CHAPTER XIII. THE SIEGE OF PARIS.
The news of the capitulation at Sedan and of the decree deposing the emperor, roused the Parisian populace. By one o'clock on September 5 the mob began to threaten the Tuileries. Then the Italian ambassador, Signor Nigra, and the Austrian ambassador, Prince Richard Metternich, insisted that the empress must seek a place of safety. As it was impossible to reach the street from the Tuileries, they made their way through the long galleries of the Louvre, and gained the entrance opposite the parish church of Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois. The street was blocked with people uttering cries against the emperor. Agamin recognized the fugitives, and shouted, "Here comes the empress!" De Nigra gave him a kick, and asked him how he dared to cry: "Vive l'Empereur?" At this the crowd turned upon the boy, and in the confusion the empress and her lady-in-waiting were put into a cab, driven, it is said, by Gamble, the emperor's faithful English coachman. If this were so, the empress did not recognize him, for after proceeding a little way, she and Madame le Breton, her companion, finding they had but three francs between them, and dreading an altercation with the cabman if this were not enough to pay their fare, got out, and proceeded on foot to the house of the American dentist, Dr. Thomas Evans. There they had to wait till admitted to his operating-room. The doctor's amazement when he saw them was great; he had not been aware of what was passing at the Tuileries, but he took his hat, and went out to collect information. Soon he returned to tell the empress that she had not escaped a moment too soon.
[Footnote 1: Temple Bar, 1883.]
His wife was at Deauville, a fashionable watering-place in Normandy. The doctor placed her wardrobe at the disposal of the empress, who had saved nothing of her own but a few jewels. It is said she owned three hundred dresses, and her collection of fans, laces, etc., was probably unique. Her own servants had begun to pillage her wardrobe before she left the Tuileries. It is said that she would have gone forth on horseback and have put herself at the head of the troops, but that no riding-habit had been left her, except a gay green-and-gold hunting dress worn by her at Fontainebleau. That morning no servant in the Tuileries could be found to bring her breakfast to her chamber.
The next day Dr. Evans, in his own carriage, took her safely out of Paris, in the character of a lady of unsound mind whom he and Madame le Breton were conveying to friends in the country. Two days later they reached Deauville after several narrow escapes, the empress, on one occasion, having nearly betrayed herself by an effort to stop a man who was cruelly beating his horse.
There were two English yachts lying at Deauville. On board of one of these Dr. Evans went. It belonged to Sir John Burgoyne, grandson of the General Burgoyne who surrendered at Saratoga. Sir John, with his wife, was on a pleasure cruise. His yacht, the "Gazelle," was very small, only forty-five tons' burden, and carried a crew of six men.
As soon as Sir John Burgoyne had satisfied himself that it was really the empress who was thus thrown on his protection, he placed himself and his yacht at her disposal, insisting, however, that she must not come on board till nearly midnight, when he would meet her on the quai. It was fortunate that he made this arrangement, for, after dark, a police agent and a Russian spy came on board and searched every corner of the little vessel. When at last they departed, Sir John went on to the quai, and shortly afterwards met two ladies, and a gentleman who carried a hand-bag. One of the ladies stepped up to him and said, "I believe you are the English gentleman who will take me to England. I am the empress." She then burst into tears. On reaching the yacht, her first eager demand was for newspapers. Happily Lady Burgoyne could tell her that the Prince Imperial was safe in England; from the English papers she also learned particulars of the disaster at Sedan, of the proclamation of the Republic in the Corps Legislatif at Paris, and of the treatment of the emperor.
It was an anxious time for all on board the "Gazelle," for the tide would not serve to leave the harbor till seven o'clock the next morning, and Deauville was wildly riotous all night. At last they worked out of the harbor and were at sea; but a tempest was raging in the Channel, and so violent was it that at half-past one the next morning the great English ironclad "Captain," commanded by Sir Hugh Burgoyne, Sir John's cousin, went down, with all on board, not far from where the little "Gazelle" was battling with the gale. The "Gazelle" had a terrible passage, shipping tremendous seas. She danced and rolled like a cork; but the ladies were brave, and were encouraged by Lady Burgoyne's composure. "There was no affectation of courage in Lady Burgoyne," said the empress afterwards; "she simply acted as if nothing were the matter."
After about eighteen hours of this stormy passage the "Gazelle" was safe at anchor off Ryde, in the Isle of Wight. The empress was anxious that no one should know she was in England; but Sir John told her it was his duty to inform the Foreign Office immediately. An answer was at once returned by Lord Granville, assuring the empress of welcome and protection; but he added in a postscript to Sir John: "Don't you think you may have been imposed upon?"
The fact was that the Foreign Office had already received news of the escape of the empress by way of Ostend, under the charge of two English gentlemen, who had been themselves deceived. The ladies they had assisted to leave Paris were Princess Clotilde and an attendant.