OPINION

July 16, 1958

ABOUT THE BASTILLE: (From «An Athenian’s Notes») The fall of the Bastille, which has just been commemorated for the 169th year, is unique in that the legend surrounding it began not, as so often happens, over a considerable period of time, which usually serves to distort it, but just a few hours after it actually occurred. Two days before the event, groups of criminals were looting, arming themselves, seizing central guard posts and freeing prisoners; their actions culminated on July 14 in the attack on the Bastille. Although that strong fortress could easily have withstood the onslaught, the humanitarian governor Bernard-Rene de Launay, who was opposed to any violence, agreed to receive two representatives of the insurgents and allowed the chains on the drawbridge leading to the inner courtyard to be cut. De Launay was butchered along with three officers, while two of the garrison’s veteran soldiers were hanged. The crowd then headed for the town hall. When a representative of the merchants tried to stop them, he too was killed. A few hours later the killings had been transformed into heroic acts against tyranny, heroism by a people struggling for their freedom.