Front Page Titles (by Subject) II: BARROT'S VERSION OF THE 24TH OF FEBRUARY. - The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville
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II: BARROT’S VERSION OF THE 24TH OF FEBRUARY. - Alexis de Tocqueville, The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville 
The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville, edited by the Comte de Tocqueville and now first translated into English by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos. With a portrait in Heliogravure (New York: Macmillan, 1896).
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BARROT’S VERSION OF THE 24TH OF FEBRUARY.
(10 October 1850.)
“I believe that M. Molé only refused the Ministry after the firing had commenced on the Boulevard. Thiers told me that he had been sent for at one in the morning; that he had asked the King to appoint me as the necessary man; that the King had at first resisted and then yielded; and that at last he had adjourned our meeting to nine o’clock in the morning at the Palace.
“At five o’clock Thiers came to my house to awake me; we talked; he went home, and I called for him at eight. I found him quietly shaving. It is a great pity that the King and M. Thiers thus wasted the time that elapsed between one and eight o’clock. When he had finished shaving, we went to the Château; the population already was greatly excited; barricades were being built, and even a few shots had already been fired from houses near the Tuileries. However, we found the King still very calm and retaining his usual manner. He addressed me with the commonplaces which you can imagine for yourself. At that hour, Bugeaud was still general-in-chief. I strongly persuaded Thiers not to take office under the colour of that name, and at least to modify it by giving the command of the National Guard to Lamoricière, who was there. Thiers accepted this arrangement, which was agreed to by the King and Bugeaud himself.
“I next proposed to the King that he should dissolve the Chamber of Deputies. ‘Never, never!’ he said; he lost his temper and left the room, slamming the door in the faces of Thiers and me. It was quite clear that he only consented to give us office in order to save the first moment, and that he intended, after compromising us with the people, to throw us over with the assistance of Parliament. Of course, at any ordinary time, I should at once have withdrawn; but the gravity of the situation made me stay, and I proposed to present myself to the people, myself to apprise them of the formation of the new Cabinet, and to calm them. In the impossibility of our having anything printed and posted up in time, I looked upon myself as a walking placard. I must do Thiers the justice to say that he wished to accompany me, and that it was I who refused, as I dreaded the bad impression his presence might make.
“I therefore set out; I went up to each barricade unarmed; the muskets were lowered, the barricades opened; there were cries of ‘Reform for ever! long live Barrot!’ We thus went to the Porte Saint-Denis, where we found a barricade two stories high and defended by men who made no sign of concurrence in my words and betrayed no intention of allowing us to pass the barricade. We were therefore compelled to retrace our steps. On returning, I found the people more excited than when I had come; nevertheless, I heard not a single seditious cry, nor anything that announced an immediate revolution. The only word that I heard of grave import was from Étienne Arago. He came up to me and said, ‘If the King does not abdicate, we shall have a revolution before eight o’clock to-night.’ I thus came to the Place Vendôme; thousands of men followed me, crying, ‘To the Tuileries! to the Tuileries!’ I reflected what was the best thing to do. To go to the Tuileries at the head of that multitude was to make myself the absolute master of the situation, but by means of an act which might have seemed violent and revolutionary. Had I known what was happening at the moment in the Tuileries, I should not have hesitated; but as yet I felt no anxiety. The attitude of the people did not yet seem decided. I knew that all the troops were falling back upon the Château; that the Government was there, and the generals; I could not therefore imagine the panic which, shortly afterwards, placed it in the hands of the mob. I turned to the right and returned home to take a moment’s rest; I had not eaten anything yet and was utterly exhausted. After a few minutes, Malleville sent word from the Ministry of the Interior that it was urgent that I should come and sign the telegrams to the departments. I went in my carriage, and was cheered by the people; from there, I set out to walk to the Palace. I was still ignorant of all that had happened. When I reached the quay, opposite the garden, I saw a regiment of Dragoons returning to barracks; the colonel said to me, ‘The King has abdicated; all the troops are withdrawing.’ I hurried; when I reached the wicket-gates, I had great difficulty in penetrating to the court-yard, as the troops were crowding out through every opening. At last I reached the yard, which I found almost empty; the Duc de Nemours was there; I entreated him to tell me where the Duchesse d’Orléans was; he replied that he did not know, but that he believed that at that moment she was in the pavilion at the water-side. I hastened there; I was told that the Duchess was not there. I forced the door and went through the rooms, which were, in fact, empty. I left the Tuileries, recommending Havin, whom I met, not to bring the Duchess, if he found her, to the Chamber, with which there was nothing to be done. My intention had been, if I had found the Duchess and her son, to put them on horseback and throw myself with them among the people: I had even had the horses got ready.
“Not finding the Princess, I returned to the Ministry of the Interior; I met you on the road, you know what happened there. I was sent for in haste to go to the Chamber. I had scarcely arrived when the leaders of the Extreme Left surrounded me and dragged me almost by main force to the first office; there, they begged me to propose to the Assembly the nomination of a Provisional Government, of which I was to be a member. I sent them about their business, and returned to the Chamber. You know the rest.”