Item 41 - Philosophical and esoteric works, compiled by Vital Chaussegros

Identity area

Reference code

Crewe MS/41

Title

Philosophical and esoteric works, compiled by Vital Chaussegros

Date(s)

  • c. 1830 (Creation)

Level of description

Item

Extent and medium

1 volume (32 x 21 cm), containing three separate manuscripts (A, B, and C), of 2, 85, and 20 leaves respectively, with an unrelated folded sheet between pp. 28 and 29 of B, and another sheet on a guard between pp. 96 and 97 of the same. Half-bound.

Context area

Name of creator

(b. 1769)

Biographical history

Little is known of this person. Even the correct form of his name is uncertain. In the official record of his arrest in 1795 (see Crewe MS 41) he is named Vital Chaussegros, but he subscribes himself elsewhere (ibid., p. 74) as Chaussegros-Vital, and his name appears in other volumes as Vital-Chaussegros Theophilus-Maria, and Vital Chaussegros, théophilozophilia-Maria. According to the Wellcome catalogue (online) he was born at Saint-Symphorien-le-Château on 26 December 1769, and his father was probably Pierre Chaussegros, who was born in Saint-Symphorien-le-Château in 1735 and killed at Speyer, probably in 1792, when that city was captured by the revolutionary army. However, the record of Vital’s arrest gives his birthplace as Saint-Symphorien (Rhône), i.e. Saint-Symphorien-d’Ozon. Vital came to Paris in 1788, and was arrested on 22 May 1795, probably as one of the sans-culottes who revolted against the Thermidorian Constitution two days earlier. At the time of his arrest he was working as a baker’s boy and living in the Rue Mont-Marat (that is, Rue Montmartre). He was brought before a justice of the peace on 26 September, having presumably spent the last four months in prison, but the result of this hearing his not known. (See A. Sobaul and R. Monnier, Répertoire du personnel sectionnaire Parisien en l’an II (1985), p. 243.) Chaussegros became interested in the occult and atheism, and left a number of MSS. on these subjects in a characteristic style featuring ruled borders and different coloured inks. In his later writings he often used a kind of phonetic spelling, though he does not appear to have followed a consistent system. In 1836 he was living in Paris at No. 6 Rue des Prêtres, and he was still alive in the 1840s, but the date of his death is unknown.

Archival history

The contents of this volume were written by Chaussegros about 1831–2 (see ff. 28c and 74). The armorial bookplate of Robert, Earl of Crewe, is pasted inside the volume, and his heraldic ‘garb’ is stamped on the front cover.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

A composite volume, containing three MSS (A, B, and C). On the spine is stamped ‘Letter touchant Jesus Christ’, ‘Imne o Soleil’, ‘Statuts de l’Annonciation’, and ‘M.S.S.’

Most of the items are copied or adapted from printed works. Those on pp. 74–8, 96a–b, 100–2 (‘Remontrance’), and 102 (‘Diskour’) of B and pp. 1–14 of C are not known to have been printed. The text is in black, red, green, and brown ink, within ruled lines. Items are in prose except where indicated otherwise.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Accruals

System of arrangement

The three MSS are paginated respectively 1–4; 1–32, 32a, 33, 33a, 34–168; and 1–3, 3a, 3b, 4–38. There is a folded sheet (pp. 28a–28d) bound between pp. 28 and 29 of the second MS, and another sheet (pp. 96a–96b) mounted on a guard between pp. 96 and 97 of the same

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Language of material

  • French

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Related units of description

Crewe MS 82 was also written by Chaussegros. Other of his MSS are at the Wellcome Institute (MSS. 1556–82) and the University of Glasgow (MS Ferguson 293), and another, formerly in the collection of Stanislas de Guaita, was sold in the United States by Bonhams on 11 Feb. 2018. See the online sale catalogue and Stanislas de Guaita et sa Bibliothèque Occulte (1899), p. 91 (No. 745).

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