W. (William) Harding.

Dreyfus: the prisoner of Devil's Island, a full story of the most remarkable military trial and scandal of the age online

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lon's, and that, consequently, his reply to the latter applied equally to
Valerio.

Reference having been made to doctored words in minutes written by
him at the War Office, Dreyfus pointed out that these minutes were writ-



224 DREYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

ten in the presence of witnesses. He also dwelt upon the fact that he
had already acknowledged the genuineness of the "blotting-pad letter,"
which he reaffirmed, adding that the hypothesis that he doctored the bor-
dereau in order to have means of defence fell to the ground of itself, since
he had never attempted to turn the system to use.

"All M. Bertillon's measures are false. All, without exception," ex-
claimed the prisoner vehemently, amid excitement.

There was a highly dramatic scene toward the end of the session.
Maitre Labori asked to have Captain Freystaetter, of the Marine Infantry,
one of the members of the court-martial of 1894 which convicted Drey-
fus, called in contradiction of the desposition of Colonel Maurel-Pries, the
presiding judge upon that occasion, who had testified that he only read one of
the documents out of the secret dossier communicated to the court-martial.

The captain, who is a finely built officer, and who has a handsome,
honest face, ascended the platform with a firm step and a fearless air.
When he was asked to recount what occurred, he said his conviction of
the guilt of the prisoner was formed by the evidence of the experts in
handwriting, the deposition of Colonel Du Paty de Clam, "and," he con-
tinued, " I must add, some slight influence was exercised over my mind
by hearing the secret dossier read."

The witness was then questioned as to whether one or more of the
documents were read, and he said they were all read. This was in direct
contradiction of Colonel Maurel-Pries, and M. Labori once demanded the
confrontation of Captain Freystaetter with Colonel Maurel-Pries, The
latter mounted the stage, and presented a miserable spectacle, his shifty
eyes blearing out beneath heavy eyebrows.

" How do you explain this ? " asked M. Labori.

Then the colonel, at bay, replied savagely:

" I said I only read one document. I did not say only one document
was read."

This statement called forth an outburst of hisses and indignant " Ohs ! "
from the audience, which looked upon it as an infamous confession.

The witness, trembling with shame, but evidently determined to fight
to the last, threw a fierce look of hatred at M. Labori and the audience,
as the gendarmes shouted :

" Silence ! Silence ! "




3IADA.A1E LAlJUia tSUrrUKTING llKli WOUNDKIJ 11USJ5ANI).




SCENE BETWEEN GENERAL HOGET AND COLONEL riCQUAUT, AUGUJST 18, 1899.



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WITNESSES AGAINST DREYFUS.
General Zurlinden, Casimir-P^rier, Billot, Mercier.




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THE CUNFliONTATlUN OF CAPTAIN FlIEYSTAETTEK AND COLONEL .AIAUKEL-

PKIES, JUDGES IN THE TRIAL OF 1894.



MERCIER ACCUSES THE DEAD 225

After this the audience listened spellbound as Captain Freystaetter, in
a distinct, bold voice, told exactly what the documents of the dossier
were, and how Colonel Maurel-Pries not only read these documents, but
made comments on them. This was practically calling Maurel-Pries a
liar, and the colonel glared at the captain ferociously.

Freystaetter, however, was not dismayed, and his words, spoken in a
tone of candor and fearlessness, must have carried conviction to every hearer.

General Mercier then asked to be heard, and placed himself by the
side of Maurel-Pries. The forbidding appearance of these two men, both
dressed in civilian attire, was in striking contrast with the erect, unflinch-
ing attitude of Freystaetter, who wore the smart uniform of a captain of
artillery, with medals on his breast. It was a remarkable scene.

General Mercier at once denied Captain Freystaetter's declaration that
the Panizzardi dispatch was contained in the dossier. " It is a lie ! "
[Tremendous sensation.]

Captain Freystaetter, however, was undaunted, and replied, looking
Colonel Jouaust straight in the face :

"I swear that what I have said is true. And," Freystaetter added, "I
not merely remember the dispatch, but I have a vivid recollection of the
fact that the first words were, ' Dreyfus is arrested. Emissary warned.'"

This emphatic declaration increased the sensation.

General Mercier then made the self-saving reply that he did not make
up the dossier, which was made up by the late Colonel Sandherr, Chief of
the Intelligence Department.

M. Labori was hotly indignant at General Mercier's equivocation, and
asked Colonel Jouaust again and again to have special doctors make an
official examination of Colonel Du Paty de Clam to see if he was really
incapable of giving evidence. But the president of the court refused,
whereupon M. Labori, beside himself, cried :

" Colonel Sandherr is dead ; Colonel Henry is dead, and Colonel Du
Paty de Clam won't come here."

Then counsel sat down, boiling with indignation. Colonel Jouaust
told M. Labori not to make observations.

The scene this day showed both Colonel Maurel-Pries and General

Mercier in an odious light. Maurel-Pries was shown, to put it mildly,

not to have told the truth, while Mercier, when cornered, threw the awk-
15



226 DREYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

ward responsibility for the illegalities of the court-martial of 1894 on
dead men, as M. Labori pointed out.

The audience had their hearts in their mouths from the moment Cap-
tain Freystaetter opened his lips until the three confronted witnesses left
the stage, and every moment a murmur of disgust and the general cry of
" Oh !" burst from the hearers.

General Mercier accused Captain Freystaetter of lying in the matter
of the Eobin shell, concerning which there is a report accusing Dreyfus
of communicating the details of the shell to Germany.

Freystaetter had said that it was included in the secret dossier.

"I have caught Captain Freystaetter in the very act of lying," said
General Mercier, amid the greatest excitement in court, "for the Robin
shell was not delivered until 1895."

Captain Freystaetter replied promptly, maintaining the truth of his
previous statement, saying he referred to " a " shell and not to the Robin
shell, and he spoke like an honest man.

Colonel Maurel-Pries, on the other hand, when driven to confess, told
untruths, and tried to wriggle out of it. He presented a despicable ap-
pearance, his voice broken as though choking, while his limbs were shak-
ing with suppressed, futile passion.

This incident, which terminated with the evidence of Captain Frey-
staetter, caused an immense impression on the audience. The Dreyfus-
ards were jubilant.

Dreyfus said he had nothing to ask the witnesses. Colonel Maurel-
Pries, General Mercier, and Captain Freystaetter then left the stage.

M. Paray-Javal, a draughtsman, was called for the defence. He was
accompanied by a blackboard, upon which he proposed to refute a portion
of M. Bertillon's problems. The witness said, amid laughter, that the
demonstration would occupy no less than two hours. He then proceeded
to chalk a number of caligraphic signs on the blackboard, and presented to
the court photographs of the writing of the bordereau and the prisoner's
handwriting, pointing out their dissimilarities and entering into elaborate
explanations, which were not concluded when the court adjourned.



THE EVIDENCE OF M. BERTILLON IS RIDICULED 227



Chapter XLI.

THE EVIDENCE OF M. BERTILLON IS RIDICULED

The fourth week of the trial of Captain Dreyfus opened in the Lyc^e
Building on August 28th.

The first witness called was M. Paray-Javal, the draughtsman, whose
evidence was interrupted on August 26th by the adjournment of the
court.

With the aid of a blackboard M. Paray-Javal demonstrated the fallacy
of M. Bertillon's calculations, and criticised the latter's unfairness in not
submitting Esterhazy's handwriting to the same tests as the prisoner's
writing. At the same time, the draughtsman declared, even if M. Bertil-
lon had done so, the results would not have proved anything.

In conclusion M. Paray-Javal said, amid laughter, that he thought M.
Bertillon was a very intelligent man, but that his system was false, and
he, the witness, was convinced that only self-esteem prevented M. Ber-
tillon from admitting his error.

M. Bernard, an inspector of mines, who took high honors at the Poly-
technic School, who followed M. Paray-Javal at the witness bar, said he
appeared to refute a portion of M. Bertillon's evidence which was based
on false calculations. As a matter of fact, he added, it was on such a
basis that the whole system rested.

In conclusion, M. Bernhard exhibited to the judges a plate represent-
ing a page of current handwriting, and said :

" If it was examined by M. Bertillon's system it will show certain
peculiarities which would not be found upon the examination of fifty mil-
lion other documents. M. Bertillon would therefore say the document was
fabricated. But he would be wrong, for I borrowed the page from a re-
port written by M. Bertillon himself."

M. Bertillon demanded permission to reply to the witness, and Colo-
nel Jouaust replied :



228 DREYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

" I cannot grant your request, and I will not grant such permission to
any of the fourteen experts, except in the case of a personal explanation."

M. Bertillon — I wish to speak of the manner in which I reconstructed
the bordereau.

Colonel Jouaust — Why, you are discussing the case. I cannot allow
you to speak except in regard to a personal fact.

The president's statement aroused loud laughter, amid which M. Ber-
tillon, disconcerted, resumed his seat.

M. Teysonnieres followed. He said he adhered in all respects to his
report dated October 29, 1894, in which he expressed the opinion that
the bordereau was the work of the writer of the documents seized at the
prisoner's residence. For purposes of comparison, the witness lengthily
criticised the bordereau letter by letter, pointing out resemblances to the
prisoner's handwriting.

M. Teyssonieres, in finishing his testimony, said he thought it was im-
possible to find more tangible reasons than those which induced in him
the belief, which he hoped the court would share.

Eeplying to the court, M. Teyssonieres said he had not noticed that
the prisoner's handwriting was illegible, and he had never seen the docu-
ment dictated to Dreyfus.

The copy of the bordereau made by Dreyfus was then handed to the
witness, who declared it had never been given to him for purposes of
comparison.

The witness added that he would require three days to give an opinion
upon it. He could not conclude his examination on the spot. He must
have time.

M. Charavay, the archivist and expert in ancient manuscripts, said :

"I, with two colleagues (MM. Teyssonieres and Pelletier), though act-
ing under separate instruction, was commissioned to examine the bor-
dereau and a number of documents for comparison unsigned and in differ-
ent handwritings. I examined, first, the latter documents, and by the
process of elimination fixed upon one resembling the bordereau. I was
then furnished with specimens of the handwriting in question, but was
not told the name of the writer. I asked if the document could be re-
garded as genuine, and was told the place whence it emanated, which
could not be mentioned by me, and which could leave no doubt in regard



THE EVIDENCE OF M. BERTILLON IS RIDICULED 229

to its value. I make this remark because I think it explains my opinion,
for I could not consider a document of this nature which was not marked
by a certain dissimilarity of handwriting. I therefore attributed to dis-
similarity the differences I was careful to note in my report.

" Now I must inform the court, that, in view of the fact that hand-
writing which was not produced in 1894, and which is evidently akin to
the handwriting of the bordereau and the handwriting of Dreyfus, has
since been submitted to me, I cannot maintain with the same degree of
certainty the conclusions of my former report, and I can only make one
statement, namely, that these two handwritings resemble the bordereau.
I should, however, point out one of the typical dissimilarities, upon which
I laid stress, between the writing of the bordereau and the documents
submitted for comparison, namely, that the double ' s ' is not found in the
new handwriting. In other words, the double ' s ' of the bordereau is
found in Esterhazy's handwriting."

After repeating the evidence he gave before the Court of Cassation,
M. Charavay declared it was the new element, the handwriting of Ester-
hazy, which led him to declare he did not adhere to his conclusions of
1894.

In conclusion M. Charavay energetically protested against General
Mercier's accusations, adding that what convinced him that he had made
a mistake in 1894 was the publication of Esterhazy's letters, the discov-
ery of the Henry forgery, the inquiry of the Court of Cassation, and Ester-
hazy's confession.

The conscience of the witness compelled him to say that in 1894 he
was misled by similarity in handwriting.

" It is a great relief to my conscience," M. Charavay added, "to be able
to say, before you and before him who is the victim of my mistake, that
the bordereau is not the work of Dreyfus, but of Esterhazy."

An immense sensation was caused in court by this statement.

Eeplying to Colonel Jouaust, the witness said that the mere examina-
tion of the bordereau and the documents presented for comparison were
sufficient to convince him that the bordereau was not written by Dreyfus.

The prisoner, on being asked the customary questions, requested M.
Charavay to give further particulars as to the reasons which led him to
modify his opinions in regard to the writer of the bordereau, whereupon



230 DREYFUS; THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

the witness entered into a lengthy technical explanation. He told how-
he found unmistakable resemblances between the bordereau and Ester-
hazy 's writing.

M. Pelletier, another expert, prefaced his evidence by saying he de-
sired to make a definite statement on the point upon which he was in
entire disagreement with General Mercier, The latter had testified that
the witness refused to use certain documents submitted to him for com-
parison in common with the other experts, and said he had been led to
regard ]\I. Pelletier's work with some suspicion, because of certain inci-
dents in which M. Pelletier, being summoned to appear simultaneously in
two different courts, had written to both, excusing himself on the groimd
of attendance at the other.

General Mercier declared this made him suspicious of M. Pelletier's
report in favor of Dreyfus, inferring that his failure to comply with the
summons of the examining magistrates in November, 1894, was connected
with his report, whereas the report, the witness pointed out, was handed
in on October 26th.

"I have only to oppose facts to Mercier's inferences," said M. Pelle-
tier. "On October 2 2d I was intrusted with the verification in question.
I handed in my report October 26th, and it was only in November that
I was summoned to undergo cross-examination on a complaint lodged by
the military authorities. General Mercier, in short, had not the slightest
reasons to suspect the conclusions which I had reached."

After replying to a question or two from the court, M. Pelletier con-
tinued :

"After settling this personal matter there remains nothing but to
maintain in their entirety my conclusions to the effect that there is no
likeness between the writing of the bordereau and that of the prisoner."

M. Couard, the official archivist and expert in the Esterhazy case in
1897, then testified that he was instructed by Major Ravary to examine
expertly the bordereau and specimens of Esterhazy's handwriting. The wit-
ness insisted upon experimenting with the original bordereau and speci-
mens of Esterhazy's caligraphy written by Esterhazy in the presence of
experts. Beyond this the expert and Esterhazy had no relations. The
latter therefore could not have influenced him, and the witness protested
against M. Zola's accusations and adhered to his opinion of 1897, that the



THE EVIDENCE OF M. BERTILLON IS RIDICULED 231

bordereau was not the work of Esterhazy. He, the witness, would wager
his head on this.

M. Couard said he was convinced the caligraphy of the bordereau was
neither frank nor natural, and the writer, in his opinion, probably wished
to imitate another person's handwriting. The letter of August 28th, the
witness continued, although declared genuine by Esterhazy himself, seemed
doubtful to M. Couard, who added that he believed Esterhazy would say
anything he was wanted to say.

Since 1897 the witness had not believed a word Esterhazy had said,
and, he pointed out, there was nothing to prove Esterhazy would not a
year hence say exactly the opposite of what he said now.

Replying to a question, M. Couard, while reasserting that the bor-
dereau was not the work of Esterhazy, declined to commit himself in
regard to Dreyfus, whose handwriting, added the witness, he had never
been called upon to examine.

M. Varinard, with whom MM. Couard and Belhomme acted as ex-
perts in the Esterhazy case, was the next witness. He adhered to his
report that the bordereau was not the work of Esterhazy, and said he per-
sisted in this opinion in spite of Esterhazy's statements to the contrary.

The court then adjourned.



232 DREYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND



Chapter XLII.

THE ''LITTLE WHITE MOUSE'' TESTIFIES

The appearance of Colonel Cordier, formerly Deputy Chief of the In-
telligence Department of the War Office, as the first witness at the Drey-
fus court-martial, on August 29th, aroused great interest, as, since his
previous appearance, the colonel has been released by the Minister of War
from his oath of professional secrecy. Speaking in firm, audible tones,
the colonel testified that on September 23, 1894, he left Paris on a fort-
night's leave of absence, and that nothing was then known in the Statisti-
cal Department of the War Office of the discovery of treason.

Continuing, Colonel Cordier said that the day after he returned to
Paris, Colonel Sandherr, who appeared greatly distressed, handed the wit-
ness a copy of the bordereau on foolscap paper. Sandherr and Cordier
animatedly discussed the bordereau, Sandherr considering it ample evi-
dence of treason.

The document was photographed and an investigation was opened,
which resulted in arousing suspicions against Dreyfus. Prior to this
there was no presumption of Dreyfus's guilt. It was on October 8th that
the suspicions of the prisoner's guilt became definite.

The witness said he believed the bordereau arrived at the War Office
after September 24th. He could not say who received ■. it. Very few
officers were then aware that treason had been committed. The witness
thought it necessary to enter into these particulars in reply to the state-
ments of his assistant, Major Lauth, before the Court of Cassation,

At this point, Major Lauth, rising in the centre of the court, ex-
claimed :

" I beg leave to speak. Colonel. "

Proceeding with his testimony, Colonel Cordier said he believed the
bordereau was handed to Colonel Sandherr by Colonel Henry.

Cordier then explained what was the "ordinary channel" by which



THE "LITTLE WHITE MOUSE" TESTIFIES 233

information reached the War Office. The "ordinary channel," the witness
said, was a very clever spy, attached to the Intelligence Department, who
had the habit of visiting great houses, but who preferred the company of
servants to the company of their masters.

Cordier then described the method of piecing documents, and showed
how the bordereau was pasted together by Henry, who was usually in-
trusted with this work. The witness said piecing documents possessed
fascination for the men who were engaged upon such work, " like the pas-
sion of fortime-telling by cards."

"Men who have once pieced paper," said the witness, amid laughter,
" will always continue to do so. "

Keferring to the spy who has been dubbed as the "ordinary channel,"
Colonel Cordier said the former did not directly receive the documents
from the Embassy from which they were abstracted. A woman, he ex-
plained, served as an intermediary, and, the "ordinary channel" having
been closed, it was found necessary to negotiate directly with the inter-
mediary, otherwise the woman, with whom rendezvous were usually made
in churches. But, as the "ordinary channel's" services were still avail-
able elsewhere, his pay was continued.

Possibly, continued the witness, the spy endeavored to renew his rela-
tions with the Embassy.

Cordier, whose evidence greatly interested his hearers, described the
various leakages. He especially referred to a very serious case designated
as "Leakage of St. Thomas Aquinas," in which a clerk of the church of
St. Thomas Aquinas, Paris, was mixed up in espionage, and a serious
leakage in the Minister of Marine.

The witness then referred to the spy Gu^nee's denunciations, to the
effect that ofi&cers of the Headquarters Staff were guilty of treachery.
But, the colonel explained, it was very difficult to accept Gu^nee's state-
ment as gospel. The witness regretted Gu^nee's death, as, he said, the
court would have been edified by his testimony in regard to the manner
in which many things were fabricated.

Cordier described the events prior to the arrest of Dreyfus, and showed
that only a single real leakage, namely, the plans of the fortresses, had
occurred at the time of his arrest. The document known as "Cette
canaille de D ," he explained, was contemporaneous with this leakage.



234 DREYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

"It has been said," continued the witness, "that I made a mistake on
this point, and confounded the document with another containing the ini-
tial alone. I should like very much to see the document, in order to as-
sure myself that it has not been tampered with. It is not, however, of
any importance, except to show that General Eoget's evidence concerning
it is false from beginning to end." [Sensation.]

Eeverting to the manner in which the suspicions against Dreyfus crys-
tallized, the colonel described the efforts to pry into the prisoner's life,
and said the information at first received was very bad and constituted
strong proof against the prisoner. Later, however, it assumed quite a
different aspect. It was admitted that before his marriage Dreyfus was
not "unimpeachable morally, nor was he entitled to wear a wreath of
orange blossoms." [Laughter.]

But, Cordier added, after his marriage Dreyfus was quite different.

The witness also said that while Dreyfus boasted of his conquests, he,
Cordier, was of the opinion that those who boasted the most accomplished
the least. [Laughter. ]

Dreyfus, he continued, bragged a great deal, and probably now re-
pented having done so, and Dreyfus's inquisitiveness, according to wit-
ness, was probably explained by his knowledge that he would not long
remain on the Headquarters Staff, and he desired to obtain all the infor-
mation which might be useful to him in after life.

"In 1894," declared Colonel Cordier, emphatically, "I had been reas-
sured by the unanimity of the judges, and I was absolutely convinced of
the guilt of Dreyfus. Now I am absolutely convinced of his innocence."
[Great excitement.]

M. Labori questioned the witness in regard to the letter mentioned in
M. De la Roche-Vemet's evidence referring to the spy "C. C. C," which
was dispatched to the War Ofl&ce at the time of Colonel Picquart's arri-



Online LibraryW. (William) HardingDreyfus: the prisoner of Devil's Island, a full story of the most remarkable military trial and scandal of the age → online text (page 19 of 35)