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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chiefs. There have been moments when I have ardently desired that
Dreyfus should be found guilty. I have read everything, studied every-
thing, examined everything, with the hope of finding the proof of his
guilt. I refused to believe in the odious machinations in this abominable
crime. This proof I have not found ; it does not exist. I was then seized
with a poignant doubt, and then, when my conviction had been formed
on the documents themselves so that it could not be shaken, I felt that
something had given way within me, and an evil wind seemed to be car-
rying away the ideals of my youth. For I am a Republican and always
have been so. I believe in the Eepublic — that is to say, in justice and in
liberty. I have fought for these ideas in a modest place in the Eepubli-
can ranks, but with a passionate sincerity, with a joyous spirit and enthu-
siasm no longer known to the young men of to-day, buoyed up by the in-
domitable hope of a better humanity.

" ' Alas ! does not what has taken place during the last three years in
our unfortunate country make one doubt the progress of the human spirit?
For me it is the shattering of certain illusions which had remained persis-
tent amid the agitations of my political life. The barbarians who con-
ducted the savage campaign which has led up to the verdict of Eennes
may make merry, their joy will not be long. I have written this to a few
friends many a time ; you have said the same for yours in marvellous arti-
cles in which you blended all your heart with all your talent. The Drey-
fus affair is only an incident, but the audacious enterprise for which it



IS THE " INCIDENT " CLOSED ? 371

has served as a pretext will have political consequences as to which the
moderates of the Conservative and the Republican parties have made the
great mistake in not concerning themselves. They will not say in excuse
that they could not anticipate them. Ah no ; these shortsighted politi-
cians have been sufficiently warned. . . .

" ' . . . The insensate persons who have revived in this country the
racial and religious wars cherish the illusion of keeping the conflagration
within bounds. The sectarian fools who tremble with joy at the cry
"Mort aux juifs ! " and let loose civU war with the secret hope of stopping
it at the exact point where their appetites and rancors were satisfied, have
sown the wind to reap the whirlwind. And I note with painful surprise
that Denys Cochin and many another Catholic like him whom I like and
for whom I have a profound respect, did not utter in the thick of the bat-
tle, I will not say a cry of indignation — that we did not ask of them — but
even a cry of pity. The religious bodies dispersed in 1880 have been re-
established almost everywhere, that of the Jesuits in particular. Only
a short time ago a bill intended to enforce the famous decrees, and this
time to apply them seriously, would have disturbed nobody and would
have piteously failed. Now, you may imagine, it will have some chance
of success. And, indeed, what force is given by recent events and by the
propaganda of the Libre Parole and of the monkish leaguers of the Croix
to the arguments of those who consider that the Eepublic, like the mon-
archy, cannot permit to thrive in its midst certain unauthorized religious
bodies, certain rich and powerful associations, unrecognized by the State,
completely outside its control, and constantly conspiring against its secu-
rity and public order — incorrigible conspirators, beaten on May 16th,
beaten with Boulanger, beaten always, yet always returning to the assault
of Eepublican institutions with the same sophisms, the same pretensions,
the same ambitions, and the same weapons — defamation and falsehood.' "



372 DREYJ?US: THE PRISONER OE DEVIL'S ISLAND



Chapter LIX.

THE HOPE OF FRANCE

A HiSTOKY of the Dreyfus case would be incomplete without a sketch
of General the Marquis de Gallifet, the Minister of War at the time of the
Rennes court-martial, and "the Hope of France." This combination of
Royalist and Republican, gallant soldier and aristocrat, stern disciplinarian
and statesman, was born in Paris, on January 25, 1830. He entered the
French army in April, 1848, and reached the rank of sub-lieutenant De-
cember 30, 1857. He was promoted captain in 1860, major of cavalry
in 1863, lieutenant-colonel in 1867, and general of division in 1875.
De Gallifet (whose name, in some books of reference, is spelled Galliffet)
served with great distinction in the Crimea, before Sebastopol, where he
was commended for his bravery. The general was badly wounded by the
explosion of a shell at Puebla, in 1863, during the Mexican war, and
distinguished himself in the Algerian campaigns of 1860, 1864, 1865, and
1868.

In the Franco-Prussian war General de Gallifet served with the Army
of the Rhine, and won the admiration of the invaders of France while at
the head of the Fifth Regiment of African Hussars. He was captured by
the Prussians at the battle of Sedan and was imprisoned in Germany.
After the Franco-Prussian War, De Gallifet was made a general of brigade,
and took a most active part in the second siege of Paris, then held by the
troops of the Commune, and in the suppression of the Communards.
Upon that occasion he acted with the greatest severity, but the circum-
stances seem to have justified him in so doing. When his victorious
troops entered Paris, he caused thousands of Communards, caught red-
handed, to be shot on the spot, and restored order by the unlimited use of
rifle, bayonet, and rapid-fire gun. Any man of the Communards caught
wearing a uniform, part of a uniform, or even military shoes, was promptly
executed, and the hands of all the prisoners captured were examined for



THE HOPE OF FRANCE 373

powder marks. If such traces of resistance to the troops of the Versailles
Government were fomid, the curt order, "Shoot him," was issued, and a
few minutes later the man so condemned was dead.

In 1871 General de Gallifet was sent to Africa, and took a prominent
part in the pacification of the insurgent tribes. He commanded the
El-Goliah expedition, and, overcoming the most serious obstacles in the
way of the transportation of troops, he executed a rapid march through
the desert and vanquished the Arabs.

Later, De Gallifet, who had become a great friend of M. Gambetta,
was appointed to command the Eighth Army Corps; in 1875 he was
made general of division, and in 1879 he was given the command of the
Ninth Army Corps. He was promoted to the command of the Twelfth
Army Corps in 1882, and in 1885 was made a member of the Supreme
Council of War.

During the autumn of 1891, General de Gallifet conducted his part
of the army manoeuvres so brilliantly that the Military Medal, a high
distinction in France, was conferred upon him. After conducting the
fall manoeuvres of 1894, the general retired from active service.

General de Gallifet was decorated with the cross of the Legion of
Honor in 1855, was made officer of the Legion of Honor in 1863, com-
mander of the Legion of Honor in 1873, grand officer of the Legion of
Honor in 1880, and grand cross of the Legion of Honor in 1887. He
has also been inspector-general of many army corps.

De Gallifet succeeded M. do Freycinet as Minister of War on June 22,
1899, becoming part of the non-partisan Cabinet formed to handle the crisis
in France caused by the agitation for and against Dreyfus. His advent
upon the scene apparently calmed the passions of all parties. Although
originally a Eoyalist, De Gallifet is above all a loyal soldier, and all par-
ties, remembering his extreme severity, to put it mildly, in suppressing
the Commune, recognized that for once France had the right man in the
right place, a man who might be counted upon fearlessly and relent-
lessly to uphold law and order, even if he had to make the gutters of the
French capital, for the second time, run with human blood.

As to his Eoyalist leanings, it is an open question as to whether the
kid-gloved but iron-handed soldier would not handle the followers of the
Duke of Orleans, if they attempted a revolutionary movement, as roughly



374 DREYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

as he handled the Communards in the past. In any case an officer and a
gentleman in every sense of the words, De Gallifet is counted upon by his
admirers to uphold the regularly constituted authorities in France at all
costs.

With supreme confidence in his own nerve, De Gallifet looked with
quiet scorn upon the turbulent parties of France, and openly defied the
anti-Dreyfusites after the verdict, by promptly promoting Captain Frey-
staetter and Major Hartman, the two officers who gave the most fearless,
outspoken testimony in favor of Dreyfus, and in announcing that after
investigation he had found no ground for suspicion of Colonel Picquart's
conduct of the Intelligence Department. This was practically saying that
Freystaetter and Hartman had, in the general's firm opinion, testified to
the truth, and that Picquart was an honest man.

It is said, in addition, that the general's private relations with ambas-
sadors and others enabled him to convince himself that Dreyfus was
innocent.

This firm stand of the general won him the respect, at least, of his
worst enemies, and people throughout the world began to look toward him
as likely to be the Moses capable of leading France out of the wilderness
of corruption, incompetency, and general rottenness into which she had
drifted, step by step, with open eyes, during past years. France, her best
friends know, needs a strong man at the helm of State — a brilliant man,
a man who can excite the admiration of the world, a man who can com-
mand respect at home and abroad. Such a man is General the Marquis
de Gallifet. As Minister of War he has proved very successful. Will
France recognize this by bestowing further honors upon him? Let us
wait and see what the future has in store for the gallant soldier-statesman.



WHAT EUROPE THOUGHT OF THE "PARDON" 375



Chapter LX.

WHAT EUROPE THOUGHT OF THE *^ PARDON''

The "pardon " extended to Dreyfus was considered by a large section
of the Austrian public to be a not unworthy counterpart to the verdict of
treason with extenuating circumstances given by the Rennes court-martial.
It was classed in Vienna as a compromise of a not particularly elevated
or manly character, which went to show that the ministerial champions of
justice in Paris had at least one point in common with the instruments of
military violence at Rennes. Both were lacking in the courage of their
opinions. The general feeling on the subject in Austria found unreserved
expression in the FremdenUatt, which remarked that the compromises
effected involved a grave depreciation of moral dignity for all the princi-
pal factors concerned, adding:

" The Government in adopting this expedient proved that it had not
the courage to take the straight road and proceed to the revision or cassa-
tion of the sentence. It remains to be seen whether the advantages of
that expedient will outweigh the danger of such a confession of weak-
ness,"

In the opinion of the Vienna semi-official organ, the main object of
the French Cabinet was to detach the army from the enemies of the Re-
public, also saying that it was concerned for the fate of the Exhibition,
which it did not wish to see prejudiced or endangered by subversive
movements.

In Rome, the liberation of Dreyfus was hailed with general satisfac-
tion, and was interpreted as an official disavowal of the iniquitous sentence
of Rennes.

The London Times, otherwise the " Thunderer, " commenting upon the
release of Dreyfus, said :

"The release of Alfred Dreyfus from -his long and barbarous captivity



376 DREYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAlfD

was accomplished yesterday, not as a public act of reparation, but as if it
were something of which the Government that * pardoned ' him might pos-
sibly be ashamed. In the early hours of the morning M. Dreyfus was
removed from his prison at Eennes, and, in company with his brother,
who has stood by him so faithfully all through this cruel ordeal, left for a
destination that is at present unknown. The persecution of an innocent
man — practically declared to be so by the inept judgment of the Rennea
court-martial and by the action of the chief of the State — has thus been
exhibited, st last, to the world in its scandalous unrighteousness. It be-
gan in illegal methods of procedure, adopted, as the inquiry at Rennes has
shown, to secure the conviction of the accused, and carried out by illegal
methods of physical and moral torture from which even mediaeval brutali-
ty might have recoiled. It is to be hoped, for the sake of France herself,
that the victim of a plot as base and odious as any recorded in history will
now have at least a chance of recovering a certain measure of health and
strength in retirement and seclusion. Whether or not M. Dreyfus will
proceed to an appeal before the Court of Cassation for the annulling of the
Rennes verdict we cannot say. The moral effect of that pitiable decision
has already been destroyed, not only by the force of public opinion, but
by the resolution of the French Government not to act upon it. At the
same time it is felt that justice is outraged when an innocent man has to
slink away under cover of a 'pardon, ' while the vile conspirators who did
their best to send him back to Devil's Island are even now swaggering
about in their uniforms and their cassocks as if they had the fortunes of
France in their polluted hands.

" France will bitterly regret the apathy with which she has treated the
most abominable of crimes, the systematic perversion of justice to secure
the ruin of an individual. She has displayed the backwardness of her ju-
risprudence and the weakness of her moral fibre. In an interesting letter
Sir Herbert Stephen points out that France is still in the stage out of
which this country passed hundreds of years ago, when a trial was based,
not on evidence, but on 'compurgation.' Unfortunately, the moral basis
of compurgation, the truthful backing of a man by his honest neighbors,
does not exist in a corrupt modern society.

— ~~ " The effect of what has been said and done at Rennes on the minds of
independent foreigners is strikingly shown in a letter from M. Zakrevsky,
a well-known Russian jurist and a member of the Imperial Senate, which
is the High Court of the Empire. M. Zakrevsky has studied the proceed-
ings at Rennes, and is appalled to see what they mean. The conclusion
he draws from ' this unheard-of spectacle ' is that ' modern French society



WHAT EUROPE THOUGHT OF THE "PARDON" 377

has definitely fallen from the rank it occupied among civilized peoples.
Where the sentiment of justice is atrophied by the intensity of political
and religious passions grafted on to a monstrous national vanity passing
itself off for patriotism, there is, I contend, no room left for the moral ele-
ments indispensable to a well-ordered form of society.' Nor will M. Za-
krevsky admit that only the five unjust judges of Eennes and their chiefs
should be held responsible ' for the iniquitous acts which have revolted
the whole world.' He dwells, not without force, on the lamentable want
of moral courage displayed by the nation. ' Take one instance amongst
many. See how men who call themselves statesmen, who belong to the
cream of society, like the Casimir-Periers, the Freycinets, when called
upon to give evidence, to tell the whole truth, instead of throwing light
upon important facts, are ccmtent to fence, or make oracular speeches.
They think above all of themselves ; their chief anxiety is not to depreci-
ate their own value in the eyes of their great audience, — i.e., of the coun-
try which listens to them.' Just as little does the Russian jurist mince
his words concerning the motives which have led France to seek the alli-
ance of his own country : ' Unable in her vanity and thirst for prestige to
recognize in her defeats of 1870-71 all that was irremediable and even
just, protesting that she would never accept the Treaty of Frankfort as
final, prating of her re -vindications, of her hopes, without venturing to
strike a blow, France has gradually cut herself adrift in the helplessness
of political disorder from the other Western nations, to which, with their
great liberal traditions, the ties of centuries united her, and she has sunk
amorously into the arms of Russia, of a country which represents and
practices more than ever principles entirely opposed to those which France
boasts of holding. From the Russian alliance she has inevitably and logi-
cally drifted into anti-Semitism, into anti-Protestantism, into oppression of
the weak, into a recrudescence of brutal militarism, and, finally, into the
Dreyfus affair, crowned by the proceedings at Rennes.'

" No critics in this country or elsewhere have written anything so cruel
and crushing as these and other even more uncomplimentary messages, for
which we prefer to refer our readers to the French text. Yet it is plain
that these views, so decidedly in unison with those of the great majority
of Germans, Austrians, and Italians, as well as of Englishmen and Ameri-
cans, are shared by Russians of every school. M. Zakrevsky is a Liberal ;
but a very eminent representative of old Russian ideas, M. Pobiedonost-
zeff, the Procurator of the Holy Synod, has come to the same conclusion
about the Dreyfus case. He has said that ' for all impartial observers the
proceedings at Rennes proved the innocence of Captain Dreyfus,' and has



378 DREYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND



expressed his agreement with the contention of TJie Times, borne out by
many independent testimonies, that the root of the mischief lies in the false
education of the young in France. Even the most rabid anti-Dreyfusards
will hardly contend, we suppose, that the Eussians have also joined the
great ' cosmopolitan syndicate of treason.' "



ECHOES OF THE TRIAL 379



Chapter LXL

ECHOES OF THE TRIAL

There were many remarkable exhibitions of feeling throughout the
world after the second conviction of Dreyfus, and a number of strong state-
ments were made on the subject.

Archbishop Ireland, at St. Paul, Minn., said in an interview Septem-
ber 13th:

" It is my belief that public meetings in America such as it is proposed
to hold for the purpose of protesting against the sentence of the Eennes
court-martial are untimely, unfair to France, and likely to breed regretta-
ble ill-feeling between that country and our own.

" I shall not deny that I have always had in my heart deep sympathy
for the unfortunate officer who has been under trial in Reunes, and that I
had wished and hoped that the sentence of the court would have been one
of acquittal.

" But it is another question to face the verdict of the court the moment
that verdict has been declared with the assertion that it is plainly against
truth, and that the court from which it issues is guilty of base injustice
and sacrilegious perjury. And it is, still more so, another question to lay
upon France the crime of the verdict, if crime there be in it, and throw at
a whole people and at their Government insulting epithets. Let us wait.

" This whole matter belongs to the internal life and to the internal ad-
ministration of France, and international courtesy as well as justice bids
us talk about it very carefully and very slowly. France is a proud, sensi-
tive nation. She will deeply resent, as it is her right, undue criticism
and hasty judgment of her acts by a foreign people, and especially will
she resent, as it is surely her right, any uncalled-for interference with her
internal administration and any imprudent challenging of her national
honor.

"France has been our friend for ages. She was our friend when no
other nation befriended us. She is our friend to-day. She is a sister



380 DKEYFUS: THE PKISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

republic. We should pause long and seriously before blaming, suspecting,
or offending France.

" I can well understand the present happenings in America. The
American people are most easily roused to sentiments of justice and hu-
manity. Prudence, however, is the queen of all virtues, and we should
strive to make it ours.

" In what I say I speak as an American, for what I believe the good
of America. I make no plea for France, although, because I know France,
I love her despite her faults, and I hope for her, despite her perils. "

Governor Theodore Roosevelt, of the State of New York, in a speech
at Walton, N. Y., September 13th, remarked:

"Something recently happened which I want to speak about. I think
it a rare thing for the whole nation to watch the trial of a single citizen of
another nation. We have watched with indignation and regret the trial
of Captain Dreyfus. It was less Dreyfus on trial than those who tried
him. We should draw lessons from the trial. It was due in part to bit-
ter religious prejudices of the French people. Those who have ever wa-
vered from the doctrine of the separation of Church and State should pon-
der upon what has happened. Try to encourage every form of religious
effort. Beware and do not ever oppose any man for any reason except
worth or want of it. You cannot benefit one class by pulling another class
down."

In Washington, September 12th, a mass meeting was held at the Ma-
sonic Temple to protest against the verdict of the Rennes court-martial
in the Dreyfus case. The speakers included men of all creeds — Jews,
Protestants, and Catholics. The meeting adopted a set of resolutions
affirming belief in the innocence of Dreyfus, condemning the proceedings
of the court-martial, and pledging those present to use every lawful and
proper means to prevent the co-operation of this country in the Paris
Exposition. The resolutions, after expressing sympathy with Dreyfus and
his family, continued :

" Remembering all the ties and traditions that bind us to France, and
not forgetful of the glorious days of Lafayette and Rochambeau and of
the gallant efforts of Picquart, Zola, Labori, and Demange, we do not de-
spair of final victory for justice. We invoke all American citizens to co-



ECHOES OF THE TRIAL 381

operate to the end that justice may finally be done and the sentiments of
the American people brought home to the Government and the citizens of
France. In the mean time we will take measures as citizens to emphasize
by word and act our deliberate intention not to co-operate in the Paris
Exposition of next year, and do whatever is legal and proper to prevent
our Government from official recognizing said Exposition."

The resolutions concluded by calling on the President of the United
States to convey to the French Government, in whatever form he might
deem proper, the views of the American people on the Dreyfus verdict, as
voiced by that country and other meetings throughout the country.

Reference was made in one of the resolutions to the testimony of ex-
Minister Lebon before the court-martial, in which he said that the rigor-
ous treatment of Dreyfus was due in part to the understanding that there
was a plan on foot to rescue the prisoner by a party of Americans. The
resolution called upon Secretary of State Hay to obtain an official copy of
this testimony " in order to refute this slander. "

President McKinley did not take any action in the matter, as it was
impossible for him to do so, as pointed out at the time by the New York
Times, which said, editorially :

" If France were to suffer some national calamity, as she did in the death
of her president, it would be quite proper for Mr. McKinley to express the
sorrow and sympathy that we should all feel or to forward through our
Ambassador the resolutions of any public bodies. But when it comes to
criticism and protest our people must content themselves with individual
utterance or with the utterance of and through the press. It is an ac-
cepted rule in all the relations of governments with each other that each
is entirely independent in the conduct of its internal affairs, and none is at
liberty to comment officially thereon unless prepared to take the conse-
quences of an unfriendly act. There must always be a distinct reason in
the peculiar interests of the criticising power to make criticism even plaus-
ible, and the power criticised need make no excuse for resentment.

" Our Government has no opinion as to the Dreyfus case, and has no
right to any, any more than France would have a right to an opinion in
regard to something that might arise in this country to offend the moral



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 32 of 35)