Tag Archives: French Revolution Collection

Louis XVI on the cross

Here is one of the more arresting images I’ve come across in the French Revolution Collection (FRC): an engraving of Louis XVI being crucified between the clergy and the nobility.

Case FRC 27792

This messianic image accompanies the pamphlet La passion et la mort de Louis XVI, roi des juifs et des chretiens (Case FRC 27792 and Case FRC 22313).  The attribution to Jacques baron de Menou (1750-1810) on page 6 is fictitious, as is the place of publication: certainly not Jerusalem; most likely Paris.

Guy Thuillier recently published a brief discussion and a modern edition of the pamphlet, which is available through JSTOR (Guy Thuillier, “Un pamphlet de 1790 : La passion et la mort de Louis XVI, Roi des Juifs et des Chrétiens de Jean-François de Bourgoing,” La Revue administrative, 58e Année, No. 343 [January 2005], p. 18-24).  As Thuillier notes, the pamphlet is attributed to Bourgoing in Notice historique et généalogique sur la famille de Bourgoing by Georges de Soultrait (Lyon: Imprimerie de Louis Perrin, 1855) p. 34 [available via Gallica online].  Soultrait lays three other widely published writings  at the feet of Bourgoing: Domine salvum fac regem (1789), Pange lingua (1789), and Le cri de douleur, ou, la journee du 20 juin 1792.  All three of these — all of which are in FRC — are attributed by Martin & Walter to Jean-Gabriel Peltier.

Returning to the image, a very similar engraving — but colored and (assuming no inadvertent digital error) reversed — is held by the Musée Carnavalet in Paris, and available online via Bridgeman Art Library.

Louis XVI (1754-93) at his trial, crucified between the nobility and the clergy, c.1792 (coloured engraving), French School, (18th century) / Musée de la Ville de Paris, Musée Carnavalet, Paris, France / Archives Charmet / The Bridgeman Art Library

Lottery puffs and uncontrolled vocabularies

It seems to me that I had heard dribs and drabs about the surprisingly long history of lotteries before starting work with the CLIR project.  I had not, however, come across the term “lottery puffs.”  The phrase came to my attention while reviewing the work of one of my peers (as per our workflow).  David had cataloged a broadside of a décret by the Convention nationale, the verso of which is a sheet of lottery ticket proofs for the Loterie de piété (Case oversize FRC 10427 no. 8).  Not long ago, I cataloged a similar broadside: Avis aux tuteurs, administrateurs et parens des pupilles et interdits (Case oversize FRC 27593) which has tickets for the Loterie royale printed on the verso.

Case oversize FRC 27593, recto and verso

The tickets themselves look like this:

Ticket proofs for the Loterie royale de France (Case oversize FRC 27593, verso)

All French Revolution Collection (FRC) materials are given a genre/form designation in the bibliographic record.  (In the online catalog, if you switch to “Staff (MARC) View,” these are found in the 655 field.)   Such designations must be drawn from controlled vocabularies; we most frequently use the Art & Architecture Thesaurus and Genre Terms: A Thesaurus for Use in Rare Book and Special Collections Cataloguing.  Most FRC materials are simply “pamphlets,” but there are also plenty of “satires,” “comedies,” “broadsides,” “librettos” (recently changed, midstream, from “libretti”), and — in the case of these two broadsides-plus-lottery-proofs — “lottery puffs.”

Strictly speaking, however, they are not puffs.  Puffs are bits of puffery — hyperbolic handbills, particularly suitable for lotteries and nostrums.  For a lovely introduction, see Gill Short’s blog post on lottery puffs in the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera at the Bodleian Library.  The Newberry, too, has a collection of such early 19th-century, English lottery puffs.

So why categorize our exemplars as “lottery puffs” and not “lottery tickets?”  Because a controlled vocabulary is a strict mistress.  “Lottery puffs” appears in AAT, and no other term comes close.  Better close than nothing at all — proving once again that cataloging is a fascinating, frustrating mix of science and art.

Les temps sont bien changés! Heresy, satire, and immolation

While there were an enormous number of duplicates within the French Revolution Collection (FRC), there also quite a few duplicates with items either unrelated to FRC or cataloged before the advent of the CLIR project.  For those, we are not only adding holdings records, we are also recataloging to bring the bibliographic records up to CLIR standard.

The Newberry already holds a copies of the anticlerical satire Relation véritable et remarquable du grand voyage du pape en paradis and its continuation, Relation véritable et remarquable du grand voyage du pape en enfer, by Joseph Fiévée.  These send-ups lambaste Pope Pius VI personally and decry the church as a whole.  At the pearly gates, for example, Saint Peter doesn’t recognize his successor, who he finds too richly dressed, and when Pius tries to enter the gate he’s too overfed to fit; the removal of some masonry is suggested as a remedy.

Case FRC 18623 and 18624

Most  charming — and, of course, useful — about these pamphlets are the manuscript annotations on one of the duplicates of Paradis.

Il n’y a pas cent ans qu’en France un pamphlet de ce genre eût fait brûler solemnellement son auteur. Le siècle passé foutait[?] plusieurs exemples de gens grilles à bien meilleur compte. Témoins entre autres Geoffroy Vallés et Simon Marin, que au fond, n’etoient que des fous, des illuminés déraisonnants de la meilleure foi du monde, et plus dignés du Petites-maisons que du feu. Les temps sont bien changés!

Only one hundred years ago in France a pamphlet like this would have had the author burned at the stake.  The past century has spat out many examples of people grilled for better reasons.  Take for example, among others, Geoffroy Vallée and Simon Marin, who at bottom were nothing but madmen,  raving lunatics of the best faith in the world, and better suited to asylums than to fire.  The times certainly have changed!

 

Case FRC 18624

 

The magic lantern, la rareté merveilluse, fraai curieus!

Savoiardi colla Lanterna Magica, held by the British Museum (1890,0415.254)

If the language of cinema is universal, then one may say the same of the magic lantern show. The magic lantern, an early type of image projector, was a precursor to motion picture film projectors. Traveling magic lantern performers of the 18th and 19th centuries, also sometimes known as “Savoyards”, were a common sight in European cities. Often accompanied by an assistant who performed live music during the show, these performers projected hand-painted slides of popular tales in the darkened rooms of private homes using techniques borrowed from magic, pupeteering, and the theater.

One could also argue that political satire is universal. Both visual artists and pamphleteers of the 18th century co-opted the image of the magic lantern in acerbic works that satirized contemporary politics and culture. These often anonymous artists and authors acted, in a sense, as magic lantern projectionists and became the lens through which politics and society were examined and critiqued.

La Lanterne magique patriotique (Case FRC 17560)

Several pamphlets in the Newberry Library‘s French pamphlet collections are satires which build upon the theme and aesthetic of the magic lantern. One such example in the French Revolution Collection is La Lanterne magique patriotique, ou, Le Coup de grace de l’aristocratie by Antoine Dorfeuille (Case FRC 17560). Dorfeuille was a comedic actor, dramaturge, and revolutionary who was killed during counter-revolutionary violence in 1795 in the wake of the Reign of Terror. In this satire of the French aristocracy, Dorfeuille co-opts the language of the magic lantern showman to humorous effect.

Woodcut from La Lanterne magique patriotique (Case FRC 17560)

Included in this pamphlet is a crude woodcut of a magic lantern projecting an image of Lady Liberty. An English translation of the caption below the woodcut follows:

[Frenchmen, it's Lady Liberty!

"The print is very bad," the aristocracy will say;

"Yes, but the idea is good," Reason will say.]

Pasted in at p. 24 of this pamphlet is an expanded, alternate version of the text printed below it on Louis XVI and the aristocracy. This text pleads for the king to ignore the counsel of the coterie of aristocrats and diplomats, sometimes derisively called the comité autrichien (“Austrian Committee”), who surrounded him at court and harbored royalists sympathies that ran counter to many of the tenets of the French Revolution.

La Lanterne magique patriotique, p. 24 alternate text (Case FRC 17560)

[Do you see Louis XVI, who follows the cart on foot and seems to be pushing it along, all while the "Austrian Committee" throws rocks to impede his passage? Do you see the vertigo that overcomes him all of a sudden? ... Do you see the patriotism that awakens, that spurs ahead, that runs after him, that stops him, and that cries out to him, "Where are you going, monarch who has been led astray?" What better place is there than at the bosom of your people? ... Weak king, be brave; don't listen to bad counsel anymore, neither from  bad priests nor from your villainous wife: one little push and the machine will roll.]

The magic lantern also makes an appearance in the Pamfletten-Verzameling, a collection of mostly Dutch pamphlets at the Newberry that deal with the history of the Netherlands and this country’s relations with other European nations. Lanterne magique, of, Toverlantaern (F 46 .665 v. 26 no. 35) is a satirical Dutch periodical published in 20 issues in 1782 and 1783. It satirizes the politics of the day, including the strained relations between Great Britain and the Netherlands during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784), and makes many allusions to the newly formed United States, to which the Netherlands informally allied itself during the American Revolutionary War.

Lanterne magique, of, Toverlantaern (F 46 .655 v. 26 no. 35)

This periodical is written in the “Savoyard” language, or “Koeterwaals,” a comical gibberish mix of French and Dutch that was used by traveling magic lantern showmen from Wallonia. ( See media researcher Thomas Weynant’s Early Visual Media for translated excepts from the work of Dutch literary historian André Hanou on “Koeterwaals” and the relationship between satire, politics, and the magic lantern.)

It is not too late to experience an authentic magic lantern show. Magic lantern collector and performer Herman Bollaert has resurrected the art of the magic lantern show in Belgium, complete with “Koeterwaals,” in his live production, Magica Lanterna Galantee Show.

Judging a book by its cover

With support from the Florence Gould Foundation and the Samuel R. and Marie-Louise Rosenthal Fund, the Newberry Library recently acquired a French pamphlet that is ostensibly a  duplicate copy of a pamphlet in the Library’s French Revolution Collection. But as Shawn’s previous post “‘Lecteur, prenez-garde’, or, Some duplicates do more than duplicate” indicates, a copy may have a rich history of usage specific only to that particular copy.

Procès-verbal de la Conféderation des François, a Paris (Case folio DC169.07 .P76 1790)

Issued in 1790, Procès-verbal de la Conféderation des François, a Paris (Case folio DC169.07 .P76 1790) contains proceedings, decrees, and letters dated July 10-24, 1790, regarding planned festivities for the Fête de la Féderation. This official festival was a series of celebrations throughout France in support of the new (but short-lived) constitutional monarchy. An official ceremony took place on July 14, 1790, the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille, on the Champ de Mars (at the time just outside of Paris). During this ceremony,  King Louis XVI pledged his loyalty to the National Assembly and his commitment to upholding the Constitution (although not ratified until 1791) and the laws issued by this elected body.

Unlike the Newberry’s copy of these proceedings in its French Revolution Collection, which does not have a cover, the newly acquired copy of the Procès-verbal is bound in contemporary paper wrappers printed in the familiar red, white, and blue vertical stripes of the Tricolore, which was adopted as the national flag of France in 1790. The wrappers are printed using the technique known as papier peint, a printing technique of the period used for making wallpaper.

Cover of Procès-verbal de la Conféderation des François, a Paris (Case folio DC169.07 .P76 1790)

The name of the  intended recipient of this copy is handwritten on the paper label pasted to the front cover: A Monsieur, a Carbier, colonel de la garde nationale du district de Castres, departement du Tarn [To Mr. Carbier, colonel of the National Guard in the district of Castres, department of Tarn]. A cursory search for Colonel Carbier did not yield any additional information about this guardsman.

Materials bound in at the beginning of Procès-verbal de la Conféderation des François, a Paris (Case folio DC169.07 .P76 1790)

Pasted to the inside front cover is a notice to the members of the local National Guard units (akin to local militias) who participated in the festivities of the Fête de la Féderation. Also bound in at the beginning are a letter of transmittal signed by member of the Assemblée-Fédérative (responsible for the planning of the Fête) and a prospectus advertising the forthcoming Essai historique sur les gardes nationales, a history of the French National Guard by Pierre Vaqué, a colonel in the National Guard of Calonges and secretary of the Assemblée-Fédérative. This book appears never to have been published.

While the content of a primary source like this pamphlet is always important for scholarship, the provenance of source materials and the vestiges of how they were used at the time they were issued provide important contextual information and open new avenues of scholarly inquiry. The burn mark on the title page of this copy of the Procès-verbal further reveals that this pamphlet was indeed used and has its own stories to tell.

not-so-revolutionary diagnostics

For your consideration: a handbill (Case FRC 27552) describing the medical training and expertise of physician Antoine-François Maillet.

Case FRC 27552

Dr. Maillet lists a copious repertoire of maladies he is capable of treating and, at the end, invites prospective patients to send him urine samples for diagnosis.  It would seem he was peripatetic (or perhaps just prudent), since the printed text leaves his domicile blank.  In the Newberry’s copy, “Il est logé chez” is completed in manuscript with “Bonnet a Riom”– presumably Saint-Bonnet-près-Riom.

Case FRC 27552

Uroscopy, a diagnostic method practiced since antiquity, was still in use at the turn of the 20th century, as this doctor’s test case shows.  For every 500 pamphlets in FRC with the Library of Congress Subject Heading of, say, “Taxation–France–Early Works to 1800,” there will  be one with completely novel subject matter.  This pamphlet was the first “Urine–Diagnostic use–France–Early works to 1800 ” that I’ve come across in two years.  It is rivaled in novelty only, perhaps, by the subject heading  “Uterus–Religious aspects–Drama–Early works to 1800 ” that came up for two oratorios in the Howard Mayer Brown Libretto Collection.

Sauts des mariés and fêtes baladoires: customs arcane and illicit

With the French Revolution Collection (FRC) all but cataloged in full, our primary task now is to deal with the hundreds of duplicates set aside over the course of the three year CLIR project.  In the end it was decided that the integrity of the collection was worth preserving, so all duplicates will be retained.

For bibliographic records pre-dating the project, we’ll be recataloging, but CLIR records require merely adding holdings records in Voyager.  The latter is a simple matter, potentially tedious but quick enough to allow for a satisfyingly high level of productivity.   This alacrity makes it easy to simply skim the titles, but occasionally — as with the monkey and nun that (metaphorically) leaped from the pages of a Saint-Sulpice volume last year — a an unusual word or two demand attention.  For Case folio FRC 27535, my eye was caught by (literally) jumping newlyweds:

Ruling of the Cour de Parlement that prohibits all persons, of whatever quality and condition they may be, to require newlyweds, resident in the parish of Verruyes, to jump, on the day of Pentecost or any other day, over any hole; and that equally prohibits any newlyweds from presenting themselves to make the jump [...]

Case folio FRC 27535 (duplicate of Case folio FRC suppl. 93 no. 48)

As the 1786 arrêt goes on to describe it, the hole is to be at least half full of water, of a depth of about 12 feet or more, and if the newlyweds fail to make the jump they must each pay a fine of 60 sols.   One can’t help but agree with the court  that the custom “can do nothing but result in very great impropriety … regarding both the danger incurred by jumping … and the fear that may precipitate paying  the fine.”

Case folio FRC 27535 (duplicate of Case folio FRC suppl. 93 no. 48)

The ruling also notes that the saut des mariés can be considered nothing but a “fête baladoire” which are already outlawed.   One such decree (conveniently available online via the French national library’s Gallica bibliothèque numérique) sheds light on what fêtes baladoires might entail, describing in some detail the disruptive hijinks in a particular area.

Arrest de la cour du Parlement défend les fêtes baladoires, les attroupements et assemblées illicites ... (Bibliotheque nationale de France)

The decree pertains to assemblies

that could be regarded as fêtes baladoires (licentious festivals), during marrages and baptisms; that the inhabitants tumultuously gather together armed with rifles and pistols, having rockets and firecrackers, and lighting fires in different places around the parishes; that around the days of carnival the boys of the parishes go out looking for girls in the places where they are assembled, with drums, fifes, and horns, traversing during the night all the quarters of their villages leading around masked and disguised girls, and going from village to village; that the inhabitants of Couilly assembled in a cabaret where they wrote and composed defamatory libels that they had distributed; that during carnival they had an inhabitant of Couilly mount an ass [...] carrying and representing his effigy, which they burned, extorting from this inhabitant the sum of 60 livres, and then they assembled in the cabarets where they made a tumult and drank all night [...]

The high spirits — particularly the libel and effigy-burning — sound much like the 1791 case of the carementran in Crest that cropped up almost exactly a year ago.  Somehow these crop up on our work flow just after Ash Wednesday.  Go figure.

 

“Excusez l’état crasseux de ce mandement,” or, More ridicule from the margins

Last summer I wrote about a 1797 pamphlet covered in manuscript annotations taking the writer to task on issues of church and state.  Something similar from the dawn of the Revolution has just worked its way through the workflow.   Mandement de Monseigneur l’évêque de Périgueux, qui ordonne des prières publiques dans tout son diocese pendant la tenue des États généraux du royaume (Case folio FRC 26783) bears an apology on the cover:  “Excusez l’état crasseux de ce mandement.  Je le tiens d’un curé indecrassable”  (Excuse the execrable state of this mandement.  I think it’s written by an inexecrable prelate).

Case folio FRC 26783

The anonymous former reader/owner of the mandement has filled it with angry comments and rhetorical questions, numbered for your convenience.  Some of his concerns are spiritual, but just as often they are financial–after all, the Estates-General of 1789 were convened to address the realm’s dire financial problems.

Here are a few examples of the reader’s annotations.

"10. That's all well and good: but the deficit?" "11 But the deficit?" "12 So fathers are more pious than sons? Aeneas gives us an example of the contrary."

“15 A great vicar of Périgueux and secretary to the bishop died in 1777 with a fortune of more than 200000 that he earned trafficking in contraband tobacco”

Spotlight Exhibit on French pamphlets opens!

We are pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition highlighting the French pamphlet collections cataloged as part of our project: the French Revolution Collection (FRC), Louis XVI Trial and Execution Collection, Saint-Sulpice Collection, and Collection of publishers’ prospectuses, catalogs, and other materials.  Politics, Piety, and Poison: French Pamphlets, 1600-1800 is one in a series of Spotlight Exhibits curated by Newberry Library staff that highlight a diverse range of items in the Library’s collection.  The exhibition closes April 13, 2013.  For those who are unable to visit, an online version of the exhibition is in the works.

Politics, Piety, and Poison: French Pamphlets, 1600–1800

Case FRC 16228, La guillotinne
Case FRC 16228, La guillotinne
Monday, January 28, 2013 to Saturday, April 13, 2013

Hermon Dunlap Smith Gallery

This exhibition displays French pamphlets published during the transitional period from the Ancien Régime to the French Revolution. They served as modes of dissemination and diversion, teaching tools and educational models, and the foundation for current and future scholarly projects. The exhibition focuses on the ways in which these pamphlets complement and enhance the Newberry’s other vast collections of primary sources documenting early modern European culture and the history of printing. The Newberry’s outstanding collection of French pamphlets was recently cataloged through a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.

The Wit of French Pamphlets

One thing that has kept me amused throughout this cataloging project has been collecting humorous, entertaining, or witty quotations. As the project ends its final stages, I decided to look back at the lines I felt were worth saving. Sometimes, (as Shawn discussed in her previous post), the item in question has some witty marginalia. More often, whatever it is that caused me to write it down was simply a part of the original document.

Perhaps my favorite example of a manuscript annotation comes from a pamphlet in the French Revolution Collection, the Relation véritable et remarquable du grand voyage du pape en paradis. This pamphlet was part of a vehemently anti-religious series aping Dante’s Divine comedy. The anonymous commentator stated “Il n’y a pas cent ans qu’en France un pamphlet de ce genie eut fait bruler solemnellement son auteur” (Not even 100 years ago a pamphlet of this style would have caused its author to be solemnly burned). The manuscript continues for a while, contemplating how times have changed.

Most of the comments are found in otherwise completely serious pamphlets. The Voyage du comte de Haga, en France is a mostly serious rendition of Gustav III of Sweden’s travels in France under the pseudonym Count Haga. The preface however, simply reads: “Un livre sans préface est une femme de condition sans rouge. Ce principe posé, je dois en crayonner une : la voici.(A book without a preface is like a noblewomen without rouge. This principal stated, I must write one: here it is).

In some pamphlets, I chose to record both a claim and the reader’s counterclaim as they attempted to argue with the author of the pamphlet. For example, in the anti-Jacobin pamphlet Les paradoxes, ou Cinquième dialogue des morts de la révolution, the author of the pamphlet states regarding Charlotte Corday,  Si au lieu d’assassiner Marat au lit de la mort, elle eut enfoncé son coteau dans le cœur de Robespierre, elle n’en eut pas moins commis un crime, mais ce crime eut sauvé 30 mille Français. Robespierre seroit au Panthéon, mais nous aurions 30 mille citoyens de plus.” (If instead of murdering Marat on his deathbed, she [Corday] had planted her knife in the heart of Robespierre, she would have not committed any less of a crime, but this crime would have saved the life of 30 thousand French people. Robespierre would be in the Panthéon, but we would have 30 thousand more citizens). Some former owner took issue with this, adding in their own hand “Le chiffre est peut-être un peu exagère ; n’importe, dans ce nombre il y avait bien quelques partisans du l’ancien régime … ” (The number is perhaps somewhat exagerrated : certainly this number includes some partisans of the Ancien Regime …)

Some of the comments seem like jabs by the publisher to the author, or vice versa. In a note on a playbook for the Grand-bailliage, the editor states “On m’a fourni une très-grande quantité de notes sur les personnages de cette comédie ;  mais je ne suis pas méchant ; & je crois que le public les trouve déjà assez notés” (I was furnished with a very large quantity of notes on the characters in this comedy, but I am not mean, and I believe that the public will find them sufficiently noted already.)

Given the political nature of the French Revolution Collection, there is no shortage of amusing political rhetoric. The title of Case FRC 20391 is “Essai sur quelques changemens qu’on pourroit faire dès-a-présent dans les loix criminelles de France, par un honnête homme qui, depuis qu’il connoît ces loix, n’est pas bien sûr de n’être pas pendu un jour.” (Essai on several changes that can be made up to the present in the criminal laws of France, by an honest man who, since he knew the laws, isn’t completely sure of not being hanged someday)

Sometimes these political sentiments take the form of aphorisms, such as La Pique’s “comme il ne faut pas prendre médecine tous les matins, il ne faut pas non plus d’insurrection tous les jours” (Just as one mustn’t take medicine every morning, one must also not raise insurrection every day, Case FRC 20639) or Faure’s “Sommes-nous les représentans du peuple souverain, ou sommes-nous les représentans souverains du peuple ? ” (Are we the representatives of the sovereign people, or are we the sovereign representatives of the people? Case FRC 18502).

Frequently, the humor is unintentional and derives from the similarities between the author’s rhetoric and the more apoplectic political pundits of the modern age: “C’est mal à propos qu’on donne le nom de citoyens à ces hommes qui, n’ayant rien à perdre, sont disposés à tous les crimes. Les véritables citoyens sont ceux qui ont des posessions, les autres ne sont que des prolétaires ou faiseurs d’enfans, et ceux-ci n’auroient jamais dû être armés, ni voter, que comme en Angleterre. Méprisables soutiens de la licence, clubistes forcenés, Jacobins, que l’amour de la domination aveugle, vous ne serez que trop convaincus de cette dur vérité.” (It is inappropriate to give the name citizen to these men who, having nothing to lose, are disposed towards all crimes. The true citizens are those who have possessions, the others are nothing but proles or baby-makers, and these must never be armed, nor vote, as in England. Despicable supporters of licentiousness, enraged partisans, Jacobins, blinded by the love of domination, you will never be too convinced of this hard truth. Case FRC 14135)

Most of the intentionally humorous comments are not so vitriolic, they use humor as a tool to support their political views or ridicule their enemies. Case FRC 16897 states “On dit: que les jacobins sont des conspirateurs! On dit: ils soutenaient Robespierre. Calomnie atroce! Méchanceté noire! N’est-il pas evident que si nous étions pour Robespierre, le 9 thermidor à huit heurs du soir, nous étions contre lui, le 10 à la meme heure!” (They say that the Jacobins are conspirators. They say, they supported Robespierre. Atrocious slander! Black wickedness! Is it not evident that we supported Robespierre on 9 Thermidor at 8 at night, and we were against him on the tenth at the same time!)

The French pamphlets at the Newberry might not be the world’s greatest source of comedy, but they do serve to contradict the misconception that important historical events are necessarily accompanied by dusty prose or a lack of humor.