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fire, nor make use of them, unless they were first attacked. With this they seemed tolerably satisfied, and, for the time, retired.
In about half-an-hour afterwards, however, an immense crowd of people arrived before the Bastille, armed with every species of weapon and of offensive instruments which could be used as such. Guns, swords, axes, all were put into requisition; there was scarcely a man who had not one or the other. They shouted “We will have (nous voulons) the Bastille !-down with the soldiers !—down with the Bastille!" With these cries they approached the outworks in very considerable numbers: the men on the walls, it seems, called out to them, to warn them of the danger they were in, exposed as they were to the fire of the place; but they came on, no whit daunted, and gained possession of the first small drawbridge by an act of individual activity and
courage, not a little remarkable. A man, who was, as I have heard, an old soldier, climbed
upon roof of the house nearest to the bridge (a perfumer's shop); and, from thence, got upon the outmost wall—from this he let himself drop upon the top of the guard-house; and thence into the court. He searched in the guard-house for the keys of the drawbridge, to which he was now close, but they had been removed. He then called to his associates for an axe. This was thrown to him--with this he broke the bolts and locks which secured the bridge—and it fell !-In like manner, with more hands, the great outer drawbridge was also lowered ; and the assailants had now footing in the outworks of the place.
All this time the garrison had forborne to fire. Indeed no shot had been discharged on either side. But, emboldened by this success, the assailants rushed, in a mass, to carry the second bridge also; and as they came on, they fired a volley upon the garrison. This was returned, and with so much effect that they retreated under different vaulted archways of the outer courts, to protect themselves from the fire of the troops. From hence they kept up a continual fire, but they did not advance against the second bridge.
What I have hitherto related, I did not personally witness; but I have gathered it since, from the thousand and one tongues which have been occupied with nothing else, from that time to this. It was after matters bad been for about an hour, in the state which I have just described, that I arrived within view of the scene.
Thus it came
about. I frequently direct my steps towards the Hôtel de Ville; for, since the municipalities have acquired such an accession of consideration, and thence of power, that is the chief nucleus of the overt acts which take place in Paris. I was there on the 14th—from the general impression that something extraordinary must result from the ferment of the last two days; but without having any idea of the extent to which the movement of the people would be carried, I arrived there about one o'clock, just at the moment that a deputation from the city was about to proceed to the Bastille; the news of its being attacked having rapidly spread, and the sound of the firing being a continuous proof that the attack was still prosecuted. The deputation marched with a drum and a flag, in order, I believe, to assert their official character; and thousands upon thousands were gathering in its train. I set off under its wing, in the midst of an immense mass of armed citizens who accompanied it. The far greater part of these was evidently composed of men unused to arms-shopkeepers, tradesmen, and mechanics, who had, by buying the first weapon in their way, converted themselves into soldiers for the time; but I said to myself that I would for ever give up all pretensions to skill in physiognomy, if they did not, for the most part, bear themselves like the most gallant veterans if matters came to extremities. As the turn-out was perfectly voluntary, no one assumed arms who did not feel within himself the prompting courage to do so; and, accordingly, though of course there was no military regularity or uniformity, I thought I had never seen a more determined-looking set of men than those by whom I was now surrounded. For my own part, I had no ostensible arms but a stout walking-stick, almost worthy of the denomination of a cudgel; but I carried in my bosom, as I have always done in my similar perambulations, a pistol with a spring bayonet, to defend myself in case of need.
We advanced down the Rue St. Antoine, at the extremity of which, on a sort of angle from which several streets branch off, the Bastille stands, or I should now, perhaps, more correctly say, stood. When we got to a part of the street where the houses are sufficiently near to it to command a view of what was passing, and yet were not subjected to any very great exposure, I dropped behind in order to see whether I could not obtain entrance into one of them. Most of the houses were naturally closed; but there was one, the premier of which was a sort of low tavern, which still remained open, in the expectation, doubtless, of profiting by the vast concourse of people which was thronging by. "Into this I entered ; and, after explaining to the very intelligent landlady what was my object, and also the reasons why I did not join the crowd, enforcing the whole with a due application of louis-d'ors, I was introduced, by her means, to a washerwoman who lived au troisième, and who, for a certain consideration, permitted me to mount to one of her windows, on condition I would not open the wooden jalousies (blinds) which were closely shut before it. Through the interstices of this I could both see and hear distinctly; so I accepted her terms readily.
My endeavour was to see what had become of my late companions, the deputation. They had advanced so far that I could no longer distinguish their flag. I could see, however, that the soldiers on the towers reversed their pieces, and shouldered them with the muzzle downwards and the butt in the air. They also displayed a flag of truce. These I conceived, and justly, to be tokens of being willing to parley with the deputation; and the assailants seemed so to regard it also; for their fire slackened considerably, though it did not wholly
therefore, not a little surprised, when in the course of about twenty minutes or half-an-hour, a shout, the most tremendous I ever heard issue from human lungs was raised—the attack was recommenced with redoubled fury, and the garrison returned the fire briskly, and with considerable effect.
I have since learned that this was occasioned by mutual jealousies and distrusts between the governor and the deputation, aided by the excessive noise which prevailed rendering it impossible for the parties to be heard by each other. The garrison, as they assert, ended by believing the deputation to be a feigned one ; and the deputation, on their part, accuse the garrison of having fired upon them unawares. It appears, however, that the deputation was divided, one party had the flag and drum, and the other not; and amidst the noise and confusion of such a scene, it was most difficult to know who was who, and what to believe or whom to trust. It is certain, however, that the deputation finally did not enter the Bastille; and that, on their departure, the people rushed forward to attack the second bridge with the utmost eagerness and determination.
Nothing could be more awfully interesting than the scene which
now presented itself to me. I had never before witnessed any thing in the nature of an engagement, beyond a sham fight in Hyde Park, and this alone would have been sufficient to have strongly impressed and excited me; but the circumstances attending this attack, were immeasurably more memorable than the attack itself, as such. Here was a strong fortress, which had been the terror of all Paris for nearly four hundred years, now attacked, not by a disciplined and skilful army, but by the very citizens who had hitherto trembled at the bare name of the place, which, untaught, untrained, they were now assailing to its downfall.
I was not, however, at this time, (about three o'clock in the afternoon,) at all assured that they would ultimately succeed. Though the heavy cannon of the place was almost useless, yet its mere defensive strength, in the nature of walls and ditches, rendered it highly improbable that it would be taken by assault; and, as for blockade, which might have been made efficacious, it was manifestly impossible for it to continue long without the place being relieved by external assistance. Neither did the event prove me to be very far wrong, for there was only one man in the garrison killed throughout the day; the place was surrendered, not taken ; and the speedy capitulation is universally attributed to the extreme unpopularity of the governor, not only with the prisoners, but with the officers and the troops under his command. It was with considerable difficulty that they were kept to their duty during the attack. But I am anticipating.
The party which advanced upon the second bridge were repulsed with considerable loss. I saw several men fall, and from their being left on the spot, I conclude they were killed outright. A good many others were carried away wounded, and some of them passed close under the window at which I was stationed. The assailants, however, though driven back, did not retreat far, but maintained a continual fire. Few things, indeed, surprised me more during the day than the quickness and regularity of the fire of musketry, considering how unpractised the hands were which kept it up.
At a little before four o'clock, they brought three large waggons full of straw, to set fire to the outbuildings. This was the greatest blunder which was committed throughout the affair. The flames thus caused were far more an impediment to them than an annoyance to the garrison ; and accordingly, the waggons had not been long on fire,
before as strenuous endeavours were made to remove them as there had previously been to bring them, and place them accurately. I saw one individual dash forward, and, by his unassisted strength and courage, withdraw one of these blazing waggons, which blocked the approach to the main gate of entrance. This feat excited vast shouts from the assailants; and truly it deserved all praise. A bolder or a more intrepid action I never beheld. Two others had accompanied this man in his attempt, but they were killed at each side of him. He ultimately succeeded alone.
Some of the corps known by the name of the French Guards * now appeared—not to attack, but to assist the citizens. They brought with them six pieces of artillery, among which was a mortar : these began to play upon the place. This was now the critical moment. The crisis had risen to the most enthralling degree of interest; and yet it was at this time that I quitted the scene. I think, moreover, that most others in my place would have done as much. I perceived that although the attack was still kept up by vast numbers, with extreme steadiness and bravery, small parties of two and three began to detach themselves from the outer part of the crowd, and to walk rapidly away in various directions. Many passed up the Rue St. Antoine, and I endeavoured to discover from their conversation what it was that caused this new proceeding. I soon guessed that these persons were not among the bravest of those assembled; for their looks betrayed considerable agitation, and they continually looked back over their shoulders, till they fairly got out of sight. I was some time before I could divine what new danger had arisen to alarm them to which they had not been equally exposed throughout the day. I was so high above the street that I could scarcely catch a word that was said in a conversational tone: at last, one person calling to another at a little distance informed me of the cause of their retreat, which, I confess, instantly induced me to join them. It seems, that by some communication from within, it had become current that M. de Launay had declared that rather than give himself up into the hands of the people he would set fire to the powder magazine, and blow himself and the Bastille into the air together. This he might do if he pleased for any thing I cared, if it regarded only himself; but there was known to be a large quantity of powder in the place, which would have blown
* Gardes Françaises; afterwards, ‘La Garde Nationale.'