The whole Assembly applauded him enthusiastically. M. Barthelemy Saint Hilaire, who attacked Cavaignac, was an orator cold, rigid, somewhat dry and by no means equal to the task, his anger being without fierceness and his hatred without passion. He began by reading a memoir, which always displeases assemblies. The Assembly, which was secretly ill-disposed and angry, was eager to crush him.
Cavaignac for the fourth time ascended the tribune. It was half past 10 o'clock at night. The noise of the crowd and the evolutions of the cavalry on the Place de la Concorde could be heard. The aspect of the Assembly was becoming sinister. Cavaignac, who was tired, had decided to assume a haughty attitude.
At sight of their bayonets the insurgents fled, but concentrated their forces on the Hôtel-de-Ville. This again they evacuated when cannon were pointed against it, and the cause of order was won. General Cavaignac, who had just come home from Algeria, was made War Minister, and the clubs were closed. Louis Blanc was sent into exile.
I would not have committed such an absurdity, even in my palmy days, when I conspired with Louis Napoleon, sat in the councils with Godefroi Cavaignac, or wrote instructions for Mazzini, then only a beginner with his Giovina Italia, and his miscarried Romarino attempt in Savoy. Of what earthly use can be such politique provocatrice towards England?
He is a perfect despot with his staff, 'tis said; yet he is quite a wag when in good-humor, and, at Ministerial dinners, can unbend and make himself as agreeable as need be wished. His voice is as harsh as a Cossack's, and in perfect contrast to that of Cavaignac, which is the richest and most musical you ever heard, yet distinct, emphatic and impressive."
General Cavaignac, his chief competitor, was supported by the solid men of the country, who distrusted his opponent; but the people rose almost solidly in his support, and he was elected president for four years by 5,562,834 votes, against 1,469,166 for Cavaignac. The new President of France soon showed his ambition.
"Who is that tall, dark military man, with the heavy moustache, now making his way into the Minister's box?" asked Beauchamp, after a pause. "That man is no less a personage than the Governor of Algeria, Eugène Cavaignac, Marshal of Camp," said Debray. "He reported himself at the War Office this morning, and is the lion of the house."
By putting an end to the provisional status, it understood its continuance, the indefinite putting off of the moment when a final decision had to be arrived at. The "status quo" could be preserved in only one of two ways: either by the prolongation of Bonaparte's term of office or by his constitutional withdrawal and the election of Cavaignac.
General Cavaignac, who had been made dictator during the struggle, laid down his office after the battle which began on the 23d of June between the rabble of idle mechanics, eighty thousand in number, and the national forces had been decided in favor of the latter, who slew no less than sixteen thousand of the enemy.
I am judging Cavaignac, and the country is judging me. I want the fullest light thrown upon my actions, and my votes are my actions." In February, 1849, in the midst of the prevailing sorrow and terror, fetes were given. People danced to help the poor.