Walter F Lonergan.

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political circles and in salons in Paris. I do not
think anybody could wring this secret, if secret it be,
out of the General himself. He is one of the mutest
men in Paris when approached for questioning pur-
poses. When he does vouchsafe a reply it is an

^ I quote an authority later on who shows that General de
Galliffet took M. Reinach on his staff to please the War Minister.


enigmatic, Delphic oracle sort of utterance, and the
cleverest man could make very little out of it. As
becomes the beau sabreur that he is, General the
Marquis de Galliffet has had many an adventure of
the sentimental kind. He was a prime favourite with
the ladies. I have heard that once when at Madame
Adam's he ventured to pass his hand over that lady's
splendid shoulders, and for his boldness he received a
light slap in the face. I do not know if this is an
invention of some French father of lies or not, and
Madame Adam, like General de Galliffet, is not addicted
to giving secrets away to inquirers, nor to answering
indiscreet questions. My informant, who had the
story from somebody else, believes that the clever
Madame Adam was talking volubly and excitedly
about politics, or about the Dreyfus case, and that
the General, to calm her, or to show his apathy for
the subject of conversation, passed his hand over her
alabaster shoulders.

The smartest of French generals did not remain
throughout in the famous Waldeck- Rousseau Cabinet,
which lasted three years, from June, 1899 to June, 1902.
The Marquis de Galliffet resigned in May, 1900, and
was succeeded by that entertaining man. General
Andre, who has since written those illuminating
memoirs for the Matin in which he "gave away"
some of his former political colleagues.

This Waldeck- Rousseau Cabinet was not formed a
month when excitement arose over the arrival of
Captain Dreyfus on board the Sfax. There was
a good deal of money spent by the newspapers in
trying to find out where he was to land. Some
thought that he would come to La Rochelle, others to


Brest, others to Nantes. Dr. E. J. Dillon went for
the Telegraph to Brest, and hired a boat there.
Some millionaires had their yachts cruising outside
Brest, and watched for the coming of the Sfax
with keen expectancy. Nobody seemed to have
thought of Quiberon, that little point on the
Breton coast which is famous in history. It was
to this place that the Sfax came, on July the
I St, 1899. No journalists save two were there, out
of the multitude of pressmen watching all along the
Breton coast, and outside the naval ports. The two
journalists at Quiberon were Emile Massard, of the
Nationalist Patrie, and Arthur Lynch, the "man
for Galway." M. Massard had, by some occult means,
got to know the secret about Quiberon, and he sold
it for one thousand francs to the Correspondent of an
American paper, who sent Mr. Lynch down to the
little Breton promontory. Both M. Massard and Mr.
Lynch could only chronicle the arrival of Captain
Dreyfus. They could not speak to him, for he was
hurried off, closely guarded, to the town of Rennes,
immediately after he had disembarked from the

There is no need to go back to the second court-
martial at Rennes. It was a long and wearisome
business, ending in September, 1899, by the con-
demnation of the unfortunate prisoner, who was
subsequently released on pardon by President Loubet,
and was enabled to return to his long-suffering family.
There were subsequently spread some ugly rumours
about the released man, his family, and his supporters.
There was a report that M. Dreyfus did not feel
sufficiently grateful to those who had moved heaven


and earth in his cause ; nay, it was even said that he
resented, as a soldier and a patriot, the excessive zeal
of his partisans. A dark family trouble was also
hinted at. But I cannot say anything definite about
these flying rumours and reports. In any case, M.
Dreyfus lived after his release in the closest retire-
ment, first in the South of France and then in Switzer-
land. It was not until his "rehabilitation" in 1906
that he began to show himself in public in Paris.

While the court-martial was still in progress at
Rennes, Parisians were both amazed and amused by
the extraordinary conduct of Jules Gudrin, an adven-
turous journalist who had founded and edited an
anti- Jewish paper in which he hotly attacked the
Dreyfusards and the Government. Gu^rin was a
man who was once so destitute in Paris that he
was obliged to work as a d^bardeur or docker
on the quays, where he assisted in loading and un-
loading river barges and canal boats. Eventually
receiving some money, he founded his anti-Semitic
paper, which was published in a house in the Rue de
Chabrol, near the Gare du Nord. He was impli-
cated with Paul Ddroulede, M. Buffet the Royalist,
and others for treason to the State, and was summoned
to appear before the High Court at the Senate.
D^roulede and Buffet left France, and Gu^rin, with
some of his staff, remained in the printing office.
This they strongly barricaded, and it became known
as Fort Chabrol. The besieged men were armed
with revolvers and rifles, and threatened to shoot
the first police official who should get inside the fort.
For some weeks the street was filled by day and
night with contingents of police, municipal guards,


and even troops of the line. Every night I, in
common with other correspondents of newspapers,
remained for several hours outside Fort Chabrol,
waiting to see what would happen. It was expected
that suddenly the forces of the law would enter the
fort at any cost and capture those inside. Then there
was a question of blowing up the place with dynamite,
but, after all the display of force, the weary waiting
and watching, nothing ever happened. Jules Guerin,
his supplies of bread and sausages from friends or
colleagues in a house contiguous to his fort being cut
off by the police, capitulated, and was sent to a real
fort for a term of ten years. So ended the great farce
of Fort Chabrol, which has been imitated, with some
variations, by men at war with the law, in other parts
of France. In one of these cases a provincial Fort
Chabrol was blown up by dynamite, and the man
wanted was captured. I think that Jules Guerin was
allowed to defy the authorities for the long time that
he did so owing to the disinclination of M. Waldeck-
Rousseau, then Minister of the Interior, as well as
President of the Council, to take any measures of
exceptional rigour against the man and those with
him, one of whom died in the fort through privation.
This was also the time of the war in South Africa.
We had no entente cordiale then, and the French,
almost to a man and woman, were in favour of the
Boers. I have heard men in caf^s shout " Vivent les
Boers ! " when they saw Englishmen about, and I
have known those in Paris who gloated over the
reverses of General Gatacre, General Duller, and
Lord Methuen. All this is now forgotten. The
French, in fact, began to forget the Boers when the


English were obtaining the upper hand in the Trans-
vaal. It was a case of "nothing succeeds like suc-
cess." While the Boers appeared to be winning they
were applauded in Paris and Berlin. When they were
failing the French shrugged their shoulders, and said
" Que voulez-vous ? " Paul Kruger had proof of this
when he came to Paris in November, 1900. The
Nationalists prepared an ovation for him, and he was
acclaimed with a good deal of enthusiasm at the Gare
du Nord when he was leaving. Before his departure
he went to the Elys^e, where he was only offered cold
comfort. As he was complaining of his sad lot to
President Loubet, that gentleman threw his hands up
in the air and said " Que voulez-vous ? "

I must not forget that this year of 1900 was the
year of the Exhibition. Just before that great fair was
opened Count Benedetti, the French Ambassador in
Berlin ere the outbreak of the war of 1870-71, died in
the Paris residence of Princess Mathilde Bonaparte,
or as she preferred to call herself, Princess Mathilde
Napoleon. None of the new generation took any
interest in him, and only a few writers of the old
fogey school recalled in their articles about him that
he had been gruffly treated by the King of Prussia,
afterwards Emperor William, at Ems, in July, 1870,
and that immediately war between France and
Germany was declared.

As for the Paris Exhibition of 1900, which was
opened ^by President Loubet about Easter, I must
say that I found it rather more interesting than the
preceding " Expositions universelles " which I had
seen. What struck me most on the opening day
was the flight of time. It seemed to me that only


shortly before I was among those accompanying
President Carnot around the Champ de Mars when
the preparations for the Exhibition of 1889 were in
an inchoate condition. And yet more than eleven
years had elapsed between the two events to which
I am alluding. In that space of time many strange
things had happened, and many men whom I had
known, either intimately or only casually, had dis-
appeared from view for ever. My enjoyment of the
new exhibition was accordingly not altogether untinged
with melancholy. So it will be with other exhibitions,
if I live to see them. In my view these periodical
fairs, recurring every decade or so, are reminders
to those of a certain age of the passing of the
years and the instability of earthly things. There is
nothing so gay, joyous, and brilliant as the opening
and the beginning of a Paris Exhibition, nothing so
sad as its close, in the gloomy fall of the year, when
the trees are becoming bare, and when fogs begin
to rise over the river.

Just before the Exhibition closed M. Waldeck-
Rousseau's Cabinet had the narrowest shave from
shipwreck that I have ever known. The Chambers
assembled on the 8th of November, 1900. Imme-
diately there were questions about the strikes, about
the extradition to Belgium of Sipido, who had fired
at the Prince of Wales, now King Edward VII., at
Brussels, and about other matters. The Government
was hard pressed, but obtained a majority in extremis.
Thus M. Waldeck- Rousseau was able to bring in the
Associations Bill which was applied with so much
determination by his successor, M. Combes. He was
also able to prepare for the second coming of the Tsar


and Tsaritsa to France, but not to Paris. I have seen,
by the way, that the calling of the Emperor of Russia
and his consort " Tsar " and " Tsaritsa " has been
strongly contested, and the older forms of the titles,
"Czar" and "Czarina," have been defended. The
titles "Tsar" and "Tsaritsa" were first introduced
into England by Dr. E. J. Dillon, writing in the
Daily Telegraph, and they were adopted in nearly
every other newspaper, in spite of some opposition.
Dr. Dillon, in fact, showed that the older titles, which
had always been used in England in referring to the
Emperor of Russia and his consort, were not only
inaccurate but ridiculous, and as he is an admitted
authority on all matters appertaining to Russia, he
must be right in the reform which he carried out.

I met the Doctor again on the occasion of this very
visit of the Tsar. It was in the middle of September,
1 90 1. The excitement in Paris was great, and the
Nationalists, who had been triumphant at the muni-
cipal elections of May, 1900, were making elaborate
preparations to receive the Imperial couple. M.
Waldeck- Rousseau, however, set himself deliberately,
and with his usual cold, calculating determination, to
the work of spoiling the game of the Nationalists.
These, after the elections, turned up in a majority at
the Hotel de Ville. There were fifty-two of them
against the twenty-eight Socialists and others support-
ing the Ministry, in the Municipal Council. They
threatened to be masters of the city, and to make their
influence felt in the Chamber and elsewhere. M.
Waldeck- Rousseau made them swallow a very large
snake when he arranged that the Tsar and the
Tsaritsa should land at Dunkirk, and then come on


to Compiegne to be lodged there in the famous palace
which had been one of the favourite residences of
Napoleon the Third and the Empress Eugenie. This
resolution on the part of the President of the Council
disappointed, not only the Nationalists, but also the
newspaper men. These had fully counted on the
arrival of the Tsar in Paris, and even down to the
last moment it was expected that the Imperial visitors
would come up from Compiegne to the capital at
least for a few hours. Nothinof of the sort. M.
Waldeck- Rousseau, the artful and the able, kept them
where he wanted to keep them, in order to spite
and to anger the hated Nationalists, who execrated
both him and President Loubet. The pretext on
which Tsar Nicholas was retained at Compiegne
was that although he would be certain of a hearty
and warm welcome in the capital, the Government
could not guarantee that he would be safe from
French or Italian Anarchists, or from Russian
Terrorists. So the Tsar and the Tsaritsa remained
at Compiegne from the i8th to the 21st of
September, 1901, the Nationalists and the innocent
citizens of Paris, who were ignorant of the wiles
of M. Waldeck-Rousseau, fondly and foolishly hoping
to the last moment that the Tsar and his consort
would come, if only for a flying visit, to the

The Tsar and the Tsaritsa were whisked away by
train to the once sacred and celebrated city of Rheims,
where they visited the cathedral wherein Kings of
France were formerly crowned, having duly attended
one of the most imposing military reviews ever
organised by the authorities of the Third Republic.


Everybody was glad when the Tsar went, as the
tension during his stay at Compiegne was trying to
the nerves. That little town was the centre of such
interest and excitement during the Imperial visit
as its inhabitants had never known before, not even
in the days of Napoleon III. And the Tsar, if he
be given to any sort of retrospective reflection, must
have remembered what he had read or been told
about Compiegne and its former associations when
he found himself and his consort surrounded by the
ladies of the noblesse Rdp2iblicaine, with Madame
Waldeck- Rousseau at their head. ^

^ ^'Noblesse Republicaine'' is a phrase attributed to Madame
Floquet. Madame Waldeck-Rousseau on her side was credited
with the phrase '"'A nous la galette^' or "The cake is ours,"
and another RepubHcan lady once said in bad French, "C'est
nous qui sont les Princesses."


M. Emile Combes at work — The Humbert hoax — M. Wal-
deck- Rousseau and the hoax — The " biggest fraud of
the century" — Maitre Labori and the Humberts — M.
Jaures and M. Gohier — The expulsions of the Orders —
Rising in Brittany — Death of Sir Campbell Clarke — Death
ofj Emile Zola — His enemies and his friends — Zola's
children — Some famous French journalists — Death of M.
de Blowitz — The suicide of Sir Hector Macdonald in a
Paris hotel — The coming of King Edward — The entente
cordiale and its results.

AS I propose to deal with the question of the
Church in France in a separate chapter, I
shall only note here the application of the Associa-
tions Law and its immediate consequences. The
law was applied from October, 1901, but only in
a mild manner. Then occurred the General Election
of April, 1902, the voyage of President Loubet to
St. Petersburg, and the resignation of M. Waldeck-
Rousseau, which brought to the front M. Emile
Combes, the man who nearly swept all the religious
communities out of France inanu militari. But
before M. Combes became President of the Council
we had the Humbert hoax, which entertained Europe
and America during many months. I knew some
of Madame Humbert's dupes, and I knew her brother,
Romain Daurignac, as well as one of her lawyers in



a business way. Romain Daurignac always reminded
me of the Southerner typified in the illustrations of
Alphonse Daudet's " Tartarin de Tarascon." He
looked like that boastful Nimrod, but, unlike Tartarin,
he was no noodle, and had ably assisted his sister
in carrying on the hoax. The history of the Hum-
bert swindle has been well threshed out in the
newspapers. Everybody has read of the opening of
the safe, the coffre-fort, in Madame Humbert's house,
and of its blank emptiness. The capture of the
Humberts, father, mother, and daughter, in Madrid
is also familiar to all readers of morning and evening

There was one aspect of the case which was not
known to the newspaper readers. This was the
attitude of M. Waldeck- Rousseau in the affair, and
the causes of that attitude. M. Waldeck- Rousseau,
v/ho resigned office almost immediately after the
creditors of Madame Humbert assailed her, had
denounced the Crawford estate — which was the pivot
used by the woman and her brother, Romain Dauri-
gnac, to bluff the lawyers, financiers, and business
men who fell into their trap — as a gigantic myth
and fraud. It was while engaged as counsel in
a case before a provincial Court of Justice that M.
Waldeck- Rousseau uttered his denunciation and
used the words ''the biggest fraud of the century."
Yet for six years after the denunciation Madame
Humbert was allowed, unchallenged, unmolested, to
continue her systematic swindling, and to add to
the number of her victims and dupes, some of whom
were not like the Lille merchants fooled, who could
afford to lose millions of francs, but were poor.


struggling persons who banked with her brother
and believed in his financial stability. And while
M. Waldeck- Rousseau was in power nothing was
done against the Humberts. Action was only taken
just about the time that he resigned — 4th June, 1902.
The reason of M. Waldeck-Rousseau's inaction
and apparent apathy as regards the Humberts is
to be found in the fact that he was practically engaged
in helping a prominent politician to recover a large
sum from the swindlers. It was only by bleeding
new dupes that the Humberts could repay the
prominent politician. On the other hand, the
Humberts were run to earth when M. Combes suc-
ceeded M. Waldeck- Rousseau principally because
the financial agent, M. Cattaui, who has been called
a usurer, and who had the most to gain by their ruin,
had as his usual counsel or advocate M. Valle,
Minister of Justice in the Cabinet which succeeded
that of M. Waldeck-Rousseau. M. Urbain Gohier
says boldly in his " Leur Republique " : " L'escro-
querie avait dure vingt ans, parce quelle avait pour
complices tous les personnages influents de la Repub-
lique, politiciens, magistrats, parasites de tout ordre,
qui empruntaient aux voleurs I'argent vole, qui pro-
fitaient de leur luxe, qui sollicitaient leur patronage —
et qui se taisaient en retour." And Maitre Labori,
advocate of Dreyfus, and also defender of the Hum-
berts, said at their trial : '* Si nous ouvrions des scelles
qui sont la si nous jetions au vent de la publicity
tous ces noms et parmi eux les plus illustres, de ceux
qui etaient prets, il y a un an, a se faire les serviteurs
de Madame Humbert, qui pourrait dire hautement
qu'elle ne leur a jamais rien demande, il serait facile


de faire ici du scandale. Je vous assure que je
pourrai enumerer les noms de ceux qui, craignant
peut-etre que je ne fusse de ceux qui, parfois, a
la barre, songent a irriter des passions personelles,
m'ont fait supplier de ne point les compromettre, de
ne point les perdre, et de ne point les deshonorer.
Qu'ils soient rassures, je ne prononcerai pas un nom."

M. Gohier, quoting Maitre Labori's assurance to
the compromised persons, says sarcastically, that a
people like the French, who saw some of the principal
men of the State in the Panama and in twenty other
swindles, need not have been astonished to find the
same men in the Humbert affair. In denouncing
such persons Maitre Labori would not have dis-
honoured them, for universal suffrage does not
reject infamy, but is fascinated by it. The greatest
rascals of the regime have attained honours and powers
only after the most public exposure of their ignominy.
It is with full knowledge of what they have done
that France chooses them as masters.

M. Gohier would have us believe, after he emits
these observations, that M. Jaures had a deep
personal interest in the Humbert affair. The latter,
we must remember, is M, Gohier's bugbear, his Cati-
line, his Verres. He attacks M. Rouvier and M.
Aristide Briand and reminds them of their offences
of old — not only offences of the political or the
financial kind, but also of the moral order. He de-
nounces " Baron " Millerand, sham Socialist ; the
*' Vidame de Hault de Pressense," who tried to "tap"
Dr. Leyds, Paul Kruger's agent ; M. Clemenceau ;
*' Citizen " Brousse, former president of the Paris
Municipal Council, who " placed flowers and prayed

Camille Pelletan.

To face p. 257


on the tomb of Queen Victoria," and many other
prominent pubHc men. His greatest wrath is re-
served for M. Jaures, whom he refers to as the " Mi-
rabeau des Mufles " and worse. But to prove his
assertion that M. Jaures was one of the men most
compromised in the Humbert affair, M. Gohier can
only advance two statements of fact. One is that the
Socialist orator wrote in his paper that the Humbert
dossiers were "une paperasserie sans int^ret," and the
other that M. Jaures did not vote in the Chamber for
the inquiry relative to the great frauds perpetrated by
the son and the daughter-in-law of a former Minister
of Justice of the Third Republic.

The Combes Ministry, formed soon after the
unmasking of the Humbert frauds, drew attention
to itself owing, as is well known, to its vigorous
action against the religious communities. M. Emile
Combes, Senator, doctor of medicine, formerly an
ecclesiastical student and professor in a Catholic
seminary or college for the training of priests,
proved himself to be the most terrible opponent that
the Church of Rome has ever had to encounter in
France. He did not "sap a solemn creed with
solemn sneer," like Voltaire, nor did he merely use
"the poisoned arrows of criticism," like Renan. He
became President of the Council, Minister of the
Interior and of Public Worship or Cultes. In this
triple capacity he had formidable power, and he used
it unsparingly. Voltaire and Renan only wrote —
he was a man of action. His principal colleagues
or coadjutors in the Cabinet were M. Delcass^ still
at the Foreign Office ; General Andr4 War Minister ;
M. Camille Pelletan, head of the Naval Department,



much to the entertainment of the Opposition gallery ;
M. Vall4 Keeper of the Seals, and the indispensable
M. Rouvier, who had acquired his business experi-
ence in the office of a Greek merchant of Marseilles,
as head of the Exchequer.

These Ministers, as well as President Loubet,
gave a free hand to M. Combes in the war that was
to be waged against the religious people. They
did not attempt to interfere with the formidable little
man, who had everything in his hands that was
necessary for the unequal contest against the black-
robed persons who were supposed to be conspiring
against the Republic, and whose milliards^ since
found to be as phantasmal as the millions of Madame
Humbert, were wanted by the State.

We saw strange scenes in Paris when the redoubt-
able M. Combes began his campaign. Soldiers and
policemen were engaged for weeks in hustling Jesuits,
Dominicans, Franciscans, Oblates, Barnabites, Re-
demptorists and the rest out of their homes. Nuns
were hustled too, and the Catholics here and there in
Paris tried to make a stand, but they had soon to
retreat before the troops, the gendarmes, and the
police. The war reached its highest point during
the fetes in England for the Coronation of King
Edward the Seventh. In July, 1902, the-Catholic
Bretons rose and made a more effective stand than
their co-religionists in Paris. The troops and
gendarmes sent to expel nuns from their convents
were attacked with energy. Several officers of the
line who were ordered to besiege convents refused
to do the work and were duly punished, the chorus
of the backers of "that strong man who knows


what he wants," namely M. Combes, singing " Serve

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Online LibraryWalter F LonerganForty years of Paris → online text (page 16 of 25)