Letter from Charles S. Peirce to his brother James
(Paris, 10.12.1875)

Spanish translation & annotations


Paris, Avenue Matignon 11
1875 Dec 10

My dear Jem,

I was going to say that your very long and still more welcome letter reached me at a moment when I was overwhelmed with work. But as I am always that, perhaps it is not particularly true at this moment though I have over twenty letters all of importance to be written now.

I am amazed to find that Patterson or rather Cooper hasn't known my address although I left it at the office before I sailed & although I have received letters from Patterson


to that address & never gave notice it was changed. I don't think any of you at home will make that error. My address always is

            Care of Mssrs Mac Culloch & Co

            41 Lombard St.


By the way, observe the title of the firm. Not Jay Cooke, Mac Culloch & Co, nor Mac Culloch, Puleston & Co.

You know what a wretched letter I write so don't expect much from this. When I was in the first blush of the  voyage & had Zina with me & nothing on my mind I could write pretty well but it is different now.

That puts it into my head to say that I fear some of you may have


the idea that Zina has done wrong in going home. That would be wronging my darling very much. She was quite right in going & I fully agreed to that, although the very sudden way in which she did leave when I fully expected to see her, was a great blow to me. But she thought that if we met we shouldn't have the strength of mind to separate & therefore she acted on a sudden impulse. She didn't go home because of Amy but because the state of her health required it.

Now for a little Paris news. The  great excitement of the hour is the elections of the 75 life-senators. I haven't very much studied French politics and they seem so compli


cated that I cannot understand them. There are in the Assembly the following parties

1. Intransigéants of the extreme right

2. The part of the extreme right which votes for candidates of the left

3. Moderate right

4. Right centre, the Orléanists

5. 6. Groupe Lavergne or mathematical centre which has now split, one part voting with the right & the other with the left

7. Groupe de Clereg

8. Groupe Pradié

Groups of the right

I don't understand their position

9. Groupe de l'appel au peuple. Rouher, etc.

10. Left Centre. Léon Say etc.

11. Republican Left, or Left simply

12. Republican Union, extreme left

There are also neutrals, loose Bonapartists, Rights who belong to no caucus etc.

The following are the Morning Newspapers with their shades as well as I can make


them out

Le Soleil. Centro droit (?)

L'Écho ditto (?)

Paris-Journal Centro droit

Le Figaro. Droite moderée

Journal des Débats. Centre gauche. Say

La France. Gauche républicaine.

Le XIX Siecle. Union républicaine. Gambetta

La République Française. Ditto

L'Opinion nationale. Gauche. I don't know what shade

L'Évenement. Ditto

Le Rappel. Ditto

Le Gaulois. Appel au peuple

The following are some of the evening papers with their shades.

Le Monde. Extreme clericalist. Began its feuilleton on the theatres the only time I ever saw it with the remark that man being the creature of God could himself be creative only in a secondary degree

L'Union. Droite extreme et intransigéante


La Patrie. Centre droit

Le Francais. Centre droit

Le Pays. Bonapartist. Paul de Cassagnac

La Presse. Gauche républicaine

Le Temps. Moderate republican

Le bien publique. Centre gouche

L’Ordre. Bonapartiste

La liberté. Bonapartiste

Le Moniteur Universelle. Droite moderée

Le siècle is also republican but I forgot whether it appears in the morning or evening.

I give you this list as it may be convenient when you see some of these papers mentioned to know where they stand at this moment.

Before the first day of balloting, the right figured it out that they were going to put in their whole list the first day. They considered it as quite certain. I heard that one of the deputies of the right said "It is certain that all the candidates of the right are going in and so I shall just scratch out 14 or 15 names from the ticket". The left on the other hand seemed very downcast but kept very quiet.



They have endeavored to come to an arrangement with the right centre to which they had offered 35 seats besides others that would go to the Groupe Lavergne and other parties. But this advance was repulsed.

At last the right published their list. It contained only 62 names, 13 being left blank for the left. These 62 were divided among the different groups of the right in the proportion of a senator to every six delegates.

The left afterwards met in secret session & made a list  which only appeared at the last moment. It was a full list of lefts except Le Dne d'Audriffet-Pasquier the president of the assembly & I believe two other officers of the assembly. The bonapartists appeared on neither list.

Then came the first day's vote. Two senators elected: D’Audriffet-Pasquier who was on both lists and who got 551 of the 687 votes & Martel, left centre, who got 334. Of members who came within 10 votes of election 14 were




lefts and 4 rights.

Great encouragement of the lefts. Still greater discouragement of the rights, especially the right centre.

It appeared that the deputies of the appeal to the people voted with the lefts. The rights had two Bonapartists on their list Hamille and Vente. Hamille had 323 votes, Vente 318. Obscure that d'Audriffet-Pasquier although on both lists lacked 134 of all the votes, i.e. had only twice 270 votes. He belongs to the right centre of which he is president and therefore fewer lefts would vote for him than for Baze who belongs to no caucus; although the latter is very unpopular.

Buffet had 336 votes which was probably the real strength of the rights. They reckoned on 360 but that counted in the whole of the groupe Lavergne of 42 and probably 20 of these failed them.

The calculation of the right seems to have been as follows


Right centre      102

Moderate right    72

Extreme right     78

Lavergne           42

Clereg               30

Pradié               36


So much for the first day. Now the extreme right hate the Orléanists more than anyone. Why? Because they are silly. Because with their conditions which Chambord wouldn't accept they prevented the restoration in Nov. 1873. So certain deputies of the Extreme right went to the left & proposed to arrange for a distribution of the seats. In consequence of this, the lefts sacrificed 17 lefts



& substituted 17 extreme rights on their list. The right also filled up their list by 13 names of left centre Group Lavergne 4 neutrals. The result was that on the second day, 19 Senators were elected as follows (I have put against them the number of votes gained)


On the list of the left

On the list of the right

Groupe Pradié

Neutral (? or else Lavergne)
D'durelle de Paladines

Of candidates who came within 10 of being elected 23 lefts and 3 rights! Utter rout of the right centre. Amazing, that in two years the strongest party in France by a series of blunders should have contrived to wipe itself out completely.

Buffet had 340 votes [Majority 345], and withdrew his name! Now he can't be elected in his department.


So there is the end of him. The following are the numbers of votes received by members of the extreme right on the list of the left. 268.326.335.322.344.333.315.323.310.328.304.330.323.327.309.328.297.

It appears that about 25 votes in the maximum were brought to the left. I can't find out how many Bonapartists there are in the assembly. I should think they brought about 20 votes to the left.

Elected the Third Day [Majority 345]

List of the Left

List of the right

Extrem right

Kolb-Bernard 346


These elections will influence the popular elections without doubt and strengthen the republicans against the bonapartists.

I will now pass to the subject of theatres. It is unnecessary to say anything about the grand opera. It has amazed & confounded me



as it does everybody. I think it the finest piece of architecture of this century. The scenery is beyond all conception. Faure is great actor & his Hamlet is the best I have seen.

I have only been once to the Opéra Comique where I saw the Dame Blanche. It was very agreeable. They have another thing now I forget the name.

Of Operas bouffes I have seen an immense number. Les Cents Vierges by LeCocq was admirably given at the Bouffes. Then there was Offenbach's Jolie Parfumeuse which was pretty good. Then there were several failures & then La Créole by Offenbach at the Bouffes which is still running & is particularly good. Then there is La Reine Indigo at the Rénaissance by Strauss. The libretto is too nasty. At the  Folies Dramatiques they have the Fille de Madame Angot. At the Variétés, I saw La Boulangère a des Ecus with Aimée whom we have seen in America. Now they have there La Vie Parisienne which I understand is very entertaining. At the Théatre Taitbout it is always La cruche Cassée a very very pretty thing not so much for itself as


for the pretty acting of Chaumont. It is founded in a celebrated picture in the Louvre. I have also seen Le Voyage dans la Lune at the Gaité which is a great spectacle.

I have been to the Théatre Français a good many times always to Comedy or Drama & think it the greatest amusement in the world by far. The last thing I saw there was Le Gendre de Monsieur Poirier. The acting was better than the play. The play was clever but one had too serious a sympathy with the unfortunate Gendre to enjoy the vulgar & almost farcical shreudness of M. Poiriet. It is one of his best parts.

I have also been several times to the Odéon but oh! How far behind the Français it is, and then the large bare hall makes me sleepy there. That



or Foyot's wine which I think is particularly strong. I always dine at Foyot's when I go to the Odéon. This theatre has got a new foyer which is very fine with paintings of all the principal actors & busts of the authors. It is better worth seeing than the performance.

I enjoy the Gymnase intensely also. They have been giving there a very fine new play by Sandeau-Ferréol. The play is great & the acting is great. I gave in a letter to Zina a résume of the plot.

At the Variétés, I did not go to see the Procès Veradien? Because at first I did not follow perfectly what was said. But I went to see the Scandales d'hier which is a good play, serious & ever exciting but without much deep. It is very well acted.

At the Palais Royal they are running a


play called Le Panache. It is very funny. I have seen it twice. At the Ambigu they ran a thing called the Venus de Gordes a good while but the newspapers all said it was a vile disgusting thing & I didn’t go to see it. Rossi has created a good deal of sensation here But I have not been to see him. Neither have I been to the Theatre Lyrique Historique. I have been several times to the Folies Bergères where they now have a melange as usual which contains some very good things. Among others an Egyptian ballet. Very different indeed from the European style & very good. A living snake figures in it. I have been to Frascati, Valentino, and Bullier, the public balls & last night I went to the first masked ball I had ever seen at Frascati and enjoyed it highly.


There are to be no Opera Balls this year.

This letter is getting to be pretty long but I will now say a few words about my business. About 100 pages of my photometry are now in print. That is one third of it unless the observatory has the money to append to it my edition of Ptolemy's catalogue which I shall otherwise offer to the American Academy. I have copied a MS here & I propose to make a thorough revision of the identifications. The observatory have spoken of publishing my journal of observations. That would add another hundred pages or more.

If father would like to know what I have been doing he might send to Patterson for my official letters. Having found that my stand for the Repsold pendulum was not sufficiently rigid I planned another with a vacuum chamber, & ordered it in Geneva. And it didn’t get done. I sent for the pendulum which I had left with the mechanician there. When it came I found he had put it in the box wrong & it was bent. So much so that I saw it with my eye, though I wasn't quite



sure till I measured it. It was also otherwise injured. I induced Brunner here to undertake its restoration which will take a month & cost a mint of money. So for the present I am thrown back. I am not idle however by any means.

Harry James is now here where he has come to live for some years probably. I see him about every other day. He had a story in the Revue de Deux Mondes for Nov. 15. He is a fine fellow but his health is a little delicate.

Mr. & Mrs. Hoague are also here for the winter & they are the only people I know.

Farquhar is very agreeable but I get very tired of him. He is in my room working all day.

I talk French very wretchedly because I have so little exercise in it. On the other hand I write tolerably well. I understand it pretty


& miss very little excepts allusions. I have studied it considerably here.

I have hardly seen any scientific man here & those I have seen haven't been so polite as to make me wish to see more of them. Give me the English.

I hated Paris for the first two months but now I am getting to feel the charm of it, though I never can stop to think about it without finding my disgust for it return.



Transcription by Max Fisch, revised by Sara Barrena (2013)
Una de las ventajas de los textos en formato electrónico respecto de los textos impresos es que pueden corregirse con gran facilidad mediante la colaboración activa de los lectores que adviertan erratas, errores o simplemente mejores transcripciones. En este sentido agradeceríamos que se enviaran todas las sugerencias y correcciones a sbarrena@unav.es
Proyecto de investigación "Charles S. Peirce en Europa (1875-76): comunidad científica y correspondencia" (MCI: FFI2011-24340)

Fecha del documento: 3 de diciembre 2013
Última actualización: 29 de abril 2014
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