David J. (David Josiah) Brewer.

Crowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 10) online

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if they do not implicitly obey all the orders they shall receive
from the Crown, or rather from the favorite minister of the
Crown; if they do not submit to propagate the most slavish
schemes of a projecting minister, they may probably be turned
out of their employments in the army; and thus, after having
worn out their youth and vigor in the service of their country,
they may at last, and in their old age, be turned adrift, and re-
duced to a starving condition. In the other case, an army under
no such servile dependence, having no reason to doubt of prefer-
ment according to their merit, and certain they could not be
turned out of the places they have purchased by their long serv-


ices, without being guilty of some crime or of some dishonorable
behavior; and having the Constitution and the laws of their coun-
try as a security for their enjoying all those advantages as long
as they live, is it not, sir, an easy matter to determine, in which
of these cases an army may be of most danger, or of most serv-
ice, to the Constitution of this country ?

I will allow all that has been said about the virtue of those
who are at present the officers of our army; about their being
Englishmen, and everything else that has been said, or can be
said, in favor of the characters of those gentlemen; but still they
are men, and everybody knows that those who have a depend-
ence, perhaps for the whole they have in the world, must be
something more than men, if they act with the same freedom
that they would do if they were under no such influence or de-
pendence: It is certain; I hope the gentlemen of the other side
of the question, even those gentlemen who now stand up so
zealously for the prerogative, will grant that ours is a limited
monarchy: Our Constitution depends upon its not being in the
power of the Crown to break through those limits which are pre-
scribed by law, or to manage so as to render them quite inef-
fectual; for when either of these comes to be the case, our
Constitution will be at an end; the monarchy can no longer be
said to be limited, any more than a man can be said to be un-
der any restraint, who, though locked up in a room, has the keys
in his pocket, and may open the door when he pleases; or has
proper materials at hand, and may break the doors open, and
walk out whenever he has a mind. We are, therefore, never to
give a power to the Crown, we ought not to leave the Crown in
the possession of a power, which may enable any future King to
shake off all those limitations, which the royal power ought by
our Constitution to be subject to: And in this view I leave it
to every gentleman to consider, whether a standing army, under
the present circumstances, or under the regulations now proposed,
does portend most danger to our Constitution. For my own part,
I think the case so plain, I think the dangers portended, from
what is now proposed, so chimerical, that I am surprised to hear
the motion opposed by any gentleman who pretends to have the
liberties or the happiness of his country truly at heart.

But in particular, sir, I must at present observe that if no
notice should be taken of what has lately happened; if no such
provision as is intended by the bill now moved for should be


made, and we should enter into a war, as is now likely we may
be obliged to do, what encouragement can young gentlemen of
noble and ancient families have to go into the army, when they
consider that after having often ventured their lives in the serv-
ice of their country, after having honorably acquired some pre-
ferment in the army, and afterwards, by a natural and a family
interest, are come to have seats in Parliament, they must then be
obliged to forfeit all those preferments they have so honorably
acquired, or otherwise to make themselves prostitutes to an infam-
ous and wicked administration ? After this melancholy considera-
tion, sir, can it be presumed that any gentleman of honor will
engage with that alacrity in the army, as he would do, if he were
assured of preserving and enjoying whatever posts he may have
in the army, with the same honor and integrity with which he
acquired them ? This, sir, makes it more particularly necessary
at present to agree to the proposition now made to us; and as I
think it makes no encroachment upon our Constitution, but is,
upon the contrary, a very necessary amendment; as I think it
for the honor of Parliament, and no way inconsistent with the
honor or safety of the Crown, I shall therefore most heartily
agree to it.


(1840- I 902)

AiiLE Zola, after making an international reputation by his
novels, forced himself to the front of French politics in 1898
by becoming the champion of Captain Dreyfus against the
administration which, after a mere form of trial, had convicted him of
selHng French military secrets to a foreign power. On January loth,
1898, Major Walsin-Esterhazy was acquitted after a secret trial by
court-martial on charges preferred by the brother of Captain Dreyfus
that he was the real author of the memorandum or bordereau which
Captain Dreyfus was accused of having prepared for the German Gov-
ernment. Three days after the acquittal of Walsln-Esterhazy, Zola pub-
lished the celebrated "I Accuse" letter to President Faure which re-
sulted, as he had expected, in his own arrest. His trial for libel, which
was really the first public hearing of the Dreyfus case, began February
2d, 1898, and on February 22d, he delivered his celebrated appeal to
the jury, — an appeal intended to force a new trial for Dreyfus rather
than to secure an acquittal for himself. Convicted of libel, as It was
generally expected he would be, Zola absented himself from Paris with-
out ceasing, however, to promote the agitation which finally forced the
rehearing of the Dreyfus case and the "pardon" of that victim of
French militarism. Zola's address to the jury is one of the most im-
portant documents in the political history of the last quarter of the nine-
teenth century. The text here given is from the London Times of
February 23d. 1898, compared with the text given in Mr. Benjamin R.
Tucker's report of the Zola trial. (New York, 1898.) Zola died in
Paris, September 29th, 1902, the cause of death reported at the time be-
ing "asphyxiation."

(Delivered in Paris, February 22d, 1898, at the Zola Trial for Libel)

IN THE Chamber at the sitting of January 22d, M. Meline, the
Prime Minister, declared, amid the frantic applause of his
complaisant majority, that he had confidence in the twelve
citizens to whose hands he intrusted the defense of the army. It
was of you, gentlemen, that he spoke. And just as General Billot


^o^, fiMILE ZOLA

dictated its decision to the court-martial intrusted with the ac-
quittal of Major Esterhazy, by appealing from the tribune for
respect for the chose jugtfe, so likewise M. Meline wished to give
you the order to condemn me "out of respect for the army,'*
which he accuses me of having insulted!

I denounce to the conscience of honest men this pressure
brought to bear by the constituted authorities upon the justice
of the country. These are abominable political practices which
dishonor a free nation. We shall see, gentlemen, whether you
will obey.

But it is not true that I am here in your presence by the will
of M. M61ine. He yielded to the necessity of prosecuting me
only in great trouble, in terror of the new step which the ad-
vancing truth was about to take. This everybody knew. If I am
before you, it is because I wished it. I alone decided that this
obscure, this abominable affair, should be brought before your
jurisdiction, and it is I alone of my free will who chose you, you,
the loftiest, the most direct emanation of French justice, in order
that France, at last, may know all, and give her decision. My
act had no other object, and my person is of no account. I have
sacrificed it in order to place in your hands, not only the honor
of the army, but the imperiled honor of the nation.

It appears that I was cherishing a dream in wishing to offer
you all the proofs, considering you to be the sole worthy, the
sole competent judge. They have begun by depriving you with
the left hand of what they seemed to give you with the right.
They pretended, indeed, to accept your jurisdiction, but if they
had confidence in you to avenge the members of the court-
martial, there were still other officers who remained superior even
to your jurisdiction. Let who can understand. It is absurdity
doubled with hypocrisy, and it shows clearly that they dreaded
your good sense, — that they dared not run the risk of letting us
tell all and of letting you judge the whole matter. They pre-
tend that they wished to limit the scandal. What do you think
of this scandal, — of my act which consisted in bringing the mat-
ter before you, — in wishing the people, incarnate in you, to be
the judge ? They pretend also that they could not accept a re-
vision in disguise, thus confessing that in reality they have but
one fear, that of your sovereign control. The law has in you its
complete representation, and it is this chosen lav/ of the people
that I have wished for, — this law which, as a good citizen, I


hold in profound respect, and not the suspicious procedure by
which they hoped to make you a laughingstock.

I am thus excused, gentlemen, for having brought you here
from your private affairs without being able to inundate you
with the full flood of light of which I dreamed. The light, the
whole light, — this was my sole, my passionate desire! And this
trial has just proved it. We have had to fight step by step
against an extraordinarily obstinate desire for darkness. A bat-
tle has been necessary to obtain every atom of truth. Every-
thing has been refused us. Our witnesses have been terrorized
in the hope of preventing us froin proving our case. And it is
on your behalf alone that we have fought, that this proof might
be put before you in its entirety, so that you might give your
opinion on your consciences without remorse. I am certain,
therefore, that you will give us credit for our efforts, and that,
I feel sure too that sufficient light has been thrown upon the

You have heard the witnesses; you are about to hear my
counsel, who will tell you the true story, the story that maddens
everybody and that everybody knows. I am, therefore, at my
ease. You have the truth at last, and it will do its work. M.
Meline thought to dictate your decision by intrusting to you the
honor of the army. And it is in the name of the honor of the
army that I too appeal to your justice.

I give M. M61ine the most direct contradiction. Never have
I insulted the army. I spoke on the contrary of my sympathy,
my respect for the nation in arms, for our dear soldiers of
France, who would rise at the first menace to defend the soil of
France. And it is just as false that I attacked the chiefs, the
generals who would lead them to victory. If certain persons at
the War Office have compromised the army itself by their acts,
is it to insult the whole army to say so ? Is it not rather to act
as a good cit^'sen to separate it from all that compromises it, to
give the alarm, so that the blunders which alone have been the
cause of our defeat shall not occur again, and shall not lead us
to fresh disaster.

I am not defending myself, moreover. I leave history to
judge my act, which was a necessary one; but I affirm that the
army is dishonored when gendarmes are allowed to embrace Ma-
jor Esterhazy after the abominable letters written by him. I af-
firm that that valiant army is insulted daily by the bandits who,


on the plea of defending it, sully it ' by their degrading cnam-

pionship, who trail in the mud all that France still honors as

good and great. I affirm that those who dishonor that great na-
tional army are those who mingle cries of << Vive Varmde !^'* with
those of '•^ A bas Us juifs!^^ and « Vive Esterhazy!^^ Grand Dieu!
the people of Saint Louis, of Bayard, of Conde, and of Hoche, the
people which counts a hundred great victories, the people of the
great wars of the Republic and the Empire, the people whose
power, grace, and generosity have dazzled the world, crying " Vive
Esterhazy!" It is a shame the stain of which our efforts on be-
half of truth and justice can alone wipe out!

You know the legend which has grown up: Dreyfus was con-
demned justly and legally by seven infallible officers, whom it
is impossible even to suspect of a blunder without insulting the
whole army. Dreyfus expiates in merited torments his abomi-
nable crime, and as he is a Jew, a Jewish syndicate is formed,
an international sans patrie syndicate disposing of hundreds of
millions, the object of which is to save the traitor at any price,
even by the most shameless intrigues. And thereupon this syn-
dicate began to heap crime on crime, buying consciences, precipi-
tating France into a disastrous tumult, resolved on selling her to
the enemy, willing even to drive all Europe into a general war
rather than renounce its terrible plan.

It is very simple, nay childish, if not imbecile. But it is with
this poisoned bread that the unclean press has been nourishing
our poor people now for months. And it is not surprising if we
are witnessing a dangerous crisis; for when folly and lies are
thus sown broadcast, you necessarily reap insanity.

Gentlemen, I would not insult you by supposing that you have
yourselves been duped by this nursery tale. I know you; I know
who you are. You are the heart and the reason of Paris, of my
great Paris, where I was born, which I love with an infinite ten-
derness, which I have been studying and writing of now for forty
years. And I know likewise what is now passing in your brains;
for, before coming to sit here as defendant, I sat there on the
bench where you are now. You represent there the average opin-
ion; you try to illustrate prudence and justice in the mass. Soon
I shall be in thought wdth you in the room where you deliberate,
and I am convinced that your effort will be to safeguard your
interests as citizens, which are, of course, the interests of the
whole nation. You may make a mistake, but you will do so in



the thotight that while securing your own weal you are securing
the weal of all.

I see you at your homes at evening under the lamp; I hear
you talk with your friends; I accompany you into your factories
and shops. You are all workers — some tradesmen, others manu-
facturers, some professional men ; and your very legitimate anxiety
is the deplorable state into which business has fallen. Every-
where the present crisis threatens to become a disaster. The
receipts fall off; transactions become more and more difficult.
So that the idea which you have brought here, the thought which
I read in your countenances, is that there has been enough of
this and that it must be ended. You have not gone the length
of saying, like many: **What matters it that an innocent man is
at the lie du Diable ? Is the interest of a single man worth this
disturbing a great country ? ^* But you say, nevertheless, that the
agitation which we are carrying on, we who hunger for truth
and justice, costs too dearly! And if you condemn me, gentle-
men, it is that thought which will be at the bottom of your ver-
dict. You desire tranquillity for your homes, you wish for the
revival of business, and you may think that by punishing me you
will stop a campaign which is injurious to the interests of France.

Well, gentlemen, if that is your idea, you are entirely mis-
taken. Do me the honor of believing that I am not defending
my liberty. By punishing me you would only magnify me.
Whoever suffers for truth and justice becomes august and sacred.
Look at me. Have I the look of a hireling, of a liar, and a
traitor ? Why should I be playing a part ? I have behind me
neither political ambition nor sectarian passion. I am a free
writer, who has given his life to labor; who to-morrow will go
back to the ranks and resume his interrupted task. And how
stupid are those who call me an Italian; — me, born of a French
mother, brought up by grandparents in the Beauce, peasants of
that vigorous soil; me, who lost my father at seven years of age,
who never went to Italy till I was fifty-four. And yet I am
proud that my father was from Venice, — the resplendent city
whose ancient glory sings in all memories. And even if I were
not French, would not the forty volumes in the French language,
which I have sent by millions of copies throughout the world,
suffice to make me a Frenchman ?

So I do not defend myself. But what a blunder would be
yours if you were convinced that by striking me you would
10 — 19


reestablish order in our unfortunate country! Do you not under-
stand now that what the nation is djing of is the darkness in
which there is such an obstinate determination to leave her?
The blunders of those in authority are being heaped upon those
of others; one lie necessitates another,, so that the mass is be-
coming formidable. A judicial blunder was committed, and then
to hide it, it has been necessary to commit every day fresh crimes
against good sense and equity! The condemnation of an innocent
man has involved the acquittal of a guilty man, and now to-day
you are asked in turn to condemn me because I have cried out
in my anguish on beholding our country embarked on this terri-
ble course. Condemn me, then! But it will be one more error
added to the others — a fault the burden of which you will hear
in history. And my condemnation, instead of restoring the peace
for which you long, and which we all of us desire, will be only a
fresh seed of passion and disorder. The cup, I tell you, is full;
do not make it run over!

Why do you not judge justly the terrible crisis through which
the country is passing ? They say that we are the authors of
the scandal, that we who are lovers of truth and justice are lead-
ing the nation astray and urging it to violence. Surely this is a
mocker}'! To speak only of General Billot, — was he not warned
eighteen months ago ? Did not Colonel Picquart insist that he
should take up the matter of revision, if he did not wish the
storm to burst and destroy everything? Did not M. Scheurer-
Kestner, with tears in his eyes, beg him to think of France, and
save her such a calamity? No! our desire has been to make
peace, to allay discontent, and, if the country is now in trouble,
the responsibility lies with the power, which, to cover the guilty,
and in the furtherance of political ends, has denied everything,
hoping to be strong enough to prevent the truth from being re-
vealed. It has manoeuvred in behalf of darkness, and it alone is
responsible for the present distraction of the public conscience!

The Dreyfus case, gentlemen, has now become a very small
affair. It is lost in view of the formidable questions to which it
has given rise. There is no longer a Dreyfus case. The ques-
tion now is whether France is still the France of the rights of
man, the France which gave freedom to the world, and ought to
give it justice. Are we still the most noble, the most fraternal,
the most generous of nations ? Shall we preserve our reputation
in Europe for justice and humanity ? Are not all the victories


that we have won called in question? Open your eyes, and un-
derstand that, to be in such confusion, the French soul must
have been stirred to its depths in face of a terrible danger. A
nation cannot be thus moved without imperiling its moral exist-
ence. This is an exceptionally serious hour; the safety of the
nation is at stake.

When you have understood that, gentlemen, 5'ou will feel that
but one remedy is possible, — to tell the truth, to do justice.
Anything that keeps back the light, anything that adds darkness
to darkness, will only prolong and aggravate the crisis. The
duty of good citizens, of all who feel it to be imperatively neces-
sary to put an end to this matter, is to demand broad daylight.
There are already many who think so. The men of literature,
philosophy, and science are rising in the name of intelligence
and reason. And I do not speak of the foreigner, of the shud-
der that has run through all Europe. Yet the foreigner is not
necessarily the enemy. Let us not speak of the nations that
may be our opponents to-morrow. But great Russia, our ally;
little and generous Holland; all the sympathetic nations of the
north; those countries of the French language, Switzerland and
Belgium, — why are their hearts so heavy, so overflowing with
sympathetic suffering ? Do you dream, then, of an isolated France ?
Do you prefer, when you pass the frontier, not to meet the smile
of approval for your historic reputation for equity and humanity ?

Alas! gentlemen, like so many others, you expect the thunder-
bolt to descend from heaven in proof of the innocence of
Dreyfus. Truth does not come thus. It requires research and
knowledge. We know well where the truth is, or where it might
be found. But we dream of that only in the recesses of our souls,
and we feel patriotic anguish lest we expose ourselves to the
danger of having this proof some day cast in our face after hav-
ing involved the honor of the army in a falsehood. I wish also
to declare positively that, though, in the official notice of onr list,
of witnesses, we included certain embassadors, we had decided in
advance not to call them. Our boldness has provoked smiles.
But I do not think that there was any real smiling in our foreign
office, for there they must have understood! We intended to say
to those who know the whole truth that we also know it. This
truth is gossiped about at the embassies; to-morrow it will be
known to all, and, if it is now impossible for us to seek it where
it is concealed by official red tape, the Government which i^

202 Smile zola

not ignorant, — the Government which is convinced as we are, —
of the innocence of Dreyfus, will be able, whenever it likes and
without risk, to find witnesses who will demonstrate everything.

Dreyfus is innocent. I swear it! I stake my life on it — my
honor! At this solemn moment, in the presence of this tribunal
which is the representative of human justice, before you, gentle-
men, who are the very incarnation of the country, before the
whole of France, before the whole world, I swear that Dreyfus is
innocent. By my forty years of work, by the authority that this
toil may have given me, I swear that Dreyfus is innocent. By
all I have now, by the name I have made for myself, by my
works which have helped for the expansion of French literature,
I swear that Dreyfus is innocent. May all that melt away, may
my works perish if Dreyfus be not innocent! He is innocent.
All seems against me — the two Chambers, the civil authority, the
most widely-circulated journals, the public opinion which they
have poisoned. And I have for me only an ideal of truth and
justice. But I am quite calm; I shall conquer. I was deter-
mined that my country should net remain the victim of lies and
injustice. I may be condemned here. The day will come when
France will thank me for having helped to save her honor.

Noted Sayings and Celebrated Passages

JHE « Noted Sayings and Celebrated Passages » here given are frequently to
be found in the orations published in the body of the work, but in col-
lecting them the intention was to make them rather a supplement than a
repetition. The rule has been not to go beyond the province of oratory
to .find such passages, but in a few cases of obvious necessity (^. g-., « Innocuous
Desuetude >> and « Benevolent Assimilation >>) public documents and other authorities
have been quoted to show the source of phrases often used by speakers. Where it
was not practicable to quote a phrase verbatim in classifying, a caption has been
added giving as closely as possible the idea of the passage. In addition to this, the
passages are indexed by authors in the Table of Contents of this volume.

A ddress to the Army of Italy — Napoleon
•**■ Bonaparte : Soldiers, you are precipi-
tated like a torrent from the heights of the
Apennines ; you have overthrown and dispersed
all that dared to oppose your march. Pied-
mont, rescued from Austrian tyranny, is left to
its natural sentiments of regard and friend-
ship to the French. Milan is yours ; and the
republican standard is displayed throughout

Online LibraryDavid J. (David Josiah) BrewerCrowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 10) → online text (page 28 of 56)