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By Jananan SandajeshanPublished 3 months ago 6 min read

"The History of a Crime" is a memoir written by the French author Victor Hugo, first published in 1877. The book tells the story of the downfall of Napoleon III's Second Empire, from its peak in the early 1860s to its collapse following France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.


AN END WORSE THAN DEATH We should havebeen glad to have put aside, never to have spoken of him again,this man who had borne for three years this most honorabletitle, President of the National Assembly of France, and whohad only known how to be lacquey to the majority.

Hecontrived in his last hour to sink even lower than could havebeen believed possible even for him. His career in the Assemblyhad been that of a valet, his end was that of a scullion. Theunprecedented attitude that M. Dupin assumed before thegendarmes when uttering with a grimace his mockery of aprotest, even engendered suspicion.

Gambion exclaimed, "Heresists like an accomplice. He knew all." We believe thesesuspicions to be unjust. M. Dupin knew nothing. Who indeedamongst the organizers of the coup d'état would have takenthe trouble to make sure of his joining them? Corrupt M.Dupin? was it possible? and, further, to what purpose? To payhim? Why? It would be money wasted when fear alone wasenough. Some connivances are secured before they are soughtfor. Cowardice is the old fawner upon felony.

The blood of thelaw is quickly wiped up. Behind the assassin who holds theponiard comes the trembling wretch who holds the sponge.

Dupin took refuge in his study. They followed him. "My God!"he cried, "can't they understand that I want to be left in peace."In truth they had tortured him ever since the morning, in orderto extract from him an impossible scrap of courage. "You illtreatme worse than the gendarmes," said he.

The Representativesinstalled themselves in his study, seated themselves at histable, and, while he groaned and scolded in an arm-chair, theydrew up a formal report of what had just taken place, as theywished to leave an official record of the outrage in the archives.When the official report was ended Representative Canet readit to the President, and offered him a pen. "What do you wantme to do with this?" he asked. "You are the President,"answered Canet. "This is our last sitting. It is your duty to signthe official report." This man refused.


THE BLACK DOOR M. Dupin is a matchless disgrace. Later on he had his reward. It appears that he became some sort of an Attorney-General at the Court of Appeal. M. Dupin renders to Louis Bonaparte the service of being in his place the meanest of men. To continue this dismal history.

The Representatives of the Right, in their first bewilderment caused by the coup d'état, hastened in large numbers to M. Daru, who was Vice-President of the Assembly, and at the same time one of the Presidents of the Pyramid Club. This Association had always supported the policy of the Elysée, but without believing that a coup d'état was premeditated. M. Daru lived at No. 75, Rue de Lille. Towards ten o'clock in the morning about a hundred of these Representatives had assembled at M. Daru's home. They resolved to attempt to penetrate into the Hall where the Assembly held its sittings. The Rue de Lille opens out into the Rue de Bourgogne, almost opposite the little door by which the Palace is entered, and which is called the Black Door. They turned their steps towards this door, with M. Daru at their head. They marched arm in arm and three abreast. Some of them had put on their scarves of office.

They took them off later on. The Black Door, half-open as usual, was only guarded by two sentries. Some of the most indignant, and amongst them M. de Kerdrel, rushed towards this door and tried to pass. The door, however, was violently shut, and there ensued between the Representatives and the sergents de ville who hastened up, a species of struggle, in which a Representative had his wrist sprained. At the same time a battalion which was drawn up on the Place de Bourgogne moved on, and came at the double towards the group of Representatives. M. Daru, stately and firm, signed to the commander to stop; the battalion halted, and M. Daru, in the name of the Constitution, and in his capacity as Vice-President of the Assembly, summoned the soldiers to lay down their arms, and to give free passage to the Representatives of the Sovereign People.

The commander of the battalion replied by an order to clear the street immediately, declaring that there was no longer an Assembly; that as for himself, he did not know what the Representatives of the People were, and that if those persons before him did not retire of their own accord, he would drive them back by force. "We will only yield to violence," said M. Daru. "You commit high treason," added M. de Kerdrel. The officer gave the order to charge. The soldiers advanced in close order. There was a moment of confusion; almost a collision.

The Representatives, forcibly driven back, ebbed into the Rue de Lille. Some of them fell down. Several members of the Right were rolled in the mud by the soldiers. One of them, M. Etienne, received a blow on the shoulder from the butt-end of a musket. We may here add that a week afterwards M. Etienne was a member of that concern which they styled the Consultative Committee.

He found the coup d'état to his taste, the blow with the butt end of a musket included. They went back to M. Daru's house, and on the way the scattered group reunited, and was even strengthened by some new-comers. "Gentlemen," said M. Daru, "the President has failed us, the Hall is closed against us. I am the Vice-President; my house is the Palace of the Assembly." He opened a large room, and there the Representatives of the Right installed themselves. At first the discussions were somewhat noisy. M. Daru, however, observed that the moments were precious, and silence was restored. The first measure to be taken was evidently the deposition of the President of the Republic by virtue of Article 68 of the Constitution. Some Representatives of the party which was called Burgraves sat round a table and prepared the deed of deposition.

As they were about to read it aloud a Representative who came in from out of doors appeared at the door of the room, and announced to the Assembly that the Rue de Lille was becoming filled with troops, and that the house was being surrounded. There was not a moment to lose. M. Benoist-d'Azy said, "Gentlemen, let us go to the Mairie of the tenth arrondissement; there we shall be able to deliberate under the protection of the tenth legion, of which our colleague, General Lauriston, is the colonel." M. Daru's house had a back entrance by a little door which was at the bottom of the garden. Most of the Representatives went out that way. M. Daru was about to follow them. Only himself, M. Odilon Barrot, and two or three others remained in the room, when the door opened. A captain entered, and said to M. Daru,— "Sir, you are my prisoner." "Where am I to follow you?" asked M. Daru. "I have orders to watch over you in your own house." The house, in truth, was militarily occupied, and it was thus that M. Daru was prevented from taking part in the sitting at the Mairie of the tenth arrondissement. The officer allowed M. Odilon Barrot to go out.

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About the Creator

Jananan Sandajeshan

As a book reviewer and writer, I am dedicated to sharing my love of literature with others. I believe that books have the power to educate, inspire, and transform us, and I'm committed to helping readers find the stories that resonate most.

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