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The Huber Enigma: Revolutionary or Police-Spy?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 December 2008

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Any historian who deals with a period in which conspirators played a significant role sooner or later comes up against the conspirator's twin brother, the undercover police agent. In most cases, the policeman revolutionary or revolutionary policeman, however fascinating as an entrée into the twilight world of double and triple agents, offers more to the enterprising journalist than to the historian. Even some of the more spectacular exemplars of real or reputed undercover agents – Roman Malinovsky, who rose to membership in the central committee of the Bolshevik party before 1917; Lucien Delahodde, who until his exposure was a leading light in the secret societies of the July Monarchy; Auguste Blanqui, the unquenchable revolutionary who may or may not have informed on his comrades in 1839 – did not really affect the general course of history, at least not as informers. Though Malinovsky as a psychological phenomenon cries out for a latter-day Dostoevsky, his amazing career did not in any way deflect the Bolsheviks from their goal. Delahodde's more businesslike relations with the Orleanist police sapped an underground republican movement which was already impotent and discredited before he joined it. In Blanqui's case, the question of guilt or innocence is almost irrelevant, though the accusation of treason which the journalist Taschereau levelled in March 1848 did foil Blanqui's efforts to lead the left-wing opposition to the Provisional Government.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis 1967

References

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page 190 note 3 There is a considerable literature on the question of Blanqui's “guilt”. Among the major contributions are Wassermann, Suzanne, Les Clubs de Barbès et de Blanqui (Paris: Comely, 1913), pp. 105136Google Scholar; Jeanjean, J. F., Armand Barbés (1809–1870) (Paris: Comnély, 1909), I, pp. 170ff.Google Scholar; Geffroy, C., L'Enfermé (Paris: Charpentier, 1897), pp. 147ff.Google Scholar; and, more recently, Dommanget, Maurice, Un Drame politique en 1848 (Paris: Les Deux Sirènes, 1948)Google Scholar, and several articles by the same author.

page 191 note 1 Supposedly masterminded by Armand Marrast, the anti-Socialist mayor of Paris. This interpretation was not uncommon in contemporary accounts of the Revolution of 1848. More recently, it was very persuasively expounded in Guillemin, Henri, La Tragédie de 1848 (Geneva: Milieu du Monde, 1948), pp. 231257.Google Scholar

page 191 note 2 I have recently undertaken such a critical reconstruction as part ot a forth coming monograph on the Paris club movement in 1848.

page 191 note 3 Affaire du complot de Neuilly, Indictment, March 8, 1836Google Scholar, Le Moniteur universel, 1836, p. 570.Google Scholar

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page 192 note 1 Affaire du complot de Neuilly, Session of April 4, 1838Google Scholar, Cleris, Testimony, Le Moniteur universel, 1838, p. 629.Google Scholar

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page 193 note 3 Affaire Hubert, for information on Valentin, Session of May 15, 1838Google Scholar, Le Moniteur universel, 1838, p. 1271Google Scholar; for Schiller, see his testimony, Sessions of May 18 and 23, Le Moniteur universel, 1838, pp. 1311, 1391.Google Scholar

page 193 note 4 Affaire Hubert, Session of May 8, 1838Google Scholar, Interrogation of Mile Grouvelle, Le Moniteur universel, 1838, pp. 11841185Google Scholar. Mémoires Gisquet, de M., IV, pp. 8889.Google Scholar

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page 194 note 1 Louis Blanc, op. cit., V, p. 34–37.

page 194 note 2 Loc. cit.

page 194 note 3 This was at least the stated opinion ot two men who had shared Huber's captivity. Haute-Cour de Versailles, Session of October 11, 1849Google Scholar, Testimony Guignot, Nougues, Le Moniteur universel, 1849, pp. 3063, 3064.Google Scholar

page 194 note 4 While Huber's spiritual autobiography, not published until 1862 but probably written during or before 1848, deals chiefly with a conversion experience which took place in 1841, it does contain some interesting psychological insights into his captivity as well as scattered biographical information. See Huber, A., Nuit de veille d'un prisonnier d'etat (Paris: Dentu, 1862), pp. 2829Google Scholar, 32–33, 56–58, 64–68, 93–115, 117–118, 150–153, 175–185, 218–220, 261–265, 280–281, 298–304, 310–313.

page 194 note 5 For Huber being written off as moribund, see Louis Blanc, op. cit., V, p. 348. For Huber's long imprisonment, Haute-Cour de Versailles, Session of October 11, 1848, Testimony Moulin, Guignot, Mme Moulin, Le Moniteur universel, 1849, pp. 3060, 3063–3064.Google Scholar

page 194 note 6 de Versailles, Haute-Cour, Session of October 11, 1849Google Scholar, Testimony Moulin, Guignot, Mme Moulin, Le Moniteur universel, 1849, pp. 30603061, 3063–3064.Google Scholar

page 194 note 7 Archives nationales, F80, Dossier 770, Dispatch No 132 (February 25, 1848)Google Scholar.

page 194 note 8 de Versailles, Haute-Cour, Session of October 11, 1849Google Scholar, Testimony Moulin, Le Moniteur universel, 1849, p. 3060.Google Scholar

page 195 note 1 Poster (March 3 [?], 1848), Les Murailles révolutionnaires, ed. Delvau, A. (Paris: Bry, 1852), I, p. 261.Google Scholar

page 195 note 2 For Huber's presidency of the Alsatian Club, see Archives nationales, C. 942, Commission d'enquête No 8396. For his presidency of the Club du Progrès, La Commune de Paris, March 26, 1848Google Scholar.

page 195 note 3 Longepied and Laugier, Comité révolutionnaire, Club des Clubs et la Commission (Paris: Gamier, 1850), p. 78Google Scholar. Versailles, Haute-Courde, Session of October 10, 1849Google Scholar, Interrogation of Huber, Le Moniteur universel, 1849, p. 3044.Google Scholar

page 195 note 4 de Versailles, Haute-Cour, Session of October 10, 1849Google Scholar, Interrogation of Huber, Le Moniteur universel, p. 3044Google Scholar.

page 195 note 5 de Versailles, Haute-Cour, Session of October 13, 1849Google Scholar, Huber's plea, Le Moniteur universel, 1849, p. 3080.Google Scholar

page 195 note 6 Members of the board drew a per diem of 5 francs, “missionaries” 8 to 10 francs while travelling. Interrogation Delaire, Rapport de la commission d'enquête sur l'insurrection qui a éclaté dans la journée du 23 juin et sur les evénéments du 15 mai (Paris, 1848), I, p. 210.Google Scholar Longepied and Laugier, op cit., p. 57.

page 195 note 7 de Versailles, Haute-Cour, Session of October 11, 1849Google Scholar, Testimony Chilmann, Le Moniteur universel, 1849, p. 3064.Google Scholar

page 196 note 1 McKay, Donald C., The National Workshops (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1933), p. 26, fn. 25.Google Scholar

page 196 note 2 Assuming per diem wages of 3 francs; the range among Paris workers varied considerably. See Duveau, Georges, De 1848 à nos jours, Vol. IV of Histoire du Peuple français (Paris: Nouvelle Librairie de France, n.d.), pp. 90103.Google Scholar

page 196 note 3 A yearly salary of about 1500 francs seems to have been standard for clerical work in both government and private employment. The Club of Clubs, for in stance, paid its (male) secretaries 125 francs per month.

page 196 note 4 de Versailles, Haute-Cour, Session of October 11, 1849Google Scholar, Testimony Moulin, Chilmann, Le Moniteur universel, 1849, pp. 30603061, 3064Google Scholar. For Huber's own attitude, Session of October 13, 1849, p. 3079.Google Scholar

page 196 note 5 While the leader of the arresting national guards, a Dr Sée, and Lemor, the mayor, were to disagree vehemently as to whether the dissolution of the Assembly was mentioned at all, there is no doubt that See and his fellow guards acted on no more than hear-say and apologized to Huber upon his release. Huber himself was evidently a cool bluffer. Quite aside from the administrative investigating commission, called upon the subsequent request of Lemor himself to look into this incident (and which cleared Lemor of any wrong-doing), it is highly unlikely that Lemor acted upon higher orders – from Armand Marrast, mayor of Paris. As there was no possibility of predicting either Huber's arrest or his arrest in one particular district (the national guards debated as to which mairie to take him), Marrast would have had to take twelve district mayors into his confidence. This would have been particularly risky since the district mayors were unpaid volunteers, many of them unsympathetic to Marrast's brand of conservative republicanism. Lemor himself, for one, was a member of the Société démocratique centrale headed by Guinard and Schoelcher which was considerably to the left of the republicans of Le National. For this incident, see de Versailles, Haute-Cour, session of Oct. 11, 1849Google Scholar, testimony Huber, Sée, Lemor, Le Moniteur universel, 1849, pp. 3047Google Scholar, 3060, 3064. For his going into hiding, testimony Mme Moulin, ibid., p. 3064.

page 197 note 1 For Huber's letter on his role on May 15, see Rapport de la Commission d'enquête sur l'insurrection qui a éclaté le 23 juin 1848 (Paris, 1848), II, pp. 110–11Google Scholar; for his letter to Marie, dated July 2, 1848, see Glotz, Gustave, “Les papiers de Marie”, in: La Revolution de 1848, I (19041905), pp. 157–58.Google Scholar

page 197 note 2 de Versailles, Haute-Cour, Session of October 12, 1849Google Scholar, Testimony Huber, Le Moniteur universel, October 13, 1849, p. 3081.Google Scholar

page 198 note 1 de Versailles, Haute-Cour, Session of October 11, 1849Google Scholar, affidavit of Peggar, , Le Moniteur universel, 1849, p. 3063.Google Scholar

page 198 note 2 On the specious grounds that no such dossiers would ever be retained in the police archives, an assertion that was demonstrably false. de Versailles, Haute-Cour, Session of October 11, 1849Google Scholar, letter of Rebillot, police prefect, to the general procurator, October 4, 1849, Le Moniteur universel, 1849, p. 3063.Google Scholar

page 198 note 3 de Versailles, Haute-Cour, Session of October 11, 1849Google Scholar, affidavit of Peggar; Session of October 12, Testimony Monnier, Le Moniteur universel, 1849, pp. 3063, 3076.Google Scholar

page 198 note 4 For example, in a letter from the Minister of the Interior to the Minister of Justice, October 12, 1848 (A.N, BB30 333), the former bitterly complains that a magistrate testified in behalf of Raspail, one of the accused of the May 15 affair. “Je ne considère pas,” the minister went on, “que Raspail est en cause puisque Raspail à mes yeux n'est pas coupable; mais il s'agit de savoir si l'administration de la justice n'est pas une décision. Comment!… le parquet est chargé d'instruire, et par esprit de corps, afin de faire voir qu'il est puissant et considéré, le parquet devrait chercher à enterrer ses ennemis, et c'est lui, lui parquet, qui se démolit, qui atténue la culpabilité de ses adversaires.” The “innocent” Raspail was to be sentenced to six years' imprisonment in 1849.

page 199 note 1 de Bourges, Haute-Cour, Session of March 7, 1849Google Scholar, statement by Raspail, , Les Accusés de 15 mai devant la Haute-Cour de Bourges (Paris, 1849), pp. 3639Google Scholar, which outlines the questionable procedure followed.

page 199 note 2 de Versailles, Haute-Cour, Session of October 11, 1849Google Scholar, Testimony Monnier, Le Moniteur universel, 1849, p. 3061.Google Scholar

page 199 note 3 Loc. cit.

page 200 note 1 Le Moniteur universel, 1849, p. 1032.Google Scholar

page 201 note 1 Hubert, Affaire, Session of May 14, 1838Google Scholar, Le Moniteur universel, 1838, p. 1259.Google Scholar

page 202 note 1 Archives des Affaires étrangères, Angleterre 650 (October 1837–1838). I had dispatches F°46 (November 2) to F°142 (February 6, 1838) checked.

page 202 note 2 For Huber's own interpretation, see Haute–Cour de Versailles, Session of October 12, 1849Google Scholar. Letter from Huber, to Blanc, Louis, Le Moniteur universel, 1849, p. 3077Google Scholar; for Caussidiére's, Haute-Cour de Versailles, Session of October 11, 1849Google Scholar, affidavit by Peggar, [ex-archivist of the Paris police prefecture], Le Moniteur universel, 1849, p. 3063Google Scholar; for Louis Blanc, letter to Huber, ibid., p. 3077, and Blanc, Louis, Histoire de la Revolution de 1848 (Paris: Marpon & Flammarion, 1880), II, pp. 7880.Google Scholar

page 202 note 3 A.N., BB21 549, Registre S, Dossier N° 3322, Huber, , “inculpation et demande en grâce”.Google Scholar

page 202 note 4 Carr, E. H., Michael Bakunin (London: The Macmillan Company, 1937), Vintage Book reprint, pp. 221228.Google Scholar

page 203 note 1 Mémoires Gisquet, de M., IV, pp. 384385.Google Scholar

page 203 note 2 The letter which appeared in Le Moniteur des Communes, February 23, 1852Google Scholar, is reprinted by Bossu, J., “II y eut en 1848 Huber et Hubert”, in: La Révolution de 1848, XXXVI, p. 77.Google Scholar

page 203 note 3 For the report on Huber, dated February 10 [1852], from the Minister of Justice to the Prince-President, see A.N. BBal 549, Registre S, Dossier N° 3322 [Huber]. The anonymous author of the notice on Huber in Larousse, P., Grand Dictionnaire universel, Vol. H-K, p. 426Google Scholar, claims to have seen the letter of February 29, 1852, in which Huber requested a government position.

page 203 note 4 de Versailles, Haute-Cour, Session of October 13, 1849Google Scholar, Le Moniteur universel, 1849, pp. 30783079.Google Scholar