The fall of the Commune took place in the last week of May, 1871. We must go back to the surrender of Paris, in the last week of January of the same year, and take up the history of France from the election of the National Assembly called together at Bordeaux to conclude terms of peace with the Prussians, to the election of the first president of the Third Republic, during which time France was under the dictatorship of M. Thiers.

Adolphe Thiers was born in Marseilles, April 16, 1797. He was a poor little baby, whose father, an ex-Jacobin, had fled from France to escape the counter-revolution. The doctor who superintended his entrance into the world recorded that he was a healthy, active child, with remarkably short legs. These legs remained short all his life, but his body grew to be that of a tall, powerful man. His appearance was by no means aristocratic or dignified if seen from a distance, but his defects of person were redeemed by the wondrous sparkle in his eyes. The family of his mother, on the maternal side, was named Lhommaca, and was of Greek origin. It came from the Levant, and its members spoke Greek among themselves. Madame Thiers' father was named Arnic, and his descent was also Levantine. Mademoiselle Arnic made a love-match in espousing Thiers, a widower, who after the 9th Thermidor had taken refuge under her father's roof. A writer who obtained materials for a sketch of Thiers from the Thiers himself, says, -

"She pitied him, she was dazzled by his brilliant parts, charmed by his plausible manners, and regardless of his poverty and his incumbrance of many children, she insisted on marrying him. Her family was indignant, and cast her off; nor did she long find comfort in her husband. She was a Royalist, and remained so to the end of her days; he was a Jacobin. Moreover, she soon found that his tastes led him to drink and dissipation."

This man, the father of Thiers, was small of stature, mercurial in temperament, of universal aptitudes, much wit, and a perennial buoyancy of disposition. His weakness, like his son's, was a passion for omniscience. Some one said of him: "He talks encyclopedia, and if anybody asked him, would be at no loss to tell you what was passing in the moon." He had been educated for the Bar, and belonged to a family of the haute bourgeoisie of Provence; but everything was changed by the revolutionary see-saw, and shortly before his son was born, he had been a stevedore in the docks of Marseilles. His father (the statesman's grandfather) had been a cloth merchant and a man of erudition. He wrote a History of Provence, and died at the age of ninety-five. The Thiers who preceded him lived to be ninety-seven, and was a noted gastronome, whose house at Marseilles in the early part of the eighteenth century was known far and wide for hospitality and good cheer. He was ruined by speculative ventures in the American colonies.

Thiers' grandfather, the cloth merchant, was a Royalist, who brought down upon himself the wrath of the Jacobins by inciting the more moderate party in Marseilles to seize the commissioners sent to them by the Convention, and imprison them in the Chateau d'If. His son (Thiers' father), being himself a Jacobin, helped to release the prisoners, and accepted an office under them in Marseilles. This was the reason why he had to conceal himself during the reaction that followed the fall of Robespierre. But all his life he bobbed like a cork to the surface of events, or with equal facility sank beneath them. He seems to have been "everything by turns, and nothing long." Among other employments he became an impressario, and went with an opera troupe to Italy. There for a time he kept a gaming table, and finally turned up at Joseph Bonaparte's court at Naples. He became popular with King Joseph, and followed him to Madrid. He was a French Micawber, without the domestic affections of his English counterpart, but with far more brilliant chances. His wife was left to struggle at Marseilles with her own boy to support, and with a host of step-children. What she would have done but for the kindness of her mother, Madame Arnic, it is hard to tell.

Meantime Adolphe was adopted and educated by Madame Arnic. She had provided him from his birth with influential patrons in the persons of two well-to-do godfathers. The boy was brought up in one of those beautiful bastides, or sea-and-country villas, which adorn the shores of Provence. There he ran wild with the little peasant boys, and subsequently in Marseilles with the gamins of the city.

His cousin, the poet Andre Chenier, got him an appointment to one of the lycees, or high-schools, established by Napoleon; but his grandmother would not hear of his "wearing Bonaparte's livery." The two god-fathers had to threaten to apply to the absent Micawber on the subject, if the boy's mother and grandmother stood in the way of his education. They yielded at last, and accepted the appointment offered them. Adolphe passed with high marks into the institution, and it cost him no trouble to keep always at the head of his classes. But in play hours there was never a more troublesome boy. He so perplexed and annoyed his superiors that they were on the eve of expelling him, when a new master came to the lycee from Paris, and all was changed. This master had ruined his prospects by writing a pamphlet against the Empire. A warm friendship sprang up between him and his brilliant pupil. The good man was an unbending republican. When Thiers became Prime Minister of France under Louis Philippe, he wrote to his old master and offered him an important post in the Bureau of Public Instruction; but the old man refused it. He would not accept Louis Philippe as "the best of republics," and ended his letter by saying: "The best thing I can wish you is that you may soon retire from office, and that for a long time."

The influence of this new teacher roused all Thiers' faculties and stimulated his industry. From that time forward he became the most industrious man of his age. The bulletins and the victories of Napoleon excited his imagination. He would take a bulletin for his theme, and write up an account of a battle, supplementing his few facts by his own vivid imagination. His idea was that France must be the strongest of European powers, or she would prove the weakest; she could not hold a middle place in the federation of European nations.

When Thiers had finished his school course his grandmother mortgaged her house to supply funds for his entrance into the college at Aix. He could not enter the army on account of his size, and he aspired to the Bar. His family was very poor at that period. Thiers largely supported himself by painting miniatures, which it is said he did remarkably well.

At Aix he found good literary society and congenial associations. His friendship with his fellow-historian, Mignet, began in their college days. At Aix, too, where he was given full liberty to enjoy the Marquis d'Alberta's gallery of art and wonderful collection of curiosities and bronzes, he acquired his life-long taste for such things. Aix was indeed a place full of collections, - of antiquities, of cameos, of marbles, etc.

Thiers' first literary success was the winning a prize at Nimes for a monograph on Vauvenargues, a moralist of the eighteenth century, called by Voltaire the master-mind of his period. He won this prize under remarkable circumstances. The commission to award it was composed, largely of Royalists, who did not like to assign it to a competitor, who, if not a Republican, was at least a Bonapartist. Thiers had read passages from his essay to friends, and the commissioners were aware of its authorship. They therefore postponed their decision. Meantime Thiers wrote another essay on the same subject. Mignet had it copied, and forwarded to Nimes from Paris, with a new motto. This essay won the first prize; and Thiers' other essay won the second prize, greatly to his amusement and delight, and to the annoyance and discomfiture of the Committee of Decision.

With six hundred francs in his pocket ($120), he went up to Paris, making the journey on foot. Having arrived there, he made his way to his friend Mignet's garret, weary and footsore, carrying his bundle in his hand. Mignet was not at home; but in the opposite chamber, which Thiers entered to make inquiries for his friend, was a gay circle of Bohemians, who were enjoying a revel. The traveller who broke in upon their mirth is thus described: -

"He wore a coat that had been green, and was faded to yellow, tight buff trousers too short to cover his ankles, and dusty, and glossy from long use, a pair of clumsy blucher boots, and a hat worthy of a place in the cabinet of an antiquary. His face was tanned a deep brown, and a pair of brass-rimmed spectacles covered half his face."

That was about 1821. Thiers was then not a profound politician, nor was he very clear as to theories about republicanism; but he was an enthusiast for Napoleon, an enthusiast for France. He employed his leisure in making notes in the public libraries on the events between 1788 and 1799, - the year of the 18th Brumaire. His future History of the Revolution, Consulate, and Empire began, unconsciously to himself, to grow under his hand. He had hoped to be called to the Bar in Paris; but as his want of height had prevented his entering the army, so his want of money prevented his entrance to the ranks of the lawyers of the capital. The council which recommends such admissions required at that period that the person seeking admittance should show himself possessed of a well-furnished domicile and a sufficient income. Thiers' resources fell far short of this. For a while he supported himself in Paris as best he could, partly by painting fans; he then returned to Aix, where he was admitted to the Bar. But he could not stay long away from Paris. He returned, and again struggled with poverty, painting and making applications for literary and newspaper work in all directions. At last, about the time of Louis XVIII.'s death, Manuel, the semi-republican deputy from Marseilles, took him up. He was then engaged upon his History, and was private secretary to the Duc de Liancourt, to whose notice he had been brought by Talleyrand in a letter which said: "Two young men have lately brought me strong recommendations. One is gentlemanly and appears to have the qualifications you desire in a secretary; the other is uncouth to a degree, but I think I can discern in him sparks of the fire of genius." The duke's reply was brief: "Send me the second one."

In 1826 Thiers began to attract public notice as a clever and somewhat turbulent opponent of the priest party under Charles X. He got his first journalistic employment from the editor of a leading paper in Paris, the "Constitutionnel." He had a letter of introduction to the editor, who, nowise impressed by his appearance, and wishing to get rid of him, politely said he had no work vacant on the paper except that of criticising the pictures in the Salon, which he presumed M. Thiers' could not undertake. On the contrary, Thiers felt sure he could do the work, which the editor, confident of his failure, allowed him to try. The result was a review that startled all Paris, and Thiers was at once engaged on the "Constitutionnel" as literary, dramatic, and artistic critic. He proved to have a perfect genius for journalism, and all his life he considered newspaper work his profession. Before long he aspired to take part in the management of his paper, and to that end saved and scraped together every cent in his power, assisted by a German bookseller named Schubert, the original of Schmuke, in Balzac's "Cousin Pons." The "Constitutionnel" grew more and more popular and more and more powerful; but still Thiers' means were very small, and he was bent on saving all he could to establish a new newspaper, the "National." He was engaged to be married to a young lady at Aix, whose father thought he was neglecting her, and came up to Paris to see about it. Thiers pleaded for delay. He had not money enough, he said, to set up housekeeping. A second time the impatient father came to Paris on the same errand, and on receiving the same answer, assaulted Thiers publicly and challenged him. The duel took place. Thiers fired in the air, and his adversary's ball passed between his little legs. Nobody was hurt, but the match was broken off, and the young lady died of the disappointment. Thiers kept every memorial he had of her sacredly to the day of his death, and in the time of his power sought out and provided for the members of her family.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about M. Thiers was the unusual care he took to prepare himself fully before writing or speaking. He had every subject clearly and fully in his own mind before he put pen to paper, and when he began to write, he did so with extraordinary rapidity; nor would he write any account of anything, either in a newspaper or in his history, till he had visited localities, conversed with eye-witnesses, and picked up floating legends.

By an accident he became acquainted before other Parisian journalists with the signing of the Ordinances by Charles X., July 26, 1830. He had also good reason to think that Louis Philippe, if offered the crown of France or the lieutenant-generalship of the kingdom, would accept it. While fighting was going on in Paris, he and Ary Scheffer, the artist, were the two persons deputed to go to Neuilly and sound the Duke of Orleans. As we have seen, Marie Amelie, the duke's wife, indignantly refused their overtures in the absence of her husband, while Madame Adelaide, his sister, encouraged them.

Thiers, Laffitte, and Lafayette became the foremost men in Paris at this crisis, and at the end of some days Louis Philippe became king of the French. He wanted to make Thiers one of his ministers, but Thiers characteristically declined so high an office until he should have served an apprenticeship to ministerial work in an under secretary-ship, and knew the machinery and the working of all departments of government.

Thus far I have not spoken of Thiers' "History of the Revolution." It appeared first in monthly parts. Up to the publication of the first number, in 1823, no writer in France had dared to speak well of any actor in the Revolution. Thiers' History, as it became known, created a great sensation. Thiers himself was supposed by the general public (both of his own country and of foreign nations) to be a wild revolutionist. At first the critics knew not how to speak of a book that admired the States-General and defended the Constitutional Convention; but by the time the third volume was completed, in 1827, it was bought up eagerly. The work was published afterwards in ten volumes, and the "History of the Consulate and Empire," which appeared between 1845 and 1861, is in twenty volumes; but it is only fair to say that the print is very large and the illustrations are very numerous, and that the portraits especially are beyond all praise.

From 1831 to 1836, Thiers was one of Louis Philippe's ministers, and from 1836 to 1840 he was Prime Minister, or President of the Council.

As soon as Thiers rose to power his mercurial father made his appearance in Paris. Thiers was disposed to receive him very coldly. "What have you ever done for me that you have any claim on me?" he asked. "My son," replied the prodigal parent, "if I had been an ordinary father and had stayed by my family and brought up a houseful of children in obscurity, do you suppose you would have been where you are now?" At this Thiers laughed, and gave his father a post-mastership in a small town in the South of France called Carpentras. There the old gentleman lived, disreputable and extravagant to the last, surrounded by a large family of dogs.

Thiers provided at the earliest possible moment for his mother and grandmother, buying for the latter a pretty little property which she had always coveted, near Aix, and taking his mother to preside over his own home. But Madame Thiers felt out of place in her son's life, and preferred to return to the property given to Madame Arnic, where she spent the rest of her days with the old lady. Lamartine tells a pretty anecdote of Thiers' relations with his mother. The poet and the statesman had been dining together at a friend's house, in 1830, when Thiers was already a cabinet officer. On leaving together after dinner, they found in the ante-room an elderly woman plainly and roughly dressed. She was asking for M. Thiers, who, as soon as he saw her, ran to her, clasped her in his arms, kissed her, and then, leading her by both hands up to the poet, cried joyously: "Lamartine, this is my mother!"

In 1834 Thiers married a beautiful young girl fresh from her pension, Mademoiselle Dosne, who was co-heiress with her mother and her father to a great fortune. Unhappily Thiers had fallen first in love with the mother; but he accepted the daughter instead. The early married life of Madame Thiers was saddened by her knowledge of this state of things. She was devoted to the interests of her husband, and watched over him as a mother might have watched over a child. She was an accomplished woman and most careful housekeeper, and had received an excellent education. She knew many languages, and turned all English or German documents required by her husband into French. She was also a charming hostess, but she lived under the shadow of a great sorrow.

When Thiers was to be married, he paid his father twelve thousand francs (about $2,500) for the legal parental consent which is necessary in a French marriage; but he was by no means anxious to have his irrepressible parent at his wedding. For three weeks before the event he hired all the places in all the stage-coaches running through Carpentras to Lyons.

In 1840 M. Thiers went out of office, in consequence of a dispute with England about the Eastern Question. The only charge that his enemies ever brought against him affecting his honor as a politician was that of employing the Jew Deutz to act the part of Judas towards the Duchesse de Berri; but for that he could plead that it solved a difficulty, and probably saved many lives.

During the Second Empire he kept much in retirement. At first he had thought that Prince Louis Napoleon, seeing in him the historian and panegyrist of the Great Emperor, would call him to his councils. But he was quite mistaken. He could not - nor would he - have served Louis Napoleon's turn as did such men as Persigny, Saint-Arnaud, De Maupas, and De Morny. When the coup d'etat came, Thiers was imprisoned with the other deputies, the only favor allowed him being a bed, while the other deputies had no couch but the floor.

In 1869 there was a general election in France, which was carefully manipulated by the Government, in order that, if possible, no deputy might be sent to the Chamber who would provoke discussion on the changes in the Constitution submitted by the emperor. Thiers thought it time for him to re-enter public life and to speak out to his countrymen. At this time one of the gentlemen attached to the English embassy in Paris had a conversation with him. "For a man," he says, "of talents, learning, and experience, I never met one who impressed me as having so great an idea of his own self-importance;" but the visitor was at the same time impressed by his frankness and sincerity. Speaking of the Emperor Napoleon III., and foreseeing his downfall, he said: "What will succeed him, I know not. God grant it may not be the ruin of France!... For a long time I kept quiet. It was no use breaking one's head against the wall; but now we have revolution staring us in the face as an alternative with the Empire; and do you think I should be doing well or rightly by my fellow-citizens, were I to keep in the background? If I am wanted, I shall not fail." As he spoke, the fire in his eyes sparkled right through the glass of his spectacles, and all the time he talked, he was walking rapidly up and down. When greatly animated, he seemed even to grow taller and taller, so that on some great occasion a lady said of him to Charles Greville: "Did you know, Thiers is handsome! and is six feet high!"

When the fall of the Empire occurred, in September, 1870, M. Thiers was in Paris; but when the Committee of Defence was formed, he quitted the capital, before the arrival of the Prussians, to go from court to court, - to London, St. Petersburg, Vienna, - to implore the intervention of diplomacy, and to prove how essential to the balance of power in Europe was the preservation of France. His feeling was that France ought promptly to have made peace after Sedan, that her cause then was hopeless for the moment, and that by making the best terms she could, and by husbanding her resources, she might rise in her might at a future day. These views were not in the least shared by Gambetta, who believed - as, indeed, most Frenchmen and most foreigners believed in 1870 - that a general uprising in France would be sufficient to crush the Prussians. Thiers knew better; his policy was to save France for herself and from herself at the same time.

We already know the story. Gambetta escaped from Paris in a balloon, and joined Cremieux and Garnier-Pages, the other two members of the Committee of Defence who were outside of Paris. At Tours they had set up a sort of government, and there, in virtue of being the War Minister of the Committee of Defence, Gambetta proceeded to take all power into his own hands, and to become dictator of masterless France. It was like a shipwreck in which, captain and officers being disabled, the command falls to the most able seaman. Gambetta had no legal right to govern France, but he governed it by right divine, as the only man who could govern it.

This is how a newspaper writer speaks - and justly - of Gambetta's government: -

"From the moment when he dropped, tired out with his journey by balloon, into his chair in the archiepiscopal palace at Tours, and announced that he was invested with full powers to defend the country, no one throughout France seriously disputed his authority. His colleagues became his clerks. The treasury was empty, but he re-filled it. The arsenal was half empty, but in six weeks one great army, and almost two, were supplied with artillery, horses, gunners, and breech-loaders. The Lyons Reds had been told that they were wicked fools, and Communists and Anarchists ripe for revolt in Toulouse, Lyons, and Marseilles had been put down. The respectables everywhere rose at his summons, anarchy and military disobedience quailed."

The fortunes of war forced Gambetta and his Government from the banks of the Loire to Bordeaux. There, at the close of January, 1871, Jules Favre arrived from the Central Committee in Paris to announce, with shame and grief, that resistance was over: Paris had capitulated to the Prussians; and it only remained to elect a General Assembly which should create a regular government empowered to make peace with the enemy.

For a few hours that night the fate of France hung trembling in the scales. Thiers was in Bordeaux. He was known to think that France could only save what was left by accepting the armistice. Gambetta was known to be for No Surrender! Which should prevail? Would the dictator lay aside his power without a struggle?

Gambetta rose to the occasion during the night; but here the histories of Thiers and Gambetta run together; therefore, before I tell of what happened the next day, let me say a few words about the personal history of Leon Gambetta. He was only thirty-three years old at this time, having been born in 1838, when Thiers was forty-one years of age.

Gambetta's birthplace was Cahors, that city in the South of France stigmatized by Dante as the abode of usurers and scoundrels. His family was Italian and came from Genoa, but he was born a Frenchman, though his Italian origin, temperament, and complexion were constantly cast up against him. In his infancy he had been intended for the priesthood, and was sent, when seven years old, to some place where he was to be educated and trained for it. He soon wrote to his father that he was so miserable that if he were not taken away he would put out one of his eyes, which would disqualify him for the priestly calling. His father took no notice of the childish threat, and Gambetta actually plucked out one of his own eyes.

In 1868 he was a young lawyer in Paris; but his eloquence and ability were known only at the Cafe Procope to a circle of admiring fellow-Bohemians. On All Saints Day, 1868, the Press, presuming on the recent relaxation of personal government by the emperor, applauded the crowds who went to cover with funeral wreaths the grave of Baudin at Pere la Chaise. Baudin had been the first man killed on Dec. 2, 1851, when offering resistance to the coup d'etat. The Press was prosecuted for its utterances on this occasion. Gambetta defended one of the journals. Being an advocate, he could say what he pleased without danger of prosecution, and all Paris rang with the bitterness of his attack upon the Empire. From that moment he was a power in France. In person he was dark, short, stout, and somewhat vulgar, nor was there any social polish in his manners.

Not long after his great speech in defence of the Press, in the matter of Baudin, Gambetta was elected to the Chamber by the working-men of Belleville, and at the same time by Marseilles. He entered the Chamber as one wholly irreconcilable with the Empire or the emperor. His eloquence was heart-stirring, and commanded attention even from his adversaries.

When, on Sept. 4, 1870, the downfall of the Empire was proclaimed, Gambetta was made a member of the Council of Defence, and became Minister of the Interior. He remained in Paris until after the siege had begun; but he burned to be where he could act, and obtained the consent of his colleagues to go forth by balloon and try to stir up a warlike spirit in the Provinces. He was made Minister of War in addition to being Minister of the Interior. From Nov. 1, 1870, to Jan. 30, 1871, his efforts were almost superhuman; and but for Bazaine's surrender at Metz, they might have been successful.

Gambetta raised two armies, - one under General Aurelles des Paladines and General Chanzy; the other under Bourbaki and Garibaldi. The first was the Army of the Loire, the second of the Jura.

When the plan of co-operation with Bazaine's one hundred and seventy-five thousand well-trained troops had failed, and the Army of the Loire had been repulsed at Orleans, Gambetta with his Provisional Government moved to Bordeaux. Thither came Thiers, returned from his roving embassy, - a mission of peace whose purpose had been defeated by the warlike movements of Gambetta's armies.

Gambetta in the early days of his dictatorship wrote to Jules Favre: "France must not entertain one thought of peace." He sincerely believed any effort at negotiation with the Prussians an acknowledgment of weakness, and he fondly fancied that a little more time and experience would turn his raw recruits into armies capable of driving back the Prussians, when the experienced generals and soldiers of France had failed.

And now we have reached that terrible hour when news was received at Bordeaux that all Gambetta's efforts had been useless; that Paris had consented to an armistice; that an Assembly was to be elected, a National Government to be formed; and that to resist these things or to persist longer in fighting the Prussians would be to provoke civil war.

No wonder that Gambetta and Thiers, both devoted Frenchmen, both leaders of parties with opposing views, - the one resolved on No surrender, the other urging Peace on the best terms now procurable, - passed a terrible night after Jules Favre's arrival at Bordeaux, Gambetta debating what was his duty as the idol of his followers and as provisional dictator, Thiers dreading lest civil war might be kindled by the decision of his rival.

Hardly less anxious were the days while a general election was going on. Bordeaux remained feverish and excited till February 13, when deputies from all parts of France met to decide their country's fate in the Bordeaux theatre. Notabilities from foreign countries were also there, to see what would be done at that supreme moment.

Seven hundred and fifty deputies had been sent to the Assembly, and it was clear from the beginning that that body was not Republican. But the Anti-Republicans were divided into three parties, - Imperialists, Legitimists, and Orleanists, each of which preferred an orderly and moderate republic to the triumph of either of the other two. Moreover, that was not the time for deliberations concerning a permanent form of government. The deputies were met to make a temporary or provisional government, qualified to accept or to refuse the hard terms of peace offered by the Prussians. The two leaders of the Assembly were Thiers and Gambetta, - the one in favor of peace, the other of prolonging the war. We can see now how much wiser were the views of the elder statesman than those of the younger; but we see also what a bitter pang Gambetta's patriotic spirit must have suffered by the downfall of his dictatorship.

The Assembly had been three days in session, clamorous, riotous, and full of words, when in the middle of the afternoon of Feb. 16, 1871, two delegates from Alsace and Lorraine appeared, supported by Gambetta. The Speaker - that is, the president of the Assembly - was M. Jules Grevy, who had held the same office in 1848; he found it hard to restrain the excitement of the deputies. The delegates came to implore France not to deliver them over to the Germans; to remember that of all Frenchmen the Alsatians had been the most French in the days of the Revolution, and that in all the wars of France for more than a century they had suffered most of all her children. No wonder the hearts of all in the Assembly were stirred.

"At this moment there appeared in the midde aisle of the theatre a small man, with wrinkled face and stubbly white hair. He seemed to have got there by magic, for no one had seen him spring into that place. He looked around him for an instant, much as a sailor glances over the sky in a storm, then, stretching out his short right arm, he made a curious downstroke which conveyed an impression of intense vitality and will. Profound silence was established in a moment. The elderly man then made another gesture, throwing his arm up, as if to say: 'Good! Now you will listen.' He then, in a thin, piping, but distinctly audible voice, began a sharp practical address. Everyone listened with the utmost attention; none dared to interrupt him. He spoke for five minutes, nervously pounding the air from time to time, and sometimes howling his words at the listeners in a manner that made them cringe. He counselled moderation, accord, decency, but above all, instant action. 'The settlement of the Alsace-Lorraine question,' said he, 'will virtually decide whether we have peace or continued war with Prussia.' Then, with an imperious gesture of command, he turned away. 'Come,' he said, 'let us to our committee-rooms, and let us say what we think.'"

Two hours later, the committee appointed to recommend a chief of the executive power announced that its choice had fallen on this orator, M. Thiers. At once he was proclaimed head of the French Republic, but not before he had hurried out of the theatre. Then the session closed, and a quarter of an hour after, Lord Lyons, the English ambassador, had waited on M. Thiers to inform him that Her Majesty's Government recognized the French Republic.

From that moment, for more than two years, M. Thiers was the supreme ruler of France. His work was visible in every department of administration. Ministers, while his power lasted, simply obeyed his commands.

There were some amusing, gossipy stories told in Bordeaux of Thiers' entrance into possession of Gambetta's bachelor quarters at the Prefecture. "Pah! what a smell of tobacco!" he is said to have cried, as he strutted into his deposed rival's study. All his family joined him in bewailing the condition of the house; and until it could be cleansed and purified they were glad to accept an invitation to take refuge in the archbishop's palace. In a few days all was put to rights, and a guard of honor was set to keep off intruders on the chief's privacy. On the first day of this arrangement, M. Thiers addressed some question to the sentinel. The man was for a moment embarrassed how to answer him. M. Thiers was for the time the chief executive officer of the Republic, but he was not formally its president. The soldier's answer, "Oui, mon Executif," caused much amusement.

At this time there was no suspicion in men's minds that it was the intention of M. Thiers to form a permanent republic. The feeling of the country was Royalist. The difficulty was what royalty? It seemed to all men, and very probably to Thiers himself, that that question would be answered in favor of Henri V., the Comte de Chambord.

Gambetta, resigning his power without a word, retired to San Sebastian, just over the Spanish frontier. There he lived in two small rooms over a crockery-shop. "He is jaded for want of sleep," writes a friend, "and distressed by money matters." Much of his time he spent in fishing, no doubt meditating deeply on things present, past, and future.

No pains were spared to induce him to give in his adhesion to one of the candidates for royalty. His best friend wrote thus to him: -

"Those wretches the Communists have destroyed all my illusions, but perhaps I could have forgiven them but for their ingratitude to you. See how their newspapers have reviled you! A time may come when a republic may be possible in France; but that day is not with us yet. Let us acknowledge that we have both made a mistake. As for you, with your unrivalled genius you have now a patriotic career open before you, if you will cast in your lot with the men who are now going to try and quell anarchy."[1]

[Footnote 1: Clement Laurier, Cornhill Magazine, 1883.]

Besides this, offers were made him of the prime minister-ship, a dukedom, a Grand Cordon, and other preferment; but Gambetta only laughed at these proposals. He was a man who had many faults, but he was always honest and true. Both he and M. Thiers were devoted Frenchmen, patriots in the truest sense of the word, and each took opposite views. That Thiers was right has been proved by time.

On March 16 the Government of the Provisional Republic removed from Bordeaux to Versailles. Nobody dreamed of the pending outbreak of the Commune; all the talk was of fusion between the elder Bourbon branch and the House of Orleans.

Thiers was decidedly opposed to taking the seat of government to Paris, nor did he wish a new election for an Assembly; he preferred Fontainebleau for the seat of government, but fortunately (looking at the matter in the light of events) Versailles was chosen.

Then, to the great indignation of Madame Thiers, the Royalists at once took measures to prevent M. Thiers from installing himself in Louis XIV.'s great bedchamber. "The Chateau," they said, "was to become the abode of the National Legislature, the state rooms must be devoted to the use of members, and the private apartments should be occupied by M. Grevy, the president of the Assembly."

"M. Thiers would no doubt have liked very much to sleep in Louis XIV's bed, and to have for his study that fine room with the balcony from which the heralds used to announce in the same breath the death of one king and the accession of another. His secretary could not help saying that it seemed fit that the greatest of French national historians should be lodged in the apartments of the greatest of French kings; but as this idea did not make its way, M. and Madame Thiers yielded the point, saying that the chimneys smoked, and that the rooms were too large to be comfortable."

On seeing a caricature in which some artist had represented him as a ridiculous pigmy crowned with a cotton night-cap and lying in an enormous bed, surrounded by the majestic ghosts of kings, Thiers was at first half angry; then he said: "Louis XIV. was not taller than I, and as to his other greatness, I doubt whether he ever would have had a chance of sleeping in the best bed of Versailles if he had begun life as I did."[1]

[Footnote 1: Temple Bar.]

So M. Thiers went to reside where the Emperor William had had his quarters, at the Prefecture of Versailles, and soon the palace was filled with refugees from Paris. Many of the state apartments were turned into hospital wards. Louis XIV.'s bedchamber was given up to the finance committee.

The thing to be done, with speed and energy, as all men felt, was to re-besiege Paris and put down the Commune. All parties united in this work; but the conservatives confidently believed that when this was done, Thiers and the moderate Republicans would join them in giving France a stable government under the Comte de Chambord.

On Sept. 19, 1821, when that young prince was a year old, a public subscription throughout France had presented him with the beautiful old Chateau de Chambord, built on the Loire by Francis I., and from which he adopted his title when in exile.

After the young prince had been removed from his mother's influence, he was carefully brought up in the most Bourbon of Bourbon traditions. When he became a man he travelled extensively in Europe. In 1841 he broke his leg by falling from his horse, and was slightly lame for the rest of his life. In 1846 he married Marie Therese Beatrix of Modena, who was even more strictly Bourbon than himself. He and his wife retired to Froehsdorf, a beautiful country seat not very far from Vienna. There they were constantly visited by travelling Frenchmen of all parties, and on no one did the prince fail to make a favorable impression. He was good, upright, cultivated, kindly, but inflexibly wedded to the traditions of his family. He loved France with his whole soul, and was glad of anything that brought her good and glory. But France was his, - his by divine right; and this right France must acknowledge. After that, there was not anything he would not do for her.

But France was not willing to efface all her history from 1792 to 1871, with the exception of the episode of the Restoration, when school histories were circulated mentioning Marengo, Austerlitz, etc., as victories gained under the king's lieutenant-general, M. de Bonaparte.

During the Empire, under Napoleon III., the Comte de Chambord had remained nearly passive at Froehsdorf. His life was passed in meditation, devotion, the cultivation of literary tastes, and a keen interest in all the events that were passing in his native country. During the Franco-Prussian war he sent words of encouragement to his suffering countrymen, and nobly refrained from embarrassing the affairs of France by any personal intrigues; but when the war and the Commune were over, and his chances of the throne grew bright, he issued a proclamation which has been called "an act of political suicide."

On May 8, three weeks before the downfall of the Commune, he put forth his first manifesto. Here is what an English paper said of it a few days before his next - the suicidal - proclamation appeared: -

"The Comte de Chambord does not, of course, surrender his own theory of his own place on earth, but he does offer some grave pledges intended to diminish suspicion as to the deduction he draws from his claim to be king by right divine. He renounces formally and distinctly any intention of exercising absolute power, and pledges himself, as he says, 'to submit all acts of his government to the careful control of representatives freely elected.' He declares that if restored he will not interfere with equality, or attempt to establish privileges. He promises complete amnesty, and employment under his government to men of all parties; and finally he pledges himself to secure effectual guarantees for the Pope [then trembling on his temporal throne in Italy]."

The English journalist continues, -

"The tone of this whole paper is that of a man who believes that a movement will be made in his favor which may succeed, if only the factions most likely to resist can be temporarily conciliated. There is no especial reason that we can see that he should not be chosen. He has neither sympathized with the Germans, nor received support from them. He has not bombarded Paris. He is not more hated than any other king would be, - perhaps less; for Paris has no gossip to tell of his career. Indeed, there are powerful reasons in favor of the choice. His restoration, since the Comte de Paris is his heir, would eliminate two of the dynastic parties which distract France, and would relink the broken chain of history. And to a people so weary, so dispirited, so thirsty for repose, that of itself must have a certain charm."

But all these advantages he destroyed for himself by a new proclamation issued five weeks later. In it he said, -

"I can neither forget that the monarchical right is the patrimony of the nation, nor decline the duties which it imposes on me. I will fulfil these duties, believe me, on my word as an honest man and as a king."

So far was good; but proceeding to announce that thenceforward he assumed the title of Henri V., he goes on to apostrophize the "White Flag" of the Bourbons. He says, -

"I received it as a sacred trust from the old king my grandfather when he was dying in exile. It has always been for me inseparable from the remembrance of my absent country. It waved above my cradle, and I wish to have it shade my tomb. Henri V. cannot abandon the 'White Flag' of Henri IV."

This manifesto, written without consulting those who were working for his cause in France, settled the question of his eligibility. France was not willing, for the sake of Henri V., to give up her tricolor, - the flag of so many memories. Its loss had been the bitterest humiliation that the nation had had to suffer at the Restoration.

The Comte de Chambord's own friends were cruelly disappointed; the moderate Republicans, who had been ready to accept him as a constitutional monarch, said at once that he was far too Bourbon. There was no longer any hope, unless he could be persuaded, on some other convenient occasion, to renounce the "White Flag."

This matter being settled by the Comte de Chambord himself, all M. Thiers' attention was turned to two things, - the disposal of the Communist prisoners, and the payment of the indemnity demanded by the Germans, the five milliards.

We are glad to know that Thiers disapproved of the revengeful feeling that pervaded politicians and society, regarding the Communist prisoners. He tried to save General Rossel, and failed. Rochefort and others he protected. He wished for a general amnesty, excluding only the murderers of Thomas, Lecomte, and the hostages. He said, when some one was speaking to him of the sufferings of those Communists (or supposed Communists) who were confined at Satory and in the Orangerie at Versailles: "It was dreadful, but it could not be avoided. We had twenty thousand prisoners, and not more than four hundred police to keep guard over them. We had to depend on the rough methods of an exasperated soldiery."

As to the indemnity, the promptness with which it was paid was marvellous. The great bankers all over Europe, especially those of Jewish connection, came forward and advanced the money. In eighteen months the five milliards of francs were in the coffers of the Emperor William, and the last Prussian soldier had quitted the soil of France. The loan raised by the Government for the repayment of the sums advanced for the indemnity was taken up with enthusiasm by all classes of the French people.

The horrible year of 1871 was followed by one of perfect peace and great prosperity. The title of President of the French Republic was conferred on M. Thiers for seven years. "The nation seemed re-flowering, like a large plantation in a spring which follows a hard winter." Trade revived. The traces of war and civil strife were effaced with amazing promptness from the streets of Paris. The army and all public services were reorganized, and to crown these blessings, the land yielded such a harvest as had not been seen for half a century. M. Thiers was never much addicted to religious emotion; but when, on a Sunday in July, 1872, the news came to him by telegram of the glorious ingathering of the harvest in the South of France, he was quite overcome. "Let us thank God," he cried, clasping his hands. "He has heard us; our mourning is ended!"

M. Thiers was by that time living in Paris in the Elysee. He had continued to reside at the Prefecture of Versailles while the Assembly was in session, but he came to the Elysee during its recess, and kept a certain state there. Yet he never would submit himself to the restraints of etiquette. One who knew him well says: -

"He was bourgeois to the finger-tips. His character was a curious effervescing mixture of talent, learning, vanity, childish petulance, inquisitiveness, sagacity, ecstatic patriotism, and ambition. He was a splendid orator, with the voice of an old coster-woman; a savant with the presumption of a school-boy; a kind-hearted man, with the irritability of a monkey; a masterly administrator, with that irresistible tendency to intermeddle with everything which is intolerable to subordinates. He had a sincere love of liberty, with the instincts of a despot."

M. Thiers had during his long life been a collector of pictures, bronzes, books, manuscripts, and curious relics. His house in the Place Saint-Georges was a museum of these treasures, but a museum so arranged that it contributed to sociability and the enjoyment of his visitors. He had acquired this taste for collecting in his early days at Aix. During the Commune his house was razed to the ground, not one stone being left upon another.

When the Commune put forth its decree for this act of vandalism, Thiers' consternation was pathetic. The ladies of his family did everything that feminine energy and ingenuity could suggest to avert the calamity. But when the destruction had taken place, Thiers bore his loss with dignity. His collections were very fine, but he had always been afraid of their being damaged, and did not show them to strangers. When the Commune sent the painter Courbet to appraise their value, he estimated the bronzes alone at $300,000.[1] M. Thiers' collection of Persian, Chinese, and Japanese curios was also almost unique. After the overthrow of the Commune, Madame Thiers and her sister did their utmost to recover such of these treasures as had passed into the hands of dealers. Many of these men gave back their purchases, and none demanded extravagant prices. A great deal was recovered, and the house on the Place Saint-Georges was rebuilt at the public cost.

[Footnote 1: Le Figaro.]

It was on the 5th of September, 1872, that the last German soldier quitted France and the five milliards of francs (in our money a thousand millions of dollars) had been paid.[1]

[Footnote 1: When looking over letters and papers concerning this period, I found among them many original notes from M. and Madame Thiers. They all had broad black borders. I learned afterwards that Thiers and his family used mourning paper so long as a single German soldier remained on French soil. Thiers' writing was thick and splashy. He always wrote with a quill pen. Early in life he had, like Sir Walter Raleigh, projected a History of the World; and as he never wrote of anything whose locality he had not seen, he had made his preparations to circumnavigate the globe, when he was arrested by the state of public affairs while on his way to Havre.]

I borrow the words of another writer speaking of this supreme effort on the part of France: -

"After the most frightful defeat of modern times, with one third of her territory in the enemy's hands, with her capital in insurrection, and her available army all required to restore order, France in eighteen months paid a fine equal to one fourth of the English National Debt; elected a bourgeois of genius to her head; obeyed him on points on which she disagreed with him; and endured a foreign occupation without giving one single pretext for real severity.... The people of France had no visible chiefs; the only two men who rose to the occasion were M. Thiers and Gambetta. If M. Thiers showed tact, wisdom, and above all courage and firmness, in probably the most difficult position in which man was ever placed, surely we may pause to admire Gambetta.... Daring in all things, under the Empire he denounced Napoleonism, and by his eloquence and courage he guided timid millions and rival factions from the day when Napoleon III. was deposed. Under the Empire he had yearned to restore the true life of the nation; when the Empire was overturned he could not believe that that life was impaired. He thought it would be easy for France to rise as one man and drive out the invader. As each terrible defeat was experienced, he regarded it as only a momentary reverse. He had such abounding faith in his cause, - the cause of France, the cause of French Republicanism, - that he could not believe in failure. Of course, to have been a more clear-sighted statesman, like M. Thiers, would have been best; but there is something very noble in the blind zeal of this disappointed man."

It moves one to pity to think of Gambetta weeping in the streets of Bordeaux, as we are told he did, when the bitter news of the surrender of Paris made all his labors useless, and dashed to the ground his cherished hopes. Without one word to trouble the flow of events that were taking a course contrary to all his expectations, he resigned his dictatorship when it could no longer be of service to his country, and took himself out of the way of intrigues in his favor, passing over the Spanish frontier. As soon as the Germans were out of France, M. Thiers also was prepared to resign his power. He called a National Assembly to determine the form of government.

There were several points of primary importance to be settled at once; first: should France be a monarchy, or a republic?

That she would again become a monarchy was generally anticipated; but the Comte de Chambord had, as we have seen, forfeited his chances for the moment. If France were a republic, who should be her president? Should there be a vice-president? Should the president be elected by the Chamber, or by a vote of the people? Should there be one Chamber, or two?

M. Thiers was opposed to having any vice-president, and was in favor of two Chambers. He vehemently urged the continuance of the Republic, saying that a monarchy was impossible. There was but one throne, and there were three dynasties to dispute it. On one occasion he said: "Gentlemen, I am an old disciple of the monarchy [he was probably alluding to the opinions which his mother and his grandmother had endeavored to instil into him]. I am what is called a Monarchist who practises Republicanism for two reasons, - first, because he agreed to do so, secondly, because practically he can do nothing else."

The Assembly proclaimed the continuance of the Republic, and likewise the continuance of M. Thiers as its president for seven years.

On several occasions after this, M. Thiers carried his point with the Assembly by threatening to resign; and as the Assembly was quite aware how difficult it would be to put anyone in his place, the threat always resulted in his victory.

The immediate cause which led to the fall of M. Thiers on May 24, 1873, after he had sat for two years and a month in the presidential chair, was a dispute concerning the election of M. Charles de Remusat (son of the lady who has given her memoirs to the world). M. de Remusat was the Government candidate for a deputyship vacant in the Paris representation. He was at the time Thiers' Minister for Foreign Affairs, a personal friend of the president, a distinguished man of letters, and an old Orleanist converted to Republicanism. The opposing candidate was M. Barodet, a Radical of extreme opinions. The Monarchists also brought forward their candidate. He had only twenty-seven thousand votes; but these succeeded in defeating M. de Remusat, who had one hundred and thirty-five thousand, while the Radicals voted solidly for Barodet, giving him one hundred and fifty-five thousand.

The blame of this defeat was thrown on M. Thiers. The Monarchists, who had once called him "that illustrious statesman," now spoke of him as "a fatal old man." They attacked him in the Assembly; the Radicals supported them. M. Thiers was defeated on some measure that he wished should pass, and sent in his resignation. It was accepted by three hundred and sixty-two votes against three hundred and forty-eight. He had fallen; and yet a plebiscite throughout the country would have given a large popular vote in favor of the man "who had found France defeated, her richest provinces occupied, her capital in the hands of savages, and had concluded peace and restored order, and found the stupendous sum required for the liberation and organization of the country, founding the Republic, and bringing order and prosperity back once more." Indeed, the peasants even credited him with their good harvests and the revival of spirit in the army, till they almost felt for him a sentiment of personal loyalty.

Expelled from power when seventy-eight years of age, M. Thiers retired to a little sunny, dusty entresol on the Boulevard Malesherbes, where the noise and glare greatly disturbed him. At Tours, in the lull of events before the surrender of Paris, he had collected books and studied botany. As soon as he was installed on the Boulevard Malesherbes he asked Leverrier, the astronomer, to continue with him the astronomical studies with which at Versailles he had indulged himself in brief moments of leisure, remarking that he had seen a good deal of the perversity of mankind, and that he now wished to refresh himself with the orderly works of God.

Shortly after this he removed to better quarters, where his rooms opened on a garden. In this garden he received his friends on Sunday mornings from seven to nine, attired in a wadded, brown cashmere dressing-gown, a broad-brimmed hat, a black cravat, patent-leather shoes, and black gaiters. As he talked, he held his magnifying-glass in his hand, ready to examine any insect or blade of grass that might come under observation.

One more great service he rendered to his country. Prince Bismarck, alarmed by the state of things in France, showed symptoms of intending to seize Belfort, that fortress in the Vosges which had never surrendered to the Germans, and which France had been permitted to retain. Thiers induced Russia to intervene, and went to Switzerland to thank Prince Gortschakoff personally for his services on the occasion.

Thiers died at Saint-Germains four years after his downfall, at the age of eighty-two. His last earthly lodging was in the Pavilion Henri IV. (now an hotel), where Louis XIV. was born.

By his will he left the State, not only all his collections, which so far as possible he had restored, but the numerous historical materials which he had gathered for his works, as well as his house, after his wife's death, in the Place Saint-Georges. The collections are there as he left them; the historical documents have been removed to the Archives.

To Marseilles, his native city, he left his water-color copies of the chief works of the great masters in Italy.

Thiers was childless. Whatever may have been the personal relations in which he stood to his wife, no woman was ever more truly devoted to the interests of her husband. She seems to have lived but for him.

People in society laughed at her plain dressing and her careful housekeeping; but "her heart dilated with gladness when she felt that the eyes of the world were fixed with admiration on M. Thiers." Her manner to him was that of a careful and idolizing nurse, his to her too often that of a petulant child. She always called him M. Thiers, he always addressed her as Madame Thiers, - indeed, he is almost unknown by his name of Adolphe, nor do men often speak of him simply as Thiers. "Monsieur Thiers" he was and will always be in history, whose tribunal he said he was not afraid to face. Even his cards were, contrary to French custom, always printed "Monsieur Thiers."

Both M. and Madame Thiers were very early risers, and both had an inconvenient habit of falling asleep at inopportune times.

To the last, Madame Thiers took a loving interest in Belfort, because her husband had saved it from the Germans. Its poor were objects of her especial solicitude. Only an hour before her death, hearing that the Maire of Belfort had called, she expressed a wish to see him, and endeavored to address him, pointing to a bust of M. Thiers; but she was unable to make herself understood; her powers of speech had failed her.

Two rules M. Thiers never departed from: one was, as he said himself, "to defend ferociously the public purse," the other, never to give house-room to any but first-rate objects of art. Some of his pictures were very dear to him. Several of his bronzes, which were pillaged by the Commune and never recovered, were mourned by him as if they had been his friends. He had been wont to call them "the school-masters of his soul."