In a late number of the Paris “ Figaro” there is an interesting article on the transported Communists at Noumea. The writer says he has spent several months in New Caledonia studying the manners and customs of the convicts. If the information he gives is reliable, it will make many an industrious English artisan wish he had been sent to Noumea as a Communist. That place, in fart, appears to be the ready and straight road to fortune for all who are willing to work. Take the case of M. Bourdinat, for instance, formerly a sergeant-major under the Commune, and now a contractor fo r joiners’ work on a large scale. “Formerly,” said M. Bourdinat to the writer of the article, “ 1 was in favor of a general sharing all round ; but at that time I had nothing. Now I am worth 200,000 francs, and have no debts. I won a bronze medal at the Intercolonial Exhibition of Sydney; the local Government encourages me, and I am now executing several important orders for the colonies. I have no desire to return to France, except to see my old mother, and even if I do go I shall return to Noumea.” M. Victor Grellier, who was at the head of the Home Office under the Commune, keeps a flourishing hotel, and, though he sometimes speaks with a sigh of his past greatness, his present and material prosperity consoles him for the loss of official honors. Another Communist, M. Joulin, has turned surgeondentist, and is rich—a fact which would tend to prove that there is a great deal of toothache among the convicts, for it is scarcely probable that there is much demand for ornamental dentistry in new Caledonia. Meunier, who had not a sou when lie arrived at Noumea, is now worth £4,000. Four journalists can boast of having made as much in the short space of six years. M. Meunier has his daughter taught by a religious order, and may have adopted religious opinions since the Commune. M. Cognie, who had a great deal of gold on his ephemeral uniform in 1871, but none in his purse has spent 25,000 francs in having a new house built for himself, and has paid for it in hard cash. Piazza, an ex-Garibal-dian, has recently bought two houses for 20,000 francs, and spent 10,000 francs in having them repaired. This is a very bright picture ; but there is a terribly dark shade to it. The majority of the political convicts work as little as possible, and spend all their earnings in drink. It is probable that not many of them were drunkards in Paris, but during their banishment they are described as having generally become confirmed sots.
Permanent link to this item
Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 17, 4 November 1879
Prosperous Exiles. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 17, 4 November 1879
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.