Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Salon Under the Cedars

Many of the colonists at La Reunion were well educated. Julie Considerant even organized a salon in a cedar brake along the banks of the Trinity. This was a place where colonist could meet and discuss the ideas of Fourier, Proudhon, Cabet, Sue, Hugh and other writers and philosophers. Some colonist had brought extensive libraries which later ended up in various university libraries in Texas.
La Reunion Remembered, 150th Anniversary, 1855 — 2005, by Jim Forster
In the Early 1850s On the River with Madame Considerant

Despite her physical labors during the day Julie Considerant, wife of Victor Considerant, founder of the utopian community in Dallas, La Reunion, attempted to enhance the cultural and intellectual atmosphere at the commune. Not far from the housing complex, along the banks of the Trinity River, she found a clump of old cedar trees that formed a pleasant and secluded shelter from the hot sun. Under these cedars, on the rough frontier, Madame Considerant established a salon, and there she received all the colonists who wished to get away in the evenings and enjoy exchanging ideas and pleasantries. Kalikst Wolski, a Polish emigrant at the colony wrote in her (sic) diary: "In her cedar salon the floor was covered with a rug of natural green, for here the grass was always fresh, as it was shaded from the sun's burning heat. Above were the branches of trees spreading wide, their thick, broad leaves refreshed from time to time with benevolent dew. As a ceiling we had the clear, ever pleasant vault of heaven. The moon--or millions of glittering stars what shone so brilliantly--took the place of a lamp. In place of the tones of a piano, we had the pleasant twittering and harmonious singing of masses of birds which had chosen the place as their headquarters; and instead of chairs, hammocks were hung from tree to tree, or there were nets of thick twine on which, rocking slowly back and forth, one could be free from the unpleasant visits of snakes, always crawling in uncounted numbers everywhere." Often these gatherings lasted to a late hour, even until one or two in the morning, in the salon of that cedar grove were extraordinarily captivating and often highly erudite conversations, though more often the talk was of a light and witty nature, with anecdotes exchanged back and forth.

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