When Napoleon the Third came to power, shipments of Mysteres du Peuple were seized and booksellers were prevented from selling them. Many French politicians and writers were forced into exile as a result of the coup; one such exile was Eugene Sue.
The following poem was written by the radical James Bronterre O’Brien and published in place of the frontispiece in the bound volume of George Julian Harney’s short-lived magazine the Vanguard. Battle Song […]
Eugene Sue’s “Mysteries of the People” (1848): “The Poniard’s Hilt” and the Arrival of Feudalism in France | Stephen Basdeo
By Stephen Basdeo, a writer and historian based in Leeds, United Kingdom. This article follows on from previous posts on Eugene Sue’s epic socialist novel Mysteries of the People. In 1848 Karl […]
This pro-democracy poem titled ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’ was written by William Jones in 1875 and published in the socialist People’s Advocate newspaper.
“Democracy, the Idea of the 19th century,” is a great and most welcome fact. This idea has revealed itself at different times, and in different ways.”
It was to me, strange and unaccountable as it may seem, as if I abhorred Neroweg by reason of the future as much as of the present; as if that hatred was to perpetuate itself not only between our two races of Franks and Gauls, but also between our families, individually.
The Capitalist was a socialist poem written in 1850 and printed in George Julian Harney’s Red Republican magazine. It tells of the coming day of vengeance by the working classes against the ruling class.
Socialism “is one of those primordial indestructible ideas, which the hand of God has engraved in human consciences, and which are perpetuated from age to age, and whose development forms an unbroken tradition through the world’s ages.”
What would a Chartist republic look like in practice? Very few Chartist novelists discussed this question in depth, as most of them merely shined a light on social issues of the day. G W M Reynolds, however, used the fictional Italian state of Castelcicala in The Mysteries of London as a ‘laboratory’ in which his progressive theories of government might be tested.
Eugene Sue’s Epic Socialist Novel “The Mysteries of the People” (1848): “The Iron Collar” and “The Silver Cross” | Stephen Basdeo
“this carpenter of Nazareth has an audacity that passes all bounds; he respects nothing, nothing; yesterday ’twas the law, authority, he attacked in their representatives; to-day ‘tis the rich against whom he excites the dregs of the populace. Has he not dared to pronounce these execrable words: ‘It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
It was in the early evening of 26 January 1804 (5 Pluviôse in the Year XII of the French Republic) that several eminent people from French high society were gathered at number 160 Rue Neuve de Luxembourg. Among them was Jean Baptise-François Legros, the Auditor of the Public Treasury. The French military commander Eugène Rose de Beauharnais, who was adopted son of First Consul of the French Republic, Napoleon Bonaparte, was there as well. Also in attendance was Beauharnais’s mother and Napoleon’s wife Josephine Bonaparte—later in this same year, 1804, Napoleon would crown himself Emperor of the French and Josephine would be granted the title of empress. These luminaries of French political and military life were gathered to witness the birth of a child: a novelist who went on to achieve astounding heights of fame in the French literary world–Eugene Sue.
“It graphically traces the special features of class-rule as they have succeeded one another from epoch to epoch, together with the special character of the struggle between the contending classes. The “Law,” “Order,” “Patriotism,” “Religion,” “Family,” etc., etc., that each successive tyrant class, despite its change of form, fraudulently sought refuge in to justify its criminal existence whenever threatened; the varying economic causes of the oppression of the toilers; the mistakes incurred by these in their struggles for redress; the varying fortunes of the conflict;—all these social dramas are therein reproduced in a majestic series of “novels” covering leading and successive episodes in the history of the race—an inestimable gift, above all to our own generation, above all to the American working class.”
St George’s Day seems as fitting time as ever to publish a “new” Robin Hood poem I found titled “Saxon Grit” in the archives of a long-defunct Christian socialist magazine titled The Labour Prophet in 1892.
“Up at the League, says a friend, there had been one night a brisk conversational discussion, as to what would happen on the Morrow of the Revolution, finally shading off into a vigorous statement by various friends of their views on the future of the fully-developed new society … [William Guest] found himself musing on the subject-matter of discussion, but still discontentedly and unhappily. “If I could but see it!” … “If I could but see it! If I could but see it!”
“A plebeian fighting for the poor and rewarded with poverty.”
“The distance is never great between contempt of the laws and open resistance to them.” – Justice Fitzgerald.
If you were a criminal, what would you choose – a life sentence in prison, the death sentence, or to be surgically blinded?
Philip Cunliffe has written a fascinating book which gives an account of how history might have turned out had the goals of early twentieth-century socialists been realised.
By Stephen Basdeo. The popular song “Mack the Knife” was based upon the story of an eighteenth-century highwayman named Captain Macheath. This post traces the literary life of this fictional character.
An Early Socialist History of the Peasants’ Revolt: Charles Edmund Maurice’s “Lives of English Popular Leaders of the Middle Ages” (1875)
Charles Edmund Maurice was a Barrister, History Lecturer, and committed Christian Socialist. In 1875, he authored one of the first socialist histories of the rebellion of 1381.
Robin Hood has always been an awkward socialist figure, but according to William Morris (1834-1896), he prepared the way for the radical preacher, John Ball (d.1381).