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Lot n° 14

TAKING OF THE BASTILLE. Correspondence...

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TAKING OF THE BASTILLE. Correspondence of 4 handwritten letters to Pierre-Édouard Lemontey. Paris, July 16-21, 1789. 17 pp. in-4 of a fine writing, one of the letters with address on the back and red wax seal with the initials "HD" crowned, some central folds reinforced. EXTRAORDINARY TEMOIGNAGE WRITTEN HOT BY AN OCULAR WITNESS who, to his direct observations, mixes some second hand accounts. Favoring a constitutional monarchy, he is enthusiastic about the institutional progress that the revolutionary events announce, but deplores the massacres and welcomes the return to order. He seems to have ties to Lyon, in addition to his links with Pierre-Édouard Lemontey, and does not hide his sympathies: "the weapons were missing, and half of the guard was not armed. I gave to the one of my district those that I had, in sabers, swords and pistols. It was Grammont who commanded our guard corps..." "The drum is beaten to call us to our districts, I run there..." PIERRE-ÉDOUARD LEMONTEY, a lawyer, publicist and future politician from Lyon, would later become the deputy public prosecutor of the Lyon Commune, and then a deputy for Lyon at the Legislative Assembly. Author of numerous works, mainly of history, he would be elected member of the French Academy. "OH, MY DEAR FRIEND. WHAT A VOLUME FOR HISTORY HAS JUST BEEN COMPOSED HERE IN THREE DAYS, AND WHAT AN IDEA THE PARISIANS HAVE JUST GIVEN OF THEIR CHARACTER, they have not behaved this time like mutinous children, as one has been trying to paint them for some time, no, they have behaved as no people, the most jealous, the most proud of its liberty, has ever been able to do... ONE SEIZED THEN THE BASTILLE. HERE, THE ASSAULT WAS TERRIBLE, THERE WERE THREE DECHARGES OF ALL THE GUNS, TWICE THE BOURGEOISIE WAS REPOUSSEE, twice one sent reinforcement, finally the third one came there with cannon and one took away. A forty-five year old French guard climbed at least six feet without any help, jumped into a small place where M. Delaunay, governor, was, took it, and had it opened: some shots were still fired but the fortress was taken. Before the first assault, M. Delaunay had used treachery, he had unfolded a white handkerchief from the top of the fortress, beckoning to enter, and as soon as about two hundred men had entered, he had the drawbridge lifted, and a large number of these two hundred were killed. This had put rage in all hearts. A large sergeant [the future general Pierre-Augustin Hulin]... who entered when the Garde-Françoise was holding Mr. Delaunay, seized him, put him on his shoulder, and brought him down to the people, who pronounced his death warrant. He was taken to the city to be interrogated beforehand. During the journey he was martyred, but his treachery was to stifle all pity. When he was questioned, he showed a letter from the provost of the merchants [Jacques de Flesselles, former intendant of Lyon] who, it is said, traced his conduct to him. When these facts were examined, he was stabbed and his head was cut off. Mr. de Flesselles was searched and another suspicious letter was found. He was immediately condemned to be expelled from the Hôtel de Ville, but a citizen said that this was not the way to go, that an example was needed for the traitors, and he was shot on the stairs with a pistol and his head was cut off. Then some soldiers of the garrison were hanged from lampposts, forks were fetched, heads were planted on them and they were taken around Paris. Ah, my dear, it is impossible for you to conceive the overwhelming, suffocating terror that this spectacle imposed. In the middle of streets deserted by women, garrisoned by cannons and threatening patrols. All the eyes were full of the most painful feelings, this day was horrible..." HE ALSO DESCRIBES, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THE SCENE WHEN LOUIS XVI ARBORATED THE COCARDE IN THE BALCONY OF THE HOTEL DE VILLE, on July 17, 1789. "It is truly a scene of our ancient Franks, and I HAD THE HAPPINESS OF SEEING IT FIRST hand, I WAS IN THE BARRIER WHICH NEARS THE PERRON OF THE CITY HALL, in the midst of twelve or twenty deputies of all kinds." Provenance: Jean-Paul Barbier-Mueller Collection.

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