"Le Rappel frappé ce matin": Press censorship in the Third Republic

Pène, Henry de, French journalist and novelist (1830-1888). 3 autograph letters signed.

Paris and n. p., 17 March and 30 Nov. (n. y.).

8vo and 12mo. Altogether 3½ pp. on 6 ff.


Highly interesting letters bearing witness to press censorship during the early years of the Third Republic as well as to Pène's social conscience. In the letter dated 30 November, Pène announces changes to a journal (either "Le Gaulois" or "Paris-Journal") due to political decisions, which amounted to a "suppression of causeries", probably sardonic political commentary, until further notice. He promises that there will be other forms of collaboration with the recipient, whom he asks to "wait and see".

An undated letter probably to the same journalist is even more direct: "The absence of your causerie disturbed me tonight and maybe its presence will disturb me on Monday. But if you suffer so much that you cannot work and if you are not happy with your copy it is even better to wait. In any case, keep in mind that the [political] climate is for the suppression of journals, that le Rappel was hit today and le Gaulois is threatened to be hit tomorrow; this forces us to act with more than prudence especially vis-à-vis Mr. Thiers [...]". Both letters were probably written during the presidency of Adolphe Thiers (1871-73), in the aftermath of the Paris Commune. Le Rappel had been founded in 1868 on the initiative of Victor Hugo. The journal had a radical Republican tendency; after the defeat of the Commune in November 1871 Le Rappel was suspended until March 1872 and would be repeatedly suspended for up to two months in the following years.

The third letter in the collection, dated 17 March (no year), is a plea to an unidentified landlord not to evict a family that Pène had long known: "N'étant pas connu de vous, je ne me dissimule pas que je n'ai guère qualité pour intercéder auprès de vous dans l'intérêt d'une famille malheureux que je connais depuis longtemps et qui figure aujourd'hui parmi vos locataires: je vous parle de la famille Couvé-Rameau qui me sollicite vivement de vous implorer en sa faveur. Je n'ai pas pu résister à leur prière. Je ne sais si vous avez été mis au courant de leurs difficultés imméritées. Ils me disent être à la veille de les voir très cruellement aggravées par suite de l'exécution envers un de vos droits de proprietaire impayé [...]".

Two of the letters on stationery of the "Paris-Journal". The letter dated 30 November shows one restored tear, one minor tear, and some foxing. The letter dated 17 March somewhat creased. All letters with traces of former mounting.

Stock Code: BN#54247 Tag: