Enfantin Barthelemy Prosper

Enfantin Barthelemy Prosper, more commonly called father Enfantir, one of the founders of Saint Simonism (q.v.), was born at Paris February 8, 1796. He received his education at a lyceum, and subsequently (1813) at the Polytechnic School. After the fall of Napoleon he engaged in commercial and industrial pursuits. Towards the close of the year 1825 Enfantin became intimately acquainted with Olinde Rodriguez, and through him with Saint Simon, who converted him to his theories of an industrial and religious reformation. He accepted from his dying master the mission to spread and develop his doctrines. The work was begun with the establishment of a journal called Le Producteur (1825-26, 5 volumes), which closed its career with the celebrated epitaph, The golden age, which a blind tradition has formerly placed in the past, is still before us. The Liberal party at first saw in this periodical the application of its own ideas to the material order, and supported it but the support was withdrawn when Benjamin Constant denounced it as theocratic. In 1828 Enfantin had about a dozen co laborers, among whom were Blanqui, Duveyrier, Buchez (in 1818 president of the Constituent Assembly), and Pereire. The revolution of 1830 filled Enfantin with enthusiastic hopes. He signed, on the 30th of July, a proclamation, in which he demanded community of goods, abolition of inheritage, and the emancipation of woman. He organized "centers of action" at Toulouse, Montpellier, Lyons, Metz, and Dijon; provided for regular preaching at Paris, and frequently addressed the learned, the artists, and the industrials. In 1830 he secured the support of the Globe newspaper. Soon he was made by acclamation (the sacred word was acclame) one of the supreme fathers, with Bazard. The two chiefs disagreed, however, on one important point: Bazard wished to pay prominent attention to political agitation, while Enfantin occupied himself only with ethics, art, religion, and social reform. He desired first of all to regulate individual relations, to emancipate woman and the pauper, and to sanctify the flesh by labor and pleasure. He expected to obtain control of society by dispossessing the Church, not the state. In November, 1831, he issued a manifesto to the forty thousand adherents of the new doctrine in France, that Bazard and Rodriguez had separated from him, and that the new dogma had become incarnate in him alone, as the living law and the messiah. But his attempt to establish communistic colonies failed, and the researches made for finding a female messiah, to share with him the leadership of the communion, made the whole movement ridiculous. The Globe, which was gratuitously distributed, had to be discontinued. In 1832 the government suppressed the association. Enfantin, followed by about forty of his disciples, among whom were Michael Chevalier (subsequently a member of the senate), Duveyrier, and Gustave d'Eichthal, retired to an estate which he possessed on the coast of Menilmontant, and there organized a model community. There the new brethren, divided into groups of laborers, wore a peculiar garb, and passed the day in work, religious conferences, and symbolical ceremonies. The "father" (Enfantin) had this name conspicuously inscribed upon his breast, superintended, preached, encouraged; he wrote articles for Les Feuilles Populaires, and the Livre Nouveau; composed mystical hymns, and developed some mystical pantheism. It cost him great efforts to refute the attacks of Carnot, J. Reynaut, and others. He was then summoned before the assizes of the Seine, being charged with having held forbidden meetings, and outraged public morality, and was condemned to a year of imprisonment (August 28, 1832). The Saint Simonians now dispersed. Enfantin, who after a few months was set at liberty, left with about a dozen of his disciples for Egypt. Most of them, turning Mohammedans, received appointments from the pasha of Egypt; but Enfantin refused to profess Mohammedanism, and after remaining in Egypt for two years, returned to France. He was for a time postmaster, and in 1841, through the influence of his friends, some of whom had obtained high offices, was appointed member of a scientific commission sent to Algeria. In 1845 he received the chief direction of the Lyons railroad. In November, 1848, Enfantin, conjointly with Duveyrier, established a daily paper, Le Credit, which was continued until 1850. Subsequently Enfantin became connected with the administration of the railroad from Lyons to the Mediterranean. He died May 31, 1864. Shortly before his death he appointed Arles Dufour head of the sect. Enfantin developed the socialistic views of his master and his own in the works E'conomie politique et St. Simonienne (Paris 1831) and Morale (Paris 1832). The latter work was at once condemned by to Courd'assises. Another work of the same class, Le Livre nouveau (completed in 1832), has never been printed. His philosophical and theological views were set forth at length in the Correspondance philosophique et religieuse (Paris 1847), of which the Correspondance politique (Paris, 1849) is a supplement, and in a pamphlet against the Jesuit orator, father Felix (Reponse au Pere Felix, Paris, 1856). His last work was La Vie Eternelle passee, presente, future (Paris, 1861: also republished in the Bibliothique utile, Paris, 1864). In 1865 a collective edition of his socialistic works was published. Vapereau, Dictionnaire des Contemporains, s.v.; Hoefer, Nouv. Biogr. Gener. 16:37. (A.J.S.)

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