Le Figaro, July 8, 1867 | D. G. d'Auvergne, "Execution de Maximilien," pgs. 1, 2
As we were going to press, we were sent the following article from the New Orleans Picayun, which borrows the following details about Emperor Maximilian's final moments from the Esperanza de Querétaro of June 20. We are immediately publishing this document, the sad importance of which escapes no one. . . .
It is necessary to explain the cause for the delay of thirty-four days that overexcited the opinion of our fellow citizens to such a high degree. The first mail that reached San-Luiz on the morning of May 19 bearing the news was only returned here with the orders of the president on the 22nd. The emperor was notified of his appearance before the war council. . . .
When seven o'clock struck, we heard the music of the procession, and Captain Gonzales entered the chapel with his blindfolds. . . .
At this moment the Franciscans passed by: the first two carried the cross and the holy water, the others held candles. Each of the three coffins was carried by a group of four Indians: the three black execution crosses with the benches followed behind. . . .
When we were at the top of the hill, Maximilian looked fixedly at the rising sun . . .
We had arrived near the large outer fortification wall of the cemetery: the bells slowly rang the death knell. Only the individuals in the retinue were present, because the crowd had been barred to keep them from scaling the walls. The three benches with the plank crosses were placed against the wall, three firing squads, composed of five men, each with two noncomissioned officers, for the coup de grâce , stood three paces away from the condemned men.
When the rifles moved, the emperor thought they were going to shoot, and quickly approached his two companions and embraced them with a touching effusiveness. Miramón, surprised, almost collapsed on the bench, where he remained; the Franciscans crossed his arms. Mejía returned Maximilian's embrace with broken words that no one heard; then, he crossed his arms over his chest, without sitting down.
The bishop, moving forward, said to Maximilian: "Sire, give all of Mexico, as personified by me, the kiss of reconciliation; may Your Majesty pardon everything at the supreme hour."
The emperor, internally agitated with visible emotion, silently allowed himself to be kissed. Then, raising his voice with force, cried out: "Tell López that I forgive him for his betrayal; tell all of Mexico that I forgive it for its crime!"
Then, His Majesty shook the hand
of the abbot Fischer, who, unable to speak, fell to the emperor's
knees, kissing both his hands and covering them with tears.
Many people cried abundantly; Maximilian gently disengaged
his hands, and, taking a step forward, said ironically with
a sad smile to the officer who was in charge of the execution:
" A la disposicion de usted ." ["At your disposition."]
At the signal of the sword, when the rifles fired at his chest, he murmured a few words in German and detonations enveloped the spectators. Miramón rolled over, struck. Mejía remained standing, his arms flailing in the air; a bullet in the ear at point-blank, ultimately finished him off.
The emperor collapsed on the cross that was supporting his body. He was taken down immediately and placed in the coffin with the two generals. The burial of their remains took place immediately in the cemetery, and the bishop delivered the absolution.
[Ed. note: Le Figaro is questioning the source for this article.]
It would not be impossible, in Europe, after ten days of extensive detail, for the same text [articles] to be published by the Esperanza de Querétaro and the Picayun of New Orleans. The article we have just reprinted could have been conveyed in this fashion: it contains 2,000 words, which at 300 francs per thirty words, would add up to 30,000 francs. Le Figaro did not pay for this transmission.