A taste of real 1830s student republicanism

Any research done in relation to the period of Les Misérables, whether for fanfiction or fanart purposes or otherwise.
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Marianne
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A taste of real 1830s student republicanism

Postby Marianne » Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:16 pm

So the Friends of the ABC were based on a real society called the Friends of the People (who met in the Rue des Grès! Hugo you sneaky bastard!), whose publications have been reproduced in a series called Les Révolutions du XIXe siècle. It's kind of absurdly hard to get ahold of, but luckily a university near my parents' house has a copy, so I used to camp out in the library there typing things up to put them on my website. (Look! They're on my website!)

Unfortunately for that whole "sharing my research and amusing other fans" thing, they are in French. But! I just dug up one of the more entertaining ones and translated it. Just imagine Courfeyrac wrote it (with Combeferre there to correct his spelling and strike out the awful puns).

The usual caveats apply: this is not a professional translation, a lot of the syntax and word choice is copied directly from the French so it is clunky, etc. Hopefully you will still find it entertaining.



Letter from a student, a man of the people
to the doctrinaire aristocrats

The cleverest hawker of printed lies, in his quasi-legitimacy, besmirches everything honored by the friends of liberty. Young men full of courage and patriotism are asking back, with loud cries, the liberty which they won and which was stolen from them. They want it, not merely for themselves, but for everyone; broadly, without restriction, without monopoly. They want the sovereignty of the people in practice and the abolition of all heredity. They want the extermination of all abuses, economy and morality in the place of sycophancy and corruption, and because they know their rights and duties as citizens well enough to ask for the election of the representatives of the nation by all citizens with an equal interest, since they are all equally under sway of the law; because a sumptuous and idle royalty seems to them to be the greatest obstacle to the happiness of France; because they ask at last for a representative republic where executive power is contained by insurmountable embankments, where the administrative and judicial authorities that weigh so directly on the citizens are elected by the citizens, where the responsibility of the agents of the nation is no longer an empty phrase, where the salaries of public offices are nothing more than strict compensation for the work that the country demands of public officials—they are presented to public opinion as rabble-rousers, as the inept parodists of a grand and sublime era which some call the Terror, and rightly so, for in striking down a traitor king it made all kings tremble.

The students of July, guilty of scorning the legal order's advice when blood was running in the streets of Paris, irritate M. Casimir Périer's nervous susceptibility. He asks for cowardly accusers. Who responds? The Journal des Débats(1); that is its duty; my own duty is to protest, in the name of my comrades, who share my doctrines.

It rebukes us for the exaltation and the inflammation of our ideas; well, it is right, for we are its patrons' mortal enemies. We are inflamed with outrage against those who sell the liberty they have not paid for to foreign powers and to the privileged. We are inflamed with outrage against those who are bringing back this immoral system of shift and deception with which they fool generous workers who will not be long to realize their error, and will only be the more formidable to the men who are striving to demean and degrade them in order to better oppress them. We are in transports of indignation against an iniquitous legislature, the protector of the strong and the rich, the abandoner of the weak and the poor. We want to steal from the tax office the money that pays for the honest worker's bread. We want to make sure he knows all his rights and responsibilities in society, since he bears almost all its loads. We want to maintain his enthusiasm, which others want to stifle; warm up his ardent love of freedom; associate his material wellbeing with his political rights, which he understands and which he claims as inalienable property; arrange his vigorous arms for the defense of the country; help him dispose of his enemies within before attacking those outside.

We are rebuked for thinking highly of Robespierre and Saint-Just, for being enamoured of the bloody anarchy of 93. We are not afraid to respond: Yes, we love those great citizens; yes, we admire everything that was great and generous in the hearts of these virtuous republicans, who were not afraid to provoke the hatred of their contemporaries, satisfied to make appeal not to the passions of the moment but to the impartial judgment of posterity... Posterity! We are its beginning, and as disinterested parties in this great trial, we will not cease to take up the defense of this glorious part of our revolution, and to say to its eternal accusers: stop railing with false sentimentality against events which humanity must no doubt weep over, but which nevertheless saved France. Disparagers of the greatest revolutionary superiorities, at least agree on your reproaches, for one minute you reproach their enthusiasm and demagogic delirium, and the next you reproach them for selling their consciences to foreign powers, to those who roused their vengeance so well. The enemies of the republic paid for anarchy in order to reappear with its help, in an anti-social position which the people refused. But their agents found Robespierre and Saint-Just incorruptible; they died as poor as Aristide. Wherever they found corruption, they struck it down. Hebert and Chaumette's commune appeared in the arena of liberty, and they broke it. The man of great blows, the energetic Danton, frightened the austere virtue of the pure Montagnards by his immense depravation. The Incoruptible signed his death warrant.

The Mountain, dominated by the two colossal figures of Robespierre and Saint-Just, had the force to overcome the greatest difficulties after giving a pledge to the Revolution and shocking the tyrants with the death of their brother; it crushed the Girondin federalism, as well as the more skillful royalism which profited from its maneuvers. When it took the dictatorship, famine was terrifying France's courage; the absence of cash and the depreciation of the assignats made its position more and more difficult. All of our armies were beaten; complete disorganization was working upon them; its leaders were defecting openly; the triumphant aristocracy was rearing its head in the departments; Lyon, the Vendée, Bordeaux and Marseille were infected with royalism, and Toulon had been sold to the English. The Convention raised its voice; it demanded audacity, more audacity, always audacity. The people rushed to take up arms, the enemy was defeated, the aristocracy was crushed; the Convention deserved altars.

And in the face of so much work and so many services, these men want us to adopt the angers and hatreds of those daft old men whom they ask for the truth. They want tears and regrets for so much glory: weepers, slaves of all regimes, the Terror spared you! Too bad, for you hold back our march.

You rebuke us for taking away the work and industry of the workers to give them the Republic in return: well! will you feed them with your false promises of republican institutions, with your constitutional throne embroidered in gold and silver, and surrounded with the lackeys of all the legitimacies? Will you feed them with the tax on salt, the tax on drinks, and all the thousand hindrances that people reproaches you for!

Its admirable good sense enlightens it about the real value of riots, you say; but what enlightens it about the character of the students if not your agents and a few workers that you have paid to slander us and crush us(2)?

In December you wanted to divide the students from the people, and in March the workers from the students, and so establish between them a hatred that could serve your despotism. But your shameful projects will not succeed: the people will soon recognize its true friends, and on the coming day of its sovereign justice, they will avenge together the grievances they have accumulated against a usurping power, which every day removes a stone from the fragile edifice which some intrigues have raised up for it.

(1) Article of March 21.
(2) M. Agier, deputy and colonel of the 12<sup>th</sup> legion, dared to address this dangerous apostrophe to the workers gathered on the Place du Panthéon with the students of the two schools: "Workers, my friends, you are good fellows, fling yourselves upon this mob of students who are taking your work away from you." Such words have no need of comment.
(3) One might not believe that I wanted to establish any distinction between the people and the students, even though it is obvious. The students are a fraction of the people, the same as the stonemasons' guild, etc., and I have more regard for an honest rag-picker than for the formerly plebeian minister who insults the people through his luxury of a posh lackey.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.
- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Re: A taste of real 1830s student republicanism

Postby Col.Despard » Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:58 pm

Wow! So much awesome there I hardly know where to begin to comment...I do get an overarching sense, though, of how well Hugo captured the sentiments of the period...albeit the ABC is less "Yay Terror!", even if they speak with general respect and reverence of the Revolutionary period. I have a scene half written in my head in the as-yet-unwritten Amis in Prison sequence (AU #6 or 7 I'm up to) in which they celebrate the execution of Louis Capet, as the real Republicans imprisoned in the early 1830s. This leads to a discussion of who would vote for his execution in the Convention, and of course the answer for Enjolras would have to be "yes".

I do like the swing at Danton...followed in the next paragraph by an unattributed Danton quote!

Yes, definitely a whipped-up Courfeyrac.
"The principles of freedom, of humanity, and of justice, will finally triumph over falsehood, tyranny and delusion, and every principle inimical to the interests of the human race" - Edward Despard, 1803
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Re: A taste of real 1830s student republicanism

Postby Roses for Ophelia » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:12 pm

Marianne, you're nothing short of amazing! I'm just floored by the fact that you found something like this! Just...wow! Must read again!
Rivers belong where they can ramble...

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Re: A taste of real 1830s student republicanism

Postby April Aubade » Wed Aug 04, 2010 2:11 am

That's awesome! Thank you so much for sharing! I always get chills reading primary sources (can't think of something better to call it) like that.

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Re: A taste of real 1830s student republicanism

Postby Marianne » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:08 am

Translated another article! Not a student this time (at least I assume not--the author is identified only by initials, and they don't correspond to any of the known Friends of the People members I can find online), but same group, and this one is about the insurrection in Poland. Or, more specifically, the French government's complete failure to actually do anything to help the Poles, even as it was paying lip service to the nobility of their cause. Also dire predictions for what will happen if Louis-Philippe stays on the throne now that he's shown he doesn't have the balls to stand up to his absolute-monarch neighbors.



Society of the Friends of the People, 9th of October 1831.

The new persecutions of authority against patriots and the liberty of the press have, this time, delayed the publication of our brochure. We are angry about it for the sake of those of our fellow citizens who, sympathizing with the purity of our principles, come to draw public instruction from us. As for ourselves, we do not complain: it is a triumph to suffer for the cause of liberty and equality.

---

Poland is dead; it's our turn!

It isn't true, as the enemies of liberty allege, that a state which recognizes the sovereignty of the people as a base must make war the essential principle of its existence. But assisting the peoples' emancipation against the power of tyrants is a sacred duty for a free nation.

The government which was imposed upon France after July has not done so; in making deals with kings against the independence of nations, it has paid for its welcome in the Holy Alliance through the promise to crush the revolution of the barricades, and to give up foreign patriots to their absolutist executioners; and it has kept this promise more faithfully than the promises made at the Hôtel de Ville. Through it, the judges of Charles X have had their victims, the streets of Paris their persecutions, Italy its scaffolds, Belgium its proconsul, Spain its massacres of constitutionalists, and Warsaw its tomb. Yes! (and we cannot shout it any louder) it was by virtue of a counter-revolutionary treaty, approved by the cabinet of the Palais-Royal, in the interest of dynasties and at the expense of the peoples' liberty, that Poland perished. Nothing could touch our egotistical aristocrats: not the services rendered to France by the Poles, not the noble nature of their insurrection, not the fraternal sympathy of 33 million Frenchmen, not the cries of distress from our second fatherland. Alone, without friends, without allies, without ammunition, without clothing, almost without bread, Poland struggled for a year against the three united scourges of the barbarian invasion, cholera, and betrayal. And then she died, seeing us fail to come to her aid, forced to curse both our deceptive promises and our sterile sympathy, whose effect was a hundred times more grievous for her than Nicholas' honest enmity.

Everything there is to say about this terrible catastrophe has been said, and unlike the Chamber of Deputies we have no intention of stirring, with no profit for the future, the cold dust that all the beautiful speeches in the world could not reanimate. Today the veil has been torn. Thanks to betrayal, our revolution has fallen into a cramped labyrinth which has only invasion and servitude at its center. The frightful and sad future is already here, upon us like a giant; it is pushing us, it is pressing us.

The north and the east of France are defenseless. Between now-Cossack Warsaw and the banks of the Rhine, what do we have? Prussia and Austria, the accomplices of our brothers' death. Between the banks of the Rhine and Paris? Despair and misery, a corrosive stagnation, the product of deceived waiting, associations against the invasion declared rebellious, mobile guards killed in their enthusiasm, and five or six guns per rural community, to push back the foreign invaders.

If by dint of abasement and opprobrium, by dint of dragging the July Revolution through the mud, by dint of kissing the hand that has just assassinated Poland, the cabinet of the Palais-Royal manages to stop the autocrat's march, that will not let us escape the fatality of our destiny; the only difference is that we will pass through the shackles and the gags of the juste milieu before arriving at the barbarians' Caudine Forks. The great voice in Europe which shouted "Shame upon the French government!" has just expired; no more troublesome clamor for our Périers and our Sebastianis, and if in their dreams the heroes of Ostrolenka who fill the graves of Warsaw come to torment and pursue them, the money of an ever-expanding budget and the kickbacks of uncontrolled power will erase these grim images when they wake up.

For us, heartless men who will have done nothing but exchange money and give charity concerts to acquit a blood debt, our our complaints will be stifled more than ever as those of a vile flock. We have had laws of arbitrariness and privilege: we will have laws of exceptions. Today the prisons are full: new ones will be built. But it will be then, when we are well and truly humiliated, divided, exhausted, when hunger and misery have overwhelmed us, that Europe in coalition will hear our death-knell ringing; and that will be the moment for them to have us cheaply, and the total loss of our liberties will shortly give the signal for a Third Restoration.

And then it will be known, too late, which was more sincere: the monarchs' protocols or their old forty-year hatred of the French people. And then we will learn, too late, that the misfortunes of peoples always come from their governments' crimes. And then we will ask ourselves why the National Guard, formerly so active against riots, was so constantly blind to the cause that gave it birth? And seeing itself invaded and defenseless, France will say: "Where are my treasures, which the government that followed the barricades extracted from me under the pretext of raising and equipping armies?"

But those billions, the product of the people's sweat, will have served only to feed the pride of a few bourgeois aristocrats, and their least questionable effect will have been to add financiers to the nobles, and a handful of lawyers to the traitors of the Restoration. And then the Cossacks, who camped twice in the Tuileries to support the Bourbons, will come and camp there again a third time to protect the same race against democratic vengeance, and perhaps we will finally be persuaded that from branch to branch, from relative to relative, the enmities of princes are much less durable than the lines of despots against the people.

And in the shadow of the white flag (or perhaps, who knows, under the shadow of the tricolor flag) we will see royalist scaffolds raised to punish those who cry, "Vengeance for France!" as once was saw spies armed and paid to assassinate and imprison those who cried, "Vengeance for Poland!"

Perhaps at that moment, in a magnificent carriage, some minister of the king will pass by; and if the people's clamour strikes his ear; and if they stop his horses to demand an accounting of his crimes, he will turn insolently to the people and say to them, as he says today, "What do you want of me?"

What do we want? Justice and nothing but justice against the men who bear, like Cain, Poland's blood on their foreheads, whose hearts are unmoved at the voices of all the murdered peoples, just like the groans one lets out in a tomb will not reawaken the corpses.

If ministerial responsibility were not a cruel derision insolently written into a patchwork charter, today would mark the beginning of a great trial against France, which is threatened on all sides, and against Louis-Philippe's government. But for the ministers, around whom so many patriots' blood is still steaming, for the public officials, guilty of impoverishing and dishonoring France, would a monetary fine or a soft prison term be enough? No, no! For lying ministers, responsibility is death(1).

- G.D-P.

---

(1) Quote from Isnard to the minister Narbonne, who was giving his pledge to the Convention.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.

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Re: A taste of real 1830s student republicanism

Postby silverwhistle » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:25 am

Might the initials be Gaussuron-Despréaux?
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Il reprit: - L'amour d'un damné.

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Re: A taste of real 1830s student republicanism

Postby Marianne » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:28 am

Quite possibly! Once one has the name it's easy to look him up and see he was a defendant in an 1832 press trial against the Friends of the People, and I certainly haven't turned up any other "G. D-P."s in any of the documents I've found so far. Although when I was looking for lists of names, I did find a rather excellent summary of their history and activities.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.

- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Re: A taste of real 1830s student republicanism

Postby silverwhistle » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:37 am

Marianne wrote:Quite possibly! Once one has the name it's easy to look him up and see he was a defendant in an 1832 press trial against the Friends of the People, and I certainly haven't turned up any other "G. D-P."s in any of the documents I've found so far. Although when I was looking for lists of names, I did find a rather excellent summary of their history and activities.

Mystery solved! Footnote 15, at the bottom of page 174 in the Caron article to which you linked, credits him with that very article about Poland of 9 Oct 1831!
- Entends-tu? je t'aime! cria-t-il encore.
- Quel amour! dit la malheureuse en frémissant.
Il reprit: - L'amour d'un damné.

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Re: A taste of real 1830s student republicanism

Postby Marianne » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:51 am

Ah-hah! That'll teach me to skim.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.

- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Re: A taste of real 1830s student republicanism

Postby Ulkis » Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:04 am

Interesting article; thanks for translating it.

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Re: A taste of real 1830s student republicanism

Postby between4walls » Thu Jun 02, 2011 11:04 pm

So my dad was trying to interest me in math, and introduced me to Evariste Galois who made major contributions to group theory before dying age twenty in a duel (in May 1832!). He was a republican and didn't get along with the director of the Ecole Normale (which he attended because he didn't get into the Polytechnique). Here's the letter in Gazette des Ecoles around 5 December 1830 that got him kicked out of the Ecole Normale.

"The letter from M. Guigniault in yesterday's Lycee, on the occasion of an article in your newspaper, seemed to be quite out of place. I thought you would be interested in any attempt to unmask this man.
Here are the facts to which 46 students can testify. On the morning of 28 July, since many of the students wished to join in the uprising, M. Guigniault told them, twice, that he could call the police to restore order. The police on 28 July!
On the same day he said to us, equally pedantically, 'Many brave people have been killed on both sides. If I were a soldier, I would not know what decision to take. Which should I sacrifice, freedom or legitimacy?'
This is the man, who stuck a tricolor rosette in his hat the day after. These are our convinced liberals!
I should also like to inform you, sir, that the students of the Ecole Normale, inspired by noble patriotic spirits, very recently presented themselves to M. Guigniault, to inform him of their intention to address a petition to the Ministry of Education, asking for arms, and wishing to take part in military training, so as to be able to defend their territory if required.
Here is M. Guigniault's answer. It is liberal just like his answer of 28 July.
'The request addressed to me would make us look ridiculous. It is an imitation of what has been done in higher level institutions: it came from below. I should like to point out, when the same request reached the Minister from these institutions of higher education, only two members of the Royal Board voted in favor, and they were not among the liberals. The minister accepted, because he feared the students turbulence, which will be ruinous for the University and the Ecole Polytechnique.' I believe from one point of view, M. Guigniault is right to defend himself in this way, against being blamed for his prejudice against the new Ecole Normale. He only loves the old Ecole Normale, which had everything.
We recently asked for a uniform, which was denied us; they did not wear them at the old school. In the old school, the course lasted three years. Although, when the new school was set up, the third year was acknowledged to be pointless, M. Guigniault brought it back.
Soon, following the rules of the old Ecole Normale, we will only be allowed out once a month, and will have to return by 5 pm. It is wonderful to belong to the educational system that produced me like Cousin and Guigniault!
Everything he does show[s] his narrow outlook and ingrained conservatism.
Sir, I hope these details will interest you, and that you will put them to the use you see fit, to the benefit of your excellent newspaper."
The newspaper noted: "We have removed the signature from this letter, although we were not requested to do so. We should also like to point out, that after the Three Glorious Days, M. Guigniault sent out a communique to all the newspapers that the director of the Ecole Normale offered the services of his students to the provisional government."

The (translated) letter is reprinted in the book Evariste Galois, 1811-1832 by Laura Toti Rigatelli, here. He also shows up in Alexandre Dumas's memoirs; if I find more info I'll post it later.
Here day embraces night, and says: I will die with you and you will be reborn with me. From the heavy embrace of all desolations springs faith.

The real name of devotion is disinterestedness.

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Re: A taste of real 1830s student republicanism

Postby Ravariel » Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:24 am

Evariste Galois!! I find him so fascinating, and I've actually been considering compiling some of my informal research on him to post here. I adore Galois, charming reckless genius that he is! If he'd lived just a week longer, he'd probably have been at the '32 barricades. Someday, I am going to write fanfiction containing him, because he would work so well with the Amis. Are you interested in biographical stuff on him? I've found several good sites.
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The far field, the windy cliffs of forever,
The dying of time in the white light of tomorrow."
--Theodore Roethke

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Re: A taste of real 1830s student republicanism

Postby Col.Despard » Fri Jun 03, 2011 7:05 am

Another fan here. He'd have made a wonderful Ami, what between nerding it out with Combeferre, getting all uppity Republican with Courfeyrac and then going on the razz with him, Grantaire, Joli and Bossuet. Even Enjolras would approve. I wonder if things might have been different if he'd got into the Polytechnique? And what was the real story behind his death?
"The principles of freedom, of humanity, and of justice, will finally triumph over falsehood, tyranny and delusion, and every principle inimical to the interests of the human race" - Edward Despard, 1803

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Re: A taste of real 1830s student republicanism

Postby between4walls » Fri Jun 03, 2011 8:11 am

Despard- What with him being a member of the Societe des Amis du Peuple that Hugo's group is based on, that makes sense. Fighting a duel is an even worse way to handle disappointments in love than Marius's way, though.
Ironically, if he'd gotten in to the Polytechnique, he might have died even earlier, in 1830, as a student named Vaneau did. Though I can't figure out from the description whether Vaneau had graduated already or not.
As for the real story behind his duel, it sounds straightforward enough (aside from the question of who his opponent was), but who knows what might turn up. The coroner's report of Christopher Marlowe's death wasn't found until the 1920's, and he died in 1593!
Do you know any good books on dueling?

Ravariel- I'd love to see your research compilation!
As well as biographical sites (do any of them have his doodles?). I don't write fanfic, but his life definitely has some plot-bunny inspiring overlaps with the book.
But I don't understand at all what group theory is, sadly.
Here day embraces night, and says: I will die with you and you will be reborn with me. From the heavy embrace of all desolations springs faith.

The real name of devotion is disinterestedness.

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Re: A taste of real 1830s student republicanism

Postby 9430 » Fri Jun 03, 2011 8:49 am

between4walls: I have studied some aspects of group theory at uni and don't really understand it either, so you're not alone.

M. Guigniault sounds a lot like quite a few of the aging masters of my college and of the university - very against change to the traditions because it simply wasn't done before. I can see why he could have irritated a lot of students.
aka Fiwen


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