Louis Napoleon and the Second Empire

By J. M. Thompson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE OUTLAW (1840-1848)

HAM. Denmark's a prison.

ROS. Then is the world one.

HAM. A goodly one; in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o' the worst.

ROS. We think not so, my lord.

HAM. Why, then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to me it is a prison.

ROS. Why, then your ambition makes it one; 'tis too narrow for your mind.

HAM. O God! I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.

GUIL. Which dreams, indeed, are ambition.

Hamlet, II, ii


I

HALF WAY between Amiens and Laon, on the direct line from Boulogne to Reims, is a town of 3000 inhabitants called Ham. Its château, built in the thirteenth century, still in 1840 -- for it suffered as a modern fortress in the war of 1914 -- bore all the marks of a medieval donjon, with moat, drawbridge, square court enclosed by crenellated walls, and a great tower of massive stone-work 100 feet high. The country round was marshy and misty, damp in summer, cold in winter, a haunt of waterfowl. The medieval cells in the great tower, though shown to visitors before the first world war as the place of Louis' imprisonment, had long been disused; Polignac in 1830 and Louis in 1840 were confined in part of the modern barracks built inside the courtyard -- two rooms on the first floor for Louis himself, two on the ground floor for old Montholon, that faithful fellow-outlaw, and one on the first floor for the clever and companionable Dr. Conneau. The windows were barred, and the only entry was through a guard-room, where a detachment of the garrison of 400 was always on duty. Louis' sitting-room was about 16 feet square: dirty and dilapidated, until May 1841, when in reply to his complaints some improvements were made. The commandant of the garrison and governor of the prison was Demarle, who had arrested Louis at Boulogne, and had no sympathy with him; but after three months' rigorous treatment, during which Louis was allowed no visitors, and regretted the comparative freedom of the Conciergerie, whilst Montholon remembered how much more comfortably he had lived at Longwood, his personal charm and good behaviour induced his gaoler to relax these conditions: he

-63-

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Louis Napoleon and the Second Empire
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xii
  • Chapter I - THE HEIR (1808-1831) 1
  • Chater II - THE PRETENDER (1831-1840) 30
  • Chapter III - THE OUTLAW (1840-1848) 63
  • Chapter IV - THE PRESIDENT (1848-1852) 97
  • Chapter V - THE EMPEROR (1852-1856) 137
  • Chapter VI - THE LIBERATOR (1856-1859) 167
  • Chapter VII - THE ADVENTURER (1859-1869) 196
  • Chapter VIII - THE LIBERAL (1860-1869) 224
  • Chapter IX - THE GAMBLER (1863-1869) 255
  • Chapter X - THE FATALIST (1869-1870) 287
  • EPILOGUE 314
  • Notes 323
  • Index 339
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