Friday, March 16, 2012

Translations from Coeurderoy, Dejacque, Nettlau, etc.

I've just posted working translations of an 1850 appeal "To the Socialist Democrats of the Department of the Seine," signed by various prominent radicals of the day, including Felix Pyat and Ernest Coeurderoy, and Alfred Darimon's "Notice on the Journals of Proudhon," an appendix to his A Travers une Révolution (1884). The first is an interesting look at the plight of exiles even before Louis Napoleon's coup, and the latter gives a little fuller account of the papers that Proudhon collaborated with. I have also posted the opening section of Max Nettlau's biographic notice on Coeurderoy. And here is Joseph Dejacque's speech from the funeral of radical poet Louise Julien. The wind-up at the end is particularly fascinating, being a mix of Fourierist passional science and fire-breathing revolutionary rhetoric.

Discourse Pronounced July 26, 1853
 on the tomb of Louise Julien, exile

by Joseph Déjacque

Again a grave is opened... And this time, it is not a man. It is a woman that exile... that the circus devours to the applause of Caesar and his praetorian rabble.

A poor and valorous woman, a humble martyr for an idea, which, like the Christian idea eighteen centuries ago, when it was a revolutionary idea, — rises in its turn on the fragments of the old idols, a heroic apostle of the social revolution, a woman-Christ! No, your death will not be useless in the reform of society. It is necessary, alas! that women also suffer the tortures of prison and exile, that they are crucified by the dictatorial reactions in order to redeem by suffering and death, — by struggle, — their sisters from submission to man, from the sin of slavery.

Oh! Let the Republic come, and who then would dare to contest equal rights to those who have sealed with their liberty and their blood the confession of their revolutionary faith?

Today it is an obscure female citizen, with the heart and brow of a poet; it is the feeble voice of a woman buried in the depths of the proletariat, but a voice heightened by the idea, a stylus-voice, which makes successful crime pale and shakes a throne bristling with thousands of cannons and a hundred thousand bayonets! It is a sick and infirm woman, who, — her body supported by a crutch, her soul was supported by a thought of the future, — challenged a scepter, and broke under the effort, but did not bend...

Yesterday, it was Pauline Roland, succumbing, like Louise Julien, at the bloody gallows of brutal force. Touching and sublime rivals in heroic sacrifices, vanquished? No. Killed in the bodily struggle, but living and imperishable in the martyrology of socialism, triumphant and dazzling under their torture-victim’s halo with the propaganda which wins hearts and minds by the distressing and dolorous spectacle of their agony and their end.

But it is not today only nor tomorrow that the woman of progress, — the woman, that nature sensible and frail, — pays the minotaur of the resistance her tribute of blood and tears! Just a few years ago, — under another Caesarism, — it was some socialist workers, some chaste young girls, some dignified mothers as well, that were thrown to the wolves in the bilges of the prisons, to those monsters of stone and mud which are called St.-Lazare and Clairvaux! I have seen in 49 — what a horrible thing! — an unfortunate mother restored to liberty and — cruel irony, — to her affections. I saw her ask again and agin in vain for the two little children that had been snatched from her arms the day when she and her husband were each cast into one of the sheds of the prefecture: the upholders of the family no longer knew what had been done with them...

Well! Despite this terrible sacrifice, this butchery of human flesh and feelings that all the governments which pass by spill on the altar of the old society, oh worshippers of force, is there then one of these government saviors which has been able to save themselves for sixty years? The foolish, they devote themselves to the persecution even of women, and they do not notice that it is above all by the martyrdom of women that in the past Christianity was able to invade pagan populations, and that in this way Socialism will conquer the popular masses.

Before this earth covers your shroud, Louise Julien, I salute you, woman, for all the women who, like you, break by strength of heart and thought from the narrow little circle of the family, that collar that grips social sentiments around the throat, — thrust into the great human family and spread there their ineffable and extravagant love, that infinite love that Christ, expiring on the cross, exhaled in a last sigh.

Oh, you whose death was necessary for us to learn about life, sister, whom few of us have know, go! It is not the somber oblivion, the funerary angel which has breathed on your eyes today closed, it is the angel of memory, the angel of renown which, laying you on its robe of light, has kissed you on the forehead, spreading its wings.

Those die who, having lived walled up in a corner of their being, descend into the coffin wrapped in their idiotic selfishness; but when one has lived in humanity and for humanity, when one has left their heart in all hearts, left their tears on all the miseries, left their blood in all the massacres, oh! then, one does not die: the tomb is only the cradle of immortality.

On this grave whose gravedigger is not here, but at the Tuileries, in the salons of the aristocracy, under the frock of the priest and soldier’s coat, on the flagstones of the Exchange and the parquet of the boutiques, under the skull shrunken by mercantilism and agio; on this grave—Well! No!—we will not invoke the furies of vengeance. What would be the good? Socialism does not take revenge; it destroys obstacles—whether men or things—without regard for their past. It does not chastise, it clears away. But, victim that we mourn, I wish at least to embalm you with this wish that I form; and it is to labor without rest and with all my strength for the realization of my dream, the edification of your idea; it is, — contrary to paganism which denies one of the faces of human nature, to Christianity which denies the other, — it is – according to the new science which understands the individual with all its physical and moral sensations, the entire human being — it is, I say, to unite everywhere and always the cause of the proletarians to that of women, the emancipation, the liberation of the first to the emancipation, the liberation of the others; it is to push all those oppressed with the saber and the strong-box, with the toga and the aspergillum, the disinherited of our terrestrial hell, to the hatred and scorn of the exploiters; it is to employ in the service of the social revolution, at the triumph of the egalitarian idea, thoughts and words, arms and action, ink and saltpeter; it is to march, finally, to the overturning of the old society and the promised land of liberty and harmony, the torch in one hand and the blade in the other: the light in one hand in order to spread it, and iron in the other, to guard the worker’s way.


Joseph Déjacque

[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

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