely wounded,
two of whom were municipal guardsmen. The municipal guardsmen were
attended to first.

In the tap-room there remained only Mabeuf under his black cloth and
Javert bound to his post.

"This is the hall of the dead," said Enjolras.

In the interior of this hall, barely lighted by a candle at one end, the
mortuary table being behind the post like a horizontal bar, a sort of
vast, vague cross resulted from Javert erect and Mabeuf lying prone.

The pole of the omnibus, although snapped off by the fusillade, was
still sufficiently upright to admit of their fastening the flag to it.

Enjolras, who possessed that quality of a leader, of always doing what
he said, attached to this staff the bullet-ridden and bloody coat of the
old man's.

No repast had been possible. There was neither bread nor meat. The fifty
men in the barricade had speedily exhausted the scanty provisions of
the wine-shop during the sixteen hours which they had passed there. At a
given moment, every barricade inevitably becomes the raft of la Meduse.
They were obliged to resign themselves to hunger. They had then reached
the first hours of that Spartan day of the 6th of June when, in the
barricade Saint-Merry, Jeanne, surrounded by the insurgents who demanded
bread, replied to all combatants crying: "Something to eat!" with: "Why?
It is three o'clock; at four we shall be dead."

As they could no longer eat, Enjolras forbade them to drink. He
interdicted wine, and portioned out the brandy.

They had found in the cellar fifteen full bottles hermetically sealed.
Enjolras and Combeferre examined them. Combeferre when he came up again
said:--"It's the old stock of Father Hucheloup, who began business as
a grocer."--"It must be real wine," observed Bossuet. "It's lucky that
Grantaire is asleep. If he were on foot, there would be a good deal of
difficulty in saving those bottles."--Enjolras, in spite of all murmurs,
placed his veto on the fifteen bottles, and, in order that no one might
touch them, he had them placed under the table on which Father Mabeuf
was lying.

About two o'clock in the morning, they reckoned up their strength. There
were still thirty-seven of them.

The day began to dawn. The torch, which had been replaced in its
cavity in the pavement, had just been extinguished. The interior of the
barricade, that species of tiny courtyard appropriated from the street,
was bathed in shadows, and resembled, athwart the vague, twilight
horror, the deck of a disabled ship. The combatants, as they went
and came, moved about there like black forms. Above that terrible
nesting-place of gloom the stories of the mute houses were lividly
outlined; at the very top, the chimneys stood palely out. The sky was of
that charming, undecided hue, which may be white and may be blue. Birds
flew about in it with cries of joy. The lofty house which formed the
back of the barricade, being turned to the East, had upon its roof a
rosy reflection. The morning breeze ruffled the gray hair on the head of
the dead man at the third-story window.

"I am delighted that the torch has been extinguished," said Courfeyrac
to Feuilly. "That torch flickering in the wind annoyed me. It had the
appearance of being afraid. The light of torches resembles the wisdom of
cowards; it gives a bad light because it trembles."

Dawn awakens minds as it does the birds; all began to talk.

Joly, perceiving a cat prowling on a gutter, extracted philosophy from

"What is the cat?" he exclaimed. "It is a corrective. The good God,
having made the mouse, said: 'Hullo! I have committed a blunder.' And
so he made the cat. The cat is the erratum of the mouse. The mouse, plus
the cat, is the proof of creation revised and corrected."

Combeferre, surrounded by students and artisans, was speaking of the
dead, of Jean Prouvaire, of Bahorel, of Mabeuf, and even of Cabuc, and
of Enjolras' sad severity. He said:--

"Harmodius and Aristogiton, Brutus, Chereas, Stephanus, Cromwell,
Charlotte Corday, Sand, have all had their moment of agony when it was
too late. Our hearts quiver so, and human life is such a mystery that,
even in the case of a civic murder, even in a murder for liberation, if
there be such a thing, the remorse for having struck a man surpasses the
joy of having served the human race."

And, such are the windings of the exchange of speech, that, a moment
later, by a transition brought about through Jean Prouvaire's verses,
Combeferre was comparing the translators of the Georgics, Raux with
Cournand, Cournand with Delille, pointing out the passages translated
by Malfilatre, particularly the prodigies of Caesar's death; and at that
word, Caesar, the conversation reverted to Brutus.

"Caesar," said Combeferre, "fell justly. Cicero was severe towards
Caesar, and he was right. That severity is not diatribe. When Zoilus
insults Homer, when Maevius insults Virgil, when Vise insults Moliere,
when Pope insults Shakspeare, when Frederic insults Voltaire, it is an
old law of envy and hatred which is being carried out; genius attracts
insult, great men are always more or less barked at. But Zoilus and
Cicero are two different persons. Cicero is an arbiter in thought, just
as Brutus is an arbiter by the sword. For my own part, I blame that last
justice, the blade; but, antiquity admitted it. Caesar, the violator
of the Rubicon, conferring, as though they came from him, the dignities
which emanated from the people, not rising at the entrance of the
senate, committed the acts of a king and almost of a tyrant, regia ac
pene tyrannica. He was a great man; so much the worse, or so much the
better; the lesson is but the more exalted. His twenty-three wounds
touch me less than the spitting in the face of Jesus Christ. Caesar is
stabbed by the senators; Christ is cuffed by lackeys. One feels the God
through the greater outrage."

Bossuet, who towered above the interlocutors from the summit of a heap
of paving-stones, exclaimed, rifle in hand:--

"Oh Cydathenaeum, Oh Myrrhinus, Oh Probalinthus, Oh graces of the
AEantides! Oh! Who will grant me to pronounce the verses of Homer like a
Greek of Laurium or of Edapteon?"