L’Illustration, a Weekly Newspaper How It Was Done

Illustration by H. F. Plüddemann for  G. A. Bürger's Lenore
“And faster, faster! ring, ring, ring!”
Illustration by H. F. Plüddemann for G. A. Bürger’s “Lenore” ballad.
Like all the great powers here below, L’Illustration has courtiers; the capital of its large kingdom is Paris; it set up the seat of its government 33 rue de Seine; ministers chosen with rare discernment rule in its name. But, in addition to these sworn in and responsible dignitaries, it has in every French town and abroad a number of voluntary subjects who, eager for its favors, sigh for this blissful moment when they are allowed to give it, through pen or pencil, a striking token of their affectionate devotion. It receives every day, along with addresses of congratulations, detailed accounts and original drawings of any important event which occurred on our planet during the week. The cabinet regularly meets from noon to six in the evening, it examines the communications it received, tears up and burns those which seem insignificant and submits to thorough discussion those it hopes to put to good use. Once the meeting is over, couriers are sent in every direction. Some run to artists to ask them for drawings, others rush to the residences of writers responsible for explanatory texts on the same day. Since the creation of L’Illustration, traffic has almost doubled in Paris. Haven’t you ever run into that famous cabriolet which travels all over the city, going this way and that with such frightful speed? You could hardly see it when it shot past you, faster than the unearthly horse from the Lenore ballad. That’s L’Illustration’s favorite horse! It takes with its rider the clever executor of the supreme council, whose name must have struck your ears more than once.

It’s not enough for L’Illustration to be informed at the very moment anything happens, it needs to know what is about to happen. This mystery I am not allowed to reveal. Therefore I shan’t tell you how the prophets of your newspaper manage to know the future. Don’t ask any more about it, and follow me to place Saint-André-des-Arts.

Image source: Deutsches Balladenbuch. Leipzig: Georg Wigand’s Verlag, 1852.