Friday, May 08, 2009

Emerson in revolutionary Paris, 1848

This entry is labeled simply "May" in Emerson's Journals:

The most important word the Age has given to the vocabulary is Blouse.* It has not yet got into the Dictionary, and even in America for a year or two it has been of doubtful sound, whether English "blouse," or French "blōūse." But, at last, the French Revolution has decided for ever its euphony. It is not that it was new for the workman to have ideas and speak in clubs, but new in its proportions to find not five hundred but two hundred thousand thinkers and orators in blouse. Guizot thought they were but a handful.

An orator in the French Club declares that cc when the hour arrives for the Second Revolution, and it is not far off, the people (who had been too generous at the first revolution in February) will show that it can avenge as well as pardon!"

T is certain that they are dreadfully in earnest at these clubs. La vie à bon marche is the idea of Paris.
L'inconstance immortelle des Francais.


"Le Club des conspirateurs c'est l'aristocratie de la democratie.

"Le Club des conspirateurs declare qu'il reconnalt les droits de l'émeute, et un conspirateur suprême. La Conspiration est en permanence.

"Il sera créé au College de France une chaire de conspiration.

" On chargera le citoyen Blanqui de rédiger dans le silence du cabinet un manuel de conspiration à l'usage des enfans."

In the Spanish gallery in the Louvre, it is easy to see that Velasquez and Spagnoletto were painters who understood their business. I fancy them both strong, swarthy men who would have made good soldiers or brigands at a pinch. And in running along the numberless cartoons of old masters, the eye is satisfied that the art of expression by drawing and color has been perfectly attained; that on that side, at least, humanity has obtained a complete transference of its thought into the symbol.

These Spaniards paint with a certain ferocity. Zurbaran who paints monks, especially one monk with a skull in his hands, which seems the reflection of his own head, is a master so far.

It is impossible in a French table d'hôte to guess the social rank or the employment of the various guests. The military manners universal in young Frenchmen, their stately bow and salutation through their beards, are, like their beards, a screen, which a foreigner cannot penetrate.

At the Club des Femmes, there was among the men some patronage, but no real courtesy. The lady who presided spoke and behaved with the utmost propriety, a woman with heart and sense, but the audience of men were perpetually on the lookout for some équivoque, into which, of course, each male speaker would be pretty sure to fall; and then the laugh was loud and general.

Le Club des Clubs was one which consisted of the chiefs of all the clubs, and to which was accorded a tribune in the assembly. But they were so dictatorial and insolent that the Chamber at last mustered courage enough to silence them, and, I believe, to turn them out.

The Gallic Cock. An errand boy in France is commissionaire; a kitchen is laboratoire; applied to is consacrée. A taper is not a conflagration.

The negative superlative goes on increasing, and by and by, when all France is mad and every man takes the other by the throat, Blanqui will hang himself for joy.

An artist's ticket to society is not transfer able, he has not an inch of margin to his own footing on this precipice to spare, so that, though he possessed the highest social privileges, he could not add to them, and (what is worse in his own eyes) could not impart them.

Give me a rich mind, which does not bring a set of stones to the new companions whom he joins, and, when they are spent, has no more to say, but warm bounteous discourse. What trial is so severe to men as a sea voyage? A college examination is nothing to it. He who has not tired or restrained his shipmates in a month s voyage has won palms that Cambridge or the Academy or the Congress cannot give.

What games sleep plays with us ! We wake indignant that we have been so played upon, and should have lent ourselves to such mountains of nonsense. All night I was scarifying with my wrath some conjuring miscreant, but unhappily I had an old age in my toothless gums, I was as old as Priam, could not articulate, and the edge of all my taunts and sarcasms, it is to be feared, was quite lost. Yet, spite of my dumb palsy, I defied and roared after him, and rattled in my throat, until wife waked me up. Then I bit my lips. So one day we shall wake up from this longer confusion, and be not less mortified that we had lent ourselves to such rigmarole.

Torchlight processions have a seek-and-slay look, dripping burning oil-drops, and the bearers now and then smiting the torch on the ground, and then lifting it into the air as W. described them.

I find in French pictures a coloring of human flesh, analogous to dead gold in jewelry.

Mr. Doherty thought this a revolution against humbugs; that the English were not so reasonable as they appear; and the French were more reasonable than they appear. All the clubs are armed, that is, have depots of arms.

{Club Feminin 1848; source}

Clubs of 1848 in Paris

The Paris Club Movement in 1848

{Blanqui; source:}

Louis Auguste Blanqui in wikipedia

The Revolution of 1848 in Paris

Some sources:

Journals Of Ralph Waldo Emerson 1820-1872, with Annotations, edited by Edward Waldo Emerson and Waldo Emerson Forbes; Vol. VII, 1845-1848 (London, Constable & Co.; Boston And New York Houghton Mifflin Company, 1913)

Journals Of Ralph Waldo Emerson 1820-1872, with Annotations, edited by Edward Waldo Emerson and Waldo Emerson Forbes; Vol. VII, 1845-1848, (New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1912)


*Note: and Humbug (R.W.E.'s note).

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