Charles Fourier on the Antienne, or first repast

Translated [by Charles A. Dana] from La Democratie Pacifique.
Each repast of the day has a special character, a tone which prevails generally at the three classes of tables. I will confine myself to the description of the Antienne, or first repast, which takes place in the morning before leaving the palace.
The Antienne cannot be made perfectly regular; — a beautiful disorder will distinguish it. As the hour of rising will differ with different persons, the Antienne will be divided into three acts; — there will be the first Antienne for those groups which commence their labors very early in the morning ; the grand Antienne for the mass of the groups, who will appear an hour later, and the post-Antienne for those who rise last. The tables will be renewed at each of the three acts; in general, every repast will have more or less this division into three acts.
The grand, central Antienne which takes place at about five in the morning, is very gay and very attractive in every respect. The travellers of distinction who have passed the night at the out-post will usually be presented at the central Antienne. The bulletins of news which have arrived during the night will be published; there will be announced also the spectacles prepared by neighboring Phalanxes, the movements of caravans approaching the region and the movements of industrial armies. Finally there will be there the reports which have arrived during the night, whether of the Congress of Unity sitting on the Bosphorus, or the inferior Congresses of the Amazon, the Chesapeake, &c.
The Antienne is also a second Exchange: it affords the opportunity of rectifying previous negotiations, as for instance, when any of the arrangements of the previous evening are affected by the news of the night or by other incidents subsequent to the holding of the Exchange. At the Antienne in such cases, sudden measures are agreed upon.
The combination of these agreeable incidents renders the Antienne a very irregular repast, a merry confusion, which alone would serve to call up at five in the morning those most inclined to late rising, even if they were not moved by the desire of assisting at the sessions of the groups which commence at the close of the Antienne and even before. Thus after the central Antienne hardly an eighth of the Phalanx are remaining in bed.
In fine weather, the central Antienne closes with the minor parade of the morning. Here is a description of it. I suppose it takes place at five o’clock.
At a quarter before five a chime of bells sounds the call for the parade and the hymn of the dawn. In the course of five minutes every preparation for going down is made in the halls of the Antienne; on descending, the instruments of the musicians, the decorations of the priests and the officers of the parade are found under the porches. When five is struck, the Athlete, Conrad, aged fourteen, the major on duty, gives the command to form the groups. I have before said that the officers of the minor parade are chosen from the choir of Athletes; thus the aids of Conrad are like him thirteen or fourteen years old ; the Athletes, Antenor and Amphion for the groups of men, and Clorinda and Galatea for the groups of women.
Amphion and Galatea go on one side to form the bands of music; Antenor and Clorinda to arrange the procession. This is formed in the following manner.
I suppose there are in all four hundred persons, men, women, and children, who make up twenty groups ready to go to different parts of the domain. The twenty standard bearers take their places in line at regular distances facing the peristyle with their banners before them. The musicians are formed in vocal and instrumental divisions, with a priest j or priestess at the head of each group. Before the priest or priestess there is a burning censer, with a child of the same sex, carrying perfumes, and there is a hierophant or high-priest between the columns of the two sexes. The drums and trumpets are stationed on the two sides of the peristyle; the animals and carriages are drawn up on the sides of the court.
In the centre is the major Conrad, having beside him his aide, and before him four children of the choir of Neophytes, who carry signal flags to transmit the orders to the telegraph, which repeats them to the domes of the chateaux, to the groups already abroad on the domain, and to the palaces of the neighboring Phalanxes.
When all is ready, a roll of the drum orders silence and the major announces the salute to God. Then the drums, trumpets, and all the instruments are heard ; the chimes from every dome sound also, perfumes fill the air, the waving of the banners is repeated from the spires of the palace and of the chateaux; the groups which have already gone forth unite in the ceremony, travellers alight, and caravans before quitting their stations join in the salute.
The salute lasts but a few moments, and then the high-priest gives the signal for the hymn. The priests and priestesses at the head of the vocal and instrumental parties chant the prelude and then the hymn is sung in chorus by all the groups.
After the hymn is finished the little Khan orders the roll to be beaten to the banners, the musicians break their ranks, lay aside their instruments, and go each to take his place under the ensign of his industrial group. The procession defiles in free order and not in regular masses, for being formed of persons of different ages from young to old age, it would not be easy for them to march in line with a regular step as is done at the grand parade. They arrange themselves in an artificial disorder, each group takes its carriages and leading them forward, they defile before the grand peristyle where are placed certain dignitaries, a paladin of the sovereign bearing his escutcheon if it is the minor parade, and if it is the grand parade a paladin of the emperor of unity bearing the cycloidal crescent.
Each group on its passage receives a salute proportioned to its rank. The groups of agriculture and masonry which are first, are saluted with the grand flourish, equivalent to the drum-beat in the fields. Thence each goes to its place of labor.
The hymn to God traverses the globe in different ways; on the day of the equinox there is a grand parade at day-dawn, and the spherical hierarchy presents to the rising sun a chain of phalanxes of two or three thousand leagues, whose hymns, for twenty-four hours follow each other around the globe in every longitude that receives the light. At the two solstices, the hymns are chanted at the same time over the whole globe by the entire human race, at the instant corresponding to noon at Constantinople.

  • Charles Fourier and Charles A. Dana (translator), “An Unpublished Fragment of Fourier,” The Harbinger 3, no. 10 (August 15, 1846): 150-151.


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2 Responses to Charles Fourier on the Antienne, or first repast

  1. Do you know if the idea of a chain of hymns around the world is original to Fourier?