H. G. Lay
On Emile Pouget and Le Père Peinard
Faut faire ton bonbeur toi-même!
-- Emile Pouget, 1889
Sometime at the end of January 1894, Emile Pouget stole quietly away from Paris and made his way, via Antwerp and Brussels, to London. He had good reason to run. Under the aegis of the recently legislated lois scélérates, the police had begun a systematic roundup of alleged anarchists on charges of having participated, one way or another, in an association de malfaiteurs.1 The new laws were broad enough in scope to facilitate the incarceration of over four hundred suspects, a number that surely would have included Pouget--whose radical pedigree already consisted of an arrest record, jail time, and a circle of notorious revolutionary associates--had he not sought safe haven. In 1879, at the age of nineteen, he was dismissed from his job as a department store clerk for organizing a union. In 1882 police informants identified him as a member of a group calling itself "La Révolution sociale anarchiste du quartier des écoles."2 A year later he was detained, along with Louise Michel, when a demonstration of unemployed workers he helped to organize on the esplanade des Invalides ended in violence; the revolver he was carrying at the time of his arrest, as well as the stash of blasting caps and chemicals discovered in the subsequent search of his apartment, earned him eight years behind bars. Upon his early release from the penitentiary at Medun in 1886, Pouget immediately renewed his anarchist ties, and the police their surveillance; he was now a veteran revolutionary. Informants duly noted his participation in groups with ominous- sounding names like "La Sentinelle révolutionnaire" and "L'Aiguille"; and in 1888 they traced him to the editorial board of a short-lived anarchist journal named--again, ominously--Le Ça Ira.3 But it was only when he launched his own newspaper--an inflammatory weekly called Le Pére Peinard--that the police would learn the full extent of Pouget's talents as a committed activist, a wily conspirator, and a propagandist of considerable imagination.4
Le Pére Peinard made no bones about its revolutionary objectives, nor
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Publication information: Book title: Making the News:Modernity & the Mass Press in Nineteenth-Century France. Contributors: Dean De La Motte - Editor, Jeannene M. Przyblyski - Editor. Publisher: University Of Massachusetts. Place of publication: Amherst . Publication year: 1999. Page number: 82.
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