From The United Irishman, March 4, 1848.

Ten days ago a monarchy of eighteen years, resting on a fortress of leagues, on detached forts of the most elaborate construction, and illimitable resources in ammunition and artillery; with 100,000 armed mercenaries waiting on its nod; with a suborned legislature, and a devotedly unscrupulous press; with telegraphs concentrating in its hand an omnipresent surveillance over twenty-five millions of men; with railroads ready at its beck, to sweep down vengeance upon every point under its sway, from the alleys of the capital to the remotest frontier; with laws and systems fitted, and more nicely fitted to its hand; strong in the fulness of its treasury; strong in the prestige, consequent on a rule, upheld by terror, vindicated by gaols, by police insurrections, by periodical massacres, by perennial blood; stronger in the aid of that same foreign alliance, which, single-handed, beat its entire nation, and conquered its capital – ten days ago this monarchy held France in its grips of iron, and prepared to another in the heart of Paris that liberty which was won in July at the graves of ten thousand martyrs.

And a day or two ago some far-seeing telegraph worker, intently gazing from SOUTHAMPTON, made it out, he thinks, in the British Channel, “knocking about between DIEPPE and BOULOGNE.” Another gazer after this royalty got a glimpse of it at last, he thinks, jolting along in a cart towards TREPORT, and vanishing then and there from him. Many, indeed, do hold it is at sea, while other strenuously opine it is nowhere – one thing, however, is plain, it is not where it was.

No, indeed. In Paris, in all France, there is not a vestige of it left – not a prestige, not a bauble, not a gilded chair – no, not even a red ribbon, or bit of sovereign toggery of any sort. That outwardly mighty monarchy, resting on stone, and iron, and blood, has fallen miserably and contemptibly. The people it tyrannized over awoke on Tuesday last, moved a muscle or two, and finds these eighteen years were all a trance – these forts and grinning guns, and scowling soldiery, and torturing police, and grinding taxes, and infamous laws, were all goblins of the sense, which needed but a ray of sunlight, a waive of the arm, a bold word, to make them vanish for ever; – it finds that this government, this hated dynasty, for eighteen years lying on its breast, cramping and terrifying it, was a horrid nightmare, and no more, which tumbled off at the first spasm of energy, the first symptom of life, into doubt, obscurity, “the road to Treport,” the British Channel, or the Ebon gate of Hell.

And now from the SEINE banks the children of the great nation raise up once more the hymn of European freedom: Vive la Republique! Yes! the only true form of government – the form which national liberty takes when it belongs to the people, and is not prostituted to a class – the Republic so worshipped by the United Irishmen of old – the Republic of a thousand memories, for which France has borne Three Revolutions, up-turned five dynasties, covered Europe with a carpet of blood – for which she underwent Moscow, and was crucified at Waterloo – for which she has struggled during fifty years, from the Guillotine in the place de Louis XV to St. Helena – from St. Helena to July – from July to this hour – is won at last. For the will of the people is indomitable. Here this man, LOUIS of ORLEANS, had the strongest tyranny in his hand the world has ever seen. His capital was a huge fortress, wrought by the astute labour of seventeen years, by all the discoveries and inventions which science could attain or money purchase, into a donjon against this very event. During all that time this Republican party, these men who now form the provisional government, have been dogging his steps – defying him and his law – stamping their hatred with their blood – rising victorious from every defeat, and, bleeding and broken, still pushing him to the wall, and daring him to the combat again. He saw his enemies, knew them man by man, and knew that issue was joined. Waiting this issue for weeks, prepared for it, he hurries it, it comes upon him of his own seeking – and lo! the millionaire King, the wisest tyrant in Europe, not cowardly at all, fought in the nest he feathered and the castle he built, against a disarmed and unorganized people, for one hour and a half, then flung them the crown without the head, and fled in terror.

And yet this people had not been taught the beauties of peace policies – no, nor of any “policy” or plan of action at all. They did not know what they were doing, in fact, although it is true they did it. So that evidently some strange revelation can be found in cutting up pavements, some knowledge beyond human ken in bottles broken for cavalry convenience, solving the quaint enigma insoluble to us – viz., how to free one’s country. In truth, these Parisian sans-culottes, mobs, rebels of yesterday, free citizens to-day, believe – innocently believe – that the shortest, straightest-surest, and plainest path to liberty is the path of a rifle bullet, or the ray of light passing from the eyes placed at the breech, through the sights, over the nail at the muzzle, and on point blank to your enemy’s heart; and they have found by practical experience that no rifle ball ever did traverse or diverge into any other road to liberty, or plan of action, or map of policy, with effect.

This being the fundamental axiom of Parisian patriots, it is well to know how they have applied it in the present instance. And first for the scene of action.

Paris is split in two by the Seine, as Dublin is by the Liffey – there are quays, bridges, streets paved with burly stones, round and heavy, and narrowest in the quarters most thickly inhabited, and most frequented by the “lower classes.” In this the two cities are similar.

But instead of half-a-dozen disjointed and indefensible barracks, like those which strike terror into us, where some 4,000 men sleep, and wake, and drink and sleep, Paris is surrounded by a regular fortified wall, and forts bristling with cannon, filled with ammunition, and lately garrisoned with 100,000 men. All this, however, did not terrify the Parisians.

Besides, telegraphs carried the orders of government – a grand police system promenaded the streets, with eye and ear cocked – railroads were ready to teem soldiery into the capital, at an hour’s notice – into the capital, already full of mercenaries. And even this did not terrify the Parisians.

Moreover, they were disarmed, unorganized, in distress, without employment, without leaders, without a single “great leader of the French people.” Yet, strange to say, not even this terrified the Parisians.

They knew well that if railroads, telegraphs, mails, boards, councils, and centralized institutions of one sort or another, enable a king or vice-king, a government, or governor, to sit in a capital, and therefrom rule a whole land, they place at the mercy of the citizens of that capital the whole government of that land – that, in fact, to master Paris was to master the existing government of France; as, if we seized Dublin, we would hold in our gripe English rule in Ireland, its head and body and limbs – to choke it, or let if off again, as we pleased.

A centralized city, which thus enables a government to send its orders to every point, and bring its engines and mercenaries by steam from every point, is also, for these reasons, admirably adapted to be cut off from every point by a people within. The Parisians accordingly blocked up or destroyed every road leading into the city – seized on the railway stations, and burned some of them – tore up every railroad around Paris, broke down embankments, and cut through bridges, with ease and dexterity. Paris was thus isolated; and the citizens and troops within left to fight it out. Should any train, laden with voracious mercenaries, dash on there, puffing, and panting, and screaming, it and its burden would tumble down to Erebus, of its own accord, without troubling any one.

The city being now cut off from without, the work within is simple enough.

1st. Every street is an excellent shooting gallery for disciplined troops; but it is a better defile in which to take them. In the vocabulary of drilling is no such phrase as “Infantry – prepare for window-pots, brick-bats, logs of woods, chimney-pieces, heavy furniture, light pokers, &c., &c.;” and these thrown vertically on the heads of a column below, from the elevation of a parapet, or top story, are irresistible. The propelling forces – viz., ladies, or chambermaids, or men who can do no better – have the additional advantage of security; and the narrower the street, and the higher the houses, the worse the damage, and the greater the security. A military proportion we recommend to the study of the best lady in the land.

2nd. Bottles, delph, and such missiles, mixed with these, or of themselves, not only knock down and wound infantry, but render the streets impassable to cavalry and artillery. A horse may dance on eggs, but no squadron can charge over broken bottles. Artillery cannot ride over them, nor, indeed, can disciplined footmen keep the step, or tread among them, with ease. These admirable weapons abound in every house; and if any engineering urchin take a soda-water bottle, or small flask of thick glass, dry inside, filled with bits of stone, or iron, or metal of any sort – nails, for instance – and with coarse gunpowder thrown into the intestines – cork it tight (the cork being perforated) and then attach a judiciously adjusted fuse, he will possess a domestic bomb or grenade by which he can either blow his arm off, or act with deadly effect against cavalry or infantry below, – especially against cavalry. To these missiles, from windows and house-tops, revolutionary citizens add always boiling-water, or grease, or better, cold vitriol, if available. Molten lead is good, but too valuable – it should be always cast in bullets, and allowed to cool. The house-tops and spouts furnish, in every city, abundance; but care should be taken, as they do in Paris, to run the balls solid – you cannot calculate on a hollow ball, and that might be the very one selected to shoot a field officer.

3rd. The Parisians never fall into this mistake, viz., to attack barracks and forts, in the first instance. Their plan is to draw the soldiery into the narrow streets, where they can only advance a few abreast; and where lanes, alleys, and streets, running at angles, afford excellent opportunities of taking them in flank or rear. Street-fighting is most harassing on disciplined troops, especially when subject to the attentions of heads of families from house-tops and windows, as we have shown above. They are divided – disjointed – worn out, doing nothing.

Nor do the Parisians long to concentrate their enemies in one barrack, or park, or entrenchment, that they may have one grand tustle, and have done with it. They are too civilized for that. They know well that if communication be prevented between the different portions of a city – if the governor, or vice-governor, be disabled from sending orders in every or any direction – if barracks be isolated one from the other – if regiments and squadrons be kept separate – if officers commanding be left to their own resources, in total ignorance of what is going on a street or two off, or what is wanted at the far side of the city, or what they ought to do with themselves – then government is at an end. Men accustomed to order are powerless when they cannot order – the discipline of soldiery is, in this case, their deadliest foe; they are bewildered, chop-fallen, and amazed. Parisians knowing this well, block up every place they can, whether military are there then or not – strew streets with impediments, glass, stones, rubbish, make bridges impassable, and so stay all concert and aid between the portions of the city on either side of the river, cut off barracks and guard-houses from other barracks and guard-houses; and all this by the simple and ready means we shall now explain.

4th. In the manner above shown, and by firing from windows, every street can be made a defile. But every street contains in itself materials for rendering it a fortress – impregnable to foot, horse, or artillery, viz, by barricades. While the women are employed as we have shewn, this is the work for men. The Parisians have attained to great excellence in the building of these defences of civilization. This is their style.

A man or two will rip up, with a pick-axe and crow-bar, or stout bit of iron railing, the pavement of a street in a right line across, of several feet wide, in ten minutes or so. The first carriage passing by does for a base – or logs of timber, lamp-posts, felled trees, or carts, if at hand. On this are piled stones, and flags, and mud, and rubbish, and wood, and loose furniture, care being taken to make the front of the barricade as vertical as possible, and covered with stones as small as possible, thrown up as perpendicularly as possible, (small stones throw off cannon shot, and yield under the feet of a storming party; while large stones break and splinter before shot, and act as stairs to assailants, against whom they should be thrown from behind as missiles.) The barricade can be raised to any height, proportionate to its base, provided there are materials sufficient; and when immediate materials fail, the nearest street is ripped up, or the most convenient house pulled down. The line of defence extends across the entire street. In the inside a rough stage or platform, of piled stones, or wood, or furniture, is usually thrown up to about four feet of the top in front; and from this top the inner side of the barricade runs down at an angle to meet the platform – thus a revolutionary citizen, standing on the platform, leans against the inner side of the barricade, rests his musket on the top – and so. The ascent to the platform should be as easy as possible; an ascent of stones, heaped up, is the usual one.

This is a very perfect barricade – but revolutionary citizens are not particular; they do the best they can, and fight. However, it can be made more perfect. By cutting up the street in front, to the depth of a few feet, materials are at once had, and a ditch made against assailants – if into this be imbedded an iron railing, torn from the nearest house-front, and other portions of the same, inserted horizontically in front of the barricade, as a cheveaux de frize, the position becomes impregnable.

The place selected to throw up such a defence depends on circumstances, and the military tact of the individual citizens.

Fancy, then, a hundred such barricades at once in Paris – a hundred streets teeming with missiles, and paved with broken glass, as we have described; – then fancy mothers flinging their furniture down on devoted troops; swarthy working men defending barricades, retreating from street to street before bewildered soldiers, wheeling on their flank through an alley, or round this street or that on their rear; fancy young children with their little shirts all bloody, still dashing on the bayonets of the mercenaries; the tocsin ringing; the Marsellaise; the red flag, the hoarse glorious Vengeance booming, the burning palaces, and Vive la Republique – and then what wonder if LOUIS PHILIPPE had his crown knocked off!

But this is not alone a lesson to us – it is a fact, an historic fact, which will shake all Europe, and materially, for good or ill, change the position of Ireland and her masters. Some other time we may linger on the glorious days of February, 1848 – for the present we must dive into the future.

The ex-kingdom of France, when last seen, stood on the verge of war. LOUIS and his ministers had leagued with Russia and Austria. He had permitted England to get a footing in Italy, and to take the side of independence there.

The Republic will not permit English interference in the Italian peninsula. The league with Austria cannot exist. Charles Albert having failed to acquire the affections of the Piedmontese, which he never deserved – having assumed an attitude of hostility to the Emperor, from which he dare not retreat, his “constitutional ally,” having now to take care of herself, will presently give way to the Republic of Piedmont. Fraternal Republics will spread over Italy – in Venetian Lombardy, Naples, and eventually Rome. One sees no objection to the Sovereign Pontiff becoming, if he deserve it, First Consul of Rome – the successor of Peter becoming, in his temporal capacity, successor of Marcus Brutus.

Leopold of Belgium sits on a tottering throne. We may hear of him presently attending the congress of discrowned heads in London. Belgium will become an independent Republic, or the Rhine will be “the natural limit” of the French nation once more.

In Italy England cannot league with Austria now. In Belgium she dare not hazard another Waterloo.

At home she is defenceless; and the men who now form the provisional government of France have been for years her most celebrated enemies. The great Republican party of which they are the leaders have vowed her ruin; and the French people burn with a thousand memories, and will avenge Paris.

And so we may have a Republic nearer home ere long; for in these events lies our fate. Next week we shall return to this matter.

VIVE LA REPUBLIQUE!

COPYRIGHT NOTICE – The transcription of this text originates from the scans of United Irishman available on the Villanova Digital Library. As such, this work is licensed under a CreativeCommons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Please read the terms of the license to understand the rights and responsibilities entrusted to you via this license.