The Paris Explosion

Paris, April 26.—To state that the explosion last night at the cafe of M. Very, at the corner of the Boulevard Magenta and Rue Sencey has caused a feeling of consternation in this city is to put it very mildly. The truth is that the people of Paris are panic stricken at the audacity of the Anarchists. The feeling of fear is heightened by the apparent impotency of the police to prevent the Anarchists from committing outrages when and where they please. There was a reason for last night’s outrage. It was in M. Very’s cafe that Ravachol, the Anarchist whose trial is fixed for today, was arrested, and it was to M. Very and one of big waiters that the police were indebted for the information that led to his capture. So strong is the feeling of fear that many residents of the city and foreign visitors are leaving or making hurried preparations to leave. The scene in the vicinity of the explosion surpasses description. Throughout the night and morning excited crowds,, sometimes numbering twenty thousand, filled the street and surrounded the wrecked restaurant. The affair was discussed in loud and angry voices and everybody joined in condemning the outrage. The opinion seemed to prevail among the crowd that the anarchists, not only from France, but elsewhere, are resolved to force the world to take serious notice of their existence aud their doctrines. It is very likely that the methods that they are pursuing will effect this end, but it is the general opinion that if they succeed in their object it will be so much the worse for them.
as told in these dispatched last night had it that the explosive was thrown through the grating in front of the restaurant. This statement is supported by a passerby who says that he saw serpentine flames shoot across the pavement, and that the roar of the explosion immediately followed. The restaurant was wrecked as was also the shop of Madame Noranze, dealer in second hand goods next door. A few minutes after the explosion, a man on the Boulevard Magenta shouted: “Well done, vive la republique.” He was at once arrested, but denied that he had raised the cry. Nothing could be proven against him and in a few hours he was released.
The report that M. Very had died from the effects of his injuries were incorrect. It is said at the hospital today that it is thought his recovery is possible. His wife and daughter Jeanne were badly burned about their faces, but it is not thought that their condition is serious, though they are suffering a great deal from the shock.
Paul Hammond, a printer, who was in the restaurant at the time of the explosion, is
in various parts of his body. His condition is critical. Another printer named Gaudoon Reger was severely burned. The other injured persons are progressing toward recovery.
L’herot, the waiter in M. Very’s restaurant, who
of the habit of Ravachol of dining there, received an anonymous letter yesterday in which it was said: “If Ravachol is condemned tomorrow remember that at the same hour you will be attacked by the engines of our vengeance.”
A representative of the Associated Press had an interview with L’herot today.
He said that at about 8 o’clock last night a party consisting of three men and women dined in their restaurant. They engaged him in conversation and asked whether in view of the part he
had taken in the arrest of Ravachol, he was not afraid that the friends of the Anarchists would not seek vengeance on him. L’herot replied casually and then turned the conversation to another subject.
until after the explosion. Then he recalled several significant incidents that had occurred. After dining the women departed from the restaurant first. One of the men paid the bill of the party and then went toward the door which he held open. One of his companions placed a parcel under a table beside the counter while the third man ignited a match and lighted a cigarette. After lighting the cigarette be held the match under the table apparently to avoid the sulphurous vapor emitted after the cigarette was lighted, both hastily joined their companion who was still at the door, and all quickly departed down the Rue Sencey. Soon afterward the explosion occurred. The theory that the explosion was occasioned in this manner does not agree with the result of the inquiry that has been made by the municipal engineers. The engineers believe that a dynamite .bomb w s placed at the threshold of the restaurant which had a double door.
One section, which generally is open resting against the counter flooring at the door, was covered with iron plate. The bomb appears to have been deposited about ‘our inches from this plate inside the restaurant. The landlady of the hotel situated over the restaurant declares that half an hour before the explosion, two men dressed as peasants, and carrying a bag between them, applied to her for room. She did not like their looks and refused to accommodate them.
A dynamite cartridge was found last night under the staircase of a house in Rue d’Engheim. The contents of a number of email bombs found in the lodgings of anarchists have been analyzed. They were found to contain one kilogram of dynamite and one kilogram of sebastine.
Paris, April 26.—The trial of the anarchists began today. So many threats were made that friends of the prisoners would attempt some desperate act that admission to the court was severely restricted. The most desperate precautions were taken to guard against any attempt to interfere with the course of justice. The guards about the Palace de Justice were redoubled, and every part of the approaches to the building were closely watched. When the judge entered he at once summoned the jury, who presented a greatly disturbed appearance. The threats of the friends of the prisoners have evidently greatly frightened the jurors, and the journalists present expressed the opinion that it would require very strong evidence to force them to render a verdict of guilty, in face of the threats of .death made against them it they decide against the prisoners. The explosion last night no doubt had much to do with the very apparent unwillingness of the jurors to serve in the case, for that is taken to prove that the police will not be able to protect the jurors after the trial is finished.
After the jurors had taken their places, the prisoners, headed by Ravaohol, were brought in, guarded by an immense number of police. The proceedings at once commenced by
which occupied a considerable time. Everybody in the court room stared at the prisoners, as they stood listening to the reading of the indictment. They bore the scrutiny composedly, and appeared wore disposed to pose as heroes than to pay attention to the clerk of court as he read the history of their crimes as set forth in the indictment, in the center of the court room was a able covered with bombs, the apparatus with which they made them and everything the police had captured.
When the reading of the Indictment van concluded, Judge Guese examined Ravachol concerning the murders which it is charged he committed, also concerning the explosions. Ravachol in a nonchalant manner admitted his guilt and took upon himself the entire responsibility for the Boulevard St. German and Rue Cllchy explosions.
Questioned as to nig motives for causing the explosions,
“I felt a feeling of unfeigned anger at he conviction of Levallois and Perret. do not think Benoit and Butot should have demanded the death of fathers of families. Then again, the brutality of the police when they arrested my comrades revolted my conscience, and I determined upon revenge. In regard to the St. Germain explosion, I loaded a bomb that contained sixty cartridges. I dressed myself in broadcloth and went to Denoit’s house without attracting any attention. After depositing the machine and lighting the fuse, I ran down stairs and reached the pavement just as the explosion occurred. The operation in the Rue Glinchy was much the same, only I carried the bomb in a bag. A portion of the powder became displaced and thus rendered it extremely dangerous to light the bomb, as it might explode at any instant! Yet I did not hesitate to take the risk.”
Ravachol concluded his remarks with an exposition of his theories. He said: “I wish to see anarchy established, and the whole people as one great family, each member ready to share what he has with his brethren. I committed these outrages in order to draw the attention of the public to the needs of the Anarchists.”
but no new revelations were obtained from him. He admitted his complicity in the outrages.
when questioned, that Ravachol stole from Soissy the cartridges which he intended to use in blowing up the Palace of Justice. The other two prisoners tried to exculpate themselves. Witnesses were then called, and their testimony corroborated all the detail! of the crimes as set forth in the indictments.
When Judge Guese questioned Ravachol, he admitted in an insolent manner his criminal history, so far as it to known to the police, but added that If he was questioned concerning crimes of which he was suspected and was not accused, he would not respond.
The judge asked him If the sum of 5000 francs found in his room when arrested was the proceeds of the murder of the old man at Chambles.
“Precisely,” answered Ravachol, glancing around as though enjoying the effect of the answer produced.
Ravachol also admitted that be intended to kill the policeman stationed in front of the police station at Clichy, but was prevented by friends.
In his address the public prosecutor declared that the prisoners were assassins, not Anarchists, that their trial, therefore, was merely a matter of common law. He caused a sensation when he read a letter from a Belgian magistrate, informing him that Anarchists were sending cartridges to Paris. He concluded by calling on the jury to return a verdict against Ravachol and Simon without any recommendation of mercy, and to return a severe verdict against Beala. The other two prisoners were left to the discretion of the jury.
A force of municipal guards were kept under arms at the Prefecture all day, while the Palais de Justice was fairly swarmed with Republican guard?, ready to crush any attempt at a demonstration or to blow up the place with dynamite.
At 9 p. m. the court reassembled after recess and La Guese began his address for Ravachol. He insisted that the prisoner’s offences were political, and not a common law crime. Ravachol only wanted to assist the poverty-stricken class, to which be himself belonged. He appealed to the jury to imagine themselves in the world of misery with which Ravachol was acquainted, and said that one must be of great strength of mind to resist becoming an anarchist in the face of such scenes of misery and acts of injustice.
La Guese concluded an impassioned oration, almost amounting to a defense of anarchism, by asking a verdict in accordance with what he considered the extenuating circumstances. Simon’s attorney next addressed the jury.
After the attorneys for the four prisoners bad addressed the Jury, Ravachol was permitted to address the court. lie declared himself full of confidence that his actions would bear fruit, adding: “May my unintentional victims understand and pardon my acts.”
The Judge summed up briefly, and the jury retired. The verdict found Ravachol and Simon guilty and they were sentenced to penal servitude for life. The other prisoners were acquitted.
Source: The Deseret Weekly 44, 19 (April 30, 1892): 621-623.
About Shawn P. Wilbur 2702 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.