Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Caillaux Drama
Author: Raphael, John N. (John Nathan)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Caillaux Drama" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



available by Internet Archive/American Libraries
(https://archive.org/details/americana)



      Images of the original pages are available through
      Internet Archive/American Libraries. See
      https://archive.org/details/caillauxdrama00raphiala


Transcriber's note:

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

      Text enclosed by equal signs was underlined in the

      A carat character is used to denote superscription. A
      single character following the carat is superscripted
      (example: M^e).

      Small capitals have been converted to SOLID capitals.



THE CAILLAUX DRAMA


[Illustration: _Waiting._]


THE CAILLAUX DRAMA

by

JOHN N. RAPHAEL



London: Max Goschen Ltd
20 Great Russell Street W.C.
MCMXIV



TO MY MOTHER



CONTENTS

   CHAP.                                     PAGE

     I THE STORY OF THE DRAMA                   1
    II CELL NO. 12                             44
   III THE CRIME AND THE PUBLIC                64
    IV MONSIEUR CAILLAUX’S EXAMINATION         87
     V THE CAMPAIGN OF THE “FIGARO”           102
    VI CALMETTE _v._ CAILLAUX                 114
   VII THE “TON JO” LETTER                    143
  VIII AGADIR                                 150
    IX L’AFFAIRE ROCHETTE                     179
     X “THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH ...”       230
    XI ABOUT FRENCH POLITICS                  251
   XII BEFORE THE LAST ACT OF THE DRAMA       267
       INDEX                                  307



                    ILLUSTRATIONS


  “WAITING”                                              _Frontispiece_

  OFFICES OF “LE FIGARO” ON THE EVENING OF THE MURDER           20

  GASTON CALMETTE IN HIS OFFICE AT THE “FIGARO”                 20

  M. BOUCARD (THE EXAMINING MAGISTRATE) AND THE DOCTORS
  LEAVING THE PRIVATE HOSPITAL WHERE M. CALMETTE DIED           26

  M. VICTOR FABRE, THE PROCUREUR GÉNÉRAL                        57

  THE FUNERAL OF M. CALMETTE                                    63

  THE BROTHERS, SONS AND RELATIVES OF M. CALMETTE AT THE
  FUNERAL                                                       67

  MME. CAILLAUX (AND DETECTIVE) ON HER WAY TO THE LAW COURTS
  TO BE EXAMINED                                                71

  SŒUR LEONIDE                                                  77

  THE CORRIDOR OUTSIDE THE PISTOLES                             81

  “JEANNE,” THE “SOUBRETTE” OF PISTOLE NO. 12                   85

  THE LORRY WHICH PARIS JOURNALISTS THOUGHT WAS FULL OF
  MME. CAILLAUX’S FURNITURE                                     90

  LA COUR DES FILLES IN SAINT LAZARE                            90

  MADAME CAILLAUX’S CELL EXACTLY AS IT IS                      102

  MONSIEUR CAILLAUX IN HIS OFFICE AT THE MINISTÈRE DES
  FINANCES                                                     108

  PRESIDENT POINCARÉ GIVES EVIDENCE ON OATH IN THE CAILLAUX
  DRAMA BEFORE THE PRESIDENT OF THE APPEAL COURT, WHO
  WAITED   ON HIM FOR THIS PURPOSE AT THE ELYSÉE               122

  MONSIEUR CAILLAUX LEAVING THE LAW COURTS                     131

  M. PRIVAT-DESCHANEL WHO WITNESSED THE DESTRUCTION OF
  THE LETTERS BY MME. GUEYDAN-CAILLAUX                         140

  M. BARTHOU MOUNTING THE STAIRS OF THE LAW COURTS ON HIS
  WAY TO GIVE EVIDENCE IN THE CAILLAUX CASE                    149

  MONSIEUR CAILLAUX’S FRIEND, M. CECCALDI                      179

  THE “TON JO” LETTER FROM THE “FIGARO”                        197

  ROCHETTE IN COURT                                            241

  MONSIEUR BARTHOU                                             300

  MME. CAILLAUX IN THE DRESS SHE WAS TO WEAR AT THE
  ITALIAN EMBASSY ON THE EVENING OF THE MURDER                 339

  M. JOSEPH CAILLAUX                                           350



I

THE STORY OF THE DRAMA


Late on Monday afternoon, March 16, 1914, a rumour fired imaginations,
like a train of gunpowder, all over Paris. In newspaper offices, in
cafés, in clubs, people asked one another whether they had heard the
news and whether the news were true. It seemed incredible. The wife of
the Minister of Finance, said rumour, Madame Joseph Caillaux, one of
the spoiled children of Paris society, had gone to the office of the
_Figaro_, had waited there an hour or more for the managing editor,
Monsieur Gaston Calmette, had been received by him, and had shot him
dead in his own office. Nobody believed the story at first. Nobody
could believe it. The very possibility of such a happening made it
appear impossible. It was known, of course, that for some weeks before
the _Figaro_ had been waging an unsparing campaign against the Minister
of Finance. It was known that Monsieur Caillaux had been and was
infuriated at this campaign, but nobody believed that tragedy had
followed. There was a rush to the _Figaro_ office. Paris is a small
town compared with London, and the _Figaro_ building in the Rue
Drouot is in a more central position in the throbbing news and
sensation-loving heart of Paris than is either Piccadilly or Fleet
Street in London. Within ten minutes of the first news of the tragedy
there was a large crowd gathered in the Rue Drouot, and even those who
could not get into the _Figaro_ building soon received confirmation
that the drama really had occurred. People had seen a large and
luxurious motor-car stationed outside the building. There was nothing
at all unusual in this, for the offices of the _Figaro_ are the resort
in the afternoon of many people with big motor-cars. What was unusual,
and had attracted notice, was the fact that the driver of the car had
worn the tricolour cockade which in Paris is worn only by the drivers
of cars or carriages belonging to the Ministers. Even this evidence was
in no way conclusive, for courtesy permits Ambassadors and Ministers
accredited to the French Government by foreign countries to give their
servants the red white and blue cockade, and it was thought by many
that the car had not belonged to a French Minister at all, but was the
property of an Ambassador. Then the story gained precision. A woman, it
was said, escorted by police, had come out of the _Figaro_ office and
seated herself in the car. The driver, as she entered, had removed his
tricolour cockade and driven round the corner to the police-station.
The doors of the _Figaro_ office were closed and guarded. A few minutes
later all Paris knew the story. In the big grey motor-car in which
she had driven to the Rue Drouot that afternoon, Madame Caillaux had
been taken in custody to the police-station in the Rue du Faubourg
Montmartre. Monsieur Gaston Calmette, the editor of the _Figaro_,
lay dying in his office. His friend, Doctor Reymond, who was with
him, gave little hope that his life could be saved, and those of the
members of the staff of the paper who could be approached could only
murmur confirmation of the same sad news. Later in the evening Monsieur
Calmette was taken out to Neuilly to the private hospital of another
friend, Professor Hartmann. He died there just before midnight.
Madame Caillaux had arrived in her motor-car at No. 26 Rue Drouot at
about five o’clock, and had asked for Monsieur Calmette. She was told
that Monsieur Calmette was out, but that he would certainly arrive
before long. “Then I will wait,” she said.

[Illustration: _Agence Nouvelle—Photo, Paris_
OFFICES OF _LE FIGARO_ ON THE EVENING OF THE MURDER]

[Illustration: _Agence Nouvelle—Photo, Paris_
GASTON CALMETTE IN HIS OFFICE AT THE _FIGARO_]

The customs of a Paris newspaper differ considerably from those of
newspapers in London. They are, if I may put it so, more social. In a
London newspaper office nearly all the business of the day with the
outside world is transacted by express letter, by telegram, or over the
telephone. The editor and his collaborators see fewer members of the
public in a week in the offices of a London newspaper than the editor
and collaborators of a Paris newspaper of the same importance see in an
afternoon. The difference in the hours of newspaper work in Paris and
in London, the difference in the characteristics of Frenchmen and of
Englishmen have a great deal to do with this difference in newspaper
methods. To begin with, the London newspaper goes to press much earlier
than does the newspaper in Paris, for Paris papers have fewer and later
trains to catch, and “copy” is therefore finished much later in Paris.
The principal London editors are invariably in their offices at latest
at noon every day, and prefer to see their visitors between the hours
of twelve and four o’clock. In Paris practically every newspaper editor
receives between five and seven in the evening, and it is very rare
to find heads of newspaper departments (the business side of course
excepted) in their offices before five P.M. In other words the
business of the day begins at about five o’clock in a Paris newspaper
office, when the business of the evening begins in London and the
business of the day is finished, and the real hard work of the night
staff hardly begins until ten. The hour at which Madame Caillaux called
therefore, to see Monsieur Calmette, was a perfectly normal one. She
was told that he would certainly come in before long, and was asked
for her name. She did not give it, said that she would wait, and was
shown into a waiting-room where curiously enough she sat down directly
beneath a large framed portrait of the King of Greece, who met his
death at the hands of a murderer not very long ago. Madame Caillaux
waited over an hour. We learned, afterwards, that in her muff, during
this long period of waiting, she carried the little revolver which she
had bought that day, and with which she was presently to shoot Monsieur
Calmette to death. She grew impatient at length, made inquiries of
one of the men in uniform whose duty it is to announce visitors, and
learned that Monsieur Calmette, who had just arrived, was now in his
office with his friend Monsieur Paul Bourget, the well-known novelist.
“If Madame will give me her card,” said the man. Madame Caillaux took a
card from her case, slipped it into an envelope which was on the table
by her side, and gave it to the man in uniform, who took it to Monsieur
Calmette’s office. Monsieur Calmette and Monsieur Bourget were on the
point of leaving the _Figaro_ office together for dinner. Monsieur
Calmette showed his friend the visiting card which had just been handed
to him. “Surely you will not see her?” Monsieur Bourget said. “Oh yes,”
said Monsieur Calmette, “she is a woman, and I must receive her.”
Monsieur Bourget left his friend as Madame Caillaux was shown into the
room. A few moments afterwards the crack of a revolver startled everybody
in the building. The interview had been a very short and tragic one.
Madame Caillaux, drawing her revolver from her muff, had emptied all
six chambers of it. Gaston Calmette fell up against a bookcase in the
room. He was mortally wounded. There was a rush from all the other
offices of members of the _Figaro_ staff, the revolver was snatched
from the woman’s hand, a member of the staff who happened to be a
doctor made a hasty examination, and a friend of M. Calmette’s, Dr.
Reymond, was telephoned for immediately. Somebody ran or telephoned for
the police, but for a long time Madame Caillaux remained in a passage
near the room where her victim lay dying. Before the ambulance was
brought on which Monsieur Calmette was carried out into the street he
had time to give his keys and pocket-book to one of his collaborators,
and to say farewell to them. Madame Caillaux had said very little
before she was taken away. When the revolver was snatched from her hand
she had said, “There is no more justice in France.” She had also said:
“There was no other way of putting a stop to it,” alluding, no doubt, to
the campaign in the _Figaro_ against her husband. Then she had given
herself into the hands of the police, and the curtain had fallen on
this first act of the drama.

[Illustration: _Agence Nouvelle—Photo, Paris_

M. BOUCARD (THE EXAMINING MAGISTRATE) AND THE DOCTORS LEAVING
THE PRIVATE HOSPITAL WHERE M. CALMETTE DIED.

M. Boucard is in front]

The first feeling in Paris when the crime became generally known
was one of stupefaction. The special editions of the evening papers
appeared while Paris was at dinner, were snatched with wild eagerness
from the hands of the hawkers, and nothing else was talked of all
that evening. Gradually, as details became known, a popular wave of
indignation against the murderess became so fierce that the police,
informed of it, took special measures to preserve order, and numbers
of police with revolvers in the great leather cases which are worn in
emergencies appeared in the streets. As a proof of the hold which the
drama took immediately on the imagination of the public, it may be
mentioned that the theatres were almost empty that evening and that in
each entr’acte the audience rushed out of the theatre altogether to
get further news, or if a few remained, they waited in the auditorium
for news to appear on the screens usually devoted to advertisements,
instead of strolling about the theatre corridors as they usually do. An
immense crowd gathered round the police-station in the Rue du Faubourg
Montmartre, where Madame Caillaux had been taken. The crowd, composed
for the most part of riffraff—for the Rue du Faubourg Montmartre is a
favourite haunt of the very worst kind of criminals—formed a surging
mass in front of the police-station with which the strong force of
police found it difficult to cope. Barely a quarter of an hour after
the police commissioner, Monsieur Carpin, had begun to question Madame
Caillaux, her husband arrived at the police-station in a taxicab. He
was recognized and hooted by the crowd, but though his usually ruddy
face was deadly pale he gave no other sign that he had noticed this
hostility. The only man who did not recognize Monsieur Caillaux was the
policeman on duty at the door. He had orders to allow no one to pass,
and barred his passage. “I am the Minister of Finance,” said Monsieur
Caillaux, and pushing past the man, who stood and stared at him, he
added, “You might as well salute me.” Other Ministers and politicians
of note had forced their way into the police-station, and a number of
journalists were among them. Stories of all sorts circulated, one to
the effect that Monsieur and Madame Caillaux had had a stormy scene,
and that the Minister had reproached his wife bitterly for what she had
done; another, which proved to be true later on, that he had telephoned
to the Prime Minister, and resigned his portfolio and his seat in the
Cabinet. Monsieur Carpin, the police commissioner, received some of the
journalists in his office, and gave them a short report of what had
occurred. “I saw Madame Caillaux at once when she came,” he said. “She
was perfectly self-possessed, but complained of feeling cold.” “You are
aware,” she said, “of the campaign which Monsieur Gaston Calmette was
waging against my husband. I went to some one, whose name I prefer not
to mention, for advice how to put a stop to this campaign. He told me
that it could not be stopped. A letter was published. I knew that other
letters were to be published too. This morning I bought a revolver, and
this afternoon I went to the office of the _Figaro_. I had no intention
of killing Monsieur Calmette. This I affirm, and I regret my act
deeply.” I quote this first statement of Madame Caillaux as Monsieur
Carpin repeated it to the journalists in his office on the evening
on which the crime was committed, and as the _Figaro_ and other
newspapers reproduced it word for word next morning. As will be seen
later, these first statements which the prisoner made are of vital
importance. It was now nine o’clock. The journalists were told that
Monsieur Boucard, the examining magistrate, had given orders for Madame
Caillaux to be locked up in St. Lazare prison, and were asked to leave
the police-station. The crowd outside in the streets had in some way
learned that Madame Caillaux was going, and became denser and more
menacing. The officials inside the police-station realized that there
was danger to the safety of their prisoner, and heard the cries from
the mob in the street below against the Minister of Finance. These
were if anything more threatening than those which Madame Caillaux’s
name provoked. All of a sudden a yell rose from below. “He’s getting
out by the back way! Down with the murderer! Death to Caillaux!” The
police-station has two entrances, one, the main one, in the Rue
du Faubourg Montmartre, the other leading through a passage and a
grocer’s shop out into a little side street, the Rue de la Grange
Batelière. There was a wild stampede round to this little
shop, and the first of the crowd to arrive there were in time to see
Monsieur Caillaux and the Minister of Commerce, Monsieur Malvy, jump
into a taxicab at the door. The cab got away amid a storm of shouts
and imprecations. “Death to Caillaux! Murderer! Démission!—Resign!
Resign!” Madame Caillaux, under the escort of two high police
officials, had been smuggled out of the police-station through the
grocery shop and taken away in another cab a few moments before her
husband left, but the crowd had missed her. She was taken directly to
St. Lazare prison, where she has been since, and locked into _pistole_,
or cell No. 12, where Madame Steinheil, Madame Humbert, and other
prisoners of notoriety awaited trial in their day.

On the morning of Monday, March 16, Madame Caillaux had held a
conference at her house in the Rue Alphonse de Neuville with the
President of the Civil Court, Monsieur Monier. It was to Monsieur
Monier she referred when she told Monsieur Carpin and Monsieur Boucard,
the examining magistrate, that she had been informed by a person, whom
she preferred not to mention, that there was no means of putting a
stop to the _Figaro_ campaign against her husband. A few moments after
Monsieur Monier had left the Rue Alphonse de Neuville Madame Caillaux
was called up on the telephone by Monsieur Pierre de Fouquières of the
Protocol. There was to be a dinner-party, in honour of the President
of the Republic, at the Italian Embassy in Paris that evening, and
Monsieur de Fouquières rang Madame Caillaux up on the telephone to know
at what time exactly she and her husband would arrive at the Embassy.
She told him that they would be there punctually at a quarter-past
eight, and reminded Monsieur de Fouquières, at the same time, that she
was counting on his help to place her guests at an important dinner
which was to be given at the Ministry of Finance on March 23. This
dinner of course never took place. After her conversation with Monsieur
de Fouquières, Madame Caillaux telephoned to her hairdresser, whom she
ordered to call and do her hair at seven o’clock for the dinner at the
Italian Embassy. At eleven o’clock that morning, her manicure called,
and Madame Caillaux then drove to her dentist, Dr. Gaillard, whom,
on leaving, she arranged to see again on the Wednesday at half-past
two. From the dentist’s Madame Caillaux drove to the Ministry of
Finance, to fetch her husband. On her way back in the car with him to
the Rue Alphonse de Neuville, Madame Caillaux told her husband of her
conference with the President of the Civil Tribunal, Monsieur Monier,
that morning, and of his declaration that there was no legal means
to put an end to the campaign in the _Figaro_ against the Minister
of Finance. Monsieur Caillaux is a hot-tempered man. He flew into a
violent rage, and declared to his wife “Very well then! If there’s
nothing to be done I’ll go and smash his face.” From my personal
knowledge of Monsieur Joseph Caillaux, from my personal experience of
his attitude when anything annoys him, I consider it quite probable
that his rage would cause him to lose quite sufficient control of
himself to speak in this manner under the circumstances. On one
occasion, not very long ago, Monsieur Caillaux received me in his
office at the Ministry of Finance and spoke of his causes of complaint
against the British Ambassador, Sir Francis Bertie. Although he was
talking to an English journalist about the Ambassador of his king
his language on that occasion was so unmeasured, and his anger was
expressed with such freedom, that in the interview I published after
our conversation I was obliged to suppress many of the things he said.
In fact when he read some of them in the interview which I took to the
Ministry to show him before I had it telephoned to London, Monsieur
Caillaux himself suggested their suppression. Madame Caillaux knew, she
has said afterwards, that her husband’s anger and violence of temper
were such that his threat was by no means a vague one. She has declared
that it was this threat of Monsieur Caillaux’s which gave her the first
idea of taking her husband’s place, and going to inflict personal
chastisement on the editor of the _Figaro_. It is a truism that small
occurrences often have results out of all proportion to their own
importance. That morning Monsieur and Madame Caillaux made a very bad
luncheon. Madame Caillaux, who has been under medical treatment for
some time, ate nothing at all, and the bad luncheon threw her husband
into another rage. He was so angry that they almost quarrelled, and
Madame Caillaux, to pacify him, promised that she would dismiss the
cook there and then, go to a registry office that afternoon, and secure
another cook for the next day. Monsieur Caillaux went back to the
Ministry of Finance immediately after luncheon, and his wife, who had
an engagement for tea at the Hôtel Ritz in the afternoon, rang for her
maid to put her into an afternoon dress. She says that she felt very
ill while she was dressing, and very worried by her husband’s outburst
with regard to the _Figaro_ campaign against him. She felt that she
must do all she could, she has declared, to prevent the publication of
certain letters which she believed, rightly or wrongly, that it was
Monsieur Calmette’s intention to publish in the _Figaro_. At half-past
two that afternoon, before going out, Madame Caillaux was, she has told
the examining magistrate, taken ill in her room and obliged to lie
down, and she described with great vividness a sort of vision which she
declares passed like a picture on the cinematograph before her eyes. “I
knew my husband to be a good swordsman, and a good pistol shot,” she
said. “I saw him killing Monsieur Calmette, I saw his arrest, I saw him
in the Assize Court standing in the dock. All the terrible consequences
of the ghastly drama which I foresaw passed before my eyes, and little
by little I made up my mind to take my husband’s place, and I decided
to go and see Monsieur Calmette that same evening.”

As I have already explained, Madame Caillaux knew, as every Parisian
knows, that the most likely time to find a newspaper editor in his
office was after five o’clock, and, as we know, she had promised to be
at the Italian Embassy at a quarter-past eight and had telephoned to
her hairdresser to go to her and dress her hair in the Rue Alphonse de
Neuville at seven. It is fairly clear therefore, that when she left
her house at three she had no very definite idea of what she was going
to do. At three o’clock Madame Caillaux left home—the home to which
neither she nor her husband has returned since—and drove in her grey
motor-car to a registry office, where she engaged a new cook for the
next day. She then drove to the sale-rooms of the armourer Monsieur
Gastinne-Renette in the Avenue d’Antin. Even then, she declares, she
had no intention of killing the editor of the _Figaro_, but intended
to ask him to cease his campaign against her husband, to refrain from
publishing letters which she was convinced he intended to publish, and
in the event of his refusal, to “show him of what she was capable”
(these words are a quotation from her statement to the examining
magistrate, Monsieur Boucard), and fire her revolver not to kill, but
to wound him. I wish it to be understood, clearly, that I am quoting
the foregoing from the evidence of Madame Caillaux herself. I do not
wish in any way to comment on this evidence. It is my object merely
to try, to the best of my endeavour, to place before the public the
state of this wretched woman’s mind immediately before the crime which
she committed, and by so doing to allow my readers to form their own
judgment of her motives. Madame Caillaux was well known to Monsieur
Gastinne-Renette, who for that matter knows everybody in Paris society.
She told the armourer that she would be motoring a good deal, by
herself, between Paris and her husband’s constituency of Mamers, during
Monsieur Caillaux’s coming electoral campaign, and that she wanted
a revolver for her own protection. The first weapon which was shown
her did not satisfy her. It was expensive, costing £3 19_s._ 6_d._,
and she hurt her finger, she says, when she pulled the trigger. She
was then shown a Browning which cost only £2 4_s._, and worked more
easily. She went downstairs to the shooting-gallery below Monsieur
Gastinne-Renette’s sale-rooms, and tried her new acquisition, firing
six shots from it. By a tragic coincidence her shots struck the metal
figure in almost exactly the same places as the bullets she fired
afterwards struck her victim. She then put six bullets into the loader,
and she told the examining magistrate that her first intention was to
put only two cartridges in, but that the salesman was watching her and
she thought he might think it strange if she only loaded her revolver
partially. At this point in Madame Caillaux’s examination, Monsieur
Boucard interrupted her. “If you did this,” said the magistrate, “you
must surely have made your mind up to murder Monsieur Calmette?” “Not
at all,” said Madame Caillaux. “The thought in my mind was that if he
refused to stop his campaign I would wound him.” From the armourer’s,
Madame Caillaux drove home again to the Rue Alphonse de Neuville, where
she wrote a note to her husband. In this note, which is now in the
hands of the lawyers, she wrote, “You said that you would smash his
face, and I will not let you sacrifice yourself for me. France and the
Republic need you. I will do it for you.” I have not seen this letter
myself. My quotation from it is taken from the report in the French
papers of March 25 of the examination of Madame Caillaux by Monsieur
Boucard. She gave this letter to her daughter’s English governess Miss
Baxter, telling her that she was to give it to Monsieur Caillaux at
seven o’clock if she had not returned home by then. It seems only fair
to believe that Madame Caillaux at that time, while she foresaw the
likelihood of a stormy interview with the editor of the _Figaro_, did
not intend committing murder. Madame Caillaux’s engagement for tea with
friends was at the Hôtel Ritz, but she did not go there to keep it. She
arrived at the _Figaro_ office exactly at a quarter-past five, and she
waited until a little after six o’clock for Monsieur Calmette to come
in. When she heard that he had arrived, she asked one of the men in
uniform to tell him that a lady whom he knew, but who did not wish to
give her name, wanted to speak to him. “He will only receive you,” said
the man, “if you let him know your name.” Madame Caillaux then, as I
have already said, put her visiting card in an envelope, and sent it
in to Monsieur Calmette. In her evidence to the examining magistrate
Madame Caillaux stated that she heard Monsieur Calmette a few moments
afterwards say aloud, “Let Madame Caillaux come in.” This statement of
the prisoner is flatly contradicted by the man who took her card in to
the editor of the _Figaro_, and by Monsieur Paul Bourget, who was with
Monsieur Calmette when Madame Caillaux’s card was brought to him. It
is contradicted also by a gentleman, who was in the waiting-room with
Madame Caillaux, waiting to see another member of the _Figaro_ staff,
and by a friend who was there with him. Madame Caillaux, however,
declared in her evidence to Monsieur Boucard that she heard Monsieur
Calmette speak her name aloud, and that she was furiously angry
because her identity had been made known. This is Madame Caillaux’s
own account of the crime itself. “The man opened the door to usher me
into Monsieur Calmette’s office, and as I walked to his room from the
visiting-room, I had slipped my revolver, which was in my muff, out of
its case. I held the weapon in my right hand, inside the muff, when
I entered Monsieur Calmette’s private office. He was putting his hat
on an armchair and said to me, ‘Bonjour madame.’ I replied, ‘Bonjour
Monsieur,’ and added, ‘No doubt you can guess the object of my visit.’
‘Please sit down,’ he said.” Madame Caillaux declares that she lost her
head entirely when she found herself facing her husband’s mortal enemy.
“I did not think of asking him anything,” she said. “I fired, and fired
again. The mouth of my revolver pointed downwards.” This statement is
undoubtedly true, for the first two bullets fired were found in the
bookcase quite near the ground. Madame Caillaux says that she went
on firing without knowing what she did. Two of her bullets inflicted
mortal wounds, and though everything was done that science could do,
her victim died a few hours later.

Monsieur Caillaux had spent the greater part of the afternoon in the
Chamber of Deputies, and his first news of the crime, which his wife
had committed, reached him at the Ministry of Finance. He had returned
to his office there to sign some necessary papers before returning
home to dress for the dinner at the Italian Embassy, and he did not
therefore receive his wife’s note until much later in the evening,
after the commission of the crime. Monsieur Caillaux, whatever his
faults may be, is a strong man and a plucky one. He turned ashy pale
when he heard what had happened, but said nothing further than to ask
for a cab, and without a moment’s loss of time he went as fast as
the cab could take him to the police-station in the Rue du Faubourg
Montmartre. There he was at once allowed to see his wife. Before
leaving the police-station Monsieur Caillaux telephoned to his chief,
Monsieur Doumergue, the Prime Minister, resigning his position in the
Cabinet as Minister of Finance. He told the Prime Minister then, that
nothing would induce him to reconsider his resignation, and that he
would devote himself exclusively to his wife’s defence, and take no
further part in the political life of the country. The news of the
murder was not definitely known at the Italian Embassy until fairly
late in the evening, although all the guests were surprised at the
absence of Monsieur Caillaux and his wife. Monsieur Poincaré was the
first to be told the news, and left the Embassy immediately, followed
by all the other guests. A little later in the evening, at about ten
o’clock, Monsieur Doumergue summoned his colleagues to a Cabinet
Council which was held at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Council
lasted from ten o’clock till after midnight. Just before the Ministers
separated the news of Monsieur Gaston Calmette’s death reached them
over the telephone wire. The Ministers’ first thought was to save the
political situation. They realized the grave dangers of a Cabinet
crisis at this moment, and dispatched Monsieur Malvy, the Minister of
Commerce, to Monsieur Caillaux to endeavour to induce him to reconsider
his decision to resign. Monsieur Caillaux refused to reconsider it, and
Monsieur Doumergue himself failed, though he tried hard, to get him
to withdraw his resignation and to remain in office. Even then the
colleagues in the Cabinet of Monsieur Caillaux refused to accept his
resignation definitely, and the Council adjourned until the Tuesday
without coming to any definite decision. On Tuesday, realizing the
political impossibility of his retaining his portfolio, even if he
could have been persuaded to retain it, the Government decided that
the Minister for Home Affairs, Monsieur René Renoult, should become
Minister of Finance in Monsieur Caillaux’s stead, that the Minister
of Commerce, Monsieur Malvy, should succeed him at the Home Office,
and that the Under Secretary of State for Home Affairs, Monsieur Raoul
Péret, should take the portfolio of Commerce. These decisions were made
known on the morning following the murder, the morning of Tuesday March
17, and the necessary decrees were signed before luncheon by President
Poincaré, enabling a full Cabinet to meet the Chamber of Deputies that
same afternoon. But that same afternoon a storm burst in the Chamber
with a violence which shook France as she has not been shaken by a
political upheaval for many years.

In the course of his campaign against Monsieur Caillaux in the
_Figaro_, Monsieur Gaston Calmette had, on several occasions, spoken
of undue interference by members of the Government with the course of
justice in the Rochette affair. I shall endeavour later in this book to
attempt to give my readers some explanation of the broad lines of the
“Affaire Rochette,” though it is so complicated, and the intricacy of
its details such, that very few Parisians, even, understand them, and
even the parliamentary commission which has sat on the case has never
been able to unravel it to the satisfaction and comprehension of the
man in the street. Monsieur Calmette spoke in these articles of his of
a letter written and signed by Monsieur Victor Fabre, the Procureur
Général, or Public Prosecutor, in which Monsieur Fabre was said to have
accused members of the Government of interference with the course of
justice, and to have stated that influence had been brought to bear on
him to postpone the Rochette trial. This story had always been denied
hotly by the parties most interested. At five o’clock in the afternoon
of March 17, the day after the murder of Monsieur Calmette by Madame
Caillaux, Monsieur Delahaye, a member of the Opposition, climbed the
steps of the rostrum and placed this motion before the House: _The
Chamber, deeply moved by the crime which was committed yesterday, and
which apparently was committed in order to prevent divulgations of a
nature likely to cast a slur on a magistrate who was acting by order,
invites the Government either to dismiss this magistrate from his post
or to give him the permission necessary to enable him to take legal
action against those who accuse him_.

The Chamber had been half empty when Monsieur Delahaye rose. It filled
in a moment with excited members who poured into their seats from the
lobbies. Monsieur Gaston Doumergue, and nearly all the members of the
Cabinet, took their places on the Government bench, and when Monsieur
Delahaye began his speech the House was in that tremor of excitement
which is the invariable prelude to a big sensation. Nobody knew,
however, with one or two exceptions, what the sensation was going to
be, and probably the members of the Government knew least of all. In an
excited speech Monsieur Delahaye referred first of all to an open
letter which had been written by a member of the Chamber, Monsieur
Thalamas, to Madame Caillaux immediately after her arrest. Monsieur
Thalamas, whose letter I subjoin in a footnote,[1] had written as no
decent man had any right to express himself on the commission of the
murder, and those members of the Chamber who remained unblinded by
political prejudice were fully aware of this. After reading the letter,
the reading of which was interrupted constantly, Monsieur Delahaye
declared that Monsieur Calmette had had the much-talked-about letter,
written three years ago, by the Public Prosecutor in his possession,
that he had intended to publish it in the _Figaro_, and that it made
a direct accusation against Monsieur Monis who had been Prime Minister
at the time that it was written and who was now, on March 17, Minister
of Marine. Monsieur Delahaye addressed a question directly to Monsieur
Monis. “Permit me to ask you,” he said, “whether this letter exists
or not, whether you knew it, and whether or not it states that you
gave orders to Judge Bidault de L’Isle, through the Public Prosecutor,
Monsieur Fabre, to order the postponement of the Rochette affair?”
There was a tumult of excitement in the House. The excitement centred
of course round Monsieur Monis, who had risen to reply, but who was
prevented by his friends from speaking. Altercations arose on all
sides, and in the midst of the tumult Monsieur Monis rose in his seat
and made signs that he insisted on being heard. A deadly silence
succeeded the uproar. “The first question you asked me,” said Monsieur
Monis in a loud and clear voice, “is whether I knew of the document to
which you have alluded, or whether I knew what was contained in it. My
answer is No. You asked me whether I gave orders, or caused orders to
be given, for the adjournment of the Rochette trial. My answer to that
question is emphatically No. And I do more than deny these statements:
I call on the President of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into
the Rochette case, to read to the Chamber the evidence given before the
commission by Judge Bidault de L’Isle. That evidence is in complete
conformity with what I have just said.” There was a roar of applause
from the Left, and Monsieur Jaurès, the President of the Parliamentary
Commission of Inquiry into the Rochette case, rose in his seat, and
made this important declaration: “Judge Bidault de L’Isle affirmed on
his honour, as a man and as a magistrate, that he had never received
any order of the kind. But it appears impossible to me that, if it is
in existence, we should not be informed about the existence of this
document. Does it exist, or does it not exist? If it has disappeared
let us be told so.” The declaration of Monsieur Jaurès was responsible
for more uproar in the House, in the middle of which Monsieur Delahaye
was heard to declare that the declaration of Monsieur Fabre had
existed, and that Monsieur Calmette, who had obtained possession of it,
always carried it about with him. Monsieur Delahaye declared further
that he had seen it, that Monsieur Briand, who was Minister of Justice
in the Monis Cabinet, had received it when he became Minister of
Justice, and that the document confirmed the accusation of Ministerial
intervention, which Monsieur Calmette had published in the _Figaro_.
Monsieur Doumergue followed Monsieur Delahaye in the rostrum. The Prime
Minister, who was evidently much affected, declared his horror of these
accusations against members of the Cabinet. “I have read the official
summary of the work of the Commission of Inquiry,” he said, “and it
states that Monsieur Bidault de L’Isle declared that he had been under
no pressure whatever, and that he had adjourned the Rochette trial of
his own free will. Monsieur Delahaye has declared,” said the Prime
Minister, “that the letter he saw was a copy of the original. What is
the value of this copy? The Government is perfectly prepared to favour
a fresh Inquiry, perfectly ready to bring a clear light to bear on
this question, but we want proof. Where is the proof?” And the Prime
Minister sat down amid a yell of applause from his political friends.
Then the bombshell fell. Monsieur Barthou stepped into the rostrum,
declared that the declaration of the Public Prosecutor Monsieur Fabre
was in his possession, and with one of those dramatic gestures of which
Frenchmen have the secret, produced a faded sheet of paper from his
pocket, unfolded it, slapped it on the desk in front of him, and cried
“And here it is!” (“Ce document, le voici!”) “This statement,” he said,
written by Monsieur Victor Fabre, “was handed to Monsieur Briand when
he was Minister of Justice. When I succeeded Monsieur Briand he handed
it over to me. I refused to allow it to become known, but I consider
that the time has come for its production in this house.” And in a
clear voice Monsieur Barthou read the following aloud:

       Le mercredi 2 mars 1911, j’ai été mandé par M. Monis,
       Président du Conseil.

       Il voulait me parler de l’affaire Rochette.

       Il me dit que le gouvernement tenait à ce qu’elle ne
       vînt pas devant la Cour le 27 avril, date fixée depuis
       longtemps; qu’elle pouvait créer des embarras au ministre
       des finances, au moment où celui-ci avait déjà les
       affaires des liquidations des congrégations religieuses,
       celles du Crédit Foncier et autres du même genre.

       Le président du Conseil me donna l’ordre d’obtenir
       du président de la Chambre correctionnelle la remise
       de cette affaire après les vacances judiciaires
       d’août-septembre.

       J’ai protesté avec énergie. J’ai indiqué combien il
       m’était pénible de remplir une pareille mission.

       J’ai supplié qu’on laissât l’affaire Rochette suivre son
       cours normal. Le président du Conseil maintint ses ordres
       et m’invita à aller le revoir pour lui rendre compte.

       J’étais indigné. Je sentais bien que c’était les amis de
       Rochette qui avaient monté ce coup invraisemblable.

       Le vendredi 24 mars Monsieur M.B. ... vint au Parquet.
       Il me déclara que, cédant aux sollicitations de son ami
       le ministre des finances, il allait se porter malade et
       demander la remise après les grandes vacances de son ami
       Rochette.

       Je lui répondis qu’il avait l’air fort bien portant, mais
       qu’il ne m’appartenait pas de discuter les raisons de
       santé personnelle invoquées par un avocat, et que je ne
       pouvais, le cas échéant, que m’en rapporter à la sagesse
       du Président.

       Il écrivit au magistrat.

       Celui-ci, que je n’avais pas vu et que je ne voulais pas
       voir, lui répondit par un refus.

       M^e Maurice Bernard s’en montra fort irrité.  Il vint récriminer
       auprès de moi et me fit comprendre, par des allusions à peine
       voilées, qu’il était au courant de tout.

       Que devais-je faire?

       Après un violent combat intérieur, après une véritable
       crise dont fut témoin, seul témoin d’ailleurs, mon ami et
       substitut Bloch-Laroque, je me suis décidé, contraint par
       la violence morale exercée sur moi, à obéir.

       J’ai fait venir Monsieur le président Bidault de L’Isle.

       Je lui ai exposé avec émotion la situation où je me
       trouvais. Finalement, M. Bidault de L’Isle consentit, par
       affection pour moi, à la remise demandée.

       Le soir même, c’est-à-dire le jeudi 30 mars, je suis allé
       chez M. le président du Conseil et lui ai dit ce que
       j’avais fait.

       Il a paru fort content.

       Je l’étais beaucoup moins.

       Dans l’antichambre j’avais vu M. du Mesnil,
       directeur du _Rappel_, journal favorable à Rochette et
       m’outrageant fréquemment. Il venait, sans doute, demander
       si je m’étais soumis.

       Jamais je n’ai subi une telle humiliation.

       Ce 31 mars 1911.
                                              V. FABRE.


       _Annexe._ [This was not read in the Chamber.]

       Le jour même de la réunion, pendant la suspension
       d’audience, des conseillers qui siégeaient à côté de M.
       Bidault de L’Isle se sont élevés en termes véhéments
       contre la forfaiture qu’on venait de lui imposer.

       Pourquoi ne les a-t-on pas entendus à la commission
       d’enquête?

       On aurait pu, par exemple, interroger M. Francois-Poncet
       qui n’a dissimulé à personne, ni son indignation ni son
       dégoût pour les manœuvres inqualifiables imposées par le
       président du Conseil au Procureur Général.

[Illustration: _Agence Nouvelle—Photo, Paris_
M. VICTOR FABRE, THE PROCUREUR GÉNÉRAL]

For English readers to realize the full importance of this document
I must explain that the Public Prosecutor or Procureur Général ranks
as a Government official, and holds almost the same position as a
judge holds in England, with the difference that he does not judge but
prosecutes. For influence to be brought to bear on such an official
by members of the Government is much the same thing as though Cabinet
Ministers in England had ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions
and the judge who was to try Mr. Jabez Balfour to adjourn the trial for
six or seven months for political reasons. Supposing such a thing to
have been possible, and Jabez Balfour to have disappeared from England
so that he never came up for trial at all, one can imagine the outcry
which would have been raised. Here in plain English, as plain and
as simple English as I can summon to my help, is the translation of
Monsieur Fabre’s accusing document:

       On Wednesday March 2, 1911, I was summoned by Monsieur
       Monis, the Prime Minister. He wished to talk to me about
       the Rochette affair. He told me that the Government did
       not wish the case to come before the courts on April 27,
       which date had been fixed a long time ago. He told me
       that it might create trouble for the Minister of Finance
       at a moment when he had already on hand the liquidation
       of the religious congregations, the Crédit Foncier case,
       and others of the same kind. The Prime Minister ordered
       me to induce the President of the Correctional Court
       (Judge Bidault de L’Isle) to adjourn this affair till the
       end of the legal vacation August-September. I protested
       with energy. I pointed out how painful it was for me
       to carry out such a mission. I begged (the Premier) to
       allow the Rochette case to follow its normal course. The
       Premier adhered to his order, and told me to see him
       again and give him news of my mission. I was deeply hurt
       and indignant. I had no doubt that Rochette’s friends
       had organized this incredible _coup_. On Friday March
       24 Mr. M. B. ... (Rochette’s lawyer, Maître Maurice
       Bernard) came to my office. He stated that, yielding to
       the solicitations of his friend the Minister of Finance,
       (Monsieur Caillaux) he was going to plead illness and
       asked for the adjournment of his friend Rochette’s trial.
       I replied to that, that he looked perfectly well, but
       that it was no part of my duty to question a plea of
       personal ill-health made by a lawyer, and that I should
       simply refer the matter to the wisdom of the judge. He
       wrote to the judge. Judge Bidault de L’Isle, whom I
       had not seen and did not want to see, met his request
       with a refusal. Maître Maurice Bernard showed great
       irritation at this refusal. He called on me again,
       used recriminatory language, and made me understand by
       means of thinly veiled allusions that he was perfectly
       informed of everything. What could I do? After much
       self-communion, after a veritable crisis of mental agony
       of which the witness, in fact the only witness, was my
       friend and deputy, Bloch-Laroque, I decided that I must
       obey the moral pressure which had been brought to bear
       on me. I sent for Judge Bidault de L’Isle. I laid before
       him, with emotion, the situation in which I had been
       placed. Eventually Judge Bidault de L’Isle consented
       from affection for me to the adjournment which had been
       demanded. That same evening, that is to say, Thursday,
       March 30, I went to the Prime Minister and told him what
       I had done. He appeared very pleased. I was much less
       pleased. In the ante-chamber I had seen Monsieur Du
       Mesnil, the managing editor of the _Rappel_, a newspaper
       which was favourable to Rochette and was in the habit of
       attacking me frequently. He had come, no doubt, to ask
       the Prime Minister whether I had allowed myself to be
       coerced. I have never undergone such humiliation before.

    _March 31, 1911._                         V. FABRE.


  _Annexe._

       On the day of the meeting during a suspension the
       councillors (that is to say the two judges) who sat
       on the bench with Judge Bidault de L’Isle expressed
       themselves very vehemently against the pressure which had
       been brought to bear on them. Why were they not heard by
       the Commission of Inquiry? For instance it would have
       been easy to question Monsieur François-Poncet, who had
       taken no pains to conceal either his indignation or his
       disgust at the unqualifiable manœuvres which the Prime
       Minister had forced on the Public Prosecutor.

[Illustration:
_Agence Nouvelle—Photo, Paris_
THE FUNERAL OF M. CALMETTE]

The reading of this statement from the rostrum of the Chamber was
followed within forty-eight hours by the resignation of Monsieur Monis
from the Cabinet, and its immediate result was the resumption of the
work of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry which had sat on the
Rochette case. This commission (over which of course Monsieur Jaurès
presided, as he had presided over the others) conducted the inquiry,
as all such inquiries invariably are conducted in France, on political
lines. The sessions of the commission did not pass off without the
resignation of some of its members, the public was inclined to shrug
its shoulders at the leniency of its examination of past Ministers
of the State, and the wording of its verdict when delivered was a
farce, not altogether unworthy of the date on which the Paris morning
papers published it, the first of April. The Parliamentary Commission
could find no stronger words to stigmatize the situation described in
Monsieur Fabre’s statement, which description the inquiry proved to be
true, than “a deplorable abuse of influence.” The phrase has become a
joke in Paris now, and is in popular use on the boulevards. The Chamber
of Deputies, however, before the close of the Parliamentary session,
found other words to express the nation’s displeasure, and after a
session which lasted from two o’clock in the afternoon of April 3 till
two o’clock in the morning of April 4, the Chamber of Deputies
adjourned for the Easter holidays, having voted the following order
of the day:

       The Chamber,

       Takes note of the statements and findings of the
       Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry.

       _Disapproves and reprehends the abusive intervention of
       financial interests in politics, and of politics in the
       administration of justice._

       Affirms the necessity of a law on parliamentary
       incompatibility,

       And with the resolution to assure, more efficaciously,
       the separation of political and judicial power,

       Passes to the order of the day.

[Illustration: _Agence Nouvelle—Photo, Paris_
THE BROTHERS, SONS AND RELATIVES OF M. CALMETTE AT THE FUNERAL]

The debate, of which this significant order of the day was the
corollary, was not only an extremely interesting, but a very stormy
one. In the course of it, a member of the Chamber challenged Monsieur
Doumergue, the Prime Minister, to fight him, but the quarrel was
smoothed over. Monsieur Briand, Monsieur Barthou, Monsieur Barrès,
Monsieur Doumergue, and Monsieur Jaurès all took a very active part in
the debate, and when the Chamber finally adjourned till June, in other
words till after the general elections, the general impression was that
the Doumergue Ministry would not return to power.

With this historic debate ends the first chapter of the Caillaux drama.
The vibrations of a revolver shot in a newspaper office in the Rue
Drouot have eddied and spread till France was set aquiver. The woman
who fired the shot, the wife of the man who an hour before the shot was
fired was the most powerful man in France, knew before she was taken
to her cell in Saint Lazare that the first consequence of her act had
been the headlong downfall of her husband. She must feel now like a
child who has pulled up a little stone and caused an avalanche, and not
only France but Europe and the whole world are wondering what may go to
pieces in the wreckage.

[1] Copy of open letter sent by Monsieur Thalamas to Madame Caillaux:

MADAME,

Je n’ai pas l’honneur de vous connaître, mais je sais par expérience
quelle est l’infamie de la presse immonde envers les sentiments les
plus intimes et les plus sacrés, quelle guerre elle mène contre la
famille, les choses privées les plus respectables, et ceux qui luttent
contre les privilèges des riches et contre les menées cléricales. Vous
en avez tué un. Bravo! Lorsqu’un homme en vient à se mettre ainsi
en dehors de la loi morale, il n’est plus qu’un bandit. Et quand la
Société ne vous fait pas justice, il n’y a plus qu’à se faire justice
soi-même!

Faites de ma lettre l’usage que vous voudrez. Trouvez-y le cri de la
conscience d’un honnête homme révolté, et d’un journaliste-député
écœuré des procédés de ceux qui déshonorent la presse et le Parlement.

THALAMAS

P.S. Ma femme me prie de vous adresser l’expression de sa sympathie.
Elle vient de faire sur votre acte un article pour la _Dépêche de
Versailles_. Elle vous l’enverra demain.

_Translation_:

MADAME,

I have not the honour of your acquaintance, but I know by experience
the infamy of the unclean Press towards the most intimate and most
sacred sentiments, I know the war which it wages against home and
family, against the intimacies of life most worthy of respect, against
those who oppose the privileges of the rich, and the influence of
the priests. You have killed one of them. Well done! When a man puts
himself in this way outside all moral laws he is nothing but an outlaw,
and when society does not do justice to him the only thing to be done
is to take the law into one’s own hands.

Make whatever use you like of my letter. It is the genuine expression
of the feelings of revolt of an honourable man’s conscience, the
expression of the conscience of a journalist who is a member of the
Chamber, and who is disgusted by the methods of those who dishonour
both Press and Parliament.

THALAMAS

P.S. My wife begs me to assure you of her sympathy. She has written an
article on your act for the _Dépêche de Versailles_. She will send it
you to-morrow.



II

CELL NO. 12


[Illustration: _Agence Nouvelle—Photo, Paris_
MME. CAILLAUX (AND DETECTIVE) ON HER WAY TO THE
LAW COURTS TO BE EXAMINED]

It is a very short drive from the Rue du Faubourg Montmartre to the
prison of Saint Lazare, where Madame Caillaux was taken from the
police-station. She had been taken from the office of the _Figaro_
to the police-station in her own luxurious car. She drove to Saint
Lazare in one of the horrible red taxicabs which have rattled for too
many years about the streets of Paris, with a member of the police
force in plain clothes seated beside her, another on the uncomfortable
little seat opposite, and a third on the box by the driver. The prison
authorities had been advised by telephone of her arrival at the prison,
and arrangements had been made to put her into _pistole_ No. 12, the
cell in which Louise Michel, Valentine Merelli, Madame Humbert, Madame
Steinheil and many other Parisian celebrities awaited their trials. The
cab drove into the courtyard of the prison and the gates closed behind
it. The police handed their prisoner over, with the usual formalities,
to the prison authorities, she was kept waiting while she was inscribed
on the prison books, she was searched—for no prisoner escapes this
formality—and was told to walk forward to a large open space between
two staircases. The house of correction of Saint Lazare is a very old
building, which dates from the beginning of the twelfth century. It
was a hospital for lepers in 1110, and remained one till 1515, when
the monks of the Order of Saint Victor took it over, and abolished the
lepers’ hospital. In 1632 Saint Vincent de Paul and the priests of the
order became the inmates of Saint Lazare, and in 1779 it became a house
of correction and provisional and permanent detention for men. On July
13, 1789, when famine raged in Paris, the mob broke into Saint Lazare,
and looted the enormous stock of food which the Lazarists were known
to be keeping there. The monks were driven out, the building sacked
and the store houses gutted by fire. The convent of Saint Lazare then
became a State prison in which suspects were kept. It is now a prison
for women. There is room for about twelve hundred prisoners, but at a
pinch the old building would hold 1600. The prisoners are divided into
three categories. The first consists of women who are awaiting trial,
or who have been sentenced to less than a year’s imprisonment. The
second division consists of girls under age who have been sentenced
to confinement in a house of correction till they are twenty-one, the
third division is that of unfortunates whose sentences of imprisonment
are short ones. Saint Lazare prison, though of course under State
control, is in practice ruled by a body of nuns who, while responsible
to the authorities, have really the entire management of the enormous
prison in their hands and hold the real power. It is a huge bleak
wilderness of stone with echoing corridors and haunting silences, and
has been sentenced to demolition for sanitary reasons for many years.
But threatened buildings live long in France when they belong to the
State. A modern prison, such as Fresnes in France or any of the English
prisons, is a pleasure resort compared with Saint Lazare, and there is
less difference between Fresnes and a cheap hydropathic than there is
between the prison of Saint Lazare and the prison of Fresnes. The
silence, the darkness, the cold, damp, and dirt are perhaps the worst
of its discomforts, but I have been told by women who have been
imprisoned there that the mental and physical torture of the months
in which they waited trial surpassed anything that could be imagined.
Within an hour after her arrival Madame Caillaux ceased to wear her
name and became a number—No. 12. The number she received is considered
a favour, for cell No. 12 is the most spacious of all the cells in
Saint Lazare.

[Illustration: SŒUR LEONIDE
The chief superintendent of the prison nuns
_Specially drawn by M. Albert Morand_]

In the large open space between the two stairways is a high chair,
almost a throne, on which sits Sister Léonide, the chief superintendent
of the prison nuns. She is a woman of about forty. A handsome woman
with a stern set face. The drawing of her in this volume was done
specially for me by the well-known artist of St. Lazare, Monsieur
Albert Morand. Monsieur Morand is one of the few men who have been
authorized to make drawings of St. Lazare, and his work has the honour
of a special place in the Carnavalet Museum. His drawings which are
reproduced in this volume are probably unique. The nickname which
the prisoners give Sœur Léonide is “Bostock,” after the famous
American lion tamer, who, in his day, was a celebrity in Paris. Her
severity is not more remarkable than is her power of quelling the
first signs of mutiny among the prisoners by a mere glance, and it
was the quick-witted appreciation of this power of the eye which gave
her her name. Sister Léonide made a sign to one of the two women who
stood by her. The woman, a prison attendant who goes by the ironically
prison-given name of a _soubrette_, opened a door and motioned to No.
12 to walk straight on down a half-lighted misty corridor, painted a
muddy brown. This corridor seems endless. It is like a street in a
nightmare. There are doors on either side which seem to leap out of the
half darkness, and at long, long intervals a little flame of gas. It is
only quite recently that there is any incandescent gas in St. Lazare
and what there is, even now, is quite inadequate, merely serving, as
a former prisoner expressed it, “to show us the darkness around.”
The anticipatory mental torture of this first long journey down the
interminable corridor must be terrific to a woman whose life, before
her imprisonment, has run on easy lines. The doors are named and
numbered. Cell No. 8, Cell No. 9, Workshop No. 2, Library, and so
forth. All of them have huge and heavy locks, and bolts and bars.
“Here,” said the _soubrette_. She produced a huge key which she fitted
into the lock of a door on which in big white letters were painted the
words “Pistole No. 12.” She had to use both hands to turn the key. The
door creaked and opened inwards. Cell No. 12 is fairly large. As a rule
there are six little beds in it, and it has held as many as eight beds.
The walls are painted black, from the floor up to three quarters of
the distance to the ceiling. The top quarter is white-washed, but the
whitewash is grey, from age and want of care. They use extraordinarily
little soap and water in the prison of Saint Lazare. The heavy beams
across the ceiling have been decorated for many years by a network of
spiders’ webs, and though there was a rumour in the Paris Press at the
time of her imprisonment that Cell No. 12 had been cleaned for Madame
Caillaux’s reception, I am told that the webs and the spiders are there
still.

[Illustration: THE CORRIDOR OUTSIDE THE PISTOLES
Madame Caillaux’s cell, No. 12, is the door on the right by the table
_Drawn specially in St. Lazare Prison by M. Albert Morand_]

There were so many absurd stories in the Paris Press about the comforts
which had been provided in Saint Lazare for Madame Caillaux that an
impression became prevalent that she must be having rather a good
time in prison. I need hardly say that there was very little, if any,
foundation in fact for these stories. Monsieur Morand’s drawing of the
“soubrette” does away with the mind-picture which newspaper readers may
have formed of a smart maid waiting on this favoured prisoner, getting
her bath for her, and bringing her a breakfast tray each morning.
The _soubrette_ of _pistole_ No. 12, who looks after the _pistole_
next door as well, where there are seven prisoners, and who therefore
can have little time to devote to the prisoner in No. 12, is a woman
called Jeanne (I do not know her surname), who murdered her husband
with a penknife some months ago. She is a quiet, somewhat surly woman,
and good conduct has obtained for her the privilege of acting as
_soubrette_ in two of the _pistoles_, for enforced idleness is one of
the prison’s worst punishments. One of the favourite newspaper stories
which were in circulation soon after Madame Caillaux’s imprisonment was
one which told of the furnishing of the _pistole_ in which she had
been put. Journalists had seen a big motor lorry arrive with her
furniture, we were told, and the cell had been made as comfortable as
a room in her own house. This story gained a semblance of truth from
the reproduction in the papers of the arrival of a big motor lorry at
Saint Lazare. I reproduce this picture here. It looks conclusive, and
convincing at first sight, for the group of journalists who saw the
van drive in can, one might think, surely not have all been mistaken.
However, I took the trouble to make some inquiries while my Paris
colleagues, I fear, jumped to conclusions. I learned that the van
which figures in the picture comes quite regularly to Saint Lazare.
It contains linen in the rough sent by a contracting firm, for whom
the prisoners turn the rough linen into sheets and pillow-cases. The
contractors, the prison authorities, and the prisoners, all find their
advantage in this arrangement—and the van did not contain even a chair
for Madame Caillaux’s cell.

[Illustration: “JEANNE,” THE _SOUBRETTE_ OF PISTOLE NO. 12
_Specially drawn by M. Albert Morand_]

The cell has now two beds in it, one for the prisoner, one for Jeanne
the _soubrette_. A great deal of nonsense has been written in the
newspapers about “the maid” whom Madame Caillaux was allowed in prison.
The simple fact, of course, is that the authorities consider it
necessary that watch should be kept on her, and the “maid,” Jeanne the
prison _soubrette_, is by no means a pleasant companion. The furniture
is very primitive, though better than that of some of the other cells.
There are a mattress on the bed of cast iron, a pillow but no bolster,
two straw-bottomed chairs, a little white deal table, a jug and a
basin which were once enamelled yellow but through which the rusty
metal shows. On the bed is a brown rug with the word “Prison” written
on it. Madame Caillaux has been allowed to cover this rug with an old
quilt which Madame Steinheil brought into the prison. Above the bed
is a shelf on which the prisoner’s linen can be put, behind the bed a
little trap through which the wardresses can peep into the cell at any
moment. The floor of No. 12 is tiled with rough red tiles, much worn,
and broken. There is a stove, but it has never warmed the cell, and in
cold weather the damp and cold are very bitter. No. 12 has three
windows, strongly barred, and in addition to the bars there is wire
netting. This wire netting has its reason. The windows of No. 12 look
out on the courtyard in which, twice a day, the prisoners are allowed
for exercise. This courtyard is quite pleasant in the summer, for
there are several trees in it, but the prisoners have an unpleasant
habit of attracting the attention of the inmates of _pistole_ No. 12
by throwing stones at the windows, as a sign that chocolate or cakes
would be acceptable. In this courtyard inside the old convent of Saint
Lazare, which has the picturesque charm of great age, some of the most
sensational scenes of the days of the Terror took place, for it was
from that courtyard that the tumbrils left for the guillotine. The
chapel opens into this courtyard too, and Madame Caillaux from the
windows of her cell enjoys a very pretty view when the courtyard is
empty. In the exercise hours the view is less pleasing. There is always
war between the women prisoners of the other classes and those of the
_pistole_ class, and until the new inmate of No. 12 learned how to slip
bits of chocolate, biscuit, or sugar out across the window-sill so that
they fell into the courtyard she dared hardly show herself at the
window. It is a peculiarity that, in the house of silence, everything
of interest is known to all the prisoners immediately. Madame Caillaux
had not been twelve hours in No. 12 before all her fellow prisoners
knew all about the drama which had brought her there, and were curious
to see her.

[Illustration: _Agence Nouvelle—Photo, Paris_
THE LORRY WHICH PARIS JOURNALISTS THOUGHT WAS FULL OF
MME. CAILLAUX’S FURNITURE.
Most of the men in the crowd are either journalists or
police in plain clothes]

[Illustration: LA COUR DES FILLES IN SAINT LAZARE
It is here that Madame Caillaux is allowed to take daily exercise
for three-quarters of an hour.
_Drawn specially in St. Lazare Prison by M. Albert Morand_]

Curiously little is known by the outside world, though Paris is a
gossip-loving and gossipy city, of the real facts of the life inside
the house of correction of Saint Lazare. I never realized myself until
quite recently the horrors of incarceration there. Chance then threw me
into communication with a woman who had shot another woman dead, had
spent some months in Saint Lazare, had been acquitted by the jury and
is a free woman now. Her crime had been a crime of jealousy. The jury
had refused to punish her more than she had been punished, and she got
a verdict of “not guilty,” though she shot and killed her rival in the
affections of her husband and pleaded guilty to so doing. This woman is
a woman with literary tastes, a woman who is in the habit of observing,
and who has the gift of describing what she sees. She has told me
a great deal about the life in Saint Lazare, but far more eloquent
than anything which she has told me is the present condition of the
woman herself. We talk about “the prison taint” with very little real
knowledge of what it means. Imagine a woman of your own world, a lady
of refinement and of education, who waits to be spoken to before she
opens her lips, who stands aside to let you pass if you open a door,
who, if you beg her to take precedence, walks before you with bowed
head and folded hands as though you were her gaoler. Her voice is
always subdued, she never contradicts, she gives her opinion only when
asked for it, and even then it is an opinion without emphasis. She has
forgotten how to hurry. She has forgotten how to lie in bed late in the
mornings. She never gives an order. When she wants something from a
servant her tone and manner in asking for it are those of supplication.
She is resigned—terribly resigned. Her whole attitude is one of
resignation so pitiful that, unattractive woman though she is, a man’s
heart fairly bleeds for her, and one feels a longing to try and comfort
and console her as one would console a child who has been beaten.
Morally and mentally the prisoner in Saint Lazare is being beaten all
the time that she is in prison. There is no physical punishment, there
is no active cruelty, there is only the terrible deadweight of the
prison system; but this is quite enough to unsettle and to dull the
most active brain. There is no doubt that the active brains suffer
the most. The whole atmosphere of the place, as this woman told me,
is the atmosphere of a convent from which all love and sympathy are
banished. Imagine, if you can, a hospital in which, while everything
is done to ease the physical distress of the patients, their moral
distress is ignored. Imagine a hospital in which the nurses are stern
and unsmiling, in which complaint of mental distress is met with
silence, in which no unnecessary word is ever spoken, in which no woman
ever puts her cool hand on another woman’s forehead because she has a
headache, or kisses her because she is unhappy. Imagine long dreary
days with no brightness in them. Imagine the horrid rattle of big keys
in heavy locks. Form your own mind-picture of Cell No. 12, with its
broken red-tiled floor, its bare black walls topped with dirty grey
whitewash, its furniture of a straw-bottomed chair, a plain white
deal table, a battered metal basin and water jug, its windows with
their bars and wire netting, the cruel silence and soul-deadening
simplicity. No flowers, no ribbons, no armchair, no cushions, very
little light after sundown, none of the thousand and one trifles which
brighten the poorest room of the poorest woman. No conversation, no
letters which have not been read first by strangers, visits hedged
in with the severest of formality, no name, a number—in a word no
life, merely existence, and existence without the sympathy which makes
existence lovable. This is the mind-picture I have formed, and this
is a true picture of Madame Caillaux’s daily life in _pistole_ No.
12. Her principal distraction is her occasional drive with two plain
clothes policemen to the Palace of Justice, and her examination there
by the magistrate. And yesterday this woman was fêted and cherished by
society, had a large circle of friends, was busy every moment of the
day. Now she has nothing to do but to think. She may write, she may
read, but she may only exist. Her existence has become a backwater
without a ripple in it, a dark cul-de-sac into which no sunshine
penetrates. Is it surprising that the constant presence of a
_soubrette_ of the prison should be considered necessary? A man smashed
a water-bottle and cut his throat in Paris the other day to avoid six
months imprisonment. He had been in prison before, awaiting trial, and
he knew what it meant. And he was a rough man with no refined tastes,
and no need of refinement. In Italy the other day a brigand went mad
after solitary confinement. The prisoner in Saint Lazare is not even
allowed to go mad. A great deal of nonsense has appeared in the English
newspapers about Madame Caillaux’s life in Saint Lazare. Paris papers
have printed stories (the authorities have always contradicted them)
drawing a picture of a comfortable room with carpet on the floor and
curtains to the windows. The woman who described to me the real life in
Saint Lazare assures me that the “carpet” is merely a strip of rug to
keep the tiled floor, with the dangers of the broken tiles, from the
prisoner’s bare feet when she steps out of bed, and that it is a
physical impossibility that any curtains should be hung. Madame
Steinheil was allowed to hang sheets in front of the windows. Perhaps
Madame Caillaux has obtained this permission too. The prisoner is
allowed to get her food from outside, but this food is of the plainest
and simplest. She is allowed to receive visits, but the visits are rare
ones, and she is never alone with her visitor. She may write, but what
she writes is always read. She may receive letters but she knows that
all her letters pass through other hands and are subject to careful
scrutiny before she gets them. She has no privacy at all and knows
that she is always under watch and that even when she is alone in her
cell there is an eye at the little trapdoor which peeps into it over
her bed. The prisoner in the _pistole_ has not even the consolation of
company during exercise hours, and she must sometimes envy the women
whom she can see from her windows. She can talk to the nuns, but they
answer as little as possible. She lives out her life in a whisper. The
_soubrette_ is a prisoner. She talks a little sometimes—prison talk.
She brings the _pistolière_ her cup of soup at seven in the morning,
and tells her all the prison news, but she is not allowed to remain
long, for she has other work to do and it is the hour of the canteen.
If the _pistolière_ wants coffee she must go to the canteen and buy
it. She is allowed a large mugful every morning, for which she pays
twopence. She walks down the long dreary corridor with her mug in her
hand, and waits in a large hall where the _pistolières_ stand in a row
against the wall. Numbers are called in turn, and each woman is given
her coffee and the permitted trifles she has ordered the day before,
such as butter, milk, white bread (the prison bread is grey), herrings,
dried figs or letter paper. Then the long morning drags on until post
time. The letters are distributed by Sister Léonide herself, and the
letters are always open. The _pistolière_ does not take her exercise
in the large courtyard with the trees in it. The yard in which she is
allowed to walk, and which Monsieur Moran has drawn for me, is small
and has a high wall round it. The windows of cells look down on it, and
as the prisoner walks up and down she knows that she is being watched
and feels that there are eyes behind the bars of every window. Every
now and again a big rat runs across her path. These rats of Saint
Lazare are fat and of huge size. They run about quite freely and are
almost tame, for no one ever interferes with them. The nuns of Saint
Lazare keep cats, but they and the rats made friends long ago, and the
cats and rats feed amicably together. At least a hundred rats a day
are killed in the kitchens and corridors, but there are so many rats
that the others hardly miss them. You hear them at night scampering
over the beams of the ceilings, you see them in the corridors, the
kitchens, the cells, everywhere. For some reason they are most playful
about dusk, and there are stories in the prison of women who have had
fits of hysteria and have even gone out of their minds because of
sudden fear of these rats of the prison. There is a sickness common
to all prisoners in Saint Lazare which is known there as “the six
o’clock sickness” (_le mal de six heures_). It attacks all newcomers,
and none escape it. It comes on after the walk in the courtyard, when
night begins to close in, and the prison settles into silence till the
morning. It is an attack of a kind of malarial fever, a shivering
fit and a violent headache with a feeling of lassitude and nausea
afterwards. When it comes on, the prisoners are given a cachet of
quinine from the prison pharmacy. It does very little good. After dark
the _pistolière_ is allowed two candles which she fixes in a piece of
bread or fastens by means of their own wax to her wooden table. No
lamps are allowed. I have seen it stated in the newspapers that Madame
Caillaux is allowed a lamp, but I do not know whether the statement
is true. The last ceremony of the day is “the roll call.” This, like
most of the other ceremonies in Saint Lazare, is conducted in absolute
silence. The door of the _pistole_ is opened, and Sœur Léonide
appears with the big Book of Hours which she carries in her two hands.
On either side of her is a _soubrette_, one of whom carries a big bunch
of keys. Sister Léonide stands in the doorway of the _pistole_ for a
moment, looks at the prisoner to make certain that she is there, bends
her head, turns and goes. Not a word is spoken. And then comes the
night.

[Illustration: MADAME CAILLAUX’S CELL EXACTLY AS IT IS
_Drawn by M. Albert Morand who received special permission from the
prison authorities to make this sketch_]

The one bright spot in this terrible life of monotony in the prison of
Saint Lazare, the one relief from these never-ending days of the same
food, the same walk, the same rats, the same silence, is Mass in the
chapel. Here the _pistolière_ sits, silent, it is true, but with other
women near her and round her. But even here she sits apart, and Madame
Caillaux, I am told, has not attended mass. “There is only one hope
in Saint Lazare,” said the former prisoner who gave me most of this
information, “we all hope for our day of trial.” “All of you?” I asked.
“Oh, yes,” she said. “No matter what we fear, nothing can be worse than
the terrible monotony of life in the _pistole_. Our lives are those of
prisoners in a dark gallery. The trial and the open law courts are the
one glimpse of light and life at the end of the passage.”



III

THE CRIME AND THE PUBLIC


Whenever anything sensational occurs to disturb the serenity of daily
life in Paris, the vortex of politics promptly sucks it in. The
Parisians—Frenchmen in general, in fact—are insatiable politicians,
and no matter what the happening, discussion of it becomes immediately
a party matter. It is of little consequence whether the item which is
talked about in clubs, in cafés, in the newspapers, in the theatre
lobbies, at dinner-parties, and at supper after the theatre is green
hair, the Caillaux Drama, or a new play, the people who discuss it
usually take sides in accordance with their political views. You may
laugh at the idea that green hair or a non-political play has any
bearing on politics, but in Paris this is curiously true. Green hair,
for instance, became a dogma of the Opposition. It was adopted by
ladies of the aristocracy, therefore Socialists and Radicals jeered
at it. The sensible man who ventured to laugh at green hair was
immediately stigmatized by those who upheld the new fashion as a
supporter of the parliamentary system and the _bloc_, not because
parliamentary Radicals and green hair have any real connexion, not
because Monsieur Jaurès prevents the ladies of his family from wearing
it, but because the Duchesse de Y. and the Comtesse de Z., who are
“_bien pensants_,” have become votaries of the fashion. A new play
is judged not so much on its merits as on political grounds. If the
author be of aristocratic sympathies, Monsieur Lavedan, for instance,
the anti-aristocrats promptly run down his play, and if he be one of
the class from which Dreyfusards were drawn during the Dreyfus case
and afterwards, the reactionaries have no good word to say for his
work. How curiously true this is in Paris, and how difficult it is for
any foreigner who has not lived many years in Paris to understand it,
was proved by the tumult and bloodshed over a play of Monsieur Henry
Bernstein’s which was produced some years ago at the Comédie Française.
The reactionary party actually contrived to wreck the play because they
disliked Monsieur Bernstein, because he was a Jew, and because his play
was produced in the national theatre. The principal difficulty for a
foreigner in understanding the extraordinary hold of politics in France
on matters which appear and which are really entirely outside the scope
of politics is increased by the Frenchman’s attitude in argument. When
a foreigner disagrees with a Frenchman on any question whatsoever, the
Frenchman, should he happen to be getting the worse of the discussion,
puts an end to it by remarking, smilingly and politely, “But you are
a foreigner, my friend, and therefore cannot possibly understand this
matter, which is essentially French.” There is no answer to such a
statement. Frenchmen believe, quaintly enough, that the hand of every
foreigner is always against them. The national conceit in France, an
excellent asset, of course, for the nation, but singularly aggravating
sometimes, is enormous, unfathomable, and entirely impervious to
argument or logic. The greatest praise for anything in France is that
it is French. The greatest praise for anything in Paris is that it
is very Parisian, and so peculiar is this national conceit that it
finds an outlet in the inevitable claim which is invariably made for
French initiative in any invention, scientific or otherwise, which
has made its mark in the world, for any novelty of medical science,
for anything inspired at all. The origin of anything worth having
in the world is French. This is dogma, and quite indisputable. Your
Frenchman will admit the marvels of Marconi, but he will always add
that Branly, a Frenchman, was the real inventor of wireless telegraphy,
and will ignore Hertz as far as he dares. There was an argument in the
French Press, not long ago, for instance, to prove that Columbus was a
Frenchman. I do not know whether his famous egg was also a French egg,
and I do not remember exactly how Columbus was proved to be French. I
do know, however, that Frenchmen are quite sure that, although Edison
and Bell had something to do with the invention of the telephone, a
Frenchman was the real inventor of it, and quite recently, when Mr.
Westinghouse died, the newspapers proved, to their own satisfaction,
that a Frenchman was the inventor of the Westinghouse brake.

[Illustration: _Agence Nouvelle—Photo, Paris_
MONSIEUR CAILLAUX IN HIS OFFICE AT THE MINISTÈRE DES FINANCES]

Now the reactionary nationalist party in France makes more noise than
all the others put together. The reactionary newspapers are more
violent in tone than any of the others, and have a knack of making a
statement on Monday, reaffirming it on Tuesday, and alluding to it as
an absolute and admitted fact on Wednesday. They have therefore the
grip on public opinion which noise and reiteration always secure, and
it is very natural that public opinion abroad, which has necessarily
less opportunity for discrimination, should finish by accepting the
reiterated outcry of the noisiest portion of the French Press as the
real French opinion. In a drama like the Caillaux drama, in a case
where a respected man, the editor of a flourishing Paris newspaper,
has been done to death, it is obvious that those who feel that the
woman who has killed him has any claim to sympathy at all will find
themselves in the minority. It is no less a fact that unfair methods
have been in use ever since the death of Monsieur Calmette to rouse the
opinion of the world against the wretched woman who is in prison
for killing him. The law courts will decide how much or how little
sympathy is due to her. In the meanwhile the French Press is pursuing
its inevitable method of judging the case in advance, and everything
is being done for political reasons to increase the public feeling of
natural horror for the deed which resulted in the death of the editor
of the _Figaro_. It is difficult to exaggerate the bitter tone of the
daily howl for punishment: Already the _Action Française_ has begun to
throw mud at Monsieur Boucard, the examining magistrate, in case his
report on the case should be too lenient, and to suggest that he has
been bought over. I have not seen in any French paper a suggestion that
Madame Caillaux is already being punished by the political downfall of
her husband and her own incarceration. There is no sign anywhere in the
French newspapers of an attempt to be fair, and the very worst side of
the French character has come to the surface in this chorus of bitter
cruelty to a woman who is down, on the one side, and libels on the dead
man on the other. As much harm is being done to Madame Caillaux’s case
by her friends as by her enemies. While her enemies are clamouring
against her, her friends are losing any public sympathy which might
have arisen, by attacking the memory of Gaston Calmette. It is quite
obvious to any reasonable person who considers the drama calmly and
without prejudice that Madame Caillaux did not kill Monsieur Gaston
Calmette for the mere pleasure of killing. It is equally obvious that
Monsieur Calmette waged his campaign in the _Figaro_ against Monsieur
Caillaux because he thought it was the right thing to do, and that
he thought the political downfall of Monsieur Caillaux, which he was
attempting to bring about, would be a good thing for France. Nothing
is to be gained, however, on either side by an attempt to vilify the
other. The facts speak for themselves, and can be chronicled in a very
few lines. Monsieur Calmette considered the political downfall of
Joseph Caillaux a necessity for his country. Monsieur Caillaux, rightly
or wrongly, feared that to procure his downfall Monsieur Calmette
intended to publish certain private letters. Monsieur Calmette’s daily
attacks on Monsieur Caillaux naturally enraged both Monsieur Caillaux
and his wife. The fear of an attack in print on their private lives may
or may not have been justified, but it certainly was the direct cause
of the murder. This murder is deplored by everybody. Nobody will deny
that Madame Caillaux deserves punishment, but if those who are working
every day to embitter public feeling against her would only pause to
think, and would leave political considerations on one side for a
moment, they would realize that their campaign is an insult to their
own judges, their own juries, and their own legal system. France boasts
of its liberty. Whenever a sensational case occurs, and public feelings
are stirred, that liberty is allowed to degenerate into licence, and
to disagree with the howl of the reactionary Press is to ask for
abuse. Everybody who says a word of pity for Madame Caillaux in France
nowadays is accused of trying to make the course of justice deviate.
The examining magistrate whose duty it is to try and find the truth out
and report on it is insulted if he dares to be impartial. Everybody who
dares to suggest that the very bitterness of the Caillaux campaign was
largely responsible for its deplorable climax is held up to obloquy as
an enemy of France. I hold no brief either for Madame Caillaux and
her husband or for the campaign in the _Figaro_. Both the murder and
the bitterness of the campaign of which it was the climax are to be
deplored. The campaign, as I shall show in this book, was a necessary
evil. The bitterness and insistency with which it was conducted were
perhaps unnecessary evils. The woman has killed, and will undoubtedly
be punished. She is being punished already. The man who conducted the
bitter campaign has been shot dead. Surely there is nothing to be
gained by attempting to sully the dead man’s memory, or by attempting
to overwhelm the woman whose victim he was. Madame Caillaux in prison
is a victim of the political campaign of the _Figaro_ in exactly the
same degree as the editor of the _Figaro_ is the victim of Madame
Caillaux. The two will be judged. The wrong of one neither minimises
nor magnifies the action of the other. I am as certain that Madame
Caillaux believed, she had a right to shoot as I am certain that she
was wrong to kill. I am as certain that Monsieur Calmette believed in
the justice of his campaign as I am certain that Monsieur and Madame
Caillaux believed that it was being conducted unjustly.

What neither of them or Monsieur Calmette realized was the harm that
all three would do to the country which I am certain all three loved.

The terrible, the brutal fact remains that Gaston Calmette is in his
coffin and that Madame Caillaux killed him. Unhappily, there is no
doubt that if Monsieur Calmette had been wounded merely, the outcry of
the anti-Caillaux party would have been nearly as loud, and the dignity
of French justice would have been considered as little or less than
it is to-day by Monsieur Caillaux and his friends on the one side and
Monsieur Calmette and his on the other. If the Caillaux drama had not
a death in it the disinclination to allow the courts to judge without
interference would have been as great as it is now, in spite of the
lesson which the Fabre incident should teach. To the observer, to the
lover of France the most deplorable, the most unhappy result of the
Caillaux drama is the belittling of France in the eyes of the whole
world by the inability of the French nation to put simple faith in its
own administrators of the justice of the country. And most unhappily of
all, this want of faith is justified. The story of the Rochette case,
like the story of the Dreyfus case, is undoubtedly a blot on France’s
fair name, and every man or woman who loves France sincerely must
deplore it.

It is a regrettable thing that Frenchmen find it so difficult, find
it, indeed, well nigh impossible to fight fairly. The case of Madame
Caillaux is surely bad enough as it stands without the need for unfair
comment before it comes on for trial. If you say this to a Frenchman he
will probably answer that there is very little hope of a fair trial.
This I do not believe, and if I did believe it and were a Frenchman I
should hate to say it. I could fill this volume with extracts from the
Paris newspapers, of almost any day since Gaston Calmette was killed in
his office, to prove how unfair comments have been on the case while it
is still _sub judice_. I will not weary my readers with long extracts,
however. They would be unpleasant reading, and they would answer no
more purpose than this little but characteristic extract from the
_Patrie_ of the 8th of April. When Madame Caillaux was first put in
prison there was, as I have said, an outcry in the Opposition Press
against the “undue favours which were being shown to her in Saint
Lazare.” The reports of these undue favours were flatly contradicted by
the prison authorities, but the lawyers of another prisoner, a Madame
Vitz, were clever enough to take advantage of the outcry to secure the
comparative comforts of the _pistole_ for their client. Madame Vitz was
already in a weak state of health when she was moved, and she has now
gone mad. This is what the _Patrie_ (a reactionary paper) has to say
about her case: “Madame Caillaux, who enjoys the little and the great
favours of the prison administration, must be satisfied to-day. Another
wish which she recently expressed has just been carried out. Calmette’s
murderess had a neighbour in the cell next to hers, Madame Vitz. Her
counsel, Maître Desbons, obtained, with a great deal of trouble, some
alleviation of her fate, and she was put in the _pistole_ class in
the cell next door to the one occupied by Madame Caillaux. Owing to
her constant annoyance at the extraordinary favours with which Madame
Caillaux was treated Madame Vitz has gone mad. In her cell she was
always calling out ‘Madame Caillaux! Madame Caillaux!’ and screaming.
The wife of the ex-Minister of Finance complained of her neighbourhood.
The director of the prison bowed to her wishes, and had Madame Vitz
removed to the prison infirmary.” Can anything be more grossly, more
stupidly, and childishly unfair than this attempt to alienate sympathy
from Madame Vitz’s neighbour? I have quoted it because it is short,
but any Paris paper of the _Patrie_ type unfortunately provides more
material of the same kind daily than I should care to translate or my
readers would care to read. I should not be surprised if many of the
comments in the London newspapers suffered considerably and indirectly
from the unfairness of many of the newspapers in Paris while the case
has been _sub judice_. The reason for this is very simple. In Paris
there are six evening papers of any importance. These are the _Patrie_,
which appears early in the afternoon, the _Temps_, the _Liberté_, and
the _Journal des Débâts_, which appear at about five o’clock, the
_Intransigeant_ and the _Presse_, which appear just about dinner
time. Of these six papers five are Opposition papers, and only one of
these five, the _Journal des Débâts_, makes the slightest attempt to
be impartial. The only really impartial evening paper is the _Temps_,
which gives the news of the day and comments on it, but comments
without bias. The _Patrie_ and the _Presse_ are under the same
directorate, the _Intransigeant_, while perhaps not quite so rabid as
the _Presse_ and the _Patrie_, is openly unfair whenever politics call
for unfairness, as they usually do, and the _Liberté_, while it prints
the news, is always invariably and openly in such frank opposition to
the Government that nothing done by any member of the Government is
ever anything but wrong, and news which has the slightest reference
to politics of any kind is invariably coloured. It follows that the
local correspondent without a very wide knowledge and experience of
French peculiarities and French methods must find it very difficult to
form an opinion (in time for transmission to London the same evening)
sufficiently without bias to be really valuable. Every journalist in
Paris is obliged to read the evening papers; the evening papers, with
two honourable exceptions above mentioned, always present the news
of the day with the colouring of their political convictions, and
the correspondent of an English paper may therefore frequently have
found it impossible during the Caillaux drama, as he often found it
impossible during the Panama scandal, the Dreyfus case, and other of
the periodic convulsions of modern France, to separate the wheat of
fact from the chaff of political colouring. In saying this I intend no
reflection whatever on the honesty, the brilliance, or the intelligence
of the Paris correspondents of the London Press, all of whom are my
acquaintances, and most of whom I am proud to number among my personal
friends. I feel sure that if any of them happen to read what I have
just written they will not only admit its truth, but be inclined to
think that I have spoken with even less emphasis than I might.

Whatever may be the result of the trial of Madame Caillaux there is no
question of the immediate result of the murder of Monsieur Calmette, on
public opinion in France. Men and women alike, all consider that Madame
Caillaux should be treated with the utmost severity, and men and women
alike, all are anxious to see whatever punishment is possible meted out
to her husband. So real is this feeling—and I am talking now of the
general public and not of journalists or politicians—that Monsieur
Caillaux has found it necessary to go about, when it has been needful
for him to show himself in public, with a strong bodyguard of police
in plain clothes. He has allowed himself to be persuaded, contrary
to his first intention, to remain a candidate for re-election in
his constituency, but he is so well aware of the feeling against him
everywhere that, although lack of personal courage is certainly not
one of the faults of the ex-Minister of Finance, he is conducting his
canvass by deputy, and remains in Paris under constant guard.

[Illustration: _Le Miroir, Dessin de F. Auer._
PRESIDENT POINCARÉ GIVES EVIDENCE ON OATH IN THE CAILLAUX DRAMA BEFORE
THE PRESIDENT OF THE APPEAL COURT, WHO WAITED ON HIM FOR THIS PURPOSE
AT THE ELYSÉE.]

I have spoken of the unfair manner in which the Opposition Press
of France have fallen on everybody who has ventured to express the
opinion that there was any motive at all for Madame Caillaux’s crime
except an inhuman lust for murder. And yet not only the evidence of
Monsieur Caillaux himself but the evidence on oath of the President of
the French Republic, Monsieur Raymond Poincaré, and the evidence of
other independent and unbiased witnesses, shows that there is reason
to believe that the immediate motive of the crime was a hysterical
fear of disclosures which Madame Caillaux believed would be made in
the _Figaro_. Of course this hysterical fear does not excuse the crime
of Madame Caillaux, but it certainly goes very far towards explaining
it, and the existence of the belief that there was danger of the
publication of letters which contained intimate allusion to her private
life cannot be doubted by anybody, no matter what their political
convictions may be after reading the evidence which President Poincaré
felt called on to give, creating by the giving of it a precedent which
emphasizes the doctrine that the President of the Republic has, with
the rights, the liabilities and the responsibilities of every private
citizen of France. President Poincaré did not go to the Palace of
Justice to give his evidence. Monsieur Caillaux, on Thursday, April
2, informed the examining magistrate, Monsieur Boucard, that certain
persons had evidence of importance to give which bore on his wife’s
case. Among the names which he mentioned was that of Monsieur Raymond
Poincaré, the President of the French Republic, and Monsieur Caillaux
stated that the evidence for which he asked the examining magistrate
to seek would prove conclusively that on the morning of the crime
both he and his wife were, rightly or wrongly, convinced that the
_Figaro_ might publish certain letters of a private nature referring
to themselves. An official letter was sent by the examining magistrate
to the Parquet de la Seine, with reference to the course that should
be followed in this matter of Monsieur Poincaré’s evidence, and after
some hesitation as to ways and means of enabling the President of the
Republic to give evidence on oath, Monsieur Forichon, the presiding
judge of the Court of Appeal, was sent to the Elysée, and to him after
swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,
Monsieur Raymond Poincaré described the interview which Monsieur
Caillaux had with him at ten o’clock on the morning of Monday, March
16. We know that on that morning Monsieur Monier, the President of the
Civil Court of the Seine department, called, at her request, on Madame
Caillaux, and was consulted by her as to means and ways of putting a
stop to the campaign against her husband in the _Figaro_. Monsieur
Caillaux had intended to be present at this consultation, but a Cabinet
council had been called at the Elysée at ten o’clock, and he was of
course obliged to attend it. The Ministers were nearly all assembled,
and were chatting with the President of the Republic in a room leading
into the Council Chamber, when, just as the doors of the Council
Chamber were opened and the Ministers passed through, Monsieur Caillaux
asked the President of the Republic for a few moments’ conversation
in private. Monsieur Poincaré, with the unfailing courtesy which
distinguishes him, acquiesced immediately, and allowing the other
Ministers to pass into the Council Chamber, the President of the
Republic remained alone with Monsieur Caillaux in the room they had
left, and closed the door. “I have just learned from a sure source,”
said Monsieur Caillaux to Monsieur Poincaré, “that private letters
written by me to the lady who is now my wife have been handed to the
_Figaro_ and that Gaston Calmette intends publishing them.” “Monsieur
Caillaux was under the stress of great emotion,” said the President of
the Republic in his evidence. “He told me that he feared that Monsieur
Calmette was about to publish in the _Figaro_ private letters, the
divulgation of which would be extremely painful to him and Madame
Caillaux. I replied that I considered Monsieur Calmette an honourable
gentleman (_un galant homme_) altogether incapable of publishing
letters which would bring up Madame Caillaux’s name in the polemics
between them. But my efforts to convince him that this was so were in
vain, and he replied to me that he considered divers articles of the
_Figaro_ were written with the object of preparing (the public mind)
for this publication. I was unable to undeceive Monsieur Caillaux or
to calm him. At one moment he sprang from his seat and exclaimed, ‘If
Calmette publishes these letters I will kill him.’ He then declared to
me that he was going to consult his lawyers, notably Maître Thorel,
the solicitor, on the means to be taken and the procedure necessary to
prevent the _Figaro_ from publishing these letters. I advised him to
see, as well, the barrister who had taken his interests in hand in his
divorce case, Maître Maurice Bernard. Maître Maurice Bernard, I said to
Monsieur Caillaux, knows Monsieur Calmette. It will be easy for him
to get the assurance from Monsieur Calmette that no letter will be
published, and if needs be—if, contrary to my own belief, your
suspicions are founded—he would have the authority necessary to
prevent the publication of the letters. Monsieur Caillaux thanked me,
but declared to me that as he would be occupied at the Senate the whole
afternoon he would not be able to see Maître Bernard. In reply to that,
I told him that Maître Bernard was a friend of my own who often came to
see me, and that he had let me know that not having seen me for some
time owing to a journey to Algiers, he would come, either that day
or the next, to shake me by the hand. I added that if he came to see
me I would make a point of repeating our conversation to him. Maître
Bernard did come early in the afternoon. I told him what Monsieur
Caillaux feared, and asked him to make a point of seeing him. Maître
Bernard replied that he considered Monsieur Calmette quite incapable of
publishing letters which referred to Madame Caillaux, but that for all
that he would make a point of seeing Monsieur Caillaux the same day,
and if need be Monsieur Calmette as well. I heard afterwards that
Maître Bernard had seen Monsieur Caillaux at the end of the afternoon,
but too late. I was much impressed by the state in which Monsieur
Caillaux was, so much so that when the Prime Minister came to see me on
business during the afternoon I thought it my duty to tell him of the
conversation I had had with Monsieur Caillaux and with Maître Maurice
Bernard.”

Monsieur Caillaux’s own evidence was equally assertive on the question
of the letters. I may say here that it is common talk in Paris that
these letters, one a short one, and the other sixteen pages long,
contained passages which well explained Monsieur and Madame Caillaux’s
fears for their publication. Monsieur Caillaux is said to have written
to the lady who is Madame Caillaux now, with the utmost freedom and
disrespect of the Republic to which he gives the nickname “Marianne,”
and the intimacy of portions of the letters is generally believed to
be such that no paper as respectable as the _Figaro_ could possibly
affront its readers by putting them in cold print.

The letters, or copies of them, exist, or were in existence just before
the crime. They are popularly believed to be highly scandalous in
content and in tone. It is, however, only fair to Monsieur Calmette’s
memory and to the writer of the letters, Monsieur Caillaux, and his
unhappy wife to whom he wrote them, to put on record the protest
of Madame Madeleine Guillemard, who wrote on April 8, 1914, to the
examining magistrate declaring that she knew the whole text of the
letters, that they were intimate and tender, but that “their tone was
that of letters written by a gentleman to a lady whom he respects.”

President Poincaré’s evidence, however, shows that Monsieur and Madame
Caillaux feared that the letters would be printed, and this fear is
made more emphatic by Monsieur Caillaux’s own evidence before Monsieur
Boucard, which, with the curious habit which is prevalent in France,
the examining magistrate summarized and communicated immediately to
the Press.

[Illustration: _Miroir Photo, Paris_
MONSIEUR CAILLAUX LEAVING THE LAW COURTS
(The man on the right is a detective)]



IV

MONSIEUR CAILLAUX’S EXAMINATION


The principal witness for the defence of Madame Caillaux will be her
husband, and as is usual in France where every witness is allowed and
is expected to tell the examining magistrate who collects evidence
before the trial everything he knows which bears in any way upon the
case, Monsieur Caillaux has gone at length into his wife’s motives
for the crime, and has described very fully the happenings on March
16, 1914, when the murder was committed. He was examined by Monsieur
Boucard in his room at the Palace of Justice on April 7 and 8,
immediately after the evidence of the President of the Republic had
been taken. Monsieur Joseph Caillaux is the son of Monsieur Eugène
Alexandre Caillaux, who was Inspector of Finance and Minister of State.
He has been married twice.

His first wife was Madame Gueydan, who was the divorced wife of a
Monsieur Jules Dupré. Monsieur Caillaux married her in 1906. Monsieur
Caillaux and his first wife did not live very happily, and their
relations became more than strained in July 1909, after the fall of
the Clemenceau Cabinet, in which Monsieur Caillaux was Minister of
Finance. In September of that year Monsieur Caillaux and his wife were
at Mamers. One night, Monsieur Caillaux declared to the examining
magistrate, a packet of letters disappeared from a drawer in his
writing-table. Two of these letters were letters written by Monsieur
Caillaux to Madame Léo Claretie (_née_ Raynouard). Madame Claretie was
at that time (September 1909) already divorced from her husband. As we
know, she became Monsieur Caillaux’s wife in 1911. These two letters,
which disappeared from Monsieur Caillaux’s writing-table are the two
letters to which reference is made at the end of the last chapter,
letters which Monsieur and Madame Caillaux believed to be in the
possession of Monsieur Calmette. The letters were of a most intimate
character. One, a very short one, was written on letter paper with the
heading of the Conseil Général de la Sarthe. The second, written on
paper of the Chamber of Deputies, was a long sixteen-page letter
containing, Monsieur Caillaux said, the story for the last few years
of all the intimacies of his life. “In this letter,” Monsieur Caillaux
said, “I told my future wife, at length, of the reasons, many of which
were based on political grounds, which prevented me from freeing
myself immediately from my wife (Madame Gueydan) and from marrying
her.” Monsieur Caillaux was much upset at the discovery that Madame
Gueydan-Caillaux had possession of these letters, and for their
restitution he offered his wife either a complete reconciliation or a
divorce. Madame Gueydan-Caillaux accepted the reconciliation with her
husband, and on November 5, 1909, the parties met in the presence of
Monsieur Privat-Deschanel, the secretary of the Ministry of Finance,
and an intimate friend of Monsieur Caillaux’s, at Monsieur Caillaux’s
house, 12 Rue Pierre Charron. In Monsieur Privat-Deschanel’s presence
the letters were solemnly burned, together with others bearing on the
disagreement between husband and wife. Before they were burned Madame
Gueydan-Caillaux gave her word of honour to her husband and to Monsieur
Privat-Deschanel that she had kept no photograph and no copy of the
letters. Their destruction was followed by a complete reconciliation.
Monsieur Caillaux declared that as far as he was concerned the
reconciliation was sincere, that he gave up all thought of Madame
Raynouard-Claretie, his present wife, and he asked Monsieur Boucard to
call on Monsieur Privat-Deschanel to bear witness to this. Some months
later Monsieur Caillaux found, he says, that it was quite impossible
for him to remain friends with his wife, and at the beginning of July
1910 he instituted divorce proceedings. The divorce was pronounced on
March 9, 1911 by agreement between the two parties. Very soon after,
in November of the same year, Monsieur Caillaux was married in Paris
to the divorced wife of Monsieur Léo Claretie, who is now in prison
for the murder of Monsieur Gaston Calmette. As a curious sidelight on
the mixture of intimate home details and of politics in the Caillaux
drama it is worth while remembering here, that in her evidence to the
examining magistrate Madame Gueydan, Monsieur Caillaux’s first wife,
stated the reasons, as she understood them, for this change of mind
on the part of Monsieur Caillaux. She declared that in November 1909
Monsieur Caillaux, being a candidate for re-election in the Sarthe
District feared that her possession of the letters and her antagonism
to himself might make trouble for him during the electoral campaign.
In April 1910 the election was over and he was elected, he feared her
no longer, wanted to marry his present wife, and instituted divorce
proceedings in consequence in July, forcing her to allow herself to be
divorced by the sheer deadweight of his influence, which if exercised
against her would, she knew, have prohibited her from obtaining the
services of the best counsel and have reduced her to absolute penury.
In October 1911 when Monsieur Caillaux was Prime Minister, his _chef
de cabinet_, Monsieur Desclaux, told him one day that a journalist,
Monsieur Vervoort, who was on the _Gil Blas_, had been offered by
Madame Gueydan, his former wife, the right to publish certain letters.
The details which Monsieur Vervoort gave about these letters, referred
exactly, Monsieur Caillaux said, to the two letters which his former
wife had burned in his presence, and to a letter which appeared in
the _Figaro_ of March 13, 1914, in facsimile. This letter was written
by Monsieur Caillaux to his first wife, Madame Gueydan, before he
married her. Like the others it was a love letter with long passages
about politics in it. It was written thirteen years ago, but it
contained Monsieur Caillaux’s statement: “I have crushed the income-tax
while appearing to defend it.” (J’ai écrasé l’impôt sur le revenu en
ayant l’air de le défendre.) It is this letter portions of which the
_Figaro_ published in facsimile. It was written in Monsieur Caillaux’s
well-known handwriting, and he had signed it “Ton Jo”. The intimacy
of the “Ton” was of course in itself something of an outrage when it
appeared in a newspaper, for the letter was written to another man’s
wife.

[Illustration: _Miroir, Photo, Paris_
M. PRIVAT-DESCHANEL WHO WITNESSED THE DESTRUCTION OF THE LETTERS
BY MME. GUEYDAN-CAILLAUX]

Monsieur Caillaux considered, he said, that the letters (the “Ton
Jo” letter and the other two) formed a trilogy, so that if one were
published, publication of the two others was likely. When Monsieur
Desclaux told him what Monsieur Vervoort had said, Monsieur Caillaux
answered, “These letters have been stolen from me. Their publication
would cause me pain because of their intimate bearing on my private
life. I cannot believe that any journalist could have so little
respect for himself or his profession as to make use of such weapons.”
Monsieur Desclaux replied that neither Monsieur Vervoort nor his
editor, Monsieur Pierre Mortier, were going to use the letters. Some
weeks after this Monsieur Caillaux married his present wife. Monsieur
Caillaux at this point in his evidence broke off to declare to Monsieur
Boucard that his second marriage was a very happy one. This declaration
was not as unnecessary as it sounds at first sight, for long before the
actual drama, during the weeks of the bitter campaign in the _Figaro_
against the Minister of Finance, from January’s beginning till the day
of M. Calmette’s death, and afterwards, Paris gossip had been very
busy with the names of both men. They were said to be rivals in their
private lives. I do not care to go into the details of the gossip which
associated their names in rivalry, for this gossip, in which another
woman’s name was mentioned, is decidedly unpleasant. Monsieur Calmette’s
married life would have been cut short by the law courts if death had
not intervened, and if Monsieur Calmette had been killed on March 17,
instead of on the 16th, his wife would no longer have been Madame
Calmette. Divorce proceedings between the two had culminated, and the
divorce would have been made absolute on that day. As it was Madame
Calmette, whose father, Monsieur Prestat, is the chairman of the
_Figaro_ Company, learned the news of her husband’s murder only the
day after it occurred. She had been away from Paris, and returned in
the evening of March 16. As she left the railway station she heard
the newspaper hawkers shouting the news, but believing that they were
announcing the fall of the Cabinet did not take sufficient interest
in the details to buy a paper. Next morning telegrams of condolence
from her friends, and perusal of the morning papers told her what had
happened, and incidentally apprised her that she inherited as his widow
a much larger share of Monsieur Calmette’s large fortune than would
otherwise have been hers. Gaston Calmette was of course a very rich
man, for some years ago Monsieur Chauchard, the founder and principal
shareholder of the _Magasins du Louvre_ had left him a large slice of
his great wealth. Paris gossip had, as I have said, been busy linking
the names of Messieurs Calmette and Caillaux, and this is not to be
wondered at when it is remembered that Monsieur Calmette was on the
point of being divorced, that Monsieur Caillaux had been divorced once
from Madame Gueydan-Caillaux, the divorced wife of Monsieur Dupré, and
that his present wife was the divorced wife of another man. Monsieur
Caillaux in his evidence to Monsieur Boucard declared, however, that
the stories of a disunion in his married life were absolute nonsense,
and that it was so absurd to say that there was any disunion between
him and his present wife that the two of them used to laugh at the
gossip to which I have referred. He added that there was no reason for
any personal animosity towards himself on Monsieur Calmette’s part, and
that he had never given him any reason for such animosity. “On several
occasions,” he said, “during the last few months I was asked to start a
campaign against Monsieur Calmette personally, and papers to support it
were brought to me. I always refused these offers.” Monsieur Caillaux
then spoke of the other documents in Monsieur Calmette’s possession.
These were of course the letter written by the Procureur Général,
Monsieur Victor Fabre, which Monsieur Barthou read in the Chamber of
Deputies on March 17, and other documents which are known as “the green
papers.” These were telegrams and copies of telegrams referring to
the incident of Agadir. They were of so grave a nature that Monsieur
Calmette had been asked not to publish them for diplomatic reasons. “I
should like to point out” (said Monsieur Caillaux), “that I could have
no possible fear personally of the publication of these documents. On
the contrary I should as far as I am myself concerned have been glad
to see them published. A day will come when time has smoothed over
old sores, and I shall be able to speak freely. I have written a book
on Agadir, and it will be seen when that can be published that the
documents, the letters, and the telegrams in this book will convince
all Frenchmen, not only of my patriotism, but of my political clearness
of vision.” Monsieur Caillaux declared that he knew exactly what was
going on in the _Figaro_ office, and that he knew that Monsieur
Calmette would make use of any weapons in his power to cause his
overthrow. He then referred to a conversation in the street under a
gas lamp between Monsieur Barthou and Madame Gueydan, his, Monsieur
Caillaux’s, former wife. During this conversation, he said, Madame
Gueydan had read extracts from letters to Monsieur Barthou, and
Monsieur Caillaux declared that he had understood from Monsieur Barthou
that these letters were the two private letters which had been stolen
from him. The examining magistrate confronted Monsieur Barthou and
Monsieur Caillaux at this point, and Monsieur Barthou stated that
Monsieur Caillaux must have been mistaken. It was true that he had
had a conversation with Madame Gueydan, but the letters she read to
him were the Fabre letter and the “Ton Jo” letter, and it was to them
that Monsieur Barthou had alluded afterwards in his conversation with
Monsieur Caillaux. When the “Ton Jo” letter appeared in the _Figaro_
on March 13 Monsieur Caillaux was greatly upset, although the more
personal portions of the letter had been cut. On the next day, Saturday
the 14th, he stated, he received an anonymous letter saying that the
_Figaro_ was going to publish the other two letters, and the same
day he received from other sources confirmation of this. “I had told
my wife all about these things,” he said. “She was entirely in my
confidence, and she expected these stolen letters to be published.
Their publication would have affected me comparatively little, but
would have wounded my wife in her dignity as a woman, and distressed
her more than I can say.” Monsieur Caillaux then told the examining
magistrate the events of the day of the murder as he knew them,
beginning with the statement that his wife’s nerves were shattered, and
that she was and had been for some time, in a state of considerable
over-excitement. She read the _Figaro_ every morning, her general
health was bad, and the campaign had overpowered her. “At nine o’clock
on the morning of March 16 my wife walked into my dressing-room with
the _Figaro_ in her hand,” said Monsieur Caillaux. “She showed me
the paper with a headline ‘Intermède Comique—Ton Jo.’ ‘Presently,’
she said, ‘we shall see your pet name for _me_ in the public Press
like this,’ and she threw the paper angrily on a chair. ‘Can’t you
put a stop to this campaign?’ she asked me. And we decided to consult
Monsieur Monier the President of the Civil Tribunal of the Seine.”

[Illustration: _Miroir, Photo, Paris_
M. BARTHOU MOUNTING THE STAIRS OF THE LAW COURTS ON HIS WAY
TO GIVE EVIDENCE IN THE CAILLAUX CASE]

“It was my intention to go and see him that day at half-past one, but
I forgot that he would be busy at the Palace of Justice at that time.
I had to go to the meeting of the Cabinet at the Elysée, and when
Monsieur Monier called at half-past ten my wife received him alone.”
Monsieur Caillaux then repeated his conversation with his wife when
she called for him before luncheon at the Ministère de Finances.
His evidence on this point and the evidence of Madame Caillaux are
identical. From the examining magistrate’s report of the evidence given
by Monsieur Caillaux he appears to have said nothing to his wife of his
own conversation with the President of the Republic. Monsieur Caillaux
confirms his wife’s statement that he said to her, “I shall go and
smash Calmette’s face.” Their car was in the Rue Royale when Madame
Caillaux asked him whether he intended to do so that day. “I answered,”
Monsieur Caillaux said, “No, not to-day. I shall choose my own time,
but the time is not far off.”

After luncheon, as Monsieur Caillaux was leaving the house, Madame
Caillaux told him that she was afraid she would not be able to dine at
the Italian Embassy. “She certainly looked ill and worn out,” Monsieur
Caillaux said, “and I asked her to send my servant to the Ministry
of Finance with my evening clothes. I understand that my wife sent a
telephone message to the Italian Embassy a little later to say that I
should go to the dinner without her. This, I would like to point out,
shows that she had no idea at that time of what was going to happen,
for if she had made up her mind then, she would either have said that
neither of us was going to the Italian Embassy or she would have said
nothing. I left my wife without any apprehensions, except that I was
uneasy at her weakness and the condition of her nerves. At about three
o’clock that afternoon I met Monsieur Ceccaldi at the Senate, and told
him how uneasy I felt. When I returned to the Ministry of Finance I
learned what had happened, and went to the police-station at once. My
wife’s first words to me when I got there and saw her were, ‘I _do_
hope that I haven’t killed him. I merely wanted to give him a lesson.’”

This was the end of Monsieur Caillaux’s evidence in the examining
magistrate’s room at the Palace of Justice on April 8, 1914.
Monsieur Privat-Deschanel was called and confirmed that portion of
it which referred to the burning of the Gueydan-Caillaux letters,
and the declaration by Monsieur Caillaux’s first wife that she had
kept no copies or photographs of them. “The scene,” said Monsieur
Privat-Deschanel, “was such a moving one, and impressed me so deeply,
that though it happened four years ago everything that was done and
every word that was spoken have remained graven on my memory.”



V

THE CAMPAIGN OF THE “FIGARO”


In order to understand the details of the Caillaux drama, it is
necessary to search for the reasons which contributed to the bitter
campaign in the _Figaro_ against Madame Caillaux’s husband, the
Minister of Finance. In order to understand these reasons fully it will
be necessary to go some way back into the history of French politics,
when some insight will be possible into the inner meaning of the
campaign, into the interests which lay behind it, and the reason of its
bitterness. When Monsieur Raymond Poincaré was elected President of the
French Republic, his election gave great offence to that breaker of
Cabinets, the veteran statesman Georges Clemenceau. Monsieur Clemenceau
had been a supporter of Monsieur Poincaré’s rival, Monsieur Pams, and
resented deeply the election of the man whom he had not backed. Soon
after the presidential election the new President of the Republic gave
another cause for offence to Monsieur Clemenceau by choosing Monsieur
Louis Barthou as Prime Minister.

Monsieur Clemenceau vowed revenge, and true to his invariable system
of playing the Eminence Grise in French politics, he buried the
hatchet with Monsieur Caillaux, whom during the Agadir crisis he had
openly declared to be liable to a trial before the high court for high
treason, and with Monsieur Briand’s help did everything possible to
make matters uncomfortable for Monsieur Barthou and his Cabinet, and
for the man whose policy that Cabinet represented, the new President of
the French Republic, Monsieur Raymond Poincaré.

The campaign was almost a French War of the Roses. It was conducted
with bitterness on either side, and the Clemenceau faction won the
first battle, overthrowing the Barthou Cabinet, and securing the return
to power of Monsieur Caillaux, while Monsieur Briand, by his own choice
stood aside. Nominally the new Cabinet was under the leadership of the
Prime Minister, Monsieur Gaston Doumergue.

Actually Monsieur Caillaux as Minister of Finance and Monsieur Monis as
Minister of Marine were the two twin rulers in the new Government of
France with Monsieur Clemenceau behind them as general adviser.

Now Monsieur Briand, though Monsieur Clemenceau’s sworn friend,
politically, was no real friend politically of Monsieur Caillaux.
The two men represented different factions, for in the neighbourhood
of 1913 Monsieur Caillaux had founded the radical unified party, the
programme of which he announced in a great meeting at Pau that year,
and Monsieur Briand very shortly afterwards founded the Federation
of the Left, a form of moderate Socialism which combated the extreme
radicalism of Monsieur Caillaux’s party on many points. Then Monsieur
Caillaux began to make mistakes, most of which were largely due to his
impulsiveness, his ill-temper in the wrong places, and his natural gift
for making enemies. Monsieur Barthou set to work to fight Monsieur
Caillaux and called Monsieur Calmette to help him. Public rumour added
that there was personal animosity and personal rivalry between these
two men, but whether this be true or not their political rivalry was
undoubted, and the reasons for such political rivalry are plain. Both
were rich men, but while Monsieur Caillaux represented reforms for
the lower middle class at the expense of the rich, Monsieur Calmette
representing the party of property, the party which we in England
should describe as that of men having a stake in the country, fought
these reforms with all the influence at his command as editor and
director of a great newspaper. He set out to pull Caillaux down from
his position, and his task was a comparatively easy one owing to the
unreasoned outbursts of temper with which Monsieur Caillaux exposed
the weak points in his armour on many occasions, the number of
mistakes impulse had caused him to make in the past, and his growing
unpopularity. From the beginning of January 1914 until his death on
March 16, hardly a day passed without an article of a column or more,
and sometimes much more, by Monsieur Calmette in the _Figaro_ attacking
Monsieur Caillaux, Monsieur Caillaux’s past, and Monsieur Caillaux’s
policy. He was attacked as a politician, as a man, and as a financier,
and his silence under attack made the attacks which followed more
bitter instead of putting an end to them. Six years ago the Rochette
affair had, directly and indirectly, been the cause of more than one
storm in the French political tea-cup. It had brought the fierce
light of publicity to bear on many public men, and politicians feared
publication of the details of the case as much, almost, as the side
issues of the Dreyfus case were feared some years before, and as,
before that, the Panama and other scandals had been feared. During
the Agadir trouble Monsieur Caillaux had laid himself open to a great
deal of criticism, and the _Figaro_ did not hesitate to disinter both
these affairs and use them as a weapon against Monsieur Caillaux.
Another affair of lesser importance in which Monsieur Caillaux’s name
was mentioned in the _Figaro_ campaign was the affair of the Prieu
inheritance. In this connexion the _Figaro_ did not hesitate to accuse
Monsieur Caillaux of dishonourable conduct, and to base on it his
unfitness for the post of a Minister of France. It is almost impossible
in the space at my command to give all the details of a newspaper
campaign such as this against a Minister in power. The campaign lasted
nearly three months, and it was so many-sided that I should need
another volume if I were to attempt to set down its details fully. But
I may resume the broad lines of the _Figaro_ campaign against Monsieur
Caillaux and the reason which the _Figaro_ itself gave to its readers
for that campaign. Monsieur Calmette from the first declared that he
considered the return to power of Monsieur Joseph Caillaux after his
downfall in 1911 as a veritable misfortune to France. He considered
that the presence of Monsieur Caillaux in the Cabinet was of real peril
to French interests, and, as I have explained, it was undoubtedly a
peril to the interests of the rich men’s party which the _Figaro_
represented, for Monsieur Caillaux was determined to carry through
his tax on accumulated property, and the general idea of this tax was
decidedly popular. There is nothing Frenchmen love so much as making
a rich man pay. Monsieur Caillaux with political astuteness saw the
vote-catching possibilities of his measure, was doing everything in his
power to maintain the Doumergue Ministry, of which he was the leading
member, at the helm of public affairs until this year’s elections, and
would undoubtedly have succeeded.

Monsieur Calmette, with the help of Monsieur Caillaux’s political
enemies, was working hard for the overthrow of the Cabinet, or rather
for the overthrow of Monsieur Caillaux, for, as the _Figaro_ wrote, it
was Caillaux alone, Caillaux the Minister, Caillaux the politician,
whom Calmette the politician wished to pull headlong. Day by day in
the _Figaro_ he put his adversary in the pillory. He stigmatized his
conduct of the Franco-German negotiations in 1911, he recalled in
stinging terms the general indignation which had wrecked the Caillaux
Ministry after the resignation of Monsieur De Selves, the Minister for
Foreign Affairs. He recalled the work and the report of the Commission
of Inquiry, over which Monsieur Raymond Poincaré (who was of course
not President of the Republic then) presided, and wrote scathingly,
fiercely almost, of Monsieur Caillaux’s difficulties and quarrels with
the Spanish Ambassador and with his Majesty’s Ambassador Sir Francis
Bertie. He recalled words used by Monsieur Caillaux which almost
suggested that France under a Caillaux régime cared very little for the
entente cordiale, and reproduced a threat, which rumour had reported,
of undiplomatic reprisals towards Spain. Some months ago, to be precise
on December 18, 1913, Monsieur Caillaux made a counter declaration to
me personally in reply to the rumours that he had spoken against the
entente cordiale. This declaration was made three weeks before the
beginning of the daily campaign in the _Figaro_, and Monsieur Caillaux
said for publication in the _Daily Express_, of which paper I was at
that time the Paris correspondent, “I defy anyone to find in any word
that I have spoken publicly, to find in any act of my public life,
any ground for an assertion that I am not a whole-hearted partisan of
the entente cordiale.” Monsieur Caillaux added that he had relatives
in England, that he was a great admirer of England and of Englishmen,
and said: “I am convinced that the entente cordiale is an asset for
the peace of Europe, and while as a Frenchman and a servant of France,
I point out that France expects to reap equally with her partner
the benefits of the entente cordiale, I am sure that England in her
inherent fairness understands this, and is as anxious both to give and
to take as France can be. I wish to express my amazement and my sorrow
that even for a moment Englishmen should have thought me anything but
their friend.”

On the occasion of this interview, which was a long one, lasting a
full hour at the beginning of the afternoon, and another half-hour
later the same day when I submitted what I had written to Monsieur
Caillaux before sending it to London, in order that there should be no
discussion possible afterwards as to what he had really said, a good
deal passed which I did not put into print.

In the interview as printed appeared an allusion by Monsieur Caillaux
to the undue interference by Englishmen in France’s home affairs.
Monsieur Caillaux spoke that afternoon with ebullient freedom of
expression about the British Ambassador in Paris, Sir Francis Bertie.
He declared that Sir Francis went out of his way to make trouble and
that he had worked against him (Monsieur Caillaux) in London for the
sheer pleasure of stirring up strife.

I thought it quite unnecessary to say these things aloud in an English
newspaper, especially as, after saying them, Monsieur Caillaux asked me
not to include them in the interview as he had no wish for a newspaper
discussion with the British Ambassador. I quote them now merely for the
purpose of showing the peculiar and unstatesmanlike quarrelsomeness of
Monsieur Caillaux’s temper. The man has very little self-restraint,
and while many of his public acts and public sayings prove this, few
of them prove it so conclusively as his outburst in his room at the
Ministry of Finance, in the presence of the representative of an
English newspaper, against the British Ambassador in Paris.

Following up these attacks on his personality the _Figaro_ impugned
Monsieur Caillaux’s honour. It did this with the outspokenness which is
a peculiarity of French newspaperdom, and which would be magnificent
if it were not so frequently misused. Monsieur Caillaux was accused
of changing his policy half a dozen times with the one pre-occupation
of retaining his portfolio, was twitted with self-contradiction with
regard to the income-tax law, and the immunity from taxation of French
Rentes, and was openly taxed with encouraging dishonourable and
dishonest speculation, if not of indulging in it himself. According to
the _Figaro_ Monsieur Caillaux made deliberate arrangements to allow
friends of his to speculate and make large sums of money on the Paris
Bourse, tuning his public statements to time with the deals of the
speculators, and in answer to these accusations Monsieur Caillaux said
nothing.

“The income-tax was Monsieur Caillaux’s hobby horse. He has stated
frequently that he has always been in favour of it,” wrote the _Figaro_
one day. “For many years the income-tax was the principal item of
Monsieur Caillaux’s political programme, and he told his constituents
at Mamers that his political programme had never changed in its main
lines.” Then the _Figaro_ reproduced in facsimile Monsieur Caillaux’s
letter to the first Madame Caillaux in which the words occurred: “I
crushed the income-tax while pretending to defend it.”

But these attacks on Monsieur Caillaux were by no means the only ones,
and Monsieur Calmette also accused Monsieur Caillaux of favouring
Rochette’s escape and interfering with the course of justice. These are
the broad lines of the _Figaro_ campaign against Monsieur Caillaux.

That some of the attacks were justifiable is undoubtedly the fact.
That the manner of them was a worthy one is more open to discussion.
Politicians must of course expect to be attacked by newspapers which
oppose them, but there is little doubt that the bitterness and the
persistence of this newspaper campaign worked its victim up to a state
of frenzy, and the calm observer knows what effect daily attacks on
a public man are likely to have on that public man’s life within the
four walls of his home. Monsieur Caillaux’s excited declaration to
the President of the Republic, his excitement in the motor car, when,
driving with Madame Caillaux he declared that he would go down to the
_Figaro_ and chastise Monsieur Calmette, show the man’s state of mind,
and show us very clearly how that state of mind is likely to have
reacted on his wife. I repeat that this book is in no sense an apology
for Madame Caillaux’s act of murder. I repeat that I do not wish to
defend either Monsieur Caillaux or his wife. But in common fairness I
cannot do otherwise than present as faithfully as possible the effect
of the _Figaro_ campaign against him, on Monsieur Caillaux and on his
constant companion. Nor do I hesitate to say that while the bitterness
of the _Figaro_ campaign in no way excuses the murder of its editor by
Madame Caillaux, no one can deny, I think, that it explains it.



VI

CALMETTE V. CAILLAUX


Whenever an official in the French Colonial Office had to refuse the
application of a subordinate for leave, he would tone down his refusal
with the metaphor, “We’ll try and give you leave at all events before
the _affaire_ Prieu is decided finally.” For many years _l’affaire_
Prieu had been the Jarndyce _v._ Jarndyce case of the French Colonial
Office, and it was almost forgotten when Monsieur Caillaux and the
_Figaro_ brought it back at a bound into the domain of actuality. The
case was forgotten so thoroughly that when the _Figaro_ mentioned it
under the title of “Monsieur Caillaux’s Secret Combinations” in an
article signed by Monsieur Gaston Calmette on January 8, 1914, the name
Prieu was misspelled “Priou”.

The case in itself was one of concessions in Brazil. In the early years
of the Third Republic a French merchant named Prieu died in France
after a long life spent in Brazil. He had been a rich man and with
the help of the French Consul in Rio de Janeiro had secured certain
profitable concessions. At his death the French Government considered
that these concessions lapsed to the State, and sold them. Monsieur
Prieu’s heirs claimed from the State a considerable sum, something
between £120,000 and £160,000, of which their lawyers contended that
the Government of France had frustrated them. The case dragged on for
many years, and in 1909, when Monsieur Cochery was Finance Minister and
Monsieur Renoult Under Secretary of State for Finance (Monsieur Renoult
is Minister of the Interior in the Doumergue Cabinet), the case was
practically shelved.

At that time the heirs of Monsieur Prieu, after getting a refusal to
their offer to abandon their entire claim against the French Government
in return for a cash payment of £20,000, were inclined to drop the
whole case, the legal expenses of which were becoming embarrassing.
They had put matters in the hands of a man of affairs, but he and
they had little hope of any result, when, according to the _Figaro_,
Monsieur Caillaux, on January 5, 1914, sent for their representative.
The _Figaro_ declared on the 8th, over the signature of Monsieur Gaston
Calmette, that Monsieur Caillaux had stated to this gentleman that the
claim of the Prieu family appeared to him to be justified, that the
French Government would probably have to pay from £200,000 to £240,000
including compound interest on the debt, and that a transaction
might be possible if the Prieu heirs were inclined to hand over a
considerable percentage on the money paid them to the French Government
for political needs. Obviously if Monsieur Caillaux really did make
such an offer, did really offer to settle a case which had been in
litigation for years and was about to lapse, provided the claimants
would agree to pay a large percentage of the money back for party
needs, he made an offer which he would find it difficult to defend in
Parliament or elsewhere.

The _Figaro_ was most assertive. Monsieur Calmette declared that
Monsieur Caillaux had said: “If you get this money we must get some of
it. The Government has its duties, and its needs.” Monsieur Calmette
went on to declare that a second interview had taken place at the
Ministry of Finance the next day, the Tuesday, when Monsieur Caillaux
had demanded 80 per cent. of the debt for the party coffers, and that
on the Wednesday, the day before the _Figaro_ article appeared, the
representative of Monsieur Prieu’s heirs and the Finance Minister had
come to an agreement on terms somewhat less onerous than the 80 per
cent. mentioned at first.

The disclosure of these curious proceedings created a storm in the
political world of Paris, and although Monsieur Caillaux published a
denial, in general terms his contradictions were not considered very
satisfactory. The article in the _Figaro_ had of course one result. Any
settlement of the Prieu case on the lines above mentioned became quite
impossible. One is inclined to wonder, now, whether the claimants will
proceed against the French Government, prosecute their claim again,
and call Monsieur Caillaux as a witness to declare in court that he
considers the claim justifiable. It was rumoured at the time that
Monsieur Calmette had offered to compensate the Prieu claimants for the
loss which the publication in the _Figaro_ of their dealings or attempt
at dealing with Monsieur Caillaux would entail.

Whether this offer was actually made or not will probably be shown at
the trial of Madame Caillaux, for the examining magistrate, Monsieur
Boucard, has questioned the parties concerned. As I have said, the
Prieu case is an old one. It has been discussed in the Chamber of
Deputies at intervals during the last thirty years, and the first
interpellation on it goes back thirty-three years to July 8, 1881.
Pierre Marcel Prieu was a candidate for Parliament in 1876 and in
1877. He died in 1899, in France, in poverty. To his last day he had
protested against what he called “the theft” of his concessions by the
French Government, and he had protested with such violence that he had
been imprisoned for some months because of his protests. His claim was
that the Brazilian Government had on August 30, and on September 6,
1879, paid the French Minister for Foreign Affairs in two cheques, one
for £200,000 and one for £400,000, as a settlement of his concessions.
These cheques were, he declared, made payable to the firm of Baring
Brothers in London, and on January 4, 1880, the money—£600,000—was
paid over by the Baring firm to the Paris bankers Hottinguer and
Co. Pierre Marcel Prieu declared that the payment of this money was
compensation by the Brazilian Government due to him personally for the
unjustifiable seizure of thirteen merchant ships with merchandise by
the Brazilian Customs. After Prieu’s death his heir, Monsieur D’Ariste,
did not care to fight the case and made over his rights in it—whether
with or without a quid pro quo does not appear—to relatives and
friends of Prieu, who formed a syndicate for the purpose of recovering
the debt or part of it from the French Government. The principal
members of the little syndicate were Monsieur A. Boileau and Monsieur
Prosper Sauvage. Their lawyer is Monsieur Antoine De Fonvielle, and
they put their claims in the hands of a man of affairs, Monsieur
Auguste Schneider. It is this gentleman who, according to the _Figaro_
and Monsieur Gaston Calmette, called by appointment on Monday January
5, Tuesday the 6th, and Wednesday the 7th, 1914, at the Ministry of
Finance, and agreed with Monsieur Caillaux to a settlement on the terms
already stated.

According to Monsieur Calmette, Monsieur Caillaux bound himself to
see that the full amount of the claim should be paid, and Monsieur
Schneider was to sign an agreement on Saturday, January 10, by which he
handed a large proportion of the money over to the party funds. Whether
such an agreement was ever come to or not is the affair of the law
courts. It must resolve itself into a case of hard swearing, for the
contradictory assertions of both parties will be, in all probability,
somewhat difficult of proof. The disclosures of these matters in the
_Figaro_ naturally enough put an end to all negotiations if such
negotiations really took place.

On January 10 Monsieur Antoine de Fonvielle wrote a letter to Monsieur
Calmette which I subjoin in full. It was printed in the _Figaro_ on
January 12. It is dated from Paris, where Monsieur de Fonvielle has a
flat at 77 Rue du Rocher. “Monsieur le Directeur,” he writes, “I was
informed at about twelve o’clock on Friday last, January 8, of the
campaign in the _Figaro_ on the Prieu affair, of which I knew all the
details. There are certain mistakes in the _Figaro_ article, and it
struck me as advisable to put the people interested in direct touch
with the _Figaro_. I went therefore, on the evening of January 8,
at about half-past ten, to see Monsieur Schneider, who lives at 57
Boulevard Beauséjour at Auteuil. Two people went with me and waited
for me in a taxicab at the door of the house. I went to see Monsieur
Schneider because he has for several years been the mandatory of the
claimants in the Prieu affair. Monsieur Schneider has taken all the
necessary steps to press the claims of the Prieu heirs with the French
Foreign Office both in France and abroad, in England, and in Brazil.

“Monsieur Schneider, who was very surprised at my visit, introduced me
to a journalist, Monsieur Vidal, who was with him. I asked Monsieur
Schneider to go with me and see Monsieur Calmette at the _Figaro_
office. Monsieur Schneider replied, ‘There is no reason why I should
put myself out for Monsieur Calmette. He has interfered quite enough
already (_Il m’a assez mis des bâtons dans les roues_). If it had not
been for his interference, the affair would have been settled by now.’
I then told Monsieur Schneider that Monsieur Calmette had not sent me
to ask him to come, but that I thought that in his own interests and
in those of the heirs, he would do well to go to the _Figaro_ office
without delay, and tell the truth and all that he knew about this
business. Monsieur Vidal got up from his seat, and said to Monsieur
Schneider, ‘Sir, I do not advise you to go. You must know what has been
agreed.’ I insisted, and Madame Schneider, who was putting her baby to
bed in a room next door, came brusquely into the room and said to her
husband, ‘Do what Monsieur Vidal tells you, and do not go with Monsieur
de Fonvielle.’ I insisted again that he ought to go to the Rue Drouot
with me, and Madame Schneider, who showed some excitement, told her
husband to do what she suggested, adding, ‘You can’t do any good by
going. Besides, you know what you promised Monsieur Caillaux.’ I then
thought it best to go. When I got downstairs I told the two people with
me what had happened. One of them has material interests in the affair.
(Signed) Antoine de Fonvielle.”

Immediately under Monsieur de Fonvielle’s letter, Monsieur Calmette
published in the _Figaro_ of January 12 letters from two members of
the Prieu syndicate, Monsieur Boileau and Monsieur Prosper Sauvage.
Monsieur Boileau made the following declaration: “As the papers had
spoken of the Prieu affair, a meeting was called to hear what Monsieur
Schneider had to say. Monsieur Schneider declared: ‘I was very much
surprised at the fuss made in the papers. The affair was going to be
settled, and I had an appointment to-morrow, Saturday, January 10
(the meeting was at half-past eleven on the evening of the Friday),
to receive a definite proposal.’ I left the meeting with Monsieur
Schneider, and as we went away together he made this remark to me: ‘If
the affair succeeds we shall have to leave a good many feathers behind
us.’”

The third letter published by the _Figaro_ was from another member
of the Prieu syndicate, Monsieur Prosper Sauvage: “I was present at
the meeting which was called to discuss the situation created by
the articles in the _Figaro_,” he wrote. “I was one of the first to
arrive, and met Messieurs Monniot, Mazars, and Boileau. Naturally the
conversation bore on the incidents of the day, and when I expressed my
astonishment and my indignation at the proposal that the Government
should take 80 per cent. for its electoral needs while the heirs
received only 20 per cent. of the money, Monsieur Monniot declared
that Monsieur Schneider had told him about the interview which he had
had, and had confirmed these figures. He added that Monsieur Schneider
had found the rate excessively high, and quite unacceptable. (Signed)
Prosper Sauvage.”

These letters appeared in the _Figaro_ on January 12. The same day
Monsieur Calmette accused Monsieur Caillaux of having extorted £16,000
from the Comptoir d’Escompte for the party funds. Monsieur Calmette
wrote that Monsieur Ulmann, of the Comptoir d’Escompte, had been
received at five o’clock one afternoon by Monsieur Caillaux, and that
some days afterwards the £16,000 had been placed at the disposition
of the Minister of Finance. Everybody concerned contradicted these
statements very flatly, and as they have no bearing on the Caillaux
drama other than to show the bitterness and personal nature of the
attacks in the _Figaro_ against Monsieur Caillaux we may leave them on
one side.

Three days later, on January 15, Monsieur Francois Lebon published in
_L’Œuvre_, a little weekly paper which has been in bitter opposition
to the present Government, an article on the scandals of the week,
in which he referred to the Prieu affair, and to the affair of
the Comptoir d’Escompte. In this article, which is the more worth
quoting because it attacks not only Monsieur Caillaux but the present
parliamentary régime in France as well, Monsieur Lebon exclaims against
the outcry which many people raise against such revelations as those
made by the _Figaro_, that “they tarnish the good name of the Republic.”

“The republican régime,” writes Monsieur Lebon, “is settling down in
the mud. We may consider it permissible to think that a few more stains
will not be much more visible. When a man is drowning it is perhaps
an excess of precaution to refrain from throwing him a rope for fear
of splashing him with a few drops of water. One of these days it will
become perceptible that if the Third Republic fell so low, it was
because the Third Republic was ‘la République des camarades.’”

This is severe language from a Frenchman about France, but
unfortunately there is much in the political history of recent years to
support this charge of graft and of corruption. Charges of corruption
in the N’Goko Tanga affair, charges which were not altogether denied
satisfactorily, were brought by Monsieur Ceccaldi when the colonial
Budget came up for discussion, and the fact that Monsieur Ceccaldi has
since become a close friend and supporter of the Caillaux Government
makes these charges all the more significant now. Each Government in
France has a secret fund of £44,000; £24,000 of this fund are used
comparatively openly. The little balance of £20,000 is not nearly
enough for the funds needed by the Government at the general elections,
and it is a well-known fact that a great deal more is spent.

The question as to where this money comes from is hardly a mystery. The
Mascuraud committee, an association of parliamentarians and commercial
men, has been generous with money in the past. This year it is said to
have withheld a large proportion of its usual subsidy, and the _Figaro_
and other Opposition papers declare that Monsieur Caillaux did what he
did for the purpose of ensuring at the coming elections the election of
Government candidates for the Chamber of Deputies.

[Illustration: _Agence Nouvelle—Photo, Paris_
MONSIEUR CAILLAUX’S FRIEND, M. CECCALDI]

On January 15 another long article over Monsieur Calmette’s signature
in the _Figaro_ dealt severely with Monsieur Caillaux’s relations with
financial men in Paris. The suggestion made was that Monsieur Caillaux,
who was a member of the board of the Argentine Crédit Foncier, the
Egyptian Crédit Foncier and other enterprises of international finance,
was for personal and pecuniary reasons unable to resist the pressure
brought to bear on him by his colleagues among the directors of
these financial boards, and was obliged to do what they told him to
do, irrespective of his own political convictions or of the higher
interests of the country, which interests he as a Minister of the State
should have considered first.

According to the _Figaro_, a Monsieur Arthur Spitzer, an Austrian by
birth, a Frenchman by naturalization, and one of the most influential
directors of the big French bank, the Société Générale, had gained his
position there owing to the influence and recommendation of Sir Ernest
Cassel.

“Since 1911,” said the _Figaro_, “the French Prime Ministers and
Finance Ministers had successively expressed their opinions that
Monsieur Spitzer took too large a share in every sense of the word of
the big loans which were launched on the Paris market. In consequence
Monsieur Spitzer’s re-election to the board of the Société Générale
in 1913 was indirectly opposed by the Government. Monsieur Spitzer,
in deference to the expression of this opinion which was conveyed
to the Société Générale by a permanent official of the Ministry of
Finance, resigned his position on the board of the Société Générale,
but he remained on the board of the Crédit Foncier Argentin and on the
board of the Crédit Foncier Egyptien, of which two boards of directors
Monsieur Caillaux was a member. The intermediary between the Government
and the Société Générale in the secret and delicate negotiations which
resulted in the resignation of Monsieur Spitzer had been Monsieur
Luquet, one of the principal permanent officials in the Ministry of
Finance. Shortly after Monsieur Caillaux’s return to power an intimate
friend of Monsieur Spitzer, Monsieur André Homberg, a director of
the Société Générale, and another financial magnate whose name the
_Figaro_ does not mention, called on Monsieur Caillaux at the Ministry
of Finance, and shortly afterwards Monsieur Luquet was superseded and
was succeeded in his post by Monsieur Privat-Deschanel, the general
secretary of the Financial office, the man in whose presence Madame
Gueydan had burned her husband’s, Monsieur Caillaux, letters. In other
words, Monsieur Calmette accused Monsieur Caillaux of allowing himself
to be influenced by his financial friends to serve their financial
needs by the removal of a useful servant of the country. On the
following day, January 16, the _Figaro_ launched another accusation
against Monsieur Caillaux, that of interfering between two big shipping
companies in order to please his financial friends.”

There is no need to go into the details of the quarrel between the
South Atlantic Company and the Compagnie Transatlantique. Suffice it to
say that the _Figaro_ accused Monsieur Caillaux of acting in an
arbitrary fashion and taking orders for his conduct from certain
financial magnates, among whom was Monsieur André Homberg of the
Société Générale. On January 19, Monsieur Gaston Calmette announced for
the following day a series of articles describing “the nefarious part
played by Monsieur Caillaux in the events which preceded the sending of
a German gunboat to Agadir.” On the 20th this series of articles began.
They continued without intermission till January 24. I shall refer to
them more fully in another chapter of this book.

On January 26, Monsieur Gaston Calmette called Monsieur Caillaux to
account in the _Figaro_ on the question of a heavy fine of £325,000
which had been inflicted on a Paris bank (the Banque Perrier) for the
non-observance of certain formalities in connexion with an emission of
two million pounds sterling of Ottoman bonds. Monsieur Gaston Calmette
returned the next day to the question, twitting Monsieur Caillaux
somewhat cruelly with his inability to give a satisfactory reply. On
Wednesday, January 28, he returned to the charge again and at some
length on the front page of the _Figaro_, dropping it on the 29th for
an article of two columns and a half on Monsieur Caillaux’s connexion
with the Crédit Foncier Egyptien and the Crédit Foncier Argentin.

In this article Monsieur Calmette deliberately accused Monsieur
Caillaux of allowing quantities of South American bonds and shares
an official quotation on the Paris Bourse because Monsieur Spitzer,
Monsieur Ullmann and others of his financial friends were interested
in placing these bonds in France. Monsieur Calmette declared that
during the six months of Monsieur Caillaux’s tenure of office as
Finance Minister in 1911, that is to say from February to June of that
year, South American bonds and shares to the amount of forty million
pounds sterling received an official quotation on the Paris Bourse,
and he drew up and published a Table showing the prices at which the
quotations had been given, and the depreciation of these stocks and
shares during the three years which followed. The depreciation is
about twenty-five per cent. In other words, according to the _Figaro_,
Monsieur Caillaux’s admission of these enormous blocks of South
American bonds on the Paris Bourse resulted in a loss to French
investors of ten millions sterling.

Naturally enough Monsieur Caillaux replied through the official Havas
agency, and in reply to his _communiqué_ Monsieur Calmette on January
30 returned to the charge, emphasising his original accusations.

On the first of February Monsieur Caillaux visited his constituency of
Mamers. The _Figaro_ on that day published a long and bitter article
describing the misdeeds of the Minister of Finance since his entry
into politics. On the 2nd it published two columns more containing
a sarcastic appreciation of Monsieur Caillaux’s visit to Mamers.
On February 5, Monsieur Caillaux was accused in the _Figaro_ of
postponing the French loan and so inducing French investors to place
their money elsewhere, notably in Italy. On February 7 the _Figaro_
accuses Monsieur Caillaux, of “continuing to earn the gratitude of the
Triple Alliance.” After adjourning the French loan and so facilitating
the success of one Prussian loan, and the preparation of a second,
“Monsieur Caillaux,” he is told by the _Figaro_, “has enabled
the Hungarian Government to contract a loan of twenty millions
sterling.” “When all our enemies have filled their Treasuries,” says
the _Figaro_ of February 7, “perhaps Monsieur Caillaux will make
up his mind to reveal the great plans and schemes to which he has
subordinated the eventual issue of a French loan.“ On Sunday February 8
the _Figaro_ contented itself with publishing a photograph of Monsieur
Caillaux, and making fun of it, but day by day no number of the paper
appeared without an attack on him of one kind or another. On February
11, announcing the Finance Minister’s resignation from the board of
the Crédit Foncier Argentin, Monsieur Calmette comments on it in these
words: “Monsieur Henri Poirier, an intimate friend of Monsieur Spitzer,
has taken his, Monsieur Caillaux’s, place provisionally. When Monsieur
Caillaux wishes to return to the board there is no doubt that Monsieur
Poirier will make way for him.” On February 19, commenting on the
statement in the Senate of Monsieur Caillaux, two days before, that he
had never said in 1901 that a Minister of Finance would never consent
to interfere with all the taxes, the _Figaro_ gives him the lie direct,
quotes the speech he made on July 4, 1901, and declares that it is a
complete condemnation of his whole fiscal policy at the present time.
On the 20th Monsieur Calmette returns to the charge, compares several
speeches of Monsieur Caillaux made at different dates, and comments on
them in these words: “Monsieur Caillaux modifies his declarations and
his financial programme according to whether he is a Minister in power
or anxious to become one, according to whether he is speaking so as to
remain in office or speaking against the Ministry so as to overthrow
it.” On February 25 Monsieur Gaston Calmette returns to “the secret
combinations of Monsieur Caillaux,” and the big fine of £325,000,
“which was imposed but never collected,” and ends his article by the
accusation that Monsieur Caillaux, for private reasons, authorized a
loan issued by a South American bank after the authorization had been
refused three times by his predecessor Monsieur Pichon. On Thursday,
February 26, the _Figaro_ returns to the attack on the same subject.
On March 2, 1914, Monsieur Calmette published a letter written on
December 19, 1908, by Monsieur Caillaux, who was then Minister of
Finance, to Monsieur Clemenceau, who was then Prime Minister and
Minister of the Interior. In this letter Monsieur Caillaux protests
against the publication in the _Journal Officiel_ of advertisements of
foreign lottery bonds. “Six months after the date of this letter,” says
Monsieur Calmette, “the Clemenceau Cabinet fell, and Monsieur Caillaux
in the following autumn became President of the board of the Crédit
Foncier Egyptien. He remained President of that board till January
1914, even while he was a member of the Cabinet again from March 2,
1911, till January 10, 1912. In December 1908 while Monsieur Caillaux
was Minister of Finance and was not yet on the board of the Crédit
Foncier Egyptien he had refused the introduction on the Paris market of
800,000 lottery bonds. In 1912 he authorized their introduction.” “Our
plutocratic demagogue,” writes Monsieur Calmette, “had found in the
interval between 1908 and 1912, 100,000 good reasons for suppressing
his refusal of 1908 to give these bonds a market.”

This article is of course a deliberate accusation of financial and
political dishonesty. On March 3, Monsieur Calmette returns to the
question of the South Atlantic Shipping Company. On the 4th, Monsieur
Calmette warns the public against a loan which is to be issued by this
company, and suggests that Monsieur Caillaux’s reasons for encouraging
it are reasons of party policy, and anything but straightforward. On
March 5 the _Figaro_, over the signature of Monsieur Gaston Calmette,
accuses Monsieur Caillaux publicly of facilitating a Stock Exchange
_coup_ by enabling his friends to gamble, with a certainty of success,
in the price of French Rentes on the Paris Bourse.

This accusation needs a few words of explanation. The budget proposals
contained one item of supreme interest to French investors. This was
the taxation of stocks. On March 4 at five o’clock it became “known”
in the lobbies of the Chamber and in the newspaper offices of Paris
that Monsieur Caillaux intended to omit French Rentes from his scheme
of taxation. Naturally this expected immunity of French Rentes from
taxation was the reason of a rise of French Rentes. On the Thursday,
March 5, Monsieur Caillaux contradicted the rumour of the afternoon
before, and declared that he intended to propose the taxation of French
Rentes. At twenty minutes to twelve on that morning, when the sworn
brokers of the Paris Bourse fixed the opening price, the official
contradiction had not reached them. At twelve o’clock, when the opening
price was published on the Bourse, Rentes were up to 88.80, the highest
price which had been reached since the declaration of war in the
Balkans. A large amount of stock changed hands at this high price.
Seven minutes later Monsieur Caillaux’s _communiqué_ was generally
known, and Rentes fell forty centimes in a few minutes, entailing heavy
losses.

Monsieur Barthou made a cynical and characteristic comment on this
Bourse operation. “The money was not lost to everybody,” he said.
On March 8 Monsieur Gaston Calmette stigmatizes Monsieur Caillaux’s
behaviour with reference to the immunity and taxation of French Rentes
as “a double pirouette, a looping-the-loop act which allowed certain
friends of the Minister of Finance, of whom he was very fond and whom
he kept very well informed, to execute a most audacious Stock Exchange
_coup_.”

Monsieur Calmette follows this up by a personal attack on Monsieur
Caillaux, who, he declared, stated through the Agence Havas on December
28 that he had resigned his position on the board of the Crédit Foncier
Egyptien and the Crédit Foncier Argentin, that Monsieur Caillaux had
mis-stated the truth, and that he was still a member of these boards
and drawing a large sum for his services. On March 10 Monsieur Calmette
attacked Monsieur Caillaux in an article which occupied nearly three
columns of the front page of the _Figaro_, on his behaviour in the
Rochette case.

This article was of course written with the knowledge that the letter
of Monsieur Victor Fabre, the Procureur Général, which appears earlier
in this volume, would, if published, support the charges made by
Monsieur Gaston Calmette against Monsieur Caillaux, and Monsieur Monis.
It marks the last stage of this long series of personal attacks in the
_Figaro_, far too many of which attacks appear to be only too well
deserved.

“For Rochette to escape from legal punishment for his crime against the
investing public it was necessary that his case should not come on for
trial on April 27, 1911,” wrote Monsieur Calmette in the _Figaro_ on
March 10, 1914. The meaning of this is that by French law a prosecution
which has not been followed by execution within three years falls to
the ground and becomes null and void. Rochette would be a free man if
he remained unsentenced three years after his first prosecution in
1908. On March 2, 1911, wrote Monsieur Calmette, “Monsieur Caillaux
became Minister of Finance in the Cabinet of which Monsieur Monis was
Prime Minister, and Monsieur Perrier Minister of Justice. Rochette
had been arrested on March 20, 1908. On May 8 he was released
provisionally. He was tried on July 27, 1910, sentenced to prison,
appealed, and was able to continue his inroads on the private fortunes
of France in all tranquillity. Rochette in 1908 continued to speculate
and continued to empty France’s woollen stocking. He got seventy-two
million francs of small investors’ money before his arrest, he got
sixty-eight million francs more out of it afterwards. If his case did
not come on before the three years were up he would be a free man.”

Monsieur Calmette then tells the story of the pressure which was
brought to bear by Monsieur Monis and Monsieur Caillaux on Monsieur
Fabre and on Judge Bidault de L’Isle, which story we know in all its
details now, and he comments on it in these words: “Rochette was
saved. All he had to do was to wait for the previous procedure to
be proclaimed null and void, and this was done on February 2, 1912.
When, to his amazement, a new suit was commenced under the Cabinet of
which Monsieur Poincaré was Prime Minister, Rochette took flight. He
is a free man to-day, freer and better protected than all of us. He
will smile as he reads this indiscreet account of his troubles which
are over, and in his gratitude he will send from overseas a gracious
greeting to the Minister of Finance, his saviour and his friend.
Monsieur Caillaux it was who demanded, who obtained, who insisted
on, the various postponements which allowed Rochette to thieve with
impunity. Monsieur Caillaux it was who allowed Rochette to proceed
during the long legal procedure with the systematic spoliation of the
public purse for which he had been arrested, tried, and sentenced once.
The protector, the accomplice, of this shady financier is Monsieur
Caillaux. Monsieur Caillaux it was who _in exchange for subventions
of money to the newspapers which supported him and his policy_
facilitated, prolonged, and increased the strength of the influence of
this Stock Exchange adventurer on the public whom he was ruining.

“There you have the plutocratic demagogue! There you have the man of
the Congo, the man who nearly made us quarrel with England and with
Spain, the man of the Crédit Foncier Egyptien lottery bonds, the
man who drew money for serving on financial boards and for services
rendered, the man who indulged in secret machinations and criminal
intervention, the Finance Minister of the Doumergue Cabinet! Neither
the Commission of Inquiry nor Monsieur Jaurès ever really understood
the Rochette affair. They guessed something about it, they felt what it
meant, instinctively, and they stopped their inquiry, frightened by so
much illegality, disgusted at so many crimes. Now you know the truth of
it all. Here it stands revealed in all its nakedness to the public whose
savings have been stolen. It can be resumed in one word—infamy! It can
be resumed in one name—Caillaux!”

On March 11, Monsieur Calmette pointed out that Monsieur Caillaux had
issued no official contradiction to the terrible accusations in the
_Figaro_ of the day before. On Thursday, March 12, he called public
attention again to Monsieur Caillaux’s silence, and in heavy black type
in the very centre of the front page of his paper appeared these three
lines, which were, so soon, to be fraught with tragic consequence.

      “WE SHALL PUBLISH TO-MORROW A CURIOUS
       AUTOGRAPH DEDICATED BY MONSIEUR
       JOSEPH CAILLAUX TO HIS ELECTORS.”

On Friday, March 13, 1914—those of my readers who are superstitious
will take note that it was a Friday and a thirteenth of the month—the
“Ton Jo” letter appeared on the front page of the _Figaro_.



VII

THE “TON JO” LETTER


          SENAT.

            With the best will in the world it was impossible
          for me to write to you yesterday. I had to take
          my part in two terribly tiring sessions of the
          Chamber, one in the morning at nine o’clock,
          which finished at midday, the other at two
          o’clock, from which I only got away at eight
          o’clock in the evening, dead beat.

            However, I secured a magnificent success. I
          =crushed=[2] the income-tax while appearing to
          defend it, I received an ovation from the Centre
          and from the Right, and I managed not to make the
          Left too discontented. I succeeded in giving the
          wheel a turn towards the Right which was quite
          indispensable.

            To-day I had another morning session at the
          Chamber which only finished at a quarter to one.

            I am now at the Senate where I am going to have
          the law on the contributions directes voted, and
          this evening, no doubt, the session will be over.
          I shall be dead tired, stupid, ill almost, but I
          shall have done a real service to my country.

                                                      Ton Jo.

[2] The word crushed is underlined in the original text.

That is the “Ton Jo” letter. That is the document which, printed in
big black type in the centre of the front page of the _Figaro_ on
Friday, March 13, 1914, and re-printed in facsimile lower down on
the same page, was followed on the 16th by the revolver shots which
killed Monsieur Gaston Calmette. The letter was written by Monsieur
Caillaux on July 5, 1901—thirteen years before it was published in
the _Figaro_. When he wrote it Monsieur Caillaux was Minister of
Finance in the Waldeck-Rousseau Cabinet, and apart from the tragic
event which followed close on its publication, the letter is a curious
and upsetting confession of political duplicity. The income-tax has
been Monsieur Joseph Caillaux’s hobby horse for many years. It is
an uncomfortable sensation to read, over his own signature, this
confession, in his own handwriting, that while appearing to fight for
the tax he was really doing his best to crush it out of sight. The
natural deduction was of course that Monsieur Caillaux was now, in
1914, pursuing the same tactics which he pursued thirteen years ago.

[Illustration:
La véritable déclaration de M. Caillaux relative à l’impôt sur le revenu
THE “TON JO” LETTER FROM THE _FIGARO_
Friday, March 13, 1914]

Once again his speeches have shown him as a partisan of the income-tax,
and a partisan of the taxation of French Rentes. The “Ton Jo” letter
leaves us uncertain whether this partisanship is not merely a political
move, and whether Monsieur Caillaux may not again be “crushing the
income-tax while appearing to defend it.” His own letter is a terrible
comment on his policy, and it is difficult to exaggerate the shock
which the publication of this letter caused in Parliament and among the
supporters of the Minister of Finance and of the present Government.

Needless to say, Monsieur Gaston Calmette made the most of it. He
embodied the letter in a long article in which he repeated his former
accusations against Monsieur Caillaux, accused him of conniving at
the escape of Rochette from justice because Rochette’s money was
useful to his personal policy, accused him of deliberate lying in the
announcement he made of his resignation from the board of the Crédit
Foncier Egyptien, accused him openly of felony in connexion with the
Bourse _coup_ and the tax.

The “Ton Jo” letter was not published in its entirety. Monsieur
Calmette wrote that he suppressed the end of it because that referred
to a subject which had nothing to do with fiscal questions. The name
of the person to whom it was written was also suppressed, but every
one in Paris knew very soon that the letter had been written to Madame
Gueydan-Dupré, who afterwards—five years after the letter’s date,
when she was divorced—became the wife of Monsieur Caillaux. When
the letter was written in these intimate terms Madame Gueydan-Dupré,
whom Monsieur Caillaux addressed with the familiar “tu” which means
so much in French, his note to whom he signed “Ton Jo,” was the wife
of another man. When that letter was published, the woman, to whom it
had been written thirteen years before, had been the wife of Monsieur
Joseph Caillaux for five years and had ceased to be his wife, had been
divorced from him for two years.

It is easy to imagine the feelings of the present Madame Caillaux, of
the successor of Madame Gueydan in Monsieur Caillaux’s affections, when
she saw this letter reproduced in facsimile on the front page of the
_Figaro_, and realized that all France was reading between the lines.
It can have mattered very little to her that Monsieur Calmette had
suppressed the last few lines of this letter. The mere fact that the
first part of it was published, that in his article he made it clear
that he knew how it had begun and ended, and made clear to others to
whom it had been written, was all-sufficient for the woman who now
bears Monsieur Caillaux’s name. That woman knew that there had been
other letters in existence. She knew that Monsieur Caillaux had written
letters to her which had been at one time in the possession of the
woman to whom this “Ton Jo” letter was addressed, and these letters
contained, as she well knew, the same mixture of love and politics as
the document published on that Friday, March 14.

Her own married life before she became Monsieur Caillaux’s wife had
not been happy. She knew and dreaded the power and the will to injure
of a woman scorned. She knew of course of the dramatic scene which had
occurred before she married Monsieur Caillaux, between her husband and
his first wife, Madame Gueydan. She knew that the letters which she
dreaded had been destroyed on that occasion, but she knew, too, that
their destruction had been obtained at the price of a reconciliation
between Monsieur Caillaux and his first wife, and she knew, no woman
better, that Monsieur Caillaux had not kept to the spirit of the
bargain, had obtained a divorce from his first wife, shortly after the
destruction of these letters, and immediately after his divorce had
become her own husband. She was not sure that there were no copies of
the letters in existence.

One shudders to visualize that interview between husband and wife on
the morning of Friday, March 13. One can realize the fears which were
expressed, the mud of past years which was stirred. And that morning,
we may be fairly certain, the first thought of desperation was born
in Madame Caillaux’s brain. Can you not see this woman thinking,
pondering, murmuring to herself, “This must be stopped”? Can you not
see her snatching at her copy of the _Figaro_ next morning, skipping
with an impatient shrug of the shoulders her husband’s _communiqué_ to
the Agence Havas, and reading down the page with anxious eyes to see
whether the revelation of the letters which she feared would follow?
One shudders at the mental picture of the lives of Monsieur and of
Madame Caillaux, of this man and this woman, during the days which
followed the publication of the “Ton Jo” letter. And when she saw, on
Monday, March 16, that Monsieur Calmette had not stopped his campaign
against her husband although three days before, on the 13th, he had
said “My task is finished” one can realize her anguish—the anguish of
fear.



VIII

AGADIR


In almost every newspaper article which I have read on the Caillaux
drama one sentence has invariably amused me. “The question of Agadir,”
we read, in French and English papers both, “is too fresh in the
reader’s mind for any exhaustive reference to it here to be necessary.”
But memories are short in these fast-living days, and though the
history of Agadir is recent history, no story of the Caillaux drama can
be complete without recalling it at length. For one of the accusations
against Monsieur Caillaux as a politician which the _Figaro_ made
constantly is that Monsieur Caillaux made mistake on mistake, and was
misled by his hatred of the Ministers who had been instrumental in the
original and comparative settlement of the Moroccan difficulties, to do
grave wrong to France over the Agadir matter.

His hatred of his parliamentary opponents, it was said at the time,
was very nearly instrumental in creating serious international
complications. Further imprudence was shown by his endeavour to
palliate the effect of his first ill-considered act, and he was finally
forced to consent to concessions on behalf of France which France need
not have made at all if Monsieur Caillaux had been more prudent from
the beginning.

This, stripped of all vituperation, is the accusation which Monsieur
Caillaux has to answer before the tribunal of history. Let us look
into it. In order to do so we must go back to the Act of Algeciras.
It will be remembered that the Act of Algeciras gave France the right
of policing Morocco because of its neighbourhood to Algiers. Three
years after the Act of Algeciras French troops were in occupation
of certain portions of Moroccan territory, and the jingo party, the
Pan-Germanists, in Germany were protesting with heat against this
military occupation.

The peace party in Germany, however, had other views. There was a
feeling that an understanding on the basis of the act of Algeciras
between France and Germany might lead to a weakening of the Entente
between France and Great Britain, and be useful economically to German
enterprise.

On February 8, 1909, when Monsieur Clemenceau was at the head of the
French Government with Monsieur Stephen Pichon as his Foreign Minister,
Germany recognized, more freely than it had recognized before, the
interests of France in Morocco for the maintenance of order, and
promised collaboration economically. A secret letter changed hands,
confirming this agreement, and admitting that Germany should remain
disinterested in the politics of Morocco. In this same letter it was
admitted also that the economic interests of France in Morocco were
more important than the economic interests of Germany. The importance
of this letter rested of course on the fact that it practically
entailed the suppression of immediate friction between the two
countries.

The Clemenceau Cabinet worked hard to carry the good work further
still, so that the spirit of this Franco-German understanding should be
extended to the Congo. The French representative of the bondholders of
the Moroccan debt, Monsieur Guiot, who had been in the French Foreign
Office, paid a visit to Berlin, and the result of his negotiations with
the German Foreign Office in the Wilhelmstrasse was a memorandum dated
June 2, 1909, by which it was decided to create a Franco-German Company
for the purpose of exploiting certain concessions. On June 5 the French
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Monsieur Pichon, took counsel with the
French Colonial Minister, Monsieur Milliés-Lacroix, on the advantages
and disadvantages of this Franco-German collaboration.

At the end of July 1909, the Clemenceau Cabinet fell. Monsieur Briand
became Prime Minister and retained Monsieur Pichon at the Quai d’Orsay,
but Monsieur Clemenceau dropped out of the Cabinet and Monsieur
Caillaux was no longer Minister of Finance.

It is not too much to say that the Clemenceau-Caillaux alliance dates
from this little upheaval in French internal politics, and it was at
this point that Monsieur Caillaux’s enmity to Monsieur Briand and
Monsieur Pichon first led him astray.

On August 2, 1909, the N’Goko Sanga Company, in reply to a letter
from the Minister for Foreign Affairs offered to give up, against a
substantial indemnity, a portion of the territory for which it held
concessions. A commission was formed to discuss terms, but it was not
till April 29, 1910, that the amount of the indemnity was definitely
stated. The indemnity was to be F2,393,000 or £95,720.

On February 17, 1910, after the French and German Governments had
signified in October of the year before their approval of the
provisional agreement between Monsieur Guiot and the Wilhelmstrasse,
the Moroccan Company of Public Works was formed. It had a capital of
F2,000,000, fifty per cent. of which was in French hands, twenty-six
per cent. in German hands, and the remaining twenty-four per cent. in
the hands of the other Powers who had signed the Act of Algeciras. Then
parliamentary politics in France had their say in the matter, and the
Radicals, Socialists and Radical-Socialists in France, with Monsieur
Caillaux in the foreground of debate, made use of the question of the
N’Goko Sanga indemnity as a weapon in Parliament against Monsieur
Briand.

In consequence of this, the summer of 1910 did not bring with it any
definite advance in the Franco-German understanding which had appeared
to be so full of promise. In November 1910, after the strike of railway
men had weakened the authority of the French Government somewhat,
the N’Goko Sanga question came up in Parliament once more, and the
Franco-German understanding on Moroccan affairs and the affairs of the
Congo became enveloped in an immense haze of words. By February 1911
the German negotiators began to show impatience, although on or about
the 15th of the month the Imperial Government had, to all practical
intent, agreed to allow, to a Franco-German company, concessions in
the German Cameroons. A fortnight after that, on February 28, 1911,
Monsieur Briand and his Cabinet were forced to resign. On March 3,
Monsieur Monis became Prime Minister of France, and Monsieur Caillaux
was his Minister of Finance. The Monis Cabinet found itself weighted
with immense responsibility. The situation in Morocco was extremely
difficult, and the French Government found itself on the horns of a
dilemma. On the one side were the promises made and the engagements
formed by the Governments in France which had preceded Monsieur Monis,
owing to which the Monis Cabinet was obliged, if it wished to remain
true to the policy on which it had gained power, to break with the line
of conduct followed by former French Cabinets in relation to Germany
for two years. On the other side was the very real danger of breaking,
without any other reason than that of internal politics, with the
pacific policy of the last twenty-four months.

The internal troubles in Morocco, making French military action a
necessity, put the French Government in the awkward position of giving
Germany the appearance of a real grievance by the military steps which
had to be taken, and the Pan-Germanists of course jumped at the pretext
for accusing France of laying forcible hands, or attempting to lay
forcible hands on Morocco in spite of all past treaties and agreements
and without ensuring to Germany the share which had been promised her
in 1909.

I would ask the reader of this book who has had the strength of will to
struggle with the tortuous paths of Franco-German difficulties which
led to the Agadir climax, to memorize this situation for the sake of
a clearer comprehension of what follows. On the one side two years of
Anglo-French negotiations which promised comparative peace for the
future; on the other, the sudden breaking off of all negotiations
and apparent disregard on the part of France for everything which
had smoothed over the situation before. The fact that the change of
policy had become a necessity owing to Cabinet changes in France and
the promises made by members of the new Cabinet to their constituents
could not be offered as a reason. At the best they could be offered as
an excuse, and it was this necessity of making excuses which enabled
the German Government to voice the claim for compensation which was
to result in a territorial loss which France will never forgive the
Ministers who were responsible, and which will make it difficult for
either of them to take leading parts in France’s government again for
many years to come.

The first thing which the Monis Cabinet did was to bulldose (it seems
the only word to use) the question of the Franco-German understandings
in Congo and Cameroon. This measure was taken in spite of warnings in
high quarters in France. President Fallières is known to have been
against the measure and to have expressed his views as forcibly as the
French Constitution allowed him to express them, and Monsieur Conty,
the director of political affairs in the French Foreign Office, was
distinctly adverse to the measure as well. Monsieur Conty knew that
for twenty years past, one of the principal pre-occupations of the
German Government was the African question, and he knew that the German
colonial party was very warmly supported by the Pan-Germanists, and had
considerable influence with the Kaiser himself.

On these grounds in a note which he handed to Monsieur Cruppi, Monsieur
Conty (who is now in 1914 the French Minister at Pekin) pointed out the
wire-pulling powers of the German interests in the Cameroon and Congo
companies, and warned the French Government that there was grave danger
to peace in ignoring their claims. He pointed out that while the
Kaiser was known to be pacific and conciliatory at the time, he might
be forced by the Pan-German and colonial interests to demonstrate again
as he had demonstrated once before at Tangier, and that the result was
almost bound to be France’s abandonment to Germany of advantages which
she might, by a show of generosity now, keep secure.

How right Monsieur Conty was Monsieur Caillaux himself was obliged to
admit nearly a year later when in the Senate he said: “I do not deny
that the rupture of the Franco-German partnership in Cameroon and the
Congo had diplomatic consequences.” Unfortunately at this time (March
1911) the principal pre-occupation of the Monis Cabinet was its desire
to break away from the policy of the Cabinet of Monsieur Briand to
which, logically, it should have adhered.

Monsieur Caillaux was credited at the time with one of those famous
epigrammatic outbursts of his which have done him harm on various
occasions, when, as this one must be, they are quoted against him. “We
really can’t have Briand’s policy mounted in diamonds and wear it as a
scarfpin,” Monsieur Caillaux is reported to have said. The epigram,
whether he made it or not—and I believe that he did make it—expresses
very neatly—far too neatly—the chief motive which underlay the policy
of the Monis Cabinet at that time, and which was the main cause of that
Cabinet’s stubborn opposition to the advice of Monsieur Conty and the
advice of the President of the Republic himself.

On March 29, in spite of an eloquent and perfectly constitutional
warning from Monsieur Fallières at a Cabinet Council, the Colonial
Minister in the Monis Cabinet, Monsieur Messimy, was instructed
to declare the consortium in Cameroon and the Congo arrangement
impossible. He made this declaration before the Budget committee at the
end of March and to the Chamber of Deputies on April 4. On April 3,
the French Government learned of serious trouble in Morocco. Several
tribes were rising, and military intervention became inevitable. German
irritation was growing. The German object, or at all events one of
Germany’s main objects, in the discussions and negotiations which began
in 1909 and broke off so suddenly and so dangerously in 1911 had been
to ensure a German share in the public works which were becoming
needful in Morocco. Germany had received as the price of a concession
to France an assurance that this share would be granted. In the
secret letter, which I have mentioned already, Germany admitted
the pre-eminence of French interests in Morocco, and approved the
constitution of a society of public works in which the German share of
capital was to be much smaller than the French share.

When the Monis-Caillaux-Cruppi Cabinet took the reins in France,
the German Government asked the French Government to intervene
semi-officially so that the promised interests of the German
shareholders should be properly protected. The French Government
refused. Such intervention would be equivalent, it was explained, to
admitting privilege or monopoly, and such an admission was against all
Radical principles.

The German Government, with great patience, pointed out that what was
really required was some sort of a guarantee that a French tender
should not be accepted to the prejudice of the German share of the
concessions. The question was one which lent itself to much discussion,
many words, long correspondence and wearisome delays, and presently
the question of the railways complicated it still further. In the
secret letter of 1909 it had been stipulated that the directors of the
Moroccan railways should be French. The German Government now claimed
that this clause should be taken to mean that _only the directors_ of
the railway lines should be Frenchmen and that a large proportion of
the subordinate railway servants should be German. Here again Monsieur
Caillaux’s unfortunate propensity for epigram did not forsake him.
“We can’t have German stationmasters in spiked helmets in the railway
stations of Morocco,” he said.

The French Government made no counter-proposal with regard to the
management of the Moroccan railways, and the Berlin Government remained
silent on the question. This silence gave all thinking men considerable
grounds for uneasiness. It was felt that a very thinly veiled
antagonism on all questions of detail was making itself very apparent
at the Wilhelmstrasse. There was no definite decision made with regard
to Moroccan mining rights either, and it was just about this time that
the claims and concessions of the Mannesmann Brothers began to be
spoken of.

The situation became quite critical, and there is no doubt that
the critical trend of the situation was due very largely to the
determination of the Monis Government not to “have Monsieur Briand’s
policy mounted as a scarfpin.” If Monsieur Cruppi and his colleagues
had been able to approve the convention with Germany for N’Goko Sanga
and the Congo which Monsieur Pichon had prepared, there would have been
no excuse for the remark which was made soon afterwards to the French
Ambassador in Berlin by Herr von Kiderlen Waechter. “When the railway
question fell through I saw that you had made your minds up not to work
in concert with us in any matter whatsoever.”

Things were going from bad to worse in Morocco itself, and French
troops had to be sent on the road to Fez. On April 3, 1911, the French
Government ordered French troops to co-operate with the Sultan in the
chastisement of rebel bands. On April 17 (President Fallières had left
for Tunis on the 15th), the French Government placed 2400 men at the
disposal of General Moinier. On April 23, a column was sent to the
suburbs of Fez and on May 21 the French tricolour floated beneath the
walls of the Moroccan capital.

The German Government said nothing, but a rumble of popular displeasure
was heard all over Germany. Herr von Kiderlen Waechter and the German
Chancellor received in stony silence the communication made by the
French Ambassador in Berlin, Monsieur Jules Cambon, that it had been
necessary to send French troops to Fez to protect French subjects and
to preserve order. German official newspapers announced, unofficially
but obviously on official inspiration, that Germany was about to resume
her freedom of action.

At this time there was question (it was about the end of April) of a
railway from the German Cameroons to the Belgian Congo. The line would
of course, as a glance at the map shows, have to run through the French
Congo. For the moment it looked as though there was a loophole for
agreement which might lead to others, in this German line across French
territory. This hope disappeared however, and in May 1911 the Agadir
_coup_ was decided on. Germany realized that the only way of obtaining
“compensation” was a threat. The _Panther_ went to Agadir. The French
Ambassador had a conversation with the German Secretary of State at
Kissingen. The German Press was howling. Herr von Kiderlen Waechter
answered Monsieur Jules Cambon’s question as to what Germany wanted,
in these words: “See what you can give us in the Congo.” A few days
later the Monis Cabinet fell, the Caillaux Cabinet came into power,
and the _Panther_ and the _Berlin_ arrived off Agadir. The question of
compensation had become acute.

At the beginning of July 1911, English opinion was favourable to
Germany’s desires. The Potsdam agreement had soothed Russian fears in
the East, France’s march on Fez had excited Spain and made her uneasy,
and Italy was beginning to cast greedy eyes on Tripoli. There was
very little protest internationally, at first at all events, when the
_Panther_ and the _Berlin_ went to Agadir. Monsieur de Selves, the
French Foreign Minister, left Paris for Holland on July 3. On July 4,
Monsieur Caillaux, who as Prime Minister took over the Foreign Office
while Monsieur de Selves was away, instructed Monsieur Paul Cambon
to advise the British Government that France would make no immediate
retort to the threat of Germany off Agadir. Monsieur Caillaux gave
these instructions in direct opposition to the opinion of Monsieur de
Selves which he expressed very clearly in a long telegram from Holland
to Paris.

In spite of this telegram from the Minister for Foreign Affairs
Monsieur Caillaux telegraphed to Monsieur Paul Cambon as follows:
“The German Government has invited us to enter into conversation with
regard to Moroccan affairs. We must therefore ask the German Government
first of all to explain the object of this conversation. According to
the reply of the German Government it will be time, after it has been
made, for us to decide whether we should make a naval demonstration in
the southern waters of Morocco. I beg you therefore to avoid advising
the British Government of any intention for the moment on our part of
sending warships either to Agadir or to Mogador.”

The British Cabinet had been asked by Monsieur Paul Cambon, on the
instructions of Monsieur de Selves, as to England’s intentions, but
before a reply was given Monsieur Caillaux’s telegram had arrived.
The Russian Government remained passive. Germany realized that her
bluff would not be called. On July 7 Monsieur de Selves returned from
Holland, and Herr von Schoen, the German Ambassador in Paris made the
first suggestion of “compensation.” France, in principle, was not
averse to compensation of a kind. If it was to be a question of the
Congo she asked Germany to explain what she wanted.

There was no objection in Paris to a rectification of the Cameroon
frontier line, but France wanted to know what Germany was prepared
to do in exchange in Morocco. Herr von Kiderlen Waechter on July 30
suggested that an agreement which should follow the lines of the 1909
understanding might be possible. Monsieur de Selves immediately asked,
through Monsieur Jules Cambon, for a written note explaining and
setting forth this suggestion. It was not till July 15 that the French
Government knew what the German demands really were, and decided that
on such lines as the cession of all Gabon and all the Congo between the
ocean and the Sanga it was quite useless to continue talking. English
opinion became uneasy at Germany’s demands.

Lord Morley wrote in the _Times_ on July 19, “If we do not learn by
other means what is going on at Agadir, public opinion may be that we
ought to go and see for ourselves.”

Belgian opinion became alarmed at the menace to the Belgian Congo.
On July 21, Sir Edward Grey spoke very clearly and Mr. Lloyd George
declared the same evening that war was better than peace with
humiliation. He added that the safety of Great Britain’s commerce
overseas was no question of party, and that the national honour was
at stake. England to a man showed that it was prepared to back France
against the German demands. The Franco-British Entente Cordiale, which
had been asleep for a fortnight, became more wideawake than ever. Mr.
Asquith described the situation as “extremely difficult.”

The situation of the German Government in view of this awakening of
public opinion seemed to have two issues only. Either an ultimatum in
reply to the French Government’s refusal to submit, or the acceptance
in principle of a rectification of the Congo-Cameroon frontier and the
granting to France of sufficient authority to cope with the threat of
anarchy in Morocco. An ultimatum would have meant war, and Germany
would have appeared to be the aggressor. The abandonment of her claims
was an awkward step to take.

It seems, however, likely that Germany would have taken it, if she had
not believed that secret negotiations with prominent men in France
were possible. The conduct of these secret negotiations without the
knowledge of Monsieur de Selves is the reason which induced Monsieur
Clemenceau to say later that Monsieur Caillaux ought to be impeached
by the high court for high treason. It is very difficult to state with
absolute precision exactly what these negotiations were. According to
Monsieur Caillaux the first mention of the Belgian Congo was made by
Monsieur von Lancken, but there seems to be every reason to believe
that Monsieur Caillaux lost his head a little and introduced the
question himself. If this be so Monsieur Caillaux committed a grave
fault in tactics, and it appears certain that the German Government
considered Monsieur Caillaux an easier person to deal with in these
matters than his Foreign Minister. Monsieur Caillaux’s opinions on the
value to France of British help were certainly very well known—too
well known in fact—in the German Embassy in Paris. Monsieur Caillaux
was believed by the German Foreign Office to put no faith in eventual
help in France’s need from the British army. This anxiety on the part
Monsieur Caillaux, and the knowledge of this anxiety in German official
quarters, enabled the Wilhelmstrasse to exercise indirect pressure.

It is not known exactly, and I do not suppose ever will be known
exactly, what negotiations were carried on with Herr von Gwinner of the
Deutsche Bank and with or through Sir Ernest Cassel. But on July 28,
the German Government was convinced that Monsieur Caillaux was ready
to treat. On that date, when Monsieur Jules Cambon asked the German
Foreign Minister whether Germany were not ready to find some means of
transaction other than the mutilation of the French Congo, Herr von
Kiderlen Waechter replied: “No, the question is no longer what it was.”
This reply is noted in the French Yellow Book.

Monsieur Caillaux’s personal interference in the negotiations
undoubtedly allowed the German Foreign Office time to breathe, and the
Cabinet of Berlin took care to fix her claims on the Congo in such a
way as not to justify British alarm, and to offer with one hand what it
withdrew with the other, in Morocco. These negotiations lasted fully
three months, during which time it is not too much to say that France
and Germany, or better still France, Germany and Europe generally, were
on the very verge of war more than once.

Rumour has been busy with sidelights on the negotiations which took
place, and not the least interesting of these sidelights is afforded
by the telegram which is said to have passed between Berlin and Paris,
between the Wilhelmstrasse and the German Embassy: “Do not waste
time in discussion with De Selves or Cambon. We can get more out of
Caillaux.” I do not know whether these are the exact words of the
famous telegram, but they are certainly the gist of its meaning. It
may be taken as certain that the telegram was sent and received,
that Monsieur de Selves obtained possession of it, and that Monsieur
Calmette would have published it in the _Figaro_ in the course of
his campaign against Monsieur Caillaux if he had not been induced to
refrain from so doing on patriotic grounds. Several people have seen
and read this telegram. After the death of Gaston Calmette it was found
in his pocket book with a bullet-hole through it, and handed over, by
the brothers of the dead man, to Monsieur Raymond Poincaré in person,
for safe keeping. It is the telegram which is currently known as “the
green document” because of the paper on which it was transcribed. The
French Foreign Office was in possession at this time of the cipher
which was used for telegraphic communications between Paris and Berlin
by the Wilhelmstrasse and the German Embassy in Paris. Monsieur de
Selves knew therefore that “the green document” had been sent, knew its
contents, and had a very stormy interview with Monsieur Caillaux, his
Prime Minister, in consequence.

The interview was a dramatic one. Monsieur de Selves when he learned of
“the green document” consulted Monsieur Clemenceau and Monsieur Briand.
He spoke of it, I believe, in other quarters also, and eventually
he asked President Fallières to confront him with Monsieur Caillaux
so that the discussion on Monsieur Caillaux’s interference with the
negotiations between the French and German Foreign Offices should
take place in the presence of the President of the Republic. Monsieur
Caillaux, in a fury of indignation, declared to Monsieur Fallières
that there was no truth in the insinuation contained in the message,
and went straight to the German Embassy to ask what they meant there
by the assertion made in “the green document.” The obvious answer to
this ill-considered step was an immediate change in the Wilhelmstrasse
cipher. Monsieur Caillaux, by his fit of anger and his imprudence, had
lost to his Government a valuable source of information.

There is no need here to give the details of the agreement with Germany
which was concluded not very long after the events just mentioned.
There can be little doubt, I think, that France might have made a much
better bargain if Monsieur Caillaux had been a little cooler and shown
less unwisdom. On November 6 Monsieur Caillaux in a speech to his
constituents at Saint Calais defended his policy. A week after this
speech the German treaty was discussed for a full week in the Chamber,
and accepted on November 21. During this week’s debate Monsieur
Caillaux was attacked with some vivacity, and Monsieur de Selves’
attitude gave cause for much excitement. On January 9, 1912, the Senate
sitting in committee discussed the Franco-German treaty. In the course
of this discussion Monsieur Caillaux, the Prime Minister, explained the
conditions under which the negotiations for Franco-German collaboration
in the N’Goko Sanga Company and the Congo Cameroon Railway had fallen
through, and made this declaration: “An attempt has been made in the
Press and elsewhere to establish the story that negotiations with
Germany were carried on outside the negotiations of the Ministry for
Foreign Affairs. _I give my word of honour that there were never any
such negotiations beyond those carried on through diplomatic channels._”

This declaration was listened to in deep silence, which Monsieur
Clemenceau broke. “Will the Minister for Foreign Affairs,” said
Monsieur Clemenceau, “state whether documents are in existence showing
that our Ambassador in Berlin complained of the intrusion of certain
people into the diplomatic negotiations between France and Germany?”

The members of the senatorial commission all turned to Monsieur de
Selves, but Monsieur de Selves remained silent. Monsieur Caillaux,
who had sat down, jumped up again, but Monsieur Clemenceau prevented
him from speaking. “I am not addressing myself to you, Monsieur le
President du Conseil,” he said. “I put this question to the Minister
for Foreign Affairs.”

Monsieur de Selves, who showed considerable emotion and some
hesitation, rose from his seat and said, “Gentlemen, I am divided
between the wish to speak the truth and the responsibilities of my
situation as Minister for Foreign Affairs. I ask the permission of
the commission to remain silent and to give no answer to the question
Monsieur Clemenceau has just asked.” “Your reply,” said Monsieur
Clemenceau, “may be perfectly satisfactory to my colleagues, but it
cannot be satisfactory to me. I maintain that your reply cannot and
does not give satisfaction to the man to whom you have already given
your confidence. I am that man, and I will add that you gave me your
confidence unsolicited.”

There was a moment of extreme tension, of extreme uneasiness, almost
of stupor. Monsieur Clemenceau had spoken with great emphasis. His
meaning was self-evident. The situation was a painfully dramatic one,
for the statement of Monsieur Caillaux, the Prime Minister, that there
had been no negotiations carried on without the knowledge of the
Minister for Foreign Affairs appeared to be in flagrant contradiction
with Monsieur de Selves’ reticence, and the statement was given the lie
direct by Monsieur Clemenceau. The emotion was such that the session
of the senatorial commission broke up there and then, and the senators
dispersed after adjourning to another day.

That afternoon there was a confidential interview between Messrs.
Caillaux, Clemenceau and De Selves, and the same evening the Minister
for Foreign Affairs, Monsieur de Selves, handed in his resignation to
the President of the Republic in the following letter, dated Paris
January 9. “Monsieur le Président,” he wrote, “After the painful
incident which occurred to-day at the session of the senatorial
commission, I have the honour to ask you to accept my resignation
as Minister for Foreign Affairs. It would be impossible for me to
undertake any longer the responsibility of a foreign policy for which
unity of views and unity of action are withheld from me in the Cabinet.
My anxiety to obtain a satisfactory result in official negotiations
of difficulty and to obtain the approval of Parliament on my efforts
has been responsible for my remaining in office so long. But the
double anxiety I have endured neither to withhold the truth, nor to
fail in my duty to my colleagues, makes it impossible for me to remain
in the Cabinet. I shall always remember the forbearance and kindness
with which you have honoured me in delicate circumstances which it
is impossible for me to forget. I beg you to receive, Monsieur le
Président, the assurance of my profound respect.”

We know now that Monsieur Clemenceau alluded to the “document vert”
when he made the accusation against Monsieur Caillaux to which I
have already referred. The President of the Republic accepted the
resignation of Monsieur de Selves on the evening of January 9, and on
January 10, 1912, the Caillaux Cabinet was forced to resign office.



IX

L’AFFAIRE ROCHETTE


In the first chapter of this book is reproduced _in extenso_ the
statement of Monsieur Victor Fabre, Procureur Général, a legal official
of judge’s rank, whose position somewhat resembles that of the Public
Prosecutor in England. Monsieur Fabre, the gravity of whose statement
caused the downfall of the Monis-Caillaux Cabinet, declared that
pressure had been brought to bear on him to postpone or adjourn the
trial of a financier named Rochette, who, since the postponement of his
trial has escaped abroad, and is abroad still.

The bearing of this statement on the Caillaux drama will be seen in
a moment by the perusal of the examination on March 20, 1914, of
Monsieur Monis and of Monsieur Caillaux by the parliamentary commission
appointed after the storm caused by Monsieur Barthou’s reading of
Monsieur Fabre’s statement to inquire again into the facts of the
postponement of Rochette’s trial. I quote the details from the official
records transcribed from the shorthand notes of the parliamentary
inquiry which are in my possession. The inquiry was voted by the
Chamber of Deputies on March 17. I may add here that Monsieur Fabre,
whose written statement made it necessary, was punished for making
that statement, or, rather, for allowing himself to be coerced by the
Prime Minister and Monsieur Caillaux, and now occupies a position
of lower rank with a smaller salary, at Aix instead of Paris. His
successor as Procureur Général, Monsieur Herbaux, will probably act as
public prosecutor when Madame Caillaux is tried. On March 20, 1914,
at half-past nine in the morning, Monsieur Monis, who was by then no
longer Prime Minister, was introduced before the Commission of Inquiry,
consisting of Monsieur Jaurès, who presided, and thirty-two other
deputies. “Early in the month of March 1911,” said Monsieur Monis,
“when my Cabinet was barely a fortnight old, I received the visit of
the Minister of Finance, Monsieur Caillaux. Monsieur Caillaux told me
that he was anxious to oblige the lawyer, Maître Maurice Bernard,
who had represented him in his divorce proceedings against his first
wife (Madame Gueydan Dupré), and that Maître Bernard had asked for a
postponement of the Rochette affair.”

“Monsieur Caillaux,” Monsieur Monis said, “pointed out that apart
from his own wish to oblige Maître Bernard it might be dangerous, for
political reasons, to refuse his request for the postponement of the
Rochette trial.” “Maître Bernard,” he said, “is a very vehement man, and
a lawyer of great gifts. If the trial takes place now he is certain to
point out the number of issues of bonds and shares which have been made
in recent years on the Bourse, and authorized by the Government, which
have dwindled in value, which have caused heavy loss to investors,
which issues of stock have never, for all that, resulted in the taking
of legal proceedings. An outcry is sure to be raised round a speech of
this kind in the Law Courts, and the outcry is sure to have political
results. One of the first of these will surely be a number of questions
in the Chamber of Deputies. The Government has troubles enough of its
own just now without adding to them in this way. It will be much wiser
to grant Maître Bernard’s request and postpone the trial.”

It was as a result of this conversation between Monsieur Monis, the
Prime Minister, and his colleague the Minister of Finance, Monsieur
Caillaux, that the trial of Rochette was postponed. Even without going
into any details now, though I am afraid that it will be necessary
to go into a good many details presently, the verbatim report of
this interview throws a curious light on the close connexion in
France between the Government of the country and the country’s legal
procedure. Monsieur Caillaux’s reference to Rochette’s power, or rather
the power of Rochette’s lawyer, of causing the Government serious
inconvenience by an exposure of the number of losses to which French
investors have been subjected recently, points very clearly to a none
too heavily veiled attempt on the part of Rochette to blackmail the
Minister of Finance, and not only points to such an attempt, but looks
very much as though it had succeeded, for the blackmailer’s object in
this case was not money but time, and he was given time to escape doing
it. But perhaps the best way to realize what this man Rochette was and
is, and how he obtained the power of forcing the French Government to
take so strange a step as to order a judge and the Public Prosecutor to
postpone his trial and so secure his impunity and his escape from all
further worry, is to look into the history of Monsieur Rochette himself
from the beginning.

Rochette was the son of country farmers, or field labourers—people
at all events in poor circumstances. His early years are wrapped in
mystery, for although it is currently believed that he was an errand
boy and afterwards a waiter in a small café in a little town near
Fontainebleau, Rochette himself has always denied this. What is certain
about him is that in 1903 or 1904, nine or ten years ago, Rochette,
who had just finished his military service and who was therefore
twenty-three or twenty-four years old at the most, came to Paris and
became a bank clerk. He had a little money even then, which he himself
says he inherited and which was £2000 or £2500 at the most. He used
this money to launch several financial enterprises, and succeeded in
obtaining an incredible amount of credit for them with incredible
rapidity.

This young man, whether he be a swindler or not, and even now that is
an open question, is undoubtedly a financial genius with a wonderful
charm of manner. He made use of these two assets to start several
companies, the first of which were the Banque Franco-Espagnole, the
Crédit Minier, the Société des Mines de la Nerva, the Laviana, the Val
d’Aran, the Paral Mexico, the Union Franco-Belge, the Syndicat Minier,
the Mines de Liat, the Buisson Hella and the Manchon Hella.

The flotation of nearly all these companies of different kinds, for
the exploitation of banks, mines, electric lamps and incandescent gas
mantles, was an immediate success, and hundreds of thousands of pounds
flowed into the coffers of this young financier. The Crédit Minier
in Paris, which was his headquarters, employed an enormous staff of
clerks, had gorgeous offices, and very shortly after its foundation
bore the appearance of a prosperous bank doing an enormous business. As
a matter of fact the Crédit Minier and Rochette really did an enormous
business, for not only from Paris, but from the provinces, where he had
branches everywhere, Rochette reaped a harvest of gold which flowed in
like Pactolus from the pockets of small investors who believed in him.
At the very beginning their belief was well justified, for everything
Rochette touched turned to gold.

Very soon after his establishment in Paris Rochette was said to be
worth somewhere between three and four million pounds sterling. Of
course most of this money was employed in his financial enterprises,
but these were successful beyond the dreams of avarice, and the prices
of shares in the Rochette flotations rose and rose continuously. To
mention one only among the number, shares of the Hella Gas Mantle
Company which had been issued at £4 a share ran up in the course of a
very few months to nearly £21 (518 frcs. was the exact figure) a share.
Some idea may be formed of the confidence inspired by Rochette from the
fact that when, in 1908, five years after his first appearance on the
Paris market, the financier was arrested, ten thousand shareholders of
his companies signed a petition for his immediate release, and sent it
to the Chamber of Deputies.

At the time of his arrest there were many more people than these ten
thousand shareholders who pinned their faith to Rochette and his
enterprises, and who maintain even now that his downfall was due to a
conspiracy against him by financiers who were interested in the fall
of his shares. To a certain extent this contention was true, as we
shall see later on by some of the evidence given on oath before the
Commission of Inquiry. A number of charges were formally made against
Rochette by a number of people who had lost money and considered him
responsible for the loss. These charges became so many that the Public
Prosecutor, after consulting the Minister of Justice sent for Monsieur
Rochette one day, and asked him, in view of the fact that a number of
the actions brought against him had been amicably arranged between the
parties while others of a graver nature charging him with fraud had
resulted in acquittal, whether he would consent to a friendly though
judicial examination of his books. This examination took place, took
place it may be remarked at the expense of Rochette himself, who was
perfectly willing to pay for it, and the accountants’ verdict was by no
means altogether unfavourable to the young financier. Rochette, having
triumphed, continued his issues of companies, and general opinion
began to rank him with the Rothschilds and the other overlords of high
finance.

[Illustration: _Agence Nouvelle—Photo, Paris_ ROCHETTE IN COURT

(Rochette is the central figure with the black beard)]

France rejoices, however, in the possession of a succession of more
or less avowedly Socialist Governments which govern or try to govern
the country on fatherly lines, and the French Government on the one
hand, and the judicial authorities on the other, began to look with
suspicion and alarm on Rochette’s increasing prosperity. The Bourse,
too, began to become suspicious of Rochette’s success, and an opinion
began to gain ground that sooner or later his rocket-like flight into
the regions of high finance would be followed by one of those crashing
stick-like falls, by one of those disastrous _krachs_ of which so many
have been chronicled during the last century in all great capitals. It
was towards the end of February or the beginning of March 1908, that
Rochette made his big mistake. He attacked the _Petit Journal_, one
of the biggest and most influential newspapers in France. Rochette
made this attack on the _Petit Journal_ and on its managing director
Monsieur Prevet, a member of the Senate, because he had a very definite
object in view. Rochette’s companies appealed to the imagination and to
the pockets of the small investor, and the small investor in France is
not a regular reader of financial newspapers, which he neither trusts
nor understands.

These small financial newspapers are legion, but although Rochette
undoubtedly had numbers of them at his disposal he realized that a
paper more generally read and appealing more directly to the people he
wanted to touch was necessary to his ambitions, and to the greater and
wider success for which he was working. He made up his mind, therefore,
to obtain control of the _Petit Journal_, a newspaper which is sold
all over France in every town, in every village, and in every hamlet,
and which, though it no longer enjoys the largest circulation of any
newspaper in France, was one of the two newspapers most suitable for
his purpose and the only one of the two which he had any chance at all
of getting. In order to obtain control of the _Petit Journal_, Rochette
set to work with tactics which were characteristic of the astuteness
and the utter lack of scruple of the man. He issued circulars which he
had printed in enormous quantities, forwarded them to every shareholder
of the _Petit Journal_, and scattered them broadcast, elsewhere. In
this circular, which was issued in view of the next general meeting of
the shareholders of the paper, a meeting which was to be held on April
5, 1908, Rochette painted the financial position of the _Petit Journal_
in the blackest possible colours, stating without the slightest
reference to truth, that the paper as a property was in a very bad way,
and advising shareholders to sell their shares.

The managing director of the _Petit Journal_, the powerful member
of the Senate, Monsieur Prevet, was naturally very much annoyed and
somewhat alarmed by these manœuvres, and took legal action to put a
stop to them. He commenced a prosecution against a “person or persons
unknown,” by which euphemism of course Rochette was indicated, for
the purpose of putting a stop to the disloyal manœuvres by which
Monsieur Rochette was rapidly obtaining a large number of shares and
powers of attorney from discontented shareholders.

Monsieur Prevet realized that unless some such immediate action were
taken it was more than possible that at the general meeting of the
_Petit Journal_ Company on April 5, 1908, the discontented shareholders
either in person or by proxy would oust him, Monsieur Prevet, from his
position as managing director of the _Petit Journal_, and would hand
over the control of this newspaper with its enormous influence and
immense phalanx of readers to the financier Rochette. Monsieur Prevet
occupied a very high position. He was not only the managing director of
the _Petit Journal_, he was not only a member of the Senate, but he was
actually, at that time, the “rapporteur” or advisory summariser for the
Senate on the big question of the purchase by the State of the Western
Railway.

It is a curious sidelight on the Rochette affair that this financier
who had begun his career five years before with a capital of £2000 was
the principal mover in the immense agitation against the acquisition
by the State of the Western Railway of France. That he moved in this
matter on purely personal grounds is of far less importance than the
fact that if he had succeeded in overthrowing Senator Prevet the French
nation would undoubtedly have been spared a very heavy money loss,
for the acquisition by the State of the Western Railway has been a
disastrous undertaking from a money point of view, and has cost and
will continue to cost French taxpayers a large sum of money every year
till the railway begins, if it ever does begin, to pay. Rochette’s
attacks on Monsieur Prevet, and his obvious intentions on the _Petit
Journal_ created a storm of antagonism against him in the French Press.

In spite of the persistent and unfailing confidence of his shareholders
public opinion began to make itself felt, and as always happens in
France when public opinion is roused, a great deal of mud began to
be flung and accusations of corruption became very frequent and were
directed against the highest in the land. The Government was hotly
accused of laxity, and Monsieur Georges Clemenceau, who was Prime
Minister in 1908, was accused of moral complicity with the financier
Rochette. It is a curious proof of the poetical justice, which comes
to its own even in financial questions, that these accusations against
Monsieur Clemenceau did more to cause the eventual downfall of Rochette
than anything which had happened before. They made “the tiger” angry,
and when Monsieur Clemenceau grew angry with Rochette, the day of
Rochette’s wane had dawned. Accusations were launched against the high
magistrates, who were accused of weakness and of being afraid to take
action. Members of Parliament were directly accused in the public
Press of protecting Rochette and his enterprises, and of taking money
for so doing. No day passed without the launching of an accusation
against some member of the Chamber or the Senate of having accepted
heavy bribes to cover Monsieur Rochette, or to back him up, and the
names of numbers of well-known men who are now more or less indirectly
connected with the Caillaux drama were constantly mentioned at the time
in connexion with Rochette, the financier.

The connexion between the two cases, the case of Rochette and the
Caillaux drama which followed the attack in the _Figaro_ on Monsieur
Caillaux’s conduct in connexion with it, is curiously close. There have
been two Parliamentary inquiries into the Rochette affair. In the
first one in 1911, among the members of the Parliamentary Commission
we find the names of Monsieur Caillaux himself (he very nearly, in
fact, was the president) and of Monsieur Ceccaldi, who was approached
by Monsieur Caillaux on the afternoon of the crime, and to whom the
Minister of Finance confided his uneasiness with regard to his wife. In
the list of the second Commission Monsieur Ceccaldi’s name and others
closely connected with the Caillaux drama appear once more. But there
was no question, yet, in 1908, of a Rochette inquiry, for the _affaire
Rochette_ was only just beginning. Monsieur Clemenceau fired the first
shot, as Monsieur Clemenceau was bound to do. There had been talk on
the Bourse, there had been talk in the newspapers, Monsieur Clemenceau
had been accused of slackness, and he had made up his mind that he
would not justify the accusation.

On Friday (it is quite a curious coincidence that so many important
dates of the Caillaux, Agadir, and Rochette affairs should have fallen
on a Friday)—on Friday, March 20, 1908, at exactly twenty minutes to
twelve in the forenoon, Monsieur Clemenceau, the Prime Minister, sent
for Monsieur Lépine, who was then Prefect of Police, and ordered him
to take measures for a judicial inquiry into Rochette’s financial
transactions. Monsieur Lépine spent exactly a quarter of an hour
with Monsieur Clemenceau in his room at the Home Office in the Place
Beauvau, and at five minutes to twelve he returned to the Police
Prefecture, sent for Monsieur Mouquin, the head of the Research
Department of the Paris police, and for Monsieur Yves Durand, his chef
de Cabinet, and told them what Monsieur Clemenceau had said to him.

Now the French have a way of their own of conducting these matters.
The State does not prosecute for fraud. Monsieur Lépine’s orders were
to find a plaintiff who would bring a charge against Rochette, who
would show proof that Rochette had damaged his pocket, and who would be
willing to pay the caution which the French courts require from such a
plaintiff before legal action begins. Monsieur Yves Durand was ordered
by Monsieur Lépine to go out and find such a plaintiff. Monsieur
Lépine, in his examination by the Parliamentary Commission on July 26,
1911, was very explicit with regard to his own opinion and the opinions
he had heard expressed on Rochette’s financial undertakings. He alluded
to them as “a house of cards built on puffs of hot air, kept afloat by
public credulity and bound to fall to pieces at the first breath of
suspicion.”

Monsieur Lépine had urged the judicial authorities to take action in
the Rochette case long before action was taken, and he alluded with
some bitterness to the difficulty in getting a serious charge brought
against any financier suspected of fraud who was rich enough to make it
worth the while of his creditors to withdraw such charges. There had
been several charges made against Rochette, and they had all fallen
through because the plaintiffs got their money or got money enough to
induce them to withdraw.

When, therefore, Monsieur Lépine told Monsieur Yves Durand, his chef de
Cabinet, that he must go out and find him a plaintiff, he added that he
himself knew of nobody who was likely to assume the rôle. The French
law gives no greater claim on the assets in such a case to the man who
goes to the expense of prosecuting than it affords to all the other
creditors, and as he has to put up funds for the prosecution, it is
often, as Monsieur Lépine explained, more than difficult to find a
victim ready to fleece himself after he has been fleeced. But Monsieur
Yves Durand happened to have heard that Monsieur Prevet was a likely
man to undertake the prosecution, and he called on him immediately.
He went first to his private house, failed to find him there, and
found him eventually at his office in the _Petit Journal_ building in
the Rue Lafayette. Monsieur Prevet told Monsieur Yves Durand that a
banker named Gaudrion was perfectly ready to prosecute Rochette, and
that he had mentioned his willingness to him. Monsieur Yves Durand and
Monsieur Prevet drove together immediately to the Rue de la Chaussée
d’Antin, where Monsieur Gaudrion had his office. They found Monsieur
Gaudrion there and he told them that although he was not ready to
prosecute Rochette himself, a friend of his, Monsieur Pichereau,
whom he described as a man of property living at Corbeil, was ready
to prosecute and would do so. Monsieur Pichereau, Monsieur Gaudrion
declared, had put £6000 into some of Rochette’s financial enterprises,
the Nerva Mines and Hella Gas Mantle Co. among others, had lost a good
deal of his money, and was ready to do everything possible to get some
of it back again.

At a quarter past two that afternoon, the afternoon of Friday, March
20, 1908, Monsieur Yves Durand returned to the Police Prefecture
and told Monsieur Lépine what he had done. Monsieur Lépine sent
Monsieur Yves Durand to the Procureur de la République, Monsieur
Monier (Monsieur Monier has been promoted since and is the high legal
authority whom Madame Caillaux consulted on the morning of the day
she shot Monsieur Calmette, as to the means of putting a stop to his
campaign against her husband), whom he was to advise of the existence
of a plaintiff ready to prosecute Rochette.

Monsieur Lépine, in his evidence before the Parliamentary Commission of
Inquiry, explained that he had hoped to get the whole matter settled
that same day, or at all events between the closing of one Bourse and
the opening of the next, so as to avoid news of the prosecution being
allowed to leak out and to be used as a basis for speculation. However,
Monsieur Monier told Monsieur Yves Durand that he would see Monsieur
Pichereau on the next day, Saturday, at two o’clock, and he informed
the Procureur Général and the Minister of Justice that a charge in due
form was to be laid against Rochette on the morrow. At ten o’clock the
next morning, Saturday, March 21, Monsieur Yves Durand went to Monsieur
Gaudrion at his office and told him that the Procureur de la République
would receive Monsieur Pichereau’s charge at two o’clock that afternoon
at the Palace of Justice. Monsieur Pichereau was in Monsieur Gaudrion’s
office, and had drawn up and signed his accusation against Rochette.
Monsieur Gaudrion read it through to Monsieur Yves Durand, who was not
in the least aware that Monsieur Pichereau was not the proprietor of
Nerva shares and Hella Gas Mantle shares as he stated himself to be in
his accusation, but that Monsieur Gaudrion was really the shareholder,
and that Pichereau was only a man of straw. Gaudrion was a speculator.
He had sold shares “short” in the Rochette enterprises, and seeing his
way to a Bourse _coup_ he had coached Pichereau in the part he was to
play, given him a few shares of his own with which to play it, and paid
him a thousand pounds so that he should be able to make the necessary
guarantee on bringing his action and have something over for himself.

Monsieur Yves Durand, who got himself into terribly hot water over
these preliminaries when the whole matter came to light, and who was
openly accused of speculating himself on the fall of Rochette shares,
declared that he was quite unaware of this dishonest combination, and
that he had been misled by Monsieur Prevet, who had told him that he
knew all about Gaudrion and about Pichereau as well. At a quarter-past
two that afternoon Pichereau laid his formal charge against Rochette
at the Palace of Justice, deposited £80 by way of guarantee for costs,
and signed a request to be a civil party to the action. The matter was
placed in the hands of the examining magistrate, Monsieur Berr, for
his immediate attention, and poor Monsieur Berr sat up all Saturday
night and all Sunday night, and worked through all day on Sunday at the
Rochette _dossier_. At ten o’clock on Monday morning, March 23, 1908,
Rochette was arrested.

Of course the arrest of Rochette created an immense sensation, and
equally of course it occasioned the downfall of the shares of the
companies in which he was interested. But while these shares tumbled
headlong, an immense wave of public indignation swelled against the
financier’s arrest, for so far from finding empty coffers at the
offices of the Crédit Minier, the authorities admitted that there were,
in cash, £240,000 at this office, and £160,000 more at the Banque
Franco-Espagnole, a sister enterprise of Rochette’s. Rochette had
been arrested and sent to the Santé prison on Monday, March 23, 1908.
On Wednesday he wrote a letter to the examining magistrate, Monsieur
Berr, in which he protested with some appearance of justice against
his arrest and the situation created by it for the shareholders of his
companies. “It is my duty,” wrote Monsieur Rochette, “to declare that
on the day of my arrest I left the industrial and financial companies
under my control in an excellent situation. There were about £240,000
in cash in the safe of the Crédit Minier, and £160,000 in the safe of
the Banque Franco-Espagnole. This makes a total of £400,000. If I were
a malefactor, as attempts are being made to prove me, it would have
been easy for me to get out of my difficulties. I was advised from
all sides of the intrigues which were in course against me under the
leadership of a few men who considered that the growing prosperity of
my companies threatened the enterprises of which they were at the head.
It was these men who put up the plaintiff Pichereau. It was these men
who managed to get you to take action, and who are really responsible
for the exceptional measures which have been taken against me and the
establishments which I control. You have put me in prison, sir, and you
have refused to allow me to communicate with anybody except yourself
outside the prison. You have given orders for the dismissal of all the
clerks of the Crédit Minier and the Banque Franco-Espagnole. You have
closed these establishments. You have given orders for the closing of
all the provincial branches. You have struck a terrible blow at these
companies, without having heard what I have to say, without having
questioned me, without any preliminary examination by accountants of
the financial condition of my banks, without the slightest concern
for the shareholders or the other people interested. Do you know of
any bank, of any financial institution however powerful that would
be capable of withstanding such a blow? And for whom, why, on whose
account, have you done all this? For Pichereau! On account of one
single plaintiff at whose request a judicial examination was ordered,
and of whom after four days imprisonment I know nothing at all, for I
know neither the man himself nor the charge he has made against me.”

The examining magistrate, on receipt of this letter, confronted
Monsieur Rochette with Monsieur Pichereau, and told the financier the
exact terms of Monsieur Pichereau’s claim. Monsieur Pichereau claimed
to have bought Nerva Copper Mines of the B series, which proved to
be unnegotiable, and he put in nine documents to prove it. Rochette
declared that the nine documents proved nothing, that before his arrest
an attempt had been made to blackmail him, that these same documents
had been offered him on that occasion for £3200, and that he had
refused the offer. In proof of this, he stated that copies of Monsieur
Pichereau’s nine documents would be found among his (Rochette’s) papers
in the private desk in his office.

In connexion with these statements, it was proved that a number of
attempts _had_ been made to blackmail Rochette, and that he had always
refused any advances of the kind. It is needless to say that the arrest
of this man and the closing of the banks and shutting down of mines and
other enterprises in which he was interested had a disastrous effect
on the market. All the money, and there was a great deal of money in
Rochette’s safes, had been sequestrated by the legal authorities, and
therefore of course no payments could be made. To put one case only,
eighteen hundred men and women in the employ of the Syndicat Minier
were clamouring for wages which could not be given them.

Eventually the court decided that liquidators should be appointed who
should pay out money from a reserve fund of £110,000 which the Crédit
Minier placed in the liquidator’s hands for this purpose. In July 1908,
Rochette was declared a bankrupt. He resisted vigorously, and even
now many people are inclined to doubt whether the declaration of
his bankruptcy was legally justifiable. But the whole matter of
Rochette’s financial position soon became involved in such a tangle of
legal procedure that it is quite impossible to say whether Rochette
could have got out of his difficulties if he had been left alone,
or whether he could not. It is noteworthy at all events that a very
large percentage was paid to his creditors. On the other hand, the
Rochette enterprises were wildly speculative, and new flotations were
frequently used to fill up financial gaps in former enterprises which
were unsuccessful. One thing is very certain, and was proved during the
parliamentary inquiry into the beginnings of the Rochette affair. A
large number of people, Monsieur Gaudrion among them, had been keenly
interested in the downfall of Rochette and had sold quantities of the
shares in his companies for a fall some time before it came. Most of
them had lost money. Gaudrion, on March 16, that is to say a week
before Rochette’s arrest, had been severely bitten by a sudden upward
jump, or “‘bear’ squeeze,” as it is called, on the Bourse, and was
forced by the rapid rise of Rochette’s shares to buy back with a loss
of nearly £5000.

Rochette was tried, and the case went against him, but again there
were illegalities in the trial. Information was communicated to the
court which was not, as the French law insists that it should be,
communicated first of all to the defendant or his lawyer. In the
course of the trial the liquidator, who had been officially appointed,
announced that he had distributed 50 per cent. to the creditors of
Rochette, and that he would be able to pay the 50 per cent. balance
integrally. Rochette lodged an appeal against the verdict, and at
the same time took legal action against Pichereau for making a false
declaration. His appeal was heard, dismissed, and judgment rendered,
by the Tenth Correctional Chamber of the Seine Tribunal on July 27,
1910—two years after his original arrest. The case was a long one,
very complicated, and proceedings had been obstructed legally, whenever
and wherever Rochette and his lawyers could obstruct them. The case,
however, provoked considerable scandal. Charges of illegality were made
by Rochette and his lawyer, Maître Maurice Bernard, in court and before
the case came to court, the Press took hold of the matter, and on July
10 Monsieur Yves Durand resigned and left the employ of the Prefecture
of Police. It was proved that this chef de Cabinet of Monsieur Lépine
was a sleeping partner in a stock-broking firm which had made a lot
of money by dealing in the shares of Rochette companies at the time
of his arrest, and though Monsieur Durand was not actually proved to
have profited by these transactions, grave suspicion rested on him
and made his official position untenable. On July 11, 1910, Monsieur
Jaurès brought the question of Rochette’s arrest before the Chamber,
and accused Monsieur Clemenceau in clear terms of having proceeded
illegally against the man, irrespective of his guilt or innocence.

It is worth noticing that the Rochette question had now become, as
almost everything becomes in France, a political matter, and that the
Socialists, with Monsieur Jaurès at their head, affected to consider
Rochette a victim of arbitrary treatment by vested authority. A
Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry was appointed on July 12 to examine
the question. Monsieur Caillaux was a member of this Commission,
and if he had not just at that time taken Ministerial rank he would
very probably have been its president. The first meeting of the
Parliamentary Commission was held on July 15. The first witness called
was Monsieur Yves Durand, who had been Monsieur Lépine’s chef de
Cabinet. His evidence has already been summarized in the last chapter,
and need not therefore be repeated. Monsieur Monier, who was at that
time Procureur de la République (a position which is more or less
equivalent to that of Deputy Public Prosecutor), produced an immense
budget of documents, all of which accused Rochette of fraud. These
accusations stated that the Nerva Mines Company, the Syndicat Minier,
the Banque Franco-Espagnole, the Crédit Minier, Franco-Belgian Union,
the Laviana Coal Company, the Liat and Val d’Aran Mines, the Hella
Incandescent Mantle Company, and the Buisson Hella, nine companies
in all, which Rochette had launched by public subscription, had been
floated fraudulently and irregularly. The charge was that these
companies had no reasonable prospect whatever of earning money by
honourable means, and that there were no real commercial assets for
exploitation behind them.

On July 26 Monsieur Lépine was examined by the Commission. He began by
affirming that the arrest of Rochette had been perfectly justified, and
while admitting that Monsieur Yves Durand had perhaps not been prudent
enough in arranging the preliminaries and checking the information he
received, he acquitted him of all personal action of a dishonourable
nature. He defended the arrest of Rochette, and declared that its
consequence had been to put a brake on the wild speculation which
Rochette’s issues had created. “I consider,” said Monsieur Lépine,
“that the arrest of Rochette turned off the tap and prevented him from
making new issues of shares. This preventive measure was a public
benefit. Some people lost money undoubtedly, but they deserved to lose
it. The speculation mania had been enormous and widely spread. It had
been crazy. There were shares which were worth £4 one morning and which
were run up to £22 before the same evening. If matters had been allowed
to go on like this, financial catastrophe would surely have followed.”

In the deposition on November 16 made before the Commission d’Enquête
by Monsieur Georges Clemenceau, the ex-Premier, after declaring that
he himself had no personal knowledge of Rochette, described with
characteristic brevity the conversation which he had with Monsieur
Lépine just before Rochette’s arrest. “This has got to be finished
off promptly,” I told him. “Do you believe Rochette to be an innocent
man against whom calumniators are at work?” Monsieur Lépine replied:
“Rochette is a scoundrel. He is a serious danger to the small
investor, and if he is allowed to go on as he has begun we shall have
a catastrophe one of these days.” “I told Monsieur Lépine to go and
see the magistrates and make arrangements,” said Monsieur Clemenceau.
“If I had to begin it all over again I would do again exactly what I
did before, and I am quite certain that if I had allowed Rochette to
get clear away with his millions out of private people’s pockets then,
there would be a Commission of Inquiry at work now asking me to explain
my complicity with the man.”

Monsieur Lépine was called before the Commission of Inquiry again on
November 18, and once more affirmed his conviction that Rochette’s
arrest had been necessary. He gave a few significant details of
Rochette’s methods. Rochette had bought properties for £8000 and
floated them as a company for £32,000. He had bought the Aratra Mines
for £9000, and floated them with a capital of £200,000. Patents for
which Rochette had paid £1200, and which, Monsieur Lépine declared,
were really not worth four shillings, were valued in the prospectus of
the company, which asked for, and obtained, subscriptions, at £480,000.
There were fictitious dividends declared, fraudulent balance sheets
concocted, prices inflated to figures which had no real existence
except by Rochette’s will. Rochette paid enormous sums for advertising.
One newspaper alone cost him £14,000. His advertising adviser drew
a salary of nearly £2000 a year. On one deal he spent £52,000, for
advertisement alone, in twelve months, and he spent £24,000 on
advertisement in the ten weeks before he was arrested. In three years
he created fifteen companies, issued £4,800,000 worth of shares, and
bought over £3,000,000 worth of his own shares at prices above the
price of issue to inflate and to keep prices up. He had then about a
million and a half sterling in cash to play with.

On July 27, 1910, Rochette was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment
and a fine of £120, by the Tenth Correctional Tribunal of the Seine
Department. The verdict, with its “attendu,” or reasons, took two and
a half hours to read aloud, though it was read with the extraordinary
volubility of which only a French clerk of the court possesses the
secret. I have this verdict before me in its printed form. It is
printed in very small print by the official printing works of the
Chamber of Deputies, for the copy I possess was printed for the use
of the Commission of Inquiry. The verdict, which is, as I have said,
very closely printed, fills forty large quarto sheets of paper. Against
this verdict Monsieur Rochette appealed again, and in the meanwhile the
Commission of Inquiry spent many full days discussing the questions as
to whether Monsieur Clemenceau had really ordered Monsieur Lépine to
find a prosecutor against Rochette, whether Monsieur Lépine had really
said that Monsieur Clemenceau had given him these orders, whether
orders had been given or whether suggestions had been made—the usual
waste of time and the usual mass of irrelevant detail which appears
to be inseparable from the work of a parliamentary inquiry into any
question in any country.

Ultimately, after long, long days of verbiage which appear curiously
useless now, Rochette himself was asked to give evidence before the
Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry. He was delighted to attend, for he
had nothing to lose and he had everything to gain by his attendance. He
also had a great deal to say, and said it very well, for Rochette is a
born orator. Naturally enough, he took the opportunity of pleading his
own case from A to Z once more, and of denouncing the illegality of his
arrest in March 1908. He launched accusations against the police, he
launched accusations against members of Parliament, he was very rude
indeed to financiers of repute. Above all, he was always interesting,
and often amusing, and he certainly made his case appear clearer than
it had ever appeared before.

His evidence is well worthy of consideration in detail, for it must not
be forgotten that one of the men before whom he gave it was Monsieur
Joseph Caillaux, and that he gave this evidence on November 25, 1910.
A few months later, in March 1911, Monsieur Caillaux, who no doubt had
been impressed by Rochette’s powers of oratory, advised his colleague,
Monsieur Monis, of the dangers that might be incurred, politically
speaking, if pressure were not brought to bear on the legal authorities
for the postponement of Rochette’s trial, in accordance with the wishes
of this extraordinary expert in legal obstruction. It is fair to infer,
I think, that Rochette’s attitude before the Commission of Inquiry
had impressed Monsieur Caillaux considerably, but Monsieur Caillaux’s
political enemies ascribed his attitude to motives of another kind.
Rochette’s evidence, if evidence it can be called, occupies twenty-five
closely printed pages in quarto in the transcription printed for the
Commission of Inquiry of the shorthand notes which were taken. One of
the first points Rochette made was on the question of the money which
he spent on advertising his various enterprises. He admitted that
the figures quoted against him were very largely correct, that for
instance, he really had spent as much as £2500 a week for ten weeks on
advertising, “but,” he said, “it is only a question of proportion after
all. The Bon Marché, the Louvre, or the Printemps can spend thousands
on advertising where it would be criminally foolish of a small grocer
to spend hundreds. I am not a small grocer. During the period from
January 1 to March 23, 1908, in which my publicity bill was £24,000,1
did nearly half a million sterling of business.”

Rochette then made a vicious attack on Monsieur Prevet and the _Petit
Journal_, but vicious though his attack was, it was distinctly
plausible. “A shareholder of the _Petit Journal_ called on me,” he
said. “He brought some very interesting figures with him. These figures
showed that in 1901 the shareholders of the _Petit Journal_ got £2
dividend and the shares were worth £44 to £48. In 1902,” he said
“Monsieur Prevet became director and six years afterwards, at the
beginning of 1908, the shares were worth from £10 to £12 and the
dividend was only sixteen shillings! This drop in value was not due to
a general slump in the newspaper industry, for the _Petit Parisien_,
the _Journal_, and the _Matin_, all of them halfpenny morning papers,
had increased the value of their respective properties enormously.”
Rochette’s visitor maintained, Rochette declared to the Commission,
that if Monsieur Prevet’s management was disastrous to the _Petit
Journal_ shareholders, the fact was largely due to Monsieur Prevet’s
need of money, which was notorious. Rochette went, he said, into the
question of the _Petit Journal’s_ next dividend. He saw, he declared,
that it was problematical, and he therefore “inspired,” though he did
not write, the circular which had been sent to the _Petit Journal_’s
shareholders. “With regard to Monsieur Prevet’s action at this time,”
says Rochette, “if he really wanted to protect the interests of his
shareholders and not his own, all he had to do would have been to send
out a private circular of his own to the shareholders, a list of whose
names was in his possession, and convince them that my statements were
wrong. He couldn’t, of course, do this, because my statements were
right, and that is why he was afraid that I should take his position
on the paper from him at the next general meeting. That is also why I
was arrested just before that general meeting. The shares had to be
deposited at the office of the _Petit Journal_ for voting purposes
about March 19. Monsieur Prevet was able to convince himself that his
authority with the shareholders had dwindled, and he thought it safer
for himself to get rid of me.”

Several attempts were made, according to Rochette, during the month of
March 1908, to induce him to fall into cleverly laid traps which would
make his arrest easy. “These traps were laid cleverly, but not cleverly
enough,” Rochette declared, “and I was too astute to allow myself to be
caught in them. That was why,” he added, “I was arrested on Pichereau’s
disgracefully vamped-up charge.” Rochette was convinced, he told the
members of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry, that the anonymous
letters and anonymous telephone calls warning him that his arrest
was imminent with which he was bombarded between March 8 and 21 were
police tactics for the purpose of persuading him to take flight and
so to make matters easy for everybody. “I did not take flight,” said
Rochette proudly, “and when I was arrested there were £440,000 in my
safe. I could have taken this money out at any time. I did not take
it.” Rochette declared that the examining magistrate, Monsieur Berr,
had shown unfair prejudice against him from the moment of his arrest,
and that this was so apparent that his lawyer, Maître Maurice Bernard,
had made this accusation to the examining magistrate’s face: “I know
that my client’s arrest was arranged, ‘worked’ if you will, by three
men, Monsieur Lépine, Monsieur Prevet, and yourself!” And the examining
magistrate made no reply. “Ten thousand shareholders in my companies
signed a petition against my arrest and forwarded it to the Chamber of
Deputies,” was one of Rochette’s points. “In this petition they stated
that my arrest had been caused by Monsieur Prevet with the complicity
of Monsieur Gaudrion and Monsieur Pichereau. In February 1909,”
Rochette declared, “one of the experts who was examining my books
walked into Monsieur Berr’s room in the Palace of Justice. I was in
the little room next door, and I heard Monsieur Blanc, the expert in
question, who had not seen me, ask the examining magistrate whether
my case would come on for trial before the Correctional Court before
Easter or not. This was proof that the experts and everybody else knew
at this time that I was to be sent for trial, and that the pretence of
examining my books was only a pretence and nothing more. The examining
magistrate had made his mind up to send me for trial directly he had me
under arrest. The Crédit Minier,” Rochette declared, “ought never to
have been put into bankruptcy. None of my societies ought to have been
declared bankrupt, for every creditor was paid 100 per cent. The only
money that was lost was about £160,000, and that loss was due to the
disgraceful “bearing” of my shares by speculators. It is not fair to
say that I caused this loss of £160,000 to investors. The truth is that
people who were too well informed were allowed to make £160,000 at the
expense of the public. I have done nothing to be ashamed of. I have
committed no fault. Surely the success of the Crédit Minier is not a
fault. It had twenty-five customers when I started it, and five years
later there were fifty thousand of them. I wish to point out,” said
Rochette, “that my enterprises existed and did well before my arrest,
and continue to exist after it and in spite of it. I venture to state
positively that very few financiers who suffered as I have could make
the same statement. The net result of my arrest was the heavy drop of
the shares of my enterprises, a loss of £240,000 by the Crédit Minier,
and the ruin of shareholders whom the _krach_ caught unawares. Of
the £240,000 which the Crédit Minier lost, certain speculators made
£160,000, and £80,000 went to the expenses of the bankruptcy. The
liquidator alone was paid between £12,000 and £16,000.”

Rochette told the Commission of Inquiry that he had intended taking
charge of the _Petit Journal_, as he had taken control in the _krach_
of the Say sugar refinery. He was, at that time, endeavouring to get
hold of the concession of the Paris Omnibus Company and was backing up
the Darracq group with money so that Monsieur Darracq could obtain the
concession from the Municipal Council. Monsieur Rochette, questioned
very closely by the members of the Commission, was forced to admit
that one of his lawyers, Monsieur Rabier (one of the stalwarts of the
Caillaux party in Parliament), drew about £500 a year for legal advice,
and on other occasions received sums varying from £2800 to £3200. The
members of the Commission expressed doubt about these figures, and a
curious story was told by a former clerk of Rochette’s with regard to
his book-keeping methods.

From this story it appeared that efforts were usually made by Rochette
to conceal the real amounts which were paid for their services to
newspapers and to those lawyers in the employ of the financier who
happened to be members of Parliament or political personages. Curiously
enough most of Rochette’s lawyers happened to be political personages,
and one of the lawyers of the Crédit Minier was Monsieur René Renoult,
who is a member of the present Cabinet. In many ways the examination
of Rochette by the Parliamentary Commission was an eye-opener to the
public. Accusations of venality on the part of public men are so common
in France, owing to the licence allowed in the Press, that such words
as “corruption,” “theft,” “lying” and the like have almost lost their
force when applied to men in the van of politics. But the details of
the manner in which Rochette conducted his business impressed and
alarmed the public by their unpleasant likeness to the unsavoury
details of the Panama case.

One of the members of the Commission, Monsieur Jules Delahaye,
who throughout the inquiry acted very much like a counsel for the
prosecution of every political man who was mixed up in the Rochette
affair, pointed out this unsavoury resemblance. “I consider Monsieur
Rochette to be a great corrupter of public morals,” he said. “I am not
at all content with his explanations. They do not satisfy me. There are
matters of far greater gravity behind his methods than he would have us
suppose, and I would ask my colleagues to concentrate their attention
on the items of Rochette’s expenditure for publicity with the same
intensity as the attention of the Parliamentary Commission had at the
time to be concentrated, with the results which you remember, on the
publicity accounts of the Panama Canal. In this case, as in the case
of Panama, public morals have been corrupted. Millions (“of francs”
is meant, of course) have been employed, not only to buy publicity in
the newspapers, but, as the Prefect of Police has told us, to corrupt
the moral and financial rectitude of people of all ranks and all
stations in Paris, in the provinces, all over France. I will go so
far as to say that the taint actually extended to the Church. That is
a characteristic of the affair.” (Page 547 of the official shorthand
reports of the Parliamentary Commission.)

Rochette paid, in many ways, on the plea of publicity. He was in the
habit, when he wanted to pay and to preserve secrecy for the payment,
of sending a note down to the cashier of the Crédit Minier with his
initials “H.R.” and a little cross marked on it next to the amount.
These little crosses were used in the books, it is suggested, to
signify that the amounts entered against certain names were not the
real amounts paid, which were much larger. The payments were made
directly from hand to hand by Monsieur Rochette to his political
friends and helpers, and no receipts passed. I do not propose to go
very much into detail on this uncomfortable question. The evidence
of Monsieur Duret, who acted as Rochette’s private secretary, and
that of Monsieur Yenck, a clerk in the Crédit Minier, leaves a very
uncomfortable taste in the mouth. Monsieur Yenck declared that Monsieur
Duret’s sole business was to act as intermediary between political
men and Rochette. He used to speak in very familiar terms of many
well-known politicians, and was on the friendliest terms with Rochette
himself. He always called Rochette by his first name, “Henri,” and was
in the habit of alluding to Monsieur Rabier as “Rab.” It was Duret who,
according to Yenck, secured, by political influence, the decoration
of the Legion of Honour for Henri Rochette. Yenck declared that Duret
had on one occasion made erasures in the private books of the Crédit
Minier, so as to avoid scandal. He told the Commission that Duret, whom
he had seen with a scratcher in his hand, and one of the Crédit
Minier’s private books in front of him, had explained what he was
doing by the remark: “I am very much afraid that Henri is going to be
arrested, and I don’t want the name of ‘Rab’ to be found in the books.”
(Page 566 of the official shorthand reports of the Parliamentary
Commission.)

On February 1, 1912, the judgment against Rochette was annulled on
grounds of technical irregularity, by the Court of Correctional Appeal,
and the conclusions of the Parliamentary Inquiry Commission were laid
on the table of the Chamber of Deputies. It will be remembered that
according to the statement made by the Procureur Général, Monsieur
Victor Fabre, the Prime Minister, Monsieur Monis, had brought influence
to bear on him for the postponement of the Rochette trial on appeal
from the judgment of July 1910. Monsieur Jaurès, the President of the
Committee of Inquiry, on March 20, 1912, told the Chamber the history
of the Rochette case as he knew it, and he knows it perhaps better than
any other Frenchman living except Rochette himself. He told the story
of the strangely illegal manner in which the police had had Rochette
arrested. He pointed out that the police and the lawyers had been at
loggerheads as to the procedure to be employed. The police acted in
one way, the Parquet (that is to say the legal authorities) acted in
another, and by their ill-considered lack of unity of action with the
Parquet, the police had undoubtedly served the interests of a number of
men who had speculated and had made money on the downfall of Rochette.
It was, said Monsieur Jaurès, a curious fact that while the arrest of
Rochette could not be effected for the mere purpose of protecting the
small investor, it was effected by means of a conspiracy between a
banker, Monsieur Gaudrion, who had sold Rochette shares for the fall,
and Monsieur Prevet, the director of a newspaper, who was anxious to
throttle a competitor.

In this conspiracy Monsieur Gaudrion furnished the prosecutor and
Monsieur Prevet supplied the influence. Monsieur Gaudrion did not,
himself, prosecute. He could not do so because he had been in trouble
with the laws of his country. He found a man of straw to act as
prosecutor in his stead, a man named Pichereau, and gave him shares and
money to act against Rochette. “When we examined Monsieur Gaudrion
before the Commission of Inquiry, I said to him,” said Monsieur
Jaurès, “I can understand that you, who were gambling for the fall
of Rochette shares should be anxious for the arrest of Rochette, but
why did Pichereau ruin himself by bringing an action which made the
shares in which he had invested his whole fortune perfectly valueless?”
“Gaudrion answered,” said Monsieur Jaurès, “‘The shares did not belong
to Pichereau’,” and this was the truth. Monsieur Jaurès suggested that
the conspiracy had gone even further. Monsieur Clemenceau, who was
Prime Minister, told us that he intervened because he was anxious to
scotch the legend that the Government were protecting Rochette. “I told
him to be careful,” said Monsieur Jaurès. Monsieur Prevet had told the
Commission that Gaudrion had advised him on March 19 or early on the
morning of the 20th, of the readiness of Pichereau to prosecute.

At half-past eleven on the morning of March 20, Monsieur Clemenceau
telephoned for Monsieur Lépine and told him to find a prosecutor.
Monsieur Lépine spoke to Monsieur Yves Durand, and Monsieur Yves
Durand went straight to Monsieur Prevet. “When I pointed out,” said
Monsieur Jaurès, “the significance of these dates, Monsieur Clemenceau
exclaimed. ‘It is a coincidence.’ Monsieur Lépine also said, ‘It is a
coincidence,’ and I can say no more than ‘It is a coincidence’ to the
Chamber to-day.”

Here in a few words we have the real origin of the _affaire Rochette_,
and the “coincidence” which Monsieur Jaurès pointed out to the Chamber
is a painfully suggestive one. Rochette, after his first sentence, was
allowed to drag proceedings out for many months, from July 27 of one
year to April 29 of the next, though the courts always found against
him except in very minor subsidiary actions. He then secured a further
postponement from April 29, 1911, till January 12, 1912. During all
this time Rochette had been a free man, and he was able to continue his
financial operations. His reasons for spending immense sums of money on
securing these postponements of his trial were self-evident. Monsieur
Jaurès pointed out these reasons to the Chamber. Rochette said to
himself, Monsieur Jaurès explained, that the more business he did, the
more chance he had of ultimate escape. If during these months of delay
he succeeded in bringing off one substantial _coup_ he would cease to
be the adventurer who was a danger to the small investor, and would be
considered as the clever and successful financier who had triumphed
over the illegality of his arrest in the first place.

In this speech before the Chamber, Monsieur Jaurès referred to the
contradictions in the evidence of the Procureur Général Monsieur Fabre,
the Prime Minister Monsieur Monis, and Judge Bidault de L’Isle, with
reference to the last and longest postponement of the Rochette trial
from April 29, 1911, to January 12, 1912. He alluded to the rumour
which was gaining ground that political influence had been brought to
bear on the judicial authorities for the postponement of the trial. He
expressed the regret that these rumours had not been probed until after
the truth was made clear and he declared that Monsieur Fabre had said
either too much or too little before the Parliamentary Commission. We
know the truth now. We know that political influence was brought to
bear for the postponement of the Rochette trial, we know who brought
that influence to bear, and the truckling with the truth on the part
of those concerned in the postponement must be the subject of the next
chapter of this book, for this one is, I fear, too long already.



X

“THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH ...”


The first Commission of Inquiry closed its labours on March 20,
1912, with the hearing of three witnesses of importance. These three
witnesses were the Procureur Général, Monsieur Victor Fabre, the
ex-Prime Minister, Monsieur Monis, and the presiding judge of the
Chamber of Correctional Appeal, Monsieur Bidault de L’Isle. All three
men were questioned on the rumours of the bringing of political
influence to bear in March 1911 for the postponement of the Rochette
trial. Two years later day for day, on March 20, 1914, these three men
and Monsieur Joseph Caillaux were heard again by the Parliamentary
Commission of Inquiry. A comparison of what they said in 1912 and
what they were obliged to say in 1914 is enough to move any lover of
France to tears. I am anxious to comment on what happened as little as
possible. I am anxious to let these men exhibit their own shame in
their own words. I shall therefore resume their evidence from the
official shorthand notes which remain as its record, and the public and
their own consciences may be their judges.

“On July 27, 1910,” said Monsieur Victor Fabre, “the Correctional Court
rendered judgment in the Rochette case and Rochette appealed. Rochette
from the very beginning of his case did everything in his power, and
his power was enormous, to hamper the course of legal proceedings, and
to drag them out. Unfortunately the French criminal code plays into
the hands of a man like this,” said Monsieur Fabre, “and it is not too
much to say that when a rich man—for he must be rich—is accused and
wishes to drag out legal proceedings so as not to be judged, it is
perfectly possible for him to effect his object. He has the right to
make proceedings drag and drag, and to obstruct them, and his judges
can do nothing to prevent him, for it is his right—if he can pay the
cost—by the French legal code. Rochette abused this right. He hampered
the course of justice with immense skill, and even before the final
postponement he had succeeded in making the courts play into his
hands. Even on July 27, 1910, you may say,” said Monsieur Fabre to
the Commission, “the affair might have been called on appeal sooner
than April 29, 1911. But there were several reasons against this. The
first, the primary reason, was the long vacation. The courts were not
to meet again until October 15, and before the trial could take place
the President of the Correctional Chamber, the Conseiller Rapporteur,
and the Avocat Général, had to be given an opportunity of absorbing the
facts of the case. This meant several long weeks’ study.”

“Another reason for the postponement of the trial till April, was the
inquiry which had been ordered into the speculation on the Bourse and
elsewhere in connexion with the Rochette affair. On April 29, 1911, the
trial was postponed till January 11, 1912,” said Monsieur Victor Fabre.
“_The postponement was granted at the request of Monsieur Maurice
Bernard. Monsieur Bernard invoked reasons of health. He wrote to the
presiding judge of the Chamber of Correctional Appeal a letter which I
have seen, in which he declares that his state of health will not allow
him to plead the Rochette case before the holidays, and asks for a
postponement. Astonishing as this may seem at first I could not oppose
this request. I assure you that it was most disagreeable to me not to
refuse it, that I was much annoyed at not being able to oppose Maître
Bernard’s request. My wish in this affair was to arrive at a solution
as promptly as possible. But I was unable to make any opposition to
Maître Maurice Bernard’s request, much as I should have liked to do
so. Maître Bernard said that he was ill, and worn out. In consequence,
following the traditions which have always prevailed in the relations
between the court and the Bar I could not oppose a refusal to such a
request._ CERTAIN NEWSPAPERS HAVE STATED THAT POWERFUL INTERVENTION
INFLUENCED MY DECISION, AND THAT MORAL PRESSURE WAS BROUGHT TO BEAR ON
ME. I HAVE NO EXPLANATION TO GIVE ON THIS POINT. IF I HAD ANY INTERVIEW
ON THE ROCHETTE AFFAIR WITH A FORMER PRIME MINISTER I CONSIDER THAT I
SHOULD BE FAILING IN ALL MY DUTY IF I WERE TO TELL YOU WHAT TOOK PLACE
AT SUCH AN INTERVIEW.” Monsieur Fabre was questioned and
cross-questioned on this statement. He declared that the last part
of it, the part in which he refers to Monsieur Monis, was purely
hypothetical. The President of the Commission of Inquiry pointed
out to him that everybody would take it to be a statement of fact.
Monsieur Fabre refused to say anything more, but maintained, under
cross-examination, his original statement that Maître Bernard’s
plea of ill-health, and nothing else, had been responsible for the
postponement, for seven long months, of the trial of Rochette.

And then occurred one of those delightful little interludes which have
a way of lightening the most serious and solemn of France’s bitter
moments. The Parliamentary Commission had called Monsieur Monis to
appear before it. Everybody knew, Monsieur Monis as well as everybody
else, the reason of the summons. Everybody knew the seriousness of the
accusation, implied if unformulated, which lay behind it. Everybody
knew, Monsieur Jaurès as well as Monsieur Monis, that the ex-Prime
Minister would be asked whether or not it were true that he had brought
undue pressure to bear on Monsieur Victor Fabre, in order to secure,
for political and not altogether avowable reasons, a postponement of
the Rochette case.

In spite of this knowledge, here is the letter in which the President
of the Commission of Inquiry summoned Monsieur Monis. It reads like an
invitation to lunch.



      MONSIEUR LE PRÉSIDENT,

            A la suite des déclarations faites par le
          Procureur Général, Monsieur Fabre, la commission
          de l’affaire Rochette m’a chargé de vous prier
          de vouloir bien vous entretenir avec elle demain
          matin, mercredi, a dix heures et demie.

            Veuillez agréer mes sentiments respectueusement
          dévoués.

                               (Signed) JEAN JAURÈS.

Monsieur Monis in acknowledging receipt of this invitation when he
appeared before the Parliamentary Commission, described it as “an
exquisite little note.” “I wanted to be polite,” he said, “in return
for your politeness, and here I am.” Monsieur Monis then went on to say
that politeness was the only reason for his presence, politeness, and
the wish to protest. “I wish to protest energetically, with all my
energy,” said Monsieur Monis. “If you wish to cover this country with
a fresh crop of scandal you really must not count on my help. I will
be the victim if you like of your injustice, but I will be a proud and
silent victim.” And Monsieur Monis carried impudence to the extent of
forcing the Commission, out of sheer politeness, to admit that he had
been summoned without the least tinge of suspicion that he had done
anything to be ashamed of, and his last words to the Commission as he
left them were, “Respect and confidence.”

There was not quite so much politeness on either side, when, two years
later, Monsieur Monis gave evidence a second time before the Commission
of Inquiry. It was a Friday, of course, Friday, March 20, 1914. This
time he was forced to admit the truth of the facts he had denied so
lightly and so comfortably two years before. This time he was forced to
admit that for political reasons and on the advice of Monsieur Caillaux
he had brought pressure to bear on Monsieur Victor Fabre to postpone
the Rochette trial. In other words Monsieur Monis, who had been Prime
Minister of France in 1911, who had been forced to resign his position
in the Cabinet now in 1914 because of the revelations contained in
the Fabre statement which Monsieur Barthou had read in the Chamber of
Deputies, was forced to stand before the Parliamentary Commission which
he had hoodwinked with such extraordinary cynicism in 1912, admit that
he had hoodwinked them, admit that he had lied.

The next witness after the Monis interlude, in March 1912, was the
presiding judge of the Chamber of Correctional Appeal, Monsieur Bidault
de L’Isle. He too declared that he was “rather surprised” at having
been called before the Commission of Inquiry, he too explained that
deference for the Commission had been the sole reason of his coming. He
had received a letter from Maître Maurice Bernard, he said, in which
Rochette’s defending lawyer asked him to have the case postponed.
Maître Bernard said he was very busy, that he had several important
cases coming on, that his doctor told him that he would be ill if he
went on working so hard, and that he really couldn’t plead the Rochette
case for some months. “We never refuse an appeal of this kind from a
member of the Bar,” said Judge Bidault de L’Isle, “so I wrote to Maître
Maurice Bernard that the postponement would be granted. _I wish to
affirm in the most formal way_,” said Judge Bidault de L’Isle, “_that
the question of politics played no part whatever in the decision of
postponement._” Monsieur Jaurès tried very hard, and other members of
the Commission helped as best they could to get the truth from Judge
Bidault de L’Isle, but he repeated the statement quoted above “on his
soul and on his conscience.” On March 20, 1914, exactly two years after
this statement, Monsieur Bidault de L’Isle, who had denied two years
before that Monsieur Fabre, the Procureur Général, had told him that
the Rochette case must be postponed for political reasons, who in March
1912 had declared that the only reason for the adjournment was that
Maître Bernard had asked for it, ate his words without enjoyment, as
Monsieur Monis and Monsieur Fabre had eaten theirs. Three men, a
Prime Minister of France, the judge of one of the highest courts in
the country, and the Public Prosecutor, lied, and admitted under
pressure, when further denial was impossible, that they had trifled,
deliberately, with the truth.

Of these three men who lied and were forced to admit it, the most
pitiful figure is that of the Procureur Général, Monsieur Victor Fabre,
for he was the victim of a system. Professional secrecy in France has
become such a fetish that it has developed, from a means of preventing
doctors, lawyers, and professional men generally from revealing
unduly the secrets of those who have confided in them, into a kind of
Mumbo-Jumbo idol which protects and cloaks untruth. Now that we know
that Monsieur Victor Fabre told a deliberate lie and made a misleading
half-disclosure of the truth to the Parliamentary Commission which
examined him in 1912, we can only be sorry for the man and amazed at
the system which made such juggling with the truth seem justifiable
to him. In March 1911 Monsieur Fabre, under pressure from the Prime
Minister, Monsieur Monis, had ordered Judge Bidault de L’Isle to
postpone the trial of Rochette. In 1912 either just before or just
after his examination by the Parliamentary Commission, Monsieur Victor
Fabre had handed to the Minister of Justice, who was then Monsieur
Aristide Briand, the written statement which Monsieur Barthou read in
the Chamber of Deputies immediately after the murder of Monsieur Gaston
Calmette in 1914. This statement told the truth which he concealed from
the Commission of Inquiry two years before. Monsieur Fabre had written
his statement immediately after political pressure was brought to bear
on him; he knew, of course, of its existence when he was examined in
1912. And this is how he spoke of it when he was re-examined in 1914.
“I was surprised and afflicted when I learned that a journalist, two
years after I had handed my statement to Monsieur Briand, had boasted
of its possession and proposed to publish it. I didn’t believe this. I
thought that it was quite impossible that he should be in possession
of my statement, that he could publish it, because I did not even know
Monsieur Calmette by sight, because I had not given it to him, because
I considered the fact that the Minister of Justice had this statement
in his possession rendered it inviolable. MY CONVICTION ON THIS POINT
WAS SO STRONG THAT WHENEVER THIS DOCUMENT WAS MENTIONED TO ME I
INVARIABLY STATED THAT IT DID NOT EXIST, AND THAT THERE WAS NO FEAR OF
ITS PUBLICATION.” In plain English, Monsieur Victor Fabre admitted that
he had suppressed the truth, because he was convinced that the truth
would not be known. “I made this declaration to Monsieur Caillaux,
who appeared very uneasy at the thought that this document might be
published. I consider that I HAVE THE RIGHT AND THAT IT WAS MY DUTY TO
SAY WHAT I DID. I CONSIDER THAT I HAD NO RIGHT TO GIVE UP MY SECRET,
FOR THIS DOCUMENT WAS MINE, I COULD DO WHAT I LIKED WITH IT, I COULD
SUPPRESS IT OR TEAR IT UP. TO EVERYBODY BUT MYSELF THE DOCUMENT WAS
NONEXISTENT.”

[Illustration: _Agence Nouvelle—Photo, Paris_
MONSIEUR BARTHOU]

After this pitiful confession Monsieur Fabre, as a weak man will,
accused everybody he could think of of breaking faith with him.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “everybody had not the same reserve (this
is an exquisite word to have chosen) that I had. I do not know how my
statement passed from Monsieur Briand’s hands into other hands. I do
know that the use which was made of it was a deplorable abuse.” It was
indeed.

We know now how Monsieur Fabre’s written statement came to be read in
the Chamber of Deputies, and we can guess how Monsieur Calmette and
other journalists knew of its existence, and of its contents. Monsieur
Briand had kept the damning document while he was Minister of Justice.
When he resigned, Monsieur Briand, as his duty was, passed the document
on to the new Minister of Justice, Monsieur Barthou. Monsieur Barthou,
realizing what a political weapon the statement might become, kept it
and used it. Whether he showed it to journalists, I do not know, but we
know from the evidence of Monsieur Fabre as far as faith can be placed
in this evidence after his own confession, that only two copies of the
document were in existence. The one Monsieur Fabre kept in his own
possession until he handed it over on March 20, 1914, to the President
of the Commission of Inquiry, the other, on which he wrote “Copy for
the Minister of Justice,” he copied out in his own handwriting and
handed over to Monsieur Briand. With regard to the contents of the
document nobody now denies that they were true.

On March 20, 1914, Monsieur Fabre no longer pleaded professional
secrecy, no longer hesitated, but made this direct statement: “It is
perfectly correct that I received an order from the Prime Minister,
Monsieur Monis, to secure the postponement of the Rochette case until
after the holidays. It is perfectly true that I insisted on Judge
Bidault de L’Isle postponing the case. It is perfectly true that I told
him why. If I had gone to Judge Bidault de L’Isle and said, ‘Maître
Maurice Bernard is not very well. Put the case off for a year,’ Judge
Bidault de L’Isle would have told me that there was insufficient reason
for the postponement. I sent for Judge Bidault de L’Isle, I told him of
the interview which I had had with the Prime Minister, and of the order
which had been given me. I explained the situation to him, I adjured
him if he had any affection for me to grant what I asked. He ended by
giving way.” Then this unfortunate man, whose chief fault is weakness,
who trembled for his position, and who allowed the Prime Minister to
dictate to him in consequence, attempted to explain his act away. He
said that even if the case were postponed, even if, as duly happened,
all legal procedure against Rochette were cancelled, Rochette would
not enjoy impunity. At present he is certainly enjoying it, and he
has answered this statement of poor Monsieur Fabre more simply and
conclusively than anybody else can do. Monsieur Fabre had instructions
and carried them out against his own wish, he said. He believed, and
he believes now, that he was obliged to obey them. Under examination
he was asked why he took the Prime Minister’s orders, why he did not
go to his direct superior, the Minister of Justice, Monsieur Perrier.
His answer shows the curiously direct influence of personality in the
government of France. It shows that Monsieur Fabre considered that the
Prime Minister’s order overrode anything that the Minister of Justice
might or might not find to say. And as we know now that Monsieur Monis
gave this order for the postponement of the Rochette trial because
Monsieur Caillaux told him to, as we know that Monsieur Caillaux told
him to give it because Rochette’s lawyer, Maître Bernard, might say
things in court which would be disagreeable to the Government, might
make disclosures which would get the Government, and more especially
Monsieur Caillaux himself, into trouble, we realize that the real ruler
of France on March 2, 1911, was Henri Rochette, who fled the country
under sentence for fraud.

Monsieur Caillaux himself had an interview, or rather two interviews,
with Monsieur Fabre, who called on him on January 14, 1914, at seven
o’clock in the evening. They spoke of the Rochette affair, and (this
was the second interview) Monsieur Caillaux mentioned the order which
Monsieur Fabre had received. “He asked me,” Monsieur Fabre said to the
Commission of Inquiry (and he had asked me the same question on the
occasion of my former visit), “whether it were true that a copy of my
statement of my interview with Monsieur Monis existed and could be
published. _I replied in the negative._ He insisted. He told me that he
had information that a journalist was in possession of this document,
and that he was afraid that it would be published. I told him that this
was not possible, _that he need not be afraid of the publication of a
document which did not exist_. I said this because I was convinced, as
I was convinced up to the last minute, that this document would never
be published and could not be published. I preferred not to reveal
my secret so as not to upset Monsieur Caillaux (‘_ne pas attrister
d’avantage_ Monsieur Caillaux’), who was quite upset enough by the
campaign against him. I had the right to speak as I did because this
document was my property, and because it was useless for me to reveal
its existence as it was not to be published.”

But the further evidence of Monsieur Victor Fabre, when, in March 1914,
he told the whole truth at last, shows that the orders he received
really did come from Rochette and came almost directly from him. After
his interview with Monsieur Monis, the Procureur-Général had a
conversation with his assistant, Monsieur Bloch-Laroque, whose title
(Substitut) does not exist in England. Monsieur Bloch-Laroque and
Monsieur Fabre talked over the fact that Monsieur Maurice Bernard
had deliberately threatened Monsieur Fabre, that he had said, before
leaving the room and banging the door behind him, that “if Monsieur
Fabre did not obey, it would be the worse for him.” It is surely
unheard of, that Rochette’s lawyer should be able to have terrorized
the French Procureur-Général with such language, but Monsieur le
Procureur-Général Victor Fabre told the Commission of Inquiry, “I was
well aware of the influence and knew the friends of Maître Maurice
Bernard, and I knew that he did not say what he said without knowing
that his words would receive sanction in high places.” Maître Maurice
Bernard is an intimate friend of Monsieur Caillaux, and was his lawyer
in his divorce case.

We may resume this inner history of a series of disgraceful happenings
in the history of France in comparatively few words. Rochette has made
enormous sums of money in a very few years, and the French authorities
believe that he has swindled and is swindling the public. There are
difficulties in the way of proving this immediately. The authorities
connive at the substitution of a man of straw for a proper prosecutor
so as not to allow Rochette to slip through their fingers, and he is
arrested. By every means in his power, and the French legal code gives
him many opportunities, Rochette drags the case against him from court
to court, and succeeds in avoiding final judgment for over two years
and six months. Then, when a definite trial appears inevitable, the
Prime Minister, acting under advice from the Minister of Finance, who
has allowed himself to be terrorized by Rochette—to put the mildest
possible construction on the reason for his conduct—brings influence
to bear on the magistrature, and postpones the trial again. Rochette
in the meanwhile has left France, and has continued to prosecute his
financial schemes. There we have the Rochette case in a nutshell. There
also we have its intimate connexion with the Caillaux drama, for the
Minister of Finance who, for more or less personal reasons, persuaded
the Prime Minister to order the postponement of the trial, was Monsieur
Joseph Caillaux.

How personal were Monsieur Caillaux’s reasons for advising Monsieur
Monis to secure the postponement of the Rochette trial were shown in
a letter from Rochette himself, which he sent to the President of the
Commission of Inquiry on March 27, 1914. The letter was a very long
one. In it Monsieur Rochette told the story of how he had terrorized
the Minister of Finance, Monsieur Caillaux, into working for him.
Rochette had compiled a volume of 120 pages on the history of financial
issues made in France and floated on the market from 1890 to 1910. In
these tables it was shown that French investors had had heavy losses
amounting in all to four hundred million pounds sterling. The book was
likely to create very serious difficulties for Monsieur Caillaux, the
Finance Minister, who had been responsible for permitting many of these
issues of stock, and it was Rochette’s determination that his lawyer
should read these figures in court on the plea of showing that if some
of his issues had brought losses to the French investor other issues
under higher authority than his own had done the same thing on a larger
scale. The importance which Monsieur Caillaux attributed to this book
is proved by the fact that he spoke of it to Monsieur Monis as a
political reason for doing what Rochette wished, and postponing the
trial. It is interesting to note that there are actually thirty-eight
prosecutions waiting Rochette’s return to France.

The history of the Rochette case shows unfortunately that Madame
Caillaux’s revolver shot was not the only crime in the full story of
the Caillaux drama. There is another criminal whom a higher court must
try than the Paris Court of Assizes, there is another victim besides
Gaston Calmette. The criminal is expediency, expediency which allows
men in the positions of Prime Minister, of judge, of Public Prosecutor
to tamper with fact, to mislead and to lie in the belief that they
“have the right” to do so. The victim whom they murdered is The Truth.



XI

ABOUT FRENCH POLITICS


Perhaps the most difficult part of the life of France for an Englishman
to understand is her politics. To give with any thoroughness at all
even a slight idea of the French political parties and the opinions
for which these parties fight, would require another volume quite as
big as this one. But the object of this chapter is not an essay on the
intricacies of party politics in France, nor do I propose to attempt
a detailed explanation of the differences of opinion which divide the
parties. My object is rather to give the reader some insight into the
clockwork as it were of the inner political life of France, so as to
throw more light, within the measure of my power with the lamp, on the
Caillaux drama, which is such a salad of passion, politics, and finance.

It is, as I have said, extremely difficult for an English reader
to realize what French political life really is, for it is so very
different from political life at home, and though it might more easily
be compared perhaps to the political life of the United States it
differs in many ways and in many essentials from that also. But French
political life does resemble the political life of America in one way,
in contrast to the political life of England. Its very foundation is
familiarity, and the French politician is not generally respected by
his compatriots as one who knows more than themselves. He is admired
as one who has more cunning. The French used to take pride in the
familiarity with which they treat their politicians, for familiarity
such as is the mainspring of France’s politics used to be called
_Egalité_, and is still one of the words, in this disguise, with which
the French politician loves to conjure, and succeeds in conjuring,
votes out of an empty hat.

If I were asked to name the most powerful political class in modern
France I should plump for the _marchand de vin_. The _marchand de vin_,
the keeper of the little wineshop, with the zinc counter and the little
tables with their stone tops beyond it, which is the equivalent of the
English public house, is quite the most powerful electoral agent
existing in France, and he is recognized as such by every French
politician. At election times, or for that matter, at any time, no
French politician can afford to neglect him, and he controls votes
without number in every town, every village, and every district
throughout the length and breadth of the country.

So true is this that every Government is obliged to recognize the fact
of the _marchand de vin’s_ importance, and each succeeding Government
is put in the curious position, as it succeeds the Government before
it, of being obliged, on the score of public morality, public health,
and public well-being to discourage the consumption of strong drink
in words, and to encourage it in act. There are laws in France which
permit certain people to make and to sell alcohol. Governments from
time to time have endeavoured to remove or to restrict the privileges
which these manufacturers of alcohol enjoy, but they have never
succeeded because the _bouilleurs du cru_ as they are called, are much
too strong for them and much too strongly backed. Each succeeding
Government knows, or if it does not recognize the fact at first, the
fact is very soon made clear, that everybody connected with the wine
and spirit industry must be conciliated if votes are to be obtained,
and retained, and although France has for a good many years now called
herself a republic she is really a monarchy under the thumb of a
despot, whose name is King Marchand de Vin, and who is only nominally
under the control of Parliament. Parliament controls the _marchand de
vin_ nominally, perhaps, in France, but as the _marchand de vin_ elects
the members who form Parliament, as the _marchand de vin_ controls and
regulates the votes of the many-headed, the _marchand de vin_ reigns,
and will continue to reign supreme, for France will not stop drinking
wine till England abjures beer.

To the observer who has the advantage of aloofness as his point
of view, the thing which impresses more than anything else as the
principal characteristic of French politics is their selfishness. This
peculiarity is almost as remarkable, perhaps even more remarkable, than
the curious complications of the many political parties. To begin with,
in studying the parties the first thing which strikes one in addition
to their number is the fact that they are all, with the exception of
the Royalists and Imperialists who call themselves Conservatives, as
advanced or more advanced than any party at all in either England or in
Germany. The German Socialist, for instance, of the reddest type, has
tenets which, if he were a Frenchman, would probably make him vote with
the very moderate Left, and Monsieur Millerand, who used to be looked
upon as such a dangerous Socialist not very long ago is now considered
by the Socialists themselves old-fashioned and reactionary, while
Monsieur Briand is in French eyes a very moderate reformer, if he be
considered a reformer at all.

But here I am beginning the impossible task of attempting to divide
French politicians into parties, and explaining the views of these
parties in plain language. I must not allow myself to be led away,
by the Chinese puzzle fascination French party politics invariably
exercise, to attempt this task. I could not succeed, for by the time
this book is on the market French parties will no doubt have changed
and shaken down again into other and different shapes, for French
political combinations hold together as cohesive forces with little
more certainty than the bits of coloured glass in the kaleidoscope.
Every time a question of the least importance gives a turn to the
handle, the parties of the day, the week, or the month before
disintegrate and fall into other combinations of infinite shades of
colour.

But we may talk of the selfishness of French politics, for this,
unfortunately, does not change. In a country where politics are so
mixed that the elector understands very little about them, it is not
difficult to catch votes by arguments of another kind. Our business
just now being with the Caillaux drama, it may not be a bad method of
explaining how French politicians gain the authority to govern, by
some sidelights on the election at Mamers of Monsieur Joseph Caillaux.
Immediately after Madame Caillaux had shot the editor of the _Figaro_
dead her husband resigned office. He was of course obliged to do this.
Immediately after his resignation he announced that he intended to
retire from public life entirely, and would take no part in politics
in the immediate future. He had hardly made this announcement, which I
mentioned on page 79, before he changed his mind, and announced that
owing to the insistence of his constituents he would be a candidate for
re-election when the general election took place, but that he would
not canvass, and that his friend Monsieur D’Estournelles de Constant
would canvass for him, while he himself would remain in the retirement
demanded by the situation of his wife. A very few days after this
second change of plans Monsieur Caillaux changed his mind once more
and determined to canvass Mamers. He has been re-elected. It is not
uninteresting to glance at the reason why.

Any foreigner might have imagined that there was no possible chance
for any body of electors to re-elect Monsieur Joseph Caillaux as
their representative. The fierce light which played so recently and
so unsparingly on his political career had scarcely shown him to be
a desirable member of Parliament. It would be difficult, one would
think, for Frenchmen to vote for the man who had made such a number
of mistakes, and who had been connected, as Monsieur Caillaux was
connected, with the negotiations disclosed in the chapters in this
volume on Agadir and the _affaire_ Rochette. But the foreigner would
not realize, and Monsieur Caillaux realized, very conclusively, that
the peasants of the Sarthe district cared little or nothing for the
revelations in the Paris Press, and cared a great deal for Monsieur
Caillaux’s personality.

To anybody who has not lived among them, the ignorance of the French
peasant in the country districts on the affairs of his country must be
incredible. How crass this ignorance can be may be imagined from the
absolute fact that in many parts of Monsieur Caillaux’s constituency
the electors, who have returned him to the Chamber of Deputies again,
are absolutely convinced that Monsieur Calmette is not dead at all,
and that the story of his murder by Madame Caillaux has been put about
by Paris journalists merely to do Monsieur Caillaux harm. The peasants
of the Sarthe believe, in many cases, that Monsieur Calmette is still
alive, and is keeping out of the way, in hiding somewhere. “Tout ça,
c’est des histoires de Parisiens” is the popular view. The distrust
of the townsman in general, and of the Parisian in particular, which
prevails in many French country districts and in Normandy and Brittany
even more than elsewhere, was a remarkable asset for Monsieur Caillaux
when he asked for the suffrage of the Sarthe peasantry.

Some idea of this asset and the way in which he used it can be obtained
from his letter to his constituents in which he thanks them for
electing him. The letter, which is dated “Mamers, May the 1st,” has
been posted on the walls all over the constituency. “My dear friends,”
writes Monsieur Caillaux, “How can I express my gratitude, and my
emotion? In spite of the pressure exerted by the whole strength of the
reactionary parties, in spite of the money which flowed like water,
in spite of an unqualifiable campaign of calumny and of lying, the
constituency of Mamers has given me a majority of nearly 1500 votes
over my opponent.”

            “You have avenged your deputy for the odious
          attacks and the defamation of which he has been
          the object. You know that their origin was his
          love of peace, which was made clear in the treaty
          of November 4, 1911 (this is the Agadir treaty),
          and his wish to make rich men contribute more
          freely to the expenses of the country.

            “Once more I thank you from my whole heart. More
          than ever I will be the untiring defender of your
          rights and of your interests. More than ever I
          will do my utmost to ensure to France and the
          Republic order, stability, and reform. Believe,
          my dear friends, in my affectionate devotion to
          your interests.

                                        “J. CAILLAUX.”

Does not this letter breathe with surprising clarity humbug of the
broadest? Whatever one may think of Monsieur Caillaux, no one has yet
accused him of poverty, and his opponent in the Sarthe was quixotic
enough to refrain from much mention of the Caillaux drama at election
time, so that the campaign of calumny was purely imaginary. And, to top
everything, when he did mention it and the Rochette case in a final
poster, Monsieur Caillaux challenged him to a duel, for “maligning
the electors of Mamers!” The duel was “fought” before journalists,
photographers and the cinematograph. The snapshots show that Monsieur
Caillaux fired in the air, and his opponent fired into the ground. So
everybody laughed, and “honour was satisfied.” But Monsieur Joseph
Caillaux is looked upon _as a victim_ in the Sarthe! The peasants there
understand nothing and care less about foreign politics. They approve
Monsieur Caillaux’s opposition to three years’ military service,
because Germany is far away and is only a name to them, and they prefer
their sons to be called away from the land for two years instead of
three. They approve Monsieur Caillaux’s suggestion of taxing the rich,
because they have never troubled to understand it, and it sounds good
to them, and most of all, and above all, they approve of Monsieur
Caillaux because he is rich, powerful, and generous in his constituency.

It must be understood that I am using Monsieur Caillaux and the Sarthe
as an example of the conditions which prevail in many parts of France.
The French elector in many of the country districts is decidedly more
ignorant than one could believe possible, and in almost all parts of
the country he is selfish. Here, again, I may be allowed to quote some
of the electioneering literature of the Sarthe to show the kind of
benefits which appeal to French electors. Political considerations,
benefits to the nation, national defence, big projects—“Tout ça c’est
des balivernes”—is the French peasant’s verdict. A candidate who is
wise will, if he wants to gain favour in a constituency, tell his
constituents as little as possible about political measures and as much
as possible of the things concerning them directly which he has done
in the past, and which he hopes to do in the future. The drainage of
a village will gain more votes than the most important law imaginable
for the benefit of France. Monsieur Caillaux, or rather his friends,
reminded the people of the Sarthe that Monsieur Caillaux had obtained
for them heavy subventions from the Pari-Mutuel for the support of
a hospital, that in the last few years he had secured over £4000
for them from the Government for local interests, that all kinds of
institutions had been helped, that the nuns had been well treated (oh!
Monsieur Caillaux!), that this village had a new pump, and that one
a new road, in a word, that owing to the power of Monsieur Caillaux,
and the cleverness of Monsieur Caillaux, and the influence of Monsieur
Caillaux, the peasants of La Sarthe had obtained, and were likely to
obtain, greater advantages than the peasantry of any other part of
France as long as he remained their member.

These were the reasons which caused Monsieur Caillaux’s re-election,
and these are the reasons which militate above all others in France
at election times. The natural result of elections conducted on the
narrow-minded basis of selfish advantage is that the deputies, when
they are elected, are as selfish as their constituents’ reasons for
electing them have been. I suppose every country has the government
which it deserves. The French are very certainly governed by a body
of men who do not neglect their own interests. I do not mean to imply
that they do neglect those of their country, but I do say that the
conservation of power and their own welfare take the first place in
their minds, and that is so certain that “L’Assiette au Beurre,” which
expression we may translate “The Cream Jug” is dipped into very freely
by members of all parties who have access to it, in every French
Parliament. The principal vice of the government of France, to my mind,
is the payment of deputies. The class of man is growing in France who
serves his country because his country pays him six hundred pounds a
year to do so, and because there are plenty of pickings over and above
the annual stipend of £600. A French deputy makes very free use of
his right of free travel on all the railways, supplies his family and
friends with free stationery, economizes, through his influence, in
countless little ways, money which the ordinary citizen has to spend
from the fruits of his labours. The French politician is essentially
a professional of politics, places party considerations above all
others, because these keep him in power and allow him access to the
“cream jug,” and is not in the least ashamed of using his influence for
personal benefit either directly or indirectly.

I do not think it unfair criticism to point out that it is this
mentality which makes for such corruption in French politics as we had
to deplore at the time of the Panama scandal, for such corruption as
was seriously suspected during the progress of the Rochette case, and
for the undue use of influence which is considered quite natural on the
part of individual members of the governing bodies of France, by which
I mean not the Government alone, but also the Chamber and the Senate,
which undue use of influence culminated in the shameful apotheosis
of the scene in the room of the Prime Minister which resulted in the
postponement, with its consequences, of the trial of the financier
Rochette. The inner history of the Caillaux drama differs in details
from the inner history of other French scandals, but it differs very
little from them in essentials. In every case when one of these
unsavoury ulcers on France’s fair name festers and bursts we find the
same pus in it. The root of all the evil is the inherent selfishness of
the French character, and I am not disinclined to believe that there
is a great deal of inherent dishonesty too at the root of the evil. A
Frenchman will often refuse to keep a promise in commercial matters
because the man to whom he made it can produce no _written_ proof that
the promise was given. Business men will refuse business interviews
without the presence of a witness. There are severe laws in France
compelling, under severe penalties, the restoration to the unknown
owner through the police authorities of anything of value found lying
about. But ask anybody who has picked up money in the street what he
would do with it if nobody saw him pick it up. The Frenchman is frank.
He will laugh and will maintain his right to pocket this find, because
if _he_ loses anything he knows that the person who finds it will
pocket it if he dare. I have seen respectable Frenchmen swindle other
respectable Frenchmen out of a halfpenny in a Paris omnibus. It is not
the halfpenny that is important, it is the mentality which underlies
the theft. It may seem a far cry from the theft of a halfpenny to the
Rochette scandal, but you can trace the connexion very easily if you
care to think the matter out. And if you think it out with care, you
cannot fail to see that this basis of selfishness, permeating upwards
through every vein of French private, public, and political life, has
been directly responsible for the Caillaux drama and for the results
which that drama has had and will have on the life of France in the
future.



XII

BEFORE THE LAST ACT OF THE DRAMA


A French criminal trial is in every respect as unlike a criminal trial
in England as can well be imagined. To begin with, if the Caillaux
drama had been English, if the wife of an English Cabinet Minister
were at the present moment in Brixton gaol awaiting her trial because
she had walked into Printing House Square and shot the editor of the
_Times_, this book, by the mere fact of its appearance, would send me
and the publisher to prison for contempt of court. In France, not only
is there no contempt of court in comment on a case sub judice, but the
preliminaries of a great criminal trial are conducted in the open. Ever
since the murder of Monsieur Gaston Calmette the Paris papers have
contained long daily digests of the evidence collected on the details
of the murder, and this evidence has been commented on every day, and
with the utmost freedom, by the Paris newspapers. There is a special
magistrate known as the _juge d’instruction_, whose duty it is, if I
may put it so, to try the case before it comes into court, and to hand
to the judge who presides over the trial his opinion on the prisoner’s
innocence or guilt, his full reasons for that opinion, and the evidence
in résumé which he has collected to enable him to form it. In other
words, directly a crime has been committed, whether the supposed
criminal be arrested or not, a _juge d’instruction_ or examining
magistrate is appointed, and from the moment of his appointment he
takes entire charge of the case. The prisoner is entirely in his hands.
That is to say, he disposes of her while she is awaiting trial, under
certain rules and regulations of course, as he thinks fit. He may
question her as often or as seldom as he wishes, either in his room at
the Palace of Justice or in her cell, the only proviso being that he
is not allowed to question her without the presence of her lawyer, and
that at each interrogatory his sworn clerk, known as the _greffier_,
must be present to take down his questions, and the prisoner’s answers,
and at the end of each interrogatory to obtain the prisoner’s signature
at their foot. The examining magistrate’s work is of course by no means
confined to his examination of the prisoner. As soon as he has digested
the first details and circumstances of the crime he has full power to
summon and to examine anybody and everybody whom he considers likely
to have any evidence to give which may help him in his judgment on the
case.

So wide are the powers of an examining magistrate, that he may if
he wishes arrest not only presumable accomplices but any unwilling
witness. It has happened before now that a witness has preferred to
remain away from the room of a French examining magistrate and has
been sent for by him and brought under arrest to him to give evidence,
and a witness who has signed an untrue statement in the examining
magistrate’s office is not unfrequently, when convicted of perjury at
the trial, where he has repeated this evidence on oath, arrested in
court. It sometimes happens, too, that witnesses contradict in court
the evidence which they have given to the examining magistrate. If they
do so they enjoy impunity, unless, they are proved to commit perjury in
their contradiction, for evidence to a _juge d’instruction_ is not
given on oath. It happens very frequently too, in fact it almost always
happens, that numbers of people for whom the examining magistrate
has never thought of sending write to him that they have evidence to
give, and desire to be heard. The prisoner and the prisoner’s lawyer,
even the prisoner’s friends, are encouraged also to give the names of
any people from whom they wish the examining magistrate to collect
evidence. Practically therefore in a French criminal case the criminal
is tried twice over, once by the examining magistrate, and a second
time in the court of assizes before a jury. And the first trial is the
more important of the two, because of the influence of the examining
magistrate’s report on the minds of the judge and of the jury, at the
assize court trial. The examining magistrate has the right to acquit a
prisoner without sending him or her for trial at all if he finds that
there is no case.

It happens, however, comparatively rarely in practice, that a
_non-lieu_, as it is called, is pronounced by the examining magistrate,
as it is a very bad mark against the name of any _juge d’instruction_
to allow a prisoner to be set at liberty without very conclusive proof
of innocence. If there be the slightest doubt the prisoner is always
sent for trial. The benefit of the doubt is practically non-existent in
the conduct of a French criminal case in its preliminary stages, and it
may be taken as a fact that whereas a prisoner in England is considered
to be innocent until guilt has been proved, the reverse is the French
method, and a prisoner in France is considered to be guilty until
conclusive proof of innocence has been given and accepted.

Another feature of the preliminary stages of a French criminal trial
is the manner in which the evidence which the examining magistrate
collects is made public as he collects it. The examining magistrate
receives members of the Press during the days, weeks, and often months
of his preliminary examination of the evidence, and to all intents and
purposes the evidence which has been laid before him is put at their
disposal for publication. It is very rarely indeed that an examining
magistrate in France withholds any of the evidence he collects from the
newspapers, and as each item is usually laid before the public,
commented on at length, and frequently distorted in accordance with the
views of the staff of the newspaper which reproduces it, the public try
a case while it is in process of trial, and the newspapers criticise
the examining magistrate’s conduct of the long examination and deliver
a verdict of their own before the jury have an opportunity of doing
so. These methods form part of the legal code of France, and as such,
open to criticism though they may be, are never criticised. The methods
of preliminary trial of a French criminal case present of course this
grave disadvantage, that every one of the twelve jurymen and the two
supplementary jurymen before whom the case is tried, practically hear
or read all the evidence before they see the witnesses and hear them
in court, and practically have tried and have judged the case in their
own minds, however impartial they may try to be, before they come into
court to try and to judge it.

I have already mentioned the freedom of action which the examining
magistrate enjoys in France. This is unlimited. An examining magistrate
is hampered by nothing at all in his examination of the prisoner,
or of witnesses for and against, except by the dictates of his own
conscience. As it is human nature for a man to shrink from the
acknowledgment that he has been mistaken, it is obvious that a French
examining magistrate who starts with the idea that his prisoner is a
guilty man or woman will do everything in his power, and his power
has no limit except his own conscience, to prove the guilt of his
prisoner. He may, and often does, use dramatic methods to force a
confession. He may, and often does, lie to the prisoner for the purpose
of extracting a confession. He may, and often does, misreport to the
prisoner evidence which has been given him so as to entrap a guilty
prisoner, whom he can manage to convince that the game is up, into a
full confession of guilt. There have been many cases known of abuse of
this power. It has happened before now that a prisoner, accused of a
crime of which he or she is perfectly innocent, has actually confessed
to the crime rather than endure the mental torture of the examining
magistrate’s persistent cross-examination.

And in the hands of an unscrupulous man, even when that man honestly
believes in the guilt of the prisoner he is examining, mental torture
is not the only form of torture which may be inflicted. Of course there
are no thumbscrews, rack, or water torture in existence in France
nowadays, but there are other and more refined methods of coercion
which an examining magistrate may use, and often does use, against the
prisoner whose case is under consideration. Pathetic mention of these
methods was made, I remember, during the trial of the motor bandits by
one of the prisoners whom the court afterwards acquitted. All the small
comforts which a prisoner (a _prévenu_ is the French expression) may
enjoy while awaiting trial rest entirely on the good or ill will of the
examining magistrate, and he is paramount to permit them or to remove
them, as his will or his fancy dictates. During these preliminary
stages of the trial nobody has any right to interfere with an examining
magistrate or to question his decision on any matter whatsoever. The
prisoner’s lawyer or the prisoner may of course protest, and the
protest must be registered by the clerk, who is always present. But it
rests entirely with the examining magistrate how much severity and how
much leniency are shown to the _prévenu_ while the preliminary trial
proceeds.

Another thing which remains entirely at the examining magistrate’s
discretion is the length of this preliminary trial. He is free to
conclude his examination when he wills. As soon as he considers that
the evidence he has collected is sufficient to allow him to send the
case for trial, and to hand his opinion on it, with the reasons for his
opinion, to the judges, the date of trial is fixed. He may send in this
opinion in a few days, he may take many months over it if he wishes,
and though the imprisonment of a prisoner before trial ranks as part of
the sentence after conviction, an examining magistrate who has taken
a very long time over his preliminary examination may inflict very
serious hardship on a prisoner whom the assize court acquits at the end.

In the case of Madame Caillaux it is probable that the trial will come
on in July or possibly even after the holidays, in September. It is in
everybody’s interest that the trial should not be heard too soon. The
judges need time to probe every tittle of the evidence, the
Government—though the Government will hardly dare to interfere, I
think—will prefer the case to be heard when Paris is comparatively
empty, and the defence will find in a long detention in Saint Lazare
pending her trial a useful argument for mercy to the prisoner.

The work of an examining magistrate in France is conducted with a
curious absence of formality. The prisoner or the witnesses come to his
room in the Palace of Justice, and in the case of a prisoner the guards
withdraw. The magistrate collects his evidence in a very conversational
way. He chats with the prisoner and with the witnesses whom he calls,
he interrupts them, he bullies them if he thinks fit, he allows them
to speak or he reads them a lecture, exactly as he likes, he makes
statements, and takes note of contradictions, and he frequently calls
three or four witnesses together and allows them to discuss points in
the case while he listens to the discussion.

This method, I may remark, is often a very fruitful means of getting at
the truth. The absence of formality has often proved to be a great help
to the course of French justice. The French law and English laws have
very different ideas on the subject of evidence. To give an idea of
what is considered perfectly relevant and perfectly admissible evidence
in France, Madame Caillaux, during the course of her preliminary
examination by Monsieur Boucard, the examining magistrate in charge
of her case, made the following extraordinary request to him. “I am
informed,” she said, “that, in the opinion of the great surgeon Dr.
Doyen, the life of Monsieur Calmette might have been saved after I shot
him if he had been treated differently.” Madame Caillaux’s contention
was that the doctors who attended Monsieur Calmette after she had shot
him might have treated him in such a way as to ensure his recovery, and
she asked the examining magistrate to call Doctor Doyen, who, after
reading the report of the autopsy made by the sworn medical experts
after Monsieur Calmette’s death, was of the opinion that the surgeons
who attended him might have saved his life. Evidence of an equally
irrelevant nature is considered perfectly admissible in any French
criminal trial, and evidence as to character and motive very frequently
admits in France of an immense abuse of the examining magistrate’s
time. In the Caillaux case, for instance, friends of the murdered
man have been prolific with evidence to the effect that from their
knowledge of Monsieur Calmette they consider it most unlikely that he
would ever have printed the letters which play so large a part in the
evidence for the defence, and the publication of which Madame Caillaux
feared and anticipated.

An immense amount of time has been taken up already with the hearing
of witnesses who had nothing to say except to report that somebody had
told them something of which knowledge had come to him from the report
of somebody else, and friends of Monsieur and Madame Caillaux as well
as friends of Madame Caillaux’s victim have been allowed to spend hours
in the examining magistrate’s office at the Palace of Justice making
speeches on behalf of the prisoner or against her which were sometimes
interesting, which were more or less convincing, but which very rarely
formed any real evidence such as evidence is understood in England. And
all the while the collection of evidence goes on it is published in the
newspapers day by day and commented on at will. More than this,
witnesses, after their examination by the examining magistrate, are
interviewed in the newspapers, and columns of what they have said,
often with very little bearing on the case at all, often the mere
expression of opinion, are published. Sometimes the publication of
these interviews gives curious results. There have been cases where
a witness has said little of interest in the examining magistrate’s
room, and has been so effusive to a journalist afterwards that another
visit to the examining magistrate has become necessary, and has secured
evidence of value.

[Illustration: _Agence Nouvelle—Photo, Paris_
MME. CAILLAUX IN THE DRESS SHE WAS TO WEAR AT THE ITALIAN EMBASSY
ON THE EVENING OF THE MURDER]

The mass of work which the preliminary examination in a big criminal
trial entails may be gathered from the fact that the examining
magistrate’s opinion on the case when written out and handed into court
to be read at the beginning of the trial is frequently of such length
that it forms a volume by itself and takes many hours in the reading.
The judge who presides over the case has of course read the examining
magistrate’s opinion, and digested it very carefully before the case
comes into court, and in France it is the judge who conducts a trial
rather than counsel for the defence and for the prosecution.

During the preliminary examination of the Caillaux case, which finished
just before this volume went to press, several unanticipated points
arose. The reader, who has studied with any care the employment,
given in the first chapter of this book, of Madame Caillaux’s time on
March 16, 1914, will have noticed that some hours of the afternoon
were unaccounted for. A very bitter discussion on the employment of
those hours, a discussion in which Monsieur Caillaux, Madame Caillaux,
Monsieur Caillaux’s friends, the _Figaro_, the public bank clerks, the
keeper of the registry office where Madame Caillaux engaged a cook, the
cook herself, Madame Caillaux’s servants, her English governess Miss
Baxter—in which all kinds of people were allowed to take a hand, raged
for several days. It came about in the simplest manner. Madame Caillaux
said that she went to the registry office and engaged a cook early
in the afternoon. The keeper of the registry office said that Madame
Caillaux had engaged a cook late in the afternoon. The cook herself
didn’t remember exactly at what time she was engaged. Madame Caillaux’s
chauffeur remembered when he drove her to the registry office, but his
evidence is not considered incontrovertible because he is in Madame
Caillaux’s employ. Matters were complicated by the fact that Madame
Caillaux had been to the Crédit Lyonnais and to her safe there. The
strong room of the Crédit Lyonnais is officered by certain clerks who
hand each person who goes down to the strong boxes a ticket, duly
numbered, which is stamped with a mechanical dating stamp marking the
hour and minutes at which it is issued. Madame Caillaux’s ticket was
marked five o’clock. She maintained that she had been to the Crédit
Lyonnais an hour earlier, between four and five minutes past, and that
she had been home before she went there. For several days, argument
went on in the papers, in which all sorts of people took part, to
show that Madame Caillaux had told the truth or had lied about the
employment of her afternoon before the murder. This argument was
mainly for the purpose of proving or of disproving premeditation or
its absence. After several days’ newspaper discussion, an examination
of the mechanical stamp at the Crédit Lyonnais proved that it was very
unreliable and its use has now been discontinued by the bank.

One of the great difficulties in the task of the examining magistrate
in securing really relevant and really useful evidence in a crime
of this kind, is the French insistence on the need of and the right
to professional secrecy. As I have pointed out in another chapter,
while professional secrecy is in some cases a necessity, it is often
distinctly antagonistic to the search for the truth. It is not
unlikely that there might never have been any Caillaux drama at all
if professional secrecy had not been invoked on another occasion.
During Monsieur Boucard’s examination he was informed by two members
of Parliament that each of them had been told that Monsieur Calmette
had been in possession of the letters, the publication of which Madame
Caillaux feared so much. The examining magistrate very naturally wanted
to know who had supplied this information, and very naturally wanted to
question the informant. One of the two honourable deputies had given
his word of honour as a lawyer, the other had given his word of honour
pure and simple not to disclose the source of his information, with the
result that their evidence is no evidence at all, and that on the
other hand even if it be valueless the public and everybody interested
has been led to believe that there may be a good deal in it. But what
impresses the impartial observer more than anything else in connexion
with the preliminaries for a criminal trial in France is their
unfairness—the unfairness of the system—to the person who is to be
tried. For instance, after Monsieur Calmette’s death, the report of the
autopsy made by the two medical officers of health usually charged with
this duty, Doctor Socquet and Doctor Charles Paul, was handed by them
to the examining magistrate and was, immediately afterwards, published
_in extenso_ in the public press. The examining magistrate had also
received the evidence of the armourer, Monsieur Gastinne-Renette, and
his employees on Madame Caillaux’s visit to the shooting gallery, and
her trial of the revolver she bought there. An enterprising newspaper
secured a figure from the shooting gallery, marked it with the trial
shots as Madame Caillaux had shot them, and published this picture
opposite another one representing Monsieur Calmette, which was marked
with the wounds inflicted according to the autopsy. Does it not
seem an unheard of and unallowable crime against common sense and
common decency that the public should be offered such evidence of
premeditation by a newspaper while the case is still unheard?

Some idea of the evidence which is inflicted on the examining
magistrate in a case of this kind may be formed from that given
voluntarily by a young man named Robert Philippeau. Monsieur Philippeau
stated with some solemnity that he knew nothing about the drama, that
he did not know Monsieur Caillaux and that he had not known Monsieur
Calmette. He had been in the Nord Sud (a branch of the Paris Tube) in a
first-class carriage, one afternoon in the course of last winter. Two
ladies sat on the seat immediately behind him. One of them said in his
hearing, “She browbeat me, she laughed at me, she took him from me, but
I have four of his letters, and one of them is one which he does not
know I possess. I have shown these letters to Barthou, I have told him
that I am going to use them. He neither advised me to do so, nor
advised me not to. I will wait till they get to the top of the tree and
then I will pull them down headlong.” Monsieur Philippeau said that
he looked at the lady who had spoken. He did not know her by sight,
but when he saw the picture of Madame Gueydan-Dupré in the newspapers
he had no further doubt that it was she who had spoken, and that she
alluded to the letters of which we have heard so much.

To anyone who has ever seen in a Paris daily newspaper the reproduction
of the photograph of anyone he knows, the value of this “evidence”
is obvious. Madame Gueydan had no difficulty whatever in proving by
the evidence of several intimate friends that she had never been in
the Nord Sud in her life. And even if Madame Gueydan had travelled
every afternoon all through the winter in the first-class carriages
of the Nord Sud she would hardly have been likely to talk to a friend
in a loud voice of private affairs of such importance, or to mention
Monsieur Barthou’s name in connexion with them.

With regard to these letters, it is not yet certain that they will be
read in court, but it is to be hoped that the examining magistrate
may succeed in obtaining possession of them for this purpose, for on
the probability of their publication in the _Figaro_, and on Madame
Caillaux’s belief that their publication might occur, rests one of
the principal pleas for the defence. In her examination on the motive
for her crime before the examining magistrate, Monsieur Boucard, the
prisoner was asked why she was so afraid at the idea of the publication
of the two letters which Monsieur Caillaux had written to her in 1909
when he was still the husband of Madame Gueydan, as Madame Caillaux
at that time was already divorced from her first husband, Monsieur
Léo Claretie. “These letters,” said the prisoner, “were intimate in
nature, and I resented and feared the possibility of their publication.
My situation and my reputation could be attacked by the help of these
letters.” “That being so,” said Monsieur Boucard, “why did you give
them back to Monsieur Caillaux?” “When he wrote them to me,” said
the prisoner, “I was staying in the country with friends. So that I
shouldn’t lose them, Monsieur Caillaux asked me to send them back to
him, addressed to him ‘Poste Restante’ at Le Mans. I did this, and
that is how Madame Gueydan was able to steal them from the drawer of
his writing-table. Now that the scandal has burst,” she added, “I
should wish these two letters to be put in with the other evidence on
my case.” Monsieur Boucard told her (it should be understood that the
whole of this conversation in the magistrate’s private room at the
Palais of Justice was reproduced in full, immediately after it took
place, in the Paris newspapers of April 22) that he had asked Madame
Gueydan on three separate occasions to give him the photographs of
these letters—which photographs had been taken and which she had,
she admitted, deposited in a safe place—and that she had refused to
let him have them. “I hope you will be able to get them,” said Madame
Caillaux to Monsieur Boucard. “Their publication will show that they
are not the improper letters they have been described to be, and I wish
to renew my statement that in going to the _Figaro_ office I had no
intention of killing Monsieur Calmette. My object was to obtain from
him the promise that he would not make use of the letters which
Monsieur Caillaux had written to me, and I had intended making a
scandal in case Monsieur Calmette refused.” The magistrate’s answer to
this statement was published, with the statement itself, by the Paris
newspapers of April 22.

[Illustration: _Agence Nouvelle—Photo, Paris_
M. JOSEPH CAILLAUX]

I quote his answer from the _Petit Parisien_, a paper which has made
every effort to try the case in its columns with impartiality, and
without political bias. I quote it as a sidelight on the inherent
peculiarities of the conduct of a criminal trial in France, quite
irrespective of the impropriety of its being published at all. “Do not
let us go back to a discussion on this point,” answered the magistrate.
“You will make nobody believe that when you went to get your letters
back or to obtain a promise that they should not be published you lost
all power of speech, and lost your head at the same time, to the extent
of saying nothing and using your revolver.” “Madame Caillaux had been
in the magistrate’s office for six hours,” says the _Petit Parisien_.
“She appeared very tired.”

Some weeks before this extract from the examination of Madame Caillaux
had appeared _Excelsior_ published (on March 25, 1914) an extract from
the letter Madame Caillaux had written to her husband and left with
Miss Baxter, her daughter’s English governess, to be given to her
husband on the evening of March 16 in case she did not return home
before him. In this letter Madame Caillaux is said to have written, in
reference to her conversation with her husband that same morning, “you
told me that you were going to smash his face. I do not want you to
sacrifice yourself. France and the Republic need you. I will do it for
you.”

The mere fact that such details of the examination of a prisoner by the
magistrate appointed to instruct the court which is to try her should
be made known in the public Press and should be free for comment weeks
before, and even months before the trial of her case in the assize
court, calls for no remark. It speaks for itself. A prisoner in France
who has been accused of any crime is tried by the public before the
trial of the case begins. The jury cannot possibly come into court with
impartial minds owing to this system, they cannot listen with open
minds to the evidence which is laid before them in the court room, for
they have read it all before, they have thought over it, they have
discussed it with their families and with their friends, and with the
best will in the world they have been unable to help forming an opinion
of one kind or another. And there is another vice of French procedure
which is well worthy of note. In a sensational case such as the trial
of Madame Caillaux, the jury is subjected to direct influence. After it
has been empanelled at the beginning of the trial the members of the
jury return to their homes every evening. They are therefore, during
the actual hearing of the case, liable to outside influence. Even more
than this, the names of the twelve jurymen and of the two supplementary
jurymen will certainly be published in the French newspapers with
details about the men themselves and their professions, before the
trial begins, and this of itself forms an abuse which must inevitably
react on the absolute impartiality of a jury, which should be a
first necessity of any criminal trial in any country, for numbers of
newspapers will tell them what they ought to do and what their verdict
ought to be.

The procedure of a French criminal trial in the court of assizes in
Paris is attended with considerable pomp. In the Caillaux case as in
the cases of a sensational nature which have preceded it, the rush for
tickets of admission to the trial will be enormous. Response to this
demand for tickets to hear and to witness the trial rests entirely
in the hands of the judge who presides over the proceedings. He is
able to admit, to standing room behind the bench, such friends of his
own as he cares to admit, and he decides on the number of tickets
of admission to the body of the court, which are distributed to the
Press. The body of the court is supposed to be reserved for the Press
and for the witnesses. In actual fact, as every barrister in robes
is by reason of his profession entitled to admission to the court,
barristers overflow from the seats reserved for the Bar and crowd the
Press benches and the witnesses terribly, and far too many tickets
are invariably distributed to members of the detective force in plain
clothes who become “journalists” for the occasion. The public who have
no particular privileges are admitted to a small space at the back of
the court, through a small door in the Palace of Justice which is set
apart for the purpose.

In the trial of Madame Steinheil long queues waited all night for
admission to this small enclosure, although the hundreds who waited
knew beforehand that very few of them would get in, and in the Caillaux
case we are likely to see similar strings of well dressed society folk
subjecting themselves to the hardships of waiting all night in the
streets for a few hours’ sensation. The assize court is presided over
by the President and two assistant judges. These three men in all the
mediæval glories of their red robes and quaint brimless caps, trimmed
with ermine, sit at a long table on a platform at the upper end. The
court-room is a long parallelogram with beautiful dark oak panelling
and ugly green paper above it. The top half of the room, which is
reserved for the court, the table with the _pièces à conviction_
(Madame Caillaux’s revolver, for instance), the jury, and the Bar,
behind which is the dock, is divided from the lower half of the room
where the witnesses, the Press, and the public sit or stand, by an
oaken barrier with a gate in the middle of it. Immediately in front of
this gate, plumb in the centre and facing the table at which the judges
sit, is the bar to which witnesses are called. Witnesses, after they
have given evidence, go and sit on the seats beyond the barrier till
the end of the trial. A witness stands facing the judge, and has on his
immediate right the prisoner’s lawyers and above them the dock in which
the prisoner stands. This dock has no door leading into the body of the
court. The only entrance to it or exit from it is a door leading out
to a room and the passage which conducts to the stairway leading down
to the depôt or prison in the Palace of Justice. To the witness’s left
is the box with the jury, and on a level with the judge’s bench and
with the jury’s box is the desk occupied by the Public Prosecutor, who
wears the same imposing red, ermine-trimmed robes as those worn by the
judges, and who prosecutes on behalf of the Government of France. As a
matter of fact, however, in every French criminal trial there are two
prosecutors. The French criminal system considers this right, but to
any foreigner who has been present at a trial in France it must appear
anything but that. For the presiding judge in a French trial is really
a prosecutor as well. Before the case comes into court he has spent
many hours over the opinion provided for him, in a lengthy document
with countless appendices of evidence, by the examining magistrate, and
from the very start of the trial the presiding judge takes the lead in
the examination of the prisoner.

I was present in the Paris Court of Assizes throughout the Steinheil
trial, and I shall always remember the painful impression which was
made on me then by the judge’s methods. I remember now the picture I
saw of the eager little woman, dressed in black, pleading, protesting,
discussing, admitting and contradicting by turn, and of the man in
his judge’s robes who argued hotly with her, told her, downright,
time after time that she was guilty of the crime for which she was on
trial, thundered out accusations, tried to wheedle her into damaging
admissions, and thundered out the statement that she was not telling
the truth. The judge in a French trial is not only a prosecuting
counsel—he is rather a brutal one at that. Any impartial onlooker, if
he be not a Frenchman, and be not therefore accustomed to the methods
of the French court, cannot help realizing that the judge uses his
power and his prestige as Brennus used his sword, and frequently hurls
it into the scales of justice to the detriment of the prisoner. On the
other hand, a French judge, who is enjoined by law on his honour and
his conscience to use his best efforts to bring out truth at the trial,
undoubtedly does so within the limits of human possibility.

But the work which a French judge has to do at a criminal trial is more
than any one man should be allowed to do, for no man can both judge
and prosecute. To begin with, his own opinion has been prejudiced,
must have been prejudiced, by the opinion of the examining magistrate,
which, whether he will or not, has influenced him. He examines all the
witnesses, he examines the prisoner, and he cross-examines them. On the
other hand he is forbidden to discuss the arguments after the counsel’s
speeches, either for the prosecution or for the defence (if he did so
the whole proceedings would be void), and he does not sum up as an
English judge is allowed to sum up. But the French judge in a criminal
trial sums up at the beginning of the trial instead of after it. He
has made a complete study of the _dossier_, which is to all intents
and purposes a complete study of the brief for the prosecution and of
the brief for the defence, he tells the jury the whole story of the
crime with which the prisoner is charged, and tells them the facts on
which the prosecution and the defence rely. The judge tells the jury,
before it is given, of the evidence which will be called in support
of the prosecution, and of the evidence which will be called by the
defence in answer to it. He goes the length of explaining why the
prosecution believes the prisoner to be guilty, and explains the facts
and deductions on which prisoner’s counsel base their defence.

The amount of apparently irrelevant argument which is permitted in a
French criminal trial is enormous. The code does not allow it, for by
Article 270 the presiding judge is ordered to exclude from the hearing
anything that will prolong the trial without adding to the certainty
of the result. In any trial which has aroused general interest this
article of the code usually becomes a dead letter. The judge himself,
the Public Prosecutor, the prisoner’s counsel, the prisoner and the
witnesses are all allowed immense latitude, are all encouraged to
say all that they care to say at enormous length. The only people in
court who do not talk are the members of the jury, and from the very
beginning of the trial these men go to their homes every night, discuss
the case with their friends and their wives, and read the newspapers
daily, and the newspaper comment on the case which they are trying.
Jurymen are not necessarily possessed of legal minds, and under such
circumstances how can twelve ordinary men, however honest, and however
impartial they may wish to be, keep their minds entirely free from
outside influence.

I don’t know that I have ever heard of a case in which a member or
members of the jury have been known to have talked to witnesses, but
I do not know, either, that there is anything to prevent any member
of the jury discussing the case at night during the progress of the
trial with a witness outside the precincts of the court. No man is
infallible, but justice ought to be. Jean Richepin put the whole case
against the French criminal trial in a nutshell when he sang “Quel
homme est assez Dieu pour rendre la Justice?” The conclusions of a
_juge d’instruction_, however capable the man may be, need not of
necessity be infallible. As he has the power to let the prisoner go,
the power to say that there is no case for the jury, it stands to
reason that, unless he states a doubt, the mere fact that he has sent
the prisoner for trial means that he believes in the prisoner’s guilt.

The judge therefore starts a trial with the conviction that the
examining magistrate thinks that the prisoner is guilty. This
conviction must influence his conduct of the case. “Quel homme est
assez Dieu pour rendre la Justice” under these conditions? Many
Frenchmen have been of the opinion for a long time that the procedure
of a French criminal trial needs reformation. Many consider that the
judge’s preliminary interrogatory of the prisoner and of the witnesses
should be entirely suppressed, and should give place to examination
and cross-examination by prosecuting counsel and the counsel for the
defence. Many people think too that the _juge d’instruction_ should be
made to justify his _dossier_ in open court and on oath, that he should
be called to justify it at the witness bar instead of the present
system of a formal reading by a clerk of the court which takes a long
time and is always so gabbled that it is merely a formality.

Another reform in French criminal procedure which many Frenchmen think
necessary is the suppression of the freedom of the jury during the
trial. There is a curious disregard of rules and regulations during the
details of a big criminal trial in France. There are witnesses who, in
response to the judge’s remark after he has asked the witness to swear
to tell the truth without fear and without hatred, and to state name,
address, and age, in response to the three words “Make your deposition”
which give the witness a free head, behave just like racehorses when
the starting gate goes up. Lawyer witnesses particularly have been
known to make long speeches for the defence or for the prosecution on
the plea of giving evidence, and there are many other similar abuses.
It often happens, too, that evidence which the examining magistrate has
collected is never sifted at the trial itself. When the trial is over,
when the Public Prosecutor, the counsel for the defence, and, if the
prisoner has anything to say, the prisoner, have addressed the court,
the jury retires to consider the verdict. There is something oddly,
picturesquely, emphatic and impressive in the mechanism of this
retirement.

Somehow or another the French have a peculiar knack of stage-managing
anything and everything. No visitor on his first visit to Paris fails
to remark the wonderful stage-management (I suppose I ought to call
it landscape gardening) of the city. Look at the Tuileries Gardens
when dusk is just closing in towards the end of a fine day. The whole
place breathes the history of the last days of the Empire, and has the
gentle melancholy of a Turner picture. Stop in the Avenue des Champs
Elysées where the Avenue Nicholas II. intersects it. Look up the
Avenue and down it. The Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde,
which, when it ceased to be the Place Royale, held the scaffold of a
king of France. Look out across the Seine, then turn and look behind
you. The bridge which is named after a murdered Czar of Russia and the
Invalides beyond it. Behind you the Palace of the Elysée, the home of
the President of the third Republic, facing Napoleon’s Tomb. At every
turn in Paris, north, east, west, or south, you get signs of this
half-unconscious national gift of staging effects.

The jury in a criminal trial in Paris does not, as a London jury does,
melt into disappearance before the final verdict. There are a few
solemn words from the judge, there is a rustle as the lawyers gather up
papers and sit back, and then fourteen very ordinary, very weary good
men and true, whose faces we had only seen in profile until then, rise
in their places. Their white and tired faces shine suddenly a pasty
yellow in the electric lamplight. The good men of the jury show us
their backs and walk slowly behind the desk of the Public Prosecutor to
a little door which we had not noticed till then, and which has just
been opened. Through this freshly opened door we stare across the court
up a flight of narrow stairs with red and grey carpets on them. The
verdict will come, presently, down that flight of narrow stairs. The
small door closes, and we wait.

As a rule a big criminal trial finishes late in the evening. Everybody
is sick of it. For the sake of the prisoner, for the sake of the judge,
for the sake of the jury, for the sake of the lawyers, for the sake of
the public, every one wants to get it over. Nobody wants yet another
adjournment. So it is usually at night that one sits and waits for the
verdict in a big Paris criminal trial, and although I have seen exactly
the same scene, and endured exactly the same sensations many times, the
scene has never lost its dramatic force, and the sensations are always
new. A sense of relief comes first. We have seen the prisoner, in a
state of semi-collapse as a rule, going out through the door of the
dock to the room behind it, where, on this last evening of the trial,
the prisoner is allowed to wait for the verdict which is to be rendered
before her return. We feel the relief that one feels when the fighting
is over, mingled with suspense and with pity for the wretched creature
who is waiting and is wondering. We realize that we are hungry, and
rush off to get a little food. We dare not stay to eat it, and return
with it to court again. The appearance of the court-room has changed
during the few minutes of our scamper to the buffet down below for
sandwiches. We have brought them back with us, and other people are
munching food, too, in the dust, the heat, the squalor of this room
from which the majesty of justice has departed with the red robed
tribunal, the jury, and the prisoner. There is a hubbub of excited talk
and much discussion. Municipal guards forget to keep order and chat
with us and with the barristers of the probabilities and possibilities
of the verdict. Every now and then there is a hubbub of excitement and
a sudden deathly stillness. The little door, beyond which we can see
those red and grey carpeted stairs, has opened. The jury are returning!
No, it is a false alarm. They are not quite clear on some formal point
or other, and they have sent for the judge. After one or more of these
alarms, suddenly, when nobody has expected it, the little door opens
and remains open. The jury really are returning this time. We see them
walk slowly down those narrow red and grey stairs, and file slowly into
the box. Their faces tell us nothing, but we all try to read them. The
presiding judge and his two assistant judges walk slowly in and take
their seats, at the long table. On their right, the red robed Public
Prosecutor who has followed them, stands at his desk, on their left
the lawyers for the defence stand in their seats in front of the empty
dock. The stillness which was broken for a moment while the court came
in becomes something tangible, something quite painful now. It has
a quality of the sensation one feels in a diving bell. Our eardrums
tingle with it. Then the judge’s voice breaks the strain. “There must
be not the least noise,” he says. “I will allow no demonstration of any
kind, whatever the verdict may be.” Somebody laughs, and is hushed down
with indignant sibilance. We know that there will be a demonstration
whatever the judge may say. There has never yet been a French trial
without one.

“Mr. Foreman of the Jury,” says the judge, “Be kind enough to let
us know the result of your deliberations.” If possible the silence
becomes greater yet. Then: “On my honour and on my conscience,” says
the foreman of the jury “before God and before men, the answer is ...
to all questions.” And pandemonium breaks forth. The answer to the
questions has to be “Yes” or “No”. The jury may not amplify it. They
will be asked, in the trial of Madame Caillaux, to decide whether
there was murder, whether there was murder with premeditation or
without it. They will be asked to state whether there are extenuating
circumstances, or whether there are none. On these answers, on this
simple “Yes” or “No” depends the fate of the prisoner. We see the
judge’s mouth open and shut, we see his hand rise and fall, but we have
heard no sound of his voice in the hubbub which the declaration of
the verdict has let loose. Then there is silence again. The judge has
ordered the prisoner to be brought in. The verdict is told her, and the
sentence, if there is a sentence, is rendered.

This is the way in which the curtain will fall on the last act of the
Caillaux Drama. Will it be a final curtain? And what will the jury’s
answer be to the questions which will be put to them? That, no man can
answer now. Madame Caillaux may of course be acquitted, though public
opinion in Paris considers this exceedingly unlikely. She may be found
guilty of murder with premeditation. The sentence decreed by the Code
for this is death, and nobody believes in or anticipates the likelihood
of such a verdict. If the verdict be “Murder without premeditation,” if
the jury finds extenuating circumstances, the Code decrees a minimum
of five years, either hard labour or confinement in a prison, and a
maximum of ten years. There is also the possibility that a sentence may
be passed of hard labour or imprisonment for life.

And beyond the verdict, beyond the sentence, what will the future of
this woman and her husband be? That no man can answer either, but we
all know that whatever happens, whatever the court decides, those shots
from a revolver in the office of the _Figaro_ on the afternoon of March
16, 1914, will never cease to echo in the lives of Joseph and Henriette
Caillaux.

And in the echo, lurks the tragic essence of the Caillaux drama.

                                THE END



INDEX


Agadir
  M. Calmette asked not to publish telegrams, 96
  M. Clemenceau and the Barthou Cabinet, 103
  M. Caillaux open to criticism, 106
  M. Calmette’s series of articles, 130
  History of Agadir, 150
  _Panther_ and _Berlin_ arrive, 165
  M. Caillaux’s telegram, 166
  Lord Morley in the _Times_, 168
  Treaty, 259

Algeciras, Act of
  The right of France to police Morocco, 151, 154

Alphonse de Neuville, Rue
  Home of Madame Caillaux, 12, 13, 14, 17, 20

Aratra Mines
  Company floated by M. Rochette, 210

Asquith
  “extremely difficult” situation, 168

Auteuil
  Home of M. Schneider, Boulevard Beauséjour, 121

Avenue d’Antin
  Sale-rooms of Gastinne-Renette, 18


Banque, Franco-Espagnole
  Company floated by M. Rochette, 184, 200, 207

Banque Perrier
  M. Calmette calls M. Caillaux to account for heavy fine, 130

Baring Bros., London Bankers
  concerned in Prieu affair, 118

Barrès
  took part in debate in Chamber of Deputies, 42

Barthou, Minister of Justice
  produced and read statement, 33, 96, 179
  takes part in debate in Chamber of Deputies, 42
  conversation with Mme. Gueydan and with M. Caillaux, 97
  defeated by Clemenceau faction, 103
  opposition to M. Caillaux, 104
  comment on Bourse operation, 137
  M. Fabre’s statement received from M. Briand, 242

Baxter, Miss, Mme. Caillaux’s English governess
  letter for M. Caillaux, 289

Belgian Congo
  Railway from German Cameroons, 164, 174
  opinion in Great Britain and Belgium, 168

Bernard-Maurice, M. Rochette’s lawyer
  statement by M. Fabre, 35, 38, 39, 232
  represented M. Caillaux in divorce proceedings, 83, 181
  M. Poincaré’s evidence, 83, 84, 85
  M. Monis’ remarks, 181
  charges of illegality made, 206
  postponement of trial, 237, 238
  threatened M. Fabre, 247

Bernstein, Henry, Jewish play-writer
  play produced by Comédie Française, 65

Berr, Examining Magistrate
  preparing Rochette case, 199
  letter from M. Rochette, 200
  M. Rochette’s complaint, 217

Bidault de L’Isle, Judge
  question by M. Delahaye, 30
  evidence before Commission of Inquiry, 31, 32
  statement by M. Fabre, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40
  pressure brought on him by M. Monis and M. Caillaux, 140, 240
  contradictions in evidence, 228
  evidence at Chamber of Correctional Appeal, 237, 238

Blanc, Examiner of M. Rochette’s books
  M. Rochette’s trial a foregone conclusion, 218

Bloch-Laroque, friend of M. Fabre
  statement by M. Fabre, 35, 39
  conversation with M. Fabre on M. Bernard, 247

Boileau, Member of Prieu Syndicate
  letters in the _Figaro_, 123

Boucard, Examining Magistrate
  Madame Caillaux’s evidence, 18, 19, 20, 21, 286, 287
  _Action Française_, 69
  M. Caillaux and evidence of others, 80
  evidence of M. Caillaux, 86, 87, 90, 93, 95
  _re_ Prieu affair, 118
  Madame Caillaux’s request, 277

Bourget, Paul
  novelist and friend of M. Calmette, 6, 21

Briand, Minister of Justice in Monis Cabinet
  received M. Fabre’s declaration, 32
  statement handed to M. Barthou, 33
  took part in debate in Chamber of Deputies, 42
  favours Clemenceau party, 103
  founded Federation of the Left, 104
  Prime Minister, 153
  resignation, 155
  Monis Cabinet and desire to break away, 159
  M. Caillaux’s epigram, 159, 163
  interview with M. de Selves, _re_ “green document,” 173
  handed M. Fabre’s statement to M. Barthou, 242

Buisson Hella
  Company floated by M. Rochette, 184, 207


Caillaux, Eugène Alexandre, Inspector of Finance and Minister of State
  father of M. Joseph Caillaux, 87

Calmette, Madame
  divorce proceedings, 94

Cambon, Jules, French Ambassador in Berlin
  troops to Fez, 164
  reply of von Kiderlen Waechter, 165
  M. de Selve’s request, 167
  questions German Foreign Minister, 170

Cambon, Paul
  instructions in relation to British Government, 166, 167
  telegram from Berlin, 171

Cameroon
  Franco-German understanding, 158, 159, 160, 167

Carpin, Police Commissioner
  received journalists, 10, 11
  no means of stopping _Figaro_ campaign, 13

Cassel, Sir Ernest
  influence on behalf of M. Spitzer, 128
  negotiations with Herr von Gwinner, 170

Ceccaldi
  mentioned in M. Caillaux’s evidence, 100
  charges of corruption, 126
  member of second Commission, 193

Chauchard, Founder of Magasins du Louvre
  legacy to M. Calmette, 95

Chaussée d’ Antin, Rue de la
  situation of office of M. Gaudrion, 196

Claretie, Leo
  first husband of Madame Caillaux, 286

Claretie, Madame Leo, second wife of M. Caillaux
  became Madame Caillaux, 88, 90

Clemenceau
  supporter of M. Pams, 102
  against M. Barthou and his Cabinet, 103
  general adviser, 104
  letter published by M. Calmette, 135
  head of Government, 152
  out of office, 153
  M. Caillaux and impeachment for high treason, 169
  interview with M. de Selves, 173
  discussion in the Chamber, 175-177
  accused of moral complicity with M. Rochette, 191
  initiates action in Rochette case, 193, 194
  accusation of proceeding illegally, 206
  evidence before Commission of Inquiry, 209, 212
  Government not protecting M. Rochette, 226

Cochery
  Finance Minister, 1909, 115

Compagnie Transatlantique
  quarrel with South Atlantic Company and _Figaro’s_ accusation, 129

Congo
  Franco-German understanding, 152, 155, 158, 159, 160, 167
  convention with Germany, 163
  M. Waechter’s answer to M. Cambon, 165
  Germany’s demands, 168, 171

Conty, Director of Political Affairs in Foreign Office and now
       French Minister at Pekin
  Franco-German understanding in Congo, 158, 160

Corbeil
  home of M. Pichereau, 196

Crédit Minier
  Company floated by M. Rochette, 184, 201, 207, 218, 219, 222

Cruppi
  Franco-German understanding in Congo, 158, 163


D’Ariste, Heir of M. Prieu
  made over his rights to Syndicate, 119

Darracq
  backed by M. Rochette, 220

Delahaye, Member of the Opposition
  placed motion before the House, 27
  declared M. Calmette intended to publish letter, 29
  addressed question to M. Monis, 30
  Prime Minister replies, 32

Desbons
  Counsel for Madame Vitz, 75

Desclaux, chef de Cabinet de M. Caillaux
  Madame Gueydan’s offer to journalist, 91, 92, 93

De Selves, Minister for Foreign Affairs
  resignation of, 108
  visit to Holland, 165
  M. Caillaux’s instructions in opposition to his opinion, 166
  returns from Holland and asks for explanation of agreement, 167
  negotiations without his knowledge, 169, 176
  telegram from Berlin to German Embassy in Paris, 171
  the “green document,” 172
  causes excitement, 174
  speech before Senate in Committee, 175

D’Estournelles de Constant, friend of M. Caillaux
  canvass for M. Caillaux, 257

Doumergue, Prime Minister
  M. Caillaux telephones his resignation, 23
  Cabinet Council, 24
  speech of M. Delahaye, 27
  speech in Chamber of Deputies, 32
  challenged to a duel, 42
  improbability of re-election, 43
  M. Caillaux endeavouring to maintain Ministry, 107
  M. Renoult, Minister of the Interior, 115

Doyen, Dr., surgeon
  his opinion as to M. Calmette’s treatment, 277

Drouot, Rue
  office of the _Figaro_, 2, 3, 4, 43

Du Mesnil, managing editor of the _Rappel_
  statement by M. Fabre, 35, 39

Dupré, Jules
  first husband of Madame Gueydan, 88, 95

Durand, Yves, chef de Cabinet de M. Lépine
  sent for by M. Lépine, 194
  ordered to find plaintiff, 194, 195
  visits M. Gaudrion, 196, 198
  sent to M. Monier, 197
  accused of speculating, 199, 206
  called as witness before Commission, 207
  acquitted by M. Lépine of all dishonourable action, 208

Duret, M. Rochette’s Private Secretary
  his evidence, 223


Fabre, Victor, Procureur Général
  M. Calmette and letter, 26, 138
  M. Delahaye’s question, 30
  declaration carried by M. Calmette, 31
  statement produced, 33
  “deplorable abuse of influence,” 41
  Madame Gueydan read letter, 97
  story of pressure put upon him, 140
  position at Aix, 180
  evidence before Parliamentary Commission, 231, 232
  cross-questioned, 234
  statements _re_ Rochette case, 235-247

Fallières, President of the French Republic
  Franco-German understanding in Congo, 158
  warning at Cabinet Council, 160
  visit to Tunis, 163

Faubourg Montmartre, Rue du
  police-station, 3, 9, 12, 23, 44

Fez
  French troops to be sent, 163, 164, 165

Fontainebleau
  M. Rochette’s early life, 183

Fonvielle, Antoine de, lawyer Prieu Syndicate
  letter to M. Calmette, 120, 122

Forichon, Presiding Judge in Court of Appeal
  hears M. Poincaré’s evidence on oath, 81

François-Poncet
  statement by M. Fabre, 36, 40

Fresnes
  Modern prison, 46, 47


Gabon
  Germany’s demands, 168

Gaillard, Doctor
  Dentist of Madame Caillaux, 14

Gastinne-Renette
  Armourer, 18, 19, 283

Gaudrion, a banker connected with Rochette case
  willing to prosecute M. Rochette, 196
  visited by M. Durand, 198
  dealings in shares in M. Rochette’s Companies, 204
  supplies a prosecutor in his stead, 225

German Cameroons
  railway to Belgian Congo, 164, 174

Grange Batélière, Rue de la
  other entrance to police station, 12

Grey, Sir Edward
  refers to Belgian Congo, 168

Gueydan, Madame, first wife of M. Caillaux
  divorced wife of M. Dupré, 88
  letters burned, 89, 92
  evidence before examining magistrate, 90, 91
  read letters to M. Barthou, 97
  M. Privat-Deschanel and burning of letters, 101, 129
  “Ton Jo” letter, 146, 147

Guillemard, Madeleine
  wrote in defence of letters, 86

Guiot, representative of bondholders of Moroccan Debt
  visited German Foreign Office, 153
  provisional agreement, 154

Gwinner, of the Deutsche Bank
  negotiations, 170


Hartmann
  owner of hospital, 4

Herbaux, new Procureur Général
  probable prosecutor, 180

Homberg, André, Director of Société Générale
  called on M. Caillaux, 129
  _Figaro’s_ accusation, 130

Hotel Ritz
  Madame Caillaux’s engagement for tea, 16, 20

Hottinguer and Co.
  concerned in Prieu affair, 118

Humbert
  notorious female prisoner, 12, 44


“Intermède Comique—Ton Jo”
  Headline in _Figaro_, 98

Italian Embassy
  Dinner-party, 13, 17, 23, 24


Jaurès
  President Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry, 31, 41, 180
  took part in debate in Chamber of Deputies, 42
  Rochette affair, 141, 206, 238
  tells committee the history of the Rochette case, 224-228
  letter summoning M. Monis to Commission of Inquiry, 235

Jeanne
  Soubrette in attendance on Madame Caillaux, 50, 51


Kissingen
  French Ambassador’s conversation with German Secretary of State, 165


Lancken
  first mention of Belgian Congo, 169

Lavedan
  play-writer, 65

Laviana
  Company floated by M. Rochette, 184, 207

Lebon, François, editor of _L’Œuvre_
  attack on M. Caillaux and French Parliament, 125

Le Mans
  letters sent to M. Caillaux “poste restante,” 286

Léonide, Sister, Chief Superintendent of prison nuns
  description of, 47
  “Bostock,” 48
  duties in St. Lazare, 60, 62

Lépine, Prefect of Police
  received orders to inquire into Rochette case, 194, 212, 226
  previously urged authorities to take action, 195
  sent M. Durand to M. Monier, 197
  evidence before Commission of Inquiry, 197, 208, 210
  opinion of M. Rochette, 209

Lloyd George
  opinion on Congo question, 168

Luquet, Permanent Official in Ministry of Finance
  intermediary between Government and Société Générale, 128
  superseded and succeeded by M. Privat-Deschanel, 129


Malvy, Minister of Commerce
  accompanies M. Caillaux, 12
  sent to M. Caillaux to induce him to reconsider resignation, 24
  appointed Minister Home Affairs, 25

Mamers
  M. Caillaux’s constituency, 19, 88, 112, 132, 256, 257, 259, 260

Manchon Hella
  Company floated by M. Rochette, 184, 185, 207
  M. Pichereau’s investments, 197, 198

Mannesmann Brothers
  claims and concessions, 163

Mascuraud Committee
  association of parliamentarians and commercial men, 126

Mazars
  letter in _Figaro_ from M. Prosper Sauvage, 123

Messimy, Colonial Minister in Monis Cabinet
  instructed to declare Franco-German understanding impossible, 160

Michel, Louise
  notorious prisoner, cell No. 12, 44

Millerand, Socialist, 255

Milliés-Lacroix, French Colonial Minister
  interview with M. Pichon, 153

Mines de Liat
  Company floated by M. Rochette, 184, 207

Mogador
  telegram from M. Caillaux, 166

Moinier, General
  troops at his disposal, 164

Monier, Procureur de la République?
  president of the Civil Court, 13, 14
  consulted by Madame Caillaux, 81, 99
  interviewed by M. Durand, 197, 198
  documents accusing M. Rochette, 207

Monis, Prime Minister and Minister of Marine
  accusation against, 29
  questioned by M. Delahaye and reply, 30
  statement by M. Fabre, 33, 37, 138
  resignation from Cabinet, 40
  Minister of Marine, 104
  article by M. Calmette, 139
  brought pressure to bear on M. Fabre and Judge Bidault de L’Isle, 140
  elected Prime Minister, 155
  Cabinet defeated, 165
  examination by Parliamentary Commission, 179, 180, 234-237
  conversation in regard to trial of Rochette, 181, 182
  M. Caillaux advises postponement of trial, 213
  order for postponement of trial, 243, 245

Monniot
  letter in _Figaro_ from M. Prosper Sauvage, 123, 124

Monquin, Head of Research Department, Paris Police
  sent for by M. Lépine, 194

Morand, Albert, Artist of St. Lazare
  honoured in Carnavalet Museum, 47
  drawings in this volume, 47

Morley, Lord
  letter in the _Times_, 168

Morocco
  interests of France, 151, 152, 156
  serious trouble, 160, 161, 163, 169
  M. Caillaux’s telegram, 166
  German Cabinet and the crisis, 171

Moroccan Company of Public Works
  formed after approval of provisional agreement, 154

Mortier, Pierre, Editor of _Gil Blas_
  would not use letters, 93


Neuilly
  private hospital at, 3

N’Goko Tanga
  charges of corruption by M. Ceccaldi, 126
  offered to give up a portion of territory, 154
  question in Parliament, 155
  convention with Germany, 163
  M. Caillaux explains failure of negotiations, 174


Pams, Rival of M. Poincaré
  non-election resented by M. Clemenceau, 102

Paral Mexico
  Company floated by M. Rochette, 184

Paris Omnibus Co.
  M. Rochette endeavouring to get concession, 220

Pau
  M. Caillaux founded Radical united party, 104

Paul, Dr. Chas., Medical Officer of Health
  report of the autopsy after M. Calmette’s death, 283

Péret, Raoul
  appointed Minister of Commerce, 25

Perrier, Minister of Justice (Monis Cabinet)
  M. Calmette’s article, 139

Philippeau, Robert
  reported conversation heard in Paris Tube, 284, 285

Pichereau, connected with M. Rochette’s enterprises
  introduced by M. Gaudrion, 196
  accusation against M. Rochette signed, 198
  formal charge made, 199
  M. Rochette in letter to examining magistrate, 201, 202
  claim against M. Rochette, 202
  documents in M. Rochette’s desk, 203
  M. Rochette takes legal action, 205
  prosecutor in M. Gaudrion’s stead, 225

Pichon
  South American Bank Loan refused, 134
  Foreign Minister, 152, 153
  convention with Germany, 163

Pierre Charron, Rue
  M. Caillaux’s house, 89

Pierre de Fouquières of the Protocol, 13

Place Beauvau
  situation of Home Office, 194

Poincaré, President of the French Republic
  hears of the tragedy, 24
  signs decrees, 25
  evidence on oath, 79, 80, 81, 86
  conversation with M. Caillaux, 82
  election to Presidency and M. Clemenceau, 102, 103
  M. Calmette in the _Figaro_, 108
  Prime Minister, 140

Poirier, Henri, intimate friend of M. Spitzer
  M. Calmette’s comment on Finance Minister’s resignation, 133

Potsdam Agreement
  soothed Russian fears, 165

Prestat, father of Madame Calmette
  chairman of _Figaro_ Co., 94

Prevet, Managing Director _Le Petit Journal_
  M. Rochette’s attack, 187, 191
  realizes effects of M. Rochette’s tactics, 189, 190
  told M. Durand M. Gaudrion would prosecute, 196
  M. Durand complains he has been misled, 199
  _Petit Journal_ and shareholders, 214, 215

Prieu, French merchant living in Brazil
  M. Caillaux accused by _Figaro_, 106
  misspelled “Priou,” 114
  heirs claim concessions, 115, 116
  difficulty of settlement, 117
  claim on Government, 118, 119
  M. de Fonvielle’s letter, 120
  M. Schneider pressed claims, 121
  members of Prieu Syndicate, 123
  article in _L’Œuvre_, 125

Privat-Deschanel, Secretary of the Ministry of Finance
  letters burned, 89
  M. Boucard’s call, 90
  evidence of, 101
  successor to M. Luquet in Ministry of Finance, 129


Rabier, one of M. Rochette’s lawyers
  received large sums, 220

Raynouard
  maiden name of Madame Caillaux, 88

Renoult, René, Member of Cabinet
  appointed Minister of Finance in M. Caillaux’s stead, 25
  Under Secretary for Finance, 1909, 115
  lawyer of one of M. Rochette’s Companies, 220

Reymond, Doctor
  present with Calmette, 3, 7

Richepin, Jean
  quotation, 297

Rio de Janeiro
  French Consul helps Prieu, 115

Rocher, Rue de
  flat of M. de Fonvielle, 120

Rochette, Company Promoter and Speculator
  M. Calmette and the _Figaro_, 26
  question by M. Delahaye and M. Monis’ reply, 30
  Commission of Inquiry, 31, 41
  statement by M. Fabre, 33, 34, 36, 37, 38
  cause of political unrest, 106
  M. Caillaux accused of interfering with the course of justice, 112
  _Figaro’s_ article, 138, 139, 140, 145
  M. Fabre pressed to adjourn trial, 179, 180
  postponement requested by Maître Bernard, 181
  trial postponed, 182, 213
  early life, 183
  companies floated, 184
  shareholders sign petition for release, 185
  examination of books by accountants, 186
  Bourse suspicious, 187
  attack in _Le Petit Journal_, 187, 188, 214, 215
  M. Prevet endeavours to stop M. Rochette’s manœuvres, 189
  Western Railway of France, 190
  M. Clemenceau accused of moral complicity, 191
  charges against members of Chamber and Senate, 192
  judicial inquiry, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197
  M. Pichereau’s accusation, 198
  M. Yves Durand accused of speculating, 199
  arrested and imprisoned, 200
  confronted with M. Pichereau, 202
  declared bankrupt, 203
  appealed against verdict and took action against M. Pichereau, 205
  becomes a political matter, 206
  M. Lépine justifies arrest, 208
  M. Lépine’s opinion, 209
  details of M. Rochette’s methods, 210
  sentenced to imprisonment and appeal, 211
  evidence before Commission of Inquiry, 212
  advertisements, 214
  complaint against M. Berr, 217
  examination of books a pretence, 218
  defence of enterprises, 217, 218, 219
  clerk’s story, 220
  secrecy of payment, 222
  evidence of employees, 223
  judgment annulled, 224
  proceedings dragged out, 227, 231, 248
  volume on history of French issues, 249

Royale, Rue
  conversation between M. and Mme. Caillaux, 99


Saint Calais
  M. Caillaux’s speech to his constituents, 173

St. Lazare, Prison for Women, 11, 12, 43, 47, 48, 49, 50,
                              53, 54, 55, 56, 58, 62, 63
  history of, 44, 45, 46
  motor lorry at, 51
  “six o’clock sickness,” 61
  favours shown Madame Caillaux, 75

Santé Prison
  M. Rochette imprisoned, 200

Sarthe
  M. Caillaux candidate for re-election, 91
  popular view of peasantry, 258-262

Sauvage, Prosper, member of Prieu Syndicate
  letters in the _Figaro_, 123, 124

Say Sugar Refinery
  M. Rochette’s connexion, 219

Schneider, Auguste, pressed claims of Prieu Syndicate
  called on M. Caillaux by appointment and agreed settlement, 119
  his home at Auteuil, 121
  introduces M. de Fonvielle to M. Vidal, 121
  conversation recorded in M. de Fonvielle’s letters, 122
  mentioned in M. Boileau’s letters, 123
  referred to in letter of M. Prosper Sauvage, 124

Schoen, German Ambassador in Paris
  first suggestion of compensation, 167

Société des Mines de la Nerva
  Company floated by M. Rochette, 184, 207
  M. Pichereau’s investments, 197, 198, 202

Socquet, Dr., Medical Officer of Health
  report of the autopsy after M. Calmette’s death, 283

South Atlantic Company
  quarrel with Compagnie Transatlantique and _Figaro’s_ accusation, 129

Spitzer, Arthur, Director Société Générale
  re-election indirectly opposed by Government, 128
  accusation of Bourse quotations being permitted unfairly, 131
  M. Calmette’s comment, 133

Steinheil
  notorious female prisoner, 12, 44, 52, 59, 291, 294

Syndicat Minier
  Company floated by M. Rochette, 184, 203, 207


Tangier, Possibility of German demonstration, 159

Thalamas
  letter to Madame Caillaux, 28, 29

Thorel, solicitor for M. Caillaux
  M. Poincaré’s evidence, 83

“Ton Jo”
  signature to letter written by M. Caillaux, 92, 97, 98, 142,
                                              144-147, 149
  Copy of “Ton Jo” letter, 143

Tripoli
  coveted by Italy, 165

Tunis
  President Faillière’s visit, 163


Ullmann, of the Compte d’Escompte
  received by M. Caillaux, 124
  accusation that Bourse quotations were allowed in his favour, 131

Union, Franco-Belge
  Company floated by M. Rochette, 184, 207


Val d’Airan
  Company floated by M. Rochette, 184, 207

Valentine Morelli
  notorious prisoner, cell No. 12, 44

Vervoort, journalist on _Gil Blas_
  Madame Gueydan’s offer, 91-93

Vidal, journalist
  introduced to M. de Fonvielle, 121
  conversation with M. Schneider, 122

Vitz, Madame
  prisoner in St. Lazare, 75, 76


Waechter, Kiderlen, German Foreign Minister
  remark to French Ambassador in Berlin, 163
  reception of communication from M. Cambon, 164
  answer to M. Cambon’s question, 165
  suggests an agreement, 167
  reply to M. Cambon, 171

Waldeck-Rousseau
  former Cabinet in which M. Caillaux was Minister of Finance, 144

Western Railway of France
  M. Rochette’s agitation against State acquisition, 190, 191


Yenck, clerk in Crédit Minier
  his evidence, 223


                              PRINTED BY
                       BALLANTYNE & COMPANY LTD
                                LONDON



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

  Old or antiquated spellings have been preserved.

  Typographical errors have been silently corrected but other variations
  in spelling and punctuation remain unaltered.

  The illustrations have been moved so that they do not break up
  paragraphs, and the paginations in the List of Illustrations have
  been adjusted accordingly.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Caillaux Drama" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home