[Dallas resided in Paris from August 1870 until September 1871, during which period he contributed well over 150 reports as Special Correspondent of the Daily News, as well as a handful more for The Times; this report was filed on the day of his arrival. - Graham Law]

Paris in a State of Seige (from Our Special Correspondent)

Paris, August 10 Night

Decorated initial S

eated at an open window on the Boulevards, I command some mile and a quarter of those excited thoroughfares, and by stepping on to my balcony can see the Madeleine on the one side, and the Bastille Column on the other. It is a comprehensive view, and noise and crowding have been its characteristics ever since I arrived this morning. The "Marseillaise" from thousands of mouths, the heavy tramp of armed men, the stirring strains of military music, the clash of steel, the indescribably busy hum which has so much behind it, the shouts of the drunken, the wails of the sad, and the threats of the irate, all surge up to me as I write, and make an amalgamation of strange sounds which must be heard to be understood. Whichever side I look the spectacle is the same. A throng of vehicles, footways crammed with pedestrians, every seat under the dusty leaves of the Boulevard trees occupied, every cafe overflowing, nearly every window with its modicum of gazers. They come out to see a tree shaken by the wind. The Empire will, men say, follow the Ministry unless its fortunes turn, and a compensating victory is speedily announced. There is no lack of enthusiastic patriotism, so far as outspoken devotion to the country, or readiness to don and a pride in wearing a uniform go. The Garde Mobile, detachments of which have been passing all day, are proud of their vocation, and ready to fight. But it is the country they shout for, not the Emperor; and they are as sore at the Government's mistrust as they have been and are at its reticence. It is only the National Guard, and such of the regular army as is still in Paris, who are allowed arms. . . . The men are compelled to agree with what they cannot help, but they have bitterness in their hearts, and if the old adage - in vino veritas - still hold good, many a citizen-soldier has left Paris this morning whose hatred for the Prussians and rage at their success is more than equalled by his indignation at those who he considers have mismanaged the war, besides aggravating the ignominy of failure by the sin of keeping him in the dark. The rest of Paris is waiting. By a strong effort its citizens curb themselves until the result of the next great conflict is known, and hold forth meanwhile with sullen faces upon the fatuity, the wickedness, the servile shortsightedness, the criminal mismanagement which has allowed Frenchmen to be beaten on their own ground.

[. . .]

. . . But nous verrons is the watchword of the day. If the French arms should be so far victorious as to place the Prussians in the position they occupied before the battle of Weissenburg, it is possible, say the street politicians, that some arrangement might be entered into by which France's honour might be preserved intact. But if the forces of the Empire be again beaten, woe to those who hurried the nation into war, or listened to what was thought to be the nation's cry without knowledge and without foresight.

Such are the sentiments to be heard at every street corner, and nothing is more striking than the angry unanimity with which the policy of the last few weeks is condemned. It was once wittily said of another State, that it represented a "patriarchial government without a father," and every straw seems to point to this as the present condition of beautiful Paris and beautiful France.

Links to Related Material


[Dallas, Eneas Sweetland]. "Paris in a State of Siege," Daily News (12 August 1870): 5d-e.

Created 2 February 2024