Notes on Simon Ganneau (the Mapah) and Evadisme

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[Obituary]

We notice the death in Paris, a short time ago, of M. Ganneau. To most of our readers this obscure name will awaken no recollections; yet M. Ganneau had thought himself preordained to great things—and had some years ago drawn on himself no small share of public attention in Paris. At a period when new sects were springing up on all sides—when Mormons were crossing the Rocky Mountains, and “unknown tongues” were flourishing in England—he was the founder—we should say, the inventor—of a new religion; which he named “Evadaisme,” and of which he was—to use his own term—the “Mapah.” Evaduisme was a compound of all the dogmas, doctrines and philosophies that have divided mankind :— the word being composed of the two names of our first parents, Adam and Eve. The word Mapah itself we rather fancy was derived from the familiar appellations of mama and papa. From time to time M. Ganneau—who was known in all Paris by his long beard and ample green wrapper—addressed proclamations to the public, in which he announced the coming Evadian era. There had been, he said, three eras in the history of mankind—that of minerality, that of animality, and that of hominality:—another, and a brighter, phasis was at hand. Undaunted by ridicule and unshaken by disappointment, Ganneau remained to the last faithful to the absurd creed of which he was at once the prophet, high priest, and only follower—having sacrificed to its success all his time and such means as he could dispose of. In the latter years of his life, in order to obtain a scanty subsistence he had found it necessary to add to the office of Mapahthe—to him—scarcely more lucrative business of picture-dealer.—It is curious to think with what feelings of bitterness such a would-be benefactor to the human race must have reflected on the ingratitude of his fellow-men.

The Living Age, 29 no 365 (May 17, 1851): 323.

April 16, 1848.

 


FESTIVAL OF ATTIC ROOMS AND THATCHED COTTAGES.

Abolition of the exploitation of man by man.

(Organization of Labor by Association.)

——–

What is a republican? It is a socialist.

What is a socialist? It is a republican.

The wolves have made themselves lambs… Take care that the lambs do not make themselves wolves. — The wolves have shouted at the lambs: Wolf! Wolf!

What is the people? It is the national guard.

What is the national guard? It is the people.

——–

Today, April 16, 1848, the political revolution ends, and the social revolution begins. Be three times blessed, first day of the era of deliverance! By you, French people, Christ-People, Messiah of the peoples, let all the cottages be a castle, all the attic rooms a palace; all the land watered with our sweat, our tears and our blood, the garden of delights!

God is the great artist; from evil, he makes good arise; from the most miniscule causes, the greatest effects; from two grains of dust that collide surge the events of March 17 and April 16. March 17, Thomas, you said: “How many of them are there?” He responded: infinite.

Today, April 16, you say: What do they demand?

They demand their place in the sun, and their share of the banquet social life.

The disinherited, bare-footed, without bread, have made today the first peaceful summons…. Tremble that it not be the last!

They blaspheme, those who say: Down with socialism! Every manifestation of thought is holy… At the time to separate the wheat from the chaff! Let us say: Long live socialism!

Socialism is the beacon of the transition, suspended over the abyss that separates us from the promised land.

Honor! Three times honor to you, socialists who have inscribed on the flag of the people: Abolition of the exploitation of man by man; organization of labor by association. You have given the pediment of the temple of love that will emerge from the ruins of the old world that crumbles.

Let these divine words ring out to the four quarters of the world! Let them be engraved in the heart of all those that live, team and suffer!

They are the bread of life for the starving.

They are the bread of death for the well-fed, who remain seated at the feast of Belshazzar.

Satan (selfishness), at the appearance of the sacred banner, you have understood that your last hour has sounded, you have made your supreme effort; at your infernal breath, the people find themselves armed against the people, brother against brother!

During four hours, you have sharpened the civic bayonets on the breasts of the citizens;

During four hours, the procession of the barefoot, without bread, bearing its offering to the Republic, remained entwined in your web of iron.

During four hours, you set fire to the powder, it was overwhelmed by love;

During four hours, a drop becomes an ocean of blood, a spark a wildfire!..,

Woe! Three time woe on the heads of those who have thus tempted the lord! Before the 16th of April, man is small, God alone is great. He continues the miracle of February 22.

Satan, you are vanquished.

You, you were alone; that was your nothingness; we, armed or not armed, we were all brothers, all one; that is our life.

Yes, all brothers, all one, the foot raised, ready to crush the head!… if you dared to redresser. Yes, Satan, selfishness. We are all free in God, all brothers in God, all equals in God, all one in God, and your reign is over.

Republicans socialists, communists, phalansterians, national guards and soldiers, we are all brothers; the universe has its eyes on us, do not act like the soldiers of Cadmus: do not tear the breast of your divine mother, the Republic, extended at this moment on a bed of sorrow in the labor giving birth to the salvation of the world! It would be a crime of lèse-humanity, sacrilege…

In this hour of agony, the people are calm, yes, calm as a cannon charged with shot…. My God, have pity on us!

The Mapah.

Source: Gaëtan Delmas, Curiosités révolutionnaires: Les journaux rouges.

[Working Translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]


From Alexandre Dumas, My Memoirs, Vol. 5:

CHAPTER VII

Who Gannot was—Mapah—His first miracle—The wedding at Cana—Gannot, phrenologist—Where his first ideas on phrenology came from—The unknown woman—The change wrought in Gannot’s life—How he becomes Mapah


Let us frame M. de Lamennais, the great philosopher, poet and humanitarian, between a false priest and a false god. Christ was crucified after His bloody passion between two thieves. We are now going to relate the adventures and expose the doctrines of Mapah or of the being who was Gannot. He was one of the most eccentric of the gods produced during the years 1831 to 1845. The ancients divided their gods into dii majores and dii minores; Mapah was a minor god. He was not any the less entertaining on that account. The name of Mapah was the favourite title of the god, and the one under which he wished to be worshipped; but, not forgetting that he had been a man before he became a god, he humbly and modestly permitted himself to be called, and at times even called himself, by his own personal name as, he who was Gannot. He had indeed, or rather he had had, two very distinct existences; that of a man and that of a god. The man was born about 1800, or, at all events, he would seem to have been nearly my own age when I knew him. He gave his age out to be then as between twenty-eight and thirty. I was told that, when he became a god, he maintained he had been contemporaneous with all the ages and even to have preexisted, under a double symbolic form, Adam and Eve, in whom he became incarnate when the father and mother of the human race were yet one and the self-same flesh! The man had been an elegant dandy, a fop and frequenter of the boulevard[Pg 168] de Gand, loving horses and adoring women, and an inveterate gambler; he was an adept at every kind of play, specially at billiards. He was as good a billiard player as was Pope Gregory XVI., and supposing the latter had staked his papacy on his skilful play against Gannot, I would assuredly have bet on Gannot. To say that Gannot played billiards better than other games does not mean that he preferred games of skill to those of chance; not at all: he had a passion for roulette, for la rouge et la blanche, for trente-et-un, for le biribi, and, in fact, for all kinds of games of chance. He was also possessed of all the happy superstitious optimism of the gambler: none knew better than he how to puff at a cigar and to creak about in varnished boots upon the asphalted pavements whilst he dreamt of marvellous fortunes, of coaches, tilburys, tandems harnessed to horses shod in silver; of mansions, hotels, palaces, with soft thick carpets like the grass in a meadow; of curtains, of imitation brocades, tapestries, figured silk, crystal lustres and Boule furniture. Unluckily, the gold he won flowed through his extravagant fingers like water. Unceasingly bandied about from misery to abundance, he passed from the goddess of hunger to that of satiety with regal airs that were a delight to witness. Debauchery was none the less pleasing to him, but it had to be debauchery on a huge scale: the feast of Trimalco or the nuptials of Gamacho. But, in other ways, he was a good friend, ever ready to lend a helping hand—throwing his money broadcast, and his heart among the women, giving his life to everybody not suspecting his future divinity, but already performing all kinds of miracles. Such was Gannot, the future Mapah, when I had the honour of making his acquaintance, about 1830 or 1831, at the café de Paris. Still less than he himself could I foretell his future divinity, and, if anybody had told me that, when I left him at two o’clock in the morning to return to my third storey in the rue de l’Université, I had just shaken the hand of a god, I should certainly have been very much surprised indeed.

I have said that even before he became a god, Gannot worked miracles; I will recount one which I almost saw him[Pg 169] do. It was somewhere about 1831—to give the precise date of the year is impossible—and a friend of Gannot, an innocent debtor who was as yet only negotiating his first bill of exchange, went to find Gannot to lay before him his distress in harrowing terms. Gannot was the type of man people always consulted in difficult crises,—his mind was quick in suggestions; he was clear-sighted and steady of hand. Unluckily, Gannot was going through one of his periods of poverty, days when he could have given points even to Job. He began, therefore, by confessing his personal inability to help, and when his friend despaired—

“Bah!” he said, “we have seen plenty of other people in as bad a plight!”

This was a favourite expression with Gannot, who had, indeed, seen all shades of life.

“All very well,” said his friend; “but meantime, how am I to get out of this fix?”

“Have you anything of value you could raise money on, if it were but twenty, ten, or even five francs?”

“Alas!” said the young fellow, “there is only my watch …”

“Silver or gold?”

“Gold.”

“Gold! What did it cost?”

“Two hundred francs; but I shall hardly get sixty for it, and the bill of exchange is for five hundred francs.”

“Go and take your watch to the Mont-de-Piété.”

“And then?”

“Bring back the money they give you for it here.”

“Well?”

“You must give me half of it.”

“After that?”

“Then I will tell you what you must do…. Go, and be sure you do not divert a single son of the amount!”

“The deuce! I shall not think of doing that,” said the friend. And off he ran and returned presently with seventy francs. This was a good beginning. Gannot took it and put it with a grand flourish into his pocket.

“What are you doing?” asked his friend.

“You will soon see.”

“I thought you said we were to halve it …”

“Later … meanwhile it is six o’clock; let us go and have dinner.”

“How are we to dine?”

“My dear fellow, decent folk must have their dinner and dine well in order to give themselves fresh ideas.”

And Gannot took his way towards the Palais-Royal, accompanied by the young man. When there, he entered the Frères-Provençaux. The youth tried faintly to drag Gannot away by the arm, but the latter pinched his hand tight as in a vice and the young man was obliged to follow. Gannot chose the menu and dined valiantly, to the great uneasiness of his friend; the more dainty the dishes the more he left on his plate untasted. The future Mapah ate enough for both. The Rabelaisian quarter of an hour arrived, and the bill came to thirty-five francs. Gannot flung a couple of louis on the table. They were going to give him the change.

“Keep it—the five francs are for the waiter,” he said.

The young man shook his head sadly.

“That is not the way,” he muttered below his breath, “to pay my bill of exchange.”

Gannot did not appear to notice either his murmurs or his headshakings. They went out, Gannot walking in front, with a toothpick in his mouth; the friend followed silently and gloomily, like some resigned victim. When they reached la Rolonde, Gannot sat down, drew a chair within his friend’s reach, struck the marble table with the wood of the framework that held the daily paper, ordered two cups of coffee, an inn-full of assorted liqueurs and the best cigars they possessed. The total amounted to five francs. There were then but twenty-five francs left over from the seventy. Gannot put ten in his friend’s hand and restored the remaining fifteen to his pocket.

“What now?” asked his friend.

“Take the ten francs,” replied Gannot; “go upstairs to that[Pg 171] house you see opposite, No. 113; be careful not to mistake the storey, whatever you do!”

“What is the house?”

“It is a gambling-house.”

“I shall have to play, then?”

“Of course you must! And at midnight, whatever your gains or losses, bring them here. I shall be there.”

The young man had by this time reached such a pitch of utter exhaustion that, if Gannot had told him to go and fling himself into the river, he would have gone. He carried out Gannot’s instructions to the letter. He had never put foot in a gaming-house before; fortune, it is said, favours the innocent beginner: he played and won. At a quarter to twelve—for he had not forgotten the injunctions of the master for whom he began to feel a sort of superstitious reverence—he went away with his pockets full of gold and his heart bursting with joy. Gannot was walking up and down the passage which led to the Perron, quietly smoking his cigar. From the farthest distance when he first caught sight of him, the youth shouted—

“Oh! my friend, such good luck! I have won fifteen hundred francs; when my bill of exchange is paid I shall still have a thousand francs!… Let me embrace you; I owe you my very life.”

Gannot gently checked him with his hand, and told him to moderate his transports of gratitude.

“Ah! now,” he said, “we can indeed go and have a glass of punch, can we not?”

“A glass of punch? A bowl, my friend, two bowls! As much as ever you like, and havanas ad libitum! I am rich; when my bill of exchange is paid, my watch redeemed, I shall still have …”

“You have told me all that before.”

“Upon my word, I am so pleased I cannot repeat it often enough, dear friend!” And the young man gave himself up to shouts of immoderate joy, whilst Gannot regally climbed the stairs which led to the Hollandais, the only one left open after midnight. It was full. Gannot called for the waiters.[Pg 172] One waiter appeared. “I asked for the waiters,” said Gannot. He fetched three who were in the ice-house and they roused up two who had already gone to bed—fifteen came in all. Gannot counted them.

“Good!” he said. “Now, waiters, go from table to table and ask the gentlemen and ladies at them what they would like to take.”

“Then, monsieur …”

“I will pay for it!” Gannot replied, in lordly tones.

The joke was acceded to and was, indeed, thought to be in very good taste; only the friend laughed at the wrong side of his mouth as he watched the consumption of liqueurs, coffee and glorias. Every table was like a liquid volcano, with lava of punch flowing out of the middle of its flames. The tables filled up again and the new arrivals were invited by the amphitryon to choose whatever they liked from the carte; ices, liqueurs, syphons of lemonade, everything, even to soda-water. Finally, at three o’clock, when there was not a single glass of brandy left in the establishment, Gannot called for the bill. It came to eighteen hundred francs. What about the bill of exchange now?… The young man, feeling more dead than alive, mechanically put his hand into his pocket, although he knew very well that it did not contain more than fifteen hundred francs; but Gannot opened his pocket-book and pulled out two notes of a thousand francs, and blowing them apart—

“Here, waiters,” he said, “the change is for your attendance.”

And, turning to his pupil, who was quite faint by this time, and who had been nudging his arm the whole night or treading on his toes—

“Young man,” he said to him, “I wanted to give you a little lesson…. To teach you that a true gambler ought not to be astonished at his winnings, and, above all, he should make bold use of them.” With the fifteen francs he had kept of his friend’s money, he, too, had played, and had won two thousand francs. We have seen how they were spent. This was his miracle of the marriage of Cana.

But, as may well be understood, this hazardous fortune-making had its cruel reverses; Gannot’s life was full of crises; he always lived at extremes of excitement. More than once during this stormy existence the darkest thoughts crossed his mind. To become another Karl Moor or Jean Sbogar or Jaromir, he formed all kinds of dreadful plans. To attack travellers by the highway and to fling on to the green baize tables gold pieces stained with blood, was, during more than one fit of despair, the dream of feverish nights and the terrible hope of his morrows!

“I went stumbling,” he said, after his divinity had freed him from all such gloomy human chimeras, “along the road of crime, knocking my head here and there against the guillotine’s edge; I had to go through all these experiences; for from the lowest blackguard was to emerge the first of reformers!”

To the career of gambling he added another, less risky. Upon the boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle, where he then lived, the passers-by might observe a head as signpost. Upon its bald head some artist had painted in blue and red the cerebral topography of the talents, feelings and instincts; this cabalistic head indicated that consultations on phrenology were given within. Now, it is worth while to tell how Gannot attained the zenith of the science of Gall and of Spurzheim. He was the son of a hatter, and, when a child, had noticed in his father’s shop the many different shapes of the hands corresponding to the diverse shapes of people’s heads. He had thereupon originated a system of phrenology of his own, which, later, he developed by a superficial study of anatomy. Gannot was a doctor, or, more correctly speaking, a sanitary inspector; what he had learnt occupied little room in his memory, but, gifted as he was with fine and discerning tact, he analysed, by means of a species of clairvoyance, the characters and heads with which he had to deal. One day, when overwhelmed by a loss of money at the gaming-table and seeing only destitution and despair ahead of him, he had given way to dark resolutions, a fashionable and beautiful young woman of wealth got down from her carriage, ascended his stairs and knocked at his[Pg 174] door. She came to ask the soothsayer to tell her fortune by her head. Though a splendid creature, Gannot saw neither her, nor her beauty, nor her troubles and wavering blushes; she sat down, took off her hat, uncovered her lovely golden hair, and let her head be examined by the phrenologist. The mysterious doctor passed his hands carelessly through the golden waves. His mind was elsewhere. There was nothing, however, more promising than the surfaces and contours which his skilful hand discovered as he touched them. But, when he came to the spot at the base of the skull which is commonly called the nape, which savants call the organ of amativity, whether she had seen Gannot previously or whether from instantaneous and magnetic sympathy, the lady burst into tears and flung her arms round the future Mapah’s neck, exclaiming—

“Oh! I love you!”

This was quite a new light in the life of this man. Until that time Gannot had known women; he had not known woman. His life of mad debauchery, of gambling, violent emotions, spent on the pavements of the boulevards, and in the bars of houses of ill-fame, and among the walks of the bois, was followed by one of retirement and love; for he loved this beautiful unknown woman to distraction and almost to madness. She was married. Often, after their hours of delirious ecstacy, when the moment of parting had to come, when tears filled their eyes and sobs their breasts, they plotted together the death of the man who was the obstacle to their intoxicating passion; but they got no further to the completion of crime than thinking of it. She wished at least to fly with him; but, on the very day they had arranged to take flight, she arrived at Gannot’s house with a pocket-book full of bank notes stolen from her husband. Gannot was horrified with the theft and declined the money. Next day she returned with no other fortune than the clothes she wore, not even a chain of gold round her neck or a ring on her finger. And then he took her away. Complicated by this fresh element in his life, he took his flight into more impossible regions than ever before; his was the type of nature which is carried away by all kinds of[Pg 175] impulses. If the principle M. Guizot lays down be true: “Bodies always fall on the side towards which they incline,” the Mapah was bound to fall some day or other, for he inclined to many sides! Gambling and love admirably suited the instincts of that eccentric life; but gambling—houses were closed! And the woman he loved died! Then was it that the god was born in him from inconsolable love and the suppressed passion for play. He was seized by illness, during which the spirit of this dead woman visited him every night, and revealed to him the doctrines of his new religion. Haunted by the hallucinations of love and fever, Gannot listened to himself in the voice which spoke within him. But he was no longer Gannot, he was transfigured.


CHAPTER VIII

The god and his sanctuary—He informs the Pope of his overthrow—His manifestoes—His portrait—Doctrine of escape—Symbols of that religion—Chaudesaigues takes me to the Mapah—Iswara and Pracriti—Questions which are wanting in actuality—War between the votaries of bidja and the followers of sakti—My last interview with the Mapah


In 1840, in the old Ile Saint Louis which is lashed by bitter and angry winds from the north and west, upon the coldest quay of that frigid Thule—terrarum ultima Thule—on a dark and dingy ground-floor, in a bare room, a man was moulding and casting in plaster. That man was the one-time Gannot. The room served both as studio and school; pupils came and took lessons in modelling there and to consult the Mapah. This was the name, as we have already said, under which Gannot went in his new existence. From this room was sent the first manifesto in which he who had been Gannot proclaimed his mission to the world. Who was surprised by it? Pope Gregory XVI. certainly was, when he received, on his sovereign throne, a letter dated from our apostolic pallet-bed, which announced that his time was over; that, from henceforth, he was to look upon himself as dethroned, and, in fact, that he was superseded by another. This polite duty fulfilled with regard to his predecessor, Gannot, in all simplicity, announced to his friends that they must look upon him as the god of the future. Gannot had been the leader of a certain school of thought for two or three years past; amongst his followers were Félix Pyat, Thoré, Chaudesaigues, etc. etc. His sudden transformation from Gannot to Mapah, his declaration to the Pope, and his presumption in posing as a revealer, alienated his former disciples; it was the durus his sermo. Nevertheless, he maintained[Pg 177] unshaken belief in himself and continued his sermons; but as these oral sermons were insufficient and he thought it necessary to add to them a printed profession of faith, one day he sold his wearing apparel and converted the price of it into manifestoes of war against the religion of Christ, which he distributed among his new disciples.

After the sale of his wardrobe, the habits of the ci-devant lion entirely disappeared, as his garments had done. In his transition from Gannot to Mapah, everything that constituted the former man vanished: a blouse replaced, for both summer and winter, the elegant clothes which the past gambler used to wear; a grey felt hat covered his high and finely-shaped forehead. But, seen thus, he was really beautiful: his blue-grey eyes sparkled with mystic fire; his finely chiselled nose, with its delicately defined outlines, was straight and pure in form; his long flowing beard, bright gold coloured, fell to his chest; all his features, as is usual with thinkers and visionaries, were drawn up towards the top of his head by a sort of nervous tension; his hands were white and fine and distinguished-looking, and, with a remnant of his past vanity as a man of the world, he took particular care of them; his gestures were not by any means without commanding power; his language was eloquent, impassioned, picturesque and original. The prophet of poverty, he had adopted its symbols; he became a proletarian in order to reach the hearts of the lower classes; he donned the working-man’s blouse to convert the wearers of blouses. The Mapah was not a simple god—he was a composite one; he was made up of Saint Simon, of Fourier and of Owen. His chief dogma was the extremely ancient one of Androgynism, i.e. the unity of the male and female principle throughout all nature, and the unity of the man and the woman in society. He called his religion EVADISME, i.e. (Eve and Adam); himself he called MAPAH, from mater and pater; and herein he excelled the Pope, who had never even in the palmiest days of the papacy, not even under Gregory VII., been anything more than the father of Christians, whilst he was both father and mother of humanity. In his system people had not to take simply[Pg 178] the name of their father, but the first syllable of their mother’s name combined with the first syllable of that of their father. Once the Mapah addressed himself thus to his friend Chaudesaigues—

“What is your name?”

“Chaudesaigues.”

“What does that come from?”

“It is my father’s name.”

“Have you then killed your mother, wretched man?”

Chaudesaigues lowered his head: he had no answer to give to that.

In Socialism Mapah’s doctrine was that of dissent. According to him assassins, thieves and smugglers were the living condemnation of the moral order against which they were rebelling. Schiller’s Brigands he looked upon as the most complete development of his theory to be found in the world. Once he went to a home for lost women and collected them together, as he had once collected the waiters of the Hollandais in the days of his worldly folly; then, addressing the poor creatures who were waiting with curiosity, wondering who this sultan could be who wanted a dozen or more wives at a time—

“Mesdemoiselles,” he said, “do you know what you are?”

“Why, we are prostitutes,” the girls all replied together.

“You are wrong,” said the Mapah; “you are Protestants.” And in words which were not without elevation and vividness, he expounded to them the manner in which they, poor girls, protested against the privileges of respectable women. It need hardly be said that, as this doctrine spread, it led to some disquietude in the minds of magistrates, who had not attained the heights of the new religion, but were still plunged in the darkness of Christianity. Two or three times they brought the Mapah before the examining magistrates and threatened him with a trial; but the Mapah merely shook his blouse with his fine nervous hand, as the Roman ambassador used to shake his toga.

[Pg 179]

“Imprison me, try me, condemn me,” he said; “I shall not appeal from the lower to a higher tribunal; I shall appeal from Pilate to the People!”

And, in fact, whether they stood in awe of his beard, his blouse or his speech, which was certainly captivating; whether they were unable to arrive at a decision as to what court the new religion should be judged at—police court or Court of Assizes—they left the Mapah in peace.

The most enthusiastic of the Evadian apostles was he who was once Caillaux, who published the Arche de la nouvelle alliance. He was the Mapah’s Saint John; the Arche de la nouvelle alliance was the gospel which told the passion of Humanity to whose rescue the Christ of the Ile Saint Louis was come. We will devote a chapter to that gospel. The Mapah himself wrote nothing, except two or three manifestoes issued from his apostolic pallet, in which he announced his apostolate to the modern world; he did nothing but pictures and plaster-casts that looked like originals dug out of a temple of Isis. Taking his religion back to its source, he showed by his two-fold symbolism, how it had developed from age to age, fertilising the whole of nature, till, finally, it culminated in himself. The whole of the history was written in hieroglyphic signs, had the advantage of being able to be read and expounded by everybody and treated of Buddhism, Paganism and Christianity before leading up to Evadism. In the latter years of the reign of Louis-Philippe, the Mapah sent his allegorical pictures and symbols in plaster to the members of the Chamber of Deputies and to the Royal Family; it will be readily believed that the members of the Chamber and royal personages left these lithographs and symbols in the hands of their ushers and lackeys, with which to decorate their own attics. The Mapah trembled for their fate.

“They scoff,” he said in prophecy: “MANÉ, THÉCEL, PHARÈS; evil fortune will befall them!”

What did happen to them we know.

One day Chaudesaigues—poor honest fellow, who died long before his time, which I shall speak of in its place—proposed[Pg 180] to take me to the Mapah, and I accepted. He recognised me, as he had once dined or taken supper with me in the days when he was Gannot; and he had preserved a very clear memory of that meeting; he was very anxious at once to acquaint me with his symbolic figures, and to initiate me, like the Egyptian proselytes, into his most secret mysteries. Now, I had, by chance, just been studying in earnest the subjects of the early ages of the world and its great wars, which apparently devastated those primitive times without seeming reason; I was, therefore, in a measure, perfectly able not only to understand the most obscure traditions of the religion of the Mapah, but also to explain them to others, which I will now endeavour to do here.

At the period when the Celts had conquered India, that ancestor of Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilisations, they found a complete system of physical and metaphysical sciences already established; Atlantic cosmogony related to absolute unity, and, according to it, everything emanated from one single principle, called Iswara, which was purely spiritual. But soon the Indian savants perceived with fear, that this world, which they had looked upon for long as the product of absolute unity, was incontestably that of a combined duality. They might have looked upon these two principles, as did the first Zoroaster a long time after them, as principiési.e. as the son and daughter of Iswara, thus leaving the ancient Iswara his old position, by supporting him on a double column of creating beings, as we see a Roman general being carried raised up on two shields by his soldiers; but they wished to divide these two principles into principiant principles; they therefore satisfied themselves by joining a fresh principle to that of Iswara, by mating Iswara with Pracriti, or nature. This explained everything. Pracriti possessed the saktii.e. the conceptive power, and the old Iswara was the bidja or generative power.

I think, up to now, I have been as clear as possible, and I mean to try to continue my explanations with equal lucidity; which will not be an easy matter seeing that (and I am happy[Pg 181] to give my reader due warning of it) we are dealing only with pure science, of which fact he might not be aware.

This early discovery of the Indian savants, which resulted in the marriage of Iswara with Pracriti, led to the consideration of the universe as the product of two principles, each possessing its own peculiar function of the male and female qualities. Iswara and Pracriti stood for Adam and Eve to the whole of the universe, not simply for humanity. This system, remarkable by its very simplicity, which attracted men by giving to all that surrounded him an origin similar to his own, is to be found amongst most races, which received it from the Hindus. Sanchoniathon calls his male principle Hypsistos, the Most High, and his female principle Berouth, nature; the Greeks call this male principle Saturn, and their female principle Rhea; both one and the other correspond to Iswara and Pracriti. All went well for several centuries; but the mania for controversy is innate in man, and it led to the following questions, which the Hindu savants propounded, and which provoked the struggle of half the human race against the other.

“Since,” say the controversials, “the universe is the result of two principiant powers, one acting with male, the other with female qualities, must we then consider the relations that they bear to one another? Are they independent one of the other? are they pre-existent to matter and contemporaneous with eternity? Or ought we rather to look upon one of them as the procreative cause of its companion? If they are independent, how came they to be reunited? Was it by some coercive force? If so, what divinity of greater power than themselves exercised that pressure upon them? Was it by sympathy? Why, then, did it not act either earlier or later? If they are not independent of one another, which of the two is to be under subjection to the other? Which is first in order of antiquity or of power? Did Iswara produce Pracriti or Pracriti Iswara? Which of them acts with the greatest energy and is the most necessary to the procreation of inanimate things and animate beings? Which should be called first in the sacrifices made to them or in the hymns addressed to[Pg 182] them? Ought the worship offered them to be combined or separated? Ought men and women to raise separate altars to them or one for both together?”[1]

These questions, which have divided the minds of millions of men, which have caused rivers of blood to flow, nowadays sound idle and even absurd to our readers, who hear Hindu religion spoken of as mere mythology, and India as some far-off planet; but, at the time of which we are now speaking, the Indian Empire was the centre of the civilised world and master of the known world. These questions, then, were of the highest importance. They circulated quietly in the empire at first, but soon each one collected quite a large enough number of partisans for the religious question to appear under a political aspect. The supreme priesthood, which at first had begun by holding itself aloof from all controversy, sacrificed equally to Iswara and to Pracriti—to the generative power and to the conceptive power: sacerdotalism, which had long remained neutral between the bidja and the sakti principles, was compelled to decide, and as it was composed of men—that is to say of the generative power, it decided in favour of males, and proclaimed the dominance of the masculine sex over the feminine. This decision was, of course, looked upon as tyrannical by the Pracritists, that is, the followers of the conceptive power theory; they revolted. Government rose to suppress the revolution and, hence, the declaration of civil war. Figure to yourselves upon an immense scale, in an empire of several hundreds of millions of men, a war similar to that of the Albigenses, the Vaudois or the Protestants. Meantime two princes of the reigning dynasty,[2] both sons of King Ongra, the oldest called Tarak’hya, the youngest Irshou, divided the Indian Empire between them, less from personal conviction than to make proselytes. One took bija for his standard, the other took sakti. The followers of each of these two symbols rallied at the same time under their leaders, and India had a political and civil and religious war; Irshou, the[Pg 183] younger of the two brothers, having positively declared that he had broken with sacerdotalism and intended to worship the feminine or conceptive faculty, as the first cause in the universe, according priority to it and pre-eminence over the generative or masculine faculty. A political war can be ended by a division of territory; a religious war is never-ending. Sects exterminate one another and yet are not convinced. A deadly, bitter, relentless war, then, ravaged the empire. As Irshou represented popular opinion and the Socialism of the time, and his army was largely composed of herdsmen, they called his followers the pallis, that is to say, shepherds, from the Celtic word pal, which means shepherd’s crook. Irshou was defeated by Tarak’hya, and driven back as far as Egypt. The Pallis there became the stock from which those primitive dynasties sprang which lasted for two hundred and sixty-one years, and are known as the dynasties of Shepherd Kings. The etymology this time is palpably evident; therefore, let us hope we shall not meet with any contradiction on this head. Now, we have stated that Irshou took as his standard the symbol which represented the divinity he had worshipped; that sign, in Sanscrit, was called yoni, from whence is derived yoneh—which means a dove—this explains, we may point out in passing, why the dove became the bird of Venus. The men who wore the badge of the yoni were called Yoniens, and, as they always wore it symbolically depicted on a red flag, red or purple became, at Tyre and Sidon and in Greece, the royal colour, and was adopted by the consuls and emperors and popes of Rome and, finally, by all reigning princes, no matter what race they were descended from or what religion they professed. My readers may assume that I am rather pleased to be able to teach kings the derivation of their purple robes.

Well, then, it was on account of his studying these great questions of dispute, which had lasted more than two thousand years and had cost a million of men’s lives; it was from fear lest they should be revived in our days that the philanthropic Gannot endeavoured to found a religion, under the title of Evadism which was to reunite these two creeds into a single one. To[Pg 184] that end were his strange figures moulded in plaster and the eccentric lithographs that he designed and executed upon coloured paper, with the earnestness of a Brahmin disciple of bidja or an Egyptian adherent of sakti.[3]

The joy of the Mapah can be imagined when he found I was acquainted with the primitive dogmas of his religion and with the disasters which the discussion of those doctrines had brought with them. He offered me the position of his chief disciple, on the spot, in place of him who had once been Caillaux; but I have ever been averse to usurpation, and had no intention of devoting myself to a principle, by my example, which, some day or other, I should be called upon to oppose. The Mapah next offered to abdicate in my favour and himself be my head disciple. The position did not seem to me sufficiently clearly defined, in the face of both spiritual and temporal powers, to accept that offer, fascinating though it was. I therefore contented myself with carrying away from the Mapah’s studio one of the most beautiful specimens of the bidja and sakti, promising to exhibit them in the most conspicuous place in my sitting-room, which I took good care not to do, and then I departed. I did not see the Mapah again until after the Revolution of 24 February, when, by chance, I met him in the offices of the Commune de Paris, where I went to ask for the insertion of an article on exiles in general, and those of the family of Orléans in particular. The article had been declined by the chief editor of the Liberté, M. Lepoitevin-Saint-Alme. The revolution predicted by Gannot had come. I expected, therefore, to find him overwhelmed with delight; and, as a matter of fact, he did praise the three days of February, but with a faint voice and dulled feelings; he seemed to be singularly enfeebled by that strange and sensual mysticism, which presented every event to his mind in dogmatic form. The lines of the upper part of his face were more deeply drawn towards his prominent forehead, and his whole person bespoke the visionary in whom the hallucination of being a god had degenerated into a disease.

He defined the terror of the middle classes at the events of 24 February and Socialistic doctrines as, “the frantic terror of the pig which feels the cold edge of the knife at its throat.” His latter years were sad and gloomy; he ended by doubting himself. Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani! rang in his aching and disillusioned heart like a death-knell. During the last year of his life his only pupil was an Auvergnat, a seller of chestnuts in a passage-way…. And to him the dying god bequeathed the charge of spreading his doctrines. This event took place towards the beginning of the year 1851.


[1] The Abbé d’Olivet, État social de l’homme.

[2] See the Scanda-Pousana and the Brahmanda for the details of this war.

[3] In Sanscrit linga and yoni; in Greek ϕαλλος and χοίρο


CHAPTER IX

Apocalypse of the being who was once called Caillaux


We said a few words of the apostle of Mapah and promised to follow him to his isle of Patmos and to give some idea of his apocalypse. We will keep our word. It was no easy matter to find this apocalypse, my reader may judge; it had been published at the trouble and expense of Hetzel, under the title of Arche de la nouvelle Alliance. Not that Hetzel was in the very least a follower of the Evadian religion—he was simply the compatriot and friend of him who was Caillaux, to which twofold advantages he owed the honour of dining several times with the god Mapah and his disciple. It is more than likely that Hetzel paid for the dinners himself.

ARCHE DE LA NOUVELLE ALLIANCE

“I have not come to say to the people, ‘Render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s and to God the things that are God’s,’ but I have come to tell Cæsar to render to God the things that belong to God! ‘What is God?—God, is the People!—The Mapah.‘ At the hour when shadows deepen I saw the vision of the last apostle of a decaying religion and I exclaimed—

I

“‘Why dost thou grieve, O king! and why dost thou moan over thy ruined crown? Why rise up against those who dethroned thee? If thou fallest to-day, it is because thy hour has come: to attempt to prolong it for a day, is but to offer insult to the Majesty in the heavens.

II

“‘Everything that exists here below has it not its phases of life and of death? Does the vegetation of the valleys always flourish? After the season of fine days does it not come to pass that some morning the autumn wind scatters the leaves of the beeches?

III

“‘Cease, then, O King! thy lamentation and do not be perturbed in thy loneliness! Be not surprised if thy road is deserted and if the nations keep silence during thy passing as at the passing of a funeral cortège: thou hast not failed in thy mission; simply, thy mission is done. It is destiny!

IV

“‘Dost thou not know that humanity only lives in the future? What does the present care about the oriflamme of Bouvines? Let us bury it with thy ancestors lying motionless beneath their monuments; another banner is needed for the men of to-day.

V

“‘And when we have sealed with a triple seal the stone which covers up past majesty, let us do obeisance as did the people of Memphis before the silence of their pyramids, those mute giants of the desert; but like them do not let us remain with our foreheads in the dust, but from the ruins of ancient creeds let us spring upwards towards the Infinite! Thus did I sing during the dawn of my life. A poet, I have ever pitied noble misfortune; as son of the people, I have never abjured renown. At that time this world appeared to me to be free and powerful under heaven, and I believed that the last salute of the universe to the phantom of ancient days would be its first aspiration towards future splendours. But it was nothing of the kind. The past, whilst burying itself under the earth, had not drawn all its procession of dark shades with it. Now I went to those bare strands which the ocean bleaches with its foam. The seagulls hailed the rocks of the coast with their harsh cries, and the mighty voice of the sea sounded more sweetly to my ear than the language of men …'”

Then follows the apostle’s feelings under the influence of the[Pg 188] great aspects of Nature; he stays a year far from Paris; then at last his vocation recalls him among men.

“Now, the very night of my return from my wanderings, I walked a dreamer in the midst of the roar of that great western city, my soul more than ever crushed beneath the weight of its ruin. I beheld myself as during my happiest years when I was full of confidence in God and the future; and then I turned my glance upon myself, the man of the present moment, for ever tossed between hope and fear, between desire and remorse, between calm and discouragement. When I had well contemplated myself thus, and had by thought stirred up the mud of the past and had considered the good and evil that had emanated from me, I raised in inexpressible anger my fist towards heaven, and I said to God: ‘To whom, then, does this earth belong?’ At the same moment, I felt myself hustled violently, and by an irresistible movement I lowered my arm to strike—in striking the cheek of him who was jostling me, I felt I was smiting the world. Oh! what a surprise! my hand, instead of beating his face, encountered his hand; a loving pressure drew us together, and in grave and solemn tones he said: ‘The water, the air, the earth and fire belong to none—they are God’s!’ Then, uncovering the folds of the garment which covered my breast, he put a finger on my heart and a brilliant flame leapt out and I felt relief. Overcome with amazement, I exclaimed—

“‘Who art thou, whose word strengthens and whose touch regenerates?’

‘Thou shalt know, this very night!’ he replied, and went on his way.

“I followed and examined him at leisure: he was a man of the people, with a crooked back and powerful limbs; an untrimmed beard fell over his breast, and his bare and nearly bald head bore witness to hard work and rude passions. He carried a sack of plaster on his back which bowed him down beneath its weight. Thus bent he passed through the crowd….”

The disciple then followed the god; for this man who had comforted him was the Mapah; he followed him to the threshold of his studio, into which he disappeared. It was the same studio to which Chaudesaigues had taken me, on the[Pg 189] quai Bourbon, in the Ile Saint Louis. The door of the studio soon reopened and the apostle entered and was present at the revelation, which the Mapah had promised him. But, first of all, there was the discovery of the Mapah himself.

“Meanwhile, the owner of this dwelling had none of the bearing of a common working-man. He was, indeed, the man of the sack of plaster, and the uncut beard, and torn blouse, who had accosted me in such an unexpected fashion; he had exactly the same powerful glance, the same breadth of shoulders, the same vigorous loins, but on that furrowed brow, and in those granite features and that indescribable personality of the man there hovered a rude dignity before which I bowed my head.

“I advanced towards my host, who was laid on a half-broken bed, lighted up by a night lamp in a pot of earth. I said—

“‘Master, you whose touch heals and whose words restore, who are you?’

“Lifting his eyes to me, he replied simply, ‘There is no master now; we are all children of God: call me brother.’

“‘Then,’ I replied, ‘Brother, who then are you?’

“‘I am he who is. Like the shepherd on the tops of the cliffs I have heard the cry of the multitude; it is like the moan of the waves at the winter equinox; that cry has pierced my heart and I have come.’

“Motioning me to come nearer, he went on—

“‘Son of doubt, who art sowing sorrow and reaping anguish, what seekest thou? The sun or darkness? Death or life? Hope or the grave?’

“‘Brother, I seek after truth,’ I replied. ‘I have hailed the past, I have questioned its abysmal depths whence came the rumours that had reached me: the past was deaf to my cries.’

“‘The past was not to hear you. Every age has had its own prophets, and each country its monuments; but prophets and monuments have vanished like shadows: what was life yesterday is to-day but death. Do not then evoke the past, let it fall asleep in the darkness of its tombs in the dust of its solitary places.’

“I went on—’I questioned the present amidst the flashes and deceptions of this century, but it did not hear me either.’

“‘The present was not to hear you; its flashes do but precede the storm, and its law is not the law of the future.’

“‘Brother, what then is this law? What are the showers that make it blossom, and what sun sheds light upon it?’

“‘God will teach thee.’

“Pointing to me to be seated near to him, he added:

‘Sit down and listen attentively, for I will declare the truth unto you. I am he who crieth to the people, “Watch at the threshold of your dwelling and sleep not: the hour of revelation is at hand …”‘

“At that moment the earth trembled, a hurricane beat against the window panes, belfries rang of themselves; the disciple would fain flee, but fear riveted him to the master’s side. He continued—

“I foreboded that something strange would take place before me, and indeed as the knell of the belfry rang out on the empty air, a song which had no echo in mortal tongue, abrupt, quick and laden with indefinable mockery, answered him from under the earth, and rising from note to note, from the deepest to the shrillest tones, it resounded and rebounded like some wounded snake, and grated like a saw being sharpened; finally, ever decreasing, ever-growing feebler, until it was lost at last in space. And this is the burden of the song—

“‘Behold the year ’40, the famous year ’40 has come! Ah! ah! ah! What will it bring forth? What will it produce? An ox or an egg? Perhaps one, perhaps the other! ah! ah! ah! Peasants turn up your sleeves! And you wealthy, sweep your hearthstones. Make way, make way for the year ’40! The year ’40 is cold and hungry and in need of food; and no wonder! Its teeth chatter, its limbs shiver, its children have no shoes, and its daughters possess not even a ribbon to adorn their locks on Sunday; they have not even a beggarly dime lying idle in their poverty-stricken pockets to buy drink wherewith to refresh themselves and their lovers! Ah! ah! what wretchedness! Were it not too dreadful it would seem ludicrous. Did you come here, gossip, to see this topsy-turvy world? Come quickly, there is room for all…. Stay, you raven looking in at the window, and that vulture beating its wings. Ah! ah! ah! The year ’40 is cold, is an hungered, in need of food! What will it bring forth …?’

“And the song died away in the distance, and mingled with the murmur of the wind which was wailing without….

“Then began the apparitions. There were twelve of them, all livid and weighted with chains and bleeding, each holding its dissevered head in its hand, each wrapped in a shroud, green with the moss of its sepulchre, each carrying in front of it the[Pg 191] mark of the twelve great passions, the mystic link which unites man to the Creator. They advanced as some dark shadow of night falls upon the mountains. It was one of those terrifying groups, which one sees in the days of torment, in the midst of the cross-roads of the seething city; the citizens question one another by signs, and ask each other—

“‘Do you see those awful faces down there? Who on earth are those men, and how come they to wander spectre-like among the excited crowd?’

“And on the head of the one who walked first, like that of an overthrown king, so splendid was its pallor and its regal lips scornful, a crown of fire was burning with this word written in letters of blood, ‘Lacenairisme!‘ Dumb and led by the figure who seemed to be their king, the phantoms grouped themselves in a semi-circle at the foot of the dilapidated bed, as though at the foot of some seat of justice; and he who is, after fixing his earnest glance upon them for some moments questioned them in the following terms—

“‘Who are you?’

“‘Sorrow’s elect, apostles of hunger.’

“‘Your names?’

“‘A mysterious letter.’

“‘Whence come you?’

“‘From the shades.’

“‘What do you demand?’

“‘Justice.’

“The echoes repeated, ‘Justice!’

“And at a signal from their king, the phantoms intoned a ringing hymn in chorus …”

It had a kind of awful majesty in it, a sort of grand terror, but we will reserve our space for other quotations which we prefer to that. The apostle resumed—

“The pale phantoms ceased, their lips became motionless and frozen, and round the accursed brows of these lost children of the grave, there seemed to hover indistinctly the bloody shadow of the past. Suddenly from the base to the top of this mysterious ladder issued a loud sound, and fresh faces appeared on the threshold…. A red shirt, a coarse woollen cap, a poor pair of linen trousers soiled with sweat and powder; at the feet was a brass cannon-ball, in its hands were clanking chains; these accoutrements stood for the symbols of all kinds[Pg 192] of human misfortunes. As if they had been called up by their predecessors, they entered and bowed amicably to them. I noticed that each face bore a look of unconcern and of defiance, each carefully hid a rusty dagger beneath its vestments, and on their shoulders they bore triumphantly a large chopping-block still dyed with dark stains of blood. And on this block leant a man with a drunken face and tottering legs, grotesquely supporting himself on the worn-out handle of an axe. And this man, gambolling and gesticulating, mumbled in a nasal tone, a kind of lament with this refrain—

“‘Voici l’autel et le bedeau!
À sa barbe faisons l’orgie;
Jusqu’à ce que sur notre vie,
Le diable tire le rideau,
Foin de l’autel et du bedeau!’

“And his companions took up the refrain in chorus to the noise of their clashing chains. Which perceiving he who is spread his hands over the dreadful pageant. There took place a profound silence; then he said—

“‘My heart, ocean of life, of grief and of love, is the great receptacle of the new alliance into which fall its tears and sweat and blood; and by the tears which have watered, by the sweat which has dropped, by the blood which has become fertile, be blessed, my brothers, executed persons, convicts and sufferers, and hope—the hour of revelation is at hand!’

‘What!’ I exclaimed in horror; ‘hast thou come to preach the sword?’

‘I do not come to preach it but to give the word for it.’

“And he who is replied—

“‘Passions are like the twelve great tables of the law of laws, LOVE. They are when in unison the source of all good things; when subverted they are the source of all evils.’

“Silence again arose, and he added—

“‘Each head that falls is one letter of a verb whose meaning is not yet understood, but whose first word stands for protestation; the last, signifies integral passional expansion. The axe is a steel; the head of the executed, a flint; the blood which spurts from it, the spark; and society a powder-horn!’

“Silence was renewed, and he went on a third time—

“‘The prison is to modern society what the circus was to ancient Rome: the slave died for individual liberty; in our day, the convict dies for passional integral liberty.’

[Pg 193]

“And again silence reigned, but after a while a mild Voice from on high said to the sorry cortège which stood motionless at one corner of the pallet-bed—-

“‘Have hope, ye poor martyrs! Hope! for the hour approaches!'”

“Then three noble figures came forward—those of the mechanic, the labourer and the soldier. The first was hungry: they fought with him for the bread he had earned. The second was both hungry and cold; they haggled for the corn he had sown and the wood he had cut down. The third had experienced every kind of human suffering; furthermore, he had hoped and his hope had withered away, and he was reproached for the blood that had been shed. All three bore the history of their lives on their countenances; all felt ill at ease in the present and were ready to question God concerning His doings; but as the hour approached and their cry was about to rise to the Eternal, a spectre rose up from the limbs of the past: his name was Duty. Before him they recoiled affrighted. A priest went before them, his form wrapped in burial clothes; he advanced slowly with lowered eyes. Strange contrast! He dreamed of the heavens and yet bent low towards the earth! On his breast was the inscription: Christianity! Beneath: Resignation.

“‘Here they come! Behold them!’ cried the apostle; they are advancing to him who is. What will be the nature of their speech and how will they express themselves in his presence? Will their complaint be as great as their sadness? Not so, their uncertainty is too great for them to dare to formulate their thoughts: besides, doubt is their real feeling. Perhaps, some day, they may speak out more freely. Let us listen respectfully to the hymn that falls from their lips; it is solemnly majestic, but less musical than the breeze and less infinite than the Ocean. Hear it—

HYMNE

“Du haut de l’horizon, du milieu des nuages
Où l’astre voyageur apparut aux trois rois,
Des profondeurs du temple où veillent tes images,
O Christ! entends-tu notre voix?
Si tu contemples la misère
De la foule muette au pied de tes autels,
Une larme de sang doit mouiller ta paupière.
Tu dois te demander, dans ta douleur austère,
S’il est des dogmes éternels!”

LE PRÊTRE

“O Christ! j’ai pris longtemps pour un port salutaire
Ta maison, dont le toit domine les hauts lieux;
Et j’ai voulu cacher au fond du sanctuaire,
Comme sous un bandeau, mon front tumultueux.”

LE SOLDAT

“O Christ! j’ai pris longtemps pour une noble chaîne
L’abrutissant lien que je traîne aujourd’hui;
Et j’ai donné mon sang à la cause incertaine
De cette égalité dont l’aurore avait lui.”

LE LABOUREUR

“O Christ! j’ai pris longtemps pour une tâche sainte
La rude mission confiée à mes bras,
Et j’ai, pendant vingt ans, sans repos et sans plainte,
Laissé sur les sillons la trace de mes pas.”

L’OUVRIER

“O Christ! j’ai pris longtemps pour œuvre méritoire
Mes longs jours consumés dans un labeur sans fin;
Et, maintes fois, de peur d’outrager ta mémoire,
J’ai plié ma nature aux douleurs de la faim.”

LE PRÊTRE

“La foi n’a pas rempli mon âme inassouvie!”

LE SOLDAT

“L’orage a balayé tout le sang répandu!”

LE LABOUREUR

“Où je semais le grain, j’ai récolté l’ortie!”

L’OUVRIER

“Hier, J’avais un lit mon maître l’a vendu!”

“Silence! Has the night wind borne away their prayer on its wings? or have their voices ceased to question the heavens? Are they perchance comforted? Who can tell? God keeps the enigma in His own mighty hands, the terrible enigma held aloft over the borders of two worlds—the present and the future. But they will not be forsaken on their way[Pg 195] where doubt assails them, where resignation fells them. Children of God, they shall have their share of life and of sunshine. God loves those who seek after Him…. Then the priest and soldier and artizan and labourer gave place to others, and the apostle went on—

“And after two women, one of whom was dazzlingly and boldly adorned, and the other mute and veiled, there followed a procession in which the grotesque was mingled with the terrible, the fantastic with the real; all moved about the room together, which seemed suddenly to grow larger to make space for this multitude, whilst the retiring spectres, giving place to the newcomers, grouped themselves silently at a little distance from their formidable predecessors. And he who is, preparing to address a speech to the fresh arrivals, one of their number, whom I had not at first noticed, came forward to answer in the name of his acolytes. Upon the brow of this interpreter, square built, with shining and greedy lips and on his glistening hungry lips, I read in letters of gold the word Macairisme!

“And he who is said—
“‘Who are you?’
“‘The favourites of luxury, the apostles of joy.’
“‘Whence come you?’
“‘From wealth.’
“‘Where do you go?’
“‘To pleasure.’
“‘What has made you so well favoured?’
“‘Infamy.’
“‘What makes you so happy?’
“‘Impunity.'”

The strange procession which then unfolded itself before the apostle’s eyes can be imagined: first the dazzling woman in the bold attire, the prostitute; the mute, veiled woman was the adulteress; then came stock-jobbers, sharpers, business men, bankers, usurers,—all that class of worms, reptiles and serpents which are spawned in the filth of society.

“One twirled a great gold snuff-box between his fingers, upon the lid of which were engraved these words: Powdered plebeian patience; and he rammed it into his nostrils with avidity. Another was wrapped in the folds of a great cloak[Pg 196] which bore this inscription: Cloth cut from the backs of fools. A third, with a narrow forehead, yellow skin and hollow cheeks, was leaning lovingly upon his abdomen, which was nothing less than an iron safe, his two hands, the fingers of which were so many great leeches, twisting and opening their gaping tentacles, as though begging for food. Several of the figures had noses like the beaks of vultures, between their round and wild eyes: noses which cut up with disgusting voracity a quarter of carrion held at arm’s length by a chain of massive gold, resembling those which shine on the breasts of the grand dignitaries of various orders of chivalry. In the middle of all was one who shone forth in brilliant pontifical robes, with a mitre on his head shaped like a globe, sparkling with emeralds and rubies. He held a crozier in one hand upon which he leant, and a sword in the other, which seemed at a distance to throw out flames; but on nearer approach the creaking of bones was heard beneath the vestments, and the figure turned out to be only a skeleton painted, and the sword and the crozier were but of fragile glass and rotten wood. Finally, above this seething, deformed indescribable assembly, there floated a sombre banner, a gigantic oriflamme, a fantastic labarum, the immense folds of which were being raised by a pestilential whistling wind; and on this banner, which slowly and silently unfurled like the wings of a vulture, could be read, Providential Pillories. And the whole company talked and sang, laughed and wept, gesticulated and danced and performed innumerable artifices. It was bewildering! It was fearful!”

Here followed the description of a kind of revel beside which Faust’s was altogether lacking in imagination. But, when he thought they had all talked, sung, laughed, wept, gesticulated and danced long enough, he who is made a sign and all those voices melted into but two voices, and all the figures into but two, and all the heads into but two. And two human forms appeared side by side, looking down at their feet, which were of clay. Then, suddenly, out of the clay came forth a seven-headed hydra and each of its heads bore a name. The first was called Pride; the second, Avarice; the third, Luxury; the fourth, Envy; the fifth, Gluttony; the sixth, Anger; the seventh, Idleness. And, standing up to its full height, this frightful[Pg 197] hydra, with its thousand folds, strangled the writhing limbs of the colossus, which struggled and howled and uttered curses and lamentations towards the heavens: each of the seven jaws of the monster impressed horrible bites in his flesh, one in his forehead, another in his heart, another in his belly, another in his mouth, another in his flanks and another in his arms.

“‘Behold the past!’ said he who is.

“‘Brother,’ I cried, ‘and what shall then the future be like?’

“‘Look,’ he said. The hydra had disappeared and the two human forms were defined again, intertwined, full of strength and majesty and love against the light background of the hovel, and the feet of the colossus were changed into marble of the most dazzling whiteness. When I had well contemplated this celestial form, he who is again held out his hands and it vanished, and the studio became as it was a few moments previously. The three great orders of our visitors were still there, but calm now and in holy contemplation. Then he who is said—

“‘Whoever you may be, from whatever region you come, from sadness or pleasure, from a splendid east or the dull west, you are welcome brothers, and to all I wish good days, good years! To the murdered and convicts, brothers! innocent protestors, gladiators of the circus, living thermometers of the falsity of social institutions, Hope! the hour of your restoration is at hand!… And you poor prostitutes, my sisters! beautiful diamonds, bespattered with mud and opprobrium, Hope! the hour of your transformation is approaching!… To you, adulteresses, my sisters, who weep and lament in your domestic prison, fair Christs of love with tarnished brows, Hope! the hour of liberty is near!… To you, poor artisans, my brothers, who sweat for the master who devours you, who eat the scraps of bread he allows you, when he does leave you any, in agony and torments for the morrow! What ought you to become? Everything! What are you now? Nothing! Hope and listen: Oppression is impious; resignation is blasphemy!… To you, poor labouring men and farmers, brothers, who toil for the landlord, sow and reap the corn for the landlord of which he leaves you only the bran, Hope! the time for bread whiter than snow is coming! … To you, poor soldiers, my brothers, who fertilise the great furrow of humanity with your blood, Hope! the hour for eternal peace is at hand!… And you, poor priests, my brothers, who lament beneath your frieze robes and heat your foreheads at the sides of your altars! Hope! the hour of toleration is at hand!’

“After a moment’s silence, he who is went on—

“‘I not forget you, either, you the happy ones of the century, those elected for joy. You, too, have your mission to fulfil; it is a holy one, for from the glutted body of the old world will issue the transformed universe of the future…. Be welcome, then, brothers; good wishes to you all!’

“Then all those who were present, who had listened to him, departed from the garret in silence, filled with hope; and their footsteps echoed on the steps of the interminably long staircase. And the same cry which had already rung in my ears resounded a second time—’The year ’40 is cold, it is hungry! The year ’40 needs food! What will it bring forth? What will it produce? Ah! ah! ah!’

“I turned to him who is. The night had not run a third of its course, and the flame of the lamp still burnt in its yellow fount, and I exclaimed—

“‘Brother! in whose name wilt thou relieve all these miseries?’

“‘In the name of my mother, the great mother who was crucified!’ replied he who is.

“He continued: ‘At the beginning all was well and all women were like the one single woman, Eve, and all men like one single man, Adam, and the reign of Eve and Adam, or of primitive unity, flourished in Eden, and harmony and love were the sole laws of this world.’

“He went on: ‘Fifty years ago appeared a woman who was more beautiful than all others—her name was Liberty, and she took flesh in a people—that people called itself France. On her brow, as in ancient Eden, spread a tree with green boughs which was called the tree of liberty. Henceforward France and Liberty stand for the same thing, one single identical idea!’ And, giving me a harp which hung above his bed, he added. ‘Sing, prophet!’ and the Spirit of God inspired me with these words—

I

“Why dost thou rise with the Sun, O France! O Liberty! And why are thy vestments scented with incense? Why dost thou ascend the mountains in early morn?

II

“Is it to see reapers in the ripened cornfields, or the gleaner bending over the furrows like a shrub bowed down by the winds?

III

“Or is it to listen to the song of the lark or the murmur of the river, or to gaze at the dawn which is as beautiful as a blue-eyed maiden?

IV

“If you rise with the sun, O France! O Liberty! it is not to watch the reapers in the cornfields or the bowed gleaners among the furrows.

V

“Nor to listen to the song of the lark or murmur of the river, nor yet to gaze at the dawn, beauteous as a blue-eyed maiden.

VI

“Thou awaitest thy bridegroom to be: thy bridegroom of the strong hands, with lips more roseate than corals from the Spanish seas, and forehead more polished than Pharo’s marble.

VII

“Come down from thy mountains, O France! O Liberty! Thou wilt not find thy bridegroom there. Thou wilt meet him in the holy city, in the midst of the multitude.

VIII

“Behold him as he comes to thee, with proud steps, his breast covered with a breastplate of brass; thou shalt slip the nuptial ring on his finger; at thy feet is a crown that has fallen in the mud; thou shalt place it on his brow and proclaim him emperor. Thus adorned thou shalt gaze on him proudly and address him thus—

IX

‘My bridegroom thou art as beauteous as the first of men. Take off the Phrygian cap from my brow, and replace it by a helmet with waving plumes; gird my loins with a flaming sword and send me out among the nations until I shall have accomplished in sorrow the mystery of love, according as it has been written, that I am to crush the serpent’s head!’

X

“And when thy bridegroom has listened to thee, he will reply: ‘Thy will be done, O France! O Liberty!’ And he will urge thee forth, well armed, among the nations, that God’s word may be accomplished.

XI

“Why is thy brow so pale, O France! O Liberty! And why is thy white tunic soiled with sweat and blood? Why walkest thou painfully like a woman in travail?

XII

“Because thy bridegroom gives thee no relaxation from thy task, and thy travail is at hand.

XIII

“Dost thou hear the wind roaring in the distance, and the mighty voice of the flood as it groans in its granite prison? Dost thou hear the moaning of the waves and the cry of the night-birds? All announce that deliverance is at hand.

XIV

“As in the days of thy departure, O France, O Liberty! put on thy glorious raiment; sprinkle on thy locks the purest perfumes of Araby; empty with thy disciples the farewell goblet, and take thy way to thy Calvary, where the deliverance of the world must be sealed.

XV

“‘What is the name of that hill thou climbest amidst the lightning flashes?’

“‘The hill is Waterloo.’

“‘What is that plain called all red with thy blood?’

“‘It is the plain of the Belle-Alliance!’

“‘Be thou for ever blessed among women, among all the nations, O France! O Liberty!’

“And when he who is had listened to these things, he replied—

“‘Oh, my mother, thou who told me “Death was not the tomb; but the cradle of an ampler life, of more infinite Love!” thy cry has reached me. O mother! by the anguish of thy painful travail, by the sufferings of thy martyrdom in crushing the serpent’s head and saving Humanity!’

“Then turning to me he added: ‘Child of God, what art thou looking for? Light or darkness? Death or life? Hope or despair?’

“‘Brother,’ I replied, ‘I am looking for Truth!’

“And he replied, ‘In the name of primeval unity, reconstructed by the grand blood of France, I hail thee apostle of Eve-Adam!

“And he who is called forth to the abyss which opened out at his voice—

“‘Child of God,’ he said, ‘listen attentively, and look!’

“And I looked and saw a great vessel, with a huge mast which terminated in a mere hull, and one of the sides of the vessel looked west and the other east. And on the west it rested upon the cloudy tops of three mountains whose bases were plunged in a raging sea. Each of these mountains bore its name on its blood-red flank: the first was called Golgotha; the second, Mont-Saint-Jean; the third, Saint-Helena. In the middle of the great mast, on the western side, a five-armed cross was fixed, upon which a woman was stretched, dying. Over her head was this inscription—

“FRANCE
18 June 1815
Good Friday

“Each of the five arms of the cross on which she was stretched represented one of the five parts of the world; her head rested over Europe and a cloud surrounded her. But on the side of the vessel which looked towards the east there were no shadows; and the keel stayed at the threshold of the city of God, on the summit of a triumphal arch which the sun lit up with its rays. And the same woman reappeared, but she was transfigured and radiant; she lifted up the stone of a grave on which was written—

“RESTORATION, DAYS OF THE TOMB
29 July 1830
Easter

“And her bridegroom held out his arms, smiling, and together they sprang upwards to the skies. Then, from the depths of the arched heavens, a mighty voice spake—

“‘The mystery of love is accomplished—all are called! all are chosen! all are re-instated!’ Behold this is what I saw in the holy heavens and soon after the abyss was veiled, and he who is laid his hands upon me and said—

“‘Go, my brother, take off thy festal garments and don the tunic of a working-man; hang the hammer of a worker at thy waist, for he who does not go with the people does not side with me, and he who does not take his share of labour is the enemy of God. Go, and be a faithful disciple of unity!’

“And I replied: ‘It is the faith in which I desire to live, which I am ready to seal with my blood? When I was ready to set forth, the sun began to climb above the horizon.

He who was CAILLAUX

“July 1840″

Such was the apocalypse of the chief, and we might almost say, the only apostle of the Mapah. I began with the intention of cutting out three-quarters of it, and I have given nearly the whole. I began, my pen inclined to scoff, but my courage has failed me; for there is beneath it all a true devotion and poetry and nobility of thought. What became of the man who wrote these lines? I do not know in the least; but I have no doubt he did not desert the faith in which he desired to live, and that he remained ready to seal it with his blood. … Society must be in a bad state and sadly out of joint and disorganised for men of such intelligence to find no other method of employment than to become self-constituted gods—or apostles!

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2216 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.