The Destruction of the French Fleet at Toulon, 18 December 1793, from Thomas Whitcombe, The naval achievements of Great Britain from the year 1793 to 1817 (London, 1817-18) 748.d.22.
In an earlier blog post, we discussed the recent acquisition of a copy of the revolutionary Journal de Marseille published in 1793-1794, RB.23.a.37976. Now we would like to comment on the collection of pamphlets bound at the end of the volume. They include a revolutionary song, the âChanson des sans-culottesâ, by the comedian, theatre director, song writer and dramatic author Aristide Valcour.
Aristide Valcour, Chanson des sans-culottes, ([Paris], 1793) RB.23.a.37976.(5)
It is followed by the left-leaning, Jacobin-inspired Constitution of 24 June 1793, which was never implemented, preceded as is often the case by the DĂ©claration des droits de lâhomme et du citoyen. The collection also contains reports and political discourses held at the National Convention and the Committee of Public Safety , discussing topics such as religion, government or public instruction.
Constitution of 24 June 1793, with DĂ©claration des droits de lâhomme et du citoyen ([Paris], 1793) RB.23.a.37976.(6)
The volume is very coherent in the way it gathers contemporary revolutionary material from South-Eastern France. Initially, the titles of the additional pamphlets suggested that some were duplicates of existing tracts in the British Libraryâs collection. However, most of the tracts contained in the Journal volume are from different, often Southern editions, or in some cases have a different type-set. For example, the discourse Aux grands Maux les grands RemeÌdes by SĂ©bastien Lacroix (the initial editor of the Journal de Marseille), held at F.617.(21.) was first printed in Paris, while the other copy, a reprint published in Marseille by Auguste Mossy in the same year (an II / 1793), is abbreviated, and followed by an order of the General Assembly of the Republican Section des Quatre nations for the printing and distribution of 3000 copies and 500 posters of Lacroixâs petition.
SĂ©bastien Lacroix, Aux grands Maux les grands RemeÌdes (Marseille, 1793) RB.23.a.37976.(10)
Lacroix is the author of another tract in the Journal de Marseille collection: La Religion naturelle, la seule qui convient aÌ des ReÌpublicains, published in 1793-94 (an II) by Auguste Mossy (1764-1820): in the compilation, this is a duplicate of BL collection item, R.337.(15.). The Mossy family of printers seems to have played a key role in the diffusion of Jacobin literature such as that transmitted in the volume (we donât know who were its early owners: the opening paste-down contains an ex-libris signature which has been crossed out). Auguste Mossy, who printed 3 tracts in the compilation, was a fervent revolutionary who started his own printing business in 1791 and became a municipal councillor for the city of Marseilles until 1793 (he later held other important political functions, under the Consulate and the Napoleonic Empire but was demoted under the Bourbon Restoration).
SĂ©bastien Lacroix, La religion naturelle la seule qui convient aÌ des ReÌpublicains (Marseille, 1793) RB.23.a.37976.(7)
The patriarch, Jean Mossy worked with his sons Jean II and Auguste from 1784 to at least 1791. He was a printer for the Navy, the King/the Nation and the City of Marseille, and published important works in the 1770-80s on the antiquities of Marseille and the history of Provence and ComtĂ©-Venaissin. Jean II (1758-1835), who published 4 tracts in the Journal de Marseille compilation, inherited his fatherâs presses and his own son, Jean-Joseph Mossy, succeeded him as a printer and bookseller.
Maximilien Robespierre, Discours prononcĂ© Ă la SociĂ©tĂ© populaire des Jacobins Ă Paris, 21 November 1793 RB.23.a.37976.(9)
Other material bound after the Journal de Marseille include several discourses by figures such as Robespierre, Billaud-Varenne, Moyse Bayle (a member of Marseilleâs Jacobins club, deputy for the Bouches-du-RhĂŽne department at the 1792 National Convention, involved in in 1793 with the Committee of Public Safety and the Committee of General Security) and Jean-Corisandre MittiĂ©.
Title page of Jean-Corisandre MittiĂ©, La prise de Toulon (Marseille, 1794) RB.23.a.37976.(14)
MittiĂ© succeeded Lacroix as editor of the Journal de Marseille from issue 44 onwards. He was an author of dramatic works like La prise de Toulon, fait historique en un acte et en prose, the last item in the collection, and went on writing plays performed in Paris, such as the farcical La descente en Angleterre, prophĂ©tie en deux actes (performed on 24 December 1797 at the CitĂ©-VariĂ©tĂ© theatre) or Lâanniversaire, ou La fĂȘte de la souverainetĂ©, scĂšne lyrique et mĂ©lodramatique, mĂȘlĂ©e de pantomime, combats et danses, et dĂ©diĂ©e au peuple (performed in March 1798 at the Ambigu-Comique theatre). The newly-acquired Prise de Toulon is a copy of the first Marseille edition, published by Jean Mossy, while the library already owned the second edition (Paris, 1794; 11738.f.25.(7.).
Instructions for the actors; Scene 1 from La prise de Toulon
MittiĂ©, who was sent by the Committee of Public Safety to Marseilles in 1794, asserts on the title page of La Prise de Toulon that he travelled to Toulon to be able to provide the most âexactâ, âdetailed information, the most authentic account and knowledge of the character and genius of the men who contributed to this memorable eventâ. The Siege of Toulon led to a wealth of dramatic and lyrical revolutionary creations written by professional authors and enthusiastic revolutionaries and performed mainly in Paris at the beginning of 1794. The victory of the Republicans (including the young officer NapolĂ©on Bonaparte) over the Royalists and a coalition of British, Spanish and Italian troops in the city of Toulon, with its strategic port and arsenal, was celebrated throughout the country.
A. Forand, âEvacĂŒation des puissances coĂ€lisĂ©es du port de Toulon. Le 18 decembre 1793â (1793). (Image from Prints, Drawings and Watercolors from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library)
The list of characters and instructions to the actors give an idea of the ideological bias of MittiĂ©âs play. The drama is represented as âusefulâ with its âpatriotic influenceâ, because it âconsecrates the most memorable period of the Revolution, the most decisive for the fate of Libertyâ. On Republican side the Generals and Representatives of the people (including FrĂ©ron, Barras and Robespierre), who after the flight of the English and the fall of the city, stop the pillage and execute the traitors, must have a âstrong voice and physiqueâ, and the female heroine, âcitoyenne Lapoypeâ, who was captured but eventually liberated, âthe most touching voice and accentâ.
Character list and Preface from La prise de Toulon
On the side of the Royalists, depicted as reactionary and dissolute, the Marquis de Sombreuil, the type of the coxcomb, must have a âtone leading to ridiculeâ and the Knight of CazalĂ©s corresponds to the type of an old man. The play highlights the eventual execution and âguillotineâ of âconspiratorsâ and âtraitorsâ. It ends with the ominous announcement by FrĂ©ron of the intended destruction of the city of Toulon (which in the end was not implemented by the authorities): âonly ashes and rubbleâ will remain as âthe hand of vengeance will erase up to the last remnant of Toulonâ. It closes with the enthusiastic salutation: âthe genius of Liberty hovers over us. Woe to the Royalists, war to tyrants, peace to the cottages and LONG LIVE THE REPUBLICâ.
IrĂšne Fabry-Tehranchi, Curator, Romance collections
Jacques Billioud, Le Livre en Provence du XVIe au XVIIIe siĂšcle (Marseille, 1962). 2704.e.4.
HervĂ© GuĂ©not, â Le thĂ©Ăątre et l'Ă©vĂ©nement : la reprĂ©sentation dramatique du siĂšge de Toulon (aoĂ»t 1793â, Annales littĂ©raires de l'UniversitĂ© de BesanĂ§on. LittĂ©rature et rĂ©volution franĂ§aise, 354, 1987, Ac.282/6
Hubert C. Johnson, The Midi in revolution: a study of regional political diversity, 1789-1793 (Princeton, 1986). YH.1987.b.380
Michael L. Kennedy, The Jacobin Club of Marseilles, 1790-1794 (Ithaca, 1973). 73/13539