By Susan K. Foley, Charles Sowerwine (auth.)
Read or Download A Political Romance: Léon Gambetta, Léonie Léon and the Making of the French Republic, 1872–82 PDF
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Extra info for A Political Romance: Léon Gambetta, Léonie Léon and the Making of the French Republic, 1872–82
Léon treasured Gambetta’s letters as he did hers. In August 1872 he re-read Léon’s letters, which he then ‘organized and put in a pretty little pink box, in the most private recesses of [his] desk’. 16 ‘I want you to devote yourself to the Republic’ 33 Since neither Gambetta nor Léon could offer an exclusive relationship, passionate letters were vital to convey the importance they attached to this relationship and their hopes for its future. ’ Gambetta, likewise, pressed his ‘dear idol’ for another rendezvous.
Any outburst of radicalism on Gambetta’s part, she insisted, would play into the hands of his political enemies and alienate Thiers, whereas he could disarm them all by a display of cool reserve. After watching Gambetta’s performance in the Assembly one day, Léon was full of encouragement: I contemplated you with rapture, with your proud, gracious and calm poses. Oh! 47 By-election results throughout 1872 boosted the republicans’ confidence. ‘What I am reading about the elections thrills me, dear child of destiny’, wrote Léon.
They were considered ‘extreme’ at a time when even democracy, as Gambetta’s Belleville Programme proposed, was a radical idea, and functioning republics almost unknown. They looked back to the short-lived Second Republic of 1848 and sought social reforms to promote equality (hence Léon’s ‘socialist’ slur). For them, changes to the political system were not enough. Thus the ‘radical’ Gambetta – who was in fact moderating his views – was outflanked by this ‘Extreme Left’, whose increasing appeal to his electors was to cause him many problems.