“There is no need to go to America to see the savages,” the Parisian mused in the 1840's as he drove through the countryside of Burgundy. “Here they are, the redskins of Fenimore Cooper,” Balzac tells us in his novel “Peasants” 1844 of the year. In fact, there is enough evidence to suggest that vast territories of 19th-century France were inhabited by savages. Louis Chevalier showed us how a similar label, the working class - the dangerous class (classe laborieuse, classe dangereuse), stuck to the urban poor somewhere in the middle of the century. However, it could easily be applied, and over a longer period of time, to a part of the rural population - the same strange and unfamiliar and who worked just as much, although they posed less danger due to their high dispersal.
Not going too deep into the past: in 1831, the prefect of the Ariege department described people living in the Pyrenees valleys as wild and "cruel as the bears that live here." In 1840, an army headquarters officer discovered Morvan from Fur, "who utters such wild cries that they were like sounds made by animals." Officials and soldiers — who else would dare to venture into the wild parts of the countryside, especially the lost lands south of the Loire? In 1843, the infantry battalion, crossing the swampy department of Landa northeast of the city of Dax, found even more poor, backward, violent savages. The whole region was wild: wastelands, swamps, bogs, heather thickets. In the year 1832, when Georges-Eugène Haussmann, who later became a baron, visited the municipality of Uöl in the south-west of the department of Lo and Garonne, he did not find any roads or any landmarks there, and the road building inspector accompanying him was forced to navigate the compass. Around there were only shallow bogs (petites landes); on the territory of the Department of Landa, as the saying goes, a bird crossing a swamp had to carry its food with it. Until the 1857 year, when the planting of pine plantings heralded the onset of a new era (but so far only glimpses of it), references to abundant savagery could imply a description of not only the landscape, but also the living conditions and the population itself. The pilgrims who made the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (Santiago de Compostela - the city in which Santiago Cathedral is located - the largest pilgrimage center - approx. Per.) Were afraid to cross these lands, because there was "neither bread, nor wine, nor fish, not drink. " Indeed, even Teng (Hippolyte Taine) announced that he would prefer the desert to these lands. When Édouard Féret published his massive Statistique generale du departement de la Gironde general statistics for the 1874 year, the drainage of the Médoc region swamps was still fresh in memory, and many Bordeaux remembered the fevers and standing ponds that gave the region its original name - in medio aquae (in the middle of the water - lat., approx. per.). As for the huge peatlands south of Bordeaux, they still remained as wild, spreading pellagra and fever among a population as wild as its surroundings.
The space from Bordeaux to Bayonne was a wilderness. The intact nature was preserved on the lands from the island of Ye, located not far from the Atlantic coast, to the Drome department in the east, where in 1857 one colonel expressed the hope that the construction of the railway here would help to improve the share of “those who, unlike their brothers , lives a way of life two or three centuries ago ”and destroys“ wild instincts generated by isolation and despair. ” The townspeople of the city of Tulle called the peasants vicious (peccata), and the priest of the Correz department, a native of the commoners of the same prefecture, but exiled to the village parish, noted with regret: “The peasant is a vice, a pure vice, which is still not weakening, which can be observed in all its natural cruelty. " This observation, recorded by Joseph Roux, was most likely made at the beginning of the Third Republic, but it reflects the opinion that was once unified throughout three quarters of the 19th century. “A villager expresses suffering and grief with every feature: his eyes are uncertain and timid, his expression blank, his gait slow and clumsy, and his long hair falling down on his shoulders makes him moody” (Haute-Vienne department, 1822). “Terrible ignorance, prejudice, abuse” (Department of Morbian, 1822). “Lazy, greedy, mean and suspicious” (Department of Landa, 1843). “Dirt, rags, terrible savagery” (Inner Loire Department, 1850). “Vulgar, barely civilized, meek, but violent” (Loire Department, 1862). It is not surprising that in 1865, a landowner from the Limousin region turned to terminology that was not much different from that used by Labruyer for 200 years before him: “Two-legged animals that bear little resemblance to humans. The clothes of the [peasant] are dirty; and under his thick skin not to see blood flow. A wild, dull look does not give a glimpse of thought in the brain of this creature, morally and physically atrophied. ”
The riots of December 1851 of the year gave their harvest of characteristics: the wild horde, the land of savages, barbarians. It is important to understand that a savage (sauvage) thrown to someone was considered slanderous and, if it came to court, could result in a fine or even imprisonment. The list can be continued: in the beginning of the 1860's, savagery waned in the department of Nievre, but remained in the 1870's in the department of Sart, where the “wild” swamp people live as “troglodytes” and sleep by the fires in their huts “on heather stems like cats on sawdust. ” This continues to exist in Brittany, where children entering school "are like children from countries where civilization has not penetrated: wild, dirty, not understanding a word in [French]" (1880). A collector of musical folklore, wandering west of the department of Vendée to the Pyrenees, compared the local population with children and savages, who willingly, like all primitive peoples, showed a pronounced sense of rhythm. Even in 1903, the theme of rural savagery appeared in the author of travel essays, who during his visit to the Limousin region, north of the city of Brive-la-Gaillarde, was struck by the wildness of the region and the “Indian huts” (“Huttes de Sauvages”), in which people lived. What a relief after the wildness of the endless chestnut groves to get into the town, no matter how small it may be. Civilization, as well as upbringing, is an urban phenomenon (hereinafter, as a reinforcement of his thoughts, the author provides a list of concepts derived from the word civil - approx. Per.): Civil (civic), civilized (civil), civil official ( civilian), brought up (civilized); similarly, the concepts of polity, politeness, politics, police derive from the word polis, also denoting a city.
Civilization was what the peasants lacked. The adoption of the Law of Gramon in 1850, which made the abuse of animals an offense, was the desire to "civilize people" and children. Moreover, in 1850 it became mandatory. A priest from the Bews region believed that the most important thing his parishioners needed was upbringing. In the Haute-Loire Department, boaters on the Allier River had a surprisingly high "level of culture due to their communication with representatives of" more cultured nations "who they met on their way to Paris. The same applies to Saint Didier, which began to turn into a “more cultural place” thanks to trade relations with the city of Saint-Etienne. In the 1857 yearbook, on the contrary, it was noted that “civilization hardly touched” the villages on the Morvan Plateau. Military inspections indicated the same state of affairs in the departments of Law and Aveyron.
In the reports of primary school inspectors between 1860 and 1880, you can find repeated references to cultural growth and the role of local schools in this process. What did such reports mean to contemporaries? This issue will be discussed in detail later. Now suppose that they reflected the prevailing belief that certain areas and groups were not civilized, that is, they were not assimilated, integrated into French civilization: poor, backward, ignorant, ill-bred, rude, violent, treating each other like beasts. It was required to teach them mores, morals, literacy, knowledge of the French language, to give them knowledge of France, to instill in them a sense of legal and institutional structure outside their immediate place of residence. Leon Gambetta summarized in the 1871 year: the peasants were “intellectually several centuries behind the enlightened part of the country”, there was “a huge distance between them and us ... between those who speak our language, and many of our compatriots [who] no matter how cruel it is to talk about it, they can no more than slur mumble on it ”; wealth should have "become a means of their moral growth," in other words, their familiarization with culture. The peasant had to be integrated into the national society, economy and culture - the culture of cities, and, mainly, one city - Paris.
The progress reports mark a campaign: as of 1880, civilization has not yet been able to penetrate the wilderness of the Morbihan department to make it look like the rest of France, however, in the Ardeche department, “rude, vulgar and wild morals are becoming softer and more cultured” , and in the Atlantic West, old customs are "swept away by civilization." Until the campaign ends successfully, the rural people will remain, as two observers from the southwest put it, a rough and incomplete outline of a truly civilized man.
Of course, he was an incomplete sketch from the point of view of the model to which he did not correspond, and there were reasons for that: he [the peasant] had no idea about this model. The cultural and political aborigine, almost an animal or a child, whom even observers sympathizing with him found undoubtedly wild. In 1830, Stendhal spoke of a terrible triangle between the cities of Bordeaux, Bayonne and Valence, where "people believed in witches, could not read, and did not speak French." Flaubert, walking through the fair in Rasporden commune in 1846, as if in an exotic bazaar, described the typical peasant he encountered in his way: "... suspicious, restless, dumbfounded by any phenomenon he does not understand, he is in a hurry to leave the city." However, despite his insight, Flaubert made a big mistake when he tried to judge the peasant by the way he behaved in the city, a place where he came only if necessary. “Because there he only encounters people who look down on him and taunt him,” the observer in the former duchy of Bourbon explained. While in the city, the peasant always felt constrained, not at ease, that the surface observer considered manifestations of "savagery and pretense." In essence, savagery was pretense, complemented by sullenness. Things were worse in regions like Brittany, where the peasant could not be sure who among the townspeople (in addition to small traders and lower classes) spoke his language. As will be shown later, here and in places like this, French speakers required translators, which did not contribute to the convenience of communication or mutual understanding.
The peasant, being in an urban setting, felt "out of place", as a result, he embarrassed the inhabitants of the city, and their opinion of the peasant was a mirror image of his distrust of them. In the 1860's, one author who watched the southwestern peasants, who, he was sure, hated and feared him, could not hide his fear or his contempt for them. And the local landowner near Nantes could not help but notice how the peasants looked at him with a look "full of hatred and suspicion." “Ignorant, full of prejudice,” writes one officer, referring to the population near Le Mans, “they have no remorse when they try to cheat or deceive.” Ignorance, apathy, lethargy, laziness, inertia, as well as cruel, grip, sly and hypocritical nature under various formulations were attributed to anger, poverty and malnutrition. We will hear more about this later. In any case, what else could be expected? The peasant did not reason logically, he was selfish and superstitious. He was immune to beauty, indifferent to the surrounding area. He envied and hated anyone who tried to get better. Urban residents, who often (like in the colonial cities of Brittany) did not understand the rural language, despised the peasants, exaggerated their savagery, insisted on more picturesque and, therefore, more backward aspects of their activities, and sometimes made comparisons not in their favor with other colonized peoples in North Africa and the New World. In Brest in the 19th century, one could easily hear a comparison of its surroundings with “bushes”: a thicket (brousse) or a village (cambrousse). But parallels with the colonies were not needed when the arsenal of abusive terminology was already filled to capacity: “Potatoes - for pigs, peel - for Bretons”.
In the middle of the XVIII century, the famous Encyclopedia expressed a generally accepted point of view: “Many people do not see the difference between such people and animals, which they use when cultivating our land; this opinion is quite old and is likely to be relevant for a long time. " And so it happened. During the Revolution, writes Henri Antoine Jules Bois, members of the National Guard unit in Maine experienced the deepest contempt for rural barbarians in their region and even returned with necklaces from ears and noses after raids into rebellious villages. The 19th-century historians in the Vendée department, in turn, deny that the villagers have any goals or ideas other than those that they received from external sources. This is a topic that has been repeated over and over again in discussions about the culture of the masses, perpetuated by the concept of a meaningless boob, whose thinking was inconsistent, if it certainly existed at all.
At the beginning of the 19th century, folklore collectors were criticized for showing interest in the "lower classes of the population" or for recording a local dialect, unworthy attention, not to mention a respectful attitude. In the 1871 year, the Republicans, clearly wanting to humiliate the majority of the National Assembly, called them "villagers." The villagers themselves agreed: being rural was humiliating. Walking or eating like a peasant was a sin, so small collections of etiquette that the peddlers sold were scattered "with a bang." Others looked at this as the existence of different species. In the Languedoc, the unprivileged classes were considered and even considered themselves a lower species: rural girls, small, dark-skinned and thin were "a different race" in comparison with their urban peers. One of the results of the belief in such a difference was that village midwives crushed the skulls of newborn children in order to “more symbolic than real” try to give the small round skulls of peasant children an elongated shape that was associated with more intelligent city dwellers. And just as the superiority pretended by strangers became the superiority that the peasants began to ascribe to them, so the derogatory judgments of the aliens became part of the language, and from there inevitably got over to the peasant heads.
In Lower Brittany (western Brittany, where local traditions were the strongest - approx. Transl.), The word pemor (originally used to denote a dork) began to refer to local peasants, and then migrated to Breton. Words like pem and beda have come up with a similar path, first denoting a pitfall, then a recruit, and then just any peasant in Lower Brittany. Similarly, in the Franche-Comté region, the term used to refer to cow dung, bouz, turned into a bouzon, referring to a peasant. Rodent (Croquants), dork, lump, man (culs-terreux) - the list we started a few pages earlier is far from over. But, as if this were not enough, the very expression “peasant” became insulting: it was rejected or humbly accepted, but in any case it was changed to a more worthy label at the earliest opportunity. And indeed, in 1890, an English traveler discovered that the word was becoming obsolete: “As soon as the opportunity arises, the peasant becomes a cultivateur!”
Being a peasant was a shame; the peasant was ashamed of lack of culture; he agreed with those who condemned him that he lacked something valuable and much superior to him; he agreed that French civilization, especially everything in Paris, was undoubtedly excellent and desirable: hence the fashion for articles from Paris (articles de Paris). The Bretons reproached people who tried to imitate an exquisite tone in the use of "a little like Paris dialect." However, they spoke with admiration about those who behaved nobly, easily, naturally, as being "on the French foot." Duality was evident and was a recurring phenomenon. We will encounter him further. But in order to realize his uncouthness, the peasant had to get an idea about the opposite. And we will find that in many places this took time. Paris and, moreover, France, meanwhile, for too many continued to be only vague and distant places; for example, the peasants of the Ariege department in the 1850's considered the Louvre a fantastic palace from fairy tales, and members of the royal family were kind of heroes of these fairy tales. However, here they did not differ from urban residents, for whom the peasant seemed "the same mysterious creature as the red-skinned Indian seemed to such a tourist in the stagecoach on the way between New York and Boston."