Category Archives: Jenny P. d’Héricourt

Jenny d’Héricourt, A letter from America (1868)

I’ve been working on the remaining untranslated portions of Jenny d’Héricourt’s Woman Affranchised, which has included a number of pleasant surprises, including some borrowings from her adversary Proudhon that suggest she was a close and careful reader of much of his work. I also made another search through the online archives for material I hadn’t seen and ran across this letter to La Solidarité: journal des principes, a journal published by Charles Fauvety, who was both a friend of Héricourt and an old collaborator of Proudhon’s. Fauvety was also indirectly connected, through association with Alphonse-Louis Constant, aka Eliphas Lévi, with Flora Tristan, whose posthumous work, The Emancipation of Woman, or Testament of the Pariah, I should be able to present in English translation soon. (Here’s a taste.) The letter hints at all sorts of contexts that I cannot supply at present, and which make the final section, on “reparation,” hard to translate precisely. Did she believe that she had been a “tyrant”? There were certainly some who had accused her of “masculine” prejudices, though they were mostly men, who saw nothing much wrong with them than their unfitness for her sex. And we have Juliette Adam’s account of her dismissive attitude toward the younger woman. (Proudhon’s critics seem to have been pretty hard on each other.) I’ll certainly be digging to see if there is more to this correspondence, but, for now, we can certainly say that we see flashes of Jenny d’Héricourt’s larger-than-life personality throughout the letter. Along with the apparently penitent moments, there also moments of colossal pride, which recall Constant’s characterization of Flora Tristan: “Flora Tristan is the splendid personification of the most complete and most implacable pride. Milton’s Satan must be dead of bitterness since she came into the world.” There are other connections between the two remarkable women, including a shared interest in the sort of secular religion which Fauvety was exploring. More about that as the relevant texts get translated…

 ____________
Chicago, May 27, 1868.
         Dear sir,
By way of our friend Faisandié, I have received the issue of la Solidarité where you recall to the public, and in particular to Mr. Montanier, la Femme affranchie and its author. I come to thank you for it. Before settling down to that subject, allow me to thank you for your article against materialist morality. Another article also gave me great pleasure, signed Pérès. Finally, we arrive then at the true foundation of ontology! From the beginning, the being is thus an appetite, force pursuing a finality; so the finality is the cause of all movement, of all determination in the being, from its first, atomic stage to its last, terrestrial stage, when it feels, knows itself, and wants—when it is a human being. Compliment Mr. Pérès for me, if you think that a compliment from me would be agreeable. It is a great satisfaction to always find myself in the same current of ideas and feeling as the one I followed in your midst; it even happens that I have drawn closer to you since our separation, for I have worked for a year on the preparation of a volume where the science of being and the solidarity of man with himself in the past and the future, his solidarity with all nature, are based on the positive sciences. My claims are irrefutably established by laws and facts; but a work, in order to make a durable impression, must, you know, foresee and resolve all the negations and objections of the adversaries; it is always my method of criticizing without mercy first before making assertions. Now, that preliminary work cannot be made in America: for that I need Paris, the readings by opponents, your conversations of thinkers and philosophers; all that is lacking here, and I do not have the time to read enough. This grips my heart so much, that it takes all my reason not to spend the end of July and August in Paris; but I hope that I will not give in to a temptation that would perhaps delay my definitive return by a year or two, the hope that in five years you will count one more champion in the ranks of the army of solidarity. In the meantime, if some articles would be agreeable to you, I am at your service; I will find a few hours to write them.
You end les Femmes médecins by saying that I have found in America the justice that I did not find in France. No, dear sir, women find only obstacles everywhere. Whatever their good will, whatever their aptitudes, they will always see ordinary men supplant them, either because the prejudice of intellectual inferiority is raised against them because of their sex, or because all men wanting women to remain subordinate, and using their unfitness as an excuse, do not want, for anything in the world, give any emphasis to a woman who is the incarnate refutation of what they want to convince themselves of. I have had to fight like ten men. If I was an average, clever man, I would probably have made my little fortune; but I am a woman, and if I had only had my individual value, without a nearly superhuman persistence and a courage, I would be dead of hunger. I make money, I am busy; but, I repeat, a woman of ordinary courage would not have been able to undergo the trial, and, thank the gods, I have sustained it and done so with dignity: the respect and esteem of a whole great city surrounds me today. I don’t complain; these terrible four years of my life have tempered my character: I have less passion, but the firmness of steel. I am not embittered, I have just learned to know my species and my sex; and I said to myself that my present life being with connected my previous existence, I must submit to logic under its terrible form of reparation. If I had the odious prejudices of the males, if I had been a tyrant, I should condemn myself to return in order to atone and suffer: there would be no point in rebelling, but to bow my head and bless a trial that improves and sets things right. Moreover, apart from some difficulties inseparable from my sex, what have I to complain of? My health is vigorous, I am ten years younger and two years stronger than in France; I have lost none of my intellectual faculties and aptitudes; I have honorably earned more than my living, and I posses an honorable independence made by myself alone; my character is honored, and a complete confidence surrouns me: haven’t I had a happier fate than thousands of other worthy beings?
I bid you adieu, shaking your hand fraternally.
Jenny P. d’Héricourt.
La Solidarité : journal des principes 2 no. 8 (July 1, 1868): 127.
[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

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“La Frondeuse” zine, Issues 3 & 4

The Black and Red Feminism zine has been reborn as La Frondeuse [The Troublemaker, or The Anti-Authoritarian.] The name is borrowed from one of Séverine’s collections.

Issue 3 features works by Louise Michel, Paule Mink and Séverine.

Issue 4 contains works by Jenny d’Héricourt under various pen-names.

The name-change comes with a bit of fancy repackaging, and will be retroactive. I’ll be revising and repackaging the material from the two issues of Black and Red Feminism as issues of La Frondeuse, and a number of titles from the old Corvus catalog will be expanded and revised in uniform editions. With just a little luck, the paper edition of La Frondeuse will become the first monthly subscription title from Corvus Editions, starting this fall.

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Filed under Félix Lamb, Jeanne Marie, Jenny P. d'Héricourt, La Frondeuse, Louise Michel, Paule Mink, Severine, zines

Jeanne Marie, “Revelation” (1849)

“Jeanne Marie” (probably Jenny d’Hericourt) also contributed this poem to l’Opinion des Femmes. A literal, parallel translation is also available at the Libertarian Labyrinth archive.
Révelation.
Mère, comme il fait froid! la terre est toute blanche;
Le mont, déjà trois fois, a roulé l’avalanche;
Un instant a suffi pour chasser les beaux jours
Et dépouiller le val de verdure et d amours.
Les oiseaux frissonnants désertent le bocage,
La plaine est comme un lac immense et sans rivage,
Les pauvres voyageurs errants sur les chemins.
Qu’ils sont infortunés, mère, et que je les plains,
Alors qu’auprès de l’âtre où la flamme pétille,
Lisant à la lueur de la lampe qui brille,
J’entends gronder au loin l’orage, les autans.
A cette heure je prie et conjure les vents
D’épargner le marin qui brave la tempête
Et d’écarter la mort qui plane sûr sa tête;
De faire luire à l’œil du pêcheur malheureux
Quelque fanal béni, quelque point lumineux.
Et lorsque j’ai prié, mon âme est plus contente;
J’entends vibrer en moi comme une voix puissante.
Elle dit : La prière, élan de charité,
Prend le chemin du ciel avec sécurité
C’est le plus pur encens, la plus douce harmonie,
Qui puisse jusqu’à Dieu monter de cette vie
Quand les hommes entr’eux auront assez aimé,
Ils reverront l’Eden à leurs regards fermé
Pour eux, dès ce moment, dépouillé de mystère,
Et sans l’arbre fatal qui perdit notre mère.
Humains, hâtez-vous donc d’amener ce beau jour,
Aimez! aimez encore, Dieu n’est que pur amour!
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
Mère. que pensez-vous de cette voix étrange ?
Je pense, enfant béni, que vous êtes un ange,
Auquel, dès ici-bas l’esprit s’est révélé;
Qu’à vous, comme à Moïse, au Christ, il a parlé
Comme eux, il vous faut donc, martyr en cette vie,
Vous résoudre aux douleurs, même à l’ignominie,
Pour prêcher aux humains la loi de vérité,
Qui vous fut dévoilée en un jour de bonté.
Hélas dussiez-vous ne trouver en ce monde,
Qu’injustice et dédain, qu’amertume profonde,
Etre traité de fou, d’infâme, d’imposteur!
Prêchiez, prêchez toujours et laissez au Seigneur
Le soin d ouvrir les yeux à la foule insensée!
Le soldat de son chef connait-il la pensée?
Il marche cependant sur un seul mot de lui,
Prêt à verser son sang demain comme aujourd’hui.
Qu’importe si le grain meurt au sein de la terre
Alors qu’on voit sortir la gerbe de l’ovaire?
Et qu’importe au semeur qu’un autre ait récolté,
Si son salaire un jour est l’immortalité?
Jeanne Marie.
[From l’Opinion des Femmes, 1, 3 (April 10, 1849) 6. Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur.] 

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Jeanne Marie, “On Woman” (1849)

[The articles by “Jeanne Marie” in l’Opinion des Femmes have been attributed to a number of people, including Jeanne Deroin, but the most likely identification seems to be Jeanne-Marie-Fabienne Poinsard, aka Jenny d’Hericourt.]

On Woman
In 1622, Marie Le Jars de Gournay, adoptive daughter of Montaigne, published a work entitled On the Equality of the Sexes, where by a tight reasoning, and an irresistible logic, she proved that at all times God had desired that equality. A bit later, around 1673, a learned doctor at the Sorbonne, Poulain de la Barre, also wrote a spiritual and victorious panegyric in favor of woman, which he recognized as inferior to man only because the latter willingly left her in ignorance in order to in order to enslave her longer to his will.
How much time is required for a just, trust idea to make its way in the world, while, by a bizarre aberration, the error has implanted itself rapidly and prospered there marvelously! Two hundred years have passed since these truths have been written; the revolutions have dragged their level across the earth, and the error, although weakened, still survives.
In 1848, in the middle of the century of enlightenment and progress, one man dared to ask, in full National Assembly, the exclusion of women from all political meetings and clubs where social questions were treated regarding the future of their brothers, of their children, and even their own future! And not only was this man heard, but this iniquitous decree was adopted almost unanimously, and no protest was raised. There, as everywhere, the strongest irrationality has triumphed, and woman has been declared eternally a minor.
Yet if we go back in history, at all times of social renewal, we see women actively participate. At the first revolutionary signal, we have seen them rush from all sides, dash into the arena, hearts filled with a common sentiment (the love of humanity), to shake off in a few hours the prejudices which have crushed them for so many centuries, and cast to the revolutionary wind, with an unparalleled ardor, the soiled rags of a civilization in delirium!
Constantly oppressed, woman is joined by a holy bond to the oppressed of all countries, of all the classes that is not one of their sufferings which does not awaken in her a tender commiseration, not one of their joys or hopes which does not have a sympathetic echo in her heart.
There is no emancipation of which she has not been the author or accomplice. It is the patrician girl who, first, trampling under foot an impious law, dared to give her hand to the son of the artisan who was raised up to her by the force of intelligence and love alone.
It was the women who, from the times of Voltaire and Jean-Jacques, spread with more conviction and courage the philosophical truthscalled to dethrone error and unmask the lie.
It was the women of the court of Louis XVI who, first, attacked that royal, childish etiquette on which a power still rested, undermined at its base and ready to collapse. Finally, when 89 sounded, among the women of all ranks, equality and fraternity were proclaimed with an energetic selflessness and it is by reddening the scaffold with their martyrs’ blood that that Madame Rolland, Lucile Desmoulins, Olympe de Gouges, and tutti quanti, have taught humanity that woman, the equal of man in intelligence and love, can also equal him in courage by drawing her strength from her heart.
In vain men want to make you doubt this palpable truth; each of them makes a personal exception either for the woman that he loves, for his mother, or for the sister for whom he has proven his boundless devotion; so that all these individual exceptions taken together coming close to making up the whole feminine realm, man denies to women generally the qualities he grants to each individually.
Many men view with fright woman elevated in her mind by studies like their own, and taking an active part in the affaires over which they have thus far held the monopoly. Their fear is that, carried into these regions of a new order, she will lose some of the grace and beauty which, in their eyes, makes up her greatest charm. We believe that fear is fanciful. Woman, better educated, more serious, giving aid to men in the realm of business, and even of politics, by her originality, her finesse, would cast some flowers of poetry on that sad ground: she would lose nothing from it, and men and politics would gain.
Moreover, those charms, which they would preserve in woman at the price of her liberty and intelligence, are often irrevocably taken from her by cares or illness; then she reaches an age where they are inevitably stripped from her. What remains for her then? What is her place, her mission? With what will she concern herself? Apart from the family, she has been introduced to nothing, and too often that family itself becomes hostile to her; the interests, which are not safeguarded for anyone, are still less so for the woman, and for her their defense is the source of a thousand sorrows!
But most importantly—woe, woe!—if her soul remains young, if you loving faculties are not completely extinguished, along with her beauty, neither in the family such as civilization has made it, nor in the city, as the legislators have made it, will she find the food she needs; at that time she might as well die, for there is no longer any place for her here below.
Then, these lively graces with which God has endowed woman in order to reestablish equilibrium between strength and weakness, these graces, I say, which could be a powerful lever in this world, the motive of all the grandiose actions, the recompense for all the sacrifices, for all the devotions! well,  you reduce them to the petty proportions of an often shameful gallantry; you make weapons of them, which you skillfully turn against woman herself. Thus, the more God has given her, the more beautiful, noble, gracious and intelligent she is, the more all want to contain her, enclose her in a circle sometimes so narrow that she is stifled there; replacing in this way the domestic isolation that you stigmatize among the Orientals, with a moral and intellectual isolation which, at a given time, leads to the same results. Beyond the first years of youth, the woman of the Orient only counts as a slave to he on whom she has heaped her treasures of beauty and love; just so, at a given time, the woman of the Occident only counts as a fireside, a living room tapestry, where too often she becomes the focus of ironic jibes. Young, she often blushes for her beauty, shamelessly coveted; old, she blushes and suffers from her idleness and neglect.
That is the part that, in his justice, man has played toward woman; and yet, when it is a question of initiative to be taken, of progress to be accomplished, you see her follow man, sometimes even to lead him. Then, with an instinctive good sense that even her enemies are forced to recognize, one sees her disappear completely in the days of stagnation and status quo. That is what happened in 1830; women disappeared, so to speak, from the active scene, understanding that there was nothing for them to do in the midst of that shop of upstart grocers. Indeed, they, whose mission was to preserve without stain the traditions of honor and patriotism bequeathed them by the past, could only could only groan at the shrews politics which prepared, within France, ruin and misery, and led, outside, to disrepute and contempt.
However, in 1831 and 1832, the Saint-Simonians spoke some words to woman, who suddenly awoke from her lethargic slumber; the preaching of the apostle Barrault, and of Enfantin, cast into her soul the leaven of new ideas that nothing could remove from now on. And, when the revolution de 1848 broke out, making its rallying cry, Socialisme, heard everywhere, woman was ready to accept it; for she had already understood that that word was the word of the future. Thus, if there was incontestable truth, and yet one always contested, it is that man has wandered for so many centuries in the mysteries of the social labyrinth because he wanted to walk alone, constantly rejecting the Ariadne who wished in vain to help him find his way, that of the true, the beautiful, the good—the true road, finally, originally traced by God, and the only one which leads to happiness. And it will always be the same as long as man shuts himself up with his tyrannical habits, as in a vicious circles, where the evil, constantly reproduced, becomes for the future a consequence of the past.
Let us struggle then peacefully, since progress is the prize of battle. To work, men of the future! Socialist republicans of all schools, to work! Finally boldly call woman to you, that half of your soul, your heart, and your intelligence, too long misunderstood and abandoned; labor together to found the new era, the law of the future, the law of solidarity, indulgence and love.
God protect your combined efforts.
JEANNE Marie.
Source: L’Opinion des Femmes, 1, 1 (January 28, 1849)  5-6.
[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]


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Jenny P. d’Hericourt (as Félix Lamb), “The Valain Family” (1847)

The Valain Family.
It was January 7; the winter was cold and foggy; the icy north wind roared around the ancient buildings of old Paris blew off the snow, which, like a white shroud, covered their dome. The inhabitant of the sumptuous hotel, dressed in silk, cashmere andfur, stretched idly on the duvet, and a warm and fragrant atmosphere, watched the sparks that outlined the rich mantelpiece of his fireplace twinkle, all while savoring the exquisite wines and delicate dishes served in their fancy dishes. He waited in a sweet indolence for the night to bring his the pleasures of the ball, the Opera or the cocktail party. The poor man, in his attic room, wrapped in clothes that could not protect him against the assaults of the season, struggled against the cold which slowed his labors, against the hunger that twisted his bowels and brought tears to his poor children.
In an elegant boudoir in a hotel in the Noble Faubourg, a pretty young woman, sunk in a cozy armchair, appeared to read closely one of the newspapers placed on a light table of finely sculpted wood. Her noble and intelligent face sometimes expressed astonishment and sadness, sometimes disbelief, and she rain her little pink fingers over her smooth, pure brow, as if to brush away a somber image, when the door was opened gently.
“Is Madame the baroness home to the doctor?” asked the fresh voice of a young maid.
“Let him enter, Victoire; you know that I am always here for him,” responded the young woman.
Seconds later, Dr. Dorian trod the soft carpets which covered the parquet floor, and paid his respects to the baroness, who gestured to an armchair placed close to her own.
“You who have more knowledge and experience than I, my good dear doctor,” said the young women, after the customary compliments, “tell me then if it is true that there are people who die of cold, and of hunger, while still others seek in suicide a refuge from misery? I just read a part of these papers, and what I have seen there is frightful; all these things are exaggerated, aren’t they?”
“The papers, Madame, tell only what they know, and they are ignorant of nine hundred and ninety-nine misfortunes out of every thousand.”
The baroness opened her eyes in astonishment and fright.
“My profession,” added the doctor, “reveals to me the pains of body and soul that are the portion of the masses; that sad truth remains unknown to you, the privileged of this world, for your flatterers fear troubling your digestion and your slumber, of attaching regret to your joys. Oh! Believe me, Madame, that the real miseries are very numerous and above all very unknown. Certainly, few people know those of an unfortunate family that I must go to visit when I leave your hotel.”
“So, doctor, what are the misfortunes of that family?” asked the baroness.
While the doctor, sitting bya roaring fire, satisfies the curiosityof the young woman, let us lead ourreader down the Rue SaintJacques.
Not far from the Church of St. Jacques du Haut-Pas sits a dilapidated house, which oneenters through a dark, wet and cold alley, which leads to a no less ramshackle staircase, lit by a few “guillotine” windows which gave onto a narrow courtyard, from which rises the sickening stench of sewage; the walls, cracked by the weather, soiled by dust, oozing with the damp. Mounting the warped and uneven steps, you feel the cold touch your soul, and ask how human creatures, children of God, can roost in this frightful vulture’s nest. Alas! is the worker free to choose his residence? If he has, like the fortunate ones in the world, a taste for luxury and a need for well-being, is he allowed to obtain a fragment of the things which are the fruits of his constant labor? Is he not the sheep who is only covered with wool for the profit of his possessor? Isn’t he the worker bee who only produces honey to satisfy the sensuality of beings foreign to his species?
In the top floor of the hovel, in two narrow attic rooms, lived the Valain family, consisting of a father, a mother and three children. For three months, the head of the family, drained by labor and privations of every sort, remained in bed, not even thinking of calling for a doctor, whom he could not pay, and whose prescriptions he could not follow. The forced idleness had put him in arrears with his landlord, a hard man, who had told them to move out on January 8; the baker no longer wanted to give them bread, which they must have; the wood merchant would be careful not to sell a log without immediately receiving the payment for it: let one judge the distress of these five unfortunates having for resources, in this harsh season, only the daily wage of Mrs. Valain, which did not exceed one franc. They lacked even the bare necessities
Midi had just struck at the old church of Saint-Jacques; the whole family had gathered in the first room; the father slept; his face ashen, his cheeks hollow, his eyes deeplysunken in their sockets, his extreme gauntness, all indicated a consumption which would soon have a fatal issue. The three children, all hunkered close together to keep warm, blew on the fingers and looked sadly at the hearth, which did not even contain cool cinders. The mother, pale, thin, and chilled, worked without looking up.
The youngest of the children, barely three years old, broke the sad silence which ranged around the sick man with his weeping.
“Hush! Hush! You’ll wake your father,” said Mrs. Valain.
“But I am hungry and cold, mama.”
“Poor thing!” said the mother, drawing the blond head of her son to her breast, on which she let flow some desperate tears. “Weep no more, my Charles; you see, my shirt is almost finished; when it is done, you will have bread.”
“What is it?” asked the father, who had been awakened by the sobbing of his child.
“Nothing, my friend,” responded the mother.
The child approached the patient, who took his little hand.
“Poor boy! You are frozen! Climb on the bed, Charles, and lie down next to me. It will warm you.”
The child did not make him repeat it.
“I fear that it will hurt you,” said Mrs. Valain to her husband.
“I must give him what I have to give, a bit of warmth,” responded the sick man, and onto his pale lips wandered a bitter smile.
At that moment someone knocked, and the oldest of the boys opened the door. It was the landlord.
“Ah!” he said, without greeting anyone. “You remember, I hope, that you must be gone by tomorrow.”
Mrs. Valain, turning more pale, rose.
Oh! Sir,” she said in a pleading voice, “please, have mercy on us. You see, we lack everything.We can not get my husband to the hospital, because there are no beds. What shall we ifyou put us out the door?”
“Do what you want, but you must leave tomorrow.”.
“Alas! Sir, we have no place to go. My husband and children must sleep in the street…
“Wherever you wish…”
“Oh! My God!” cried that unhappy woman. “We have no fire, no bread, and tomorrow no home… My God! My God! to see my husband and children die, while so many others have a hundred times what they need!…”
And the unfortunate woman, half-mad with grief, wrung her hands in despair.
“Console yourself, my wife,” said the sick man; “one night under the stars and we will all go together to the grave… Bah! Sooner is always better for us workers…”
But Mrs. Valain did not hear. She felt all the anguish of a wife and mother’s heart; she fell at the feet of the landlord, and gripped him with her wizened arms:
“Oh! Sir,” she cried, “for the love of God, let us die here. Do not evict us!”
“I do not have a house to lodge beggars,” responded that cruel man harshly; you bore me with your lamentations, and if tomorrow, at noon, you have vacated this place…”
It’s shameful what you are doing here, sir,” interrupted a young andelegant woman who had witnessed the last few moments with this heartbreaking scene, without the actors being aware… “How much do these unfortunates owe you?” she added, in a haughty, contemptuous tone.
“Three payments, which amounts to 112 fr. 50 c., stammered the landlord.
“Call this evening at the home of Mme. the baroness de X…,” replied the land, “and you will be paid…”
And that lovely lady passed him without further greeting, and entered the attic room, followed by Dr. Dorian.
Mrs. Valain, dumbfounded, remained on her knees, mouth open and eyes wide. Mr. Valain, no less astonished, half-rose, looking at the young woman and her companion. The baroness approached the poor mother and kindly offered her finely gloved hand. This gesture recalled Mrs. Valain to herself; she kissed the hand of the unknown woman and got to her feet. A rapid glance around her informed the baroness of the terrible plight of this honest family; she approached the oldest of the boys, gave him 5 francs, whispered a few words to him and approached the patient, who spoke with Dr. Dorian.
“Well, sir…?” she asked when he had ceased to question Mr. Valain.
“The honest father needs a tonic regimen and no anxiety,” responded the doctor.
The young woman held out her hand tenderly to the sick man.
“You will allow me to rid you of all anxiety, won’t you, Sir?” she said to him.
Mr. Valain lowered his eyes. It seemed hard for him to receive what he had not earned.
At that moment the eldest of the children returned, carrying bread, meat, and a bottle of wine; he was followed by a charbonnierloaded with a basket of wood. Little Charles slipped nimbly out of bed and approached the provisions; his mother beckoned him to wait. The baroness saw it. It would have been cruelty to prolong the hunger of these unfortunate beings: she rose.
“We will be going,” she said to the sick man. “I will return to see you in a dew days, Sir.”
Then, approaching Mrs. Valain, she slid into her hand a twenty-franc piece.
“Make a good broth for your husband, Madame. In an hour you will have chicken and a Bordeaux wine for him.”
 God bless you and reward you, Madame!…” stammered the poor woman bursting into tears, while the baroness clasped her hand, sanctified by labor.
“Well, Madame,” said the doctor to his companion, when they were outside, “do you still believe that the papers exaggerate?”
The baroness did not respond; tears of pity rolled down her rosy cheeks.
“That family, thanks to your providential intervention, is pulled from poverty,” said the doctor. “But, at that time, thousands of workers suffer the same conditions, suffer and die without anyone thinking of doing what you have done.”
“Oh! That’s awful, doctor,” said the young woman, shuddering.
“The number of proletarians increases, while labor and compensation decreases: imagine the increase in misery!…”
“My God! but is there no remedy for this hideous state of things?” responded the baroness.
“There is one, Madame; it is a social order based on Christianity, which is just the fatherhood of God and human fraternity.”
“Yes, but who will outline that social order, doctor?”
“It has been outlined, Madame. Do you wish to concern yourself with the question? I will lend you a little book which explains the basics.”
It is undoubtedly very serious, very metaphysical, and I admit that that scares me.”
“The work is serious in content, but not in form, for its form is just that of a voyage or of a novel written with speed and in a style that stirs the heart and imagination. It is written in a way that may interest women.”
“Ah! really; and what is that work called?”
Le Voyage en Icarie.”
“Then I would be obliged if you would bring it to me, since it will instruct me without tiring me.”
Félix Lamb.
Source: Almanach Icarien, astronomique, scientifique, pratique, industriel …, Volume 5. 1847. Pp. 120-128.
[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

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Jenny P. d’Hericourt, “Morality According to the Sexes” (1869)

MORALITY ACCORDING TO THE SEXES
BY JENNY P. D’HERICOURT
Dear reader, let us for a moment listen to a conversation between wife and husband:
Wife—“Men continue to be absurd, and to affirm the contrary of facts. The New York Nation writes thus:” (She reads.)
Society refuses to treat men’s licentiousness with the same severity as women’s, because the consequences to the family, to children, and to property are less serious.
Husband.—“But that is true, wife, and,” (He reads.)
A woman must be taught to take care of her honor, and to bear unsupported the loss of it.
Wife.—“Then, if I can prove that the consequences of men’s licentiousness are more ‘serious to the family, to children and to property’ than women’s, you will feel yourself obliged to treat it more severely?”
Husband.—“You cannot prove that.”
Wife.—“I will try. If a wife is untrue to her husband, she does not spend her money for her paramour, but the contrary. But an unfaithful husband has sometimes two households, and always spends much for his paramour. Men’s licentiousness, therefore, has more serious consequences than women’s relatively to the family property. This is a fact, not a mere affirmation.
“An untrue wife can introduce illegitimate heirs in the family. These children are taken care of, loved, and no stain is on them. An untrue husband introduces illegitimate heirs in another family, or they are borne to him by an unmarried woman. If he takes care of them, he robs his wife and legitimate children, if he abandon them, they swell the population of prisons and brothels. Men’s licentiousness, therefore, in this respect, has more serious consequences to children than women’s.
“An untrue wife carefully conceals her bad conduct. She loves her children, is mild and amiable with her husband; no trouble is in the family. Too often an untrue husband is cold, rough, angry, does not conceal his behavior, and gives bad examples to his children; he dissolves the family physically and morally.
“Through men’s licentiousness women are wholly corrupted and enfeebled; first, mentally, by seduction and prostitution; second, physically, though the awful disease which is the fruit of license, and which, transmitted to children, tends to the destruction of the race. Idiocy, dumbness, deafness, blindness, scrofula, are the physical gifts of a father’s licentiousness to his children. And moral tendencies and weakness of self-control are his gifts in a moral point of view. Never can a serpent be the father of a dove, my dear sir; never can a thorn produce roses; the daughters of an impure man cannot have chaste tendencies. So, as to the health and dignity of our species, you see that men’s licentiousness has pretty serious consequences.
“And if your daughter, taking her standpoint on your utilitarian ground, will follow your masculine rule, what can you object? The beauty of chastity? But if it is beautiful in a woman, why not in a man? The necessity to control her appetites and instincts? ‘But, father,’ may she not ask, ‘why have you not controlled yours? Why have you given me those awful tendencies and your weakness of controlling them?’ The fear to be despised? She is smart enough to dissemble. And, after all what matters to her the opinions of foolish people, blaming in her, what they admit and tolerate in her brother? Girls compare and reason, to-day, you know, my dear husband. The risk to become a mother? But the advertising pages of any masculine journal will indicate thousands of remedies against this risk, and besides, hundreds of physicians are ready to help her avoid it. her life and health are endangered by these criminal practices? But why have you not the same uneasiness about the health of her brother, who not only endangers his life and health, but makes a provision by which disease and vice may be entailed on his future children?
“On you own utilitarian ground, my dear husband, you can perceive that it is easy to best you in argument. In the point of view of family, children, race and property, facts prove that men’s licentiousness has consequences more serious than women’s, and all the sophistry invented by your immense selfishness, you blind ignorance of natural laws, your incredible weakness in self-control cannot transform your affirmations to facts and rules. Simple good sense says, as women cannot be pure unless men are so, the rule of morality is the same for the two sexes.
As when a woman sins a man sins too, both are equally guilty, and the public opinion which makes a distinction between their culpability is absurd and despicable. Besides it has the ferocity of the tiger and the injustice of the devil, if it condemn the weak, led astray by the strong seducer and suborner. Such a public opinion gives nausea to a just and reasonable soul, and makes one ashamed to be shut up in a body, belonging to a species of animal so cruel and so illogical.
Chicago, June 21 1869.
Source: The Agitator, 1, 16 (June 26, 1869) 1.

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Jenny P. d’Hericourt to “The Agitator” (June 12, 1869)

Madame d’Hericourt, having returned from New York, writes full of interest and enthusiasm concerning her plan for a “Universal League of Women.” She will have something to say of this in future numbers of the Agitator. In concluding her letter, she says:
I hope my next journey to New York will not be like the last one. In going I was left on the way, losing part of my hand baggage, and in coming back I was pickpocketedat Crestline. Happily, I had only five dollars, a little key, and my ticket in the portmonaie which was in my pocket. The kind conductor, full of confidence in my honest and horrified face, believed me and passed me from Crestline to Chicago, where I was greeted by such a pouring of rain that it can be compared only to the anathemas of bishops and prelates.[1]I was obliged to remain in the railway sitting-room three hours because the car in which my trunk was, had been broken on the way, so that I could have my luggage no sooner. All my misfortunes being over, I am gay and healthy and ready to begin again for our cause.
Believe me, dear Madame, truly your friend,
Jenny P. d’Hericourt.
Chicago, Ill.


[1] Madame d’Hericourt, being a Huguenot, suffered in her youth from the anathemas of the French Catholic clergy.
Source: The Agitator, (June 12, 1869) 8.

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La Femme, “Madame Jenny P. d’Hericourt” (1869)

MADAME JENNY P. d’HERICOURT
Dear Agitator:
You ask me the biography of Madame Jenny P. d’Hericourt! I consent only to draw the great lines of her eventful life, those which can be interesting to those identified with the holy cause to which she has devoted a part of her existence.
She was born in Besancon, the capital of the ancient Franche-Comte, in 1819. She is therefore the compatriot of Victor Hugo, Charles Fourier, Proudhon, Bichat, Courbet, Rouget de l’Isle, the author of the Marseillaise, and the celebrated Georges Cuvier, to whom she is a relative through her grandmother.
By hereditary descent, Mme. d’Hericourt was a republican. Hatred of monarchy runs in her veins, with the blood of her fathers. She has also thanked Providence that she was born in a family perfectly honest, and of enlightened Protestant parentage. Good examples and moral education were the blessings afforded to her from her cradle.
“In the child is the full grown person,” say the French; and they are right, when instincts, passions, and faculties are in question. But with the same character, we can be good or bad, according to the objects of our passions. Happily Jenny was under a rational and moral influence. I say happily, for she could be, in consequence of her nature, very useful or extremely hurtful. Intelligent, persistent, courageous, bold, full of generosity and tenderness for the weak, and for every sensitive being-incapable of accepting a rule without endorsing and consenting to it, all these precious gifts would have proved an injury if she had been treated with violence, disdain of opinion, and indomitable rancor; for she never forgot nor forgave, and her vengeance followed promptly every offense.
Her parents nick-named her Don Quixote, because she always defended her weak companions and animals. She did not fear to struggle with those who were stronger than she was, and they were always worsted in the encounter. To the strong she was cruel, when they attacked those who could not defend themselves. She never oppressed either weak children or animals; she had no playthings. When she did not study or run and jump or climb like a cat, she taught twenty dirty paper dolls, or prescribed for them like a physician. It was of very little importance to her whether she had an elegant or worn-out dress, a beautiful or ugly hat; whether she played with well or ill-dressed children. She had so much disdain for distinction, that she never wore the medal given her almost every month, for the first place in her class. She carried this medal in her pocket, because she did not want to show it, and because, she remarked that her companions were unhappy to witness her constant success. However, she was loved by them, for she never made them feel her superiority. Not from generosity, however, did she fail to compare her career with theirs, but because she had her thoughts on the success she meant to acquire in the future.
Before she was seven years old, she knew how to write and to read; had progressed in arithmetic as far as fractions; could speak of the Greek and Roman great characters, and knew by heart the fables of Lafontaine and several chapters of the New Testament. Literally she was hungry and thirsty for knowledge. She was eight years of age when her father died; and though she shed not a tear, she was resolved to die herself in order to be buried with him. Her little sister, whom she loved with passion, alone could make her change her resolution. The following year, Jenny, with her mother and sister, went to Paris. There she received a solid education. At eighteen she received her diploma of Institutrice, after several brilliant examinations, for she knew much more than was required.
When twenty years old she was married to a young man, who, under the guise of honesty, was a libertine and a base hypocrite. After four years of sorrow, she left him and returned to her mother. Notwithstanding the prayers and promises of her husband she repulsed him for eight years. “I pity you,” said she to him, “you are by nature a bad man, and having received your education from Jesuits, you will become worse. You have attempted to murder me for your paramour’s sake, and being persuaded that you will lead me to perpetrate a crime, I will not return with you.” As Jenny had no children she took refuge in science and medical anatomy, physiology and natural history. At the same time she wrote two romances which had a great success. One was against adultery, the other capital punishment. Her serious studies led her to physics. She took lessons from physicians, for the Medical Academy had its doors then closed against women. The president of the Medical Homoeopathic Institute of Buenos Ayres, being in Paris, where he had established a large dispensary, Jenny attended this dispensary for a year; delivered a course of medical criticism in twelve lectures, and received her diploma of physician.
When the revolution of February broke out Madame d’Hericourt was too much of a Republican to remain indifferent. She organized, immediately, a society of thirty women to claim the civil enfranchisement of women, help the women to socialize labor, establish in every arrondissement an evening school for workers of the two sexes, and influence the elections. Other groups of women opened public assemblies to the same end, and issued very good journals. Every group managed according to their peculiar ideas, of course, but were friendly with one another. While Jeanne Deroin, so sweet and courageous, went into several masculine clubs to induce them to vote the equality of the sexes, Jenny d’Hericourt compelled Cuber [Cabet] to submit the question to his numerous disciples, and, standing on the stage, counted the hundreds of hands raised, voting “yes.” The disinterested work of woman was crowned with success for the Work-women’s societies, and the triumph of the Republican representatives. But the Revolution, stopped by reaction, had no time for Woman’s Rights. Mme. d’Hericourt had a great influence with the laborers. They felt that she loved them. Poor work-women said to her, “We will follow you everywhere, even to the barricades, you have only to command. “ And when she said to the workmen, “Friends, don’t call me citizen, for I am nothing but a serfwithout a country,” those brave men taking her white little hand in their strong and callous hands, answered: “In three years you will be a citizen and representative, for we know that our interests and those of justice cannot have a stronger advocate than you!”
Mme. d’Hericourt having a natural repulsion to putting herself before the public without there was a great necessity for it, never appeared in the numerous banquets given at that time. She consequently declined going to an immense assembly patronized by Republican ladies, but she was obliged to accept, because the working people would have imagined, if she did not go, that it was because the other ladies disdained the laboring class. Certainly they were mistaken; but this impression would have prevailed, and it would have been childish for Mme. d’Hericourt to sacrifice her taste to good harmony. She therefore sent messengers to the workshops of her friends to say that she should pronounce the first toast. When she appeared on the stage, it seemed as if the immense hall would fall under the applause of the multitude. She was obliged to calm this enthusiasm, and had much difficulty in finishing her speech. She was often interrupted with frantic shouts of approval. She said to me, in relating this fact, “0, it was a sweet and great day for me, to see how much I was loved by those worthy soldiers of labor, those oppressed by capital, by ignorance, by misery! For you know in me the woman is always the child. I love only the victims and slaves, I have great difficulty not to hate the others.” Mme. d’Hericourt never spoke before the public without awakening passionate applause, for she always spoke with simplicity and to do good. It was easy to perceive that she forgot herself in her subject. She never writes a speech, and, according to the disposition of her audience, she decides the form in which her ideas shall be presented. She is excited by opposition, and then becomes sarcastic and severe. She said to me that being a vice president in a club of men, when some men, paid by the opposition, cried: “Death to the Communists! Death to Cuber!” she rose, and prayed the members of the club to pass a vote of censure against such savage cries. Murmurs rang through the hall. “Why,” said she, “have we Republican Jesuits among us? Do they think that this assembly is blind enough not to understand that to attack the free opinion of a sect is to attack the free opinion of all? Those who oppose me are hypocrites or imbecile, and hypocrisy and imbecility can have no hope among intelligent men. Citizens, I insist! Pass the vote!” And she developed her reasons and obtained the vote with acclamation. She knew that she ran the risk of being stabbed in going home, but she despises those who prefer life to duty. Her friends had the same fear, and they surrounded her for protection, when she went out.
I asked her if, being restored to calm and solitude, she felt no fear. “Fear?” said she, “there are two words that I never understood, fearand impossible!” She told me that having taken the charge of concealing Auguste Blanqui, who was searched for that he might be sent to the Haute cour de justice, as she took his arm to conduct him to her house, they had to pass through the midst of a troup of national guards. It appeared to her so funny to be among those who would have taken him to prison had they recognized him, and so good a joke to see those soldiers move gallantly for the lady and her poor outlaw to pass—they not knowing who he was—that she laughed aloud heartily in the very face of those astonished citizens. She saved another outlaw with the same sang froid, taking him in full daylight under the eagle eyes of soldiers and detectives.
When Napoleon was made President, Mme. d’Hericourt entered a hospital in order to finish her medical studies with practical obstetrics. She remained there one year, and, after a brilliant examination received her diploma of maitresse sage femme. She opened an office for the treatment of the diseases of women and children, and had great success. Her experience of pupil in a great hospital, and as physician, discovered to her all the bitter fruits of woman’s serfdom. Her heart is not one to be broken, but it can be put on fire by indignation, and she swore that she would shake laws and society, avenge and awake women. She understood that to attract attention, she should place herself on the ground which men preserve for themselves, saying that women have not such and such faculties. The Revue Philosophique of Paris under the direction of Verngigoud and liberal and enlightened men, accepted her as a contributor, and she gave a first article of philosophical criticism on the Philosophy of August Comte. There was no feeling in this article, it was only dialectical and sarcastic. “0, what a shame! A woman without feeling! A woman dialectician!” It occasioned great noise and great scandal, and Mme. d’Hericourt was put in the Index of the Positivistes. She laughed and rubbed her hands—the wicked and hard-hearted woman—for she had succeeded. There was another man, her compatriot, M. Proudhon, whom men did not dare attack, because he was a strong reasoner and cruelly sarcastic. Mme. d’Hericourt began resolutely to criticize his opinion of woman and her rights. She proved the equal of her adversary in sarcasm and dialectics. 0, what a monster! A woman reasoning! A woman so bold as to fight against a demigod! She was already in the Index of the Comtetistsnow she was in that of the Proudhonians. Was it not awful?
This article gave her a distinguished place among philosophers and reasoners, many enemies, but also a great number of friends. Now she proceeded to arouse and stir the churches. She wrote successively Le Christianisme et la Question des Femmes, and La Bible et la Question des Femmes. Then there was a disturbance. She was denounced to the Tribunal and received the charming name of female devil. There was no suit, but La Revue was suppressed. However Mme. d’Hericourt was happy. She had started the question anew—had startled men and awakened the public conscience. Now they would not get to sleep again.
In the same time when she thus labored in Paris, she had fourteen articles on woman’s rights, marriage and divorce successively, published in the Ragione of Turin. These articles analyzed in the Donna of Geneva, awakened the women of northern Italy. “You have put our country on fire,” wrote the editor of the Ragione. “Young men and women are for you. Thank you for your courage and talent!” And Mme. d’Hericourt received enthusiastic letters from Italy and France, and had her letters to Proudhon translated in the Reasoner of London. Then she thought that it was time to strike her last great blow, and she wrote La Femme Affranchie. In this book she was harsh and bitterly disdainful. She called ignorance, imbecility and bad faith and inconsistency by their proper names, and threw these names in the face of those who deserved them. You may think such passionate logic was not enjoyed by everybody, and she was not surprised to be called a devil, a monstruous woman to whom talent and high intellect had been given and warmed by the fires of hell, to overthrow all that is pure and just on the earth; while others called her a second Joanne d’Arc, a Garibaldi among women, a saint inspired to give the gospel of women. The book was startling. One would say it was inspired by genius coming from God, and others by a genius coming from hell. Mme. d’Hericourt laughed in secret. It little mattered to her to be called angel or devil. She knew humanity too well not to be certain that when this hate and anger were vented she would be forgotten, but the germ which she had sown would take root. She had not worked for her theory, but for the triumph of eternal justice.
It was in this feeling that she read all the letters coming from all parts of Europe, and from men having a name in science and philosophy. Her autograph was sought after which she sent without pride. Such demands were proof that she had faithfully fulfilled her duty. She thanked Proudhon that she had been able to prove herself not an unfaithful servant of justice and truth. Since “La Femme Affranchie,” Madame d’Hericourt has not published anything on the woman question. The cause is so well served everywhere now that she thinks she is no more needed. She would not shrink, certainly, before any new duty in that direction, but she waits for it to seek her-she will not seek it. She has been in America among us for five years, and will remain among us some years longer probably, unless she is wanted in France, where is her true field of usefulness. That is the opinion of Mme. d’Hericourt—but we much mistake if she does not find a place for her great talents in the woman movement of to-day in this country, which is yet destined to form a league with that in the various parts of Europe—making of it a World’s Woman’s League.
Chicago, May 1, 1869                                                                       La Femme
Source: The Agitator, 1, 8 (May 1, 1869) 1.

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Jenny d’Hericourt, “Woman’s Rights in France” (1869)

WOMAN’S RIGHTS IN FRANCE
LETTER FROM MADAME JENNY P. D’HERICOURT
Dear Agitator:
I will give you a page of history as an answer to a translation on Women’s Rights in Europe, accepted in the Revolution. If the Journal des femmes, whence this article is taken, were a French paper, the author could not be excused. But this paper is not French, though written in French; which explains how a “Woman of Geneva” does not know anything about thousands of wide awake women who were preaching, writing and claiming their rights in France in 1848. Having been one of those women, I can faithfully and truly inform you, and I will. Yet now, I send you first, the news which I received yesterday, from Paris.
The French “Woman’s Rights League” have published an Appeal, in which they show that woman, under the present law,
1. Politically has no existence.
2. Civilly is a minor.
3. In marriage is a serf.
4. In labor is made inferior.
5. In public instruction is sacrificed.
6. Out of marriage, is almost given over to the brutal passions of the other sex; and answers alone the consequences of a fault committed by both.
7. As a mother, is deprived of her rights in her children, while the father may regulate their education, fix their calling, marry them and even have them put in a penitentiary, without, and even against, the consent of the world.
8. In a word, that woman is only considered an intelligent and answerable being, and equal to man, when punishment and the payment of taxes are in question.
You see that in France, as everywhere, men are slaveholders. For them, liberty and license–for their mothers, wives, daughters and sisters, slavery. The members of the League claim their Woman’s Rights, not only in the name of justice, but in the name of civilization. Woman cannot be deprived of her influence on children and men, consequently it is in her power to ameliorate or ruin society. If she conquers her rights, is enlightened, and independent through labor, she will be an agent of purity. If not, humanity will run with full speed to the abyss. Therefore, it is the affair of men, as well as of women, to claim reform.
The League have voted the establishment of a school for girls, in which moral instruction will be based upon liberty of consciousness, the respect of rights in one’s self and in others, and a rational feeling of duty. Whoever is subscriber to that institution, endorses the principles of the League, and is engaged to promote Woman’s rights.
It is useful to add, that the women who have organized the League, are brave and intelligent, good mothers, excellent wives and careful housekeeper, since those are the characters of the “strong minded.” But it will rejoice you to now that, like in America, they have aroused some of the best and most just and learned men. Several Parisian papers have kindly printed the “Appeal,” and I am told by the Chief of the League, one of the literary stars, that there is great enthusiasm concerning it, particularly among men.
Woman’s Rights in Europe—A Page of History.
I will now give you a sketch of the origin and progress, in France, and part of Europe, of the movement for woman’s rights. From the origin of our great revolution, in 1789, energetic women organized public meetings, which in France we name “clubs,” and their courageous and eloquent leaders claimed the equalities of the sexes before the civil and political laws. Condorcet, the philosopher, was the organ of these claims in the National Assembly of our representatives.
But “black republicans” are not precisely the friends of any rights but their own, you know. Therefore our great men would not listen to Condorcet. Soon, Right and Liberty disappeared in the stream of blood of the “Terror,” and their bodies were shrouded in the glorious cloak of the first Empire. When France was delivered from this government, she took again her work of Justice, for a great idea cannot die in the land of ideas and generosity.
Our social schools rose, and every one of them, whatever may be their ideal construction, placed at the basis the equality of the sexes before nature and society.
Carried on the wings of the press and oral propagandism, the doctrines of Saint Simon, Fourier and hosts of different communist sects, went around the world, with our Marseillaise, and had everywhere numerous adherents. Even those who did not adopt their particular form of doctrine, either in France, or elsewhere, were unified by their common principles, for they expressed a new phase of human conscience towards Justice.
A great many French and foreign women had accepted the good news, the Gospel of their Salvation, when the Revolution of February, 1791 [1848], broke out like a bomb-shell. Then our martyr, Pauline Roland, and some other women, claimed their inscriptions as electors. We constituted clubs, and societies, we issued several papers, work-women formed labor associations, which were centralized, numerous masculine clubs voted our civil and political enfranchisement, and the courageous Jeanne Deroin, proposed herself as a candidate to the Legislative Assembly, with the approval of many workmen.
But nous avions compte sans notre hôte, that is to say, without reaction. Republican representatives shut our assemblies, forbade us to go to masculine clubs, labor associations were beheaded, Pauline Roland, Jeanne Deroin and several others were sent to prison; the most part of our adherents were slaughtered during the awful days of June, or transported out of the country.
Are you astonished now, that women, indignant and despairing, hindered their husbands and sons from taking the defense of our selfish and unfaithful representatives, and consented to have the Republic swallowed by the Second Empire? This man had repulsed Equality in the right–well, we should have it in the not-right. Dreadful Justice! oh, yes, but still, justice. Never, never, will we forgive these men; and it is because women have not forgiven, that the Second Empire has lasted. Besides, the Emperor is not at all our adversary; he has given the Cross-of-Honor to our great painter, Rosa Bonheur; he has introduced a great number of women in the Government Telegraph; he gives to women the postoffices, the Bureaux de tabac and of Papier timbre, and against the will of the Catholic Clergy, he has begun the reform of education for girls. He has done for us more than the Republicans.
It would be not to know the French genius to think that the elaboration of ideas was stopped after the Coup d’Etat. Not at all. Several centers of elaboration were formed, among which, one of the most useful was that of the Revue Philosophique, to which several women were contributors. While Ernest Legouve wrote his charming Histoire Morale des Femmes, Emile de Girardin his Egalite des Enfants devant la Mare. Before l’Ouvriere of Jules Simon, the intelligent and good Eliza Lemonnier founded the first Ecole Industrielle for young girls. We have several now. Madame Lemonnier, whose name will remain in the history of woman’s progress, was the wife of one of the contributors of the Revue. More than thirty-eight years ago he adopted woman’s rights. Another woman, of the same center, Jenny d’Hericourt, encouraged by all the good and enlightened men of the Revue, published fourteen articles on woman’s rights, marriage and divorce, in the Ragione of Turin, and the women of northern Italy awaked. The same woman fought the nonsense of Proudhon in the Revue, and at last wrote La Femme Affranchie, whose doctrines were spread in Germany by enthusiastic men and women, and in Russia by the great poet Michaeloff. I saw this poor martyr of despotism, whose body rests now in quiet, and his spirit in the women of his country.
Such is the origin and progress of woman’s rights in France and in a great part of Europe. You see that my great place among the leaders of progress. It would be a hateful ingratitude, and a despicable injustice, to forget it, and it is a strict duty for a daughter of France not to permit it, without protestation.
I am, dear Agitator, your sister in justice and humanity, Jenny P. D’Hericourt.
Chicago, April 22, 1869.
Source: The Agitator, I, 8 (May 1, 1869) 1

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Jenny d’Héricourt, “Appeal to Women” and “Profession of Faith”

I’ve been working on an anthology of Jenny P. d’Héricourt’s works, combining her two-volume Woman Affranchised with an assortment of other works of feminist philosophy. d’Héricourt was, of course, one of Proudhon’s opponents on the question of women’s rights, and her response to him makes up an important part of the first volume of Woman Affranchised, but the second volume (about two-thirds of which was not included in the existing English translation) shows her as an accomplished social thinker and activist. I’ve been revising and completing the translation of the first volume of that work, and hope to have at least a small edition available for the August bookfairs, and I’m starting to wade into the untranslated sections of the second volume. Here are the first two part of the final section of that second volume. The first, an “Appeal to Women,” is the unrevised 1864 translation, and the second, the “Profession of Faith,” is my own new working translation.
I
APPEAL TO WOMEN.
Progressive women, to you, I address my last words. Listen in the name of the general good, in the name of your sons and your daughters.
You say: the manners of our time are corrupt; the laws concerning our sex need reform.
It is true; but do you think that to verify the evil suffices to cure it?
You say: so long as woman shall be a minor in the city, the state and marriage, she will be so in social labor; she will be forced to be supported by man; that is to debase him while humbling herself.
It is true; but do you believe that to verify these things suffices to remedy our abasement?
You say: the education that both sexes receive is deplorable in view of the destiny of humanity.
It is true; but do you believe that to affirm this suffices to improve, to transform the method of education?
Will words, complaints and protestations have power to change any of these things?
It is not to lament over them that is needed; it is to act.
It is not merely to demand justice and reform that is needed; it is to labor ourselves for reform; it is to prove by our works that we are worthy to obtain justice; it is to take possession resolutely of the contested place; it is, in a word, to have intellect, courage and activity.
Upon whom then will you have a right to count, if you abandon yourselves?
Upon men? Your carelessness and silence have in part discouraged those who maintained your right; it is much if they defend you against those who, to oppress you, call to their aid every species of ignorance, every species of despotism, every selfish passion, all the paradoxes which they despise when their own sex is in question.
You are insulted, you are outraged, you are denied or you are blamed in order that you may be reduced to subjection, and it is much if your indignation is roused thereby!
When will you be ashamed of the part to which you are condemned?
When will you respond to the appeal that generous and intelligent men have made to you?
When will you cease to be masculine photographs, and resolve to complete the revolution of humanity by finally making the word of woman heard in Religion, in Justice, in Politics, and in Science?
What are we to do, you say?
What are you to do, ladies? Well! What is done by women believing. Look at those who have given their soul to a dogma; they form organizations, teach, write, act on their surroundings and on the rising generation in order to secure the triumph of the faith that has the support of their conscience. Why do not you do as much as they?
Your rivals write books stamped with supernaturalism and individualistic morality, why do you not write those that bear the stamp of rationalism, of solidity morality and of a holy faith in Progress?
Your rivals found educational institutions and train up professors in order to gain over the new generation to their dogma and their practices, why do not you do as much for the benefit of the new ideas?
Your rivals organize industrial associations, why do not you imitate them?
Would not what is lawful to them be so to you.
Could a government which professes to revive the principles of ‘89, and which is the offspring of Revolutionary right, entertain the thought of fettering the direct heirs of the principles laid down by ‘89, while leaving those free to act who are more or less their enemies? Can any one of you admit such a possibility?
What are we to do?
You are to establish a journal to maintain your claims.
You are to appoint an encyclopedic committee to draw up a series of treatises on the principle branches of human knowledge for the enlightenment of women and the people.
You are to found a Polytechnic Institute for women.
You are to aid your sisters of the laboring classes to organize themselves in trades associations on economical principles more equitable than those of the present time.
You are to facilitate the return to virtue of the lost women who ask you for aid and counsel.
You are to labor with all your might for the reform of educational methods.
Yet, in the face of a task so complicated, you ask: what are we to do?
Ah, ye women who have attained majority, arise, if ye have heart and courage!
Arise, and let those among you who are the most intelligent, the most instructed, and who have the most time and liberty constitute an Apostleship of women.
Around this Apostleship, let all the women of Progress be ranged, that each one may serve the common cause according to her means.
And remember, remember above all things, that Union is Strength.


II
PROFESSION OF FAITH.
Yes, union is strength; but on the condition that it is founded on common principles, not on devotion to one or several persons. For persons pas and can change: principles remain.
Thus our nucleus of crystallization, ladies, should be less the Apostolate than the principles that it professes, its Credo, its profession of faith; for such a profession is needed to rally hearts and minds, and direct them towards a single goal.
Allow me, ladies, to attempt here a sketch of that Credo, which we will divide in to six headings and twenty-four articles.
the law of humanity.
1) The law of humanity is Progress.
2) What we call Progress is the development of the individual and the species in preparation for the realization of an ideal of Justice and happiness, a less and less imperfect ideal, which is the product of the human faculties.
3) The law of Progress is not purely inevitably, like the laws of the world; it combines with our own law, our free will; so it happens that humanity can, for a certain time, like the individual, remain stationary or even retrogress.
the individual, its law, its motives.
4) Each of us in an ensemble of faculties destined to form a harmony under the direction of the Reason or principle of order.
5) Reason recognizes for each of the faculties the right of exercise, with an eye to the good of the ensemble, and so far as [allowed by] the equal rights presented by the other faculties.
6) Each of us has for incentive of their acts the desire for well-being and happiness, and must propose to itself as an aim the triumph of our liberty over everything in the general laws of the which is harmful to our organism; and, in the moral order, the triumph over the constant tendency of our selfish instincts to sacrifice the higher instincts of Justice and Sociability.
7) The destiny of the individual is fulfilled by the development of its faculties, labor, and Liberty in Equality.
physical good and evil.
8) Suffering is nothing but a discord put in us by our own error, by a bad environment, or by the solidarity of the blood. It is a product of our inadequacy, of our errors, or of those of our predecessors in life.
9) Suffering and evil are stimulants to Progress, by the struggle that one maintains in order to cure them and to safeguard oneself and one successors against it: if we did not suffer, we would not progress, because nothing keeps the intelligence and other faculties in wakefulness and action.
10) To resign ourselves to suffering without committing moral evil, is to weaken our being; it is an evil, an error, or a cowardice.
11) To impose suffering on ourselves, except those necessitated by the struggle against the exaggeration of the penchants, it is an act of folly which tend to disharmonize our being, and render it unfit to fulfill its function in humanity.
moral evil and more good.
12) Evil and good, in the moral sense, are not substances, beings in themselves, but the expression of relations, judged true or false, between the act of our free will and the ideal of good posed by the conscience.
13) The soul of a nation is the Good and the Just: what is proven by these two facts: the fall of civilizations and empires by the weakening of the moral sense; decadence, from this single fact, despite literary, artistic, scientific and industrial progress.
14) The weakening of the moral sense is the result of the absence of a higher ideal of the Good and Justice, and produces the growing predominance of the selfish faculties over the social faculties.
15) The struggle is within in us, as a result of the very constitution of our being, because there is an antagonism between the instincts which tend towards our own satisfaction, and those which connect us with our fellows; because, on the other hand, the first are given to us in all their harsh vigor, while the others are only given in germ, so that we have the glory of raising ourselves from animality to Humanity. From these facts, it results that virtue, the exercise of free will and morale strength against the encroachments of the selfish faculties, is and will always be necessary to keep them within their legitimate limits, and to prevent them from oppressing the higher faculties.
humanity, its destiny.
16) Humanity is one. The races and nations which make it up are only its organs or elements of organs, and they have their special tasks. The modern ideal is to connect them in a intimate solidarity, as the organs in a single body are connected.
17) Humanity is the author of its own Progress, its Justice, and it ideal, which it perfects to the extent that it becomes more aware, more rational and better understands the universe, its laws, and itself.
18) The attentive study of the history of our species shows us that the collective destiny of Humanity is to raise itself above animality, by cultivating the faculties which are special to it, and at the same time to create arts, sciences, industry, and Society, in order to assure more and more, and to an always greater number, liberty, the means of improvement and well-being.
19) The history also tells us that Progress is the consequence of the degree of liberty, the number of the free, and the practice of Equality. From this it results that individual Liberty in social Equality is an imprescriptible right, the sole means of giving to each individual the power to accomplish their destiny which is an element of the collective destiny: That is why, since 1789, France proposed as ideal the triumph of Liberty and Equality.
equality of the sexes.
20) The two sexes, being of the same species, are, before Justice, and should be, before law and Society, perfectly equal in Right.
21) The couple is a Society formed by Love; an association of two distinct and equal beings, which cannot absorb one another, to become one single being, an androgyne.
22) The woman does not claim her rights only as a woman, but only as a human person and member of the social body.
23) The woman must protest, as wife, human being and citizen, against the laws that subordinate her, and demand her rights until they have been recognized.
24) What some call the emancipation of the woman in Love, is her slavery, the ruin of civilization, the physical and moral degeneration of the species. The woman, sadly emancipated in this manner, very far from being free, is the slave of her instincts, and the slave of the passions of the man.
However incomplete and imperfect this provisional profession of faith may be, if you gather yourselves around it, ladies, you will restore an ideal to your sex which will subvert the other and drive it into the abyss.
You will impress on education a seal of Justice, unity, and rationality that it has never had before.
You will magnify and transform Morals.
Imbued with a lively faith in human solidarity, you will work earnestly at the reform of social mores.
Instead of disdaining the lost souls of both sexes, you will use every resource to put them back on the right road: for not one of us can think themselves innocent, as long as there are the guilty among us.
You will moralize work and the workers.
In short, you will prove by your works that you are worthy of enjoying the rights you claim; and you will shut the mouths of those insipid babblers who raid in verse and prose against the activity women, the capacity of women, the science of women, the rationality and practical spirit of women.
A thousand years of denials, ladies, are not worth five years filled with useful labors and active dedication.

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