An Unexpected Interview (March 28, 1892)


Conversation with the untraceable anarchist

A reporter who has long followed the socialist and anarchist meetings came last night to tell us that, in a café near one of our great stations, he had encountered the elusive Ravachol, after whom all the bloodhounds of the prefecture of police have been sent.

After we made inquiries about his identity, we thought we could welcome, at least on the grounds of curiosity, the details you are about to read:

— There are many reasons why they won’t pinch Ravachol any time soon: first, that name is not his own; second, the description that has been given of him is inexact; and third, it would be difficult to recognize in his new get-up the correct gentleman who went to deposit the little bomb [marmite] at 136 Boulevard Saint-Germain.

“So, comrade Ravachol did not appear the least bit worried about the result of the searches by the agents of Mr. Lozé, and it is while solemnly sipping an absinthe and sugar that he had the following interview with me:

— For one condemned to death, you don’t seem to be very worried.

— First, I am not condemned to death, and with the description they have given of me I do not risk being taken, unless I am sold out. And if, by some extraordinary chance, the police get their hands on me, it may perhaps cook them, for I have long since sacrificed my life to defend and propagate my ideas.

— Are you really the perpetrator of the explosion in the Boulevard Saint-Germain ?

— It was me or it wasn’t. If it was me, I have not hidden myself because of it; if it was not me, while they mistakenly suspect me and look for me, the real culprit has time to reach safety and, in that case, I do not see the use in correcting these gentlemen.

— What do you think of the attack this morning, in the Rue de Clichy ?

— It was very merry (sic). It is only regrettable that M. Bulot, the prosecutor, that the compagnon should especially aim for, was just the one who suffered least. No matter, since we will attain our goal all the same, which is to terrorize the judicial authorities. For long enough the judges have condemned for vagabondage poor devils who have committed the crime of not being millionaires; we want, in our turn, to reduce them to that state. There is a stock of dynamite distributed sufficient that each house giving shelter to a magistrate can have its turn.

“if the proprietors want to avoid damages, they will be forced to evict that category of tenants. Unless they sleep under the stars, these latter should join together to buy one or more houses where they will lodge together, and guard themselves in a very strict fashion, if they do not want the anarchists to seize this fortuitous occasion to blow them all up together.

— And he explosions in front of the Hotel de Sagan and the Labau barracks?

— That was kids’ stuff; the hands of the anarchists were certainly strangers to it. Anyway, whatever motive was obeyed by the person who inspired them, they have served their purpose. The noise made about them has opened eyes and demonstrated to us the excellence of the propaganda of the deed. It is on this side that the compagnons will now carry all their efforts.

— Doesn’t the way in which the explosion in the Boulevard Saint-Germain and that of the Rue de Clichywere carried out suggest to you some criticisms of the blunders of the perpetrators?

— My God! one does what one can. It is certain that, if the cartridges had been place in a room, instead of in the stairwell, the damage would have been more considerable; but, at heart, we are better lads (sic) than you think. You could even say that we do not want the death of the sinner, but his conversion; that is why, although we have enormous quantities of explosives at our disposal, we only use small amounts.

— So this will continue, then?

— It must. They hunt us; we avenge the innocents who have been unjustly condemned since the business at Montceau-les-Mines and the trial of Lyon, and the victims of the agents provocateurs that have been sent among us. It is the police who taught us to make use of explosives.

“During this whole conversation, Ravachol did not show the least emotion. Remorse is unknown to these fanatics of crime, and it is with a smile on his face that, after leaving me, he went to ask one of the policemen who were pacing up and down on the sidewalk, the shortest way to get to Pere-Lachaise!!!”


[Source: La Gaulois, March 28, 1892, 1; working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.