Sunday, February 25, 2007

History of the Slaves

Since Stefanie's discovery of Emerson's association with the eminent group, there has been a widespread clamouring for more information. Much scholarship is needed to uncover the details, buried under years of lies and fears. A few people throughout the years have claimed the existence of a Secret History, though such a document has never been found. Absent of that, we can only piece together fragments and fill in the blank spots with educated guesses. In order to satisfy some of the curiosity, we plan to offer occasional posts concerning the history of the Slaves. Perhaps this will also draw out others who have additional information, and a great deal more will be learned. Until that definitive history is written, we will continue to read after Coleridge's definition, and honor the true purpose and mission of the group.

Though the Slaves of Golconda were originally and always dedicated to studied reading, the stigma that was attached to them arose by a mistaken connection to a story of romance. Stanislas Jean, chevalier de Boufflers, was studying for the priesthood at Saint-Sulpice in 1760 when he met the renowned Latin poet Fran├žois-Joseph Desbillons, also a Slave. Desbillons told Boufflers a story about a young nobleman and a girl of humble origins, which Boufflers wrote down and began circulating as Aline, reine de Golconde. When the story reached Jean Couturier, director of the Society of Saint-Sulpice--evidence strongly suggests that he never read the story himself, but was told about it by an underling known by the somewhat odd name Sous-Fifre, which is sometimes translated as "slave" in Dutch--he removed Boufflers, who sought refuge with the Knights of Malta. Sous-Fifre alleged the story was a sort of manifesto for a sex cult, the worship of a woman who exercised power over the most noble of men, something the church superiors could not abide. For hundreds of years, the Slaves were maligned and persecuted as misinformation about them was widely disseminated. In some places and circles Aline is still regarded as a modern Eve. Some scholars have even suggested that Coleridge was first attracted to the group because of its association with illicit love.

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