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Title: Clemenceau - The Man and His Time
Author: Hyndman, H. M.
Language: English
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http://www.pgdpcanada.net



                              CLEMENCEAU



    _ By the same Author_:--
        England for All
        The Historical Basis of Socialism
        Commercial Crises of the Nineteenth Century
        The Bankruptcy of India
        The Record of an Adventurous Life
        Further Reminiscences
        The Future of Democracy
                Etc.

[Illustration: GEORGES CLEMENCEAU

1918]



                              CLEMENCEAU
                         THE MAN AND HIS TIME

                          BY H · M · HYNDMAN

                         GRANT RICHARDS, LTD.
                  ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON, W.C.2



  _First Printed_                                                   1919

            Printed in Great Britain by W. H. Smith & Son.
               The Arden Press, Stamford Street, London.



                               CONTENTS


  CHAP.                                                             PAGE
         INTRODUCTION                                                  7

      I. EARLY LIFE                                                   13

     II. PARIS UNDER THE EMPIRE                                       22

    III. DOWNFALL AND RECONSTRUCTION                                  29

     IV. THE COMMUNE                                                  41

      V. CLEMENCEAU THE RADICAL                                       53

     VI. FROM GAMBETTA TO CLEMENCEAU                                  64

    VII. THE TIGER                                                    80

   VIII. THE RISE AND FALL OF BOULANGER                               95

     IX. PANAMA AND DRAGUIGNAN                                       106

      X. PHILOSOPHER AND JOURNALIST                                  127

     XI. CLEMENCEAU AS A WRITER                                      141

    XII. CLEMENCEAU AND THE DREYFUS AFFAIR                           151

   XIII. THE DREYFUS AFFAIR (II)                                     162

    XIV. AS ADMINISTRATOR                                            171

     XV. STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS OF CLEMENCEAU                         202

    XVI. END OF CLEMENCEAU'S MINISTRY                                220

   XVII. CLEMENCEAU AND GERMANY                                      233

  XVIII. THE GREAT WAR                                               247

    XIX. THE ENEMY WITHIN                                            257

     XX. "LA VICTOIRE INTÉGRALE"                                     281

    XXI. CONCLUSION                                                  295



                             INTRODUCTION


I began to write this book in June. We were then holding our breath as
we looked on, after the disasters of Cambrai and St. Quentin, upon the
British troops still fighting desperately against superior numbers and
defending the Channel Ports "with their backs to the wall" and barely
left with room to manœuvre. The enemy was at the same time seriously
threatening Amiens and Epernay, and the possible withdrawal of the
French Government from Paris was being again discussed. It was a trying
four months on both sides of the Channel. But England and France never
despaired of the future. Both nations were determined to fight on to
the last.

In July came the second great victory of the Marne, followed by the
wonderful triumphant advance of the Allied Armies all along the line,
side by side with our brethren of the United States, who were pouring
into France at the rate of 300,000 men a month. And now I finish when
the all-important matter of discussion is what shall be the terms of
permanent peace imposed upon Germany, what shall be the punishment
inflicted upon her and, so far as is possible, the compensation exacted
from her for her unforgivable crimes against our common humanity. The
transformation scene of the huge world war within four months has been
one of the most astounding episodes in the history of mankind, and the
tremendous struggle on the West Front has proved, as it was bound to
prove from the first, the crisis of the whole conflict.

Throughout the terrible period from November, 1917, when for the
second time in his long political career he took office as Premier
of the French Republic, Georges Clemenceau has borne the full burden
of political responsibility in his war-worn and devastated country.
It has been no light task for any man, especially for one within
easy hail of eighty years of age. When he became President of Council
and Minister of War the prospect of anything approaching to complete
success seemed remote indeed. It was a thankless post he assumed, and
neither friends nor enemies believed at first that physically, mentally
or politically could he bear the strain and overcome the intrigues
which were at once set on foot against him. But those who had the
advantage of knowing Clemenceau well took a much more hopeful view of
his chances of remaining Prime Minister until the close of the war.
His mind as well as his body has been in strict training all his life.
The one is as alert and as vigorous as the other. In the course of his
stirring career his lightness of heart and gaiety of spirit, his power
of taking the most discouraging events as part of the day's work, have
carried him triumphantly through many a difficulty. Personally, I felt
confident that nothing short of unforeseen disease, or a bomb from the
foreign or domestic enemy, would bring him down before he had done his
work. For below his exterior vigour and his brilliancy of conversation
he possesses the most relentless determination that ever inspired a
human being. Moreover, a Frenchman may be witty and light-hearted and
very wise at the same time. The world of the Middle Ages found that out.

I read, therefore, with some amusement in Mrs. Humphry Ward's recent
book of Victorian Recollections that, having met Clemenceau at dinner,
in the 'eighties, she came to the conclusion that he was "too light a
weight to ride such a horse as the French democracy." A very natural
mistake, no doubt, for one of us staid and solemn Victorians to make,
according to the young cynics and jesters of to-day who gird at us!
It is precisely this inexhaustible fund of animal spirits and his
never-failing cheerfulness and brilliancy which have given Clemenceau
the power over France which he possesses to-day. Frenchmen have felt
the more assured confidence in themselves and their future when they
saw, day after day, their own representative and ruler full of go and
of belief in himself at the time when the issue for them all was
hanging in the balance. No real leader of men can ever afford to be a
pessimist. He must assume a certitude if he have it not. There was no
need for Clemenceau to assume anything. It was all there.

I have known this great Frenchman at many critical stages in his
exciting life. What I most admire about him, is that he is always the
same man, no matter what his personal position at the moment may be.
Never excessively elated: never by any chance cast down. Good or bad
fortune, success or failure, made no difference to him. The motto of
the Tenth Legion might well be taken as his own. "_Utrinque paratus_"
has been the watchword of this indefatigable and undaunted political
warrior throughout. It is well to recall, also, that he has invariably
told his country the full truth about the situation as it appeared
to him at the time, alike in opposition and in office, as deputy, as
senator, and as journalist at large.

Beginning his political career as the intimate friend and almost pupil
of the out-and-out Radical Republican, Etienne Arago, a sympathiser
with the nobler men of the Commune, whom he endeavoured to save from
the ruthless vengeance of the reactionaries headed by Thiers, he had
previously voted at Bordeaux in the minority of genuine Republicans
who were in favour of continuing the war against Germany when all but
enthusiastic patriots held that further resistance was hopeless. Many a
time of late those events of _l'Année Terrible_ must have come back to
his mind during these still more terrible four years. His attitude now
is but the continuation and fulfilment of the policy he advocated then.
Thereupon, five years devoted to service on the Municipal Council of
Paris and to gratuitous ministrations as a doctor to the poor of one of
the poorest districts of the French metropolis: a continuous endeavour
to realise, in some degree, by political action, the practical ends
for which the Communards had so unfortunately and injudiciously
striven. Then political work again on the floor of the Assembly at one
of the most stirring periods of French history: supporting Gambetta
vigorously in his fight as the head of the Republican Party against
the dangerous reactionism of the Duc de Broglie and Marshal MacMahon,
and opposing and denouncing the fiery orator whom he succeeded as
the leader of the Left, when that statesman adopted trimming and
opportunism as his political creed.

The long fight against colonisation by conquest, the exposure of
shameless traffic in decorations, the support and overthrow of
Boulanger, the Panama scandal, the denunciation of the alliance with
despotic Russia, the advocacy of a close understanding with England.
In each and all of these matters Clemenceau was well to the front.
Then came the crash of exclusion from political life, due to the many
enemies he had made by his inconvenient honesty and bitter tongue
and pen. Once more, after the display of almost unequalled skill and
courage as a journalist, exceptionally manifested in the championship
of Dreyfus, a return to political life and unexpected acceptance of
office.

From first to last Clemenceau has been a stalwart Republican and a
thoroughgoing democratic politician of the advanced Left, with strong
tendencies to Socialism. These tendencies I begged him more than once
to turn into actual realities and to join, or at least to act in
complete harmony with, the Socialists. This seemed possible towards
the close of the Dreyfus affair. But I must admit here that, much as
I regret that Socialism has never enjoyed the full advantage of his
services, Clemenceau, as an avowed member of the Socialist Party, could
not have played the glorious part for France as a whole which he has
played since the beginning of the war. It was far more important, at
such a desperate crisis, to carry with him the overwhelming majority of
his countrymen, including even the reactionaries, than to act with a
minority that has shown itself at variance with the real sentiments of
the Republic, when France was fighting for her existence.

That Clemenceau has, at one time or another, made great mistakes is
beyond dispute. It could not be otherwise with a man of his character
and temperament. But this, as he himself truly writes me, is "all of
the past." At no moment, in any case, has he ever failed to do his best
for the greatness, the glory, the dignity of France as they presented
themselves to his mind. This is incontestable. In the following pages
I have endeavoured not to write a biography of the statesman who has
been constantly in public life for more than fifty years, but to give
a study of the growth of a commanding personality, who is an honour to
his country, and of the surroundings in which his great faculties were
developed.

[Illustration: page of letter]

[Illustration: page of letter]

[Illustration: page of letter]



                             [Translation]


 Le Président du Conseil, Ministere de la Guerre. Paris, July 1st, 1918.

 Dear Mr. Hyndman,

 I can really only thank you for your too flattering letter, inspired
 by our old friendship. I have nothing to say about myself, except
 that I am doing my best, with the feeling that it will never be
 enough. France is making incredible sacrifices every day. No effort
 will be considered too high a price to ensure the triumph of a nobler
 humanity. Success is certain when all free peoples are in array
 against the last convulsions of savagery.

 In so vast a drama, my dear friend, my personality does not count.
 Whether I was right or wrong at this time or that interests me no
 longer, since it all belongs to the past. I have kept nothing of what
 I have said or written. It is impossible for me to furnish you with
 details or to mention anyone who would be able to do so. I can but
 express to you my gratitude for your friendly intention. I desire only
 to witness the day of the great victory, then I shall be rewarded far
 beyond my merits, especially if you add thereto the continuance of
 your fraternal feelings towards myself.

                      Very affectionately yours,

                                                         G. CLEMENCEAU.


 [_This letter was written seventeen days before the commencement of
 the great Franco-British offensive._]



                               CHAPTER I

                              EARLY LIFE


We are all accustomed to think of La Vendée as that Province of France
which is most deeply imbued with tradition, legend and religion. Even
in this period of almost universal scepticism and free thought, the
peasants of La Vendée keep tight hold of their ancient ideas, in which
the pagan superstitions of long ago are curiously interwoven with the
fading Catholicism of to-day. Nowhere in France are the ceremonies of
the Church more devoutly observed; nowhere, in spite of the spread
of modern education, are the people as a whole more attached to the
creed of their forefathers. Here whole crowds of genuine believers can
still display that fervour of religious enthusiasm which moved masses
of their countrymen to such heroic self-sacrifice for a losing and
hopeless cause more than four generations since. Even men who have
little sympathy with either theological or social conventions of the
past are stirred by the simple piety of these people, uplifted for the
moment out of the sordid and monotonous surroundings of their daily
toil by the collective inspiration of a common faith.

Here, too, in the Bocage of La Vendée amid the heather and the forest,
interspersed with acres of carefully tilled soil, the fays and
talismans and spirits of days gone by delightedly do dwell. But below
all this vesture of fancy and fable we find the least pleasing features
of the life of the small proprietors and labourers on the land and
fishermen by the sea. Their feelings of human sympathy are stunted, and
even their family relations are, in too many instances, rendered brutal
by their ever-present greed for gain. The land is a harsh taskmaster,
when its cultivation is carried on under such conditions as prevail in
that portion of France which abuts on the Bay of Biscay. The result is
a harsh people, whose narrow individualism and whole-hearted worship
of property in its least attractive guise seem quite at variance with
any form of sentiment, and still more remote from the ideals of poesy
or the dreams of supernatural agencies which affect the imagination.
But there is the contrast and such are the people of the Bocage of La
Vendée.

Here, on September 28th, 1841, at the village of Mouilleron-en-Pareds,
near Fontenay le Comte, on the Bay of Biscay, Georges Benjamin
Clemenceau was born. His family came of an old stock of La Vendée who
had owned land in the province for generations. His father was a doctor
as well as a landowner; but his practice, I judge, from what his son
told me, was confined to gratuitous services rendered to the peasants
of the neighbourhood. M. le Dr. Clemenceau, however, was scarcely
the sort of man whom one would expect to find in a remote village of
such a conservative, not to say reactionary, district as La Vendée. A
thorough-going materialist and convinced Republican, he was the leader
of the local party of extreme Radicals.

But he seems to have been a great deal more than that. Science, which
took with him the place of supernatural religion, neither hardened
his heart nor cramped his appreciation of art and poetry. Philosopher
and philanthropist, an amateur of painting and sculpture, inflexibly
devoted to his political principles, yet ever ready to recognise
ability and originality wherever they appeared, this very exceptional
medical man and country squire had necessarily a great influence upon
his eldest son, who inherited from his father many of the qualities
and opinions which led him to high distinction throughout his career.
Hatred of injustice, love of freedom and independence of every kind,
brought the elder Clemenceau into conflict with the men of the Second
Empire, who clapped him in prison after the _coup d'état_ of December
1851. Liberty in every shape was, in fact, an essential part of
this stalwart old Jacobin's political creed, while in the domain of
physiology and general science he was a convinced evolutionist long
before that conception of the inevitable development of the universe
became part of the common thought of the time.

With all this the young Clemenceau was brought into close contact from
his earliest years. A thoroughly sound physique, strengthened by the
invigorating air of the Biscayan coast, laid the foundations of that
indefatigable energy and alertness of disposition which have enabled
him to pass triumphantly through periods of overwork and disappointment
that would have broken down the health of any man with a less sound
constitution. Georges Clemenceau owed much to the begettings and
surroundings, to the vigorous country life and the rarefied mental
atmosphere in which his earlier years were passed. Seldom is it
possible to trace the natural process of cause and effect from father
to son as it is in this case. From the wilds of La Vendée and the rough
sea-coast of Brittany circumstances of the home and of the family life
provided France with the ablest Radical leader she has ever possessed.

At first, it appeared little likely that this would be so. Clemenceau,
entering upon his father's profession, with the benefit of the paternal
knowledge and full of the inculcated readiness to probe all the facts
of life to the bottom, took up his medical studies as a serious
business, after having gone through the ordinary curriculum of a school
at Nantes. It was in the hospital of that city that he first entered
as a qualified student. After a short stay there he went off to Paris,
in 1860, at the age of nineteen, to "walk the hospitals," as we phrase
it, in the same capacity. It was a plunge into active life taken at a
period in the history of France which was much more critical than it
seemed.

The year which saw Clemenceau's arrival in Paris saw also the Second
Empire at the height of its fame and influence. As we look back to
the great stir of 1848, which, so far as Paris and France were
concerned, was brought about by the almost inconceivable fatuity of
Louis Philippe, we marvel at the strange turn of events which got rid
of Orleanist King Log in order to replace him by a Napoleonist King
Stork. But we may wonder still more at the lack of foresight, capacity
and tact of Louis Philippe himself, who had been in his youth the
democrat Citoyen Egalité, and an excellent general, with all the hard
experience of his family misfortune and personal sufferings in exile as
a full-grown man, possessed, too, of a thorough knowledge of the world
and an adequate acquaintance with modern thought in several departments
of science and literature. Yet, enjoying all these qualifications for a
successful ruler, Louis Philippe failed to understand that a democratic
monarchy, and a democratic monarchy alone, could preserve France from a
republic or a military dictatorship. This was astounding. He refused to
agree to the democratic vote claimed by the people, and then ran away.
So the House of Orleans joined the House of Bourbon in the array of
discrowned Heads of the Blood Royal. The short-lived Republic of 1848
existed just long enough to scare the bourgeoisie by the installation
of the National Workshops, which might well have succeeded but for
their unintelligent opposition, and the peasantry by the fear of
general Communism, into a demand for a ruler who would preserve them
from those whom they considered the maniacs or plunderers of Paris.

It is one of the ironies of history that the French Revolution which
promulgated ideas of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity that shook
the whole civilised world should have been unable to furnish France
herself with a democratic republic for well-nigh a hundred years after
the overthrow of Louis XVI. For scarcely had the Republic of 1848,
with Louis Blanc, Ledru Rollin, Albert, and others as its leaders,
been founded than the Buonapartist intrigues were successful. Louis
Napoleon, who just before had been the laughing-stock of Europe,
with his tame eagle at Boulogne that would persist in perching on a
post instead of on his head, with his queer theories of Imperialist
democracy and his close association with the Italian Carbonari, was
elected President of the French Republic.

This was the outcome of an overwhelming plebiscite in his favour. There
could be no doubt about the voice of France on this occasion. Paris may
possibly have been genuinely Republican at that time. The Provinces,
whose antagonism to Paris and the Parisians was very marked, then and
later, were undoubtedly Buonapartist. From President to Emperor was
no long step. Louis Napoleon, though a man of no great capacity, did
at any rate believe in himself, in his democratic Imperialism and his
destiny. The set of adventurers and swindlers around him believed only
in full purses and ample opportunities for gratifying their taste
for luxury and debauchery. Having obtained control of the army by
the bribery of some and the imprisonment of others of the Republican
generals, all was ready for the infamous butchery of peaceful citizens
which cowed Paris and established the Empire at the same time. Once
more the plebiscite was resorted to with equal success on the part of
the conspirators. The hero of the _coup d'état_, with his familiar
coterie of Morny, Flahault, Persigny, Canrobert and other rogues and
murderers of less degree, became Napoleon III and master of Paris and
of France in December, 1852.

The French threw their votes almost solid in favour of the Empire,
and thus tacitly condoned the hideous crime committed when it was
established. Whenever the Emperor's right to his throne was challenged
he could point triumphantly to that crushing vote of the democracy
constituting him the duly elected Emperor of the French and hereditary
representative--however doubtful his parentage--of that extraordinary
Corsican genius who, when Chateaubriand and other detractors sneered at
his origin, boldly declared, "_Moi je suis ancêtre._"

From that day to this, democrats and Republicans have had a profound
distrust of the vote of the mass of the people as recorded under a
plébiscite, or a referendum, of the entire male population. This lack
of confidence in the judgment of the majority, when appealed to on
political issues, though natural under the circumstances, is obviously
quite illogical on the part of men who declare their belief in popular
government. It amounts to a permanent claim for the highly educated
and well-to-do sections of an intellectual oligarchy, on the ground
that they must know better what is good for the people than the people
know for themselves. This might conceivably be true, if no pecuniary
interests or arrogance of social superiority were involved. But as
this state of things cannot be attained until production for profit,
payment of wages and private property cease to exist, democrats and
Republicans place themselves in a doubtful position when they denounce
a reference to the entire population as necessarily harmful. All that
can be safely admitted is that so long as the mass of men and women
are economically dependent, socially unfree and very imperfectly
educated, the possibility of their being able to secure good government
by a plébiscite is very remote. But this applies as well to universal
suffrage used to obtain parliamentary elections, and the argument
against reposing any trust in the mass of the people may thus be
pushed to the point of abrogating the vote altogether save for a small
minority. And this would land us in the position of beginning with an
autocracy or aristocracy and ending there.

At the time I am speaking of it is indisputable that a considerable
majority of intelligent and educated Frenchmen were Republicans.
What they meant by a Republic comprised many different shades of
organised democracy. But Republic, as Republic, in opposition and
contradistinction to Monarchy or Empire, was a name to conjure with
among all the most distinguished Frenchmen of the time. How did it come
about, then, that this minority, which should have been able to lead
the people, was distrusted and voted down by the very same populace
whose rights of self-government they themselves were championing
on behalf of their countrymen? There was nothing in the form of a
Republic, as was shown little more than twenty years afterwards, which
was of necessity at variance with the interests or the sentiments of
Frenchmen. Even the antagonism between Paris and the Provinces, already
referred to, was not so marked as to account for the fact that twice in
succession Louis Napoleon should have obtained an overwhelming personal
vote in his favour as the man to be trusted, above all other Frenchmen,
to control the destinies of France.

It is by no means certain that Paris herself was hostile, before the
_coup d'état_, to the Napoleonic régime with its traditions not only
of military glory but of capable civic administration. For the double
plébiscite was more than a vote of acquiescence: it was a vote of
enthusiasm: first for Louis Napoleon as President, and then for Louis
Napoleon as Emperor. It is not pleasing to have to admit this; but
the truth seems to be that, as Aristotle pointed out more than two
thousand years ago, great masses of men are much more easily led by a
personality than they are roused by a principle. That the plébiscite
had been carefully worked up by assiduous propaganda; that many of the
ignorant peasants believed they were voting for the Napoleon of their
childhood in spite of the impossible; that there was a great deal of
bribery and not a little stuffing of the ballot boxes by officials
with a keen sense of favours to come; that the army was imbued with
Napoleonic sympathies and helped to spread the spurious ideals of
Imperialism--all this may be perfectly true. Yet, when all is said and
every allowance is made, the fact remains that, even so, the success of
the Napoleonic plébiscites is imperfectly explained. The main features
of the vote were obvious: The French people were sick of hereditary
monarchy: the Republican leaders were out of touch with the people: the
ideals of the past overshadowed the hopes of the future: Napoleon was a
name to conjure with: the Republicans had no name on their side to put
against it: the "blessed word" Republic had no hold upon the peasantry
of rural France. So plébiscite meant one-man rule. That is not to say,
as so many argue nowadays, that the complete vote of the democracy on
such an issue must of necessity be wrong; but it does affirm that a
thoroughly educated, responsible democracy, accustomed to be appealed
to directly on all matters of importance, is a necessity before we
can have any certainty that the people will go right. Even if they
go wrong, as in this case of Napoleon III, it is better in the long
run that they should learn by their own errors than that the blunders
of the dominant classes should be forced upon them. Great social and
political problems can rarely be solved even by the greatest genius.
And the genius himself, supposing him to exist, cannot rely upon
providing his country with a successor. On the whole, consequently,
it is less dangerous to human progress that we should risk such a
reactionary vote as that which seated Napoleon III at the Tuileries
than give no peaceful outlet whatever to popular opinion.

But the democrats and republicans, radicals and socialists of Paris,
who saw all their most cherished ideals crushed by the voice of the
people whom they were anxious to lead to higher things, and beheld a
travesty of Napoleonic Imperialism suppressing all freedom of political
thought and writing, were not disposed to philosophise about the
excuses for a popular decision which led to such unpleasant results
for them. They had welcomed the abdication of Louis Philippe and the
installation of the Republic as the beginning of a new era not only for
Paris but for all France, after the reactionary clericalism of Louis
XVIII and Charles X, followed by the chilly middle-class rule of the
Orleanist monarch. But now a pinchbeck Napoleonism, with much sterner
repression, weighed upon all that was most progressive and brilliant in
the capital city. It was a bitter disappointment, not to be softened by
the reflection that France herself was still far from the economic and
social stage where their aspirations could be realised.

Thus Napoleon III was master of France and, feeling that war was
advisable in order to strengthen his position at home, gladly joined
with Great Britain in a joint campaign against Russia. This was wholly
unnecessary, as has since been clearly shown. But, by promoting a
better feeling between France and England than had previously existed,
some good came out of the evil brought about by the treacherous
suppression of the Emperor Nicholas's agreement with the English
Cabinet. The foolish bolstering up of Ottoman incapacity and corruption
at Constantinople when the Western Powers could easily have enforced a
more reasonable rule was a miserable result of the whole war. But that
the Crimean adventure helped to consolidate the position of the Emperor
there is no doubt.

When also the affair of the Orsini bomb, thrown by one of his old
Carbonari fellow-conspirators, impelled Louis Napoleon into the Italian
campaign which won for Italy Lombardy and for France Savoy and Nice,
the French people felt that their gain in glory and in territory had
made them once more the first nation in Europe. Magenta and Solferino
were names to conjure with. The Army had confidence in the Emperor
and his generals. So the prospect for republicans and the Republic
eight years after the _coup d'état_ was less promising than it had
been since the great revolution. Napoleon III was generally regarded
as the principal figure in Europe. He was delivering those New Year
proclamations which men awaited with bated breath as deciding the
question of peace or war for the ensuing twelvemonth. His Empress
dominated the world of fashion as her consort did the world of
politics. Every effort was made to render the Court as brilliant as
possible, and to attract to it some of the old nobility, who were, as a
whole, little inclined to recognise by their presence the power of the
man whom they both despised and hated. But the Second Empire was for a
time a success in spite of the reactionists and the republicans alike.



                              CHAPTER II

                        PARIS UNDER THE EMPIRE


Paris of the early sixties was a very different city from the Paris of
to-day. It was still in great part the Paris of the old time, on both
banks of the Seine. Its Haussmannisation had barely begun. The Palais
Royal retained much of its ancient celebrity for the cuisine of its
restaurants and the brilliancy of its shops. But to get to it direct
from what is now the Place de l'Opéra was a voyage of discovery. You
went upstairs and downstairs, through narrow, dirty streets, until,
after missing your way several times, you at last found yourself in the
garden dear to the orators of the French Revolution, and since devoted
to nursemaids and their babes. Much of Central Paris was in the same
unregenerate state. Even portions of famous streets not far from the
Grands Boulevards, which were then still French, could scarcely be
described as models of cleanliness. The smells that arose from below
and the water of doubtful origin that might descend upon the unwary
passerby from above suggested a general lack of sanitary control which
was fully confirmed in more remote districts.

Napoleon III was a man of mediocre ability. His _entourage_ was
extravagantly disreputable. But he and his did clear out and clean
up Paris. The new quarters since built owe their existence in the
first instance to the initiative of the Emperor's chief edile, Baron
Haussmann, and his compeers. The great broad streets which now traverse
the slums of old time were due to the same energetic impulse. Whether
such spacious avenues and boulevards were constructed in order to
facilitate the operations of artillery and enable the new mitrailleurs
more conveniently to massacre the "mob," whether the architecture
is artistic or monotonous, Clemenceau the doctor must for once be
at variance with Clemenceau the man of politics, and admit that the
monarch who, as will be seen, imprisoned him in 1862, did some good
work for Paris during his reign of repression. At any rate Napoleonic
rule at this period represented general prosperity. Business was good
and the profiteers were doing well. The bourgeoisie felt secure and
international financiers enjoyed a good time. Nearly all the great
banking and financial institutions of Paris had their origin in the
decade 1860-1870. Law and order, in short, was based upon comfort and
accumulation for the well-to-do.

But the peasantry and the workers of the cities were also considered in
some degree, and the reconstruction of the capital provided, directly
and indirectly, both then and later, for what were looked upon as "the
dangerous classes"--men and women, that is to say, who thought that the
wage-slave epoch meant little better for them and their children than
penal servitude for life. Constant work and decent pay softened the
class antagonism, conciliating the proletariat without upsetting the
middle class or bourgeoisie. Such a policy, following upon two fairly
successful wars, was not devoid of dexterity. A curbed or satisfied
Paris meant internal peace for all France. Neither the miserable
fiasco in Mexico nor the idiotic abandonment of Austria to Prussia
had yet shaken the external stability of the Empire. Napoleon III and
his Vice-Emperor Rouher were still great statesmen. There was little
or nothing to show on the surface that the whole edifice was even
then tottering to its fall. The keen satire of Rochefort, of the Duc
d'Aumale, and the full-blooded denunciations of Victor Hugo failed to
produce much effect. Some genuine and capable opponents were beguiled
into serving the Government under the impression that the Empire
might be permanent, and in this way alone could they also serve their
country. Nor can we wonder at such backsliding.

Such was the Paris, such the France that saw the young medical student,
Georges Clemenceau, enter upon his preparation for active life as
doctor and physiologist. He devoted himself earnestly to his studies in
the libraries, to his work in the hospitals, and to careful observation
of the social maladies he saw around him, which made a deep and
permanent impression on his mind. But, determined as he was to master
the principles and practice of his profession, the bright, active and
vivacious republican from La Vendée brought with him to Paris too clear
a conception of his rights and duties as a democrat to be able to avoid
the coteries of revolt who maintained the traditions of radicalism in
spite of systematic espionage and police persecution. Clemenceau shared
his father's opinions in favour of free speech and a free press.

That was dangerous in those days. _La Ville Lumière_ was obliged
to hide its light under a bushel. Friends of democracy and
anti-imperialistic speakers and writers were compelled, in order
to reach their public, to adopt a style of suppressed irony not
at all to the taste of the vivacious republican recruit from
Mouilleron-en-Pareds. Then, as ever thereafter, he spoke the truth
that was in him, regardless of consequences. In this course he had
the approbation and support of his father's friend, Etienne Arago,
brother of the famous astronomer. Arago the politician was also a
playwright, an ardent republican who had taken his full share in all
the agitations of the previous period, an active and useful member of
the Republican Government of 1848 as Postmaster-General, and a vigorous
opponent of the policy of Louis Napoleon. He was sent into exile prior
to the _coup d'état_. Both then and nearly a generation later this
stalwart anti-Imperialist was exceedingly popular with the Parisians,
and, having returned to Paris, was able to aid Clemenceau in forming a
correct judgment of the situation, at a time when a less clear-sighted
observer might have striven to cool his young friend's enthusiasm.

As it was, Clemenceau contributed to some of the Radical fly-sheets
and then fêted the 24th of February. No date dear to the memory of
Republicans could be publicly toasted without conveying a reflection
upon the Empire, and as all important events in French history, from
July 14th onwards, are duly calendared according to the month and
day of the month, Clemenceau's crime in celebrating February 24th by
speech and writing was obvious. He therefore fell foul of the Imperial
police. The magistrate could admit no point in his favour, and there
was in fact no defence. Consequently Georges Clemenceau, _interne de
l'hôpital_, had the opportunity given him of reflecting for two months
upon the advantages and drawbacks of his political creed, during a
period of Buonapartist supremacy, in the prison of Mazas. This was in
1862.

Three years later he took his doctor's degree. His formal essay on
this occasion gained him considerable reputation. It was entitled _De
la Génération des Éléments Anatomiques_, and proved not only that he
had worked hard on the lines of his profession but that he was capable
of taking an original view of the subjects he had mastered. This
work has been throughout the basis of Clemenceau's medical, social,
political and literary career. I got the book not long ago from the
London Library, and on the title-page of this first edition I read in
the author's own bold handwriting, "_A Monsieur J. Stuart Mill hommage
respectueux de l'auteur G. Clemenceau_": a tribute to that eclectic
philosopher and thinker which he followed up shortly afterwards by
translating Mill's study of Auguste Comte and Positivism into French.
Clemenceau was no great admirer of Comte, and specially disapproved
of the attempt of some of that author's pupils and followers to
limit investigation and cultivate agnosticism on matters which they
considered fell without the bounds of their master's theories and
categories.

"We are not of those," writes Clemenceau, "who admit with the
Positivist that science can give us no information on the enigma of
things." This seems scarcely just to the modern Positivists, for
although Comte himself wished to restrict mankind from the study of
astronomy, for example, outside of the solar system, they have been as
ready as the rest of the world to take advantage of discoveries beyond
that system which throw light upon some of the difficult material
problems nearer at hand. And Clemenceau, too, appears to fall into the
line of reasoning with which he reproaches Comte; for, as will be seen
later, he views nature as a mass of matter evolving and differentiating
and organising and vivifying itself with the interminable antagonisms
and mutual devourings of the various forms of existence on this
planet, and possibly on other worlds of the infinitely little, and
then, when the great suns die out, disappearing and beginning all over
again as two of these huge extinguished luminaries collide in space.
This material philosophy, when carried to its ultimate issue, still
answers no question and furnishes no clue to the strange inexplicable
movement of the universe in which man is but a sentient and partially
intelligent automaton. What explanation does this give of any of the
problems of social or individual ethic, or of the impulse which led
Clemenceau the doctor to treat his patients in Montmartre gratuitously,
instead of building up a valuable practice in a rich quarter? and urged
Clemenceau the politician to pass the greater part of his life in an
uphill fight against the domination of the sordid minority and the
timid acquiescence of the apathetic masses rather than accept the high
positions which were pressed upon him time after time?

Such reflections would be out of place at this point, but for the fact
that Clemenceau has invariably contended that his career has been all
of a piece, maintaining that the vigorous young physiologist and doctor
of twenty-four and twenty-five held the same opinions and was moved
by the same aspirations that have guided the mature man throughout.
Whether heredity and surroundings fully account in every particular for
all that he has said, done and achieved is a question which Clemenceau
also might decline to answer with the definiteness he considers
desirable in general philosophy. But that his doctor's thesis of 1865
did in the main give the scientific basis of his material creed can
scarcely be disputed.

The following year, 1866, was the year of the Prusso-Italian war
against Austria. The success of Prussia, which would quite probably
have been a failure but for the incredible fatuity of the Imperial
clique at Vienna, was one of the chief causes, unnoted at the time,
of the downfall of Napoleon III. Few now care to recall the manner in
which the Austrian Commander-in-Chief, Marshal Benedek, was compelled
to abandon his entire strategy in deference to the pusillanimous orders
of the Emperor, or how Benedek, with a loyalty to the House of Hapsburg
which it has never at any period deserved, took upon himself the blame
of defeats for which Francis Joseph, not himself, was responsible.
But Louis Napoleon was equally blind to his own interests and those
of France when he stood aside and allowed the most ambitious and most
unscrupulous power in the world to become the virtual master of Central
Europe. It was a strange choice of evils that lay before the Radical
and Republican parties in all countries during this war. None could
wish to see upheld, still less strengthened, the wretched rule of
reactionary, tyrannous and priest-ridden Austria; yet none could look
favourably on the growth of Prussian power.

The further conquest by Italy of her own territory and the annexation
of Venice to the Italian crown were therefore universally acclaimed.
But those who knew Prussia and its military system, and watched the
nefarious policy which had crushed Denmark as a stage on the road
to the crushing of Austria, even thus early began to doubt whether
the substitution of Prussia for Austria in the leadership of the
old Germanic Bund might not speedily lead to a still more dangerous
situation. Either this did not suggest itself to Napoleon III and his
advisers, or they thought that Austria might win, or, at worst, that
a bitterly contested campaign would enable France to interpose at
the critical moment as a decisive arbiter in the struggle. Probably
the last was the real calculation. It was falsified by the rapid and
smashing Prussian victories of Königgratz and Sadowa, and Napoleon
could do nothing but accept the decisions of the battlefield. But from
this moment the Second Empire was in serious danger, and any far-seeing
statesman would have set to work immediately to bring the French army
up to the highest possible point of efficiency and prepare the way for
alliances that might help the Empire, should help be needed in the
near future. Neither Louis Napoleon nor his councillors and generals,
however, understood what the overthrow of Austria meant for France.
They turned a deaf ear then and afterwards to the warnings of their
ablest agents abroad, and thus drifted into the crisis which four years
later found them without an ally and overwhelmed them.



                              CHAPTER III

                      DOWNFALL AND RECONSTRUCTION


Early in 1866, Clemenceau, after a visit to England, crossed the
Atlantic for a somewhat prolonged stay in the United States. He could
scarcely have chosen a better time for making acquaintance with America
and the Americans. The United States had but just emerged from the
Civil War, which, notwithstanding the furious bitterness evoked on both
sides during the struggle, eventually consolidated the Great Republic
as nothing else could; though, owing to the behaviour of "society"
in England, the tone of our leading statesmen and the action of the
_Alabama_, the feeling against Great Britain was naturally very strong.
This animosity--it was no less--of course did not extend to the young
French physician of republican views who had already suffered for his
opinions in Paris, and whose sympathies were with the North against the
South throughout. He was well received in the Eastern States, and wrote
several letters to the _Temps_ on the industrial and social conditions
of America which were then of value, and still serve to show how marked
is the contrast between the self-contained nation of fifty years
ago and the Anglo-Saxon world power that has successfully tried her
strength in the international struggle against Germanic infamy to-day.
What is not so easy to comprehend is M. le Dr. Clemenceau, as we know
him, acting as professor of French in a young ladies' college at the
village of Stanford, in the neighbourhood of New York. His record in
that capacity is amusingly described by one of his friends[A] in a
bright little sketch of his early experiences.

"An admirable horseman, the young Frenchman accompanied the still
younger American misses in their rides. There were free and delightful
little tours on horseback, charming excursions along the shady roads
which traverse the gay landscape of Connecticut. Such years carried
with them for Clemenceau ineffaceable memories of a period during
which his temperament accomplished the task of gaining strength and
acquiring refinement. At the same time that he enriched his mind with
solid conceptions of Anglo-Saxon philosophy, and perfected his general
cultivation, he took his first lessons in the delicacies of American
flirtation. It was in the course of these pleasing jaunts, where
the fresh laughter of these young ladies echoed through the bright
scenery, that it was his lot to become betrothed to one of them, Miss
Mary Plummer. Henceforth, in consequence of the sound, independent
and many-sided education which he had, so to say, imposed upon
himself, Clemenceau had completed the last stage of his intellectual
development. He was ripe to play great parts. For the rest, events were
not destined long to delay the throwing into full relief his versatile,
intrepid and powerful characteristics."

And so Clemenceau, thus prepared to meet what the future might have
in store for him, returned to Paris. There are cities in the history
of the human race which have taken unto themselves a personality, not
only for their own inhabitants, but for succeeding ages, and for the
world at large. Babylon, Athens, Jerusalem, Rome, Bagdad, Florence,
each and all convey to the mind a conception of chic individuality and
collective achievement which brings them within the range of our own
knowledge, admiration and respect, which raises them also to the level
of ideals of culture for men living in far different civilisations.
They are still oases of brightness and greenery amid the wilderness
of unconscious growth. The wars of old time, the cruelty of long-past
days, the records of brutality and lust are forgotten: only the memory
of greatness or beauty remains.

    "Terror by night, the flaming battle-call,
       Fire on the roof-tree, dreadful blood and woe!--
     They cease for tears, yet joyful, knowing all
               Is over, long ago.

     Knowing, the melancholy hands of Time
       Weave a slow veil of beauty o'er the place
     Of blood-stained memory and bitter crime
               Till horror fades in grace.

     The mournful grace of long-forgotten woe
       And long-appeased sorrows of the dead,
     The deeper silence of those streams that flow
               Where ancient highways led."

Among the great cities of the past which is still the present Paris
takes her undisputed place. In youth, in maturity, in age, the charm
of intellectual and artistic Paris ever affects not merely her own
citizens, but the strangers within her gates. And the young Vendéen
Clemenceau was from the first a Parisian of Parisians. The attraction
of Paris for him was permanent. From his arrival in 1860 until the
present time practically his whole life has been spent in the French
capital. Many years afterwards he gave expression to the influence
Paris had upon him. Paris for Clemenceau is the sun of the world of
science and letters, the source of light and heat from whose centre art
and thought radiate through space. "Intuition and suggestion spreading
out in all directions awake dormant energy, sweep on from contact to
contact, are passed on, dispersed, and finally exhausted in the inertia
of material objects. Here is the radiance of humanity, more or less
powerful, more or less durable as time and place may decree."

It is this impatience of Paris with results already achieved, this
desire to reach out and to embrace new forms in all departments of
human achievement, which give the French city her position as an
indispensable entity in the cosmos of modern life. "Boldness and
boldness and boldness again" was Danton's prescription for the orator,
and it might be taken as the motto of intellectual and artistic Paris.
There is no hesitation, no contentment, no waiting by the wayside. New
ideas and new conceptions must ever be replacing the old. Experience
may teach what to avoid: experiment alone can teach what to attempt.
And this not incidentally or as a passing phase of endeavour, but as a
principle to be applied in every region of human effort. "The Rights
of Man," "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," "Property is robbery" are
as thought-provoking (though they solve no problem) in the domain
of sociology as Pasteur's achievements in physiology and medicine.
Whatever changes the future may have in store for us, we who are not
Frenchmen cannot dispense with the leadership and inspiration that come
to us from Paris.

On his return to France from America Clemenceau renewed his
acquaintance and friendship with those who shared his political
and social opinions, especially Etienne Arago, now an old man, and
practised as a doctor in the working-class district of Montmartre.
Here, by his gratuitous medical advice to the people and his steady
adherence to his democratic principles, he gained an amount of
popularity and personal devotion from the men and women of Montmartre
which, in conjunction with Arago's advice and support, prepared the way
for the positions which he afterwards attained. Meanwhile the Second
Empire was going slowly downhill. The change which had already taken
place was not generally recognised. Nevertheless, the failure of the
ill-fated Mexican Expedition with its Catholic support, its sordid
financial muddling and the degrading system of plunder carried on in
Mexico itself by Marshal Bazaine, the effect on Paris of the murder of
Victor Noir by a member of the Buonaparte family, and the Government's
growing incapacity to handle domestic and foreign affairs all told
against the prestige of Napoleon. Only a successful diplomatic stroke
or a victorious war could rehabilitate the credit of the Empire. The
time had gone by for either. Bismarck's disgraceful forgery at Ems was
as unnecessary as it was flagitious. Sooner or later the Second Empire
would have collapsed from its own incompetence. But that waiting game
did not suit the grim statesman of Berlin. He knew that the French army
by itself could not hold its own against the Prussian and other German
forces; he felt convinced also that Austria would not move without
much clearer assurances of success than Napoleon could supply; while
Italy was still tied to her Ally of 1866, and England was devoted to
a policy of profitable non-intervention. So Napoleon was half driven,
half tricked into a hopeless campaign, and every calculation on which
Bismarck relied was verified by the results. Nay, the plébiscite which
Louis Napoleon risked eighteen years after the _coup d'état_ went
entirely in his favour, and it was in reality quite unnecessary, from
the point of view of internal politics, that any risk of war should
be run. The Empress, however, has always had the discredit of not
having been of that opinion. Hence steps were taken which played into
Bismarck's hands.

At first, as I have heard Clemenceau say himself, it was almost
impossible for a patriotic Republican to desire victory for the
French armies. That would only have meant a new life for the decadent
Empire. Sad, therefore, as was the long succession of disasters, and
terrible the devastation wrought by German ruthlessness, not until
the culminating defeat of Sedan, the surrender of Napoleon and the
decree of Imperial overthrow pronounced by the people of Paris, could
men feel that French soldiers were really fighting for their country.
Thenceforward the struggle was between democratic and progressive
France and autocratic and reactionary Prussia. The Empire for whose
humiliation the King of Prussia had gone to war existed no longer. A
Republic was at once declared in its place. Any fair-minded enemy would
directly have offered the easiest possible terms for peace to the new
France. But that was not the view of Prussia. France, not merely the
Second Empire, was to be defeated and crushed down, because she stood
in the way of that permanent policy of aggression and aggrandisement
to which the House of Hohenzollern, with its Junker supporters, has
always been devoted. This was the moment when England should have
interfered decisively on the side of her old rival. It was not only
our interest but our duty to do so, and the whole nation would have
enthusiastically supported the statesmen who had given it a vigorous
lead in the right direction. Unfortunately Queen Victoria, then as
ever bitterly pro-German, was utterly unscrupulous in enforcing her
views upon her Government: the men then in office were essentially
courtiers, who combined servility at home with pusillanimity abroad:
the _laissez-faire_ school of parasitical commercialism which regards
the accumulation of wealth for the few as the highest aspiration of
humanity held the trading classes in its grip. Consequently, the
monarch and the ruling class of the day thought it was cheaper, and
therefore better, to leave France to her fate, and make a good cash
profit out of the business, rather than courageously to withstand the
beginnings of evil and uphold the French Republic against the brutality
and greed of Berlin. It is sad, nearly fifty years later, to reflect
upon the results of this mistaken and cowardly policy. The war was
continued, owing chiefly to English indifference, until France lay at
the feet of the conquerors.

No sooner did the news of the defeat and surrender of Sedan reach
Paris than a general shout for the overthrow of the Empire went up
from the people throughout the French capital. The collapse of the
Second Empire was in fact even more sudden and dramatic than its rise.
The whole imperial machinery fell with a crash. There was not a man
in Paris among the friends of the Emperor in good fortune who had the
courage and capacity to come to the front in the time of his distress.
The bigoted Catholic Empress, against whom Parisians cherished an
animosity scarcely less bitter than that which their forbears felt for
Marie Antoinette, was with difficulty got safely out of the city, and
Paris at once took control of her own destinies. A Republic having
been proclaimed, Republicans, Radicals and Socialists, harried and
proscribed the day before, rushed to the front the day after, and
forthwith became masters of the city. Clemenceau as one of them was
immediately chosen Mayor of Montmartre, at the instance of his old
friend Etienne Arago.

It was a period for action, not for argument, or reflection, or
propaganda. Clemenceau understood that. In his capacity as Mayor of
Montmartre, by no means an easy district to manage, he exhibited
marvellous energy, as well as sound judgment, in every department of
public affairs. Everything had to be reorganised at once. There was
no time to respect the inevitable details of democratic authorisation
and delay. Clemenceau with his natural rapidity of decision was the
very man for the post. Patriotic and revolutionary excitement seethed
all round him. Society seemed already to be in the melting-pot.
The enthusiasm evoked by eloquent orations in favour of Socialism
was accompanied by the discharges of cannon and the rumbling of
ammunition-wagons. But public business had to be carried on all the
same. Clemenceau was indefatigable and ubiquitous. He prevented the
priests from intriguing in the municipal schools, he established purely
secular education, hurried on the arming of the battalions and kept a
sharp eye on the defences of the city. Simultaneously he set on foot a
series of establishments for giving warmth, food and general help to
the number of people who had sought refuge on the heights. He acted
throughout practically as municipal dictator, raising, arming and
drilling recruits for the new republican army, as well as organising
and administering all the local services.

It was a fine piece of work. Having been so closely in touch with the
bulk of the population of Montmartre, he was able to act entirely in
their interests and with their concurrence throughout. They therefore
warmly supported him against the reactionists and religionists who,
then as always, were his most virulent enemies. It was no easy task to
maintain order and carry out systematic organisation at this juncture.
The downfall of the Empire occurred on September 4th, the Republic,
with General Trochu--the man of the undisclosed strategical "plan"--as
President and Jules Favre as Vice-President, being declared the same
day. On September 19th Paris was invested by the Germans. Seeing that
there were then no fewer than 400,000 armed men, at various stages of
training, in the capital, with many powerful forts at their disposal,
while the Germans could spare at the beginning of the siege no more
than 120,000 men for the attack, the French having still several armies
in the field, successful resistance by the Republic seemed by no means
hopeless. Paris might even have had her share in turning the tide of
victory. Clemenceau was of that opinion.

But it was not to be. France failed to produce a great general, and the
"bagman Marshal," as Bazaine was called in Mexico, by shutting himself
up with 175,000 men in Metz, rendered final defeat certain; though if
Marshal MacMahon's advice had been followed, and if General Trochu had
later sufficiently organised the forces at his disposal in Paris to
break through the German lines, a stouter fight might have been fought.
As it was, one French army after another was defeated in the field,
and Paris and Metz were forced to surrender by literal starvation. On
January 28th, 1871, an armistice was signed between Bismarck and Jules
Favre and the revictualling of the famine-stricken Parisians began, the
siege having lasted a little over four months. A National Assembly was
summoned to decide the terms of a definite peace or in what manner it
might be possible to continue the war.

So well satisfied were the voters of Montmartre with the conduct of
their Mayor during all this trying time that they decided to send him
as their representative to Bordeaux and polled just upon 100,000 votes
in his favour. To Bordeaux, therefore, Clemenceau went, on February
12th, as deputy for one of the most radical and revolutionary districts
of Paris. Though neither then nor later an avowed Socialist, no
Socialist could have done more for practical democratic and Socialist
measures than Clemenceau had done. That, of course, was the reason why
he was elected by so advanced a constituency.

He found himself strangely out of his element when he took his seat
in the National Assembly. Perhaps no more reactionary body had ever
met in France. The majority of the members were thorough-going
Conservatives who at heart were eager to restore the monarchy. They
were royalists but slightly disguised, dug up out of their seclusion,
from all parts of the country, who thought their time had come to
revenge themselves not so much upon the Buonapartists who had governed
France for twenty years as upon Paris and the Parisians who had chased
Charles X and Louis Philippe out of France. They well knew that the
capital would never consent to the restoration of the candidate of
either of the Bourbon factions. These fitting champions of a worn-out
Legitimism or Orleanism were old men in a hurry to resuscitate the
dead and galvanise the past into fresh life. Their very heads betrayed
their own antiquity. So much so that a favourite pastime of young
ladies of pleasure in the Galleries, who had flocked to Bordeaux,
was what was irreverently called "bald-headed loo." This consisted
in betting upon the number of flies that would settle within a given
period upon a devoted deputy's hairless occiput. Unfortunately these
ancient gentlemen found in M. Thiers a leader who could scarcely have
been surpassed for ingenuity and unscrupulousness. He deliberately
traded upon prejudices, and his main political assets were the fear
and distrust which he awakened in one set of his countrymen against
another. In modern as in ancient society there is an economic and
almost a personal antagonism between country and town.

The man of the Provinces, living always in the rural districts, the
tiller, the producer, the indefatigable toiler, the parsimonious
accumulator of small gains, the respecter of ancestral traditions and
the devotee of old-world methods and well-tried means of gaining a poor
livelihood, profoundly affected likewise by his inherited religion,
has, in most cases, a deep-seated contempt, strangely enough not
wholly divorced from fear, for the man of the town, and especially
for the man of Paris. This animosity, which has by no means wholly
disappeared to-day, was keenly in evidence forty and fifty years ago.
There is an economic cause at the bottom of the antipathy, but this
does not account for its many-sided manifestation. The countryman
naturally desires to sell his produce at as high a price as possible.
It is for him almost a matter of life and death to do so. The townsman,
on his side, the artisan or labourer or even the _rentier_ of the great
cities, is naturally anxious to obtain the necessaries of life which he
gets from the rural districts at as low a rate as he may be able to buy
them having regard to his wages or his income. Hence any expenditure
which tends to benefit the country is regarded with suspicion by the
townsman and contrariwise as between town and country, except such
outlay as cheapens the cost of transportation, where both have an
identical interest.

But this general divergence of economic advantage, which has existed
for many centuries does not wholly account for the ill-feeling which
too often appears. There is a psychological side to the matter as well.
Thus the peasant, even when he is getting satisfactory prices for his
wares, despises his own customers when they pay too much for small
luxuries which they could easily do without. Moreover, he considers
the cleverness of his fellow-countrymen of the city, their readiness
to change their opinions and adopt new ideas, their doubts as to the
super-sanctity of that individual property, property which is the small
landowner's god, as evidences of a dangerous disposition to upset all
that ought to be most solemnly upheld. The townsman, on the other
hand, too often looks down upon the peasant and the rural provincial
generally as an ignorant, short-sighted, narrow-minded, grasping
creature, full of prejudices and eaten up with superstition, who, out
of sheer obstinacy, stands immovably in the way of reforms that might,
and in many cases certainly would, benefit them both.

It is the task and the duty of the true statesman to bridge over these
differences as far as possible, to try to harmonise interests and
assuage feelings which under existing conditions are apt to conflict
with one another. Thus only can the whole country be well and truly
served. M. Thiers pursued precisely the contrary course. In order to
foster reaction and to strengthen the position of the bourgeoisie, he
and his supporters set to work deliberately to excite the hatred of the
country-folk against their brethren of the towns. They were willing to
accept the Republic only on the distinct understanding that it should
be, as Zola expressed it, a bourgeoised sham. The bogey of the social
revolution was stuck up daily to frighten the timid property-owners.
Above all, Paris was pointed out as the danger spot of order-respecting
France. Paris ought to be muzzled and kept under even more strictly by
the self-respecting Republic than by the Empire. That way alone lay
safety. Thus the dislike of the provincials for the capital was fanned
to so fierce a heat that the very title of capital was denied to her.
As a result of this unpatriotic and traitorous policy Paris herself
was unfortunately forced to the conviction that the reactionists of
Bordeaux were determined to deprive her of all her rights, and that the
great city which founded the Republic would be made to suffer dearly
for her presumption. Nearly all that followed was in reality due to
this sinister policy of provocation, adopted and carried out by M.
Thiers and his bigoted followers.

Clemenceau's position was a difficult one. Knowing both peasants and
Parisians intimately well, he saw clearly the very dangerous situation
which must inevitably be created by such tactics of exasperation. As
one of the deputies of Radical Republican Paris, he did his utmost
at Bordeaux to maintain the independence of his constituents and to
resist the fatal action of the majority. As the son of a landowner in
La Vendée, he understood clearly the views of the provincials and how
necessary it was that they should be thoroughly informed as to the
aims of the Parisians. But Paris had first claim on his services. He
therefore associated himself with Louis Blanc, voted with him against
the preliminaries of peace and in favour of the continuance of the war.
There was a strong opinion at this time that many of the Buonapartists
in high military command, as well as in important civil posts, were
traitors to the Republic and had acted, as Bazaine unquestionably
did, in the interest of the Imperial prisoner instead of on behalf
of France. These factionists too were hostile to Paris, and a demand
was made, in which Clemenceau joined, for a full investigation of the
conduct of such men during the siege. Unfortunately, affairs in the
capital were now becoming so critical and the probability of another
revolution there seemed so great that Clemenceau felt his duties as
Mayor of Montmartre were still more urgent than his votes and speeches
at Bordeaux, as deputy for that district. Consequently, after less than
a month's stay at Bordeaux, he returned to Paris on the evening of
March 5th. The Commune of Paris was set on foot within a fortnight of
that date, on March 18th, 1871.



                              CHAPTER IV

                              THE COMMUNE


Unquestionably, the revolt was brought about by the ill-judged and
arbitrary conduct of the agents of the National Assembly. To attempt
to seize the guns of the National Guard as a preliminary to disarming
the only Citizen force which the capital had at its disposal was as
illegal as it was provocative. It was virtually a declaration of civil
war by the reactionaries in control of the national forces. The people
of Paris were in no humour to put up with such high-handed action on
the part of men who, they knew, were opposed even to the Republic which
they nominally served. They resisted the attempt and captured the
generals, Lecomte and Thomas, who had ordered the step to be taken.

So far they were quite within their rights, and Clemenceau at first
sympathised wholly with the Federals. The Parisians had undergone
terrible privations during the siege, they were exasperated by the
denunciations that poured in upon them from the provinces, they saw
no hope for their recently won liberties unless they themselves were
in a position to defend them, they had grave doubts whether they had
not been betrayed within and without during the siege itself. It is no
wonder that, under such circumstances, they should resent, by force of
arms, any attempt to deprive them of the means of effective resistance
to reactionary repression.

There was also nothing in the establishment of the Commune itself which
was other than a perfectly legitimate effort to organise the city
afresh, after the old system had proved utterly incompetent. But the
attempt to disarm the population of Montmartre roused passions which
it was impossible to quell. Clemenceau, as Mayor of the district, did
all that one man could do to save the two generals, Lecomte and Clément
Thomas, from being killed. With his sound judgment he saw at once that,
whether their execution was justifiable or not, it would be regarded as
murder by many Republicans whom the cooler heads in Paris desired to
conciliate. As was proved afterwards, he exerted all his power to check
even the semblance of injustice. But his final intervention to prevent
the tragedy of the Château Rouge came too late, and Lecomte and Thomas,
who had not hesitated to risk the massacre of innocent citizens on
behalf of a policy of repression, were regarded as the first victims of
an infuriated mob.

The outcome of Clemenceau's own endeavours to save these misguided
militarists was that he himself became "suspect" to the heads of the
Central Committee of the Commune sitting at the Hôtel de Ville, which
had taken control of all Paris. He was the duly elected and extremely
popular Radical-Socialist--to use a later designation--Mayor of perhaps
the most advanced arrondissement in the capital, he had been sent to
Bordeaux by a great majority of his constituents to sit on the extreme
left, and, in that capacity, had stoutly defended the rights of Paris;
he was strongly in favour of most of the claims made by the leaders of
the Commune. But all this went for nothing. The new Committee wanted
their own man at Montmartre, and Clemenceau was not that man.

So Mayor of Montmartre he ceased to be, but earnest democrat and
devoted friend of the people he remained. Unfortunately, having a wider
outlook than most of those who had suddenly come to the front, he could
not believe that mere possession of the capital meant attainment of
the control of France by the Parisians, or the freeing of his country
from German occupation. For once he advocated prudence and suggested
compromise. A reasonable arrangement between the administrators of
Paris with their municipal forces and the National Assembly with
its regular army seemed to Clemenceau a practical necessity of
the situation. He therefore urged this policy incessantly upon the
Communists. It was an unlucky experience. Pyat, Vermorel and others so
strongly resented his moderate counsels that they issued an order for
his arrest, with a view to his hasty, if judicial, removal. Failing to
lay hold upon Clemenceau himself, they captured a speaking likeness of
the Radical doctor in the person of a young Brazilian. Him they were
about to shoot, when they discovered that their proposed victim was
the wrong man. Possibly these personal adventures in revolutionary
democracy under the Commune may have influenced Clemenceau's views
about Socialism in practical affairs in after life.

It is highly creditable to Clemenceau that a few years later one of his
greatest speeches was delivered in the National Assembly to obtain, the
liberation and the recall from exile of the very same men who would
gladly have silenced him for good and all when they were in power.
However, he escaped their well-meant attentions, and, leaving Paris,
went on a tour of vigorous Radical propaganda through the Provinces.

This was a most important self-imposed mission. Clemenceau, as he
showed by his vote at Bordeaux, was strongly in favour of continuing
the war and bitterly opposed to any surrender whatever. At the same
time he was a thoroughgoing Republican who did not forget that the mass
of Frenchmen must have voted for the Empire a few months before, or
Napoleon's plébiscite, of course, could not have been so successful,
even with the whole of the official machinery in the hands of the
Imperialists. Differing from Gambetta afterwards on many points, the
coming leader of the advanced Radicals was at this period entirely at
one with the man who had not despaired of France when all seemed lost.
But in order to carry on the war with any hope of success and to keep
the flag of the Republic flying, it was essential that the people of
the provincial towns and the peasants should be kept in touch with
Paris and be convinced that the only chance of safety and freedom
lay in sinking all internecine differences for the sake of unity. No
man, not even Gambetta himself, was better qualified for this service.
Throughout his tour he kept the independence, welfare and freedom of
France as a whole high above all other considerations. But the risks he
ran were not trifling. The local reactionists were by no means ready
to accept his views. The police was set upon his trail, with great
inconvenience to himself. But at no period of his life has Clemenceau
considered his personal safety of any account. He had set himself to
accomplish certain work which he deemed to be necessary, and he carried
it through without reference to the dangers around him. Nor must the
success of this propaganda be measured by its immediate results. The
great thing in those days of defeat and despair was to keep up the
national spirit and to declare that, though the French armies might
be beaten again and again, the France of the great Revolution and
the Republic should never be crushed down. Believing, as Clemenceau
did, in the religion of patriotism and the sacred watchwords of the
eighteenth-century upheaval, he spoke with a sincerity that gave to his
utterances the value of the highest oratory. The speeches produced a
permanent impression on those who heard them, and their effect was felt
for many years afterwards.

But this was quite as objectionable to Thiers and the case-hardened
reactionists as his previous conduct had been to Pyat and the
extremists of the Commune. Men of ability and judgment are apt to be
caught between two fires when prejudice and passion take control on
both sides. It was, in fact, little short of a miracle that the future
Prime Minister of France did not complete his services to his country
by dying in the ditch under the wall of Père-la-Chaise at the early age
of thirty-one.

Few movements have been more grotesquely misrepresented than the
Commune of Paris. For many a long year afterwards almost the whole of
the propertied classes in Europe spoke of the Communists as if they had
been a gang of scoundrels and incendiaries, without a single redeeming
quality; while Socialists naturally enough refused to listen to
virulent abuse of men most of whom they well knew were inspired by the
highest ideals and sacrificed themselves for what they believed to be
the good of mankind. At the beginning Paris assuredly had no intention
whatever of courting a struggle with the supporters of the Republic at
Bordeaux, however reactionary they might be. Such men as Delescluze,
Courbet, Beslay, Jourde, Camélinat, Vaillant, Longuet, to speak only
of a few, were no mere hot-headed revolutionaries regardless of all
the facts around them. Paris was admirably administered under their
short rule--never nearly so well, according to the testimony of two
quite conservative Englishmen who were there at the time. One of these
was the famous Oxford sculler and athlete, E. B. Michell, an English
barrister and a French _avocat_; the other was my late brother, Hugh,
a Magdalen man like Michell. They both knew Paris well, and both were
of the same opinion as to the municipal management under the Commune.
Michell in an article in _Fraser's Magazine_, then an important review,
wrote as follows:

 "It is extremely important that the serious lesson which the world
 may read in the history of the Revolution should not be weakened in
 its significance or interest by any ill-grounded contempt either
 for the acts of the Communal leaders or for the sincerity of their
 motives. We have seen that the army on which the Revolutionists
 relied, and by means of which they climbed to power, was not, as
 certain French statesmen pretended, and some English papers would
 have had us believe, a 'mere handful of disorderly rebels,' but
 a compact force, well drilled, well organised, and valiant when
 fighting for a cause that they really had at heart. It is equally
 false and unfair to regard the Communal Assembly as a crew of
 unintelligent and mischievous conspirators, guided by no definite
 or reasonable principle, and seeking only their own aggrandisement
 and the destruction of all the recognised laws of order. Yet it is
 certain that such an idea respecting the Commune is very generally
 entertained by ordinary English readers. It may be shown that the
 policy of this Government, though defaced by many gross abuses and
 errors, had much in it to deserve the consideration, and even to
 extort the admiration, of an intelligent and practical statesman. . . .

 "Foreign writers have delighted to represent the purposes of the
 Commune as vague and unintelligible. Even in Paris and at Versailles
 writers and talkers affected at first to be ignorant of the real
 projects and principles entertained by the Revolutionists. But the
 Commune of 1871 has itself destroyed all possibility of mistake upon
 the subject. It has put to itself and answered the question in the
 most explicit terms. The _Journal Officiel_ (of Paris) contained, on
 April 20th, a document worthy of the most careful perusal. It appears
 in the form of a declaration to the French people, and explains fully
 enough the main principles and the chief objects which animated the
 men of the Commune. Without bestowing on this address the ecstatic
 eulogies to which certain Utopian philosophers have deemed it
 entitled, we may credit it as being a straightforward, manly, and not
 altogether unpractical _exposé_ of the ideas of modern Communists.

 ". . . 'It is the duty of the Commune to confirm and determine the
 aspirations and wishes of the people of Paris; to explain, in its
 true character, the movement of March 18th--a movement which has been
 up to this time misunderstood, misconstrued, and calumniated by the
 politicians at Versailles. Once more Paris labours and suffers for
 the whole of France, for whom she is preparing, by her battles and
 her devoted sacrifices, an intellectual, moral, administrative, and
 economic regeneration, an era of glory and prosperity.

 "'What does she demand?

 "'The recognition and consolidation of the Republic as the only form
 of government compatible with the rights of the people and the regular
 and free development of society; the absolute independence of the
 Commune and its extension to every locality in France; the assurance
 by this means to each person of his rights in their integrity, to
 every Frenchman the full exercise of his faculties and capacities as
 a man, a citizen, and an artificer. The independence of the Commune
 will have but one limit--the equal right of independence to be enjoyed
 by the other Communes who shall adhere to the contract. It is the
 association of these Communes that must secure the unity of France.

 "'The inherent rights of the Commune are these: The right of voting
 the Communal budget of receipts and expenditure, of regulating and
 reforming the system of taxation, and of directing local services; the
 right to organise its own magistracy, the internal police and public
 education; to administer the property belonging to the Commune; the
 right of choosing by election or competition, with responsibility and
 a permanent right of control and revocation, the communal magistrates
 and officials of all sorts; the right of individual liberty under an
 absolute guarantee, liberty of conscience and liberty of labour; the
 right of permanent intervention by the citizens in communal affairs by
 means of the free manifestation of their ideas, and a free defence of
 their own interests, guarantees being given for such manifestations
 by the Commune, which is alone charged with the duty of guarding and
 securing the free and just right of meeting and of publicity; the
 right of organising the urban defences and the National Guard, which
 is to elect its own chiefs, and alone provide for the maintenance of
 order in the cities.

 "'Paris desires no more than this, with the condition, of course,
 that she shall find in the Grand Central Administration, composed
 of delegates from the Federal Communes, the practical recognition
 and realisation of the same principles. To insure, however, her own
 independence, and as a natural result of her own freedom of action,
 Paris reserves to herself the liberty of effecting as she may think
 fit, in her own sphere, those administrative and economic reforms
 which her population shall demand, of creating such institutions as
 are proper for developing and extending education, labour, commerce,
 and credit; of popularising the enjoyment of power and property in
 accordance with the necessities of the hour, the wish of all persons
 interested, and the data furnished by experience. Our enemies deceive
 themselves or deceive the country when they accuse Paris of desiring
 to impose its will or its supremacy upon the rest of the nation, and
 of aspiring to a Dictatorship which would amount to a veritable attack
 against the independence and sovereignty of other Communes. They
 deceive themselves or the country when they accuse Paris of seeking
 the destruction of French unity as established by the Revolution.
 The unity which has hitherto been imposed upon us by the Empire,
 the Monarchy, and the Parliamentary Government is nothing but a
 centralisation, despotic, unintelligent, arbitrary, and burdensome.
 Political unity as desired by Paris is a voluntary association of
 each local initiative, a free and spontaneous co-operation of all
 individual energies with one common object--the well-being, liberty,
 and security of all. The Communal Revolution initiated by the people
 on the 18th of March inaugurated a new political era, experimental,
 positive, and scientific. It was the end of the old official and
 clerical world, of military and bureaucratic _régime_, of jobbing in
 monopolies and privileges, to which the working class owed its state
 of servitude, and our country its misfortunes and disasters.'"

The two Englishmen, coming straight to my house from Paris, gave me a
favourable account of the administration of municipal Paris, especially
at the time when Cluseret held command.

Others who were there at the same time were similarly impressed. Paris
ceased even to be the Corinth of Europe, since all prostitutes had been
ordered out of the city. The leaders set an example of moderation in
their style of living, which was the more remarkable as they had no
authority but their own sense of propriety to limit their expenditure.
How little they regarded themselves as relieved from the ordinary rules
of the strictest bourgeois social order is apparent, also, from the
fact that Jourde and Beslay, who were responsible for the finances of
the Commune, actually borrowed £40,000 from the Rothschilds in order
to carry on the ordinary business of the Municipality. Yet at the
time not less than £60,000,000 in gold, apart from a huge store of
silver, was lying at their mercy in the Bank of France; enough, as some
cynically said, if judiciously used, to have bought up all M. Thiers'
Government and his army to boot. The fact that the Communists left
these vast accumulations untouched proves conclusively that they were
the least predatory, some might say the least effective, revolutionists
who ever held subversive opinions. In all directions they showed the
same spirit. Every department was managed as economically and capably
as they could organise it. But always on the most approved bourgeois
lines. Many of the reforms they introduced, notably those by Camélinat
at the Mint, are still maintained.

How, then, did it come about that people of this character and capacity
were regarded almost universally as desperate enemies of society,
from the moment when they came to the front in their own city? It is
the old story of the hatred of the materialist property-owner and
profiteer for the idealist who is eager at once to realise the new
period of public possession and co-operative well-being. The fact
that such an indomitable anarchist-communist as the famous Blanqui,
who spent the greater part of his life in prison, took an active part
in the Commune and that others of like views were associated with
the rising scared all the "respectable" classes, who regarded any
attack upon the existing economic and social forms as a crime of the
worst description. A tale current at the time puts the matter in a
humorous shape. A number of communists, when arrested, were put in
gaol with a still larger number of common malefactors. These latter
greatly resented this intrusion, boycotted the political prisoners,
and, it is said, would have gone so far as to attack their unwelcome
companions but for the intervention of the warders. Asked why they
exhibited such animosity towards men who had done them no harm, the
ordinary criminals took quite a conservative, bourgeois view of their
relations to the new-comers. "We," they said, "have some of us taken
things which belonged to other people; but we have never thought for a
moment of abolishing the right of property in itself. Not having enough
ourselves, we wanted more and laid hands upon what we could get. But
these men would take everything and leave nothing for us." So even the
gaol-birds embraced the bourgeois ethic of individual ownership.

Moreover, the International Working Men's Association had been founded
in London in 1864, just seven years before. Although the late Professor
Beesly, certainly as far from a violent revolutionist as any man could
be, took the chair at the first meeting and English trade unionists
of the most sober character constituted the bulk of the members in
London, the terror which this organisation inspired in the dominant
minority all over Europe was very far indeed in excess of the power
which it could at any time exercise. But the names of Marx, the learned
German-Jew philosopher, and Bakunin, the Russian peasant-anarchist,
were words of dread to the comfortable classes in those days. Marx
with Engels had written the celebrated "Communist Manifesto," at the
last period of European disturbance, in 1848, analysing the historic
development and approaching downfall of the entire wage-earning system,
with a ruthless disregard for the feelings of the bourgeoisie. Its
conclusion appealing to the "Workers of the World" to unite was not
unnaturally regarded as a direct incitement to combined revolt. Though,
therefore, few had read the Manifesto this appeal had echoed far and
wide, and the organisation of the International itself was credited
with the intention to use the Commune of Paris as the starting-point
for a world-wide conflagration. Thus the movement in Paris, which
at first had no other object than to secure the stability of the
democratic Republic, was regarded as an incendiary revolt, and the
brutal outrages of M. Thiers, aided by the mistakes of the Communists
themselves, gradually forced extremists to the front. Some were like
Delescluze, noble enthusiasts who knew success was impossible, and
courted death for their ideal as sowing the seed of success for their
great cause of the universal Co-operative Commonwealth in the near
future; others were such as Félix Pyat, a furious subversionist of the
most ruffianly type, who mixed up personal malignity and individual
hatred with his every action, and brought discredit on his own
comrades. Victory for the Socialist ideals, with the Germans containing
one side of Paris and the Versailles troops attacking the other,
was impossible--would have been impossible even if the Communists
had suppressed their truly fraternal hatreds and had developed a
military genius. They did neither. Cluseret showed some inkling of
the necessities of the case, but Dombrowski, Rossel and other leaders
exhibited no capacity. The wonderful thing about it all was that during
the crisis, which lasted two months, Paris was so well administered.
The sacrifice of the hostages and the tactics of incendiarism pursued
at last, not by the Communist leaders, but by the Anarchist mob broken
loose from all control, have hidden from the public at large, who read
only the prejudiced accounts of the capitalist press, the real truth
about the Commune of Paris.

But whatever may have been done in resistance to the invasion of M.
Thiers' army of reaction, nothing could possibly justify the horrible
vengeance wreaked upon the people of Paris by the soldiery and their
chiefs. It was a martyrdom of the great city. The _coup d'état_ of
Louis Napoleon was child's play to the hideous butchery ordered and
rejoiced in by Thiers, Gallifet and their subordinates. There was not
even a pretence of justice in the whole massacre. Thousands of unarmed
and innocent men and women were slaughtered in cold blood because
Paris was feared by the bloodthirsty clique who regarded her rightly
as the main obstacle to their reactionary policy. It was but too
clear evidence that, when the rights of property are supposed to be
imperilled, all sense of decency or humanity will be outraged by the
dominant minority as it was by the slave-owners of old or the nobles
of the feudal times.

But the Commune itself, as matters stood, was as hopeless an attempt to
"make twelve o'clock at eleven" as has ever been seen on the planet.
John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry was not more certainly foredoomed
to failure than was the uprising of the Communists of Paris in 1871.
But the Socialists of Europe, like the abolitionists, have celebrated
the Commune and deified its martyrs for many a long year. The brave
and unselfish champions of the proletariat who then laid down their
lives in the hope that their deaths might hasten on the coming of a
better day hold the same position in the minds of Socialists that John
Brown held among the friends of the negro prior to the great American
Civil War. It was an outburst of noble enthusiasm on their part to
face certain failure for the "solidarity of the human race." But those
who watched what happened then and afterwards can scarcely escape from
the conclusion that the loss of so many of its ablest leaders, and the
great discouragement engendered by the horrors of defeat, threw back
Socialism itself in France fully twenty years.

Recent experience in several directions has shown the world that
enthusiasm and idealism for the great cause of human progress, and the
co-ordination of social forces in the interest of the revolutionary
majority of mankind, cannot of themselves change the course of events.
Unless the stage in economic development has been reached where a new
order has already been evolved out of the previous outworn system, it
is impossible to realise the ideals of the new period by any sudden
attack. Men imbued with the highest conceptions of the future and
personally quite honest in their conduct may utterly fail to apply
plain common sense to the facts of the present. Dublin, Petrograd and
Helsingfors, nearly forty years later, did but enforce the teachings of
the Commune of Paris.



                               CHAPTER V

                        CLEMENCEAU THE RADICAL


All this Clemenceau, though not himself a Socialist, saw by intuition.
His powers of organisation and capacity for inspiring confidence among
the people might have been of the greatest service to Paris at that
critical juncture in her history--might even have averted the crash
which laid so large a portion of the buildings of the great city in
ruins and led to the infamous scenes already referred to. This was not
to be, and Clemenceau was fortunate to escape the fate of many who were
as little guilty of terrorism or arson as himself.

The trial of the men responsible for the death of Generals Lecomte
and Thomas was held on November 29th, 1871. Clemenceau himself was
accused of not having done enough to save their lives. He was in no
wise responsible for what had occurred, was strongly opposed to their
execution, and, as has been seen, did all that he could do to prevent
the two assailants of his own friends and fellow-citizens from being
killed. That, however, was no security that he would have escaped
condemnation if the evidence in his favour had not been so conclusive
that even the prejudiced court could not decide against him. He was
completely cleared from the charge by the evidence of Colonel Langlois,
and given full credit for his efforts on behalf of the militarists who
certainly could be reckoned among his most bitter enemies. Scarcely,
however, was his life relieved from jeopardy under the law than he was
compelled to risk it, or so he thought, on the duelling ground. Here
Clemenceau was quite at home. He used his remarkable skill in handling
the pistol with moderation and judgment, being content to wound his
adversary, Commandant Poussages, in the leg. None the less, the result
of his encounter was that he was fined and committed to prison for a
fortnight as a lesson to him not to act in accordance with the French
code of honour in future.

But the truth is, M. Thiers did not wish to make a peaceful settlement
with the people of the capital of France. Conciliation itself was
branded as a crime as much by the political leaders and military chiefs
on his side as it was by the Communist extremists on the other. The
Versaillais aimed at the conquest of Paris by force of arms: they did
not desire to enter peacefully by force of agreement. And having won,
Paris was treated by the Republican Government as a conquered city. All
sorts of exceptional laws, such as Napoleon III himself never enacted,
were registered against the liberties of her inhabitants, and she was
deprived of her fair share of representation in the National Assembly.
The capital of France was a criminal city.

Clemenceau on March 21st, 1871, had brought into the National Assembly
at Versailles a measure which established the Municipal Council of
Paris with 80 members. This was a valuable service to the capital and
one of which the man himself was destined to take advantage. For,
having failed to bring about a reasonable compromise between the
Versailles chiefs and the leaders of the Commune, and having also lost
his seat for Montmartre in the Assembly as well as the Mayoralty of
that district, he gave up general politics and after the fall of the
Commune accepted his election as Municipal Councillor for Clignancourt.
He devoted the next five years of his life to his doctor's work, giving
gratuitous advice as before to her poor around him, and to constant
attendance as a Municipal Councillor, where he was the leader of the
radical section. He thus gained a knowledge of Parisian life and the
needs of Parisians which no other experience could have given him.

As one of the municipal representatives he never ceased to protest
against the shameful legislation which deprived Paris of its rights.
But he did more. The man who is regarded by many, even to-day, as
essentially a political destroyer with no idea of a constructive policy
in any department made himself master of the details of municipal
administration and was a most valued colleague of all who, acting on
the extreme left of the Council, endeavoured, while upholding the
dignity of the city against the repressive policy of the Government, to
improve the management of city affairs in every department. In this he
was as successful as the circumstances of the time permitted. He became
in turn Secretary, Vice-President and President of the Council.

Though this portion of Clemenceau's career is little known, the
continuous unrecognised municipal service he rendered to Paris during
those eventful years gave him a hold not only upon Montmartre but
upon the whole city which has been of great service to him at other
times. He had, in fact, become a thorough Parisian from the age of
nineteen onwards, which can by no means always be said of men who
have afterwards taken a leading part in French politics. It is very
difficult to say what qualities are those which entitle a man to this
distinguished appellation. I have myself known Frenchmen able, witty,
brilliant and original, good speakers and clever writers, who somehow
never seemed to be at home with Parisians and Parisian audiences.
Critical and cynical, though at times enthusiastic and idealist, the
Parisian crowd takes no man at his own valuation and is no less fickle
than crowds in cities generally are. But Clemenceau has never failed
to be on good terms with them. I attribute this to the fact that in
addition to his other higher qualities, which impress all people of
intelligence, Clemenceau has in him a vein of sheer humorous mischief
that savours of the Parisian _gamin_ rather than of the hard-working
student from La Vendée. There is something in common between him and
the young rogues of the Parisian streets who are not at all averse from
enjoying life at the cost of poking fun at other people and even at
themselves. This spirit of Paris early got hold of Clemenceau and he of
it.

However this may be, on February 26th, 1876, he was again elected
deputy to the National Assembly. He now began the active and continuous
political life which had been broken off at its commencement by the
second revolution followed by the gruesome tragedy just recounted.

That he had never lost his sympathy for the men and women of the
Commune, little reason as he personally had for good feeling towards
them, was, proved by his delivery of his speech in favour of the
Amnesty of the Communists, some of whom had been so eager to get
rid of him for good and all when they had been in power for a short
time themselves. The speech at once put Clemenceau among the first
Parliamentary orators of the day. At this time a man of such capacity
was greatly needed on the extreme left. Others, who had lost much of
their energy and fervour in the long struggle against repression,
were little inclined to run further risks for the sake of a really
democratic Republic, still less for a set of people who in their
misguided efforts for complete freedom had endangered the establishment
of any Republic at all. They were content with what they had done
before and with the positions they occupied then. It was greatly to
Clemenceau's credit that he did not hesitate a moment as to the line he
should take. Popular or unpopular, fair play and freedom for all were
his watchwords.

When the Amnesty question came up again in 1879 Clemenceau's speech in
favour of the release of the indefatigable Communist Blanqui was, like
his appeal for the amnesty of the members of the Commune generally,
very creditable to him, for it was an unpopular move and gained him
little useful political support from any party. Perhaps no man in
the whole history of the revolutionary movement ever devoted himself
so entirely and with such relentless determination to the spread of
subversive doctrines as Auguste Blanqui. He began early and finished
late. He was first imprisoned at the age of twenty-one and spent more
than half of his seventy-six years of existence in gaol or exile. He
was a strong believer in organised violence as a means of bringing
about the realisation of his communist ideals. Insurrection against
the successive French Governments he regarded as a duty. It was a duty
which he faithfully fulfilled. In 1827 he was an active fighter in the
insurrection of the Rue St. Denis. It was suppressed and Blanqui was
wounded. He was one of the leaders of the successful rising against
Charles X in 1830, in which he was again wounded. In the reign of
Louis Philippe, which followed the failure to establish a Republic, he
speedily went to work again. Insurrection, conspiracy, establishment of
illegal societies, accumulation of weapons and explosives for organised
attacks, attempts to constitute a communist republic, were followed by
the usual penalties, and after his participation in the insurrection
of the Montagnards, by condemnation to death commuted to imprisonment
for life. Such was Blanqui's career up to 1848. Then the revolution
of that year set him free again. No sooner was he released than he
began afresh, forming a revolutionary combination which led to another
three days of insurrection, with the result that he was sentenced to a
further ten years of imprisonment. In 1858, under the Second Empire,
he returned to Paris, his birthplace, but was soon ejected and passed
eight years more in exile. In 1870 and 1871 Blanqui took part in the
overthrow of Napoleon III, and in the Commune which followed, was
captured by the Versaillais troops and sentenced to transportation to
New Caledonia, after the Communards had offered to exchange for him the
Archbishop of Paris, then held by them as a hostage. Instead of being
shipped off to New Caledonia he was imprisoned at Clairvaux, where he
remained until 1880, when he was elected, while still in gaol, deputy
for Bordeaux, was not allowed to take his seat but was released, and
died in Paris in 1881.

This brief summary gives but a poor idea of Blanqui's activities and
sufferings. At the period when Clemenceau pleaded for his release he
was still, at seventy-one, the most dangerous revolutionary leader in
France. From the first and throughout he was absolutely uncompromising
in his adherence to his communist theories, and, being at the same time
of dictatorial tendencies, he was an extremely difficult man to work
with. None the less Blanqui represented the highest type of educated
anarchist. He never considered himself for a moment. So long as he was
able to keep the flag of revolution flying, and thus to prepare the
way, by constant attempts at direct action, for the period when the
people would be strong enough and well-organised enough to achieve
victory for themselves, he was satisfied. A leader of his knowledge and
capacity must have known and did know that his views could not possibly
be accepted and acted upon, even if scientifically correct for a later
date, at the stage of evolution which France had reached in his day.
But, like Raspail, Delescluze, Amilcare Cipriani, Sophie Perovskaia,
and more than one of the French dynamitical anarchists, he deliberately
sacrificed his whole career, as he also risked his life time after
time, in desperate efforts to uplift the mass of the people from
their state of economic and social degradation. Nothing daunted him.
His courage was of that exceptional quality which is strengthened by
defeat. Even his bitterest enemies respected his devotion to his cause,
his disregard of danger and the spirit he maintained, in spite of years
upon years of confinement. He hated and despised the bourgeoisie, with
their capitalist wage-earning, profit-making system, even more than he
did monarchy and aristocracy. He revolted against the slow processes
of social evolution, as he did against the inherited wrongs of class
repression. No weapon of agitation came amiss to him. Journalist,
pamphleteer, author, orator, organiser, conspirator, he covered in his
own person the whole of the ground open to a convinced revolutionist.
The suppressive order of to-day must be smashed up to give an outlet
to the liberative order of to-morrow. Such a programme was in direct
opposition to the ideas of Clemenceau, who, individualist as he is,
has always regarded political action and trade organisation of a
peaceful nature as the best means of attaining thorough reform and
social reconstruction without running the risk of provoking monarchist
or imperialist repression. Blanqui to him was an idealist who, by
his very honesty and singleness of purpose, played into the hands of
reaction, when he spent so much of his life as he lived outside of a
prison in one broken but relentless effort to overthrow the existing
society of inequality and wage-slavery by the same forcible methods
that capitalist society itself uses to maintain the system in being.
On the other hand, the right to freedom of person and freedom of
expression was erected by the Radical leader into something not far
from an intellectual religion. On this ground, therefore, he argued
strongly in favour of Blanqui's release, though quite possibly, and
indeed probably, Blanqui's freedom, had it been secured, would have
been vigorously used against Clemenceau and his party--whom the great
Anarchist-Communist would have regarded as mere trimmers--to the
advantage of the reactionists themselves. But in this case as in that
of the amnesty to the Communists, the Clemenceau of the Rights of Man
and Liberty, Equality and Fraternity overcame Clemenceau the practical
politician. That he failed to get Blanqui out of prison could only have
been expected, having regard to the character of the Assembly to which
his appeal is addressed.

His Amnesty speech made a fine beginning for Clemenceau's active
Parliamentary life. It put him on a very different level from that
occupied by the mere political adventurers and intriguers whose main
objects were either to help on the reconstitution of some form of
monarchy or to secure for themselves posts under the Republic of much
the same kind as existed under the Empire. Men who but yesterday had
been champions of a genuine Republic in which the interests of the
majority of the French people should be considered first, foremost and
all the time had now become mere plotters for reaction, or opportunists
anxious never to find an opportunity. They were Republicans in name
but not in spirit. They were convinced that the most important portion
of their policy consisted henceforth not in organising the factor of
democracy for general progress but in reassuring their conservative
opponents and the propertied classes generally, from the plutocrat to
the peasant proprietor, that the Republic meant only a convenient form
of government, in which all classes should agree harmoniously together
to stand at ease for the next few generations. Their arguments in
favour of such a scheme of permanent repose were unfortunately only
too striking. They had but to recall the downfall of the Commune and
to point to the ruins of fine public buildings to appeal effectively
to the feelings of a large and influential portion of the people.
Enthusiasm had become suspect, idealism the antechamber to violent
mania, even Radicalism a vain thing.

Gambetta himself, regarded in England as the most eloquent and capable
leader of the Republican party, invented an excuse for the existence
of the Republic which he had taken an active part in creating, by the
formula, "It is that which divides us the least." Indifference on
every important question except colonial expansion became the highest
political wisdom. It was, in fact, hesitating opportunism and cowardly
compromise which then dominated France. Such tactics evoked no loyalty
and solved no problem. The old became cynical, the young contemptuous.
To attack such flabby consistency in doing nothing seemed as bootless
an enterprise as entering into conflict with a feather-bed. The early
years of the French Republic constituted a period of apathy led,
with one or two exceptions, by mediocrity. Even the scathing sarcasm
and biting irony of Rochefort failed to produce any serious effect
upon the smug stolidity of the rest-and-be-thankful representatives
of the French middle class. Hence arose "a divorce between politics
and thought," and men of capacity became disgusted with the form of
government itself. All this played directly into the hands of reaction
and was preparing the way for a series of attempts against the Republic.

It was at this unhopeful period of stagnation, compromise and
mediocrity that Clemenceau came to the front as leader of the
Left in the National Assembly. He at once showed that he had every
qualification for this important position--never more important than
when there was a conspiracy afoot to prove to the world that there
was no Radical Left at all. At the time he entered the Assembly in
1876 Clemenceau was thirty-five years of age, with an irreproachable
past behind him and the full confidence of the Republicans of Paris
around him. In his work in Montmartre and on the Municipal Council the
people had come to know what manner of man he was. Without their steady
support it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for him to
carry on the uphill fight he fought for so many years. His principles
upon every subject of public policy were from the first clear and well
defined.

Freedom of person, of speech and of the press were cardinal points
in his programme. He demanded that Paris should be released from
all exceptional measures of repression inflicted by the so-called
Conservatives upon the whole of the inhabitants of the capital as
revenge for the rash action of a small number of fanatical idealists
and as a means of keeping down any agitation against their own
corruption and incompetence. He claimed also that no perpetual
disability, in the shape of imprisonment and exile, should attach to
the members of the Commune of Paris, and he called for the fullest
pardon and freedom even for the irreconcilable Anarchist, Blanqui.
On questions of political rights, universal secular education, the
separation of Church and State, the generous treatment of the rank and
file of the army, the prevention of the intrigues of the Catholics,
and the expulsion of the Jesuits, Clemenceau took the line of an
out-and-out democrat. So, likewise, in regard to the treatment of the
working classes. Though not really a Socialist, the Radical leader
recognised clearly the infinite hardships suffered by the wage-earners
under the capitalist system, and proposed and supported palliative
legislation to lessen and redress their wrongs. In foreign affairs
he was a man of peace, never forgetting the outrages committed by
the German armies in the war nor the territory seized and the huge
indemnity exacted by the German Government at the peace; but hoping
always that the friendly development of the peoples of both France and
Germany might avert further antagonism and eventually lead to a full
understanding which would assuage the hatreds of the past and lay the
foundations of mutual good feeling in the future. To colonisation by
conquest and colonial adventures generally Clemenceau was steadfastly
opposed. The entire policy of expansion he regarded as injurious to the
true interests of the country, diverting to doubtful enterprises abroad
resources which were required for the development of Republican France
at home. Such colonial schemes also were apt to create difficulties and
even to risk wars with other nations which could in no wise benefit the
people, while they might strengthen the financiers whose malefic power
was already too great.

Such in brief was the general policy which Clemenceau set himself to
formulate and put to the front on behalf of the only party which at
that moment could exercise any serious influence in the political
world. The whole programme was closely knit together, and for
many years stood the brunt of the bitterest Parliamentary warfare
conceivable. It was a conflict of ideas that Clemenceau entered upon.
He conducted it throughout on the most approved principle of all
warfare: Never fail to attack in order to defend. The advice of the
American banker, "David Harum," might have been enunciated as the motto
of Georges Clemenceau the French statesman: "Do unto others as they
would do unto you, and do it _first_."

But the main point of all, that which assured and confirmed and
strengthened his leadership under the most difficult and dangerous
circumstances, was his resolute opposition to compromise. This was
contrary to all the ideas of political strategy and tactics which then
prevailed in France. "Men became Ministers solely on condition that
they refused when in power to do that which they had promised when
in opposition"--quite the English method, in fact. He himself never
failed to denounce nominal Republicans who set themselves stubbornly
against reform and progress in every shape, as mere reactionists in
disguise. They were, in fact, the staunch buttresses of that bourgeois
Republic of which Clemenceau not long afterwards said to me, "_La
République, mon ami, c'est l'Empire républicanisé_." It was indeed a
republicanised Empire which best suited the leading French politicians
of that day. For at first bourgeois domination of the narrowest and
meanest kind, leading, so the reactionaries hoped, to the restoration
of the monarchy, had its will of Paris and all that Paris at its best
stood for. As we look back upon that period of pettifoggery in high
places, the wonder is that the Royalists were not successful. If they
had had a king worth fighting for they might have been; for more than
one President was certainly not unfavourable to the monarchy or empire.
Prime Ministers were similarly tainted with reaction, and the army was
none too loyal to the Republic.



                              CHAPTER VI

                      FROM GAMBETTA TO CLEMENCEAU


Medici, Mazarin, Riquetti-Mirabeau, Buonaparte, Gambetta--these names
recall the great influence which Italians have had upon French affairs.
Few, if any, nations have allowed persons of foreign extraction to lead
them as France permitted the five recorded above. Much, too, as these
Italians were affected by their French surroundings, there is something
in them all quite different from what we regard as distinctively French
intelligence and general capacity. Possibly that gave them their power
of control. They had that faculty of detachment, of looking at the
situation from without, which is so invaluable to anyone who has to
play a great part in the world. Some of them could so far survey, as
well as enter into, the peculiarities of the French mind that they
could play upon its weaknesses as well as call forth its strength.
Yet, with all their genius, the four men named failed to accomplish
what they set out to achieve, and none left behind him amid his own
immediate followers those who were capable of carrying on his work.

Léon Gambetta had but fourteen years of active political life, and
during only eleven of those years was he in a position to make himself
seriously felt. But what an amazing career this was of the grocer's boy
of Cahors who stirred all France to enthusiastic support or ferocious
denunciation between 1871 and 1882! When William Morris died, the
doctor who attended him was asked what he died of. "He died of being
William Morris," was the reply. Although Gambetta's death was due to a
pistol-shot received under circumstances never fully explained, it may
be said that he also died of being Léon Gambetta. For his inner fires
had burnt the man out. He crowded all the excitement and passions of a
long lifetime into those stormy eleven years, and without some account
of him and his efforts for the foundation of the Republic the story of
Clemenceau is not complete.

Born in 1848 and enabled to come to Paris by the touching
self-sacrifice of a maiden aunt who believed that her nephew's
confidence in his destiny to do great things would be realised,
Gambetta was soon regarded as a leader among the young men of the
Quartier Latin, who were in full revolt against the Empire. He
distinguished himself by his easy-going, rough-and-tumble mode of life,
his carelessness about study of the law which was to be his means of
earning a livelihood, and his perfervid eloquence in the political
circles which he frequented. Lawyer, journalist, bohemian orator of
the clubs, strongly anti-Imperialist, he had much personal magnetism,
but was not generally recognised as a man of exceptional ability. The
few cases he had had in the Courts did not give him any considerable
standing. Such was Gambetta when a number of Republican journalists
were arrested on November 12th, 1868, for starting a subscription to
erect a monument to M. Baudin, the Republican deputy who had been shot
down in cold blood during Louis Napoleon's massacre of the people
of Paris on December 2nd, 1851--seventeen years before. Among these
prisoners was the famous Delescluze, then editor of the _Réveil_. His
counsel was Léon Gambetta. Gambetta's speech was not merely a defence
of his client, it was a scathing indictment of the Empire, from its
foundation on the ruin of the Republic of 1848 by the _coup d'état_
onwards. "Who," the advocate asked, "were the men who 'saved' France
at the cost of the death or transportation or exile of all her most
eminent citizens? They were, to quote Corneille, 'un tas d'hommes
perdus de dettes et de crimes.' These are the sort of people who for
centuries have slashed down institutions and laws. Against them the
human conscience is powerless, in spite of the sublime march-past of
the martyrs who protest in the name of religion destroyed, of morality
outraged, of equity crushed under the jackboot of the soldier. This is
not salvation: it is assassination." And this was no longer a press
prosecution: it was the Emperor and his set of scoundrels who were now
on their trial before the people of France and Europe.

The speech gave Gambetta great popularity and the opening into public
life he desired. The cause itself was lost before the trial began.
Delescluze was fined and imprisoned. "You may condemn us, but you can
neither dishonour us nor overthrow us," cried Gambetta. From that time
forward he was regarded as a new force on the side of the Republic.
His behaviour in the Corps Législatif, to which he was soon afterwards
elected, justified this opinion. When the disasters of the Empire came
Gambetta was one of the first to cry for Napoleon's abdication and the
establishment of the Republic, taking an active part in the foundation
of the new order in Paris. It may be said that he worked side by side,
though never hand in hand, with Clemenceau.

But those scenes of the downfall of the Empire in the capital, dramatic
and exciting as they were, could bear no comparison with his bold
escape from beleaguered Paris in a balloon and the magnificent effort
he made to rouse the Provinces against the invaders. He failed to turn
the tide of German victories, but he prevented the shameful surrender
without a fight for the French Republic which many would have been glad
to accept, and he, more than any other man, kept the flag flying, when
Legitimists, Orleanists and Buonapartists were all doing their utmost
to set on foot a reactionary government against the best interests
of France. All this is part of the common history of the time. But
we are apt, in looking back over that period of his activities, to
underrate the almost superhuman energy he displayed, to attach too much
importance to the mistakes he inevitably made, and to forget that his
own countrymen were among his worst enemies in the work he undertook.
Also, if the Empire had left the Republic one single really first-rate
general at the disposal of France, the result might have been very
different from what it was. There is such a thing as luck in human
affairs, and luck was dead against Gambetta. All the more credit to him
for never losing heart even in the face of continuous disasters and
even betrayals. First as leading member of the Government of Defence,
and then as virtual Dictator of France, Gambetta bridged over for the
time being the bitter antagonism which separated Paris, the besieged
seat of government, from the rest of France. Immediately on his arrival
at Tours he created a new National Government out of the unpromising
elements gathered together almost accidentally there. The fall of Metz
and the threatened starvation of Paris, which might lead to surrender
at any moment, made Gambetta's own position desperate. The Paris
Government, which apparently looked only to Paris, had failed to make
a resolute effort to break through the lines of the German investment
before Metz fell, and then lost heart altogether, refusing even to
listen to any remonstrance from outside against a humiliating peace.
Gambetta never gave way. Arrived at Bordeaux, he stuck to his text
of carrying on the war, having in the meantime vigorously denounced
the Government in Paris for its weakness. He and his fellow-delegates
were deaf to the counsels of despair brought red-hot by members of the
Government; but at last, overwhelmed by circumstances he could not
control, the young Dictator resigned. After Paris had surrendered there
was really no further hope, and those who voted in the new Assembly, as
did Louis Blanc, Clemenceau and others, for the continuance of the war,
did so more by way of protest against the apathy which pervaded the
whole Assembly, and because foreign intervention in favour of France
and against Germany seemed possible even thus late in the day, than
because they saw at the moment any prospect of success.

Thus France lay prostrate at the feet of Germany, but at least Gambetta
and the Republicans who acted with him showed their confidence that she
would rise again. They were not responsible for the collapse of the
French nation: undismayed by defeat they believed in Republican France
of the near future.

Gambetta had created new armies out of disarray and disorder, and
he had also aroused a fresh spirit which rose superior to disaster.
The victory of the Republic in years to come over all the forces of
reaction was largely due to the work done during Gambetta's four months
of dictatorship.

Universal Suffrage, General Secular Education, No Second Chamber,
the Republican form of Government: those were the principal measures
advocated by the extreme Left of the National Assembly, and these were
advocated by Gambetta both at Bordeaux and when he took his seat at
Versailles as one of the Deputies for Paris. But the Royalists were
still in a majority, and were determined to take every advantage of
their position while power still remained in their hands. Their object
was to render Republicanism hateful. The object of their opponents
was to show that no other form of government was possible and to
prevent any other form from being established. Now that the Republic
has been maintained for more than forty-seven years, under all sorts
of difficult and dangerous circumstances, the obstacles which stood
in its way at the start are sometimes under-estimated. Continuous
agitation was needed to keep the country fully alive to the intrigues
of the Royalists and Catholics. It was essential to put the misdeeds of
the Empire and the real objects of the monarchists constantly before
the public. No man in France was better qualified for this work than
Gambetta, and he did it well, so well that the whole reactionary party
was infuriated against him. There was no opportunism about him at
this period, beyond the necessary adaptation of means to ends under
circumstances which rendered immediate success impossible.

M. Thiers, in consequence of his horrible suppression of the Commune,
was by far the most powerful public man in the country. He was acting,
though a Constitutional Monarchist, as trustee for a provisional form
of government which could not be distinguished from a conservative
Republic. The longer this continued the better the chance of obtaining
a Government which would not be conservative. It was of great
importance, therefore, to keep M. Thiers on the Republican side, and
this was made easier by the action of M. Thiers' own old friends.
So antagonistic was their attitude to the former Minister of Louis
Philippe that, even when Gambetta supported the ex-Mayor of Lyons,
a fervid Radical, M. Barodet, against M. Thiers' eminent friend and
coadjutor M. de Rémusat, as representative of Paris, and the former won
by 40,000 votes, Thiers never wavered in his decision to keep away from
any direct connection with the monarchists. They therefore determined
to upset the President, did so by a majority of 26 votes in the
Assembly, and elected a President of their own in the person of Marshal
MacMahon. This was on May 24th, 1873.

Reaction had won at Versailles. It remained to be seen whether it would
win in the country. A "Ministry of Combat" for reaction, headed by
the Duc de Broglie, was formed, and a Ministry of Combat it certainly
proved to be. They were allowed no peace by their opponents, who
never ceased to attack them all round, and they met these persistent
assaults by attempts secretly to cajole and suborn public opinion. So
the great combat went on. The majority remained a majority and rejected
the Republic. It was useless. But in his anxiety to win speedily
in conjunction with M. Thiers, Gambetta himself and his followers
practised that very opportunism which he had previously denounced. A
non-democratic Senate, which had always been opposed by Republicans,
was enacted as an essential part of the Republican Constitution, and on
February 25th, 1875, the French Republic was firmly established as the
legal form of government by the very same majority that, in the hope of
rendering any such disaster to monarchy impossible, had made Marshal
MacMahon President and the Duc de Broglie Premier.

But it was a truncated Republic that Gambetta had thus obtained. What
he had gained by political compromise he had lost in the enthusiasm
of principle. A leader who desires to achieve great reforms must
always keep in close touch with the fanatics of his party. They alone
can be relied upon in periods of crisis, they alone refuse to regard
politics merely as a remunerative profession. The compromise--for men
of principle compromise spells surrender--of February 25th, 1875, was
destined to be fatal to the democratic parliamentary dictatorship
which Gambetta might have achieved by common consent of his party, had
he pursued his original policy of democratic Republicanism through
and through. He stunted the growth of his own progeny by helping to
establish a Republicanised Empire. No doubt this averted friction for
the time being, but it slackened the rate of progress, placed obstacles
in the path of democracy, and destroyed public enthusiasm. By one of
the strange ironies of political life, however, it so chanced that,
nearly thirty years later, Clemenceau himself owed his return to
Parliament to the institution of that same Senate the creation of which
he had always resolutely opposed.

But during these years of reconstruction from 1871 to 1875 Clemenceau
had been excluded from the Assembly and actively engaged in the work
of the Municipal Council of Paris. There he did admirable service in
consolidating the organisation of Parisian municipal life to which he
had been instrumental in giving expression in legal shape as Deputy for
Montmartre. Paris had become the bugbear of all the reactionists and
law-and-order men. The capital was constantly referred to by them as if
the last acts of despair of the irresponsible extremists of the Commune
were the habitual diversions of the Parisian populace when allowed
free play for the realisation of their own aspirations. The Parisians,
in fact, according to these persons, were burning with the desire
to destroy their own city in order to avenge themselves upon their
provincial detractors and enemies. It was important to show, therefore,
not only that Paris could manage her own affairs coolly and capably,
but also that she could take a progressive line of her own which might
give the lead to other French cities in more than one direction. This
was precisely what the Municipal Council did, and Clemenceau, by his
constant attendance and the continuous pressure he exerted as an active
member of the Left of that body, prevented the Council from being used
at any time as a centre of reactionist intrigue. By this means also he
strengthened his personal influence in his own democratic district as
well as in Paris as a whole. He took care likewise all the world should
know that on the matter of the full restitution of Parisian rights and
the return of the Assembly to the capital he was as determined as ever,
and that in the affairs of general politics he was and always would be
a thoroughgoing Radical Republican. Thus he was building up for himself
outside the Chamber a reputation as a capable municipal administrator
as well as a fearless champion of the public rights of the great city
he had made his home. At the same time his local popularity, due to his
thorough knowledge of social conditions and his advocacy of municipal
improvements of every kind, added to his gratuitous service as doctor
of the poor, gave him an indisputable claim upon the votes of the
people when, after having become President of the Municipal Council, he
should decide to offer himself for re-election to the Assembly.

And from February 25th, 1875, onwards, matters were taking such a turn
that the presence of a thoroughly well-informed, determined, active
and fearless representative of Paris became necessary. A leader was
wanted on the extreme Left who should loyally support the moderate
Republicans when they were going forward and have the courage to
attack them when they seemed inclined to hesitate or go back. The
success of the conservative compromise in the constitution of the
Republic had strengthened the belief of the reactionary majority in
the Assembly in their own power under the new conditions. Gambetta's
own moderation deceived them as to the real position in the country.
They began to think that the Republicans were afraid not only of how
they would fare in the elections to the newly constituted Senate, but
that the result of the General Elections which must shortly be held
would be unfavourable to their cause. The Prime Minister, M. Buffet,
aided and abetted by the President, MacMahon, who never forgot that
the members of the Right were his real friends, made full use of the
Exceptional Laws and the State of Siege, which was still in force, to
show the Republicans plainly what a reactionary majority would mean.
The "Conservatives" and Imperialists had things all their own way.
Democracy became a byword and Radicalism a vain thing.

With the Ministry at their command and the President in their hands,
they needed only to obtain the control of the Senate to have the people
of France entirely at their mercy. Then, with the army favourable,
with whole cohorts of anti-Republican officials at their service, they
might postpone the General Elections, maintain the state of siege
permanently, and prepare everything for a monarchical restoration or a
Buonapartist plébiscite. _L'Empire républicanisé_ indeed!

M. Buffet, within a few months of the declaration of the Republic as
the real form of government of France, spoke quite in this sense.
Happily the forces of reaction fell out among themselves. They could
not trust one another in any sharing of the booty which might fall
to the general lot. Therefore, when the time came for nomination and
election of the seventy-five members of the Senate to be elected by the
Assembly, their intestine differences lost them the battle: one portion
of their motley group even went over to the enemy. So the Republicans
actually obtained a majority by the votes of their opponents. In
this way the danger of the Senate as a whole being used against the
Republic was averted and the Radicals had secured the first point in
the political game. Yet, in spite of this preliminary success, the
reactionists had a majority of the Senate of 300 when the limited
votes of the country had been polled. But the Republicans in revenge
gained a surprising majority at the General Elections for the National
Assembly, such a majority that it might have been thought any further
serious effort on the part of the anti-Republicans would be impossible
and even that Gambetta's previous policy of opportunism was unnecessary.

It was at this election of 1876 that Clemenceau was returned again for
the 18th Electoral District of Paris to the National Assembly as a
thoroughgoing Radical Republican, and took his seat on the extreme Left
under the leadership of Gambetta.

Marshal MacMahon, the President, was a good honest soldier who
served his country as well as he knew how, but was quite incapable
of understanding the new forces that were coming into action around
him. The Parisians were never tired of inventing humorous scenes in
which he invariably figured as the well-meaning pantaloon. Everybody
trusted his honour, but all the world doubted his intelligence. He was
by nature, upbringing and surroundings a conservative in the widest
sense of the word. Radical Republicanism was to him the accursed thing
which would bring about another Commune of Paris, if its partisans
were given free rein. Although, therefore, incapable of plotting
directly for the overthrow of the Constitution he had pledged himself
to uphold, he was liable to yield to influences the full tendency of
which he did not discern. Thus it happened that he allowed himself
unconsciously to become the tool of the highly educated and clever
Duc de Broglie, who was undoubtedly a monarchist and, what was still
worse, a statesman imbued with the ideals of clericalism and of the
Jesuits--precisely those powers which the growing spirit of democracy
and Republicanism most feared. It was this growing spirit and its
expression in the National Assembly that the Prime Minister, M. Jules
Simon, who succeeded de Broglie had to recognise and deal with.
Gambetta was still the leader of the Republican Party, and with him for
this struggle were all the more advanced men, including Clemenceau, who
afterwards stoutly opposed his policy of opportunism and compromise.
M. Jules Simon, finding the majority of the Assembly in favour of
steady progress towards the Left, was quite unable to check the
movement in this direction or to refuse the legislation to which the
Republican demands of necessity impelled him. The President could not
see that an extremely moderate man, such as Jules Simon undoubtedly
was, would not have taken this course unless he had been convinced
that the Republic had to be in some degree republicanised if serious
trouble were to be averted. In short, Marshal MacMahon felt that the
floodgates of revolution were being opened, and forthwith knocked
down the lock-keeper. In other words, he sent for M. Jules Simon and
talked to him in such a manner as gave the Premier no option but to
resign. Resign he did. Thereupon France was thrown into that turmoil of
peaceful civil war ever afterwards known as the _Coup du Seize Mai_.
The Duc de Broglie, with a trusty phalanx of seasoned reactionaries
and devotees of priestcraft, again took office, regardless of the fact
that the majority of the Chamber was solid against them all. Even
with the most strenuous support of the President of the Republic,
the de Broglie Ministry never had a chance from the first. They were
in a hopeless minority, and their attempt to govern, on the basis of
MacMahon's reputation and the support of the priests, could not but
result in failure, unless the Marshal himself were prepared to risk a
_coup d'état_. This the Duc de Broglie and his followers were ready to
attempt, but it was useless to embark upon anything of the kind so long
as the President held back.

Then came the famous division, following up a most violent discussion,
which for many a long year formed a landmark in the history of the
Republic. Three hundred and sixty-three Republicans declared against
the President's Ministry of reaction and all its works. But Marshal
MacMahon still would not understand that in his mistaken attempt to
override the National Assembly in order to save France from what he
believed would be an Anarchist revolution, he himself, with his group
of monarchists and clericals, was steadily impelling the country into
civil war. The action taken against Gambetta, then at the height of his
vigour and influence, for declaring in his famous phrase that, in view
of the attitude of the Chamber, the President must either "give in or
get out," made matters still worse. The President's manifestoes to the
Assembly and the country also only confirmed the growing impression
that a sinister plot was afoot against the Republic itself, in the
interest of the Orleanists.

This was a much more serious matter than appeared on the surface.
In the six years which had passed since the withdrawal of the
German armies and the suppression of the Commune, France had become
accustomed to the Republic and to the use of universal suffrage as a
democratic instrument of organisation. Great as were its drawbacks in
many respects, the Republic was, as Gambetta phrased it, the form of
government which divided Frenchmen the least. The people, who comprised
not only the enlightened Radical Republicans of the cities, but the
easily frightened small bourgeoisie and the peasantry, could now make
the Assembly and the Senate do what they pleased. They were not as yet
prepared to push those institutions very fast or very far, but they
were unquestionably moving forward and were in no mind whatever to
go back either to Napoleonism, Orleanism or Legitimism. France as a
Republic was becoming the France of them all.

When, therefore, the 363 deputies who voted against the Duc
de Broglie's rococo restoration policy and Marshal MacMahon's
constitutional autocracy stood firmly together, sinking all differences
in the one determination to safeguard and consolidate the Republic,
there could be no real doubt as to the result. Those 363 stalwarts
issued a vigorous appeal to the country, and the issue was joined in
earnest at the General Elections. Gambetta, meanwhile, was the hero of
the hour, straining every nerve for victory, exhausting himself by his
furious eloquence, and the other advanced leaders did their full share
of the fighting. In all this political warfare Clemenceau was as active
and energetic as the fiery tribune himself, and as one of the framers
and signatories of the great Republican appeal identified himself
permanently with the document which recorded, as events proved, the
decision of France to be and to remain a Republic.

Although it did not seem so at the time, the President played
completely into the hands of the Republicans by the Message he sent
to the Assembly and the Senate just before the prorogation he had so
autocratically decreed. Here is a portion of it:--

 "Frenchmen,--You are about to vote. The violence of the opposition
 has dispelled all illusions. . . . The conflict is between order and
 disorder. You have already announced you will not by hostile elections
 plunge the country into an unknown future of crises and conflicts. You
 will vote for the candidates whom I recommend to your suffrages. Go
 without fear to the poll.

                                          (Signed) "MARÉCHAL MACMAHON."

The elections followed. It is difficult to exaggerate the advantage
which is given in a French General Election to the party in power at
the time. An unscrupulous Minister of the Interior has at his disposal
all sorts of devices and machinery for helping his own side to victory.
He can bring pressure of every kind to bear upon individuals directly
or indirectly dependent on the Government of the day, and the whole
official caste may be enlisted on behalf of the administration in
control. This is the case ordinarily and in quiet times. But here was
a direct stand-up fight between Reaction and Clericalism on the one
side and Republicanism and Secularism--for that was at stake too--on
the other. Both Marshal MacMahon and the Duc de Broglie honestly
believed that they were doing their very utmost to preserve France
from rapine and ruin. Every Radical Republican of the old school or
the new was to them a bloody-minded Communard in disguise, veiling
his instincts for plunder with eloquent appeals for patriotism and
humanity. It is easy for the fanatics of conservatism and reaction thus
to delude themselves. And once self-deceived they lose no chance of
imposing their own wise and sober views upon the misguided people! So
it happened in this case. Never were the powers of the Government in
office strained to the same extent as in these elections of 1877--the
elections which followed on the "_Seize Mai_" stroke of MacMahon. Not
an opportunity for coercing, cajoling and intimidating the voters was
missed. In every urban district and rural village throughout France
the State, the Church, the Municipality, the Commune were used to
the fullest extent possible to obtain a vote favourable to the de
Broglie Ministry. Swarms of priests and Jesuits buzzed around the
constituencies, and promises of an easy time of it in this life and
the next if things went the right way were made in profusion. If the
Republic could be beaten by the forces of reaction it would be beaten
now! Gambetta had predicted that the 363 would return to the Assembly
as 400. This was not to be. But in view of the tremendous efforts made
to stem the tide of progress, not only by promises, but by serious
threats wherever threats might tell, the wonder is the Republicans were
so successful as they proved to be. In spite of all that the President
and the Prime Minister and the Catholic Church and the Jesuits--who
were fighting for the right to remain in France--and the curés and
the State functionaries, and all that the agencies of aristocratic,
monarchist and Buonapartist--more particularly Buonapartist--corruption
could do, the Republicans returned to the Chamber with a substantial
majority of upwards of 100 votes. This victory was universally
recognised not only in France but throughout Europe as irrefragable
evidence that the French people had finally decided for a Republic, and
had dealt at the same time a serious blow to the Church.

But, obvious as this was to everybody else, the respectable old
soldier who had been a party to all this reactionary turmoil was still
unconvinced of the error of his ways! He repeated the formula of the
Malakoff fortress: _J'y suis, j'y reste_. But the Republicans were more
tenacious than the Russians. They resolved to dislodge him, political
Marshal though he was. A resolution was passed by the Assembly to
inquire into corrupt practices during the election. It was a challenge
to battle, and signed by such men as Albert Grévy, H. Brisson, Jules
Ferry, Léon Gambetta, Floquet, Louis Blanc and Clemenceau.

A great debate, lasting several days, followed, in which de Broglie
defended himself in a high-handed manner against the fervid
denunciations of Gambetta. A Committee of Inquiry was nominated and
the arena of the struggle changed to the Senate, which presently, as
might have been expected from its reactionary character, gave a small
vote of confidence in the Marshal and his Ministers. Nevertheless the
feeling in the country was such that even MacMahon could not hold on.
De Broglie resigned, and the Marshal evolved--almost from the depths of
his inner consciousness--an "extra-Parliamentary Cabinet" which might
have been called "The Cabinet of Men of No Account." But these were so
unknown and so incompetent that all France made fun of them; and the
will of the old Marshal, which nothing else could conquer, was broken
by ridicule. In December, 1877, the President of the Republic saw that
unless he appealed to the army, as the Buonapartists vigorously incited
him to do, an appeal which more than probably the army itself would
have rejected, there was no course open to him but the alternative
which Gambetta had pointed out as being the Marshal's inevitable
destiny if he kept within the limits of law and order--to give in or
get out. The old soldier of the Empire gave in, and did his country
a service by accepting the rebuff which he had courted: a moderate
Republican Ministry under the Premiership of M. Dufaure took office.
MacMahon himself remained President of the Republic until January,
1879 (when he was succeeded by Jules Grévy), but his reactionary
power was broken and France entered on a moderately peaceful era of
recognised Republicanism. Gambetta was the acknowledged leader of
the Republican majority; and Clemenceau, after this first taste of
victory, now began that fine career of destructive, anti-opportunist
Radicalism and semi-Socialist democracy which made him for many
years the most redoubtable politician and orator in the Republic.
The Radical-Socialist Clemenceau stood next in succession to the
Opportunist Gambetta.



                              CHAPTER VII

                               THE TIGER


When a political leader in the course of some fifteen years of
Parlamentary life has upset, or has helped to upset, no fewer than
eighteen administrations and has always refused to take office himself,
that leader is likely to have created a few enemies. When, in addition
to these feats of destruction, he has during the same period secured
the nomination and election of three Presidents of the Republic and
has thus proved an insuperable obstacle to the realisation of the
legitimate ambitions of the most important public men in France who
were not elected, it is clear that personal popularity was not the
object he had in view. It is impossible for the ordinary politician
or journalist to judge fairly a man of this sort. Politics in modern
Europe is an interesting game and, quite frequently, a remunerative
profession. Party interests sap all principle and the attainment of
personal aims and ambitions in and out of Parliament is, as a rule,
quite incompatible with common honesty. Instead of Court intrigues and
backstair cabals there are nowadays lobby "transactions" and convenient
sales of titles and positions arranged, for value received, at private
meetings. That is as far as democracy has got yet. It is all an
understood business, often complicated with more flagitious pecuniary
dealings outside.

Republican Government, or Constitutional Government, means, therefore,
the success or failure of vote-catching and advantage-grabbing schemes,
quite irrespective, from the public point of view, of the merits of the
proposals which are put forward. Honest enthusiasts, who really wish
to get something done for the benefit of the present or the coming
generation, are only useful in so far as they act as stokers-up of
public opinion for the profit of the political promoter of this or that
faction. Steam is needed to drive the machine of State. Men of real
convictions furnish that steam. But they are fools for their pains, all
the same. Half the amount of energy used in the right direction would
gain for them place, pelf, and possibly power, which is all that any
man of common sense goes into politics for. Anybody who carries high
principle and serious endeavour into political life is not playing the
game. Everybody around him wants to know what on earth he is driving
at. The only conceivable object of turning a Ministry out is to get
in. To turn a Government out in order to keep out yourself is an
unintelligible and therefore dangerous form of political mania, or a
persistent manifestation of original sin.

Clemenceau was found guilty on both counts. But he was the ablest
public man in all France. Moreover, he was successful in the diabolical
combinations he set on foot. The thing was uncanny. That he should
begin by overthrowing other politicians was all in the way of business.
But that he should go on at it, time after time, for year after year,
while other and inferior men took the posts he had opened for them, was
not to be explained by any known theory of human motives. If he had
been a cranky religionist, now, that would conceivably have met the
case. He might have been "possessed" from on high or from below. But
Clemenceau was and is a free-thinker of free-thinkers: neither Heaven
nor Hell has anything to say to him. Clearly it is a case of malignant
atavism: Clemenceau has thrown back to his animal ancestry. What is
the totem of the tribe which has entered into him, whose instinct of
depredation pervades his every political action? We have it! He is of
the jungle, jungly. His spring is terrific. His crashing attack fatal.
He looks as formidable as he is. In short, he is a Tiger, and there you
are. That accounts for everything!

When Clemenceau was re-elected Deputy for the 18th Arrondissement
to the National Assembly, on October 14th, 1877, and took the active
part in the renewed struggle with Marshal MacMahon already spoken of,
Gambetta was the leader at the height of his power and influence, with
a solid Republican majority of more than a hundred votes. But from
this period he became steadily more and more Opportunist, which gained
him great credit in Great Britain, and Clemenceau was thenceforth the
recognised leader of the advanced Left. MacMahon having resigned, M.
Grévy was elected President with the support of Gambetta.

From the first Clemenceau had vigorously opposed the establishment
of a Second Chamber in the shape of a Senate divorced from a direct
popular vote. This was a step calculated to hamper progress at every
turn, and at critical moments to intensify those very antagonisms which
it was Gambetta's intention, no doubt, to compose entirely, or at any
rate to mitigate. Clemenceau did not view the matter from Gambetta's
point of view. The Monarchists and Buonapartists were the domestic
enemy, as the Germans had been and might be again the foreign enemy.
The only sound policy for strengthening the Republic to resist both
was to favour those measures political and social which would make
that Republic, which they had established with so much difficulty and
at such great cost, a genuinely democratic Republic. Any surrender to
the reactionists and the clericals must inevitably dishearten those
parties, now shown to be the majority of the whole French people, who
were for the Republic and the Republic alone. Opportunism also gave
the anti-democrats and intriguers a false notion of their own power,
virtually helped them to carry on their underground agitations for a
change of the new constitution, and provided them in the undemocratic
Senate with a political force that might be turned to their own purpose.

It was more important all through, thought Clemenceau, to inspire
your own side with confidence than to placate your opponents by
half-measures. It was, in fact, not enough to eject officials who were
known to be hostile to the Republic; it was still more essential to
give such shape to the political forms and so vivify political opinion
that even the most unscrupulous officials could not turn them to the
account of reaction. Both steps were necessary to carry out a thorough
democratic programme. In fact, the whole scheme of administration in
France could not be permanently improved merely by substituting one set
of bureaucrats for another. Much more drastic measures of a peaceful
character were indispensable, and these Opportunism thwarted. Gambetta
may not have given up his desire to carry these Radical measures in
1877 and 1878: he still retained and expressed his old opinions upon
clericalism and its sinister influence. But he was no longer the
vehement champion of the advanced party at Versailles, and the position
which he had abandoned Clemenceau took up and pushed further to the
front.

There was no matter on which the lines of cleavage between the
Republicans and the reactionists were more definitely and clearly drawn
than on the question of the Amnesty of the Communists. No man in the
Assembly was stronger in favour of their complete amnesty by law than
Clemenceau. This he showed in 1876, and in his powerful advocacy of the
release of the great agitator and conspirator Blanqui in 1879. Every
reactionary and trimming man of moderate views was bitterly opposed to
a policy of justice towards the victims of the wholesale measures of
repression formulated by M. Thiers and so frightfully carried out by
General Gallifet and the Versailles troops in 1871. Even when measures
of partial amnesty were passed, their application was nullified as
far as possible by Ministers. It was part of an organised policy
to frighten the bourgeoisie and peasants into another Empire. The
reprisals of the Bloody Week and the transportations to Cayenne and New
Caledonia had not by any means fully satisfied the enemies alike of the
Commune and the Republic. So Clemenceau and his friends never ceased
their attacks upon M. Waddington and others who took the rancorous
conservative view of unceasing persecution of the men and women who,
after all, were the first to declare the Republic. M. Waddington, as
Premier, got a resolution passed by the Chamber in his favour. But this
did not silence either Clemenceau's friends or himself. Here, in fact,
was a crucial case of his power of getting rid of an obnoxious Ministry
even in the face of a Ministerial majority. The Tiger showed his
claws and made ready to spring. But first he gave fair warning of his
intentions. Nothing could be plainer than this: "Why has the Minister
of Justice demanded a partial amnesty? Because he is anxious that the
country should not forget the horrors of the Commune. But then, if you
do not wish it to forget the horrors of the Commune, why do you desire
that those who have been condemned should forget the horrors of its
repression? Because for eight long years we have kept under cover the
abominable facts at our disposal, you have thought yourselves in a
position to trample on us! You say: We shall not forget the hostages
and the conflagrations. Very well. I who speak here tell you: If you
forget nothing, your opponents will remember too."

The speech from which that passage is an excerpt was regarded as
a distinct menace on Clemenceau's part. It was followed up by the
extreme Left with a series of interruptions, interrogations and
denunciations which ended in the retirement of M. Waddington. He had
his majority but he had no Clemenceau. So out went Waddington and his
colleagues. In came M. Freycinet--"the white mouse." "We have had,"
said Clemenceau's organ, _La Justice_, "in the Waddington cabinet a
Dufaure cabinet without M. Dufaure. To-day we have a Waddington cabinet
without M. Waddington. It is a botch upon a botch." A nice welcome for
M. Freycinet! A pleasing congratulation for the President, M. Grévy!
The administration was regarded as a political monstrosity. It had two
heads, M. Freycinet and M. Jules Ferry, one looking to the right and
the other to the left. The friends of Freycinet could not stand Ferry:
the friends of Ferry abhorred Freycinet. This new political marriage
not only began but went on with mutual aversion. It stood at the
mercy, therefore, of Clemenceau, who was less inclined to be merciful
since the Premier declared himself bitterly hostile to the plenary
amnesty proposed by the famous old Republican, M. Louis Blanc. Also on
account of clerical tendencies. Out goes Freycinet, therefore, in his
turn, and in comes M. Jules Ferry, with various clerical, educational
and other troubles of his own hatching to clear up. Ministries, in
short, were going in and out on the dial of Presidential favour like
the figures of a Dutch clock. Clemenceau was getting his claws well
into the various political personages all the time. As none of them
had any blood to lose in the shape of principles there was no great
harm done--except to the Republic! It was the perpetual immolation
of a sawdust brigade. A keen critic of the period said of the Ferry
Ministry--which was beaten on its proposal to postpone on behalf of
education the reform of the magistracy and all that this carried with
it in regard to the amnesty--that it wished to die before it lived.
Down it went for the moment, and returned to place out of breath and
half-ruined. But there the Ministry still was, and that by itself was
something in those days of political topsy-turveydom, with Clemenceau
and his party ever ready to assert themselves.

Thus the Republic stumbled rather than marched on, from the date
of Marshal MacMahon's resignation and the installation of M. Grévy
as President up to the period of the declaration of July 14th, in
remembrance of July 14th, 1789, and the Fall of the Bastille, as the
fête day of the Republic after the passage of a practically complete
amnesty. This was really a great triumph for all Republicans, as it put
the Republic in its true historic relation to the past, the present
and the future. With such a national fête day, with the certainty that
Republicans, if they chose to keep united, could always command a large
majority in the Assembly, the elections of 1881 might well have been
a first step towards a thorough political and social reorganisation
of the Republic. Unfortunately there were several causes of disunion.
President of the Assembly though he was, and therefore excluded by
his position as well as by M. Grévy's prejudice against him from
coming into immediate competition with M. Ferry for the Premiership,
Gambetta was actively supporting the _scrutin de liste_, or political
appeal to the whole country, against _scrutin d'arrondissement_, or
local elections. This was regarded as a bid on his part for a clear
Parliamentary dictatorship. Already on October 20th, 1880, Clemenceau
had denounced the hero of the dictatorship of despair of 1871, fine as
his effort had then been, as aiming at personal power ten years later.
A victory at the polls gained through _scrutin de liste_ would probably
ensure him success in this venture.

Nevertheless, in spite of open and secret opposition, Gambetta had
sufficient influence to carry the _scrutin de liste_ through the
National Assembly. But with the curious irony of fate he was defeated
by a majority of 32 in the Senate which he himself had been so largely
instrumental in forcing upon the Republic! This was on June 9th, 1881.
Three months before, M. Barodet had brought forward a resolution
backed by 64 deputies which, if carried, would have abolished the
equality of rights between the Senate and the National Assembly, would
have withdrawn the right of the former to dissolve Parliament, would
have made the Chamber permanent like the Senate, would have modified
the system of election of the second House; would have prevented the
re-enactment of the _scrutin de liste_ by again making the electoral
law for the deputies part of the Constitution; and lastly would have
summoned a Constituent Assembly in order to carry out these reforms.
This whole project was discussed in the Assembly on May 31st. There
was no mistake about Clemenceau's attitude. He formulated a vigorous
indictment against the Constitution of 1875 and attacked the Senate
with great violence. The Constitution of 1875 was, he declared, a
powerful weapon of war expressly forged for use against the Republic.
The Senate with its anti-democratic method of election was a permanent
danger to the State. It was not in any sense an element of stability
but an element of resistance. "What is the use of talking of a brake
on the machine or a weight to counterbalance popular opinion? Does not
universal suffrage provide its own brake, its own regulator?" This
time, however, Clemenceau missed his _coup_. M. Barodet's motion was
rejected and the conservative Republic rumbled on comfortably, though
Clemenceau shortly afterwards very nearly toppled M. Ferry's Cabinet
over, the Ministers only securing a vote in their favour by a majority
of 13 made up by their own votes.

Looking back to that period when the whole Constitution seemed almost
certain to go into the melting-pot and come out again in a thoroughly
democratic shape, it is remarkable to notice how, in spite of the
efforts of Clemenceau, M. Naquet and other democrats, the Republic of
compromise has steadily adhered to its old machinery. Why the cumbrous
and often reactionary Senate, elected in such wise as to exclude
democratic influence, should have been maintained for more than forty
years is difficult to explain. But nations, as our own belated and
unmanageable Constitution proves, when once they have become accustomed
to a form of government, are very slow indeed to adapt it to rapidly
changing economic and social developments. This, it may be said,
suits the English turn of mind with its queer addiction to perpetual
compromise. But the French are logical and apparently restless. Yet
their Constitution remains an unintelligible muddle. Their real
conservatism overrides their revolutionary tendencies except in periods
of great perturbation. Thus the Opportunist Republic of Gambetta,
which ought to have been a mere makeshift, has held on, with partial
revision, for more than forty years. Fear of the monarchists on one
side and of the Communists, afterwards the Socialists, on the other has
kept Humpty-Dumpty up on his wall.

The elections of 1881, conducted as they were amid much excitement,
gave the Republicans of all parties a crushing majority--a majority in
the Assembly greatly out of proportion even to the total vote. There
were five millions of votes for Republicans against 1,700,000 for
the various sections of monarchists. The Republican deputies in the
Chamber, however, numbered 467 to only 90 "conservatives." According
to the returns, this was a victory for the Government and its chief,
M. Jules Ferry, especially as the Prime Minister had arrived at some
understanding with Gambetta, who at this time had become extremely
unpopular with the democracy of Paris. But those who were of this
opinion reckoned without the question of Tunis and, above all, without
taking account of the difficulty of facing the criticisms of the
irreconcilable Clemenceau. Clemenceau had always opposed a policy of
colonial adventure. This of Tunis was from his point of view not only
adventurous but dangerous. Tunis had been offered to France in an
indefinite way at the Peace-with-Honour Congress of Berlin in 1878.
But the policy of expansion pushed on by financial intrigues did not
take shape at once. When it did it was serious enough, for France not
only had to deal with troubles in Algeria itself, with the natural
opposition of the Bey of Tunis to French interference and annexation,
but Italy took umbrage at the advance, regarding Tunis as specially
her business, Turkey was by no means favourable, and there was even
a possibility that Germany might stir up trouble for purposes of her
own. Moreover the whole business had been extremely ill-managed, not
only by the Government itself but by M. Albert Grévy, the brother of
the President, who was the Governor-General of Algeria. This personage,
on account of his Presidential connections, could neither be censured
nor replaced. So credits were asked for, troops were moved, a railway
concession granted--everything as usual, in short, when annexation is
being prepared.

Clemenceau quite rightly denounced the whole mischievous business as
the policy of intriguers and plutocrats, and demanded an inquiry into
the affair from the first. He did not measure his phrases at all.
French blood and French money, sadly needed at home, were being wasted
abroad. M. Ferry, to do him justice, fought hard for his policy of
colonisation by force of arms. His attacks upon the extremists who
criticised him did not lack point or bitterness. Discharged officials
from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and returned Communards from
Noumea who composed the public meetings and irregular assizes that
condemned him, M. Ferry, "as is fitting, kicked aside with his boot."
As to Clemenceau, if he had allowed matters to take their own course
in Tunis, what a tornado of malediction would have raged around them
from that orator! "I can hear even now the philippics of the honourable
M. Clemenceau." Clemenceau did not get the inquiry he demanded. But
on November 10th M. Ferry retired, so badly had he been mauled in
the fray. It was a win, that is to say, for Clemenceau, who by his
speech on November 9th again overthrew the Government in spite of the
cordial support of Gambetta. What made this victory of Clemenceau and
the extreme Left the more astounding was the fact that the Treaty
concluding the "first pacification" of Tunis had been confirmed on May
23rd by a majority of 430 to 1. Clemenceau was that one. Six months
later, therefore, he had his revenge. The _expédition de vacances_,
which had developed into a _guerre de conquête_, cost M. Jules Ferry
his Premiership, notwithstanding this unheard-of majority. The Tiger at
work indeed!

So now at last, in spite of M. Grévy's ungrateful conduct towards him,
in spite likewise of the rejection of the _scrutin de liste_, Gambetta
became President of the Council instead of President of the Chamber.
He was still at this time in the eyes of all foreigners the most
eminent living French statesman. In England particularly his accession
to office was received with jubilation in official circles. It meant,
so said Liberals like Sir Charles Dilke, who were then in power, a
permanently close understanding between France and England, a joint
settlement of the troublesome and at times even threatening Egyptian
question, as well as a fair probability of the arrangement of other
thorny problems between the two countries. But in order to accomplish
all this Gambetta must carry the Assembly, the Senate and the bulk of
his countrymen with him, and control a solid Republican party, even
if Clemenceau and his squadrons still hung upon his flank. Gambetta,
however, had shaken the confidence of the country. It was no longer
Clemenceau and his friends only who accused him of aiming at supreme
dictatorial power. The public in general suspected him too. Nor did
his immediate friends, either old or young, do much to destroy this
unfortunate impression.

Truth to tell, Gambetta was not the man he had been a few years
before. He looked fat, even bloated, unhealthy and sensual. His
magnificent frame had undergone deterioration. A brilliant French
journalist cruelly comparing him to Vitellius, as a man of gluttony
and debauchery combined, summed up his career against that of the
extraordinary Roman general and Emperor who had played so many parts
successfully, as soldier in the field and as courtier in the palace,
and wound up in derision of Gambetta with the terrible phrase, "_Je
te demande pardon, César!_" And over against this self-indulgent and
fiery man of genius was a very different personage, who had taken up
the rôle which had once been that of the great tribune of the French
people. Spare, alert, vigorous, always in training, despising ease and
never taken by surprise; equal, as he had just shown, to fighting a
lone hand victoriously, yet never despising help in his battles even
from the most unexpected quarters--what chance had Gambetta against
such a terrible opponent as Clemenceau? None whatever. Down he went,
after a Premiership of but sixty-six days. Many believe that, finding
the situation too complicated, and relying still upon obtaining the
_scrutin de liste_ later--as indeed came about some time after his
death--Gambetta deliberately rode for a fall. Certain it is that M.
Spüller, who had Gambetta's complete confidence, gave this explanation
of his intentions three weeks before his defeat in the Assembly.

Gambetta, with all his great reputation, being overthrown, straightway
his old Secretary of 1871, de Freycinet, came again to the front.
The affairs of Egypt, always with Clemenceau's genial assistance,
made short work of him. The Anglo-French Condominium having fallen
through and England having thought proper to suppress a people "rightly
struggling to be free," de Freycinet was anxious to reassert the claims
of France in Egypt after a fashion which threatened unpleasantness
with Great Britain. Whatever Clemenceau may have thought privately
of English policy at this juncture, he would have none of that. His
arguments convinced the Assembly that French intervention in Egypt
against England would be dangerous and unsuccessful. France, said
Clemenceau, had neither England's advantages nor England's direct
interests in Egypt. France is a continental, not a great sea power. Her
apprehensions are from the East. Do nothing which may drive England
into the arms of Germany.

What was much worse, the same colonial expansion which had been carried
out in Tunis was now followed up in Tonquin, Annam and Madagascar, at
great expense and to little or no advantage. Clemenceau still opposed
this entire policy on principle. Ferry thought France would recompense
herself for the disasters of 1870-71 by these adventures: Clemenceau
was absolutely convinced to the contrary. "Why risk £20,000,000 on
remote expeditions when we have our entire industrial mechanism to
create, when we lack schools and country roads? To build up vanquished
France again we must not waste her blood and treasure on useless
enterprises. But there are much higher reasons even than these for
abstaining from such wars of depredation. It is all an abuse, pure and
simple, of the power which scientific civilisation has over primitive
civilisation to lay hold upon man as man, to torture him, to squeeze
everything he has in him out of him for the profit of a civilisation
which itself is a sham." There could be no sounder sense, no higher
morality, no truer statesmanship than that. Clemenceau had aspirations
that France should lead the world, not by unjustifiable conquests
over semi-civilised populations, but by displaying at home those
great qualities which she undoubtedly possesses. His attacks were
inspired, therefore, not by personal animosity against Jules Ferry or
any other politician, but against a megalomania that was harmful to
his country and the world. Unfortunately, Clemenceau could not, this
time, persuade the Assembly or his countrymen to recognise the dangers
and disadvantages of expansion by conquest in the Far East, until the
disaster of Lang Son and the demand for additional credits enabled him
to push the perils of such a policy right home. Then M. Ferry was once
more discharged, practically at Clemenceau's behest.

So matters went on, Clemenceau striving his utmost, in opposition, to
enforce the genuine democratic policy of abstention from Imperialism
abroad and strengthening of the forces of the Republic at home which
the successive Opportunist Administrations in power refused to
accept. In each and every case, Tunis, Tonquin, Annam, Madagascar
and Egypt, he considered first, foremost and all the time what would
most benefit Frenchmen in France, and refused to be led astray by any
will-o'-the-wisps of Eastern origin, however gloriously they might
disport themselves under the sun of finance. But now came a still more
awkward matter close at home. There are not the same facilities for
shutting down inquiries into the financial peccadilloes or corrupt
malversations of public men in France as there are in England. Monetary
scandals will out, though political blunderings may be glossed over, as
in the cases of the Duc de Broglie, M. Jules Ferry and M. Albert Grévy.
The President, M. Grévy, was very unfortunate in his relations. His
brother, the Governor-General of Algeria, had shown himself dreadfully
incompetent in that capacity. But M. de Freycinet, M. Jules Ferry and
the whole Ministerial set had entered into a conspiracy of silence and
misrepresentation, throwing the blame of his mistakes upon anybody but
the Governor-General himself, in order to uphold the dignity of the
President quite uninjured. Now, however, the President's son-in-law,
M. Wilson, was found out in very ignoble transactions. He was actually
detected in the flagitious practice of trading in decorations, the
Legion of Honour and the like, not for what are considered on this
side of the Channel as perfectly legitimate purposes, the furtherance,
namely, of Party gains or Ministerial advantages, but in order to
increase his own income. The thing became a public scandal. Those
who could not afford to buy the envied distinctions were specially
incensed. But out of regard for the President, out of consideration
for their personal advancement in the future, because when you start
this sort of thing you never know how far it will go, because other
Ministers in and out of office had had relations of their own addicted
to similar trading in other directions--for all these reasons, good and
bad, nobody cared to take the matter up seriously.

Nobody, that is to say, except that tiger Clemenceau. He actually
thought that the honour of the Republic was at stake in the business:
was of opinion that a President should be more careful than other
people in keeping the doubtful characters of men and women of his
own household under restraint. And he not only thought but spoke and
acted. M. Rouvier, who was then Premier, felt himself bound to stand
by the President and exculpated him from any share in the affair.
This made matters worse. For M. Grévy, when the whole transaction was
fully debated, could not withstand the pressure of public opinion
against him; Clemenceau carried his point and the President resigned.
Thereupon M. Rouvier thought it incumbent upon him to retire too,
though Clemenceau took pains to tell him that this was a concern
purely personal to the President and not a political issue at all.
There was consequently a Presidential Election and a new Ministry at
the same time. So great was Clemenceau's influence at this juncture
that although three of the most prominent politicians in the Republic
were eager for the post, he, out of fear of the election of the
irrepressible expansionist M. Ferry, persuaded the electors to favour
the appointment of the able and cool but popularly almost unknown
M. Sadi-Carnot--who turned out, it may be said, quite an admirable
President up to his outrageous assassination.

By this time Clemenceau had fully justified his claim to the
distinction of being the most formidable and relentless political
antagonist known in French public life since the great Revolution.
As he would never take office himself and was moved by few personal
animosities, he stood outside the lists of competers for place. He
had definite Radical Republican principles and during all these years
he acted up to them. He was throughout opposed, as I have said, to
compromise. He fought it continuously all along the line. Moreover, he
had a profound contempt for politicians who were merely politicians.
"I have combated," he said, "ideas, not persons. In my fight against
Republicans I have always respected my party. In the heat of the
conflict I have never lost sight of the objects we had in common, and I
have appealed for the solidarity of the whole against the common enemy
of all."

As, also, he triumphantly declared in a famous oration against those
who were engaged in sneering at Parliamentary Government and the
tyranny of words, he was ever in favour of the greatest freedom of
speech, and even stood up for the commonplace debates which often
must have terribly bored him. "Well, then, since I must tell you so,
these discussions which astonish you are an honour to us all. They
prove conclusively our ardour in defence of ideas which we think right
and beneficial. These discussions have their drawbacks: silence has
more. Yes, glory to the country where men speak, shame on the country
where men hold their tongues. If you think to ban under the name of
parliamentarism the rule of open discussion, mind this, it is the
representative system, it is the Republic itself against whom you are
raising your hand."

A great Parliamentarian, a great political Radical was Clemenceau the
Tiger of 1877 to 1893. He, more than any other man, prevented the
Republic from altogether deteriorating and kept alive the spirit of the
great French Revolution in the minds and in the hearts of men.



                             CHAPTER VIII

                    THE RISE AND FALL OF BOULANGER


The relations of Clemenceau to General Boulanger form an important
though comparatively brief episode in the career of the French
statesman. Boulanger was Clemenceau's cousin, and in his dealings with
this ambitious man he did not show that remarkable skill and judgment
of character which distinguished him in regard to Carnot and Loubet,
whose high qualities Clemenceau was the first to recognise and make use
of in the interest of the Republic. Boulanger was a good soldier in the
lower grades of his profession, and owed his first important promotion
to the Duc d'Aumale. This patronage he acknowledged with profound
gratitude and even servility at the time; but repaid later, when he
turned Radical, by what was nothing short of treacherous persecution of
the Orleanist Prince. Boulanger went even so far as to deny that he had
ever expressed his obligations to the Duke for aid in his profession, a
statement to which the publication of his own letters at once gave the
lie.

The General was, in fact, vain, ostentatious and unscrupulous. But
having gained popularity among the rank and file of the French army
by his good management of the men under his command and his sympathy
with their grievances, he was appointed Director of Infantry, and
in that capacity introduced several measures of military reform and
suggested more. A little later, circumstances led him into close
political harmony with the Radicals and their leader. At this juncture
Clemenceau seems to have convinced himself that good use could be made
of the general, who owed his first great advance to Orleanist favour,
without any danger to the Republic. Having, as usual, upset another
short-lived Cabinet, Clemenceau therefore exercised his influence to
secure his relation the post of War Minister in the new Administration
of M. Freycinet. This was in January 1886. At first he was true to his
Radical friends and carried out the programme of army reforms agreed
upon between himself and Clemenceau, thus justifying that statesman's
choice and support. The general treatment of the French conscript was
taken in hand. His food was improved, his barrack discipline rendered
less harsh, his relations to his officers made more human, his spirit
raised by better prospects of a future career. All this was good
service to the country at a critical time and should have redounded
to the credit of the Radical Party far more than to Boulanger's own
glorification. This, however, was not the case. All the credit was
given to the General himself. Hence immense personal influence from one
end of the country to the other.

Practically every family in France was beneficially affected, directly
or indirectly, by Boulanger's measures of military reform, and thanked
the brave General for what had been done. Not a young man in the army,
or out of it, but felt that his lot, when drawn for service or actually
serving, had been made better by the War Minister himself. So it ever
is and always has been. The individual who gives practical expression
to the ideas which are forced upon him by others is the one who is
regarded as the real benefactor: the real workers, as in this instance
Clemenceau and his friends, are forgotten.

One of the incidents which helped to enhance Boulanger's great
popularity was what was known as the Schnäbele affair. This person
was a French commissary who crossed the French frontier into
Alsace-Lorraine to carry out some local business with a similar German
official which concerned both countries. He was arrested by the German
military authorities as not being in possession of a passport. This
action may possibly have been technically justifiable, but certainly
was a high-handed proceeding conducted in a high-handed way. At that
time France was constantly feeling that she was in an inferior position
to Germany, and her statesmen were slow to resent small injuries,
knowing well that France was still in no position to make head against
the great German military power, still less to avenge the crushing
defeats of 1870-71. When, therefore, Boulanger took a firm stand in
the matter and upheld in a very proper way the dignity of France, the
whole country felt a sense of relief. France, then, was no longer a
negligible quantity in Europe. M. de Bismarck could not always have
his way, and Boulanger stood forth as the man who understood the real
spirit of his countrymen. That was the sentiment which did much to
strengthen the General against his opponents when he began to carry out
a purely personal policy. He had inspired the whole nation with a sense
of its own greatness.

He was then the most popular man in the country. He stood out to the
people at large as a patriotic figure with sound democratic sympathies
and an eminent soldier who might lead to victory the armies of France.

Thenceforth Boulanger gradually became a personage round whom every
kind of social and reactionary influence and intrigues of every
sort were concentrated. To capture the imposing figure on the black
horse, to fill him with grandiose ideas of the splendid part he could
play, if only he would look at the real greatness and glory of his
country through glasses less tinted with red than those of his Radical
associates, to inspire him with conceptions of national unity and
sanctified religious patriotism which should bring France, the France
of the grand old days, once more into being, with himself as its noble
leader--this was the work which the fine ladies of the Boulevard St.
Germain, hand in hand with the Catholic Church, its priests and the
cultivated reactionaries generally, set themselves to accomplish.
From this time onwards the _mot d'ordre_ to back Boulanger went round
the _salons_. Legitimists, Orleanists and Buonapartists were, on this
matter, temporarily at one. Each section hoped at the proper moment
to use the possible dictator for the attainment of its own ends.
Thus Boulanger was diverted from the Radical camp and weaned from
Radical ideas even during his period as War Minister in M. Freycinet's
Cabinet. So subtle is the influence of "society" and ecclesiastical
surroundings upon some natures, so powerful the effect of refined
and charming conversation and genial flattery delicately conveyed,
that men of far stronger character than Boulanger have now and then
succumbed to it. Only devotion to principle or ruthless personal
ambition can hold its own against such a combination of insidious
forces dexterously employed--and women of the world and Jesuits are
both very dexterous--when once the individual to be artistically
trepanned permits himself to be experimented upon. Boulanger, though
not devoid of cleverness, was at bottom that dangerous description of
designing good fellow who all the time means well; and he fell a victim
to the delightful women and clever adventurers around him. He himself
was probably not aware that he had passed over to the enemy until the
irresistible logic of events and his changed relations with his old
friends proved to him how far he had gone.

M. Rouvier, a shrewd and cynical politician of the financial school,
saw through the General, understood how dangerous he might become, and
refused to accept the ex-Minister of War into the Cabinet he formed on
the fall of Freycinet. But Boulanger had now so far established himself
personally that neither a political check nor even general ridicule
affected his career. Even his duel with M. Floquet, a farce in which
General Boulanger made himself the clown, could not shake him. Floquet
was a well-known Radical of those days, who had been a fellow-member
of the League of the Rights of Man with Clemenceau at the time of the
Commune. Boulanger was a soldier, accustomed to the use of arms all
his life, and reported to be a good fencer. Floquet, quite unlike his
old friend of years before, scarcely knew which end of his weapon to
present to his opponent, so inexperienced was he in this sort of lethal
exercise. When, therefore, the duel between the two men was arranged,
the only point discussed was how small an injury would Boulanger, in
his generosity, deign to inflict upon his Radical antagonist, in order
that the seconds might declare that "honour is satisfied." No doubt
Clemenceau himself, who acted as one of Floquet's seconds on this
occasion, took that view of the matter.

What actually occurred was quite ludicrous. Floquet, duly instructed
thereto by his own friends, stood, good harmless bourgeois as he was,
like a waxwork figure, with his rapier stuck out at arm's length
straight in front of him. No science there. But there was still less on
the other side. Boulanger, to the amazement of Clemenceau and everybody
on the ground, in what appeared to be a sudden stroke of madness,
immediately rushed at Floquet and his rigid skewer and, without any
such elaborate foolishness as the laws of fence enjoin, carefully
spitted his own throat on the point of Floquet's weapon. Honour was
thus satisfied and ridicule began. But ridicule did not kill.

No sooner was Boulanger cured of his self-inflicted wound than he went
on much as he did before. Having ceased to be Minister for War, he
was sent down to command an army corps at Clermont-Ferrand. According
to all discipline, and regulations duly to be observed by generals at
large, this kept the man appointed out of Paris. Not so Boulanger. He
visited the capital at least twice. Thereupon he was deprived of his
command and his name was removed from the Army List. That, by the rules
of war and politics, ought to have finished him. But it didn't. The
Radicals and Republicans had still no idea what an ugly Frankenstein
they had created for themselves. True, Clemenceau had declared
definitely against his own protégé the moment he saw the line he was
taking; but he underrated entirely the position to which Boulanger had
attained, not only among the reactionaries but in the hearts and minds
of the French people. For Boulanger, now gifted with a free hand, went
into the political arena at once, and was a candidate simultaneously
for the Nord and the Dordogne: provincial districts with, of course, a
totally different sort of electorate from that of the capital, where
the _brav' Général_ with his fine figure on horseback was already the
hero of the Parisians. He was elected and sat for the Nord.

Still Clemenceau, far-seeing and sagacious as he generally is in
his judgment of political events and personal character, failed
to appreciate what his cousin had drifted into rather than had
deliberately worked for. Nor perhaps did he estimate highly enough
either the cleverness or the unscrupulousness of the men and women
who were backing him. Certain it is that, although Boulangism was now
becoming a powerful political cult, Clemenceau and other advanced men,
such as my old friend Paul Brousse, President of the Paris Municipal
Council, were still of opinion that Boulanger was going down rather
than up. It was a mistake that might have cost not only the Radicals
but the French Republic as a whole very dear. For the General had the
qualities of his defects. Agreeable, good-natured, frank, accessible
and friendly to all who approached him, with enough ability to gauge
fairly well what was going on around him, loving display for its own
sake, and ever ready to pose in dignified and pleasing attitude, before
a populace by no means averse from well-managed advertisement, while
not apparently bent upon forcing his own will or dictatorship upon the
country--Boulanger, both before and after his election for the Nord,
was much more formidable than he looked to those who only measured his
power from the standpoint of wide intelligence. This the rather because
there was no lack of money to push his pretensions to high place.

Boulanger came to the front also at a time when the bourgeois Republic
(owing to the weakness, incapacity and instability of the bourgeois
politicians themselves) was discredited and was believed to be
tottering. Clemenceau's own unceasing campaign against widespread
abuses and incapable Ministers was largely responsible for this. There
was a general sense of insecurity and unsettlement, engendered by the
fall of Administration after Administration, due to political or
financial proceedings of doubtful character, exposed and denounced
by Clemenceau and the Radicals themselves. Some of the Radicals and
intellectuals even now supported Boulanger as an alternative to
perpetual upsets. Disgusted with lawyers, professional politicians
and place-hunters of high and low degree, the people likewise were
again on the look-out for a saviour of France who should secure for
them democracy without corruption, and honest leadership devoid of
Socialism. The old story, in fact.

At this particular moment, too, the organised forces in Paris, the army
and the gendarmerie, were Boulangists almost to a man. The danger,
therefore, of the Boulangist agitation now being carried on alike
in Paris and in the Departments seemed to a looker-on to be growing
more serious every day. This, however, continued not to be the view
of Clemenceau and his party. They thought, in spite of the voting in
the Nord and the Dordogne and the apparent popularity of the General
in Paris, that the whole thing would prove a mere flash in the pan;
that the good sense and Republican conservatism of the French people
would display itself when peril really threatened the Republic; and
that Boulanger would be even less successful than the Duc de Broglie.
Then came the General Elections. Boulanger was candidate for Paris.
Once more the obvious evidence of his great popularity was overlooked
by the Clemenceau group, the Boulangist fervour went on unrecognised,
and it seemed that it might depend upon the General himself at any
moment--as indeed proved to be the case--whether he should follow in
the footsteps of Louis Napoleon and accomplish a successful _coup
d'état_, or fall permanently into the background. But up to the last
moment his opponents could not believe that a general with no great
military career behind him, a citizen with no great name to conjure
with, a politician with no great programme to attract voters, could win
Paris or become master of France.

The crisis really was the more acute since there was no rival
personality, no Republican of admitted ability and distinction ready
to stake his reputation against Boulanger. Though Clemenceau, as
the preparations for the election proceeded and Boulanger's growing
strength became manifest, now did his utmost to stem the tide, there
was no doubt that, failing a really powerful opponent, Boulanger would
hold the winning place at the close of the poll. He took up a bold
position. He was the hero of the hour. The whole contest was admirably
stage-managed and advertised on his side. He rode through the city on
his black horse, a fine figure of a man, full of confidence of victory,
the halo of a coming well-earned triumph around him. It was universally
felt that the previous votes of the provinces would be quite eclipsed
by the vote of the capital. Parisians, peasants and miners, small
owners and proletariat would for once be together.

This was the unshaken opinion of his friends and followers, who seemed
in those exciting days to have with them the great majority of the
people. On the other side a wave of incapacity was actually flooding
the intelligence of his opponents. Instead of putting forward a really
representative man, either Republican or Socialist, with a fine
democratic record behind him, they made an absolutely contemptible
choice for their champion. One Jacques, an obscure liquor-dealer, whom
nobody ever heard of before the election, or gave a thought to after
it, was chosen to fight for Paris against the General. This man had
never done or said or written anything that anybody could remember,
or would remember if he could. If no Radical Republican was ready to
stand, Joffrin, an old member of the Commune and a skilled artisan most
loyal to his principles, always returning at once to his trade when
he failed to be elected for the National Assembly, would have been a
far better and more worthy candidate in every way. The election then
would have been a conflict between the enthusiasm of social revolution
and the fervour of chauvinist reaction. As it was, the Boulangists
could say and did say with truth that the General would represent the
citizens of Paris much more genuinely than Jacques. The result of this
error of tactics could, have been foreseen from the first. General
Boulanger won by a heavy majority.

That evening saw the crisis of the whole Boulangist agitation. Such
a victory at such a time called for immediate and decisive action.
That was the universal opinion. A political triumph so dramatic and so
conclusive could only find a fitting climax in the victor proclaiming
himself to be a Cromwell, a Monk or a Napoleon. Nothing less was hoped
for by the reactionists: nothing less was feared by the Republicans.
The figures of the poll were welcomed with enthusiastic cheering all
along the boulevards, and the Boulangist anthem, "_En revenant de la
Revue_," was played from one end of Paris to the other. The ball was
at the General's feet. He might have failed to win his goal, but all
Paris expected he would make a good try for it. This meant that the
very same night he should either go straight to the Elysée himself or
make some bold stroke for which he had prepared beforehand, that would
fire the imagination of the people. Such was the prevailing impression.
The General celebrated his election for the City of Paris at dinner at
Durand's famous restaurant, surrounded by his intimate supporters. The
excitement outside was tremendous. Hour after hour passed. Nothing was
done, nothing apparently had been made ready. The strain of waiting
became almost unbearable. The crowd gradually got weary of anticipating
the opening of a drama whose prologue had so roused their expectations.
At last, instead of staying to watch the first scenes of a revolution,
they took themselves off quietly to bed. Boulanger's chance of
obtaining supremacy was gone.

It was always said that, backed by the Radicals, and supported by
the President, the Minister of the Interior, M. Constans, a most
resolute and unscrupulous man, who was himself in the crowd outside
the restaurant, was the main cause of this miserable fiasco. Strong
precautions had been taken against any attempt at violence. Powerful
forces whose loyalty to the Republic was beyond question had been
substituted for brigades of known Boulangist tendencies. That M.
Constans would not, under the conditions, have stuck at trifles was
well known. He was kept at a distance from France for years afterwards,
on account of his ugly character, in the capacity of French Ambassador
at Constantinople, a city where at that time such a trifling peccadillo
as murder was scarcely noticed. So Boulanger knew what to expect.
Moreover, Clemenceau and the Radical Republicans, as well as Jaurès and
Socialists of every shade of opinion, had become thoroughly alarmed by
what they had heard and seen during the election, and would not have
given way without a fight to the death. The jubilant group at Durand's,
intimidated by these assumed facts, and Boulanger with his lack of
determination and easy self-indulgence, let the opportunity slip.

All sorts of excuses and explanations were made for the hesitation of
the General to provoke civil war. But on that one night he should have
made his position secure or have died in the attempt. Success was, so
far as a foreigner on the spot could judge, quite possible. It might
even have been achieved without any forcible action. There was no
certainty that, when the move decided upon was actually made, either
troops or the people would have sided against the hero of the day. But
that hero failed to rise to the level of the occasion, and the result
was fatal to the immediate prospects of himself and his followers.
A warrant was issued for his arrest and he ran away from Paris. He
now became an object of pity rather than of alarm. He was condemned
in his absence, and not long afterwards his suicide on the grave of
his mistress, in Brussels, ended his career. Thus the estimate which
Clemenceau had formed of his permanent influence was justified. But it
was a narrow escape. The three pretenders who had come to France to
watch the final development soon found their way across the frontier.
Nevertheless, General Boulanger, with all his weakness and hesitation,
was for many months the most dangerous enemy the Republic ever faced.
His downfall helped also to add to the number of Clemenceau's bitter
enemies, and was partly instrumental in bringing about the political
disaster which befell him later. For the Radicals who had been deceived
by Boulanger cherished animosity against the Radical leader for reasons
which, though quite incompatible, were decisive for them.



                              CHAPTER IX

                         PANAMA AND DRAGUIGNAN


The great Panama Canal Affair was only one of many financial scandals
which seriously damaged the good fame of the French Republic founded
upon the fall of the Empire, and consecrated by the collapse of the
Commune of Paris. But this Panama scandal was by far the most important
and most nefarious, alike in respect to the amount of money involved,
the position and character of the people mixed up in it, and the wide
ramifications of wholesale corruption throughout the political world
that were in the end revealed.

M. Ferdinand de Lesseps, the originator and organiser of the Suez
Canal, was a man of quite exceptional ability, energy and force
of character. He carried through his great project in the face of
obstacles, political and financial, that would certainly have broken
the heart and frustrated the purpose of a weaker personality. At no
period did he show any disposition to keep the canal under harmful
restrictions, and the Khedive Ismail Pasha, though a Turk of no
scruples, who backed him throughout, also took a very wide view of the
services which the canal would render to the world at large. It was
to be neutral and open under the same conditions to the ships of all
nations. Unfortunately, England, whose commerce has chiefly benefited
by the canal, bitterly opposed its construction, going so far at one
time as actually to prohibit the Khedive from carrying on the canal
works in his own territory, thus occasioning considerable delay. As
it happened, however, this delay itself was turned by de Lesseps to
the advantage of the Canal Company, as he used the time to create new
engines for excavation which in the end expedited the completion of the
waterway.

The result of this ignorant British opposition was that the finance
of the great enterprise was chiefly provided in France, and, when the
canal was first opened in 1869, it was considered, as in fact it was,
a triumph of French sagacity and foresight over the obstructionist
jealousy of England. This view was accompanied also by natural
jubilation at the consequent increase of French influence in Egypt
itself. Count Ferdinand de Lesseps, therefore, became a great French
hero who, by his capacity, persistence and diplomacy, had not only
gained glory for France and extended her power, but had also furnished
his countrymen with an excellent investment for their savings, on
which British commerce was paying the interest. His popularity in
France was well earned and unbounded. The work of de Lesseps was, in
fact, regarded as the one great and indisputable success of the French
Empire. Anything which he took in hand thereafter was certain to prove
of great value to the country and an assured benefit to those who
followed his financial lead. He was also a lucky man. He and his set
had won against heavy odds.

It is true the cost of the Suez Canal had been more than double his
original estimate, even up to the time when it was first opened, and
many millions sterling had been expended since; it was likewise the
fact that his great idea had taken fully ten years to realise in the
shape of a completed enterprise. But this was the larger tribute to
his foresight and power of overcoming obstacles due either to natural
causes or to the malignity of enemies. Thus Ferdinand de Lesseps, ten
years after the Suez Canal had been made available for shipping between
the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, held an unequalled position in the
eyes of French engineers, French bankers and, what was more important,
French investors.

Early in the year 1879 M. de Lesseps, following the course adopted
by him in the case of the isthmus of Suez, called a Congress of the
nations to consider the entire project of a Panama Canal. There was
nothing new in the matter. The line of the canal had been surveyed
by a capable French engineer nearly forty years before. The Congress
estimated the actual cost of the construction of the canal at about
£25,000,000, or a little more than the highest sum thought sufficient
by the English engineer of the Panama Railroad. But the mere figures
are of little importance. That they were quite insufficient, as the
business was managed, has since been abundantly proved. But at first
there is no reason to believe that de Lesseps was other than quite
straightforward. He had bought the concession for the canal from
Mr. Buonaparte Wyse, who had acquired it from the United States of
Colombia, through whose territory the canal as surveyed ran. That
this concession itself had previously been found very difficult to
finance in any shape was a matter of common knowledge; that also the
canal, when constructed, might prove far less valuable in every way
than was calculated for world commerce was the opinion of many skilled
engineers. But then the same things had been said about Suez. So the
French public rushed in to subscribe the money required for the French
Company immediately formed by M. de Lesseps to exploit the concession.

The great name of de Lesseps covered the whole risk and rendered
criticism quite useless. But the management of the excavation was
wildly incapable and inconceivably extravagant. It was very soon
discovered that the original estimates were absurdly at variance
with the cost of the real work to be done. The entire enterprise, as
undertaken in 1884, was entered upon possibly in good faith, but in
a wholly irresponsible and ignorant manner. In spite of warnings as
to the certainty of encountering exceptional obstacles, no steps were
taken to provide against contingencies, to inform the shareholders
as to the position, or to revise the plans in accordance with the
facts. The canal was inspected by M. Rousseau at the end of 1885. This
engineer gave a most unfavourable report in regard to the excavations
and constructions already carried out at vast expense, and the
enormous additional sum needed to give any chance of completing the
works. Instead of honestly facing this most unpromising situation and
disclosing to the shareholders the real state of the case, or declaring
that at least three times the amount would be required to bring the
project to a satisfactory conclusion, and calling for this huge sum
at once, the directors resorted to all the worst tactics of the
unscrupulous promoter. This part of the matter went into the hands of
M. Jacques Reinach and M. Cornelius Herz, names and persons afterwards
covered with obloquy in connection with the whole affair. They set to
work systematically, and were restrained by no inconvenient scruples.
Strong political influence in both Chambers was needed in order to
obtain the passing of the Panama Lottery Bill. Strong political
influence was bought, though the Bill itself was not carried. From
1885-86 onwards this wholesale bribery was continued on an enormous
scale.

The company was as careless of men's lives as it was of shareholders'
money. Labourers from all parts of the world had been gathered
together in what was then a deadly climate, without proper sanitation
or reasonable medical attendance. Some time prior to the financial
troubles it was known that such anarchy and horror prevailed on
the Isthmus that intervention by the French Government, or even by
an international commission, was called for. Nothing but the great
reputation of de Lesseps could possibly have upheld such a state of
things, or have obtained more and still more money to perpetuate the
chaos. Even when the truth as to the frightful mortality of the men
employed and the incredible waste, due to incompetence and corruption,
must have been known to the President of the Company (M. de Lesseps
himself) and his fellow-directors, when, likewise, they must have been
convinced that the company was drifting into a hopeless position, they
still appealed to their countrymen for more and more and more money
to throw into the bottomless quagmire at Panama, and sink of French
savings in Paris, to which the whole company had been reduced.

By the year 1888 no less than 1,400,000,000 francs had been expended in
one way or another, while not one-third of the necessary work had been
done. Of that £55,000,000 nominal amount not a few millions sterling
found their way into the pockets of deputies, senators, and even
Academicians, to say nothing of commissions and brokerages of more or
less legitimate character.

Politicians in France are no worse than politicians in other countries.
But the proportion of well-to-do men among them is less than elsewhere.
There was consequently a margin of them always on the look-out for an
opportunity of adding to their income, and this margin was much larger
in the National Assembly before payment of members than it is to-day.
For such men the Panama finance was a glorious opportunity. Nobody
could suspect de Lesseps of being consciously a party to a fraud. To
make a French venture like the Panama a great success, in spite of
all difficulties, was a patriotic service. To receive good pay for
doing good work was a happy combination of circumstances none the less
gratifying that, the work being honestly done, remuneration followed or
preceded in hard cash. The extent to which this form of corruption was
carried and the high level in the political world to which streams from
the Panama Pactolus were forced up is only partially known even now.
But so wide was the flow and so deep the stream that, when the outcry
against the Company began in earnest, statesmen whose personal honour
had never been challenged were afflicted with such alarm, on the facts
being laid before them, that they did their very utmost to suppress
full investigation.

This, however, was not easy to accomplish. For there were no fewer
than 800,000 French investors in the Panama Company. All of these were
voters and all had friends. It became a question, therefore, whether it
was more dangerous to the Republic and its statesmen--for personal as
well as political considerations came in--to compel full publicity, or
to hush the whole thing up as far as possible. Meanwhile, the public,
and important journals not suspected of Panamism, took the whole thing
down from the Cabinet and the Bureaux into the street.

For the opponents of the Republic it was a fine opening. That enormous
sums out of the £55,000,000 subscribed had been paid away to senators,
deputies and Academicians, for services rendered, was certain. Who
had got the money, and under what conditions? Imputations of the most
sinister character were made all round. Paris rang with accusations
of fraud. That more than a hundred deputies were concerned in Panama
corruption is a matter of common knowledge. One who was in a position
to know all the facts declared that more than a hundred who were mixed
up in other nefarious transactions used Panama to divert attention from
their own malfeasances. However that may be, public opinion, excited by
the clamour and denunciations of eight hundred thousand shareholders
and electors, clove to Panama. It became an instrument of political
warfare as well as of personal delation. The obvious determination of
Presidents Carnot and Loubet to prevent a clear statement from being
issued and the Directors prosecuted only rendered the sufferers more
determined to get at the facts and wreak vengeance on somebody.

There were two views as to Count de Lesseps--to give him his title,
which had its value in the Affair--and his conduct in the Panama Canal
Company. There were those who held that de Lesseps, beginning as an
enthusiast, and believing himself perhaps to be inspired in everything
he undertook, no sooner found that his carelessness, in disregarding
real natural difficulties and in organising the excavations on the
spot, must result in failure, unless he could obtain unlimited
resources, and doubtful of ultimate success even then, began at once
to display the worst side of his character. The successful adventurer
became, by degrees, the desperate gambler with the savings of his
countrymen. Instead of regarding himself as the trustee of the people
who, on the strength of his reputation and character, had risked their
money, he deliberately shut his eyes to the real facts. He resorted to
all the tricks of an unscrupulous charlatan, misrepresented the truth
in every respect and had no thought for any other consideration than
to get in more funds. For this purpose he paraded the country, making
the utmost use of his personal and social advantages, and losing no
opportunity for unworthy advertisement. All this time he knew perfectly
well that his enterprise was doomed. Consequently, there was little
to choose between de Lesseps and Reinach, Herz and the rest of them,
except that he was perhaps the greatest criminal of all. Such was the
view of the promoter-in-chief taken by lawyers and men of business who
looked upon the whole matter as a venture standing by itself, to be
judged by the ordinary rules of financial probity.

On the other side a capable and influential minority regarded
de Lesseps as an enthusiast, a man of high character and noble
conceptions, quite devoid of the power of strict analysis of any matter
presented to him, and destitute of common sense. His financial methods
and commercial obliquities were due to his overweening confidence in
his own judgment and faith in his good fortune to pull him through
against all probabilities. The one great success he had achieved
rendered him a man not to be argued with or considered on the plane of
ordinary mortals. He saw the object he was aiming at, felt convinced
he would accomplish it, regarded all who differed from him as ignorant
or malignant, and went straight ahead to get money, not for his own
purposes but in order to carry out the second magnificent scheme to
which he had committed himself. Corruption and malversation by others
were no concern of his.

President Sadi-Carnot, a cold, silent, upright man, little given to
allow his feelings to inflame him at any time, warmly took this view of
de Lesseps' character. M. Carnot had been brought into close contact
with de Lesseps on another of his vast projects. The President, like
many others, refused to look at the Panama matter from the point of
view of fraud or imposture. Money was for de Lesseps always a means,
never an end. When the whole matter was brought before him, and one of
the legal personages whose duty it was to investigate the whole of the
facts came to a very harsh conclusion as to de Lesseps' responsibility
for the waste, corruption and malversation, M. Carnot said with some
vivacity: "No, no; M. de Lesseps is not a man of bad faith. I should
rather consider him punctilious. Only his natural vehemence carries
him away; he is a bad reasoner, and has no power of calculation. Hence
many regrettable acts on his part, done without any intention of
injuring anybody. I knew him well, having seen him very close, when his
imagination suggested to him the scheme for excavating an inland sea in
Africa. A commission of engineers, of whom I was one, was appointed to
hear him and study his proposal. We had no difficulty in showing that
the whole thing was a pure chimera. He seemed very much astonished, and
we saw that we had not convinced him. Take it from me as a certainty
that he would have spent millions upon millions to create his sea, and
that with the best of good faith in the world."

This was probably the truth, so far as de Lesseps himself was
personally concerned. Promoters, discoverers and inventors of genius
are men of mighty faith in their respective enterprises. As a great
anarchist once said of his own special nostrum for regenerating
humanity at a blow: "All is moral that helps it, all is immoral that
hinders it." So with de Lesseps. All was moral that got in money to
construct his canal: all was immoral that checked the flow of cash
to the Isthmus. But an enthusiast of this temper, "without power of
calculation," is a very dangerous man, not only to the subscribers
to his shares, but to the Republican politicians who confined their
enthusiasm to the acquisition of hard cash for use not in Panama but in
Paris.

In 1888 the Panama Canal Company collapsed, and the thing was put into
liquidation. But that was not the end of it. All sorts of schemes were
afoot for carrying on the works and completing the canal before the
concession expired in 1893. Although, however, from the date of the
breakdown onwards--when it was stated that fully £70,000,000 would be
needed in addition to the amount already expended or frittered away to
carry out the canal--most virulent attacks were continually made upon
prominent politicians and financiers, as well as upon the Directors of
the Company, neither the political nor the legal consequences of the
disaster were felt to the full extent until four years later. Judicial
investigations, it is true, were going on. But it was an open secret
that, in spite of the losses and complaints of the shareholders, and
the strong desire of the public that the whole vast transaction should
be exposed in every detail, the anxiety of men in high place was to
calm down natural feeling in the matter. What made this attitude more
suspicious was the fact that the Government had certainly not shown
itself unfavourable to the scheme, but on the contrary had helped it,
even when the gravest doubts had been thrown upon its practicability,
at a cost vastly exceeding anything contemplated by the Company. In
fact, an atmosphere of general distrust pervaded Paris and the whole
of France. Yet Panama still had its friends, and it was believed that
somehow or other the affair would be tided over.

But there was a good deal more to come. Things, in fact, now took
that dramatic turn which seems the rule in France with affairs which
directly or indirectly influence high politics and high finance. There
were people who believed that the entire enterprise could be set on
its legs, although parts of the recent excavations were deteriorating
and some of them had been covered already with luxuriant tropical
growths which one imaginative critic spoke of as "forests." Either the
Government, they thought, could be forced to take up the enterprise
itself, or at any rate would think it best, in view of what had
already been done, to support de Lesseps in a fresh scheme, should the
concession be renewed. This, no doubt, was the opinion of M. Gauthier,
who urged the Government in the Assembly to appoint a commission to
prepare plans for the completion of the Canal. This, he declared, was
the only means of safeguarding the interests of the shareholders and
the many hundreds of millions of francs sunk by poor French investors
in this great enterprise.

Such a daring proposal necessarily raised the whole question of the
responsibility for the serious engineering and financial fiasco. The
Government was at once charged from several quarters, not as being
answerable for past mistakes in supporting the Panama Company, but with
present obliquity in screening and protecting delinquents who should
long since have been brought to justice. One deputy vehemently declared
that the only reason why no adequate action was taken was that "men
possessed of great names and high positions" checked any attempt to
handle the scandal boldly. Other deputies declaimed with equal warmth
against throwing good money after bad. Meanwhile rumours floated round
the Chamber as to the number of deputies who had put their services at
the disposal of the Company for money received. Later, this accusation
took definite shape as a formal accusation that fifty deputies had
received among them the sum of £120,000. Senators and Academicians were
in the same galley. Exaggeration was imputed, but the figures were
proved afterwards to be less than the truth. Then everybody concerning
whose position there could be the slightest doubt was accused of having
"touched."

Even MM. Rouvier and Floquet were taunted with having accepted large
sums. The Chamber passed a resolution "calling for prompt and vigorous
action against all who have incurred responsibilities in the Panama
affair." This might mean anything or nothing. It was pointed out,
however, by a high authority that a judicial inquiry was proceeding all
the time. But the public became impatient because nothing was done to
stop the campaign of vilification on the one hand or to prosecute the
Directors on the other; though de Lesseps was being denounced daily in
the press as a fraudulent adventurer. Excitement ran very high. The
shareholders and some of the deputies cried aloud for justice.

Matters being thus exceptionally perturbed, Baron Jacques Reinach,
the chief agent in the manipulation of political corruption, committed
suicide by apoplexy. That was the gruesome explanation given in the
press of this financier's sudden death. His fellow Semite, Cornelius
Herz, survived the tragedy. Just at this moment, when everybody thought
that something must be done, the Panama Concession was extended for a
year. The Panamists took heart again and believed all would blow over.
So the ups and downs of public expectation went on.

Then, quite suddenly and without any general notification, all the
Directors of the Panama Canal Company, Count Ferdinand de Lesseps,
M. C. de Lesseps, M. Fontane, M. Eiffel and M. Cottu were formally
charged in court with having resorted to fraudulent methods in order to
engender confidence in chimerical schemes, and with obtaining credits
on imaginary facts, squandering the money of the shareholders and
lending themselves to most nefarious practices. A terrible indictment!

By this time all who cherished a political or personal grudge against
any public man of note had no better or surer means of discrediting
him than by imputing to him some connection with the Panama affair.
Mud of that sort was warranted to stick. Never was there a greater
scandal. Never were people more credulous. Never did political feeling
run higher, and never certainly was there a keener anxiety to connect
leading Republicans with the seamy side of the concern. The more
that could be done in this way the better for the Conservatives and
anti-Republicans who still constituted a very formidable combination
in Parliament and in the press. It was not likely, therefore, that
Clemenceau would be able to escape criticism and calumny if he had been
in any way connected with men some of whom were then rightly regarded
as malefactors.

In a time of so much excitement it was easy to mix up truth and fiction
to an extent which would render it extremely difficult for Clemenceau
to clear the public mind of allegations made against him, however false
they might be. All Clemenceau's enemies, and he had not a few, took
advantage of the situation to try and overwhelm him with obloquy. Now
was the opportunity to pay off many old scores; and they set to work
to do it with whole-souled zest and vitriolic acrimony. Circumstances
aided them. They did not stick at trifles in their efforts to crush
the Radical leader who had fought the good fight against reaction and
Imperialism with such vigour and success for so many long years. M.
Clemenceau was at this time editor of _La Justice_, a journal founded
by himself and written by men of ability, most of whom are still his
friends. The tone of the paper and the style of the contributions were
no more calculated to bring over recruits from his adversaries than
were his speeches and tactics in the Assembly. He was ever a fighter
with tongue and with pen. Though he wrote little, if anything, in _La
Justice_ himself, the inspiration came from its editor. One thing he
lacked, and always has lacked--money. If now they could only get hold
of evidence that Clemenceau was contaminated with Panama, the worst foe
of French obscurantism would be put out of action and his influence
permanently destroyed. So they calculated. And not without good reason,
as afterwards appeared.

Cornelius Herz, the co-corrupter of political impeccables, with
Jacques Reinach, his "apoplectic" fellow-Jew, had subscribed £1,000
to _La Justice_ in its early days. What could be better? A Semite of
Semites, a Panamist of Panamists, he it was who with sinister features
and corrupt record stood forth as the dexterous wire-puller of the
malignant marionette, Georges Clemenceau. If _La Justice_ had been
tainted with the accursed thing, Clemenceau had had his share, and
the lion's share, too, in this wretched swindle. Did anybody really
care what a journal of small circulation like _La Justice_ published
or stood for? Certainly not. But Clemenceau, the terrible leader of
the Left, the upsetter of Ministries, the creator of Presidents,
the overthrower of the Church and the enemy of all religion, here
was a man worth buying; and beyond all question Clemenceau had been
bought--bought by Reinach and Herz, whose tool, therefore, he was and
had been! The calumnies were credible; for if senators and Academicians
had succumbed to the wiles of the serpents of Old Jewry, why should
not the Aristides of Draguignan have fallen a victim to the astute
de Lesseps and his "_entourage du Ghetto_"? Nor did this wind up the
indictment. There was more to come. A group of rascals of the Titus
Oates type were set to work, to put incriminating facts on record in
writing, behind the scenes. They forged the endorsement as well as the
bill. Documents of this character proved to the complete satisfaction
of all who wished to believe it that Clemenceau was corrupt. The very
fact that he was known not to be well-off strengthened the case against
him. The empty sack could not stand upright! The _Petit Journal_, a
paper of great circulation, was foremost in all this business, and its
editor, M. Judet, distinguished himself by his exquisite malignity amid
the crowd of Clemenceau's detractors.

It was an ugly experience. Panama was dinned into Clemenceau's ears
daily. And there was enough to go upon to make the attacks most
galling. Herz had been a large subscriber to the funds of Clemenceau's
organ. Moreover, Reinach and Herz had called upon him, though not
he upon them. That was quite enough. The assailants did not stop to
inquire when Herz ceased to have anything to do with _La Justice_,
neither did they investigate who sent Reinach and Herz to the Radical
leader, nor what passed between Clemenceau and the two Jewish
financiers. They were only too glad to be able to take the whole thing
for granted and to strengthen any weak links in the chain of evidence
by the suborned perjuries of M. Norton and his colleagues.

So it went on. The fact that first the murdered President Carnot,
who could not believe that de Lesseps was worse than a misguided
enthusiast, and then President Loubet, who wished to deal with the
entire matter in a thoroughly judicial fashion, had owed their
positions to Clemenceau's nomination and support rendered the hunting
down of their political friend a delightful pastime for the whole
reactionary combination. Things had come to such a pass that the
common opinion grew that there was "something in it." People actually
believed that Clemenceau really had wrecked his entire career and ruled
himself out of public life by taking bribes like the hundred other
deputies, when he had refused to accept time after time positions which
would have given him control of the national treasury and of France.

Clemenceau was quite unmoved by the storm of detraction which raged
around him. He bided his time with a coolness that could scarcely
have been expected from a man of his character. At length his chance
came. The whole affair was brought up again before the National
Assembly. Clemenceau rose to defend himself against this long campaign
of successful misrepresentation. So great had been the effect of the
attacks upon him that rarely, if ever, has a favourite orator stood
up to address a more hostile audience. It seemed as if he had not a
single friend in the whole House. Not a sound of greeting was heard.
He was met with cold and obviously hostile silence. Clemenceau dealt
in his most telling manner with his own personal conduct throughout.
He completely immolated his accusers and dissipated their calumnies.
When he sat down, the whole Assembly, which had received him as if
persuaded of his guilt, cheered him enthusiastically as a much wronged
man. A greater triumph could hardly be. The condemnation in open court
of the forgers, whose nefarious malpractices had built up the edifice
of calumny and misrepresentation upon which Clemenceau's enemies relied
for the proof of their case, cleared the atmosphere so far as his
personal integrity was concerned.

But, unfortunately for Clemenceau, there were other charges against
him from which he could not hope to clear himself, and would not have
cleared himself if he could. Now all his political crimes were recited
against him at once. He had been the means of bringing to naught M.
Jules Ferry's great schemes of colonial expansion in the East. He had
opposed running the risk of war for the sake of Egypt. He had been
largely instrumental in causing the failure of General Boulanger, whom
not only reactionists but many vigorous Radicals admired and believed
in. He had never lost a chance of pointing to the danger of priestly
influence and the anti-Republican attitude of the heads of the Catholic
Church. By his action in favour of the strikers at Carmaux, whom he
went down himself specially to encourage and support, he had alienated
a large section of the bourgeoisie.

Not the least weighty of the charges brought against him, and one which
perhaps had as much effect as any in bringing about the crushing result
of the poll, was that Clemenceau had steadily opposed the alliance with
Russia. This was regarded as still further and more conclusive evidence
of downright treachery to France. Those were the days when France felt
the need for an ally who could give her powerful military support, and
her people were not disposed to inquire too closely into the character
of the Czar's Government. Clemenceau regarded the connection as
immoral, injurious, calculated to reduce France's democratic influence
and to lessen the probability of a close _Entente_ with England. But
Clemenceau's adversaries had no concern whatever with the Radical
leader's reasons for his action, which all democrats and Socialists,
at any rate, must have cordially approved. All they wanted was another
ugly weapon wherewith to discredit and defeat the man who, though he
had not gone so far as the extreme Socialists desired, had done enough
to hinder and rout reactionaries with their monarchist or Buonapartist
restorations. At the moment Clemenceau's anti-Czarist policy injured
him as a politician, but it certainly did him great credit as a man.

But, worse than all, he had steadily pursued his policy of a lifetime
as a close and constant friend of England and of the English _Entente_.
That was still more criminal than Panamism or anti-Imperialism. For
England at that time was, and to a large extent naturally, very
unpopular in France. Clemenceau, therefore, was overwhelmed with
charges of being in the pay of Great Britain and working for Great
Britain as well as for Panama. Broken English was used to hurl insults
at him, which lost none of their fervour by being uttered in a foreign
tongue. He had escaped from the obloquy of Panama, but it should go
hard if one or other of these counts did not ruin him. The political
warfare became more bitter than ever. His persecutors were relentless:
_la politique n'a pas d'entrailles_.

It was at this time that I begged Clemenceau to make some terms with
the Socialists, who were gaining ground rapidly and appeared to be
the coming party in France. His recent tactics had been decidedly
favourable to Socialist views. And again I express my surprise that
Clemenceau, while holding fast to his opinions as to the necessity for
maintaining "law and order" in every sense, should never have seen his
way to adopting the definite Socialist view as to the necessary and
indeed inevitable policy of collective social progress. But his strong
personal individualism has prevented him from embracing our principles.

The statesman may quite honestly accept the theories of economists
and sociologists, while compelled to adapt their application to the
circumstances of his time. No really capable Socialist who has taken
an active part in public life has ever attempted to do anything else.
In France the Guesdists, who are certainly the most thoroughgoing
Marxists in the country, have always proceeded on these lines in their
municipal, and not unfrequently in their State, policy. Jaurès was a
specially fine example of the opportunist in public affairs; so much
so that he was taunted by more extreme men with being a Ministerialist
before he was a Minister. Vaillant the Blanquist, in theory at least an
advocate of a physical force revolution where possible, was in favour
of an eight-hour law, compensation for injury to workmen, and so on.
One and all, that is to say, were ready to use the social and political
forms of to-day in order to prepare the way for the complete revolution
tomorrow. All Clemenceau's speeches and writings, before and after the
Panama crash and its consequences to him, contain many passages which
every convinced Socialist would accept. I always felt, nevertheless,
that I was arguing with a man deaf of both ears when I put forward my
well-meant suggestions. Socialism, Clemenceau then declared--this,
of course, was now nearly a generation ago--would never become an
effective political power in France. France, and above all rural
France, which is the real France, constituting the bulk of Frenchmen,
is and will always remain steadfastly individualist--"founded on
property, property, property." That was their guiding principle in
every relation in life, and, he added, "I have seen them close at
every stage of existence from birth to death. It is as useless to base
any practical policy upon Socialist principles as it is chimerical to
repose any confidence in Socialist votes." "But," I urged, "extremes
meet: the Catholics and Socialists, both of whom are your opponents,
may combine with the men whose minds have been poisoned by the Panamist
and Anglophobe imputations of the _Petit Journal_ and turn you out
of your constituency in the Var for which you now sit as deputy." He
laughed at the very idea of such a defeat.

But the persistence and malignity of monarchists and men of God of the
Catholic persuasion are hard to beat. Socialists with an anarchist
twist in their mental conceptions are not far behind them. So the
fight for the constituency of Draguignan, which Clemenceau had chosen
in preference to a Paris district at the previous election, developed
into a personal tussle unequalled in bitterness at that period. Every
incident of the candidate's life was turned to his discredit. The
Panama scandal and his relations with Semitic masters of corrupt
practices were only a portion of an atheist record unparalleled for
infamy. All the Ministries he had destroyed, all the true lovers of
France whom he had gibbeted, all the patriotic colonial policies he had
frustrated were brought up against him, embroidered with every flaming
design the modern votaries of the Inquisition could invent! He had been
guilty, in fact, of the unpardonable offence of making too many enemies
at once. What might have been counted to him for righteousness by one
faction was blazoned forth as the blackest iniquity by another. His
anti-Imperialism with his friendly attitude to the strikers incensed
the reactionaries. His refusal to make common cause with them in an
out-and-out programme against bourgeois Republicanism infuriated the
extremists. All his energy, all his oratory, all his genuine love for
and services to France in days gone by went for nothing. The friends of
Jules Ferry, too, were eager for their revenge. Clemenceau had thought
his loss of the seat was impossible. Nevertheless the impossible
occurred. He was thrown out of Draguignan at this General Election of
1893, and after more than seventeen years of arduous and extremely
useful service was compelled to retire from Parliamentary life. It was
a complete break in his career.

Clemenceau at this period was fifty-two, and still in the prime
of a vigorous life. He looked what he was, active, alert, capable
and highly intelligent. His face was an index to his character. It
gave an impression of almost barbarous energy, which induced his
Socialist detractors, long afterwards, to speak and write of him as
"The Kalmuck." But this was merely caricature. Refinement, mental
brilliancy, deep reflection and high cultivation shone out from his
animated features. A teetotaller, abstemious in his habits, and
always in training, Clemenceau, with his rapidity of perception,
quickness of retort and mastery of irony combined with trenchant wit,
was a formidable opponent indeed. Add to this that he was invariably
well-informed--_très bien documenté_--in the matters of which he
treated. It is quite inconceivable that he should refer to or deal
with any speech, or convention, or treaty which he had not thoroughly
studied. It was hopeless to catch Clemenceau tripping on any matter of
fact or political engagement. Moreover, as remarked before, his rule in
politics was based upon the soundest principle in all warfare: Never
fail to attack in order to defend.

As an orator he was and is destitute of those telling gestures,
modifications of tone and carefully turned phrases which we associate
with the highest class of French public speaking. His voice rarely
rises above the conversational level and, as a rule, he is quiet and
unemotional in his manner. But the directness of his assaults and the
dynamitical force of his short periods gain rather than lose on that
account; while his power of logical, connected argument, marshalling
with ease such facts and quotations as he needs, has never been
surpassed. His famous Parliamentary encounter with my friend and
comrade Jean Jaurès was a remarkable example of his controversial
ability. My sympathies were, of course, entirely with the eloquent
and able champion of Socialism, whose power of holding even a hostile
audience was extraordinary, as was shown in that same National
Assembly many a time. I was of opinion then, and I believe now, that
Jaurès had much the stronger case. He spoke then, as he always did,
with eloquence, fervour and sincerity. As an oratorical display it
was admirable. But I am bound to admit that, as a mere question of
immediate political dialectics, the Radical Premier got the better
of the fray. It is possible, of course, that had Jaurès followed
Clemenceau instead of having preceded him, that might have made a
difference. But Jaurès's style, with its poetic elevation and long and
imposing periods, was not so well suited as that of Clemenceau to a
personal debate on immediate practical issues before such an audience
as the French National Assembly.

In private conversation Clemenceau is the most delightful yet
unartificial talker I ever had the pleasure of listening to. Others
who possess great gifts in this direction are apt to work up their
effects so that you can hear, as it were, the clank of the machinery
as their pyrotechnic monologues appeal to your sense of cleverness
while they balk your desire for spontaneity. There is none of this
with Clemenceau. He takes his fair share in any discussion and leaves
nothing unsaid which, from his point of view, can elucidate or brighten
up the friendly discussion. Never was any man less of a brilliant bore.

Another quality he possesses, which proved exceedingly useful to him
at more than one stage of his adventurous career. Clemenceau was,
and possibly is even to-day, at the age of seventy-seven, the most
dangerous duellist in France. A left-handed swordsman and a perfect
pistol-shot, no one who valued the integrity of his carcase was
disposed to encounter with either rapier or pistol the leader of the
extreme Left. Even the reactionary fire-eater, Paul de Cassagnac, who
himself had killed three men, shrank from meeting his quietus from
Clemenceau. His power of work also is extraordinary. In this he was
only equalled by Jaurès. Even an English barrister of exceptional
physique, striving to make his mark or endeavouring to keep the place
already won, could scarcely surpass the inexhaustible energy and
endurance of either of these great Frenchmen. It is doubtful whether
the generation of younger men keep abreast with the pace set by their
elders in this respect. Both Jaurès and Vaillant complained to me more
than once that, to use an English expression, the younger deputies did
not "last over the course," and thus frequently lost in the Committees
what they had gained in the set debates. Certainly, few of the French
politicians of to-day, at half Clemenceau's age, would care to attempt
to do the work which he is doing now, day after day, with all the
anxiety and responsibility that now rest upon his shoulders.

What perhaps is still more noteworthy, especially from the English
point of view, Clemenceau has never at any period of his career been a
well-to-do man. His complete independence of monetary considerations,
at a time when place-hunting had been brought to a fine art in French
politics, gave him an influence all the greater by consequence of
its rarity. Politicians whom he could have easily eclipsed in the
race for well-paid positions, or the acquisition of wealth, became
Prime Ministers, and rich people, while Clemenceau remained what he
had always been, the leader of the most difficult party to control,
without the means which have usually been considered indispensable for
such a thankless post. Only once did he offer himself as the candidate
for a well-paid office--the Presidentship of the Chamber--to which
his experience and services fully entitled him. He was then beaten by
one vote. Honourable and dignified as is the chairmanship of such an
Assembly, it was well for France, in the long run, that the recorder of
that single vote should have allowed what he believed to be a personal
grievance to influence his natural inclination to support Clemenceau.



                               CHAPTER X

                      PHILOSOPHER AND JOURNALIST


Rarely has a politician received a heavier blow than this which fell
upon Clemenceau in 1893. Ordinarily, a man of his intellectual eminence
and remarkable political faculties has no difficulty, if he loses one
seat in the National Assembly of any country, in speedily getting
another. Not so with Clemenceau. His very success as leader of the
advanced Left and the proof that, though always a comparatively poor
man, he had remained thoroughly honest amid all the intrigues and
financial scandals around him told against him. He interfered with
too many ambitions, was a stumbling-block in the way of too many high
policies, to be able to command his return for another constituency.
The same interests and jealousies which had combined against him at
Draguignan would have attacked him with redoubled fury elsewhere.
Persistent determination to carry really thorough democratic reforms in
every department, combined with very high ability, relentless disregard
of personal claims, complete indifference to mere party considerations
and perfect honesty are qualities so inconvenient to modern politicians
of every shade of opinion that the wonder is Clemenceau had held his
position so long as he did. To have destroyed no fewer than eighteen
more or less reactionary administrations, while always refusing to form
a Cabinet himself, was a title to the highest esteem from the mass of
his countrymen: it was a diabolical record from the point of view of
the Ministers whom he had displaced and the cliques by whom they had
been surrounded. Not a French statesman but felt that his reputation
and his hold upon office were more secure now that Clemenceau's
masterly combinations and dynamitical oratory were safely excluded
from the National Assembly. So Clemenceau, at this critical period
of his life and career, could rely upon no organised political force
strong enough to encounter and overcome the persistent hostility of his
enemies.

A weaker man would have felt this exclusion less and have been
discouraged more. After seventeen years of such valuable work as
Clemenceau had done, to be, to all appearance, boycotted from the
Assembly for an indefinite period was a strange experience. I wrote
him myself a letter of sympathy, and in his reply he expressed his
special bitterness at the attitude of the Socialists towards him. This
hostility might have been easily averted without any sacrifice of
principle on Clemenceau's part. But Clemenceau, defeated and driven out
of his rightful place in active French politics, did not hesitate for
a moment as to the course he would pursue. He had left the National
Assembly as the first Parliamentarian in France: he at once turned
round and at the age of fifty-two became her first journalist. Nothing
in his long life of stress and strain is more remarkable than the
success he then achieved and the vigour with which he devoted himself
to his new vocation.

It is no easy matter, especially in France, for a publicist and
journalist to discover a fresh method of bringing his opinions to
bear upon the public. Yet this is what Clemenceau did. He applied his
humanist-materialist philosophy to the everyday incidents of French
life. That philosophy is a strange compound of physical determinism
and the ethical revolt against universal cruelty involved in the
unregulated struggle for existence. The fight for life is inevitable.
So far, throughout historic times it has been a long campaign in
which the usurping minority have always won. Wholesale butchery and
cannibalism by conquering tribes have been transformed first into
slavery, then into serfdom, lastly into the wage-earning system of our
own time. In each and every case the many have been at the mercy of the
dominating few. There is little or no effective attempt made to remedy
the evils arising out of such a state of things. The struggle for
mere subsistence still goes on below, and those who revolt against it
or endeavour seriously to ameliorate it by strikes or combinations are
treated as misdemeanants or criminals. Mining capitalists, industrial
capitalists, railway capitalists, landowners large and small have the
law, the judges, the magistrates, the police and all the reactionary
forces on their side. Hence the grossest injustice and the most
abominable oppression of the poor.

Therefore the State ought to intervene, not in order to repress the
aspirations and punish the attempts of the wage-earning class to obtain
better conditions of life for themselves and their children, but to
protect this most important portion of the community in every possible
way: to secure for them shorter hours of labour, thorough education,
full opportunity for legitimate combination, boards of arbitration to
avert strikes, fair play at the hands of the courts and the police.
The State, in fact, is to act as a national conscience and perpetual
trustee for the poor. Note that the struggle for existence, the fight
for subsistence must go on--Clemenceau has never contemplated the
possibility of a human scheme of co-operation by which competition
would be wholly eliminated--but its harsher features ought to be
reduced. There is no complete overthrow of mutual destruction, and
no condition of universal fellowship is in view. Only the mind and
heart of the community must be changed; men must survey modern society
from the point of view of humane guidance and prepare the material
development and economic arrangements which shall by degrees render
individual injustice and cruelty as unheard-of as now is anthropophagy.

At the back of all this lies a picturesque pessimism and what nowadays
is frequently spoken of as a philosophy of despair. No sooner has this
planet, its solar system, its galaxy of suns and worlds reached its
full development than they all begin to traverse the downward path
which leads slowly and inevitably to decay and eventual destruction,
until the entire process unconsciously and inevitably begins over
again. Infinity oppresses us all: the cosmos with its interminable
repetitions eludes conception by the human intelligence. Yet we live
and strive and feel and hope and have our conceptions of justice and
sympathy and duty which come we know not whence and pass onwards we
know not whither. Man as a highly organised individual entity becomes
superior to the mere matter of which his mind is a function, because as
an individual he can rise up out of himself and criticise and reflect
upon that which, without any such power of conception, surrounds,
upholds and then immolates him. "The universe crushes me," wrote
Pascal, "yet I am superior to the universe, because I know that it is
crushing me and the universe knows nothing about it at all." Strange
to find Clemenceau quoting and agreeing with an intelligence so wholly
different from his own as Pascal's!

Then, fate, necessity, the Nemesis of Monism working on to its foreseen
but uncontrollable destiny, dominates the cosmos and through the cosmos
that infinitesimally small but sentient and critical microbe man, who
creates an individual ethic out of this determinist material evolution.
Francis Newman, the brother of the famous John Henry the Cardinal,
said that it is as impossible for man to comprehend matter developing
and reproducing itself from all time as it is for him to conceive of
an omnipotent deity superintending the matter he has created in its
evolution from all time. We are therefore driven back, whether we like
it or not, upon the ancient and never-ending discussion of free-will
and predestination in a non-theological form which leaves in the main
all the psychologic phenomena untouched, including Clemenceau's own
social morality that impels him to champion the cause of the oppressed.
Beyond the demand for justice in the abstract and freedom in the
abstract applied as a test to each special case as it arises, there
is no guiding theory in Clemenceau's philosophy. The recognition of
the struggle for existence among human beings, as among plants and
animals, does not imply any conscious co-ordination of effort, arising
out of the growth of society, in order to do away with the antagonism
engendered by life itself. So with all his humanism Clemenceau will
not accept the theories of scientific Socialism which could give an
unshakable foundation to his own views of life. That is the weakness
which runs through all his books and articles. His own individuality is
so powerful that he simply cannot grasp the possibility of anything but
individual effort, personal suasion and isolated measures of reform.

Nevertheless, we come upon a passage which, written obviously in
perfect good faith, would, within its limits, be accepted as a
fair statement of Socialism from an outsider: "Socialism is social
beneficence in action, it is the intervention of all on behalf of
the victim of the murderous vitality of the few. To contend, as the
economists do, that we ought to oppose social altruism in its efforts
is to misrepresent and seriously calumniate mankind. To complain that
collective action will degrade the individual by some limitation of
liberty is to argue in favour of the liberty of the stronger which
is called oppressive. Is it not, on the contrary, to strengthen the
individual by restraining and controlling every man who injures another
man as does the employer of to-day when left to the bare exigences
of competition? . . . . Follow the _laissez-faire_ policy for the
individual, says the anti-social economist, and speedily a whole
regiment of devotees will rush to the succour of the vanquished. We
always wait, but see nothing save the terrible condition of humanity
which ever remains. . . . . Against this anarchy it is man's glory to
revolt. He claims the right to soften, to control fatality if he cannot
escape from it. How?"

And then Clemenceau, whom in active life none would accuse of undue
sentiment, goes off into a series of moral reflections and the need
for perpetual moral preachments which really lead us nowhither;
though, some pages further on, he quotes Karl Marx, who speaks of
the unemployed as the inevitable "army of reserve" due not to human
immorality but to the necessary functioning of the unregulated
competitive capitalism of our period. Yet the great French Radical
shrinks from the organised social collective action and revolution
needed to lift us out of this anarchy of oppression. He turns to the
individual himself and his hard lot under the domination of fate. He
has a justifiable tilt at free-will and personal responsibility. Thus:--

"But what is absurd, contradictory, idiotic is the responsibility
of the creature before the creator. I say to God, 'If you are not
satisfied with me, you had only to make me otherwise,' and I defy him
to answer me." And then, quoting from "Lucian's Dialogues of the Dead,"
he cites Minos as discussing with a new-comer who is brought before him
for punishment:

"All that I did in life," says Sostrates, "was it done by me
voluntarily, or was not my destiny registered beforehand by Fate?"

"Evidently by Fate," answers Minos.

"Punish Fate, then," is the reply.

"Let him go free," says Minos to Mercury, "and see to it that he
teaches the other dead to question us in like manner."

"Substitute Fate for Jehovah or by the laws of the Universe, and tell
me," puts in Clemenceau, "when the pot owes his bill to the potter."
All this and the farewell benediction which the author vouchsafes to
the human plaything of all these pre-ordered decisions of society do
not get us much further, even though after so many mischances he may
live on only to appreciate more thoroughly "the sublime indifference of
things eternal." That is not very consolatory by way of a materialist
viaticum. But it is the best Clemenceau can give.

None the less it is easy to comprehend why this sort of philosophy,
illustrated and punctuated by the keenest criticism and sarcasm on
the wrongs and injustice of our existing society, produced a great
effect. The commonest incidents of everyday life were made the text
for vitriolic sermonising on the shortcomings of statesmen and judges,
priests and police, industrial capitalists and mine-owners. Here and
there, also, a description of working-class life is given, so accurate,
so vivid, so telling that administrators of the easiest conscience were
led to feel uncomfortable at the kind of social system with which they
had been hitherto satisfied. With no phase of French life is Clemenceau
better acquainted than with the habits and customs of the French
peasantry. Thus we have a description of the peasant tacked on to a
nice little story of a poor fellow who, strolling along the highway on
a hot day and feeling thirsty, plucks a few cherries from the branch
of a cherry-tree which overhangs the road. The small proprietor is
on the look-out for such petty depredations and at once kills the
atrocious malefactor who had thus plundered him. The cherry-eater "had
despoiled him of two-ha'porth of fruit!" It justified prompt execution
of the thief by the owner. That such small robbery did not at once
give the latter the power of life and death over the thief is a point
of view that the peasant can never take. Why? Because of the penal
servitude for life to which he is condemned by the very conditions of
his existence, and the greed for property driven into him from birth to
death. It is the outcome of private ownership: the result of the fatal
saying, "This is mine."

"The peasant is the man of one idea, of a sole and solitary love.
Bowed, he knows only the earth. His activity has but one end and
object: the soil. To acquire it, to own it, that is his life, harsh
and rapacious. He speaks of _my_ land, _my_ field, _my_ stones, _my_
thistles. To till, to manure, to sow the land, to mow, to uproot, to
prime, to cut what comes from the land, that is the eternal object of
his entire physical or intellectual effort. Amusement for him: not a
bit of it. He has no other resource than to console himself for the
disappointment of to-day with the hope of to-morrow. He is at war with
the seasons, the elements, the sun, rain, hail, wind, frost. He fights
against the neighbouring intruder, the invading cattle, the birds, the
caterpillars, the parasites, the thousand-and-one unknown phenomena
which, without any apparent reason, bring down upon him all sorts of
unlooked-for ills.

"Then has he risen at dawn for nothing, badly fed, badly clothed,
sweating in the sun, shivering in the wind and the rain, exhausting his
energies against things which resist his utmost efforts? Do sowing,
manuring, labour and the pouring out of life all, too, go for nothing,
without rest, without leisure, without any thought but this: I toiled
and suffered yesterday, I shall toil and suffer to-morrow? And all this
is balanced by no pleasures but drunkenness and lust. No theatres, no
books, no shows, no enjoyments of any kind. Hard to others, hard to
himself, everything is hard around him."

Such is the peasant of Western France. Though the peasant of the
South is of a livelier and happier disposition on the surface, both
are at bottom the same. And France is still in the main rural France
as Clemenceau himself impressed upon me many years ago. That is the
influence which holds in check the advanced proletariat of the towns
and mining districts. They can see nothing outside private property,
property, property: yet it is this very unregulated individual
ownership which forces them to fight out their existence against the
hardships of nature with inefficient tools, insufficient manure and no
adequate arrangements for marketing the produce they have for sale.
High prices and a few advantages gained have somewhat ameliorated the
lot of the peasant, but it is still a hard, depressing existence which
cannot be made really human and happy for the great majority under the
conditions of to-day. The only boon the peasant has is that he is not
under the direct sway of the capitalist exploiter. What that means in
the mines Clemenceau had an opportunity of seeing very close, as a
member of the Commission appointed to examine into the coal-mines of
Anzin in 1884. He tells of his experience ten years later in one of the
pits he descended. "Never go down a coal-mine," wrote Lord Chesterfield
to his son. "You can always say you have been below, and nobody can
contradict you." Clemenceau did not follow this cynical advice. He
went down, "and after having waded through water, bent double, for
hundreds upon hundreds of yards through dripping scales which hang
from the upper stratum, I crawled on hands and knees to a nice little
vein _twenty inches thick_. On this seam human beings were at work,
lying on their side, bringing down coal which fell on their faces and
replacing it continuously by timber in order not to be crushed by the
upper surface. You must not neglect this part of the work!" He was
not allowed to talk with the men themselves, and when they came to
interview him secretly they implored him not to let the manager or the
employers know, or they would be discharged at once! The old story of
miners in every country which even the strongest Trade Unions are as
yet scarcely able to cope with, though the tyranny in French mines has
been checked since the time Clemenceau wrote. These and similar cases
of oppression on the part of the capitalist class caused Clemenceau to
support Socialists more and more in their demands for limitation of
the then unrestricted powers of individual employers and "anonymous"
companies. So, too, individualist as he was, he wrote article after
article in defence of the right of the men to strike against grievous
oppression, holding that the combination of the workers was more than
sufficiently handicapped by the fact that they were bound to imperil
their own subsistence as well as the maintenance of their wives and
children by going on strike at all. This argument he applied to all
strikes in organised industries.

But Clemenceau naturally found himself drawn into bitter antagonism
to the doctrine of _laissez-faire_ and the law of supply and demand.
"You say all must bow down to them. I contend all must revolt against
them." "The individual struggle for existence is only a great
_laissez-faire_! Far from being liberty, it is the triumph of violence,
it is barbarism itself. The man who mastered the first slave founded
a new system . . . so completely that after some ages of this rule a
physiocrat overlooking it all would have sagely pronounced: Slavery is
the law of human societies. This with the same amount of truth as he
says to-day: The law of supply and demand is an immutable ordinance.
And, for all that, the supreme irony of fate has decreed that the
first slave-driver was at the same time the first sower of the seed of
liberty, of justice. For by enslaving men he created a social relation,
a relation different from that enjoined by the primitive form of the
struggle for existence: kill, eat, destroy. Henceforth man was bound to
man. The social body was formed." Man had to discover the law governing
the new relation, and he found it at last in the first flashes of
justice and liberty. "What, then, is this your _laissez-faire_, your
law of supply and demand, but the pure and simple expression of force?
Right overcomes force: that is the principle of civilisation. Your law
once formulated, let us set to work against barbarism!"

All that is telling criticism; though to-day it reads a bit antiquated
in view of the revolt everywhere against both these catch-phrases and
the anarchist chaos which they connote. But here again Clemenceau,
with all his acuteness and brilliancy, displays the need for a guiding
historic and economic theory--the sociologic theory which scientific
Socialism supplies. It was not justice or liberty which created
slavery, or destroyed slavery, but economic development and social
necessity. The cult of abstraction leads to social revolt but not to
material revolution.

Holding the opinions he did, it was inevitable that Clemenceau should
put the case of the Anarchists such as Vaillant, Henry, Ravachot.
They were the victims of a system. They could not rise as a portion
of a collective attack against the unjust class dominion and economic
servitude which crushed them and their fellows down into interminable
toil with no reward for their lifelong sufferings. So they made war
as individuals for anarchy. _Vive l'Anarchie!_ were the last words of
Henry. The man was a fanatic. "The crime seems to me odious. I make no
excuse for it," says Clemenceau, but he objects to the capital penalty.
"Henry's crime was that of a savage. The deed of society seems to
me a loathsome vengeance." Clemenceau compares, too, the anarchists
of dynamite to the would-be assassin Damien, so hideously tortured
before death. "My motive," said he, "was the misery which exists in
three-quarters of the kingdom. I acted alone, because I thought alone."
The anarchist, asked by his mother why he had, become an anarchist,
answered, "Because I saw the suffering of the great majority of human
beings." Vaillant, Henry, Caserio and their like are overmastered by
the same idea as Damien. They kill members of the king caste of our
society of to-day in order to scare the bourgeoisie into justice. There
is no arguing with honest fanatics of this type. Whether society is
justified in guillotining or hanging them is another matter. That their
method is futile, as all history shows, gives society the right if it
so chooses to regard it also as criminal.

The above is all argument and criticism put with almost savage vigour.
But Clemenceau used likewise the lighter touch of French irony. Thus
a wretched family of father, mother and six children, tramping along
the high road near Paris, found some coal which had dropped from a
wagon long since out of sight. They pick up these bits of chance fuel
as a godsend. They have gleaned after the reapers. Straightway, the
story of Boaz and Ruth occurs to Clemenceau, of Boaz and his descendant
of Nazareth, who is the God of Europe to-day. The Hebrew Boaz, the
landowner of old, gladly leaves the wheat-ears to be gleaned by Ruth
and marries her into the bargain. The Christian Boaz, the coal-owner of
our time, gets the males of the distressed family of coal-gleaners six
days' imprisonment. Such is progress through the centuries! The moral
of the whole story is brilliantly touched in.

So again in his comment on the catastrophe at the Charity Bazaar. It
was the rank and religiosity of the persons burnt alive which rendered
the tragedy so much more terrible than if the crowd thus incinerated
had only consisted of common people! It was the cream of French piety
that was there sacrificed. Quite an ecclesiastical and political
propaganda was developed from their ashes. The spirit of class made
these accidental victims of gross carelessness martyrs of Christian
heroism. Yet "if I go to dance at a charity ball, paying twenty francs
for my ticket, and expire on the spot, I am not on that account a
hero. . . . These gatherings are not exactly places of torture.
People laugh, flirt, and amuse themselves, it is an opportunity
to display fine dresses, and the charity sale has supplemented the
Opéra Comique for marriage-provoking interviews superintended by good
grandmothers. . . . Here is class distinction in action. Observe these
aristocratic young gentlemen beating with their canes and kicking their
frightened womenkind in their cowardly attempt to get out of danger.
Then see the servants rushing in to save them! Look also at the workmen
by chance on the spot risking their lives with true heroism, the
plumber Piquet, who saved twenty people and, though much burnt himself,
went back to his work-shop without a word." The contrast is striking.
It is not drawn by a Socialist.

Then the criticism on the German fête in commemoration of the victory
of Sedan. "William II is obliged to keep his people in training, to
militarise them unceasingly, body and soul. . . . In spite of the
handsome protests of most of the Socialist leaders, we may be sure that
it is in very truth the soul of Germany whose innermost exultation
is manifested in these numberless jubilations which have beflagged
every village in the Empire. . . . It is the curse of the triumphs of
brute force to leave room in the soul of the conqueror for nothing but
a blind faith in settlement by violence." Then follows a prophetic
summary of what must be the inevitable consequence of this consecration
of brutal dominion inspired by the hateful instincts of barbarism,
which together prepare to use in Central Europe the most efficient
means of murder at the disposal of scientific civilisation. The ethics
of the nation are being deliberately corrupted for the realisation of
the Imperial policy!

Thus Clemenceau, like others of us who knew the old Germany well, and
had watched its sad hypnotisation by the spirit of ruthless militarism,
foresaw what was coming more than twenty-five years ago. And thus
anticipating and reflecting, he chanced to see on one of the monuments
of Paris illumined by the sun, "The German Empire falls." It was dated
1805! "Short years pass. What remains of these follies? If law and
right outraged, reason flouted, wisdom contemned must blight our hopes,
as your warlike demonstrations too clearly prognosticate, then for you,
men of Germany, the inscription of the Carrousel is patient and bides
its time.

"And yet two great rival peoples worthy to understand one another could
nobly make ready a nobler destiny."

There you have the statesman and idealist as well as the clear-sighted
journalist. Clemenceau saw the storm-cloud ever menacing and ready
to break upon France. He warned his countrymen of their danger, bade
them prepare to meet it, but hoped continuously that his forecasts
might prove wholly erroneous. Jaurès unfortunately, with all his vast
ability, was too idealist and far too credulous. Hence his great
influence was thrown against the due preparation of his own country; he
did his utmost to support the anti-navy men even in Great Britain, and
only began to recognise how completely mistaken he had been just before
he was assassinated by the modern Ravaillac of religionist reaction. To
anticipate fraternity in a world of conflict is to help the aggressor
and to court disaster. This Clemenceau the Radical knew: to this the
French Socialists shut their minds.

It was natural that the Vendéen by birth, the Parisian by adoption,
should feel himself drawn rather to the ideals of the French capital,
which in matters of intelligence and art is also the capital of Europe,
rather than to the narrow spirit of the Breton countryside which he has
so vigorously sketched. In his writings as in his political activities
this preference, this admiration find forcible expression. From the
days of Julian the great Pagan Emperor down to the French Revolution
and thence onwards, Clemenceau briefly traces the development of the
City by the Seine, the French Renaissance and the University of Paris,
by the influence of the writings of Montaigne--"this city in right of
which I am a Frenchman"--and Rabelais: this meeting-place of Europe,
this Central Commune of the planet proposed by Clootz, the Prussian
idealist, becomes in the words of the same foreign enthusiast "a
magnificent Assembly of the peoples of the West." We may forgive the
French statesman his unbounded enthusiasm for the Paris where he has
spent the whole of his active life. "One phrase alone, 'The Rights of
Man,' has uplifted all heads. Lafayette brings back from America the
victory that France sent thither and straightway the great battle is
joined between Paris of the French Revolution and the coalition of
things of the past." "True, we have measured

    _A la hauteur des bonds la profondeur des chutes_,

"but at least we have striven, and we abate not a jot of our generous
ambitions. Thus decrees the tradition of Paris . . . that Paris which now
as ever holds in her hands the key to supreme victory."



                              CHAPTER XI

                        CLEMENCEAU AS A WRITER


M. Clemenceau had a ready pen as well as a very bitter one, and he did
not confine himself to articles on politics and sociology. Besides _La
Mêlée Sociale_, of which I have given some account in the previous
chapter, he published the following books in order within eight years:
_Le Grand Pan_, a volume of descriptive essays; _Les Plus Forts_, a
novel; _Au Fil des Jours_, and _Les Embuscades de la Vie_, which were,
in the main, collections of sketches and tales. At the same time he
did a great deal of ordinary journalism, including his articles on the
Dreyfus case, which make in themselves four good-sized volumes.

_Le Grand Pan_ followed close upon _La Mêlée Sociale_, and came as
a delightful surprise to M. Clemenceau's readers, a piece of pure
literature. In this book he no longer writes as a citizen of Paris, a
man of the boulevards and pavements, but as one country-born and bred,
knowing the hills and the sea. Although he describes his own Vendéen
scenery with loving familiarity, making the "_Marais_," the "_Bocage_"
and the "_Plaine_" live before us, he does not cling to them with the
monotonous affection of some French writers, who are, as it were, dyed
in their own local colour. Without elaboration, without the detailed
building-up of a scene which is the careful habit of some others, he
conveys in two or three lines the _feeling_ of a countryside and that
elusive but immutable thing, the character of a landscape. This belongs
really to the poet's art, and gives, I cannot tell why, a deeper
impression, a far more lasting pleasure than all the abundance and
detail of prose. Clemenceau's neighbour, and almost fellow-countryman,
Renan, had this gift. All the grey waters of the rocky Armorican shore
seem to sweep through the first lines of his essay on the Celtic
Spirit; and the influence of Renan is marked in _Le Grand Pan_. The
first article, which gives the book its title, sets the reader's fancy
sailing among the Greek Isles, steered by poetry and tradition, in
the light of the golden and the silver age. Clemenceau, like Heine,
mourns for the overthrow of the Greek gods in the welter of quarrelling
priesthoods and fierce Asian ugliness that flooded the Mediterranean
world. "Pan, Pan is dead!" But in the Renaissance--"the tumultuous
pageant of Art hurrying to meet the classic gods reborn"--he welcomes
the magnificent restoration of the ancient and eternal Powers. And
he claims for the nineteenth century the honour of beholding another
re-birth of the gods of Nature in the development of science, and the
labour that has brought some of the secrets of earth within our ken.

But science, as we know, has revealed the horrors as well as the
wonders of earth. It troubles us; man has shed rivers of needless
blood, but we shrink from recognising Nature as she is, "red in
tooth and claw." It did not trouble the ancient Greeks; their
gods, developing from the rough deities of place or tribe into the
embodiments of the natural forces of matter or of mind, were outside
human ethic, although they were cast in human form. They might take the
shape of mortals, but only Euripides and a few other hypersensitive
moralists thought of blaming the gods when, as often happened, they
fell below the standards of human conduct. But we are creatures of
another era; and man, criticising and even condemning the Powers that
rule his little day, has, for good or ill, reached out to a level that
is above the gods, whose plaything he still remains.

And there is another change. Man--_some_ men, that is to say--have
taken the animals into their protection and fellowship: and M.
Clemenceau is truly one of these. Not only those charming, kindly
essays, _La Main et la Patte_ and _Les Parents Pauvres_, in _Le Grand
Pan_, but the history of the two pigeons in the _Embuscades de la Vie_,
and a hundred little touches and incidents throughout Clemenceau's
books show him to be a man of most generous sympathies, looking at
animal life from a far higher and finer point of view than the majority
of his countrymen.

There is much else in _Le Grand Pan_ that it would be pleasant to dwell
upon: a delicate classic spirit, a certain ironic grace, humour and
mockery, but everywhere and above all keen indignation at needless
human suffering and a sympathy which is poles apart from sentiment, for
human pain. M. Clemenceau might well be called "a soldier of pity,"
as, in one of the Near Eastern languages, the members of his first
profession, the doctors, are termed. But I must pass on. _Le Grand Pan_
is, as it deserves to be, the best known of M. Clemenceau's books,
and no one who has overlooked it can form a complete idea of this
remarkable man.

It is said that anyone who has the power of setting down his
impressions on paper can write at least one good novel, if he
tries, for he will draw with varying degrees of truth or malice
the individuals he has met, liked, or suffered from, and the main
circumstances of his life. What a Homeric novel M. Clemenceau might
have written if he had followed these lines! But _Les Plus Forts_ is
unfortunately no such overflow of personal impressions and memories;
it is merely what used to be called "a novel with a purpose." That is
to say, it is one of the many works of fiction which not only record
the adventures of certain imaginary yet typical characters, but also
contain severe criticism of contemporary social conditions and life.
Such novels were much more common in England during the nineteenth
century than in France. In English fiction the sequence is unbroken
from _Sandford and Merton_ to the earlier works of Mrs. Humphry Ward's
venerable pen. But in 1898 there were still not many French novels
concerned with the serious discussion of social conditions, and M.
Clemenceau's early work stands out among these for sincerity and
simplicity of intent. However, in spite of the excellent irony of some
passages--notably the description of the Vicomtesse de Fourchamps'
career--_Les Plus Forts_ is to modern readers a trifle tedious and a
little naive. It is of the same calibre as Mr. Shaw's two first novels,
but less eccentric and not so amusing. M. Clemenceau himself would
probably write upon it "_Péché de jeunesse_," and pass on. Yet it
deserves more attention than that; for _Les Plus Forts_ unconsciously
reveals the central weakness of its author's criticism of modern life.
The situation is a good one, although the actors are not so much
characters as types.

Henri de Puymaufray, a ruined French gentleman, who has lost the
world and found a kind of Radicalism, and Dominique Harlé, a rich
paper manufacturer, live side by side in the country as friendly
enemies or, rather, close but inimical friends. Their views of life
are as the poles asunder, but for the purposes of the story they
must be constantly meeting in conversational intimacy; and they have
each an almost superhuman power of expressing themselves and their
attitude towards the world they live in. The chief link between them
is Harlé's supposed daughter and only child, Claude, whose real father
is Puymaufray. Both these elderly gentlemen are deeply concerned
about Claude's future; each wishing, as parents and guardians often
do, to make the child's career the completion of their own ambitions
and hopes. Here Harlé has the advantage; he knows what he wants, that
is, money and power, and he means his daughter to have plenty of
both. He is the ordinary capitalist, with a strain of politician and
Cabinet-maker, who ends by founding a popular journal that outdoes
Harmsworth in expressing the "Lowest Common Factor of the Mind."
Society, the Church, and a particularly offensive form of charity all
serve him to increase his own power and the stability of his class. All
is for the best in the best of bourgeois worlds. Such is the theory
of life which he puts before his supposed daughter, together with a
_prétendant_ who will carry out his aims. Unhappily, Puymaufray has
nothing positive to set against this very solid and prosperous creed.
He and Deschars, the young traveller whom he wishes to give Claude
for a husband, can only talk pages of Radicalism in which the words
"pity" and "love" would recur even more frequently if M. Clemenceau's
fine sense of fitness did not prevail. What do they really want Claude
to do? The best they can offer her appears to be a life of retired and
gentle philanthropy, inspired by a dim sense of human brotherhood,
which might, under very favourable circumstances, deepen into a sort of
Socialist mood.

But "mere emotional Socialism cuts no ice." This has often been said,
and means that a vague fraternal purpose and a perception of the deep
injustice of our present social system, even when sharpened with the
most destructive satire, will never change this world for the better,
unless they lead up to some theory of construction that is based on
economic facts. Pity and brotherhood may move individuals to acts of
benevolence, but they cannot alone recast the fabric of society, or
even bring about fundamental collective reforms. Besides, when young
people are asked to give up certain definite things, such as money,
pleasure and power, they must see something more than mere renouncement
ahead. They must be shown the fiery vision of an immortal city whose
foundations they may hope to build. Clemenceau's own knowledge of human
nature works against his two heroes, and he says:

"Deschars was the child of his time. He had gone about the world as
a disinterested beholder, and he returned from voyaging without any
keen desire for noble action. . . . Perhaps, if he had been living and
working for some great human object, Deschars would have carried Claude
away by the very authority of his purpose, without a word. . . ."

And Madame de Fourchamps observes:

"It is very lucky for the poor that there are rich people to give them
bread."

To which Claude replies:

"My father's factory provides these workmen with a livelihood; where
would they be without him?"

Then, instead of a few plain words on labour-value, Puymaufray can only
reply:

"Well, they give him something in exchange, don't they?"

The old capitalist fallacies here uttered in their crudest form
cannot be refuted by mere injunctions to pity and goodwill; and even
the magnificent words Liberty, Equality, Fraternity are no adequate
reply. To the successful profiteer and all who acquiesce in his
domination they mean: Liberty of Enterprise, Equality of Opportunity,
and Fraternity among Exploiters. Facts and the march of events alone
can persuade Dominique Harlé and his like to use their ingenuity in
serving their fellow-creatures, and not in profiting by them. And only
collective action, guided by some knowledge of the direction in which
our civilisation is tending, can hasten the march of events.

It is remarkable how greatly the "novel with a purpose" has developed
during the last twenty years in England and, to a less extent, in
France. The characters are creatures of their conditions; and it
is these conditions, not the characters, that do the talking. Some
novels to-day are such careful and withal highly interesting guides
to the sociology of England towards the end of the black Industrial
Age that we cannot wonder if their authors take themselves too
seriously as politicians and reformers. Yet these works show, after
all, the same defect as _Les Plus Forts_, they have no constructive
theory of life to set against the very well-defined, solid, and still
apparently effective system which they criticise. All their most ironic
descriptions, their most penetrating satire are negative, and, in the
end, the utterances of men "wandering between two worlds, one dead, one
powerless to be born."

_Au Fil des Jours_ is an interesting collection of pieces in which the
author has not made up his mind whether he will write short stories or
articles upon social conditions. There is no harm in that; some people
may even say that M. Clemenceau has produced a new variety of readable
matter; but, curiously enough, the substance of the story is often
so telling that one quarrels with the writer for not having put it
into the best shape. Take one of the pieces in _Au Fil des Jours_--_La
Roulotte_. Briefly, a weary old gipsy drives in a covered donkey-cart
into a country hamlet, and stops by the riverside, where all the
gossips are washing. He is received with hostile and watchful silence,
because gipsies are always the scapegoats in a peasant district, and
anything and everything that may be lost, stolen or strayed--even if
it turns up again--is always laid to their account. In the night he
dies, unnoticed; and, after some further time has passed, the villagers
inspect his cart. Finding him there, dead, with a very small grandson
living, they fetch the local constable and the mayor. The arm of
the Law begins to function, the child is sent to the workhouse, the
moribund donkey is "taken care of" by one of the villagers, and the
dilapidated old cart, which only contained a few rags, is left by the
riverside.

But the French peasant knows how to turn every little thing to profit:
nothing is useless in his eyes. Gradually handy fragments of the
donkey-cart begin to disappear. Bits of the iron fittings vanish, the
tilt-props go, a shaft follows, one wheel after another slips away and
is no more seen. In fact, the donkey-cart, as such, disappears from
mortal sight. Then, one fine day, a gipsy-woman comes swinging along
the road, where she had followed the traces of the donkey-cart, and
asks for news of her old father and her little boy. The authorities of
the village tell her of the old gipsy's death and burial: they do not
require her to pay for his obsequies only because they see it would
be no use. She goes to fetch the child from the workhouse, and then
asks for the donkey and cart. The former, they tell her, died in the
hands of the villager who "took care of him" (and sold his skin for a
fair sum). She accepts this loss with resignation; but the cart, as
she says, cannot have died: where is her father's "_roulotte_"?--Ah,
well, nobody in the village knows anything about _that_! It _was_ here,
no doubt, since the old gipsy died in it--but since then----The Law,
once more represented by mayor and constables, can only shrug its
shoulders in the finest French manner and disclaim all responsibility
for a vagabond's goods. But the gipsy-woman persists: she begins even
to clamour for her rights. "_Rights, indeed!_" The village, hitherto
indifferent, becomes hostile; and the old cry that meets the gipsy
everywhere is raised, for someone on the edge of the crowd calls
out, "Thief!" It is a mere expression of disapproval, not a direct
accusation, but the whole village takes it up joyfully: "Thief! Thief!"
So the gipsy-woman, who, as it chanced, has stolen nothing, is hounded
out of the commune with sticks and stones and objurgations by those who
had themselves appropriated her old donkey-cart piecemeal. "A bit of
rusty iron whizzed past her as she crossed the bridge. It may once have
served as her donkey's shoe."

Such is the tale: a sample of many in _Au Fil des Jours_. Irony and
realism are not wanting, nor yet the grimly picturesque, but the
reader is left thinking: "What a little gem this would be if it were
told by Maupassant, or some other master of the _conte_!" Certainly
M. Clemenceau has something else to do than tell _contes_! But his
literary material is so fine that it is his own fault if we expect
the very best of him. As it is, he does not take the trouble to cut
the story out clearly from the matrix of thought and memories which
enfolded it in his own mind. The effect on the reader is, one might
say, a little vague and murmurous, like some tale half-heard in a crowd.

It is a strange thing that the countryside, Nature, the pure and
never-failing spring of inspiration for poetry and human delight,
should turn so different a countenance towards those who live with her,
year out and year in, winning sustenance for us all from her broad
and often ungenial breast. Our Mother Earth is an iron taskmaster to
the tillers of the soil grinding out their youth and strength, bowing
their eyes to their labour, so that all her beauty passes them by
unseen. Either Nature keeps her charms jealously for the untroubled
mind and the leisured eye, or else all the beauty that we see in her is
borrowed, a glamour lent by some immaterial force--not ours, perhaps,
but certainly not her own. Be this as it may, in the _Embuscades de la
Vie_ M. Clemenceau beholds and describes the careless, endless, natural
beauty amid which the peasant-lives that he sketches for us are set;
but these themselves are often as ugly as bare stone, and the men and
women are hard and close-fisted with one another mainly because the
earth is so grudging to them. These stories are the most clear-cut of
all Clemenceau's essays in fiction. They are not exactly _contes_,
either: they are the discoveries, one might say, of Clemenceau in
his ancestral character as the descendant of a line of doctors and
landowners who worked for generations among the small bourgeois and the
tillers of the soil. How he knows them! and--if French fiction is to
be believed--how unchangeable they are! Since the bourgeois gained his
freedom in the great Revolution by using the arm of the sans-culotte,
what a grip he has kept upon his possession! and how much dearer to him
his property is than anything else in the world! Clemenceau does but
take up the theme of Balzac and others when he describes provincial
France and its twin gods, money and the land--money which compels
loveless marriages, envy, fawning, bitterness, perpetual small cheating
or endless insect-like toil; and the land, in whose service men work
themselves and their kindred to the bone, and grudge a pittance to old
age.

The bourgeoisie and their customs vary with their nationality, but
peasant life is much the same all over Europe. Clemenceau found similar
traits of life and character in Galicia to those of La Vendée; and
others will tell us that from Ireland to Russia, from the Baltic to
the Black Sea, the peasant and the small farmer conduct their lives
upon the same lines: hard work, dependence upon the seasons, family
authority, tribal feuds, and a meticulous social system of comment and
convention, under which the individual finds himself far less free than
in the unhampered, unnoticed life of the towns.

Yet many of the "ambushes of life" are to be found in the cities; and
about a third of these tales are laid in the towns and among the
well-to-do middle class. M. Clemenceau's satire plays freely upon
the "marriage of convention," by which two families agree, after a
certain amount of haggling and mutual sharp practice, to bind two young
strangers together in the closest of relationship, for time, and also,
we are told, for eternity, in the interest of property alone. Still,
human nature adapts itself to anything, and even such marriages have
their compensations, as our author lightly and ironically points out.
Being a genuine sociologist, he does not handle these tales of the
bourgeoisie and their vagaries within what is, after all, an artificial
and exclusive form of existence, as seriously as he does the great
plain outlines of peasant life.

Whether he writes of town or country, of _Fleur de Froment_ and _Six
Sous_, or of a _ménage à trois_; whether he calls up a Greek courtesan
to theorise about her profession, or describes a long-standing bitter,
and motiveless peasant feud, his style is always fluent and charming,
vivid with irony, and graceful with poetic thought. Yet the defect as
well as the merit of M. Clemenceau's fiction and essay-writing is just
this admirable, unvarying ease and fluency. One feels that he writes
with perfect unconsciousness, as the thoughts come into his head.
And, after a while, the ungrateful reader is inclined to ask for some
kind of selection in the feast before him, where all is good, very
good, even, but nothing is _excellent_. Like a far greater writer,
Clemenceau--on paper at least--"has no peaks in him." His literature
was an admirable "by-product" of his almost limitless capacities; his
actions and not his writings are the achievements of his life.



                              CHAPTER XII

                   CLEMENCEAU AND THE DREYFUS AFFAIR


In December, 1894, Captain Dreyfus, a member of the General Staff, was
found guilty of treason by a Court Martial. The Court was unanimous.
He was condemned to be sent to the Ile du Diable, there to expiate
his offence by the prolonged torture of imprisonment and solitary
confinement, in a tropical climate. It was a terrible punishment. But
the offence of betraying France to Germany, committed by an officer
entrusted with the military secrets of the Republic, was a terrible one
too. It seemed so incredible, especially as Captain Dreyfus was a man
of considerable means, that up to the last moment the gravest doubt
as to the possibility of his having committed such a crime prevailed.
When, however, the Court declared against him as one man, and without
the slightest hesitation, there could no longer be any question of the
correctness of the decision. For the trial had lasted four whole days,
and Dreyfus had been defended by one of the ablest advocates at the
Paris Bar. "What need have we of further witness?"

That was the universal feeling. Nearly a quarter of a century before,
Marshal Bazaine had betrayed France to her mortal enemy, and had
escaped the penalty which was his due. Common soldiers were frequently
condemned to death and executed for impulsive actions against their
superiors. High time an example should be made of a man of higher
rank. Dreyfus was lucky not to be shot out of hand. That an Alsatian,
a rich man, a soldier sworn to defend his country, an officer employed
in a confidential post, should thus sell his nation to Germany was
frightful. The thing was more than infamous. No punishment could be
too bad for him. Permanent solitary confinement under a blazing sun is
worse than immediate death. All the better. His fate will encourage the
others.

And Captain Dreyfus was a Jew. That made the matter worse. Powerful as
they are in politics and finance, Jews are not popular in France. By
Catholics and sworn anti-Semites they are believed to be capable of
anything. Even by men of open mind they are regarded with distrust as
citizens of no country, a set of Asiatic marauders encamped for the
time being in the West, whose God is a queer compound of Jahveh, Moloch
and Mammon. There was thus the bitterest race and religious prejudice
eager to confirm the judgment of the Court Martial. The case was
decided. Dreyfus was sent off to the Island of the Devil.

Clemenceau shared the general opinion. He accepted the statement of
the president of the Court Martial that "there are interests superior
to all personal interests." And these were the interests which forbade
that the court martial should be held in public, or that the secret
evidence of treason should be disclosed. Given the honour, good
faith, capacity and freedom from prejudice of the judges, this was a
reasonable contention on the part of the chief officer of the Court.
But there was that to come out, in this very Dreyfus case, which should
throw grave doubt upon the advisability of any sittings behind closed
doors of any court that deals with matters into which professional,
personal or political considerations may be imported. Secrecy is
invariably harmful to democracy and injurious to fair play.

Three years later Clemenceau began to understand what lay behind this
veil of obscurity which he then allowed to be thrown over the whole of
the Dreyfus proceedings. He took upon himself the full burden of his
own mistake. When he had distinguished his fine career by the vigorous
and sustained effort in favour of justice to the victim, he reprinted
at full length his articles denouncing the man about whom he had been
misled. "I cannot claim," he writes, "credit for having from the first
instinctively felt the iniquity. I believed Dreyfus to be guilty, and
I said so in scathing terms. It seemed to me impossible that officers
should lightly inflict such a sentence on one of themselves. I imagined
there had been some desperate imprudence. I considered the punishment
terrible, but I excused it on the ground of devotion to patriotism."
Nothing was farther from Clemenceau's thoughts, even at the close of
1897, than that Dreyfus should after all be not guilty. He laughed
at Bernard Lazare when he said so. Meeting M. Ranc by accident, this
politician and journalist confirmed the opinion of Lazare and declared
that Dreyfus was innocent. Again Clemenceau smiled incredulously,
and was recommended to go at once and see M. Scheurer-Kestner,
Vice-President of the Senate, the famous Alsatian whose high qualities
he many years afterwards proclaimed in a funeral oration.

The editor of _l'Aurore_ called upon that courageous and indefatigable
champion of Dreyfus; and comparison of the handwriting of Esterhazy,
the chief witness against the captain, with that of the _bordereau_
attributed to Dreyfus and decisive of his guilt, convinced Clemenceau,
not that Dreyfus was innocent, but that the judgment had been quite
irregular. Therefore he resolved to begin a campaign for a revision
of the case. He did not share Scheurer-Kestner's view as to the
enormous difficulty and danger of such an undertaking. Trouble and
misrepresentation he anticipated. Bitter opposition from the members
of the court and of the General Staff--Yes. Virulent misrepresentation
due to priestly hatred--Yes. Unceasing malignity of anti-Semites--Yes.
Strong political objection to any reopening of a "_chose jugée_," on
public grounds--Yes. But, in spite of all, the truth in modern France
would easily and triumphantly prevail! "Events showed me how very far
out I was in my calculations."

As on more than one occasion in his stormy life, therefore, Clemenceau
underrated the strength of the enemy. He had to contend against a
combination of some of the strongest interests and passions that
can affect human life and sentiment. There had been from the very
commencement a bitter feeling among some of the most powerful sections
of French society against the Republic. As was shown in the rise
of Boulanger, Clemenceau, by exposing the drawbacks of successive
Republican Governments, had done much to strengthen this feeling
among its opponents and to weaken the loyalty of its supporters.
There was, in fact, nothing in the Republic itself to be enthusiastic
about. It was essentially a bourgeois Republic, living on in a welter
of bourgeois scandals, unbalanced by any great policy at home, any
great military successes abroad, or any great personalities at the
head of affairs. The glories of France were dimmed: the financiers of
France--especially the Jew financiers--were more influential than ever.
All this helped the party of reaction.

Religion, too, had come in to fortify finance and build up the
anti-Semite group. The Catholics, to whom Jews and Free-Masons are
the red flags of the political and social bull ring, had not very
long before challenged the former to deadly combat in that Field of
the Cloth of Gold on which, to use the phrase of one of their less
enlightened competitors, they "do seem a sort of inspired." It is
possible that had the Catholic Union Générale listened to the advice
of their ablest and coolest brain, who was, be it said, neither a
Frenchman nor a Catholic, the great financial combination of the
Church, with all its sanctified funds of the faithful behind it, might
have won. Even as it was, it drove a Rothschild to commit suicide,
which was regarded as a great feat at the time.

But M. Bontoux was too ambitious, he did not possess the real financial
faculty, his first successes turned such head as he possessed. The
Jews, therefore, were able to work their will upon the whole of his
projects and groups, and the devout Catholic investors of Paris, Vienna
and other places had the intolerable mortification of seeing their
savings swept into the coffers of the infidel. This had happened some
years before the Dreyfus case. But losers have long memories, and here
was a sore monetary grievance superadded to the previous religious
hatred of the Hebrew.

Dreyfus was a Jew. Nay, more, he came of financial Jews who had had
their pickings out of the collapse of the Union Générale as well as out
of the guano and other concessions malignantly obtained in the Catholic
Republic of Peru. Monstrous that a man of that race and name should
be an officer in the French Army at all! Still more outrageous that
he should be placed by his ability and family influence in a position
of military importance, and entrusted with serious military secrets!
Something must be done.

Now the persons forming the most powerful coterie in the higher circles
of the French Army at this time were not only men who had been educated
at the famous military academy of St. Cyr and imbued with an _esprit
de corps_ cultivated from their school-days upwards, but they were
officers who believed heartily, if not in the religion, at any rate in
the beneficent secular persuasion of the Catholic Church. They were,
as was clearly shown, greatly influenced by the Jesuits, who saw the
enormous advantage of keeping in close touch with the chiefs of the
army.

Then there were the monarchists and Buonapartists, male and female, of
every light and shade, who were eagerly on the look-out for any stroke
that might discredit the new studious but scientific and unbelieving
class of officers, whom the exigencies of modern warfare were making
more and more essential to military efficiency. Their interest was to
keep as far as possible the main higher organisation and patronage of
the army and the General Staff a close borough and out of the hands of
these new men.

All this formed a formidable phalanx of organised enmity against any
officer who might not suit the prejudices or, at a critical moment,
might be dangerous to the plans of people who, differ as they might in
other matters, were at one in disliking capable soldiers who were not
of their particular set. And here was Dreyfus, who embodied in his own
person all their most cherished hatreds, who could be made the means of
striking a blow at all similar intruders upon their preserve, in such
wise as greatly to injure all their enemies at once. Unfortunately for
him, Dreyfus was at the same time an able officer--so much the more
dangerous, therefore--and personally not an agreeable man. Not even
their best friends would deny to clever Jews the virtue of arrogance.
Dreyfus was arrogant. He was not a grateful person to his superiors or
to his equals. They all wanted to get rid of him on their own account,
and their friends outside were ready enough to embitter them against
him because he was a Jew.

This is not to say that there was an elaborate plot afoot among all
who were brought in contact with Dreyfus, or that, when the charge
against him was formulated, there was a deliberate intention, on the
part of the members of the Court Martial, to find him guilty, no matter
what happened. But it is now quite certain that, from the first, the
idea that he was a spy was agreeable to his fellow-officers in the
Ministry of War; and, being satisfied as to his responsibility for the
crime that they wished to believe him guilty of, they did not stick
at trifles, in the matter of procedure and testimony, which might
relieve their consciences and justify their judgment. Knowing, then,
the powerful combination which would oppose to the death any revision
of Dreyfus's trial, Scheurer-Kestner, resolute and self-sacrificing as
he was, might well take a less sanguine view than Clemenceau of the
probabilities of certain victory as soon as the truth was made known.

But when once he began to doubt whether Dreyfus had had fair play,
Clemenceau immediately showed those qualities of personal and
political courage, persistence, disregard of popularity, and power
of concentrating all his forces upon the immediate matter in hand,
indifferent to the numbers and strength of his opponents, which had
gained him so high a place in the estimation of all democrats and
lovers of fair play long before. "If there are manifest probabilities
of error, the case must be revised." That was his view. But the
National Army and the National Religion, as bitter opponents of justice
put it, were one and indivisible on this matter. Militarism and
Jesuitism together, backed by the high society of reaction and a large
section of the bourgeoisie, constituted a stalwart array in favour of
the perpetuation of injustice. There was literally scarce a crime of
which this combination was not capable rather than admit that by any
possibility a Court Martial on a Jew captain could go wrong.

The Minister of War, General Billot, the Prime Ministers Méline and
Brisson, generals of high standing such as Mercier, Boisdeffre, Gonse,
Zurlinden and others, officers of lower rank and persons connected
with them, were gradually mixed up with and defended such a series
of attempted murders, ordered suicides, wholesale forgeries, defence
and decoration of exposed spies, perjury, misrepresentation and false
imprisonment that the marvel is how France survived such a tornado of
turpitude. Clemenceau little knew what it would all lead to when, by no
means claiming that Dreyfus was innocent, he and Scheurer-Kestner and
Zola and Jaurès, and all honest Radicals and Socialists, demanded that,
even if Dreyfus were guilty, he could not have been _legally_ condemned
on false evidence and forged documents: the latter never having been
communicated to his counsel. It was on this ground that Clemenceau
demanded a revision of the trial.

But quite early in the fray the defenders of the Court Martial became
desperate in their determination that the matter should never be
thoroughly investigated. The honour of the army was at stake. Colonel
Picquart, a man of the highest credit and capacity, comes to the
conclusion in the course of his official inspection of documents
at headquarters that the incriminating paper on which Dreyfus was
condemned, but which he was never allowed to see, was not in his
handwriting at all, but in that of Major Esterhazy, an officer disliked
and distrusted by all fellow-officers with whom he had served.
Picquart, in fact, suspected that Esterhazy was a Prussian spy and
that he forged the _bordereau_ which convinced the Court Martial of
Dreyfus's guilt. But before this, in 1894 when the story leaked out
that an officer having relations with the General Staff was suspected
of treachery, it was not Dreyfus whose name was first mentioned. His
old comrades said with one accord, "It must be Esterhazy: we thought
so." Esterhazy, however, soon made himself necessary to the army chiefs
and their Catholics. If his character was blasted publicly, down
these gentry would come, and with them the whole of the proceedings
against Dreyfus. They therefore suggested to Picquart that he should
simply hold his tongue. "_You_ are not at l'Ile du Diable," they said.
But Picquart would persist, so they sent him off to Tunis. However,
thanks to Scheurer-Kestner and others, the truth began to come out,
and Picquart still refused to be silenced. So instead of dealing with
Esterhazy, they arrested his accuser and gave the Major a certificate
of the very highest character.

As it began, so it went on. Clemenceau's daily articles and attacks
drove the militarists, the Catholics, the anti-Semites, and the
reactionaries generally, into a fury. Colonel Henry, Colonel Paty du
Clam, the Jesuit Father du Lac, the editors and contributors of the
_Figaro_, the _Echo de Paris_ (the special organ of the Staff), the
_Gaulois_ were in a permanent conspiracy with the generals named above,
and the General Staff itself, to prevent the truth from being known. It
was all of no use. Picquart under lock and key was more effective than
Picquart at large. Slowly but surely men of open mind became convinced
that, little as they wished to believe it, something was wrong. But
these were always the minority. Few could grasp the fact that an
innocent man was being put in chains on the Ile du Diable, virtually
because there was an agitation in favour of his re-trial in Paris.

Then came Zola's terrible letter in the _Aurore_, which Clemenceau had
suggested, and gave up his daily article in order to give place to.
He also supplied the title "_J'Accuse_." Zola summed up the whole
evidence relentlessly against the General Staff and its tools and
forgers, Esterhazy, Henry, Paty du Clam and the rest of them.

Such an indictment, formulated by a novelist who was universally
recognised as one of the leading men of letters in Europe, quite
outside of the political arena, would have attracted attention at
any time. In the midst of a period when all feelings and minds were
wrought up to the highest point of tension, it came as a direct and
heavy blow at the whole of the military party. It is difficult to
realise to-day the sensation produced. It had all the effect of a
combined attack of horse, foot and artillery for which preparation
had been made long before by a successful bombardment. There was no
effective answer possible in words. This the military cliques and
their friends at once saw and acted upon. They abandoned discussion
and forced Zola and _l'Aurore_ into court on a charge of treason and
libel. The action stirred all Europe and riveted attention throughout
the civilised world. This was due not merely to Zola's great reputation
and popularity, to the political position held by Clemenceau, to the
enthralling interest of the Dreyfus affair itself, to the excitement of
the life-and-death struggle between freedom and reaction, but to the
fact that behind all this lay the never-dying hostility of Germany to
France.

All this was too much for the criminal champions of "the honour of
the Army." _L'Aurore_ and Zola must be prosecuted. They were. And
Clemenceau conducted his own defence. It was a crucial case, and the
famous advocate Labori had previously done his best for Zola, pointing
out that the whole drama turned on the prisoner then suffering at the
Ile du Diable: perhaps the most infamous criminal, perhaps a martyr,
the victim of human fallibility. He had shown, however, that "all the
powers for Justice are combined _against_ Justice," and had called for
the revision of a great case.

"After the jury have adjudicated, public opinion and France herself
will judge you," said Clemenceau himself. "You have been told that a
document was privately communicated to the Court. Do you understand
what that means? It means that a man is tried, is condemned, is covered
with ignominy, his own name, that of his wife, of his children, of his
father, of all his connections eternally blasted, on the faith of a
document he had never been shown. Gentlemen, who among you would not
revolt at the very idea of being condemned under such conditions? Who
among you would not adjure us to demand justice for you if, brought
before a tribunal, after a mockery of investigation, after a purely
formal discussion, the judges, meeting out of your presence, decided
on your honour and your life, condemning you, without appeal, on a
document of whose very existence you were kept in ignorance? Who among
you would quietly submit to such a decision? If this has been done, I
tell you your one duty above all others is that such a case should be
re-tried."

That was the main point, as Clemenceau saw even more clearly than
M. Labori. No man, guilty or innocent, could be justly condemned
and sentenced on the strength of a written document the purport and
even the existence of which had been deliberately concealed from the
prisoner and his counsel. It scarcely needed further argument, not
even the direct proof which was forthcoming that Colonel Sandherr,
the president of the Court Martial, had a bitter and unreasoning
prejudice against Jews. If the validity of the document had been beyond
all possibility of question; if witnesses whose good faith had been
unquestionable had seen Dreyfus write it with their own eyes: even
then the trial was legally vitiated by the fact that it had not been
shown to the accused. But if the document was forged----? All the other
points, serious as some of them were, counted little by the side of
this.

That, therefore, Clemenceau dealt with most persistently. That,
therefore, the General Staff, with its coterie of Jesuits, anti-Semites
and spies, was determined to cover up. The generals who bore witness in
the case against Zola and _l'Aurore_ showed by their threats and their
admissions they knew that it was they themselves and the members of
the secret Court Martial who were really on their trial at the bar of
public opinion.

It was in this sense that Clemenceau closed his memorable defence.
He declared against the forger of the _bordereau_, the Prussian spy,
Esterhazy, who was sheltered and honoured by the chiefs of the French
Army. "Yes, it is we," he cried, amid derisive shouts and howls in
court, "it is we who are the defenders of the army, when we call upon
you to drive Esterhazy out of it. The conscious or unconscious enemies
of the army are those who propose to cashier Picquart and retain
Esterhazy. Gentlemen of the jury, a general has come here to talk to
you about your children. Tell me now which of them would like to find
himself in Esterhazy's battalion? Tell me, would you hand over your
sons to this officer to lead against the enemy? The very question is
enough. Who does not know the answer before it is given?

"Gentlemen of the jury, I have done. We have passed through terrible
experiences in this century. We have known glory and disaster in every
form, we are even at this moment face to face with the unknown. Fears
and hopes encompass us around. Grasp the opportunity as we ourselves
have grasped it. Be masters of your own destinies. A people sitting in
judgment on itself is a noble thing. A stirring scene also is a people
deciding on its own future. Your task, gentlemen of the jury, is to
pronounce a verdict less upon us than upon yourselves. We are appearing
before you. You will appear before history."



                             CHAPTER XIII

                        THE DREYFUS AFFAIR (II)


This trial of Zola and _l'Aurore_ was the greatest crisis in the long
succession of crises which centred themselves round Dreyfus. The more
serious the evidence against the conduct of the Court Martial and the
honour of the army, the more truculent became the attitude of the
militarists, Catholics, anti-Semites and their following. Passion
swept away every vestige of judgment or reason. There was no pretence
of fair play to the defendants. Inside the Court, which was packed
to overflowing, inarticulate roars came from the audience when any
telling argument or conclusive piece of testimony was put in on the
side of truth and justice. Outside, an infuriated mob of reactionists
demanded the lives of the accused. The smell of blood was in the air.
The likelihood of organised massacre grew more obvious every day.
Clemenceau told me himself--and he does not know what fear is--that if
Zola had been acquitted, instead of being condemned, the Dreyfusards
present would have been slaughtered in court.

How determined the whole unscrupulous and desperate clique were to
carry their defence of injustice to the last ditch was displayed when
M. Brisson, the President of the Republic, himself a man credited with
austere probity and cool courage, was forced by them to authorise
proceedings against Colonel Picquart, because he had offered the
highest personage in France to help him to discover the truth. Picquart
was therefore to be victimised still further: likewise for the honour
of the army! He was duly incarcerated and degraded. France herself was
being found guilty and cashiered by the persecution of this high-minded
and courageous colonel. Esterhazy runs away when his treachery and
forgeries are finally exposed. Clemenceau and the Dreyfusards are
willing that he should have a safe-conduct back again, if his coming
will help to manifest the truth. A very different attitude towards
a culprit convicted, not by a secret Court Martial, but by his own
public actions and admissions. Yet General Gonse and the General Staff
were ready at first to aid and support Colonel Picquart in exposing
Major Esterhazy, as only a German spy, in constant communication and
collusion with Colonel Schwartzkopfen, acting on behalf of the German
Army and the German Government. Esterhazy was no direct agent of the
French Staff! When, however, it was discovered that Colonel Picquart's
investigations went far to clear Captain Dreyfus altogether, and proved
that he had at any rate been condemned on a forged document, _then_
Picquart himself was to be treated as a criminal, unless he suppressed
the truth at once, and held his tongue for ever.

And so this extraordinary case was now being tried in the open street
before the public of France and of the world--for every civilised
nation followed the changes and chances of Dreyfus's martyrdom--and so
day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year,
Clemenceau, Scheurer-Kestner, Jaurès and the Socialists fought on for
a re-trial. The highest Court of judicature in France, worthy of its
history, accorded the right of appeal. A sense of doubt was beginning
to creep through the community. Thereupon, the Generals, their Church,
their Press, their Mob, _their_ Army, began afresh a very devil dance
of organised forgery, calumny, perjury, vituperation, attempted murder
and concomitant infamies.

Looking back at that period of desperate antagonism, it seems strange
that open conflict should have been averted. It was no fault of the
General Staff and its myrmidons that it did not break out. That such a
result of their campaign of injustice and provocation would have been
welcomed by many of the chiefs of the French Army is beyond question.
At more than one juncture the outlook was so threatening that two, if
not three, pretenders to the throne of France were in the country at
the same time. Things did not take the turn they expected, and they
went off again. All this was known, of course, to Clemenceau, who was
also well aware that a great deal more lay behind the Dreyfus affair
than the guilt or innocence of Dreyfus. Nor did the fact by any means
escape him that those semi-occult ecclesiastical influences which had
been against him all his life, not for personal reasons, but because
he was a Radical, a free-thinker and a champion of free speech, a free
press, secular and gratuitous education, and separation of Church and
State--that those hidden powers were at work behind the General Staff
in the Dreyfus case in the hope of gaining ground on a side issue which
they were losing steadily on the main field of battle.

This it was which made the collision between the two opposing forces so
critical an event for France. This, too, accounted for the desperation
of the losing party.

The Jesuits of the Dreyfus affair had none of the diabolical far-seeing
coolness of the type represented by the Père Rodin in Eugène Sue's
_Wandering Jew_. They were infuriated fanatics whose unreasoning
anxiety to torture and burn their heretic opponents was reflected in
the blundering mendacity and undisguised hatred of their tools of the
military Staff. Hence, in the long run, they delivered themselves into
the hands of the Frenchmen of the future--Zola, Jaurès, Picquart and
Clemenceau. Clemenceau's daily articles, which constituted the most
formidable barrage on behalf of Dreyfus, make up five closely printed
volumes. They are full of life and fire; but they are full also of
crushing argument enforced with irony and sarcasm and illustrated by
telling references to recent history. Abuse and misrepresentation could
not permanently hold their own in a discussion thus conducted. Forgery
and perjury when brought home to the real criminals necessarily made
their case worse. Nothing is more surprising than the lack of dexterity
and acumen on the part of the reactionary forces. They forgot that a
bludgeon is a poor weapon against a rapier in the hand of an expert.

Thus it came about that after a long contest, whose interest, even for
outsiders, was maintained throughout by tragical incidents such as the
suicide of Colonel Henry--the forger for _esprit de corps_ as Esterhazy
was the forger for money and power--the attempted poisoning of Picquart
and the attack upon Labori, a re-trial was forced from the Government
of the day. The names of the chief opponents are already forgotten,
such minor actors and apologists of injustice, forgers and spies on the
"right side" were never remembered. Who now cares whether the _petit
bleu_ was written by Schwartzkopfen or not? Who can recall what Major
Lauth did or bore witness to? The trail of the serpent is over them
all. That is what the world bears in mind to-day. The broad features
of the drama are recorded on the cinema film of history. The faces and
characters of the villains of the piece are already blotted out. Only
the heroes of the conflict remain. And of these heroes Clemenceau might
fairly claim to be the chief. The re-trial at Rennes was, when all is
said, mainly his work.

What a re-trial it was! The Court was still a Court Martial. The
president of the court, Colonel Jouaust, was still a violently
prejudiced officer. The judges behind him were all inspired by that
fatal _esprit de corps_ which accepts and acts upon the Jesuit motto
that the end justifies the means, where the interests of a particular
set of men are concerned. In fact, the combination in favour of
military injustice remained what it had been throughout: a body
resolved that, come what might, the victim of the forged document and
other criminal acts should not be formally acquitted, even if monstrous
illegality at the first trial forced a revision.

Nearly five years had now elapsed from the date of Dreyfus's original
condemnation, when, released from his imprisonment, he stood at the
Bar after that long period of physical and moral torture. Clemenceau
is not a man of sentiment: he had long doubted whether Dreyfus was
really innocent: even the outrageous proceedings at the first Court
Martial had failed to convince him that there might not be something
behind the forged _bordereau_, concealed from the prisoner, which
could in a degree justify his judges: not until the close of the case
against Zola and _l'Aurore_ was his mind made up that, "consciously
or unconsciously," a terrible crime had been committed. But now, with
Dreyfus himself present, with all the old witnesses contradicting, more
directly than ever, one another's testimony, yet allowed incredible
licence of exposition and explanation by the Court; with the evidence
of General Gonse, General Mercier, Roget, Cinquet, Gribelin, Lauth and
Junck cut to ribands by the questions of Dreyfus's advocates; with
Colonel Picquart brought up short by Colonel Jouaust, who had allowed
all sorts of long-winded and irreconcilable accounts to be given
by his favourites subject to no interruption--with all this almost
inconceivable unfairness going on all day and every day through the
Rennes Court Martial, Clemenceau seems to have been really affected,
not only by the injustice done, but by the personal sufferings which
the prisoner on trial had undergone and was undergoing.

Colonel Jouaust's interruption of Colonel Picquart's closely knit but
passionless statement by the exclamation "_Encore!_" was destined
to become famous. It summed up in one word the whole tone of the
prosecuting judges on the Bench. Yet as the case proceeded and the
criticisms of Clemenceau and his coadjutors became still more scathing
than they had been before, it was difficult to see how even a suborned
court could avoid a verdict of acquittal. But this Court dared not
be just. There was too much at stake. The whole of the chiefs of the
army had taken sides against the prisoner. They were there to secure
condemnation of Dreyfus again at all costs. The Court, headed by
Colonel Jouaust, was forced to do the same. It was the "Honour of the
Army" backed by Esterhazy, Henry and Sandherr against the character of
one miserable Jew. There could be no hesitation under such conditions.
Dreyfus was found "Guilty, with extenuating circumstances."
Extenuating circumstances in the dealings of a spy and a traitor who,
not being in any pressing pecuniary need whatever, had deliberately
and infamously sold France to the enemy! Not one of the five judges
who rendered this verdict could really have believed Dreyfus to be
guilty. France was more dishonoured by this decision than if the Court
had definitely declared against the whole weight of the evidence that
Dreyfus was a traitor.

Dreyfus was thereafter "pardoned" and released. That special plot of
the anti-Republican clerico-military syndicate of Father du Lac, to
use Clemenceau's phraseology, had after all miscarried. As the result
of incredible efforts Dreyfus was at last a free man. The world could
judge of the character of his accusers and of his champions. It did
judge, and that verdict has never been revised. A gross injustice had
been partly remedied but could never be fully obliterated. That Dreyfus
was innocent the world at large had no doubt.

Yet, strange to say, there are still men, who certainly had no feeling
against Dreyfus but quite the contrary, who were not convinced. I have
heard this view expressed from several quarters, but the opinions of
two personal friends of the most different character and career made a
considerable impression upon me at the time. The first was my friend,
the late George Henty, well known as a special correspondent and author
of exceedingly successful books for boys. Henty was a thorough-going
Tory, but he had no doubt that Dreyfus was a terribly ill-used man and
the victim of a foul plot--until he went over to France to watch the
re-trial by court martial at Rennes. He returned in quite a different
frame of mind. He knew I was entirely favourable to Dreyfus, as he
himself had been when he crossed the Channel. Meeting him by accident,
I asked him his opinion: "All I can tell you, Hyndman, is that I
watched the man carefully throughout and he made a very bad impression
upon me indeed. The longer I looked at him the worse I felt about him.
I don't deny for a moment that his first trial was abominably conducted
and that he was entitled to fair play. I daresay I may be all wrong,
the weight of the evidence might have overborne me as a juryman. But,
as it was, I felt that if I myself had been one of the jury I should
have given a verdict against him. The man looked and spoke like a spy,
and if he isn't a spy," Henty went on in his impulsive way, "I'll
be damned if he oughtn't to be one." That, of course, is simply the
statement of an impressionable Englishman, who, however, understood
what was going on.

The other anti-Dreyfusard was a very different personality. It was the
famous German Social-Democrat Wilhelm Liebknecht. I knew him well.
A man of a cooler temper or a more judicial mind I never met. As I
have mentioned elsewhere, he and Jaurès, the great French Socialist
leader and orator, were staying with me together in Queen Anne's
Gate, just after the Rennes Court Martial. Jaurès had done immense
service in the Dreyfus matter, second only to that of Clemenceau. He
had studied the evidence thoroughly on both sides. Like Clemenceau,
he had been forced to the conclusion that such methods of defence
would never have been used, unless they had been necessary to cover
up the unjust condemnation of an innocent man, who was known to his
judges to _be_ innocent shortly after he had been shipped off to his
place of punishment. Jaurès's articles in _La Petite République_ had
helped Dreyfus greatly in one way, though in another they told against
him, as the Socialists themselves were unfairly charged with being
anti-patriots and even in German pay. There seemed no possibility
that he could be mistaken. Liebknecht was just as strong on the other
side. He was confident that Dreyfus was a traitor. One of his main
contentions rested on the statement that there existed an honourable
understanding, never broken under any circumstances, between civilised
Governments that, should a man be wrongfully accused of being a spy and
be brought to trial for that offence, the foreign Government which he
was supposed to be serving should notify the other Government concerned
that it had got hold of the wrong man. Now the German Government
had never done this in any way, at any period of the Dreyfus affair.
Of this Liebknecht affirmed he was absolutely certain. Statements as
to Dreyfus's innocence had been made by German military officers;
but the German Government itself, which knew everything, had never
moved. Therefore, urged Liebknecht, Dreyfus was a spy. But the German
Socialist leader gave his own view too. "Have either of you," he asked
Jaurès and myself, "read carefully through the verbatim report of the
re-trial at Rennes?" I admitted I had not. Jaurès said he had. "Well,"
Liebknecht went on, "I was where I was in a position to read the whole
of the pleading and the evidence day by day and word by word. For I was
in prison the whole of the time, and the study of the verbatim report
was my daily avocation. I am as certain as I can be of anything of the
kind that Dreyfus had disclosed secrets to our Government. He may have
done so in order to secure more important information in return. That
is possible. But communicate French secrets to Germany, in my opinion,
he unquestionably did."

We debated the matter fully several times. Nothing Jaurès or I could
say shook Liebknecht's conviction. Nor was it shaken to the day of
his death. I have heard since, on good authority, that more than one
of those who had risked much for Dreyfus never spoke to him again
after the Rennes re-trial. That may easily have arisen from personal
causes, for Dreyfus was not an agreeable man. But I have no ground for
believing that Clemenceau ever saw reason to waver in his opinion in
the slightest degree.

I recall this now, when the lapse of years has calmed down all
excitement and many of the chief actors are dead, to show how, apart
from the mass of sheer prejudice and unscrupulous rascality which
had to be faced and overcome, there was also an element of honest
intellectual doubt among the anti-Dreyfusards. The presence of this
element in the background made Clemenceau's task more difficult than it
would otherwise have been. Even at the present time there may be found
capable observers who lived through the whole conflict, certainly
not sympathetic to militarism, Catholicism or anti-Semitism, who are
still ready to argue that Dreyfus may have been ill-used but that he
deserved the fate to which he was originally condemned! This, however,
may be said with perfect truth, that the victory of his opponents over
Clemenceau, Jaurès, Zola and all they represented would have been a
disaster to France, whatever view may be taken of Dreyfus himself.

In 1906 the first report of the Committee appointed to examine into the
whole of the Dreyfus case was presented. It exonerated Dreyfus from all
blame, declared him to have been the victim of a conspiracy based upon
perjury and forgery. This report secured the complete annulment of the
condemnation at Rennes and restored him to his position in the army,
after years of martyrdom.



                              CHAPTER XIV

                           AS ADMINISTRATOR


At this time Clemenceau, owing to his apparently resolute determination
not to take office, no matter how many Ministries he might successfully
bring to naught, had got into a backwater. He had become permanently
Senator for the Department of the Var in 1902, a startling, almost
incomprehensible move when his continued furious opposition to that
body is remembered. However, having thus made unto himself friends of
the mammon of unrighteousness, he found their "eternal habitations" a
not unpleasing dwelling-place. His position as publicist and journalist
was assured and nothing could shake it; his criticisms by speech and
pen were as telling and vigorous as ever. But at sixty-five years of
age he was still a free-lance, a force which all parties were obliged
to consider but with which no Ministry could come to terms. It was a
strange position. So his countrymen thought. Those who most admired
his ability and his career saw no outlet for his marvellous energy
that would be permanently beneficial to the country in a constructive
sense. Perhaps no politician of any nation ever so persistently refused
to "range himself" as did Clemenceau for thirty-five years of stormy
public life. He revelled in opposition: he rejoiced in overthrow. He
was on the side of the people, but he would not help them to realise
their aspirations in practical life. He was a political philosopher
compact of incompatibilities. As an individualist he was a stalwart
champion of individual freedom: as a man of affairs he advocated the
use of State power to limit the anarchic domination of personal power.

There was no understanding such a man. He would remain a brilliant
Frenchman of whom all were proud until the end, when he would be buried
with public honours as the champion Ishmaelite of his age. "When
I saw he doubted about everything, I decided that I needed nobody
to keep me ignorant," wrote Voltaire. Much the same idea prevailed
about Clemenceau. He was the universal sceptic: the man whose sole
intellectual enjoyment was to point out the limitless incapacity of
others with epigrammatic zeal. I myself, who had watched him closely,
was afraid that he would allow all opportunities for displaying his
really great faculties in a ministerial capacity to slip by and leave
to his friends only the mournful task of writing his epitaph: "Here
lies Clemenceau the destroyer who could have been a creator."

But this was all nonsense. "_Ce jeune homme_"--Clemenceau will die
young--"_d'un si beau passé_" had also before him _un bel avenir_.
Nothing is certain with Clemenceau but the unforeseen. At the very
time when people had made up their minds that he was a back number, he
had a brand-new volume of his adventures ready for the press. After a
few conversations with M. Rouvier and then with M. Sarrien, he became
Minister of the Interior in the latter's Cabinet. He took office for
the first time on March 12th, 1906, at a very stirring epoch.

It is difficult to exaggerate the impression produced by this step
on the part of M. Clemenceau. His accession to M. Sarrien's Cabinet
eclipsed in interest every other political event. Here was the great
political leader and organiser of opposition, the Radical of Radicals,
the man who had declined the challenge alike of friends and of enemies
to take office, time after time, at last seated in a ministerial chair.
All his past rose up around him. The destroyer of opportunism: the Guy
Earl of Warwick of ministries: the universal critic; the immolator
of Jules Perry and many another statesman; the one Frenchman who had
maintained the ideals of the French Revolution against all comers--this
terrible champion of democracy _à outrance_ now placed himself in the
official hierarchy, whence he had so often ousted others. His victims
of yesterday could be his critics of to-day. How would this terrible
upsetter of Cabinets act as a Minister himself? That was what all the
world waited with impatience to see. They had not days, but only hours
to wait.

That was the time when, M. Delcassé having been forced to resign
from the Foreign Office, almost, it may be said, at the dictation of
Germany, the Morocco affair was still in a very dangerous condition,
threatening the peace of France and of Europe. But even the critical
negotiations at Algeciras were for the moment overshadowed by a
terrific colliery disaster in the Courrières-Lens district, causing
the death of more miners than had ever been killed before by a similar
catastrophe. This horrible incident occurred but a few days before
Clemenceau became Minister of the Interior, and it fell within the
immediate sphere of his official duties.

The mines where the accident occurred had long been regarded as very
dangerous, fire-damp being known to pervade them from time to time,
and the miners throughout the coal regions had long held that the
owners had never taken proper precautions to ensure the safety of the
men. They went down the pits day after day, not only to work on very
difficult and narrow seams, but at the hourly risk of their lives.
Owing to the great social and political influence of the mine-owners
it was practically impossible to get anything done, and the general
treatment of the men employed was worse than is usual even in those
districts in our own and other countries where coal magnates are
masters. The pitmen under such conditions were less cared for and more
harshly treated than animals, probably because they were less costly
and could be more easily replaced.

Three days before the main explosion there had been an outburst of
fire-damp at a small adjacent mine, whose workings were in direct
communication with the larger pits. This alone ought to have been taken
as a serious warning to the engineers in control. But markets were
good, coal was in great demand, the "hands" were there to take risks.
So this minor difficulty was dealt with in a cheap and convenient
way, and the extraction of coal went on upon a large scale from the
imperilled shafts as it did before. Meanwhile the dangerous gases were
all the time oozing in from the smaller pit to the larger ones. For
three days this went steadily on, and nothing whatever was done, either
in the way of taking further precautions where the original danger
began, or of testing the character of the air in the bigger mines to
which the other pit had access.

On Saturday, March 10th, no fewer than 1,800 men went down the shafts
into the mines. A full account of what actually took place could never
be given. All that was learned from the survivors was that the miners
working with bare lights in these dangerous pits suddenly encountered
an influx of fire-damp. Explosion after explosion took place. The
unfortunate men below, threatened at once with suffocation or being
burned alive, rushed in headlong disorder for the cages which would
lift them to the surface. Horrible scenes inevitably took place. Those
in front were pressed on by those behind, who, as one of them expressed
it, were breathing burning air. For the majority there was and there
could be no hope. Out of the 1,800 miners who went down in the morning,
more than 1,150 were either stifled by the gas or burnt alive. The
heroism displayed by the pitmen themselves, in their partially
successful endeavours to rescue their entombed comrades, was the only
bright feature in the whole of this frightful disaster. Some of these
fine fellows went down to what seemed certain death, and others worked
at excavation until almost dead themselves in their efforts to save a
few from the general fate. No wonder that the feeling throughout the
neighbourhood was desperately bitter.

The war, sad to say, has much modified our general conception of
the value of human life, even when unnecessarily thrown away. But
sacrifices for a great cause on the battlefield or on the ocean,
however serious, are made as a rule for high ideals. They differ widely
from the loss of life deliberately occasioned by capitalist neglect or
greed. Thus a mining accident on a large scale, or a conflagration
in a peaceful city, produces a stronger impression on the public mind
than the loss of ten or twenty times the number of soldiers or sailors
in a world-wide struggle. Among the widows and children and relations
and comrades of the victims on the spot the exasperation against the
employers was still greater. Class hatred and personal hatred were
excited to a very high pitch.

This was the more natural for two reasons. First, the company on whose
property the immolation of so many pitmen had occurred, and to whose
mismanagement and cold-blooded indifference the avoidable explosions
were due, had made enormous, almost incredible profits. From dividends
of fifty per cent. in 1863 their returns had risen to profits of 1,000
per cent. in 1905. Yet they could not spare the comparatively small sum
necessary to safeguard the lives of the men who obtained this wealth
for the shareholders. Secondly, the Germans, who rendered assistance
in the attempts to rescue the Frenchmen still in the workings below,
openly proclaimed that it was quite impossible--as indeed was the
truth--that such an accident on such a scale should have occurred in
Germany. That the Empire in Germany should be far more careful of
the lives and limbs of the miners than the Republic in France, and
that huge profits should have been made still huger by the refusal of
the French coal-owners to adopt the ordinary precautions enforced by
law on the other side of the frontier--these considerations, driven
home by the results of the great catastrophe, rendered the situation
exceedingly perilous from every point of view. A strike for increased
wages seemed a very poor outcome of the horrors inflicted upon the
actual producers of the coal under such conditions.

Clemenceau was perhaps the best man in the country to deal with the
miners at such a juncture. A Socialist of mining experience would
possibly have taken more decidedly the side of the men, but he would
not have been able to carry with him to the same extent the support of
the Chambers. And Clemenceau had gone very far already on collectivist
lines. Not many years before, in an article on "The Right to Strike,"
he had put the case of the men very strongly indeed. In a vehement
protest against the theory of supply and demand, as applied to the
human beings compelled to sell labour power as a commodity, and the
political economy of the profiteers based upon subsistence wages
for the workers--all being for the best in the best of possible
worlds--Clemenceau set forth how the system worked in practice:--

"The State _gives_ to some sleek, well-set-up bourgeois immense
coal-fields below ground. These fine fellows turn to men less well
dressed than themselves, but who are men all the same, men with the
same wants, the same feelings, the same capacity for enjoyment and
suffering, and say: 'We will grant you subsistence; sink us some pits
in the earth; go below and bring us up coal, which we will sell at a
good price.'

"Agreed. The pits are sunk, the coal comes out of the earth.

"But, observe, those comfortable bourgeois for their outlay of _five
hundred francs_ (£20) have now a bit of paper which is worth _forty
thousand francs_ (£1,600).

"The miners, who watch what is going on, think this a good deal, and,
as they have got nothing by way of profit, they protest and ask for a
share.

"'That, my friend, is impossible. The price of coal has fallen this
year, the price of man must come down in proportion. All I could do for
you is to reduce your wages. You object to that. All right; down the
shaft you go: don't let us talk about it any more.'

"But the men won't go down.

"'You don't make money this year. All right. But when you made huge
profits, did you give us even the crumbs from your banquet?'

"'I wasn't a shareholder then; it was my father.'

"'_My_ father, like myself, was a miner. He died of consumption, his
lungs choked with coal-dust. Now it is my turn to cough and spit black.
And my wife, looking at her babes, asks herself whether I shall live
long enough for them to be old enough, before my death, to go down into
the mine which will kill them in turn. If I crack up too soon, misery,
ruin, beggary, wholesale wretchedness for wife and children.'

"They don't come to terms. The strike begins.

"Economists argue, to begin with, that the State has no right to
interfere in the relations between miners and mine-owners. The
mine-owner is at home on his own property. Certain securities for life
and limb may be demanded, nothing more. But no sooner does a strike
begin than the State, which five minutes ago had no right to interfere,
is called upon to bring in horse, foot and artillery on the side of the
coal-owners. Then the miners have no rights left, and the judges decide
against them on shameless pretexts and condemn them to prison, when
they cannot bear false witness in support of the police and military."

Such were Clemenceau's views on the right to strike and the grievances
of the men, before he accepted the post of Minister of the Interior and
began to deal with the troublous state of things at Courrières-Lens,
where the terrible accident had occurred and a strike had been entered
upon, while the entire district was in a state of mind bordering upon
anarchist revolt.

The first step he took was as bold and as remarkable an act as any
in the whole of his adventurous life. He went down at once to Lens
himself. Arrived there, he walked straight off, without any escort
whatever, to meet and confer with the committee of the miners
themselves. Courageous and honourable as this was, it failed at first
to impress the strike committee. This was natural enough. They were
lamenting the wholesale butchery of their comrades and were incensed
against the employers who, with hundreds upon hundreds of dead pitmen
below, would not deal fairly with the survivors. Clemenceau therefore
met with a very cool reception. But he was nothing daunted, and began
to address them. Gradually, he convinced the committee that he meant
fairly by the men, and that he had not come down, alone and unarmed as
he was, with any intention of suppressing the strike, but, so far as
he could, to see that they had the fairest of fair play, according to
their rights under the law.

Thereupon, the committee agreed that Clemenceau should go with them
to speak to a mass meeting of the miners. It was a doubtful venture,
but Clemenceau went. In the course of his speech he reassured the men
upon the attitude of the Government as represented by himself. He
told them plainly: "You are entitled to strike. You will be protected
by the law in doing all which the law permits. Your rights are equal
to the rights of President or Ministers. But the rights of others
must not be attacked. The mines must not be destroyed. For the first
time, you will see no soldiers in the street during the strike. True,
soldiers have been placed in the mines, but solely to protect them,
not in any way to injure you. On the other hand, you must not resort
to violence yourselves. The strike can be carried on peacefully and
without interference. Respect the mines upon which you depend for your
livelihood."

This was quite plain, and Clemenceau adhered to his own programme as
he had formulated it. But the difficulty was apparent from the first,
and it is a difficulty which must always recur when a great strike
is organised. If the State claims the right to intervene, in order
to protect the laws and liberties of those who wish to work for the
employers, in spite of the strike and the decisions of the strikers,
antagonism to such action is practically certain beforehand. For,
in this case, as the strikers say, the State is using the forces of
the military and the police in order to protect "blacklegs" who, by
offering their labour to the employers at such a time of acute class
war, act in the interests of the coal-owners and against the mass of
the workers. Socialists argue that the strikers are sound in their
contention, and that by assuring to non-strikers the right to work the
Government practically nullifies the right to strike. When, therefore,
in this typical Courrières case, the strikers as a whole remained out,
notwithstanding certain insufficient offers by the coal-owners, and a
minority of non-strikers claimed the help of the law, with support
of the State army, to weaken by their surrender the position of the
majority of their fellow-workers in the same industry, then the ethics
of the dispute between sections of the miners could not be so easily
determined as M. Clemenceau from his individualist training assumed.

If the employers were in the wrong, as it appears they were, then to
call out the military to protect those miners who showed themselves
ready to make immediate terms with injustice was, however good the
intention, to take sides against the main body of the men. So it
seemed to these latter. When, therefore, the soldiers defended the
non-strikers, the strikers assailed the military, who had not attacked
them. Clemenceau accordingly decided that the strikers had broken the
law, as undoubtedly they had, by stoning and injuring the servants of
the State, who were upholding the law as it stood. The truth is that,
so long as these antagonistic sections exist among the working class,
and persist in fighting one another, it is practically impossible for
the State not to intervene in order to keep the peace. There may be
no sympathy with blacklegs, but the Minister of the Interior could
scarcely be blamed for protecting them against an infuriated mob, which
would probably have killed them, or for insisting upon the release of
those whom the strikers had seized. That the temper of the crowd had
become highly dangerous was apparent a little later, when the Socialist
Mayor was knocked down as he was trying to calm them.

All this rendered M. Clemenceau's second and third visits to the scene
of class warfare far more stormy than the first. Owing to the horror
and hatred created by the avoidable holocaust in the Courrières mines,
and the further discovery that engineers appointed by the State had
played into the hands of the employers, the situation got worse from
day to day. The strike itself was not only an effort to get more wages,
but a declaration of hostility to the mine-owners, and those of the
miners' own class who showed any tenderness towards them, or were ready
to take work under them. Their own leaders and representatives had
no longer any influence with the men or control over them. M. Basly,
the deputy who acted throughout for the miners, had as little power
over the strikers as anybody else. The whole movement was taking an
anarchist turn. Also, agents were at work among them both from the
reactionary and the revolutionary side whose main object, for very
different reasons, was to foster disturbance and influence passion.
Foreign emissaries likewise were said to be at work.

Clemenceau's task was therefore an exceedingly hard one. He had ever
in mind the old eighteenth-century watchword which, from his point of
view, is the foundation of the French Republic--Liberty, Equality and
Fraternity. And the greatest of these is liberty! He throughout forgot,
or overlooked, that, even according to his own pronouncements, liberty
in any real sense is impossible for the weaker--the majority who own no
property--against the stronger--"Les Plus Forts," the minority who own
all the property. This triune fetish Clemenceau, with all his keenness
of criticism, might be said to worship: yet to worship in a more or
less reasonable way. He could not shut his eyes to the truth that, for
men and women whose livelihood was at the mercy of capitalists, there
could be no real liberty, dominated as the workers were by their daily
compulsion to obtain the wherewithal for the necessaries of life. The
only way by which even partial justice could be secured, under the
system of payment of wages, was combination among the wage-earners.
Hence he recognises the liberty to strike. But he was equally
determined, as he puts it, to defend the liberty of those who would not
strike. It was logical: it was in harmony with the law; but it was a
virtual help to the employers none the less.

On the occasion of his second visit he enforced his view in his usual
emphatic way. Three miners who would not join the strike were being
paraded through the town by the strikers with an insulting placard hung
around their necks: "_Nous sommes des poires cuites; des faux frères._"
Clemenceau insisted that they should be released, and succeeded in
freeing them. The very fact, however, that it was possible for the
strikers to act in this way, without protest, showed how small was the
minority and how strong the feeling against these claimants of the
liberty of taking the other side. Clemenceau likewise acted with vigour
against all who were guilty of any violence. But the strikes still
spread.

Speaking at Lyons on May 3rd, he explained the difficulties of the
situation:--"My position is between the political demagogues of the
Church, the clericals and the reactionaries on one side, who tried
hard to hound on the troops I was forced to call in to fire upon
the strikers, who greatly provoked them. This the ecclesiastics and
restorationists did with the hope of fomenting a revolt against the
Republic--a revolt supported by certain military chiefs, inspired by
the clericals and their shameless lack of discipline." The Separation
of Church and State was being decided while all this was going on.
"Their object was to bring about a massacre in the interest of the
Catholic Church and the monarchy. This plot was frustrated. Butchery
was avoided.

"On the other side, I am accused by the revolutionary Socialists of
indulging in brutal military oppression because I suppress anarchist
rioting. This though no striker was killed or wounded. I acted for
tranquillity, while the monarchists fostered disturbances. They wanted
a Government of the Republic which should rely for support solely
on the Right. The anarchists helped the monarchists, who had agents
throughout the perturbed districts, by denouncing the Republic and
excusing mob violence. Yet how stood the case? Was it I who organised
a campaign of panic? Was it I who was responsible for the original
explosion and strike? Was it I who brought about the state of things
which resulted in general disturbance and might have tended towards
another _coup d'état_? Nothing of the sort. I was suddenly called upon
to deal with unexpected troubles. I acted for the maintenance of the
Republic, and kept the peace under the law."

By taking office at the time when he did it was at once apparent
that Clemenceau had brought himself into the full whirlpool of strike
difficulties which then arose. He was called upon to solve in everyday
life, as a man committed to a policy of justice to the workers,
problems which, at critical moments, are almost insoluble under the
capitalist system of wage-earning and production for profit. Has any
section of the community the right to hold up the life of a nation
or a great city in order to secure advantages for itself? At first
sight the answer would undoubtedly be "No." But if the conditions of
existence for those who act in this way are admittedly such as ought
not to continue in any civilised country, it is not possible to reply
so confidently in the negative. Neither can the "No" be repeated with
certainty when employers, or the State itself, are guilty of a direct
breach of faith towards the workers, unless, by ceasing to carry
out their duties, they actually imperil the welfare of the entire
collectivity of which they form a part. In short, all depends upon the
circumstances, which have to be considered most carefully in each case.
It fell to Clemenceau's lot to decide in what might almost be taken as
the test incident--the strike of the electrical engineers and workers
of Paris.

There seems to be something in M. Clemenceau's horoscope which has
decreed that his career shall be diversified and rendered interesting
by a series of dramatic events. This strike of the electricians of
Paris was certainly one of them.

Scene: Cabinet of the Minister of the Interior. The Minister, M.
Clemenceau, at work at his desk and dictating to his secretary.
Everything going on quite nicely. No sign of more than ordinary
pressure. Electric light functioning as usual for the benefit of the
Radical leader as well as for Parisians of every degree. Hey presto!
Darkness falls upon the bureau of the Minister. Very provoking. What
is the matter? Corridors and other bureaux suffering the like eclipse.
Evidently something wrong at the main. Candles obtained, lamps got out
from dusty cupboards, oil hunted up. Ancient forms of illumination
applied. Darkness thus made visible. Telephones set going. All Paris
obscured. A city of two or three millions of inhabitants suddenly
deprived of light. What has happened? The entire electrical service
disorganised until to-morrow by the sudden and unexpected strike of the
whole of the skilled men in the electrical supply department. Lovers
of darkness because their deeds are evil likely to have a good time.
Business arrested, fathers and mothers of families perturbed. Dangers
of every sort threatened. Apaches and other cut-throats preparing for
action in the to them providential enactment of endless gloom.

Such is the baleful news borne over the telephone wires to the much
troubled Minister of the Interior, with his wax tapers and old-world
lamps glimmering around him. How preserve his Paris, his _ville
lumière_, from the depredations of the miscreants engendered by the
social system of the day, when light fails to disclose their approach?
How protect the savings of the conscientious bourgeois and the diamonds
of the high-placed _horizontale_ from removal and conveyance under
cover of the night? To surrender to the strikers is to admit their
right as a few to blackmail the many. It is to sanctify the action of
the despoiling minority above by giving way to the organised minority
below. Immediate decision is essential. Night is upon us, when no man
can work, save the man who communises movable property to his own use.
Light is a necessary of security for property, nay, even for life. The
State must come in to fulfil the functions which the Creator neglected
to provide for when He divided the night from the day. The sapper is
the man to supplement the deficiencies of Providence and to mitigate
the social revolution by electrical engineers. _Rien n'est sacré pour
un sapeur!_ No sooner thought of but acted upon. M. Clemenceau, as
Minister of the Interior and trustee for the well-being of the citizens
of Paris, calls upon the State engineers under military control to
light up Paris afresh. The thing is done. Paris sees more clearly and
breathes more freely. Society itself has the right to live.

But stay a moment: here is M. Jaurès. He has a word to say. What are
you doing, M. Clemenceau? You are outraging all your own principles.
You are interfering with that very right to strike which you yourself
have declared to be sacred. You are using the military discipline of
the comrades of the men out on strike against the electrical companies,
to render their protest nugatory, by employing the sappers against
them. You have, in fact, called out the powers of the State to crush
the workers in a particular industry. If you were true to yourself,
you would convert the electrical supply of Paris now in the hands of
greedy monopolists into a public service, and give the strikers every
satisfaction. That is the only real solution of social anarchy.

To him Clemenceau: "But this was not merely a strike or a limited
liability class war against employers. It was a bitter fight between
two irreconcilable antagonists against inoffensive passers-by. The
people of Paris, for whom I am concerned, had nothing to do with the
matter. I myself knew nothing about the decision to strike till my own
work was rendered impossible by the sudden infliction of darkness upon
me by these resuscitated Joshuas. Not only was the general security
threatened, as I have declared, but the lives of your own clients,
Jaurès, were threatened by immersion in a flood below ground. The
inundation of the Metropolitan (the Underground Railway) had already
begun. The workers of Paris who used that means of communication in
order to return to their work would most certainty have been drowned
owing to the suspension of electrical pumps and lifts, had not the
sappers and the firemen, both of them sets of public functionaries,
rushed at once to the rescue. Were the workmen of Paris engaged in
other departments to be allowed to perish, with the State standing
by, wringing its hands in hopeless ineptitude, while the electrical
engineers got the better of their masters in a dispute about wages?
This was a practical question which I had to decide at once. I decided
in favour of the inoffensive people of Paris and against the electrical
engineers on strike."

Taking a wide view of the whole question, I hold Jaurès's opinion
to be the right one. But Clemenceau had to deal with an immediate
practical difficulty of a very serious kind indeed. The lights went
out at six o'clock. Night was coming on. No time could be lost in
negotiating with the engineers. Still less was nightfall the period
when a public service could be instituted in hot haste. The matter
was settled in that form and for that occasion. But none the less
the real point at issue was not thus easily disposed of. Clemenceau
was right in preventing Paris from being left all night in darkness.
Jaurès was right in claiming that the State should have a more definite
and consistent policy than that of dealing with differences between
wage-earners and employers by such hand-to-mouth methods.

It was just at this point that, notwithstanding all adverse criticisms
in regard to the instability of Ministries, and the scenes of apparent
disorder which sometimes arise, the French National Assembly displayed
its immense superiority to the Parliaments of other countries when
serious matters of principle were involved. The desire to get to the
bottom of a really dangerous question, to hear the arguments on both
sides taken, as far as possible, out of the narrow limits of personal
or party politics, puts the French Assembly on a very high level.
From the point of view of economic development France is far behind
Great Britain, America and Germany. The great factory industry and the
legislation growing out of it are not nearly so far advanced. But, in
the wish and endeavour to investigate the principles upon which the
future regulation of society must proceed, France gives the lead.

This openness of mind and anxiety to let both views have fair play
have grown under the Republic in a wonderful way. Where else in the
world would men of all parties and all sections allow the two chief
orators of the Left--Jaurès, the Socialist leader of the opposition,
Clemenceau, the Individualist Minister--to debate out at length,
in two long sittings, the issues between genuine Socialism and
that nondescript reformist Collectivism which goes by the name of
Socialistic Radicalism: the latter really meaning, to Socialists,
capitalism palliated by State bureaucracy.

This was indeed a great oratorical duel, and those who contend that
oratory has lost its significance and virtue in modern times would
have to admit that they were wrong, not only in this particular case,
but in regard to other speeches delivered by the two chief disputants
afterwards. The debate itself was a contrast between styles just as it
was a conflict of principles. Jaurès was an orator of great power and
wonderful capacity for stirring the emotions. His voice, his face, his
gestures, his method of argument and fusing of forcible contentions
into one compact whole made so great an impression that he could
capture a large audience with the same ease, even on subjects remote
from the immediate matter of his address--as once he held the Assembly
entranced by a long digression on music in the course of a fine speech
on the tendencies of the time.

If it might be urged that he occasionally used too many words to
express his meaning, this was easily forgiven by his countrymen, on
account of his admirable turn of phrase and his understanding use of
the modulations of the French language. However prejudiced his hearers
might be against him (and his personal appearance was not such as to
disarm an opponent), they had only to listen to Jaurès for ten minutes
to feel interested in what he had to say. From this to admiration and
excitement was no long step. Short, stout and somewhat cumbrous in
figure, wearing trousers nearly halfway up his calves, with a broad,
humorous, rather coarse face, his eyes full of expression and not
wanting in fun, troubled with a curious twitching on the right cheek
which affected his eye with a sort of wink, Jaurès was certainly not
the personality anyone would have fixed upon as the greatest master
of idealist and economic Socialist oratory in France, and perhaps
in Europe. But his sincerity, his eloquence soon overcame these
drawbacks on the platform and in the tribune, just as his bonhomie
and good-fellowship did in private life. He had been a Professor
of Literature in the University of Toulouse, and was a man of wide
cultivation. But his learning never made him pedantic, nor did his
great success turn his head. Gifted with extraordinary vitality, his
powers of work were quite phenomenal. To say that he "toiled like
a galley-slave," for the cause to which he devoted himself, was no
exaggeration. Yet he was always fresh, always in good spirits, always
ready to contribute wit and vivacity to any company in which he found
himself. Add to this much practical good sense in the conduct of his
party and the affairs of the world, and all must admit that in Jaurès
the Socialist party of France had a worthy chief and Clemenceau a
worthy antagonist. The galleries, like the Assembly itself, were always
crowded when either orator was expected to address the House.

Jaurès dealt with the development of society from the chaos of
conflicting classes and mutual antagonisms to the co-ordination of
common effort for the common good. This can and should be a peaceful
social evolution. Property for all means a universal share, not only in
politics, but in the production and the distribution of wealth. This
could not be obtained under the conditions of to-day, where those who
possessed no property but the labour in their bodies were at the mercy
of the classes who possessed all else; where only by strikes in which
the State took the side of the employers could the wage-earners obtain
an infinitesimal portion of their rights. By collectivism, leading up
to Socialism and general co-operation, every individual would have a
direct interest in and be benefited by the general social increase of
wealth, due to the growing powers of man to produce what is useful and
beneficial to all.

Socialism substitutes order for anarchy, joint action of every member
of society for the mutual antagonism which is now the rule. Legal
expropriation with compensation will gradually put the community
in control of its own resources. Our task is to convince the small
proprietor and the small bourgeoisie that they will benefit by the
coming transformation. Incessant social reform on Socialist lines would
lead to the realisation of Socialist ideals in a practical shape. Such
strikes as that at Courrières, followed by the military intervention
of the State, at M. Clemenceau's direction, and repression of the
strikers, displayed the injustice of the existing system and proclaimed
the necessity for accepting the higher view of social duty by which all
would benefit and none would suffer.

The speech thus briefly summarised was delivered at two sittings of the
Chamber, and was listened to with profound attention by those present,
the great majority of whom were directly opposed to Socialist views. No
higher tribute could have been paid.

Clemenceau rose to reply to the Socialist leader a few days later.
Twenty years had passed over his head since I last described his
personal appearance, his vigorous individuality and his incisive,
clear-cut, witty conversation and oratory. Time had affected him
little. He was still the same energetic and determined but ordinarily
cool political fighter that he had shown himself in the eighties of
the last century. His head was now bald, and his moustache grey, but
his eyes looked out from under the heavy white eyebrows with all the
old fire, and the alertness of his frame was apparent in his every
movement. Though many years older than his Socialist challenger, there
was nothing to choose between them in regard to physical and mental
vigour. Jaurès had been eloquent and persuasive; he brought in the
ideals and the strategy of the future to illuminate the sad truths
of the present. He relied upon the history of the past and the hopes
of humanity ahead to constitute a policy of preparation for coming
generations of Frenchmen, while applying the principles he advocated,
as far as possible, to the events of the day. Clemenceau confined his
answer, which also extended over two sittings of the Chamber, to the
matters immediately in hand and the criticisms on his method of dealing
with them. This sense of practicality, not devoid of sympathy with the
disinherited classes of our day, gave the Minister of the Interior a
great advantage and precisely suited his style. The interval between
the two speeches also told in favour of Clemenceau. The ring of
Jaurès's fine sentences had died down in the meantime. His glorious
aspirations were discounted hour by hour by the continuance of the
conflict, whose existence he himself could not but admit, which formed,
in fact, part of his case, and in a way strengthened his indictment.
Yet this had to be dealt with all the same.

Clemenceau began his oration with a glowing tribute to Jaurès's passion
for social justice. But his magnificent eloquence has eliminated the
whole of the bad side of life. He rises to the empyrean, whence he
surveys creation through a roseate atmosphere which is raised far above
plain facts. "For myself, I am compelled to remain in the valley where
all the events which Jaurès leaves out of his picture are actually
taking place. That accounts for the difference in our perspective.
I am accused of attacking the workers and of doing worse than other
Governments. I have never attacked the workers, I have never done
them wrong. The duty of the Government is to maintain tranquillity.
This I have done without injury to the toilers, though I had to face
85,000 strikers in the Pas de Calais and 115,000 in Paris--the largest
number ever known on strike at the same time in France. I went down to
Courrières to ensure liberty. We have all of us here to go through our
education in Liberty. Education is not a matter of words, but of deeds.
Those deeds form part of the education. The working classes become
worthy of taking over the responsibility of Government for themselves
when their own deeds are in accordance with the law. If speeches alone
could teach administration, the Sermon on the Mount would have dictated
practical politics for centuries.

"In these disturbances my orders, issued through the highest police
authorities, were precise. Maintain, I said, Liberty to strike, liberty
to work. Soldiers to be called in only in case of actual violence.
But the miners themselves infringed the liberties of others. They
indulged in the anarchical wrecking of houses belonging to men of
their own class. I have here photographs of the destruction wrought.
Were Monsieur Jaurès Minister of the Interior--misfortune comes so
suddenly--he himself would send down troops to stop wholesale pillage.
Yet, if he did, he would in turn be denounced, by the anarchist heads
of the General Confederation of Labour, as the enemy of the class
whose cause he now champions. I challenge M. Jaurès to say what he
would do under such circumstances as I have had to face"--the orator
pauses and waits. There is dead silence. No answer. "By not replying,
you have replied. There have, I repeat, been no dead or wounded among
the working class. On May 1st, when general disorders were openly
threatened, I took precautions against organised outbreak. No trouble
arose."

The Republic, he continued, was a rule of freedom for the individual,
so far as it could be secured under existing conditions. Those
conditions and the law itself might work injustice, but it was then
the duty of the State, and the Minister who had to translate its
functions into action, to mitigate such harshness by protecting the
weaker side. Soldiers had been sent down to Courrières not to attack
the strikers--no attack had been made upon them--but to prevent the
strikers themselves from destroying the mines and inflicting illegal
punishments upon those of their class who did not agree with them. When
this was done, the strikers molested the soldiers, who never fired a
shot. The lieutenant in command was assailed, though his sabre remained
all the time in its sheath. The right of men to work on terms they
themselves are willing to accept could not be contested as the law now
stood. "But, says M. Jaurès, by assuring non-strikers the right to
work, I myself am violating the right to strike, which I have declared
to be the inalienable privilege of the wage-earners. But then, I ask,
what are the non-strikers to do? They also have wives and children
who demand to be fed. What law justifies me in preventing them from
working? Republicanism means the right of the individual to combine
with others to resist oppression and obtain advantages. This freedom
is admitted. It does not include the freedom to oppress others, still
less to assault servants of the State, who are acting in order to
safeguard the law as it stands. When the Socialists of M. Jaurès's
school begin to deal with facts, and not with ideals at present all in
the air, what sort of programme do they formulate?

"Here we have it. An eight-hours working day for all trades. The
right of State Employees to form Trade Unions and to strike.
Proportional Representation. A progressive Income Tax, and so on. A
nice little programme, but a bourgeois programme all the same. No
idealism, no Socialism there! M. Jaurès, however, claims the immediate
Nationalisation and Socialisation of all departments of industry,
including the land. But such unification of society is in reality the
Catholicisation of Society. There is a definite programme of Radical
Reforms, nevertheless, constituting an advance towards a Socialist
policy. They are formulated by the bourgeoisie, but Socialists threaten
to vote against the Budget, which is necessary in order to carry out
some of their own proposals. Take Old Age Pensions. These need money.
The Socialists refuse the required funds. Yet Socialists are for the
Republic. So far we cordially agree. So far I, of necessity, work
with them. But if they at the same time denounce Republicans as the
enemies of the workers and secure a majority of votes in that sense,
then that is to vote for the defeat of the Republic. If Socialists
would work with the Radicals, in order to attain the ends they have in
common, none would be more glad than I. But if such common action is
impossible, then let each work on in their own way."

It was said at the time that at the close of the debate, when
Clemenceau was leaving the Assembly, he remarked to Jaurès, "After all,
Jaurès, you are not the good God." To which Jaurès replied: "And you
are not even the Devil."

I have dealt with this famous controversy at some length, without
attempting to give the speeches in full, because, although the
discussion led to no decision at the moment, it certainly brought
before the public of France and even the public opinion of Europe
the direct theoretical and practical difference between Socialism and
well-meaning Radicalism, in an intelligible manner, as nothing else
would. The effect upon French politics within the next few months, in
spite of further desperate outbreaks in 1907, was also remarkable.
Jaurès's speech did much to consolidate the Socialist Party as a
unified section of the Chamber; and Clemenceau himself was so far
influenced by it and by the trend of events that, as will be seen,
it affected his policy as Prime Minister in the formation of his own
Cabinet shortly afterwards. Looking at the matter from the Socialist
point of view, therefore, Jaurès was building better than his opponents
in the Chamber knew, and Socialists had no reason to regret the
apparent victory of his formidable antagonist at the time. In fact, as
Bernard Shaw said in regard to a very different debate under widely
different circumstances in London more than thirty years before: "The
Socialist was playing at longer bowls than you know."

It is this power of detachment, this recognition that theory and
sentiment play a great part in the moulding of public character and
public opinion, even in the practical affairs of everyday life, that
renders France--independent, idealist, revolutionist, conservative
and thrifty France--so essential a factor in the discussion of the
world-problems of to-day. France alone among the nations rises above
the smoke of class warfare; and though her own social and economic
conditions are not themselves ready for the definite solution of social
problems, she indicates the route which may be most safely followed
by countries more economically advanced. Both Jaurès and Clemenceau,
therefore, rendered good service to mankind when they used their utmost
efforts to place before the peoples and the students of all nations
the views of the Socialist, with his outlook on the future, and the
Radical, with his policy of the present based on the traditions of
the past. Jaurès, in the prime of his manhood and the fullness of
his fame, was torn from the useful and noble work which lay well
within his power and his intelligence by the murderous revolver of a
reactionary assassin: a loss indeed to his party, his country, and the
world at large! His antagonist, Clemenceau, still works on as nearly
an octogenarian, with all the vigour and energy of his fiery youth,
on behalf of that France, who, to-day, as for many a long year past,
has been the mistress and the goddess of the materialist democrat and
Radical champion of the people.

On October 23rd, after six months of service as Minister of the
Interior, Clemenceau was called back from Carlsbad, whither he went
every year before the war to conjure attacks of gout (which might at
least, in all reason, have spared a lifelong teetotaller), in order
to form a Cabinet of his own in place of M. Sarrien. That Cabinet was
remarkable from many points of view. Comments upon its constitution
and significance may be reserved for a wider survey. Suffice it to say
here that Clemenceau himself, in addition to holding the Presidency of
the Council as Prime Minister, remained Minister of the Interior, thus
declaring his intention not to shirk any of the responsibility he had
taken upon himself or the animosity he had incurred in his dealings
with strikes and other social questions.

France was passing through a very difficult period. Whatever view a
thoroughgoing Socialist may take as to the need for a wider general
policy than that adopted by Clemenceau, it is not easy to see how, the
French people being unprepared to accept a purely Labour or Socialist
Government, the Republic could have been peacefully maintained, but
for the cool determination of the Radical Republican at the head
of affairs. Scarcely a day passed without some fresh economic and
social conflicts that called for prompt action. These, however, arose
in provinces and cities and under conditions where the antagonism
between wage-earners and employers, between capital and labour, in
the ordinary way offered no exceptional features for the statesman.
But in the spring and summer of 1907 a more complicated and dangerous
uprising, which developed into little short of an attempt at an
Anarchist-communist, anti-Republican revolution, broke out in the South
of France among the wine-growers.

The peasants of the districts round Narbonne and Montpellier, together
with many of the inhabitants of those towns, who were themselves
dependent upon the wine industry, made, in fact, a desperate local
attack upon the existing Government of France. Disaffection had
been growing for a long time and was due to a series of economic
and agricultural troubles among the wine-growers, which successive
Ministries had not understood, far less attempted to cope with. It had
its direct origin in a natural cause. This cause was the appearance in
the Bordeaux country of the deadly enemy of all _vignerons_, large and
small--the much-dreaded phylloxera. The vineyards of the Gironde were
devastated and the famous clarets shipped from Bordeaux ceased to be
the product of Bordeaux grapes. Thereupon the inferior vintages of the
Midi came into abnormal demand. But the wine-producers of the West were
not wholly defeated, even while the phylloxera continued his ravages
and no method of checking the mischief had been discovered. There are
ways and means of meeting even such a calamity.

"Would your lordship like madeira served with that course?" said a
butler to a well-known bishop who was giving a dinner, in days long
before the war, to a number of his clergy. "Madeira!" was the reply, in
great surprise. "Why, I have not a single bottle in my cellar." "Oh,
yes, my lord, you have. _Monseigneur oublie peut-être que je suis de
Cette._" Madeira, so the story goes, was duly served. But Cette is not
the only town in France where the art of blending and refining wine
for foreign and even home palates has been brought to a high pitch. At
any rate, during the phylloxera period, Australian, Algerian, Spanish
and other wines, which previously had been regarded contemptuously by
foreign and French consumers of claret, were, it was alleged, imported
at Bordeaux in great quantity and came out again with the old familiar
Bordeaux labels and duly impressed corks.

Thus adulteration, which John Bright declared was a legitimate form
of competition, made its appearance in a widely different industry
from his own, to the detriment, even thus early in the struggle, of
the legitimate growers of more acid but more genuine beverages in the
South. Adulteration became a war-cry among the peasants, who felt
themselves defrauded. Republicans of great commercial reputation and
high standing in finance were accused, rightly or wrongly, of being
deeply and profitably concerned in this nefarious traffic. That was
all bad enough. But, at last, a remedy for the vineyard plague was
discovered and widely used, with the aid of the Government, partly by
chemical applications to the vines, partly by bringing in new stocks
from without. Then followed exceptionally good vintages in the Bordeaux
country, while the adulteration, falsification, manipulation of other
wines with sugar and the like continued. Hence an abnormal glut of wine
of every degree, with a corresponding fall in price.

The peasants, whose views of the admirable law of supply and demand
were very crude, only discovered that the more wine they produced the
less money could they get for it! To produce for the consumer, at a
loss to themselves, at once struck them as an unfair dispensation in
the order of the market, since it affected the sales of their wines.
Obviously, they said, the Government was to blame. How could they pay
taxes when wine was fetching a derisory price? Why should they borrow
to pay taxes when wine was fetching a derisory price? Let Government
take short order with the adulterators and big producers out there in
the West, who were preventing the hard-working toilers on the soil in
the South from disposing of their sole saleable product at a profit.
A Republic which couldn't protect the backbone of the nation, the
Southern wine-growers, to wit, was of no use to them. And the people
of the South, as M. Clemenceau knows very well, for he is Senator for
the Var, are a vivacious and an excitable folk. But their vivacity
and excitement had already been worked up to a high pitch by gradual
exasperation before M. Clemenceau himself took office. It was his hard
fate to meet the full fury of the storm as Premier of France.

No trifling storm it was. The whole countryside, in the late spring and
summer, was aflame. Commune after commune, district after district,
took part in the agitation. Peasants and _prolétaires_ made common
cause against the authorities. Taxes should not be paid. Tax-gatherers
should appear at their peril. The Government was an unjust Government,
and should be defied. And it was so. Meetings were held in every town
and village. Capable representatives and leaders, of whom a M. Albert
was the chief, were chosen by the men themselves. Attempts to confer
with the people as a whole resulted in failure. The old story was told
again. The reactionaries of the Right took the side of the people, and
shouted against "adulteration," because they were victims of a chaotic
economic system, because also they objected to the use of troops, who
belonged to and were paid by the whole people, in order to maintain
that system in full vigour. What was to be done? Things got worse
and worse. The Minister of the Interior felt obliged to call out the
troops in order to prevent downright ruin being wrought in Narbonne,
Montpellier and St. Béziers. There were killed and wounded on both
sides. Hence a serious ministerial crisis was threatened which, as
matters stood, could scarcely fail to tell in favour of reaction and
against the only Republic then possible.

The facts were beyond dispute. In consequence of the causes and results
summarised, the temper of the people became unmanageable. There were
terrible riots of a wholly anarchist character. The doors of public
buildings were soaked with kerosene and then set on fire. At Narbonne,
Montpellier and St. Béziers attacks were made on peaceful citizens
at dead of night by uncontrolled mobs of armed men recruited from
the worst members of the population. Soldiers on the spot refused to
fire in reply to revolver shots aimed at them. The provocations to
the troops, who were brought in solely to maintain order, were almost
intolerable, but they were borne with heroic calm. At first they fired
in the air. Then they fired in earnest, and there were killed and
wounded on both sides. Hence there was the greatest excitement in the
Chamber and unrest throughout Paris, where the wildest rumours were
spread.

Everything pointed to a serious political upset when Clemenceau rose to
give an account of the circumstances and to defend the action of the
Government. This is, in brief, what he said: "I did my best to avoid
sending troops, and directed that they should not be used except in
case of absolute necessity. But can a Government allow a wine-growers'
committee to forbid the villagers to pay taxes? Can it quietly permit
tax-collectors to be molested when they arrive in the communes? Can
it look on with indifference while 300 mayors of communes declare
a general strike and hold up the entire business of the community?
Everywhere the committees of the wine-growers took upon themselves
to give their orders in place of the constituted authority, and were
obeyed. Soldiers who mutinied against their officers were applauded
and a large sum was raised for their compensation. No Government could
stand that. Citizens were bound to pay their taxes. No Minister can
deny that. I could have resigned. I do not want office. But I felt it
my duty to remain when the troops were attacked."

After this speech the ministerial crisis ended. The difficulties on
the spot slowly calmed down, owing largely to the good sense and
loyalty to the Republic of M. Albert and other leaders of the men. But
the Socialists have never forgiven M. Clemenceau for calling in the
military at Courrières and Narbonne, and particularly for the bloodshed
at the latter town. This has been a great misfortune for both sides,
the rather that both could plead justification for the course they
took. The Socialists contended that the troubles arose in the North
and in the South from causes whose development the Government ought to
have watched and whose results it should have foreseen. The State ought
to have made ready, and introduced adequate legislation to encounter
and overcome these troubles by peaceful methods, which all governments
have, or ought to have, at their command. Clemenceau could and did
answer that he was in no wise to be held responsible personally for
outbreaks which had arisen from circumstances over which he had no
control, and that all he had to do was to prevent any mistakes that
had been made from leading to violent action that must harm innocent
persons and injure the Republic. The split between Radicals and
Socialists remains unbridged to this day.

Yet in the Senate on more than one occasion in 1906 Clemenceau,
interrupting a speaker, declared: "I claim to be a Socialist!" And
again, "When I accepted the offer to form a Government I conceived
the idea of governing in a Socialist sense. Years ago I offered to
co-operate with M. Jules Guesde to carry Socialist measures on which
we mutually agreed." This has never been denied. It ought to have been
possible to come to terms on palliative measures at least.

For the strike difficulties did not end in 1906 and 1907, nor did
Clemenceau change his policy in dealing with them. Non-strikers were
always to be protected against strikers: anything in the shape of
violence on the part of strikers, no matter how great the provocation,
was to be repressed by the forces of the State. Also civil servants,
being the servants of the State, were not to be allowed to combine
in trade unions against the State as employer. Still less could
Clemenceau allow them the right to strike against the State. They then
became, as he expressed it, "rebellious bureaucrats," allied with
those who would like to destroy "_la Patrie_." To them the amnesty
granted to the rebellious wine-growers and rural anarchists of the
South must be denied. Civil servants in revolt and the bigots of
anti-militarism--Hervé was at this time an ardent peace-at-any-price
man and fanatical anti-militarist--were guilty of a crime against their
country; and with such criminals the Government was engaged in battle.

Once more an actual strike close to Paris gave point to all these
declarations, and put Clemenceau and his Government again at variance
with the Socialists by the acute difference of principle which was
then accentuated in practice. This was at Vigneux, when there was a
strike of the workers in the sand-pits. Clemenceau, who was still
Minister of the Interior as well as Prime Minister, used the gendarmes
to protect the non-strikers or blacklegs still working in the pits. As
a result, there was open conflict between the two sides. Two of the men
on strike were killed, and several of the gendarmes were injured. This
aroused great indignation against the Government among the organised
workers. They felt that the right to strike became illusory, if, at
any moment, the Ministry could turn the scale against the strikers, no
matter how great their grievances or how just their claims might be, by
bringing in the State to uphold the minority of the men in standing by
the masters.

In practice, as has often been found in England, such intervention on
behalf of the blacklegs means that the strike may be broken in the
interest of the capitalists. The deputies of the places where the
strikes took place interviewed Clemenceau on the matter. It is clear
that the antagonism went very deep. In answer to a bitter attack
Clemenceau again defended his action in the Chamber. The question was
one not of mere opinion, but of justice. "When the workers are in
the wrong they must be told the truth about it. The Government will
never approve of anarchy." ("You are anarchy enthroned yourself,"
cried Jaurès.) "My programme is Social Reform under the law against
grievances, and Social Order under the law against the revolutionists."
Finally, the National Assembly passed a vote of confidence in
Clemenceau as against the Socialists. That, of course, was to be
expected.

I have given a fairly detailed account of these affrays--they were no
less--between Clemenceau and the Socialists because they are of great
importance, not only as explaining the vehement hostility which has
since existed between them, but because the points at issue affect
every civilised country to a greater or less degree. Capital and
labour, capitalists and wage-earners, are at variance everywhere. Their
antagonism can no more be averted or bridged over than could the class
struggle between land and slave-owners and their chattel slaves, or
the nobles and their serfs. Only the slow process of social evolution
leading up to revolution can solve the problem. Meanwhile, combination
on the one side is met by combination on the other. Outside political
action, which is ineffective until the workers themselves understand
how to use it, there is no weapon for the wage-earners or wage-slaves
but the strike. They suffer, even when they win, far more than the
capitalists or employers, who are only deprived of the right to make
profits out of their hands, while those same hands are undergoing the
pangs of hunger and every sort of privation, not only for themselves
but for their wives and children.

Arbitration, when the social conditions have reached the stage where
this is feasible, may postpone the crucial battle and smooth over the
matter temporarily; but it can do no more than that. A step towards
this arbitration was made under M. Millerand's measure declaring
strikes illegal unless decreed by a majority of the employees upon
a referendum, and the enactment of an arbitration clause. But when
strikes actually take place and the men's blood is up, then comes the
real tug-of-war.

Should the State--obviously the capitalist State to-day--interfere to
keep order and maintain the right to work for non-strikers, or should
it refrain from interference altogether? When Jaurès and the Socialists
were challenged to say what they would do under the circumstances,
they failed to answer, as already recorded. This put them in a weak
position. An opposition must have a policy which it would be prepared
to act upon if it took office. Socialism, however desirable, could
not be realised all at once. But it was open to Clemenceau, as to any
other Minister entrusted with full powers by the State, _to bring at
least as much pressure to bear upon the capitalists and employers
as upon the strikers_, and to insist that they should yield to the
demands of the men and continue to work the mines, out of which, by the
purchase of the labour-power of the pitmen, they had derived such huge
profits. This course was not adopted by the Minister of the Interior,
nor does it seem to have been demanded by Jaurès. The troubles in the
wine districts arose from different economic causes, and had to be
dealt with in a different way. But the truth is that, in periods of
transition, no Government can go right. It was Clemenceau's lot to have
to govern at such a period of transition.



                              CHAPTER XV

                  STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS OF CLEMENCEAU


Strikes and anarchist troubles, however, formidable as they were in the
North and in the South, were by no means the only serious difficulties
which Clemenceau had to cope with, first as Minister of the Interior
and then as Premier. The danger from Germany, as he well knew, was
ever present. Anxious as France was to avoid misunderstandings which
might easily lead to war, eager as the Radical leader might be to
enlarge upon the folly and wickedness of strife between two contiguous
civilised peoples, who could do so much for one another, it was always
possible for the German Government to put the Republic in such a
position that the alternative of humiliation or hostilities must be
faced. Less than a year before Clemenceau accepted office, the German
Kaiser himself had taken a most provocative step in Morocco, the object
of which can now be clearly seen. Germany had no real interests in
Morocco worthy of the name. Several years later the German Minister of
Foreign Affairs pooh-poohed the idea that Germany, distant from Morocco
as she was, with only 200 Germans in the country, and not more than
£200,000 worth of yearly commerce, all told, with the inhabitants,
could be concerned about political matters in that Mohammedan kingdom.

With France the case was very different. Algeria was adjacent to the
territories of the Sultan of Morocco, and, if the wild tribes on the
frontier were stirred up against the infidel, the most important French
colony was threatened with serious disturbance. It was all-important
for France, therefore, that there should be a government at Fez strong
enough and enlightened enough to keep peace on the border. Clemenceau,
who had always been so stern an opponent of colonial adventures, and
had overthrown several Cabinets which he considered were prone to
encourage harmful exploits, had himself spoken out very plainly about
Morocco. Long before capitalist interests were involved on any large
scale the French ownership of Algeria necessitated a definite Moroccan
policy. This again brought with it the obligation of constant pressure
upon the Sultan to induce him to consider French interests. These
interests could be harmonised with those of Spain and Great Britain,
and were so settled by special agreements in April, 1904, just a year
before the German Emperor's _coup de théâtre_ startled the world.
France's special interests in Morocco were thus recognised all round,
and Germany, far from raising any objection, expressly disclaimed any
desire to interfere, so long as "the open door" was left for German
goods. But the general antagonism between France and Germany was a
matter of common knowledge.

It was natural, therefore, that the Sultan of Morocco, alarmed lest
French attempts to introduce "order" and "good government" into his
realm might end, as it had always done elsewhere, by destroying his
independence, should appeal to the Kaiser, who had proclaimed his
sympathy for the Moslem, to help him against the less sympathetic
infidel. For a long time these appeals fell upon deaf ears. Even when
the Kaiser visited Gibraltar, after an interview with the King of
Spain, he refused pressing invitations to cross the Straits and meet
envoys of the Moroccan potentate at Tangier. This was in March, 1904.
But in March, 1905, when everything looked peaceful, the Kaiser went to
Tangier in the _Hohenzollern_, landed with an imposing suite, met the
uncle of the Sultan, who came as a special envoy to the German Emperor,
and addressed him in the following terms:--

"I am to-day paying my visit to the Sultan in his quality of
independent sovereign. I hope that under the sovereignty of the Sultan
a free Morocco will remain open to the peaceful competition of all
nations, without monopoly and without annexation, on the footing of
absolute equality. The object of my visit to Tangier is to make known
that I have decided to do all in my power to effectually safeguard
the interests of Germany in Morocco. Since I consider the Sultan an
absolutely free sovereign, it is with him that I desire to come to an
understanding on suitable measures for safeguarding these interests. As
to the reforms that the Sultan intends to make, it seems to me that he
must proceed with much caution, having regard to the religious feelings
of the population, so that public order may not be disturbed."

Such was the declaration of the German Emperor. What gave special
point to his address was the fact that at that very moment a French
delegation was at the capital, Fez, in order to obtain necessary
reforms from the Sultan, and was meeting week after week the most
obstinate resistance from him and his Government. It was obviously open
support of the Sultan in his refusal to accept French representations,
and a declaration of hostility to France on the part of the Kaiser.
Nothing more arrogant or offensive can well be imagined. France, from
the Socialist point of view, was wrong in her attempt to instruct the
Sultan how to deal with a state of things which undoubtedly threatened
the peace of Algeria, but the Kaiser's intervention after such a
fashion was wholly unwarrantable, and threatened the peace of the world.

What was the meaning of this extraordinary display of Imperial
diplomacy and Prussian direct action? There were statesmen--Sir Charles
Dilke was one--who believed that the German Emperor was really devoted
to peace, and that no war could take place in Europe so long as he
lived. There was a general feeling in England to the same effect,
largely engineered by Lord Haldane and others of like nature, whose
spiritual or political home was in Germany. But all can see now that
this was an illusion. The only difference between the Kaiser and the
most aggressive and bloodthirsty Junker or pan-German was as to the
time and season when the tremendous Central European and partially
Mohammedan combination that he had formed should commence the attack.
William II wished to wait until the road had been so completely
prepared for the aggressive advance that victory on every side would
be practically certain. The Junker party, with which the Crown Prince
identified himself, were in a hurry, and the Emperor could only keep
them in good humour by these periodical outbursts which enabled him to
pose as the dictator of Europe.

All through, the Kaiser's real ambition was that which he occasionally
disclosed in a well-known drawing-room in Berlin. He would not die
happy unless he had ridden at the head of the Teutonic armies as the
Charlemagne of modern Europe. But this megalomania was only indulged
in with his intimates. Elsewhere he stood forth as the rival of his
uncle as the Prince of Peace. According to him, therefore, it was M.
Delcassé who forced him to act in this peremptory way at Tangier; and
efforts were made to convince all the Governments in Europe that the
French Minister of Foreign Affairs had tried to boycott Germany out
of Morocco. France, rather than take up the challenge, got rid of M.
Delcassé. Thus the Emperor displayed his power for the appeasement of
his Junkers, established a permanent source of difficulty on the flank
of France, and gave the Mohammedan world to understand once more that
Germany, not England, was the champion of Islam.

Meanwhile, German political, financial and commercial influence of
every kind was making astounding advances, not only in France itself,
but also in every country that might at the critical moment be able
to help either France or Russia; while German armaments, military and
naval, and German alliances for war were being worked up to the point
which, if carried on for ten, or perhaps even for five years more,
would have rendered the German power almost, if not quite, irresistible
by any combination that could have been made in time against it. The
Kaiser, in short, was playing a successful game of world-peace in
order to make sure of playing at the right moment a successful game
of world-war. Desperate as the conflict has been, it may have been
fortunate for mankind that the Junkers, his son and the General Staff
forced the Emperor's hand.

When, consequently, Clemenceau took the lead in French affairs, he
soon found that the sacrifice of M. Delcassé, the friend of Edward
VII, to the pretended German injury had been made in vain. There was
no intention whatever, either then or later, of coming to a really
permanent settlement of outstanding grievances against France, although
the position in Morocco was eventually used to gain great advantages in
other parts of Africa. Germany was, in fact, a permanent menace to the
peace of Europe and the world; but those who said so, and adduced plain
facts to justify their contentions, were unfortunately denounced both
by capitalists and Socialists in every country as fomenters of war.
This insidious propaganda, which tended to the advantage of Germany in
every respect, was already going on in 1906, when M. Clemenceau joined
M. Sarrien's Cabinet, and when he formed a Cabinet of his own. This was
publicly recognised.

This is what M. Clemenceau said at Hyères, after some furious attacks
had been made upon France in the German official newspapers; no German
newspapers being allowed to print comments on foreign affairs without
the consent of the Foreign Office: "No peace is possible without
force. When I took office I myself was persuaded that all European
nations were of one mind in wishing for peace. But almost immediately,
without any provocation whatever from us, a storm of calumny and
misrepresentation broke out upon us, and we were compelled to ask
ourselves, 'Are we prepared?'"

On October 23rd of the same year, M. Sarrien resigned, and M.
Clemenceau formed his Cabinet. It comprised, among others, Messrs.
Pichon (Foreign Affairs), Caillaux (Finance), Colonel Picquart (War),
Briand (Justice and Education), Viviani (Labour), and Donmergue
(Commerce). A more peaceful Cabinet could hardly be. M. Pichon, who
took the place from which M. Delcassé had been forced to resign
because he too strongly opposed German influence in Morocco and
refused a European Conference on the subject as wholly unnecessary,
was an old friend and co-worker with Clemenceau on _La Justice_, and
had gone into diplomacy at Clemenceau's suggestion. He had since held
positions in the East and in Tunis, and he and Clemenceau were believed
to be entirely at one in abjuring all adventurous colonial policy. M.
Caillaux, at the head of the Department of Finance--people are apt to
forget that M. Caillaux, now in gaol under serious accusation, was
thus trusted by Clemenceau--was certainly not opposed to Germany, but
even at that time was favourable to a close understanding with that
power. Colonel Picquart, who now received his reward for having, though
personally an anti-Semite, destroyed all his own professional prospects
in his zeal to obtain justice for the Jew Dreyfus, was certainly as
pacific a War Minister as could have been appointed. But what was more
significant still, M. Briand, himself a Socialist, and the hero of the
great inquiry into the separation of Church and State which had now
become inevitable, was placed in a position to carry that important
measure to its final vote and settlement; and M. Viviani, likewise a
Socialist, became head of the new department, the Ministry of Labour.
When I saw these two men, Briand, whom I remembered well as a vehement
anarchist, and Viviani, who was a vigorous Socialist speaker and
writer, in the Cabinet of which Clemenceau was the chief, I could not
but recall the conversation I had with the French Premier sixteen years
before.

Seated comfortably in his delightful library, surrounded by splendid
Japanese works of art, of which at that time he was an ardent
collector, M. Clemenceau had spoken very freely indeed. Of course, he
knew quite well that I was no mere interviewer for Press purposes,
and, indeed, I have always made it a rule to keep such conversations,
except perhaps for permitted indiscretions here and there, entirely
to myself. There is no need for me to enlarge upon his quick and
almost abrupt delivery, his apt remarks and illustrations, his bright,
clever, vigorous face and gestures. I put it to him that Socialism was
the basis of the coming political party in France and that, vehement
individualist as he might be himself, it was impossible for him to
resist permanently the current of the time, or to remain merely a
supremely powerful critic and organiser of overthrow. Sooner or later
he must succumb to the inevitable and take his seat as President of
Council, and to do this with any hope of success or usefulness he would
have to rely in an increasing degree upon Socialist and semi-Socialist
support.

To this Clemenceau answered that he was quite contented with his
existing position; that he had no wish to enter upon office with its
responsibilities and corrupting influence; while, as to Socialism, that
could never make way in France in his day.

"Looking only at the towns," he said, "you may think otherwise, though
even there I consider the progress of Socialism is overrated. But the
towns do not govern France. The overwhelming majority of French voters
are country voters. France means rural France, and the peasantry of
France will never be Socialists. Nobody can know them better than my
family and I know them. Landed proprietors ourselves--my father's
passion for buying land to pay him three per cent. with borrowed money
for which he had to pay four per cent. would have finally ruined him,
but that our wholesome French law permits gentle interference in such
a case--we have ever lived with and among the peasantry. We have
been doctors from generation to generation, and have doctored them
gratuitously, as I did myself, both in country and in town. I have seen
them very close, in birth and in death, in sickness and in health,
in betrothal and in marriage, in poverty and in well-being, and all
the time their one idea is property; to possess, to own, to provide
a good portion for the daughter, to secure a good and well _dot_-ed
wife for the son. Always _property_, ownership, possession, work,
thrift, acquisition, individual gain. Socialism can never take root
in such a soil as this. North or south, it is just the same. Preach
nationalisation of the land in a French village, and you would barely
escape with your life, if the peasants understood what you meant. Come
with me for a few weeks' trip through rural France, and you will soon
understand the hopelessness of Socialism here. It will encounter a
personal fanaticism stronger than its own. Your Socialists are men of
the town; they do not understand the men and women of the country."

Now the same M. Clemenceau, after a long struggle side by side with
the Socialist Party, first in the Dreyfus case and then in the
anti-Clericalist and Separation of Church and State movement, finds
that events have moved so fast, in a comparatively short space of time,
that he is practically compelled to take two active Socialists into his
own Cabinet. This, too, in spite of the fact that his action in calling
in the troops at Courrières and insisting upon liberty for non-strikers
or black-legs had turned the Socialist Party, as a party, definitely
against him. No more significant proof of the advance of Socialist
influence could well have been given. That it was entirely on the side
of peace and a good understanding with Germany cannot be disputed.

But this did not make the Morocco affair itself any less complicated
or threatening. Notwithstanding the Conference which Germany succeeded
in having convoked at Algeciras, and the settlement arrived at in
April, 1906, after a sitting of more than three months, the condition
of Morocco itself had not improved. The fact that the Conference gave
France the preference in the scheme of reforms proposed and in the
political management of Morocco, against the efforts of Germany and
Austria, suited neither the Sultan nor the Kaiser. Troubles arose
of a serious character. The French considered themselves forced to
intervene. The old antagonism broke out afresh. So much so that the
French Premier spoke with more than his usual frankness in an interview
with a German newspaper in November:--

"The Germans have one great fault. They show us extreme courtesy to-day
and marked rudeness the day after. Before this Morocco affair, feeling
in France had much improved. Many of us thought an understanding with
Germany very desirable, and I freely admit your Emperor did a good deal
to engender this feeling. Then, although we had dismissed Delcassé,
the German press attacked us. It went so far as to declare that you
were to extort from us the milliards of francs necessary to finance an
Anglo-German war. . . . I do not want to have any war, and if we desire
no war we necessarily wish to be on good terms with our neighbours.
If, also, our relations are unsatisfactory, we are anxious to improve
them. Such is my frame of mind. Moreover, if I have a chance of doing
so, I shall be glad to act on these lines. Of course it is imperatively
necessary for us to be always strong and ready for all eventualities.
That, however, does not mean that we want war: quite the contrary. To
wish for war would mean that we were mad. We could not possibly carry
on a war policy. If we did, Parliament would soon turn us out, as it
did Delcassé."

Nothing could be clearer than that. And what made the pronouncement
more important even than the strong but sober language used was the
fact that, after as before the Conference of Algeciras, there was
really a great disposition among certain sections in France to come
to terms with Germany, rather than to strengthen the understanding
with England. The expression of this opinion could be frequently heard
among the people. It was fostered, even in the face of the German press
campaign against the Clemenceau Administration, by powerful financial
interests and by Clerical reactionary elements which were at this time
less hostile to Germany than to England.

Throughout, however, Clemenceau stood for the _Entente_ with the
latter power as the only sound policy for his country. In this respect
he was at one with the old statement of Gambetta that a breach of
the alliance with England would be fatal to France. For Clemenceau,
therefore, who had more than once in his career suffered so severely
for his friendship for England, to state that an understanding with
Germany had been seriously contemplated was a striking testimony to
the immediate tendency of the time at that juncture. Whether the whole
of this fitful friendliness on the side of Germany was simulated
in order to foster that remarkable policy of steady infiltration of
German interests, German management, and German goods into France,
with far other than peaceful aims, is a question which can be much
more confidently answered now than at the period when this peaceful
offensive was going on. Enough to say that the Clemenceau Ministry was
not, at first, at all averse from a permanent arrangement for peace
with Germany, so long as English animosity was not aroused.

It must be admitted, nevertheless, that French policy in Morocco was,
in the long run, quite contrary to the views on colonial affairs which
Clemenceau had so strongly expressed and acted upon hitherto. Whatever
excuse may be made on account of the proximity of Morocco to Algeria,
and the necessity for France to protect her own countrymen and secure
peace on the border, the truth remains that the French Republic was
allowed by her statesmen to drift into what was virtually a national
and capitalist domination of that independent country, backed up by a
powerful French army. Clemenceau in his defence of these aggressions
recites those familiar apologies for that sort of patriotism which
consists in love of another people's country and the determination to
seize it, which we Englishmen have become so accustomed to in our own
case. If we didn't take it, somebody else would. If we leave matters as
they are, endless disturbances will occur and will spread to our own
territory. A protectorate must be established.

But a protectorate must have a powerful armed force behind it, or there
can be no real protection. National capital is being invested under
our peaceful penetration for the benefit of the protected people.
The rights of investors must be safe-guarded. Our countrymen--in
this instance Frenchmen--have been molested and even murdered by the
barbarous folk whom we have been called upon to civilise. Such outrages
cannot be permitted to go unpunished. Towns bombarded. Villages burnt.
Peace re-established. More troops. "Security of life and property"
ensured by a much larger army and the foundation of civilised
Courts. Protection develops insensibly into possession. The familiar
progression of grab is, in short, complete.

That is pretty much what went on with Morocco, whose entire
independence as a sovereign State had only just been internationally
acknowledged. What is more, it went on under M. Clemenceau's own
Government, consisting of the same peaceful politicians enumerated
above. No doubt the action of Germany against France and French
interests, on the one side, and the support by England of France and
French interests, on the other, hastened the acceptance of the "white
man's burden" which her capitalists and financiers were so eager to
undertake; if only to upset the schemes of the Brothers Mannesmann
in the troublous Mohammedan Sultanate. But it is strange to find
Clemenceau in this galley. For, unjustifiable as were the proceedings
of Germany at the beginning and all through, it is now obvious that
France, by her own policy, put arguments into the mouth of the
peace-at-any-price and pro-German advocates; that also she played the
game of the Kaiser and his unscrupulous agent Dr. Rosen. This worthy
had been in the employment of Prince Radolin, who thus described him:
"He is a Levantine Jew whose sole capacity is intriguing to increase
his own importance." It was disgraceful of Germany to make use of such
a man to stir up Morocco against France. But it was certainly most
unwise, as well as contrary to international comity, for France to put
herself in the wrong by an aggressive policy in that State. Especially
was this the case when such a terrible menace still overhung her
Eastern frontier, and, as events proved, not a man could be spared for
adventures in Morocco or elsewhere.

The war between rival Sultans and the attack upon the French settlers
at Casablanca could not justify such a complete change of front.
Jaurès, in fact, was in the right when he denounced the advance of
General Amadé with a strong French army as a filibustering expedition,
dangerous in itself and provocative towards Germany. But Clemenceau
supported his Foreign Minister, Pichon, in the occupation of
Casablanca, which had been heavily bombarded beforehand, and, on
February 25th, declared that France did not intend to evacuate Morocco,
neither did she mean to conquer that country. He had, he averred, no
secrets, and, as in the matter of the anarchist rising in the South,
said he was ready to resign. This was evidence of impatience, which was
harmful at such a critical period in French home and foreign affairs.
It looked as if Clemenceau had been so accustomed to turn out French
Governments that he could not discriminate even in favour of his own!
But the Chamber gave him a strong vote of confidence, and he remained
at his post.

There were two important developments in foreign affairs going on
during this year, 1908, of which the difficulties in Morocco, serious
as they were, constituted only a side issue. The one was open and
above-board: the other was known only to those who kept very closely in
touch with German politics.

The first was the rapid improvement in the relations between France
and Great Britain, for which Clemenceau himself and King Edward VII
were chiefly responsible. We are now so accustomed to regard the
_Entente_ as part and parcel of English foreign policy that it is not
easy to understand how bitter the feeling was against Great Britain
which led important Frenchmen to take the view of an agreement with
Germany spoken of above. English domination in Egypt, to the practical
exclusion of French influence and control even over the Suez Canal;
English conventions with Japan, checking, as was thought, that
legitimate French expansion in Asia by which M. Jules Ferry had hoped
to counterbalance the defeats of 1870-71; English settlement of the
irritating Newfoundland Fisheries question; English truculence and
unfairness in the infamous Boer War; English antagonism to Russia,
France's trusted ally and heavy debtor--all these things stood in the
way of any cordial understanding. It may well be that only Clemenceau's
strong personal influence, supported by his nominee President
Fallières, prevented steps being taken which would have been fatal to
the revival of genuine good feeling between the Western Powers. The
following passage in the _Encyclopædia Britannica_ does no more than
justice to Clemenceau's services in this direction:

"M. Clemenceau, who only late in life came into office and attained
it when a better understanding with England was progressing, had been
throughout his long career, of all public men in all political groups,
the most consistent friend of England. His presence at the head of
affairs was a guarantee of amicable Anglo-French relations, so far as
they could be protected by statesmanship." This tribute in a permanent
work of reference is thoroughly well deserved.

Happily, too, his efforts had been earnestly supported long before,
and even quietly during, the Boer War, by Edward VII, as Prince
of Wales and as King. But this very connection between the French
Radical statesman and the English monarch was the subject of most
virulent attacks. It was, in fact, made the groundwork of an elaborate
accusation of treachery against Clemenceau, who was represented as
the mere tool of Edward VII in promoting the permanent effacement
of France. The King was an English Machiavelli, constantly plotting
to recover for the British Empire, at the expense of France, that
world-wide prestige which the miserable Boer War and the rise of
German power on land and sea, in trade and in finance, had seriously
jeopardised. A book by the well-known M. Flourens, written at this
time to uphold that thesis, went through no fewer than five editions.
Here is the pleasing picture of the late King presented for the
contemplation of the Parisian populace by this virulent penman:

"Edouard VII montait sur le trône à l'age où, si l'on consulte les
statistiques, 75% des rois sont déjà descendus dans la tombe. Il
sortait d'une longue oisiveté pour entrer dans la vie active a l'époque
où, dans toutes les carrières et fonctions publiques, les hommes font
valoir leurs droits à la retraite.

"S'il y avait un conseil de revision pour les rois, comme il y en a un
pour les conscrits, il eût été déclaré impropre au service.

"L'obésité déformait son corps, alourdissait sa marche, semblait,
sous le développement des tissus adipeux, paralyser toute activité
physique, toute force intellectuelle. Sa figure, contractée par la
douleur, trahissait, par moment, les souffrances qu'une volonté de fer
s'efforcait de maîtriser, pour dissimuler aux yeux de ses sujets la
maladie qui, à cet instant même, menaçait sa vie.

"A voir sa corpulence maladive, on ne pouvait s'empêcher de se rappeler
les paroles que Shakespeare met dans la bouche d'un de ses ancêtres, à
l'adresse du fameux Falstaff, le compagnon dissolu des égarements de sa
jeunesse: 'Songe à travailler, a diminuer ton ventre et a grossir ton
mérite--quitte ta vie dissolue! Regarde la tombe, elle ouvre, pour toi,
une bouche trois fois plus large que pour les autres hommes!'

"De tous côtés, les lanceurs de prédictions, depuis le fameux archange
Gabriel jusqu'à la non moins fameuse Mme. de Thèbes, s'accordaient pour
entourer son avènement des plus sinistres prévisions, pour annoncer
sa fin prochaine et l'imminence d'une nouvelle vacance du trône
d'Angleterre.

"Symptôme plus grave! Les oracles de la science n'étaient pas moins
menaçants que les prophéties des devins. Deux fois, les pompes de son
couronnement durent être décommandées, deux fois les fêtes ajournées
et les lampions éteints. Les hôtes princiers, convoqués a grands frais
de tous les points du globe, pour participer à ces réjouissances,
attendirent, dans l'angoisse, l'annonce d'une cérémonie plus lugubre.

"La volonté d'Edouard VII triumpha de toutes ces résistances. Il
déclara avec une indomptable énergie que, coûte que coûte, il était
décidé a ne pas descendre dans la tombe avant d'avoir posé sur sa tête,
avec tout l'éclat, avec toute la solennité traditionnels, aux yeux
des représentants émerveillés de tout son vaste empire, aux yeux de
l'Univers jaloux, la couronne de ses Pères, sa double couronne de Roi
et d'Empereur, que les mains avides de la mort semblaient vouloir lui
disputer."

His account of Edward VII reads curiously to-day, the more so when we
recall the fact that M. Emile Flourens was at one time French Minister
of Foreign Affairs, and that, at the moment when the book first
appeared, the King was frequently in Paris, and on good terms with
Republicans of all sections.

After pointing out how scrupulously he had as Prince of Wales
suppressed his political opinions, during his mother's lifetime, even
when his power, had he exerted it, might have been advantageous to his
country, the French critic gives him full credit for having made the
best of his life in many ways. He had travelled all over the world,
had studied humanity and society in all shapes, had "warmed both hands
before the fire of life" in every quarter of the globe. But, though
his features as a private personage were familiar to everybody, he
remained a sphinx, mysterious and unfathomable, even to his friends, in
public affairs. He was well known to Parisians everywhere, and was as
popular in working-class centres as in the most aristocratic _salons_.
Paris was, in fact, the only city where he was at his ease and at home,
where, in fact, he was himself. By far the most sympathetic Briton to
Parisians who ever was in Paris, he exercised a real influence over
all classes. They were kept carefully informed as to his tastes, his
manners, his intimates, his vices and his debts, and were the more
friendly to him on account of them. The warmest partisans of his
accession, however, were his creditors, who were mortally afraid that
his habits would not give him the opportunity for discharging his
liabilities out of his mother's accumulations.

The description of the position of the British Empire at the close of
the Boer War was less flattering even than the personal sketch of its
King and Emperor. "At this moment the astounded peoples had felt the
Britannic colossus totter on its foundation, this colossus with feet
of clay which weighs down too credulous nations by its bluff, by its
arrogance, by rapine, by insatiable rapacity, which already grips the
entire globe like a gigantic cuttle-fish and sucks its marrow through
the numberless tentacles of its commerce, until the day when it shall
subjugate the whole planet to its domination--always provided that it
does not encounter on its way another still more powerful octopus of
destruction which will attack and destroy it."

Needless to say that this challenger of the British supremacy was the
rising power of Germany. As an Englishman I admit the infamy of the
Boer War, and recognise that our rule in India and Ireland has been
anything but what it ought to have been. M. Clemenceau knew all that as
well as we British anti-Imperialists do. But even in 1907-8 much had
happened since 1900. Democracy was slowly making way in Great Britain
likewise, and freedom for others would surely follow emancipation
for herself. It was not to be expected that all Frenchmen should see
or understand this. A nation which has under its flag a fourth of
the population and more than a seventh of the habitable surface of
the world can scarcely expect that another colonial country, whose
colonies the British have largely appropriated, in the East and in
the West, will admit the "manifest destiny" of the Union Jack to wave
of undisputed right over still more territory. There was a good deal
to be said, and a good deal was said, about British greed and British
unscrupulousness: nor could the truth of many of the imputations be
honestly denied.

It called, therefore, for all Edward VII's extraordinary knowledge
of Paris, his bonhomie, shrewd common sense, and uncanny power of
"creating an atmosphere" to overcome the prejudice thus created against
himself as a master of intrigue, and Clemenceau as his willing tool.
Matters went so far that at one moment the King's reception in his
favourite capital seemed likely to be hostile, and might have been so,
but for the admirable conduct of the high-minded, conservative patriot,
M. Déroulède. But, luckily for France, Great Britain and the world
at large, these difficulties had been overcome; and almost the only
good feature in the trouble with Morocco was the vigorous diplomatic
help France received from England--a good feature because it helped to
wipe away the bitter memories of the past from the minds of the French
people. The extremely cordial reception of President Fallières and M.
Clemenceau in London, and the King's own exceptional courtesy at all
times to M. Delcassé, whom the French public regarded as the victim of
German dictatorial demands, tended in the same direction. All the world
could see that Clemenceau's Administration had so far strengthened the
Anglo-French _Entente_ as to have brought it almost to the point of an
alliance: nor thereafter was the Triple Entente with Russia, as opposed
to the Triple Alliance, very far off.

At this same time, however, matters were going so fast in Germany
towards an open breach that the only wonder is that the truth of
the situation was not disclosed, and that Germany, quite ready, and
determined to be more ready, for war at any moment, was allowed to
continue her policy of pretended peace.

England and, to a large extent, France still believed in the pacific
intentions of the Fatherland. Yet a meeting was held in Berlin of the
heads of all the departments directly or indirectly connected with
war, at which the Kaiser delivered a speech which could only mean one
thing: that Germany and her Allies would enter upon war so soon as
the opportunity presented itself, and the preparations, including the
completion of the Kiel Canal (or perhaps before that great work had
been accomplished), gave promise of a short and decisive campaign.
Rumours of this address reached those who were kept informed as to
what was being contemplated by the Kaiser, his Militarist Junker
_entourage_ and the Federal Council. Unfortunately, when the statement
was challenged, a strong denial was issued, and the pacifists and
pro-Germans, honest and dishonest, laughed at the whole story as a
baseless scare.

How far it was baseless could be learnt from deeds that spoke much
louder than words. Even thus early great accumulations of munitions of
war were being made at Cologne, and the military sidings and railway
equipments, which could only serve for warlike and not commercial
purposes, were being completed. Six years before the war, all the work
necessary for an aggressive descent on the West and for the passage
through Belgium had been done.

Europe was comfortably seated over a powder magazine. M. Clemenceau
might well discuss in London, when he came over to Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman's funeral, as Premier of France, how many hundred
thousand men, fully equipped for war, England could land within a
fortnight in North-Eastern France, should a sudden and unprovoked
attack be made. But he got no satisfactory answer.

It is evident, therefore, that what with strikes, anarchist outbreaks,
the troubles in Morocco, the menacing attitude of Germany--who,
as Clemenceau put it, said, "Choose between England and us"--and
the attempts to form an enduring compact with England, Clemenceau
as President of Council, with all his energy, determination and
versatility, had enough on his hands to occupy all his thoughts. But
this did not exhaust the catalogue of his labours during his term of
premiership.



                              CHAPTER XVI

                     END OF CLEMENCEAU'S MINISTRY


It is easy to be tolerant of the Catholic Church and Catholics in
a Protestant country; though even in Great Britain, and of course
only too sadly in the North of Ireland, there are times when the
bitterness inherited from the past makes itself felt, on slight
provocation, in the present. At such times of sectarian outburst we
get some idea ourselves of what religious hatred really means, and
can form a conception of the truly fraternal eagerness to immolate
the erring brethren, nominally of the same Christian creed, which
animated the true believers of different shades of faith, whether
Orthodox or Arian, Catholic or Huguenot, in days gone by. Those who
chance to remember what Catholicism was in Italy, the Papal States,
or Naples, two generations ago--the Church then claiming for itself
rights of jurisdiction and sanctuary, outside the common law--those
who understand what has gone on in Spain quite recently, can also
appreciate the feeling of Frenchmen who, within the memory of their
fellow-citizens still living, and even themselves in some degree under
the Empire, had suffered from Clerical interference and repression,
when the chance of getting rid of State ecclesiasticism was presented
to them at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Church had
entirely lost touch with the temper of the time. Though it may have
been impossible for the Vatican to accept the brilliant suggestion that
the great men of science should all be canonised and the discoverers
of our day should receive the red hat, as secular Cardinals, there was
no apparent reason why a form of supernaturalism which had lived
into and out of two forms of human slavery, and was passing through a
third, should have been unable to adapt itself in some degree to modern
thought. A creed which, in its most successful period, had conveniently
absorbed ancestor-worship as part of its theological propaganda in
China, need not, one would have thought, have found it indispensably
necessary to the salvation of its votaries to cleave to all the old
heresies, inculcated in days when criticism of the incomprehensible and
unbelievable involved the unpleasant possibility of being tortured to
death, or burnt alive.

Nor certainly could its worst enemy have predicted that the
infallibility of the Pope would be invented and thrust upon the
faithful, as a doctrine whose acceptance was essential to their
spiritual welfare, in a period when it was being proved every day
and in all departments of human knowledge that what was universally
believed to be a certainty yesterday is discounted as a fallacy
to-morrow. Nothing in all the long controversy about the Separation
of Church and State in France produced a greater or more permanent
effect upon intelligent Frenchmen than this preposterous claim of
Papal infallibility. Explain it away, whittle down its significance by
any amount of Jesuitical sophistry, and still this declaration that
a mere man could never be mistaken, because he was the Vicegerent
of God, shook the whole framework of Catholic domination, so far as
any participation of the State in the matter was concerned. And the
career and character of many of the Pope's predecessors rendered the
dogma more utterly preposterous to all who had even a smattering of
the history of the Vatican than might otherwise have been the case.
That John XXIII should have been infallible threw a strange light upon
Catholic morality in its highest grades. Yet if Pius infallible, why
not John?

What, however, had more practical effect in turning the scale of public
opinion against the Papacy, its nominees and believers as servants and
paid employees of the State, was the fact that in all the practical
affairs of French life the Catholic Church, as represented by its
ecclesiastical hierarchy, had taken the wrong side. Theoretical or
theological difficulties would never have upset the regard of the
French people for the National Church. But, time after time, the
Clerical party ranged itself with the reactionists, throwing over all
its wisest counsellors, whose devotion to the Church had never been
questioned, when they advised standing by the cause of the people, and
relied solely upon the judgment of bigoted Jesuits. Zola, whom these
creatures hated, showed in his "Germinal," thoroughgoing materialist
as he was, what a noble part a priest of the Church could play, when
the young ecclesiastic stands between the strikers who form part of his
flock and the soldiers who are about to fire upon them. Individuals
might thus rise up to and above the level of their creed, but the
Church in France, as a whole, was represented by men of God who were
a good deal worse than men of Belial. Nor was this all. They pursued
a policy of relentless obscurantism. Their object was not to develop
education but to stunt its growth: not to teach the truth but to foster
lies. So manifest was the determination to take no high view of their
duties that such a man as the venerable Dr. Leplay, a Catholic of
Catholics whose religious convictions did not prevent him from becoming
a master of the theories of Marx, lamented that his Church was proving
itself wholly incompetent to cope with or to stem what, as a Christian,
he recognised was the rising tide of infidelity.

Of this infidelity, the free-thinker and champion of secularism,
Clemenceau, was a type and a prominent example. He saw the Church
as a pernicious influence. His feeling towards it was even more
vehement than that of Voltaire or Gambetta. "_Écrasez l'infâme!_" "_Le
cléricalisme voilà l'ennemi!_" If thought was to be free, if Frenchmen
were to be emancipated from superstition and intolerance, the power of
the Catholic Church must be weakened and, if possible, destroyed. For
him, in this matter, compromise was impossible. His begettings, his
surroundings, his education, his profession, his political life all
made him relentless on this point. Behind the Duc de Broglie, behind
the persecutor of Dreyfus, behind the pretender Boulanger, behind
reaction in all its forms hid the sinister figure of the unscrupulous
power, working _perinde ac cadaver_ against all that was noblest in
France, against all that was highest in the ideals of the Republic. And
if Clemenceau knew well that under all circumstances and at every turn
of events the Catholic Church was the enemy of France and of himself,
the Church had no doubt at all that Clemenceau was its most formidable
foe in French political life.

Long before and after his defeat in the Var, in 1893, the Catholics
never hesitated to join with their enemies, if only this combination
would help them to overthrow Clemenceau. Whatever differences the
French Premier might have with the Socialists on strikes and social
affairs generally, on the matter of the separation of Church and
State they were heartily at one. In fact, Clemenceau was even more
uncompromising than they. The whole texture of his thought revolted
against showing any consideration for a Church which, from his point
of view, had been for centuries the chief and most formidable enemy of
progress in France and the most capable organiser of attacks upon all
democratic and Republican ideals.

The greatest names in French history are the names of those whom the
Catholic Church has persecuted or martyred. Its leaders would resort to
the same tactics now, and have only failed to do so because the power
has slipped from their hands as the truths of science and the wider
conceptions of human destiny have permeated the minds of the masses.
There was no likelihood that, as Prime Minister, Clemenceau, the
free-thinker and materialist, would be inclined to modify his opinions
in favour of what might be regarded as statesmanlike concessions
to the Right on ecclesiastical matters. The danger lay in the other
direction. It was one of the remarkable incidents, in connection with
his first tenure of the Presidency of the Council, that the final
settlement of this important question of the relations of Church
and State should come when he himself was at the head of the French
Government.

When M. Briand's measure for the complete laicisation of the Church so
far as the State was concerned was introduced into the Chamber, he
pointed out in his report that the proposal for complete separation
was not dictated by hatred or political prejudice, nor did it involve
anything at all approaching to the change in the relations of property
when, at the time of the French Revolution, the Church owned one-third
of the total wealth of France. This Act was the assertion of definite
principles which were necessary in order to secure for the State full
mastery in its own country. Freedom of worship for all. No State
payment to ministers of any creed. Equitable management of Church
property taken over by the towns and Communes.

The Bill, after considerable debate in the National Assembly, was
passed by a large majority. In the Senate M. Clemenceau denounced
the settlement as too favourable to the clergy. His criticism was
as mordant as usual. But he neither proposed an amendment nor voted
against the Bill, which passed the Senate without even the alteration
of a word, by a greater proportional majority than it did in the Lower
House.

This, it might have been thought, would have been the end of the
matter for Clemenceau. He had done his full share towards putting
the Catholic Church out of action, and might have been contented, as
Premier, with any further settlement that M. Briand, the member of his
own Cabinet responsible for this important measure, and M. Jaurès, the
powerful leader of the Socialist Party, might come to in regard to
the properties of the Church, about which there had been much bitter
feeling. But Clemenceau has the defects of his qualities. The Pope
had refused to permit his clergy to avail themselves of the excellent
terms French Republicans, Radicals and Socialists had been ready to
accord to them. He had issued two Encyclicals which could certainly be
read as intended to stir up trouble in the Republic--which, in fact,
had brought about some disorder. When, therefore, everything seemed
arranged on this prickly question of valuations and appropriations,
Clemenceau could not resist the temptation to show the unsatisfactory
nature of the entire business to him. It was one of those moments of
impulse when "the Tiger" could not refrain from giving free play to
his propensities, at the expense of his own kith and kin, failing the
presence of his enemies to maul. It was thought that the Ministry must
come down; for both M. Briand and M. Jaurès took this outburst amiss.
But a conversation in the lobby brought the great irreconcilable very
sensibly to a compromise, and Clemenceau failed to give the Catholics
the malicious enjoyment they anticipated. It was a strange ebullition
which exhibited the perennial youth of this statesman of the unexpected.

In other directions than social affairs and Morocco, where he
unfortunately relied upon the Right more than upon the Left in the
Assembly for the support of his Administration, Clemenceau proved that
his claim to act as the advocate of reform as well as the upholder of
order was no pretence.

Whatever may have been its alleged deficiencies in some respects,
Clemenceau's first Ministry was by far the most Radical Government
that had held office under the Republic. And the boldness and decision
which he and his Cabinet displayed in dealing with what they regarded
as Anarchist action--it is fair, perhaps, to recall that Briand himself
had first achieved fame as an Anarchist--on the part of the workers,
they also put in force, when high-placed officers, with a powerful
political backing, tried to impose their will upon the State. Thus the
navy, as has too often happened in French annals, had been allowed to
drift into a condition which was actually dangerous, in view of what
was going on in the German dockyards, and the probable combination
of the Austrian and Italian fleets, with German help, in the
Mediterranean. At the same time, admirals were in the habit of acting
pretty much as they saw fit in regard to the fleets and vessels under
their control. Consequently, important men-of-war had been wrecked
time after time, and more than one serious accident had occurred. In
almost every case also, so powerful was the _esprit de corps_, in the
wrong sense, that the officers in command at the time were exonerated
from blame. There was, therefore, a strong public opinion in favour of
something being done to improve both the fleet itself and the spirit
which animated its commanders. Admiral Germinat, a popular officer
with, as appears, a genuine loyalty to his profession and a desire to
remedy its defects, thought proper to write a very strong letter to
a local service newspaper, making a fierce attack upon the general
management of the navy, without having given any notice of his views
either to the Minister of Marine or the Prime Minister.

Thereupon, M. Clemenceau at once put him on the retired list.
Immediately a great hubbub arose. The very same people who had approved
of Clemenceau's policy, in regard to those whom they called anarchist
workmen, were now in full cry after the President of Council, for
daring to deal thus drastically with a man who, however his good
intentions may have been and however distinguished his career, was
beyond all question an anarchist admiral. The matter became a question
of the day. It was brought up in the Senate amid all sorts of threats
to the stability of the Government. M. Clemenceau, as usual, took up
the challenge boldly himself. His speech was so crushing that the whole
indictment against the Ministry collapsed. The evidence of indiscipline
on the Admiral's part, not only on this occasion but on several others,
and the declaration that Admiral Germinat would not be excluded from
the navy, when he had purged his offence and when his services would be
advantageous to the country, settled the matter and strengthened the
Ministry.

By acquiring the Chemin de Fer de l'Ouest and combining it with other
Government railways, the Ministry made the first important step towards
nationalisation of railways. Clemenceau defended this measure on
grounds that would be, and were, accepted by Socialists; but events
have shown in this particular case that a good deal more is needed than
the establishment of another department of State bureaucracy to render
the railways a national property really beneficial to the community.
As carried out in practice, the acquisition of the Chemin de Fer de
l'Ouest has rather set back than advanced the general policy of railway
nationalisation in France.

A more important measure was that introduced by M. Caillaux and,
amazing to say, passed through the Assembly, for a graduated
income-tax. How this majority was obtained has always been one of
the puzzles of that period. There is no country in the world where a
tax upon incomes is more unpopular than in France, and from that day
to this, in spite of the desperate need for funds which has arisen,
this tax has never yet become law. But it was a genuine financial
reform and creditable to the Government. The Socialists supported it,
though in itself it is only a palliative measure of justice in purely
bourgeois finance. From this period dates the close alliance between
the Socialists as revolutionaries and M. Caillaux as the adventurous
financier and director of the Société Générale, which later produced
such strange results in French politics, and intensified Socialist
hatred for M. Clemenceau. But at this time M. Caillaux, with the full
concurrence and support of the Prime Minister, was attacking all the
bourgeois interests in their tenderest place. The wonder is that such
a policy did not involve the immediate fall of the Ministry. Quite
possibly, had Clemenceau remained in office, it might have become a
permanent feature in French finance. Boldness and boldness and boldness
again is sometimes as successful in politics as it is in oratory.
Although, therefore, to attack pecuniary "interests" of a large section
of the nation is a far more hazardous enterprise than to denounce
eminent persons or to overthrow Ministries, this move might then have
been successful if well followed up.

On March 8th, in this year 1909, Clemenceau unveiled a statue to
the Radical Minister Floquet, with whom he had worked for many
years. The revolutionary Socialists announced their intention of
demonstrating against him on this occasion. They objected to him and
his administration on account of the expedition to Morocco--in which
Clemenceau had certainly run counter to all his previous policy on
colonial affairs--on account of cosmopolitan finance, Russian loans
and the shooting down of workmen on strike. It was the last that
occasioned the bitterest feeling against him, and this was really not
surprising.

Clemenceau had made the workers' liberty to strike in combination
secure, but he did not use the power of the State against the
employers, who, in the mines especially, could on his own showing be
considered only as profiteering trustees under the State. Also, he
refused to all Government servants the right to combine or to strike.
This disinclination to take the capitalists by the throat, while using
the official power to restrain the workers, had a great deal more to do
with the menacing attitude of the Socialists than Morocco or finance.
However, there was no disturbance. Clemenceau took advantage of the
occasion to deliver a speech which was in effect a powerful defence
of the idealist Republicanism of the eighteenth century against the
revolutionary Socialism of the twentieth.

The French Revolution is deified by nearly all advanced Frenchmen.
Its glorification is as much the theme of Jaurès and Vaillant as of
Gambetta and Clemenceau. Bourgeois revolution as it turned out to be,
owing to economic causes which neither individualists nor collectivists
could control, orators of the Revolution overlook facts and cleave to
ideals. Thus Clemenceau told his audience that the French Revolution
was a prodigious tragedy, which seemed to have been the work of
demi-gods, of huge Titans who had risen up from far below to wreak
Promethean vengeance on the Olympians of every grade. The French
Revolution was the inevitable culmination of the deadly struggle
between the growing forces of liberty and the worn-out forces of
autocracy without an autocrat. Yet, said he, the Revolution itself was
made by men and women inspired with the noblest ideals, but educated,
in their own despite, by the Church to methods of domination, condemned
also by the desperate resistance of immeasurable powers to prompt and
pitiless action followed by corresponding deeds of brutal reaction.
The people who had just shed torrents of blood for the freedom of the
world passed, without audible protest, from Robespierre to Napoleon.
Yet the Revolution is all of a piece. The Republic moves steadily on
as one indissoluble, vivifying force. Compare the France of the panic
of 1875 with the France of to-day. Her position is the result of
understandings and alliances and friendships based on the authority
of her armed force. France has resumed her position in Europe, in
spite of a few weak and mean-spirited Frenchmen, whose opposition only
strengthened the patriotic enthusiasm of the nation at large. The
history of the Republican Party had been one long consecration of the
watchwords of the French Revolution. Liberty of the Press. Liberty
of public meeting. Liberty of association. Liberty of trade unions.
Liberty of minds by public schools. Liberty of thought and religion.
Liberty of secular instruction. Liberty of State and worship. Laws had
been passed for relief of the sick. A day of rest had been prescribed
for all. Workmen's compensation for injury had been made imperative.
The Income Tax had been passed by the Assembly. "The Revolution is in
effect one and indivisible, and, with unbroken persistence, the work of
the Republic goes on." A fine record! So argued Clemenceau.

Notwithstanding all the mistakes which Socialists so bitterly resented,
this was a great victory for the Republicans and for the Administration
of which Clemenceau was the head. Not the least important claim to
national recognition of good service done was the establishment of
the Ministry of Labour, over which Viviani, the well-known Socialist,
presided. The pressure of events, as well as the pressure of the
Socialists themselves, might well have pushed the Radical-Socialist
Premier farther along the Socialist path.

Unfortunately for the Prime Minister, and, from more than one point
of view, for the nation, M. Clemenceau had another of those strange
fits of impatience and irascibility which he had exhibited more than
once before. The political antagonism between M. Clemenceau and
M. Delcassé was of long standing, and was intensified by personal
bitterness. During his tenure of the office of Minister for Foreign
Affairs, a position which he had held for seven years, in successive
Administrations of widely different character, M. Delcassé had been
subjected to vehement attacks by the leader of the Radical Left. His
policy in relation to Morocco had been specially obnoxious to M.
Clemenceau. That policy M. Clemenceau had most severely criticised
at the time when M. Delcassé was stoutly resisting that extension
of German influence in Morocco which led to the Foreign Minister's
downfall and the Conference of Algeciras, that M. Delcassé had refused
to accept. The relations between the two statesmen could scarcely have
been worse; but hitherto the Radical leader had carried all before him.

Now came a dramatic climax to the long struggle. A debate arose in
the French Assembly on the condition of the navy. It was admittedly
not what it ought to have been. M. Picard, the Minister of Marine,
made a conciliatory reply to interpellations on the subject of
promised immediate reforms and even complete reconstitution. But this
was not enough for M. Delcassé. The Assembly was not hostile to M.
Clemenceau, and certainly had no desire to oust his Administration;
yet M. Delcassé's direct attack upon the Premier brought the whole
debate down to the level of a personal question. Nevertheless, what he
said was quite legitimate criticism. M. Clemenceau had been a member
of the Commission of Inquiry on the Navy, and could not get rid of
his responsibility for the present state of things. The great critic
of everybody and everything was open to exposure himself. He who had
enjoyed twenty-five years of running amuck at the whole political
world was now being called to account in person as an administrator.
So far M. Delcassé. Clemenceau retorted that M. Delcassé had himself
been on the Naval Commission of 1904. He was full of great policies
here, there and everywhere. What had they resulted in? The humiliation
of France and the Conference of Algeciras. Clemenceau was evidently
much incensed. The fact that he had been obliged, as he thought, by
Germany's action, to follow M. Delcassé's Moroccan tactics rendered
the position exceptionally awkward. It raised the whole question of
M. Delcassé's foreign policy. This gave him a great advantage when
it came to direct political warfare. For M. Delcassé was considered,
even by those who opposed him, as the victim of German hatred, since
he had refused to surrender to German threats and was sacrificed
simply because France dared not face a war. So when he recounted his
agreement with Spain, his agreement with Italy, his agreement--"too
long delayed"--with England, his mediation in the Spanish-American War
and his Treaties of Arbitration, the Assembly went with him. Then, too,
his assaults upon Clemenceau raised the fighting spirit on Delcassé's
side. The feeling was: "This time Clemenceau is getting as good as he
brings." The Prime Minister has not done his duty either as President
of the Inquiry or as President of Council. "I say to him as he said to
Jules Ferry: 'Get out. We won't discuss with you the great interests of
this nation.'"

Very good sword-play. But had Clemenceau kept cool, as he certainly
would have done on the duel ground, there might have been no harm
done. However, he burst out into furious denunciation, exasperated by
the ringing cheers which greeted his opponent's conclusion. It was M.
Delcassé's fault that France had to go to Algeciras. M. Delcassé would
have carried things with a high hand. "But the army was not ready,
the navy was not ready. I have not humiliated France: M. Delcassé
has humiliated her." A purely personal note, disclosing facts that
were the more bitter to the Assembly inasmuch that they were true. It
was indecent--that was the sensation that ran round the House--for
a Premier thus to expose the weakness of his country on a personal
issue, no matter what provocation he may have received. The hostile
vote, therefore, was given against Clemenceau himself, not against his
Government, and he promptly resigned.

Had he desired to bring about his own overthrow he would have acted
precisely as he did; and some thought that this was his intention.
It was an unworthy conclusion to a Premiership which, whatever its
shortcomings, had done extremely good work for the Republic, and to
a Government which had lasted longer than any French Administration
since the downfall of the Empire. The character and leadership of the
Ministry under M. Briand, which succeeded Clemenceau's Cabinet, proved
that only by his own fault had he ensured his official downfall.

As usual, he turned round at once to other work, and accepted an
engagement to speak throughout South America, publishing a pleasant
record of his experiences in an agreeably written book. The Prime
Minister of yesterday was the genial lecturer the day after.

 NOTE.--It was said at the time that M. Briand's intrigues in the
 lobbies were the real cause of Clemenceau's defeat and resignation.
 Lately this has been confirmed to me on good authority. At any rate,
 M. Briand benefited. It was he who succeeded his chief.

                                                          H. M. H.



                             CHAPTER XVII

                        CLEMENCEAU AND GERMANY


Clemenceau flung himself out of office in an unreasonable fit of
temper. A man of his time of life, at sixty-eight years of age, with
his record behind him, had no right to have any personal temper
at all, when the destinies of his country had been placed in his
hands. Probably he would admit this himself to-day. But, during his
exceptionally strenuous period of office, he had, as we have seen, more
than once shown an impulsiveness and even an irritability that were not
consonant with his general disposition. Throughout, there appeared to
be an inclination on his part to take opposition and criticism too much
to heart. As if, in fact, the great Radical overthrower of opportunism
was annoyed at being compelled, as all administrations must be, to
adopt to some extent a policy of opportunism himself. His outburst
against all compromise with the Church was one instance of this.
His uncalled-for resignation on account of M. Delcassé's attack was
another. This might well have been the end of his official experiences.
Certainly no one would have ventured to predict that eight years later
would come the crowning achievement of his remarkable career. His own
remark on leaving office was not calculated to encourage his personal
adherents or to give his country confidence in his leadership. "I came
in with an umbrella, I go out with a stick," was all very well as the
epigram of a journalist: it was too flippant a remark for a serious
statesman such as Clemenceau had shown himself to be. But the time was
not far off when all his main policy, as man of affairs, politician,
and as publicist would be overwhelmingly justified. As we have seen,
Clemenceau was all his life strongly opposed to colonial expansion.
His action with regard to Morocco, apparently so contrary to this,
arose from an even stronger motive, his desire to build up French
defence against Germany on every side.

But his general distrust of colonisation by conquest in Egypt, China,
Madagascar, and elsewhere had been based upon France's need for using
all her strength and all her resources to build up the power of the
French Republic within the limits of France. This is true of all
nations at a period when the power of man over nature is increasing
so rapidly in every department: perhaps, properly understood, in
agriculture most of all, when science is capably applied to production
on the land. That is to say, that even in countries such as England,
where the cry of over-population is so frequently raised, and where the
cult of colonisation and emigration has been exalted to the position of
a fetish, it would be far better to devote attention to the creation
of wealth at home than to the development of waste lands, however
fertile, abroad. Concentration of population, given adequate regulation
of employment in the interests of the whole people, and attention to
the requirements of space, air and health, is not only devoid of danger
but is an element in national prosperity--"nothing being more plain
than that men in proper labour and employment are capable of earning
more than a living," as John Bellers wrote more than two hundred years
ago; and "a nation wherein are eight millions of people is more than
twice as rich as the same scope of land wherein are but four," as Petty
wisely stated, about the same date.

If this was so obviously true at the end of the seventeenth century, it
is tenfold, not to say a hundredfold, more certain in the twentieth,
having regard to the marvellous discoveries and inventions since made
and still but partially applied in every direction. But France is the
land where such considerations are most decisive in dealing with the
basis of national polity. France has enormous advantages in regard
to soil, climate, the industrious habits and skill of her people,
and the consequent monopoly on the world market of whole branches
of commerce, where taste and luxury have to be gratified. Moreover,
she possesses a source of income unparalleled in Europe and scarcely
worth noting elsewhere, except in the case of Italy. I calculate that
France receives, one year with another, from visitors who come thither,
merely to see and to spend, an amount, by way of profit, of not less
than seventy millions sterling. This large sum alone, if used for
enhancing the productiveness of the French soil and French industry
generally, would immensely benefit the people in every respect. French
thrift, again, had piled up out of the products of industry immense
pecuniary accumulations. There could have been no better investment of
these funds possible than the improvement of the defences of France
against invasion, the completion of her railway and canal system,
the development of her mines, so greatly coveted by her aggressive
neighbour, the concentration of her military and naval forces at home,
instead of scattering any portion of them abroad, the expenditure
upon thorough education and scientific agricultural and industrial
experiments. All this even Imperialist Frenchmen can see now.

So with regard to Russia. The alliance of the French Republic with the
Empire of Russia gave France, apparently, a better position in Europe,
the pusillanimous and short-sighted English statesmen having rejected
an alliance which was afterwards forced upon Great Britain when wholly
unprepared for war. Here also Clemenceau's views were justified by
the event. The close connection between a democratic Republic and an
autocratic Empire put France in an unenviable moral position before
the world. More materially serious than this ill-fated combination,
ethically, was the necessity imposed upon the French of lending
continually to Russia, until the total amount of the Russian loans held
in France amounted to many hundreds of millions sterling.

Such huge sums, again, would have been far more advantageously spent
at home than in building strategical and other railways, and financing
gold and other mines, in the vast Muscovite Empire. Financiers gained
largely by these loans. But the peasants and small bourgeoisie
of France were unknowingly dependent for their interest upon a
poverty-stricken agricultural population, which could not possibly
continue to pay the large sum due yearly on this amount to their
Western creditors without utter ruin. Thus unsound finance followed
hard on the heels of more than doubtful policy, and France was the
weaker and the poorer for both.

This was all the more fatal to real French interests, inasmuch that,
at the same time, the home population of the Republic was slowly
decreasing, while the population of her threatening rival, Germany,
was steadily growing, and the wealth of the German Empire, both
agricultural and mineral, was likewise rapidly expanding with every
decade. Consequently, the position of France was becoming more and
more precarious, and the relative strength on the two sides of the
frontier less and less favourable to the Republic. It must be admitted,
under such circumstances, that those who favoured a Russian alliance,
in spite of all its manifest drawbacks, had a great deal to say for
themselves. But that Great Britain should have failed to see that
the declension of French power was a peril to herself, long before
the _Entente_ was brought about by Edward VII, and that a pacific
understanding alone was not sufficient to ensure the maintenance of
peace, is a truly marvellous instance of the blindness of British
statesmanship! Only the phenomenal good luck that has so far attended
the United Kingdom hindered our governing classes from landing this
country, as well as the French, in overwhelming disaster. How narrow
the escape was is not yet fully understood.

Clemenceau was at all times in favour of an Anglo-French offensive and
defensive alliance, and he clung to this policy in the face of the most
serious discouragement from abroad and, as has been seen, at the cost
of vitriolic misrepresentation and hatred at home. It was in vain,
however, that for many years he preached this political doctrine. Even
when the relations between the two countries were greatly improved, the
very proper Liberal and Radical and Labour dislike in England of the
entanglement with Czarist Russia rendered the close combination which
seemed so essential to all who, like Clemenceau himself, knew what was
really going on in Germany, exceedingly difficult to bring about.

The terrific war has thrown into high relief facts always discernible
except by those who would not see. Here Clemenceau's own bitter
experience of the war of 1870-71, and his yearly visits to Austria,
enabled him to form a clearer conception of the real policy of Germany
and the ruthless brutality which underlies modern Teutonic culture
than any of his contemporaries. It is no longer doubted that the
Franco-German war was welcomed by Prince Bismarck, and made inevitable
by him, in order to crush France and ensure German military supremacy
in Europe. Bismarck himself made no secret of the manner in which he
had deceived Benedetti at Ems by a forged telegram; and the refusal of
the Germans to make a reasonable peace with France immediately after
Sedan was conclusive evidence of what was really intended. During the
campaign, also, the Germans resorted to the same hideous methods of
warfare on land, on a smaller scale, which have horrified the entire
civilised world, on land and on sea, during the great war which
commenced forty-four years later.

All this Clemenceau himself saw. While, therefore, in his speeches
and writings, he never shut out the possibility that the people of
Germany, rising superior to their militarist rulers, might come to
terms for permanent peace with the people of France, he at the same
time cherished no illusions whatever as to the policy of those military
rulers, and the small probability that German Social-Democracy would be
able to thwart the designs of the German aggressionists. Unfortunately,
in France, as in Great Britain, a considerable section of all classes,
but especially of the working class, represented by Labour Unions and
Socialists, would not believe that at the end of the nineteenth and
beginning of the twentieth century any great civilised power could
be harbouring such designs as those attributed to Germany. Vaillant,
for example, who, like Clemenceau, had seen the horrors inflicted upon
France in the war of 1870, was vehement on that side. So enamoured was
he of peace that he never lost a chance of assuring Germany that under
no circumstances would the French Republic go to war. He advocated a
general strike, in all countries affected, should a rupture of peace be
threatened; entirely regardless of the fact that the Social-Democrats
themselves had declared that such a strike was absolutely impossible in
Germany itself.

The same with Jaurès. Not only did this great Socialist believe that
peace might be maintained by concessions to Germany; but, although
in favour of "the Armed Nation" for France herself, for the purpose
of defending her against a German invasion, he actually came over to
London and addressed a great meeting, called by anarchist-pacifists who
were all strongly in favour of the reduction of the British fleet. That
fleet which, as Bebel himself put it, was the only counterbalance in
Europe for Germany herself against Prussian militarism and Junkerdom,
Jaurès spoke of with regret as a provocation to war! Germany could, in
fact, always rely in all countries upon a large number of perfectly
honest pro-Germans, and a lesser proportion who had purely financial
considerations in view, to oppose any policy which was directed
against the spread of German domination. This was the mania of
anarchist-pacifism and anti-patriotism which Clemenceau, both in and
out of office, did his utmost to expose and resist. Honesty of purpose
could be no excuse whatever for fatuity of action.

Clemenceau, therefore, from the moment when he gave up the Premiership,
lost no chance of inculcating the need for vigorous preparation. France
must be ready to meet a German assault by land and by sea. When the
time came she was not ready on either element, and without the help in
finance, in munitions, in clothing, and by arms, on land and on the
ocean, at once given by England--whom Clemenceau always upheld as the
friend of the Republic--France would have been overrun and crushed,
before she could possibly have obtained aid from elsewhere. In spite of
the Franco-German agreement of 1909, the danger of such an attack in
1911 was very great: so much so that war was then commonly expected,
and was only averted because Germany thought she would be in a more
commanding position to carry out her predetermined policy three or
four years later. The Franco-German Convention relating to Morocco, of
November 4th, 1911, after the Agadir difficulty, was no better than a
pretence. It was not intended, in good faith, to ensure a permanent
peace, so far as Germany was concerned. This Clemenceau felt sure of,
though the treaty was by no means unfavourable to France. He was ready
to make all sacrifices, however mortifying, provided only a genuine
treaty of peace and understanding between the two peoples could be
secured. But this must not be done blindly. It must be an integral part
of a serious national policy.

Therefore, speaking in the Senate on the 12th February, 1912, in
opposition to the treaty with Germany about Morocco, he went on: "We
shall make every effort to give fresh proofs of our goodwill--we have
given enough and to spare already during the past forty years--in order
that the consequences of this treaty may fructify under conditions
worthy of the dignity of the two peoples; but we must know what the
other party to the treaty is about, what are his intentions, what he
thinks, says, proposes to do, and what signs of goodwill _he_ likewise
has vouchsafed. That is the question we must have the courage to ask
ourselves. This question I deal with at my own risk and peril, without
being concerned as to what I have to say, because I have at heart no
bad feeling, no hatred, to use the right word, towards the German
people. I want no provocation; firmly resolved as I am to do nothing
to sacrifice a vestige, however trifling, of our capacity to win if
attacked, I am equally convinced that peace is not only desirable
but necessary for the development of French ideas in the domain of
civilisation. . . . The German people won two great victories which
changed the equilibrium of Europe, in 1866 and in 1870. . . . _We
then knew, we had the actual proof in our hands, that, if the enemy
had occupied Paris, the capital of France would have been reduced
to ashes._ Prince Bismarck, in reply to the expostulations of Jules
Favre, declared that the German troops must enter at one of the gates,
'because I do not wish, when I get home, that a man who has lost a
leg or an arm should be able to say to his comrades, pointing to me:
That fellow you see there is the man who prevented me from entering
Paris.' When Jules Favre said that the German Army had glory enough
without that, M. Bismarck retorted, 'Glory! we don't use that word.'
The German, so far as I can judge of him, is above all the worshipper
of force, and rarely misses an opportunity of saying so; but where he
differs from the Latin is that his first thought is to make use of this
force. As the vast economic development of the Empire is a perpetual
temptation in this respect, he wants the French to understand that
behind every German trader there stands an army of five millions of
men. That is at the bottom of the whole thing." Moreover, he continued,
having pocketed a fine indemnity last time, Germany is greedy for a
much bigger one now. "Even quite lately the German Press has never
wearied of proclaiming that France shall pay out of her milliards
the cost of building the new German fleet. That is the frame of mind
of Germany, that is the truth which clearly appears in your treaty:
Germany thinks first and foremost of using to advantage her glory and
her force.

"But this is not all. She has conquered her unity by force, by iron,
by blood; she has so fervently yearned for this unity--nothing more
natural--that now she wants to apply it; she wishes to spread her
surplus population over the world. She finds herself compelled,
therefore, by a fatality from which she cannot escape, to exercise
pressure upon her neighbours which will compel them to give her the
economic outlets she needs. . . . There is always land for an owner who
wishes to round off his estate. There are always nations to be attacked
by a warrior-nation which would conquer other peoples. I am not here
for the purpose of criticising the German people, I am trying to
describe their state of mind towards us. . . .

"And now what of us, the French people? The people of France are
a people of idealism, of criticism, of indiscipline, of wars, of
revolutions. Our character is ill adapted for continuous action;
doubtless the French people have magnificent impulses, but, as the poet
says, their height has ever been measured by the depth of their fall."

After a survey of "the terrible year" and its results, the orator
recounts what difficult work it was that Frenchmen had to carry out
after the collapse. It was not only that they had to change their
Government, but this Government must be taught how to govern itself.

"That has created a hard situation for us. We are absorbed in this
great task. We hope to bring it to a successful conclusion. The
intervention of public opinion to-day in its own affairs, calmly,
soberly, without a word of braggadocio, that is one of the best signs
that France has yet given.

"The work we have done must be judged not by what we see but by the
ideas, the spirit that we have breathed into the heart of all French
citizens."

After giving conclusive proof that in 1875, in the Schnäbele affair, as
well as at Tangier, Morocco and Casablanca, Germany's policy had been
to wound, weaken and irritate France, Clemenceau wound up as follows:

"In all good faith we desire peace, we are eager for peace because we
need it in order to build up our country. But if war is forced upon
us we shall be there! The difficulty between Germany and ourselves
is this: Germany believes the logical consequence of her victory is
domination. We do not believe that the logical consequence of our
defeat is vassalage. We are peaceful but we are not subjugated. We do
not countersign the decree of abdication and downfall issued by our
neighbours. We come of a great history and we mean to continue to be
worthy of it. The dead have created the living: the living will remain
faithful to the dead."

This great speech was prophetic. Clemenceau knew what were the real
intentions of Germany. It was this fact that made him so bitter
against all who, honest, patriotic and self-sacrificing as they might
be, were in favour of weakening France in the hour of her greatest
danger. His warning against the financiers who were so solicitous that
foreign policy should be guided by manipulators of loans, interest
and discounts was also specially appropriate at a time when German
influence was becoming dominant in many of the banks and pecuniary
coteries of Paris. Such warnings were also timely in view of the
strange hallucinations--or worse--which then dominated English
politicians.

For it was in this same year that Lord Haldane, having reduced the
English artillery, full of sublime confidence in the rulers of Germany,
returned from Berlin to tell us through Mr. Asquith and Viscount Grey
that never were the relations between Germany and England better!
It was in this same year, too, that Mr. Lloyd George and the whole
Radical Party were convinced that Great Britain might safely reduce her
armaments on land and on sea, and the Unionists themselves scarcely
dared to take up the challenge. It was in this same year, again, that
nearly all the leaders of the Labour Party convinced themselves that
the Germans had the best of good feeling towards France and England.
Having been most artistically and hospitably "put through" in the
Fatherland, they returned to England brimful of zeal against all who,
knowing Germany and Germans well for some fifty years, could not take
the asseverations of the Kaiser, or of his trusted friend Lord Haldane,
at their face value: a value which this legal nobleman admitted a few
years later he knew at the time to be illusory, and not in accordance
with what he then declared to be the truth.

Clemenceau did not condescend to such shameless falsification. Whatever
mistakes he made, from the Socialist and anti-Imperialist point of
view, in matters of domestic importance, or concerning Morocco, where
the danger of France from the other side of the frontier had to be
considered, whether in office or out of it, he treated his countrymen
with the utmost frankness.

So time passed on. The preparations of Germany were becoming more
and more complete. The influence of the pan-German Junkers and their
flamboyant young Crown Prince was becoming so powerful that the Kaiser
felt his hand being forced before success in "the great design"
appeared quite so certain as he would like it to be. The German army
was largely increased, powerful war-vessels were being added to the
navy. A policy was being pursued which roused fears of aggression.
All through 1913 and the first months of 1914 Clemenceau in his new
paper, _L'Homme Libre_, continued day after day his warnings and his
injunctions to all Frenchmen. He had no mercy for those who unceasingly
preached fraternity and disarmament for France when Germany, more
powerful and increasingly more populous, was arming to the teeth.

"Such fraternity," he said, at the unveiling of Scheurer-Kestner's
statue, "is of the Cain and Abel kind. Against the armed peace and
armed fraternity with which Germany is threatening us nothing short
of the most perfect military education and military organisation can
be of any avail. All Europe knows, and Germany herself has no doubt
whatever, that we are solely on the defensive. Her fury for the
leadership of Europe decrees for her a policy of extermination against
France. Therefore prepare, prepare, prepare. Here you see 870,000 men
in the active army of Germany on a peace footing, better trained,
better equipped, better organised than ours, as opposed to 480,000
Frenchmen on our side. Doesn't that convince you? And Alsace-Lorraine
at the mercy of such creatures as Schadt and Förstner? Observe,
Germany has great projects in all parts of the world. It would be
childish for us to complain. What is intolerable is her pretension to
keep Europe in perpetual terror of a general war, instead of general
international discussion of her claims. Every Frenchman must remember
that, if Germany's increasing armaments do impel her to war, the loss
of the conflict would mean for us the subjugation of our race, nay,
even the termination of our history. Meanwhile, with Alsace-Lorraine
before me and the statue of Scheurer-Kestner now unveiled, I claim for
us the right never to forget. To be or not to be, that is for us the
question of the hour. Gambetta, after Sedan, called upon all Frenchmen
in their day of deepest depression to rise to the level of their duty.
He consecrated once again Republicans as the party of patriotic pride.
France must live. Live we will!"

Unfortunately, one of the chief reasons why France was unready to
meet the onrush of the modern Huns was that the Socialists were all
bemused with their own fatuous notion that the German Social-Democracy
could stop the war. Instead, therefore, of investigating the truth of
Clemenceau's statements, they merely denounced him as a chauvinist and
an enemy of the people, and twaddled on about a general strike on both
sides of the Rhine. As an old Socialist myself, who, as a member of
the International Socialist Bureau, had discussed the whole question
at length with Liebknecht, Bebel, Singer, Kautsky and others, I knew
that, as they themselves explained to me, there was little or no hope
of anything of the sort being done when war was once declared. I viewed
this whole propaganda, therefore, with grave alarm, and Bebel himself
warned the French that the Social-Democrats would march with the rest.
If an opportunity came something might be done, but----Since then
the old leaders had died and the new chiefs, as we all see now, were
Imperialists to a man. Thus Clemenceau's prognostications and warnings
were only too completely justified. Prince Lichnowsky's revelations
conclusively prove this, and the German Social-Democrats have been at
pains to confirm it. On March 11th, 1914, Clemenceau stated precisely
what they would do.

How anxious, how eager, the French were at the critical moment to avoid
even the slightest cause of offence is shown by the fact that all their
troops were withdrawn fully eight miles back along the German frontier,
a portion of French territory which the Germans made haste to seize.
Even before this, every effort was made to provoke the French troops
by petty raids across the frontier, and at last the Germans declared
that the French had sent aeroplanes to drop bombs on Nuremberg--a
statement which the Germans themselves now admit to have been a pure
fabrication. But the facts of the invasion of Belgium and France are
too well known to call for recital here.

Clemenceau did what might have been expected of him. He appealed to
all Frenchmen of every shade of opinion to sink all minor differences
in one solid combination for the defence of the country. Day after
day, this powerful journalist and orator laboured to encourage
his countrymen and to denounce unceasingly all who, honestly or
dishonestly, stood in the way of the vigorous and successful
prosecution of the war which should free France for ever from yet
other attempts by Germany to destroy her as an independent nation.
The memory of the dark days of 1870 was obliterated by the horrors of
1914 onwards. In good and bad fortune the Radical leader kept the same
resolute attitude and used the like stirring language. _L'Homme Libre_,
defaced and then suppressed by the Censor, was succeeded by _L'Homme
Enchaîné_. Ever the same policy of relentless warfare, against the
enemy at the front, and the traitors at the rear, was steadily pursued.
Ministry might come, Ministry might go, but still Clemenceau was at his
post, save when illness compelled him to quit his work for a short time.

Nor did he waver in his views as to the general strategy to be pursued.
Without making any pretence to military knowledge, but well advised by
experts on military affairs, and firmly convinced that whatever success
Germany might achieve elsewhere she would never be satisfied unless
France was crushed, he persistently opposed diversion of strength from
the Western front. _There_ this terrific struggle for world-domination
would eventually be decided. The civilisation of the West must be
subdued to German culture, France and England must be brought under
German control, before the great programme of Eastern expansion for the
Teutonic Empire could be entered upon with the certainty of success.
These were the opinions he held as to Germany's real objects.

Therefore, in opposition to the views of important personages in Great
Britain and in Allied countries, Clemenceau withstood any frittering
away of force on tempting adventures, away from the main field of
warfare. This not because he confined himself to the narrow programme
of freeing France from the invaders, but because the waste of troops
on wild-cat enterprises weakened the general strength of the Allies at
the crucial point of the whole struggle. In that decision his judgment
was at one with the ablest British strategists, and the event has
shown that he did not underrate the importance of the warfare on the
Western front. There alone, especially after the collapse of Russia,
was it possible to deliver a crushing blow at the German power. There
alone could all the forces of the Allies of the West be effectively
concentrated for the final blow.



                             CHAPTER XVIII

                             THE GREAT WAR


The events of the great war, from 1914 onwards, are too recent and
too deeply graven on all our minds to call for lengthy recital or
criticism. What many, if not most, people believed to be outside the
limits of calculation occurred. The German armies commenced their
campaign by outraging the neutrality of Belgium, which, in 1870, even
Bismarck had respected. In a few days they crashed down the great
Belgian fortresses, which capable experts had calculated would check
the Teutonic advance for at least a month, with howitzers specially
constructed and tested for that purpose; soon they exhausted the
resources of barbarism in torturing, butchering and shooting down
unarmed men, women and children whose country they had solemnly sworn
to safeguard; and they devastated and destroyed homes, beautiful
buildings, and great libraries, which even a Turcoman horde might
have spared, and extorted tremendous ransom and blood-money from the
defenceless inhabitants.

That accomplished, this torrent of ruffianism and infamy poured in upon
France with almost irresistible fury. The horrors of 1870-71 were far
outdone. The defeats of Mons, Charleroi and Metz, the impossibility
that their opponents should resist such overwhelming odds, made the
Germans believe that for the second time in half a century they would
force Paris to surrender. Then they were prepared to wreak upon the
great city, the social capital of Europe, the full vengeance of
destruction.

It is not easy, even for those who remember what occurred in the
terrible year of the downfall of the Second Empire, and the prostration
of the French Republic before the German invaders, to imagine what
were the feelings of all Frenchmen who went through that period of
martyrdom for their country when they saw a still worse storm of
brutality and hatred breaking out upon them--when, too, more rapidly
than before, Amiens was in danger and Paris seriously threatened.
Clemenceau, with his devotion to France and almost worship of the city
where he had spent his whole manhood, was more hardly hit than perhaps
any of his countrymen. He had experienced the horrors of the former
invasion; and though, when France was at its lowest, he never despaired
of the Republic, no ordinary man of seventy-three could possess the
resource and resilience of a man of thirty.

Yet Clemenceau showed little loss of vigour compared with his former
self. No Englishman has ever undergone what he underwent at that
period. Undoubtedly, when the news came to us of the great retreat of
August, 1914, our heartfelt sympathy went out to our own men. We were
all likewise full of admiration for our French comrades who still held
the Franco-British line unbroken. But at least our hearths and homes
were kept in safety for us--the raids of aircraft excepted--by the
magnificent courage of our sailors in the North Sea and of our soldiers
who freely gave their lives to protect us from the enemy. If we would
fully appreciate what was happening to France and Belgium, in spite
of all their efforts, we must imagine the county of Durham completely
occupied by the German hordes, Yorkshire overrun and the chance of
saving London from the enemy dependent upon the result of a battle to
be fought in the neighbourhood of Cambridge. It would be well if we
could display at such a crisis in England the same cool courage that
the Parisians did; if we had generals at our disposal such as Joffre
and Foch and Gallieni; and statesmen in reserve such as Clemenceau.
That was how things looked prior to the first battle of the Marne,
which checked the early flood of German invasion and removed for the
time being the necessity for retiring from Amiens and Epernay and
moving the seat of government from Paris.

During the whole of this trying period Clemenceau never lost heart
for a moment, nor his head either; and day after day in his journal
he surveyed the whole situation without fear, devoid of illusion,
yet confident always that France and her Allies could not be beaten
to their knees. When things looked worst and Paris was being drained
of her population by order, in preparation for a siege, and when the
Government was about to be removed to Bordeaux, this is how Clemenceau
wrote, recalling the past to cheer his countrymen in the present:

"The seat of government at Bordeaux is a new phase of the war which
must follow its course: a renewal of the war in the Provinces, as in
the days of the Gambettas, of the Freycinets. The same struggle against
the same German invasion, with the capital of France reduced to the
simple condition of a fortress, with France herself--provincial France,
as we say--taking in hand her own defence outside the traditional lines
of political and administrative concentration in which she has lived.

"How men and times have changed! . . . And now after full
four-and-forty years I find myself again at Bordeaux, before the
theatre I had not seen since 1871, looking for men who had undergone
the misery of survival and failing to find them. Who now remembers that
Jules Simon on his arrival had in his pocket an order for the arrest
of Gambetta? In the Provinces, as in Paris, foreign war and civil war
were being carried on. I only recall these terrible memories of past
dissensions to enhance the value of the magnificent consolation that
uplifts our hearts at the spectacle of the truly fraternal union of all
the Frenchmen of to-day. Gambetta maintained the war against invasion
in the midst of the most cruel attacks of a merciless opposition.
Compare this with the present attitude of all parties in the presence
of a Government from which all only demand that every means should be
used with the maximum of efficiency." Nor does the writer hesitate
even at this moment of trial to criticise the shortcomings of his
countrymen. As opposed to the persistent preparations of Germany,
Frenchmen, he says, have been too careless, too light-hearted, too apt
to rely upon the inspiration and enthusiasm of the moment to repair
their neglect, "while an implacable enemy was sharpening his sword
against us with unwearying zeal." And this had been proved to be the
truth years before; while so lately as November 22nd, 1913, the French
Ambassador in Berlin, M. Jules Cambon, had solemnly warned M. Pichon,
then as now French Minister for Foreign Affairs, "For some time past
hostility against us is more marked, and the Emperor has ceased to be a
partisan of peace."

The man who used his pen to tell Frenchmen disagreeable truths in
this wise and followed them up by giving chapter and verse from the
French Yellow Book, with the text of the threatening conversations
of the Emperor and General von Moltke with the King of the Belgians,
may be granted the credit of entirely disregarding his own political
interests, at least.

So also when the Anglo-French forces had won the great seven days'
battle on the Marne, Clemenceau at once uttered a note of warning
against undue confidence and excessive elation. "Let us be very careful
not to believe that we can reckon upon an uninterrupted series of
successes up to the final destruction of the aggressor. The curtain
falls on the horrible scenes of foreign invasion in Belgium and
France. A mortal blow has been inflicted upon the invincible Kaiser
who had never fought a battle. . . . But it would be sheer madness to
imagine that we have nearly finished with an enemy who will shortly
obtain fresh forces, vast forces even, from his uninvaded territory.
A great part of his military resources are still untouched. Automatic
discipline will soon reassert itself. The struggle will last very long
yet and be full of unforeseen dangers. The stake is too heavy for the
German Empire to decide suddenly to give up the game. Remember your
mistakes of the past, rejoice soberly in your victory of the present,
make ready now for still heavier trials in the future." Such was the
counsel of Clemenceau to Frenchmen on September 15th, 1914. Above all,
"Leave nothing you can help to chance. Our military leaders have just
victoriously undergone racking anxieties. It is for us to show our
confidence in them by giving them credit for the patience and firmness
which they will desperately need."

Similarly in regard to the magnificent series of defensive victories
at Verdun, of which Clemenceau gives a fine picturesque account.
After justly glorifying the prowess of the heroic French soldiery,
whose chances of victory at the commencement of those long weeks
of unceasing battle seemed small indeed; after bitter sarcasms on
the miserable Crown Prince with his premature jubilations over his
supreme carefully stage-managed "triumph"; after a terrible picture
of masses of the German troops marching through a hurricane to what
they were assured was certain victory and then their dead bodies
literally kept erect by the pressure of their dead comrades as a mass
of corpses--after all this, and his legitimate pride in the hardly won
victory, Clemenceau goes on to remind his countrymen again that this
is not the end. "Verdun is the greatest drama of resistance. But all,
All must at once set to work to make ready for a thorough offensive: a
complete offensive that needs no interpretation. For this we must have
_preparation_. For this we must have _science_. For this we must have
_method_. For this we must have _manœuvres_. Keep those words well in
mind, for nothing can be worse than to forget them. Never too soon:
never too late. What would be the cost to us, in our turn, of a _coup
manqué_?"

That is the tone throughout. But here and there in _L'Homme Enchaîné_
we find Clemenceau the controversialist in a lighter, but not less
telling, style. I give an extract from his scathing attack on the
Danish littérateur, M. Brandès, in the original:--

"Oui, retenez-le, lecteur, la crainte de M. Brandès dans les
circonstances actuelles est que l'Allemagne puisse être humiliée! Le
Danemark a été humilié par le _peuple de seigneurs_ qu'est la race
allemande. La France aussi, je crois, et la Belgique même; peut-être
Brandès le reconnaitra-t-il. Il n'a pas protesté. Il refuse même de
s'expliquer a cet égard, alléguant que son silence (assez prolixe)
est d'or--d'un or qui ne résisterait pas à la pierre de touche. Mais
sa crainte suprême est que les machinateurs du plus grand attentat
contre la civilisation, contre l'indépendance des peuples, contre la
dignité de l'espèce humaine, les auteurs des épouvantables forfaits
dont saignent encore la Belgique et la France n'éprouvent une
_humiliation_."[B] Brandès among the neutrals is of the same type as
Romain Rolland and Bertrand Russell among the belligerents. All their
sympathies are reserved for the criminals. And there are others, who
are actually eager to embrace the murderers as their "German friends"!

In quite another style is his tribute to Garibaldi when his son
Ricciotti--two of whose own sons had fallen fighting for France against
the Germans--was himself visiting Paris:--

"Garibaldi was one of those magicians who give their commands to the
peoples. These are the true performers of miracles. For they take no
account of human powers when the spirit of superhumanity impels them
to adventures of rash madness which for them prove to be evidence of
supreme sanity.

"Those who know, or think they know, talk. But words are not life.
Living humanity instinctively gives its devotion to men who rise up, in
historic episodes whose law is to us unknown, to accomplish in their
heroic simplicity precisely those very feats which 'reason' had never
anticipated. To achieve this miracle calls for the man. It requires
also the historic moment. The hour struck, and Garibaldi was there.
But of that hour he himself was to a marvellous degree the mild yet
imperious expression. Obviously inspired with an idea, he refused to
see obstacles or to recognise impossibilities. 'I shall go through with
it,' and through he went. That seems simple enough to-day. How was it
no one was found to do it before him? He went through with it, handing
over the crown to royal supplicants, and then hid himself in his island
to avoid the annoyance of his glory.

"He had given freedom. Let freedom do its work."

During the whole of the struggle, even when the military situation
looked most desperate for the future of his country, Clemenceau never
lost confidence. His faith in France and her steadfast ally Great
Britain never wavered. That was a great service he then rendered to
France and civilisation. But he did more. At a time when on the other
side of the Channel, as in Great Britain, in Italy, and in Russia,
the national spirit was clouded by deep suspicion of enemy influence,
bribery and corruption in high places, with almost criminal weakness,
when strength and determination were essential to success, Clemenceau
did not hesitate to denounce treachery where he believed it to exist.
Nothing like his courage in this respect has, unfortunately, been
shown by statesmen in any other of the Allied countries. The fact
that fomenters of reaction were, for their own ends, engaged on the
like task of exposing the men who were unworthy of the Republic did
not deter him, bitterly opposed as he was to the Royalist clique of
which M. Léon Daudet was the chief spokesman, from demanding thorough
investigation and the punishment of traitors, if traitors there were,
in their midst. The time has not yet come to estimate the full value of
the work he thus did, or the dangers from which, by his frankness, he
saved the Republic.

But already we can form a judgment of the perils which surrounded
France in 1917. The feeling of depression and distrust was growing. The
organisation of the forces of the Allies was inferior to that of the
enemy. The effect of the collapse of Russia was becoming more serious
each day. Great Britain, which had rendered France quite invaluable
aid in all departments, had accepted Mr. Lloyd George's personal
strategy, which consisted in breaking through to the Rhine frontier by
way of Jerusalem and Jericho, owing to the apparent hopelessness of a
favourable decision on the West front. The French Government itself,
alarmed at the enormous sacrifices France was making in every way,
discouraged at the progress of the defeatist movement which weakened
the position of Socialists in the Cabinet, and alarmed at the manner in
which German agents and German spies, whom they were afraid to arrest,
pervaded almost every department--the French Government, itself shaken
daily by attacks from the Right and from the Left, felt incapable of
dealing with the situation as a whole. There was, for a moment, a
sensation in Paris not far removed from despair.

At this juncture a cry arose for Clemenceau. For many years he had
predicted the German attack. For more than a full generation he had
adjured his fellow-Frenchmen to prepare vigorously for the defence
of _la Patrie_. That he feared nobody all were well aware. Of his
patriotism there was no doubt. Then, as more than forty years before,
he never despaired of the Republic. Old as he was, whatever his defects
of temper, whatever his shortcomings in other respects, the one man
for such a crisis was Georges Clemenceau. Office was thus forced upon
him, and, as he stated, he accepted power strongly against his will.
At seventy-six, and approaching seventy-seven, not the most ambitious
politician would be eager to take upon himself the responsibility of
coping with such difficulties as Clemenceau was called upon to face.
It was hard enough to undertake as Minister of War the onerous work of
that exhausting department.

But still more trying was the necessity imposed upon him of dealing
with the traitors of various degree who had been trading upon the
lives and sacrifices of the men at the front. Probably no other French
statesman would have dared to enter upon this dangerous and difficult
task. The suspected men were highly placed, both politically and
financially. They were surrounded by influential cliques and coteries,
in Parliament and in the Press, to whom it was almost a matter of life
and death to prevent disclosures which would inevitably be made, if the
various cases were brought into court. It was even doubtful whether he
would get the support of the Assembly, the Senate, or the Presidents of
Council who preceded him, if he decided to push things to extremity,
as, in view of his own criticisms and denunciations, he was bound to
do. Should such misfortune occur or should the malefactors be indicted
and acquitted, all that Clemenceau had been saying against them would
turn to the advantage of the domestic enemy. It was a great risk to run.

There was also another obstacle in the way of Clemenceau's acceptance
of the Premiership. The relations between himself and M. Poincaré,
the President of the Republic, had been anything but good. M.
Clemenceau had energetically championed the claim of M. Pams for the
Presidency. M. Pams had been, in fact, M. Clemenceau's candidate, as
MM. Sadi-Carnot, Loubet and Fallières had been before him. This time
he did not win. The fight was fierce, the personal animosity between
the parties very keen, and M. Poincaré's victory was asserted to have
been achieved by intrigue of a doubtful character. The war had called
a truce to individual rancour, and the _union sacrée_ was supposed
to inspire all hearts. Still it was by no means certain that trouble
would not come from that quarter. A President of Council with a hostile
President of the Republic over against him must find the difficulty of
the post at such a time immensely increased.

Then there were the Socialists to consider. True, they had taken
office in the Cabinet of M. Briand, whose policy towards strikers of
anarchist methods had been even more stern than that of M. Clemenceau.
But they regarded Clemenceau as an unforgivable enemy. The calling in
of the military at Courrières, at Narbonne, Montpellier and St. Béziers
had never been forgotten. Clemenceau for them was the Tiger crossed
with the Kalmuck. It was far more important, the French Socialists
apparently thought, to hamper Clemenceau and prevent him from forming
an administration than it was to beat the German armies and clear
France of the Boches. Such, at any rate, was the opinion of a minority,
which afterwards became the majority, of the party. Therefore, even
Socialists who thoroughly sympathised with Clemenceau in his policy
towards Germany, and had previously taken part in a Cabinet pledged to
carry on the war "_jusqu'au bout_," would have nothing to do with a
Clemenceau Administration. The upshot of these fatuous, anti-patriotic
and anti-Socialist tactics on their part will be seen later. Yet the
knowledge that the Socialists as a whole would give him at best a
lukewarm support, and at worst would vigorously oppose him, was not an
encouraging factor in the general calculation of what might occur.

Neither could high finance be relied upon. The great bankers, great
brokers, and great money institutions as a whole, were heartily sick of
the war. They wanted peace with Germany on almost any terms, if only
they could get back to business and begin to recoup their losses during
more than three years of war. Nor, apart from downright treachery of
which he held positive proof, could the proposed new Premier close his
eyes to the fact that German influence had so subtly and thoroughly
pervaded the French money market that many Frenchmen were still looking
at the economic problems of France through spectacles made and tinted
in Germany.

There was consequently a combination possible which might drive
Clemenceau headlong out of office at any moment, if he entered upon his
second attempt to control French affairs at such a desperately critical
stage of the war.

But the formidable old Radical leader did not hesitate. Sceptic as he
might be in all else, one entity he did believe in: the unshakable
greatness of France: one Frenchman he could rely upon--himself.



                              CHAPTER XIX

                           THE ENEMY WITHIN


During the whole of the war, as for many years before the Germans
began their great campaign of aggression, every country with which the
Fatherland might in any way be concerned was permeated with German
agents and German spies. Great Britain was one of the nations specially
favoured in this respect. The ramifications of their systematic
interpenetration of the social, political, financial, commercial
and even journalistic departments of our public life have never yet
been fully exposed; nor, certainly, have the very important personages
who conducted this sinister propaganda been dealt with. Even when the
Defence of the Realm Act is ended and the Censorship is abrogated, it
is doubtful if the full truth will ever be generally known, so powerful
are the influences directly interested in its suppression.

In the United States of America, where similar work was done upon an
enormous scale and at vast expense, under circumstances still more
favourable to success than in this island, the American Government
acted with a decision and a vigour that are not yet understood. Even
so, the amount of mischief done was very great, and, for the first two
years of the war at least, the German efforts were largely successful.
That a duly accredited Ambassador to a friendly power should have been
at the head of this vast conspiracy in America, as Count Bernstorff
unquestionably was, introduces a new and most dangerous precedent into
the comity of international relations. Italy, in like manner, suffered
very seriously from German intrigues. The history of the carefully
organised disaster upon the Isonzo has yet to be written. That it was
the result of well-arranged collaboration between clerical organisers
of treachery, inspired by Austria, German agents, with unlimited
financial backing, who had sympathisers in high place, and honest
and dishonest fanatics of the pacifist persuasion, does not admit of
question. Certain it is that in this one case alone German underground
machinations were responsible for the crushing defeat of an army of
500,000 men, holding a position where 50,000 good troops could have
held a million at bay.[C]

But if Great Britain, the United States, and Italy were thus
honeycombed with secret service agents from Germany, the nation which
the Kaiser, his Chief of Staff and the Junkers were most anxious to
crush down beyond the possibility of recovery was still more imperilled
by astute German infiltration. Up to the crisis of Agadir in 1911,
French finance was, to an ever increasing extent, manipulated by German
Jews, who made it their special business to become more Parisian than
the Parisians themselves. They were consequently regarded with favour
by people whose patriotism was beyond question. Scarcely a great
French finance institution but had close relations in some form with
Germans, whose continuous attention to business and excellent general
information rendered them valuable coadjutors for the French, who, as
a rule, are not very exactly informed on foreign matters. Very few saw
any danger in this. It seemed, indeed, a natural result of the great
growth of German trade, as well as of the position which Germans had
acquired as capable managers of the growing French factory industry in
the North-Eastern provinces.

This latter point is of importance. So long as any industry remains in
the old form, where individual skill, meticulous attention to detail,
and close observance of quality are the rule, the French are second
to none in their methods. But when the next stage is reached, and
machine production reigns on a very large scale, with its concomitant
standardisation of output, then the French seem to fail for lack of
the thorough organising faculty of the German or the American. Hence
in many directions the highly educated, methodical, progressive
foreigner from across the frontier had begun to take the place of the
more conservative Frenchman. This process could be observed in the
department of motor-cars, where the French, who were undoubtedly the
pioneers, had begun to fall behind upon the world market in the time
just anterior to the war. Not only the Americans, but the Germans, and
even Italy, showed more capacity to gauge the necessities of the coming
period than France in their output of cars.

But, in addition to this, Frenchmen, the most thrifty people in the
world, are disinclined to use their savings in the development of their
own country. In literature, in science, in art, they display great
faculties of initiative. In the matter of investment they prefer to
rely upon others. Even the underground railways of their metropolis
were started by a foreigner: the French investors only coming in to buy
the debentures of companies which they might just as well have started
themselves. They complained that the Germans were making vast profits
out of "their own" iron mines of Lorraine which had been taken from
France in an undeveloped state in 1871; yet they failed to exploit the
still richer deposits in Briey, of which the Germans were so envious
that the desire to possess them was one of the minor causes of the war.
Similar instances of neglected opportunities could be pointed out in
many districts.

This indifference of the thrifty French investors to the possibility
of enriching their own country by the use at home of the money capital
obtained from their own savings, and the profits derived from visitors,
astonished lookers-on. Clemenceau denounced the folly of financial wars
of conquest in semi-civilised countries when France needed her own
resources for the improvement of her own soil and what underlay it, as
well as to make adequate preparation for war. But the loans to foreign
nations and foreign banks were economically as prejudicial to her real
interests as the injurious colonial policy. That was proved only too
clearly, even in the field of military preparation when, in August and
September, 1914, tens of thousands of men, unsupplied with clothing and
equipment, were to be seen in and around Paris. England had to provide
them with what they required.

In such a state of affairs, where neglect of consideration as to the
purposes of loans was the rule, so long as the interest seemed quite
secure, German banks could and did act with great advantage. They
borrowed French savings at a low rate and employed them for profitable
objects, or for their own more complete war preparations on economical
terms. After the shock of Agadir, when war at one period seemed
certain, the French called in most of their loans and thenceforward
were rather more cautious. But, in the meantime, and even afterwards,
France's savings had been used to strengthen her bitterest enemy.
And this was the end the Germans kept constantly in view when they
borrowed. France, in fact, built up German credit against herself, at
the same time that Germany was able to estimate exactly the economic
power of her destined victim, and to investigate, without appearing to
do so, the weak points in French preparation for defence. The German
banks and their French friends played together the same game, in a
different way, that the Deutsche Bank and the Dresdner Bank did in
London and the Banca Commerciale in Italy. The whole formed part of the
vast economic octopus scheme, in finance and in industry, which went
hand in hand with the co-ordination of military effort destined for
attack.

It is easy to discern how all this peaceful financial manipulation
played into the hands of the German Government and fostered German
influence in Paris and in France. There was nothing which could be
reasonably objected to, under the conditions of to-day, if Holland, or
Belgium, had been the nation concerned. But with Germany it was quite
different.

Not only was French money being used on German account, but, under
cover of quite legitimate finance and apparently genuine newspaper
enterprise, most nefarious schemes were hatched in peace whose full
utility to the enemy would only be disclosed in war. Taking no account
even of the actual operations of bribery, which we now know were
carried on upon a very large scale, everybody who was directly or
indirectly interested in the various forms of parasitical Franco-German
finance had personally excellent reasons for pooh-poohing distrust of
the friendly nation on the other side of the frontier. Thus the most
pressing warnings addressed to the French Government might be rendered
almost useless--as, in fact, they were--by influence brought to bear
from quarters that were pecuniarily above suspicion. An atmosphere
favourable to German propaganda was created which covered up and
favoured the sinister plans of men and women who were actually in
German pay. This went on long before the war, and was continued in
still more dangerous shape after the war had begun.

Then there were the honest pacifists, who regarded all war, even
defensive war, as disastrous to the workers. Whether Germany won or
France won in any conflict, the capitalists and the capitalists alone
were the real enemy. Two such different men as Edouard Vaillant and
Gustave Hervé held this opinion; and both at great international
Socialist congresses declared that every effort should be made to
prevent France from coming to an actual struggle with Germany, no
matter what the provocation might be. When, however, they saw what
the policy of the Kaiser and his Junker militarists really meant they
changed their minds. So, in the early days of the war, did the majority
of French Socialists; and several of their principal men, including
Jules Guesde, the leader of the Marxists, and Albert Thomas, joined M.
Briand's Cabinet.

But there was always an active section left which in all good faith
stood to their views that under the capitalist system nothing could
justify the workers of one country in killing the workers of another.
They had no interest in their own nation which was worth defending
in the field. The past of France was for them a record of class
oppression, the present of France the continuance of chattel slavery in
disguise, the future of France no better than the permanence of penal
servitude for life as wage-slaves to the bourgeoisie. German domination
could be no worse for them than the economic tyranny of their own
capitalist countrymen.

This form of social fanaticism now exists in every European nation.
It is as bitter and, given the opportunity, as unscrupulous and cruel
as any form of religious intolerance that ever exercised control.
Economic theory entirely obscures history and facts with such men.
Not even the awful horrors of the German invasion, horrors quite
unprecedented in modern warfare and systematically practised in
order to engender terror, and destroy the means of creating wealth,
could convert Socialists of this school. As a Socialist I understand
their fanaticism, though I despise their judgment. Capitalism under
the control of home employers and financiers is bad, but it can be
controlled by educated workers. Capitalism in victorious alliance with
foreign Junkerdom would have made France uninhabitable for Frenchmen,
and would have thrown back democratic Socialism for at least two
generations throughout Europe.

Nevertheless, this furious minority, in conjunction with Socialists of
political intrigue, among whom Jean Longuet (son of Charles Longuet
the member of the Commune and grandson of Karl Marx) was the leader,
became eventually the majority, owing to the weakness of the heads of
the patriotic section. This success laid the French Socialist Party
open to the charge of being not only anti-patriotic but definitely
pro-German. It led to the retirement of forty-one Deputies from the
"unified" combination. The violent animosity of the main body to
Clemenceau at the time when he was forced into office, and the refusal
of Socialists to accept portfolios in his Cabinet, when the cause of
the Allies was at its lowest point, from November, 1917, to July,
1918, looked to outsiders a miserable policy for the party, not to be
explained by the devotion of its members to MM. Malvy and Caillaux.[D]
Personal malevolence and political pusillanimity together were the
imputations made against those who thus declined to serve France in
her utmost need. Happily for Europe, their strength was not equal to
their ill-will, and Clemenceau, after his first month of power, was
able to treat them as a negligible quantity. So they remain to-day.
A very great opportunity of serving the workers of their country has
been missed: that the bitterest enemy of France and of freedom has not
been greatly helped in her war for universal domination is no fault of
theirs.

During the first three years and more of the war, however, a conspiracy
was being conducted which, aided unfortunately by much of apathy and
ineptitude on the part of successive French Governments, and supported
unintentionally or intentionally by one of the leading statesmen of
France, went near to wrecking the fortunes of the Republic. That this
fateful plot failed to achieve the full success which the Germans
anticipated from it is due to Clemenceau. Sordid monetary sympathy with
the enemy is difficult to forgive: Socialist fanaticism and Socialist
intrigues which must tell to the disadvantage of the nation are hard
to reconcile with common honesty; but downright infamous treachery,
bribery, corruption, and wholesale attempts to organise defeat put all
who are guilty of them outside the law. Yet matters had come to such a
pass that all these various forms of treason to France, to the Allies,
and to soldiers at the front could be carried on with impunity.

Though the guilty persons were well known and their German plots were
scarcely concealed, none of the Ministers responsible for the public
safety dared arrest them. Journals that were obviously published in the
interest of the enemy were allowed to spread false information as they
pleased, and to attack all statesmen and politicians who were honestly
trying to serve France with vitriolic misrepresentation. Day after
day this went on. Day after day, as the situation without grew more
precarious, the chiefs of this criminal endeavour to bring France to
ruin grew bolder in their well-paid treachery. The people of Paris and
the soldiery in the trenches, whose minds also German agents strove to
debauch with plausible lies, were becoming hopeless of justice being
done. Ministry succeeded Ministry and still the traitors were treated
with consideration by the Minister of the Interior, M. Malvy, and other
men in high place.

Beyond question the man officially responsible for all this shameful
laxity, at one of the most trying crises of the whole war, was M.
Malvy, who enjoyed the whole-souled support of the Socialist Party,
on account of creditable behaviour towards the workers, altogether
outside of questions arising from the war. But his conduct in regard
to traitors and pro-Germans had become so weak as to be capable of the
worst interpretation.

On July 24th, 1917, Clemenceau declared that he utterly distrusted
M. Malvy. It was known even thus early that this Minister had shown
deplorable incapacity in his dealings with men who are known to have
been actual traitors. He had, in fact, decided not to arrest persons
enumerated in what was called "List B," that is to say, men and women
more than suspected of criminal intrigue against France. Had not
Almereyda himself assured M. Malvy, as Minister of the Interior, that
he and all other Anarchists and anti-patriotic agitators would really
desist from their sinister proceedings? This was enough. Without
taking any steps against them, or even obtaining any security for the
fulfilment of this promise in the air, M. Malvy left these miscreants
alone to do what they pleased. So things went on as before; though, as
has since been proved, several of these active agitators for peace,
disaffection and surrender were paid agents of the German Government.

When, therefore, a resolution of confidence in M. Ribot's
Administration was proposed in the Senate, Clemenceau voted for the
resolution, but made special exception in the case of M. Malvy, in whom
he declared he had no confidence whatever. Later, Clemenceau boldly
accused M. Ribot and his whole Administration of being themselves
all responsible for the existence of the treacherous German Bonnet
Rouge and Bolo conspiracy. Most unfortunately, notwithstanding the
universal distrust thus awakened and spreading from Paris throughout
France, Republican Ministers, who ought to have been the first to move
to safeguard the interests of France and her Republic, against the
dangerous plots of men known to be immersed in abominable dealings with
the enemy, failed altogether in their duty. They left it to avowed
Royalists and reactionaries to lead the attack upon persons guilty of
these crimes. What, consequently, ought to have been done at once,
legally and thoroughly, by men who had received political power by vote
of the French people, and were trustees for the defence of the country,
against the foreign enemy from without and the domestic enemy within,
was left largely to be accomplished by M. Léon Daudet and M. Barrès.

These men made no secret of the fact that they were actuated by motives
entirely antagonistic to the democratic policy of the Allies and
hostile to the only form of government possible in France. This did
not render their indictment less crushing when the facts were fully
disclosed, but it certainly weakened the force of the attack. What
is more, it gave a large and, later, apparently the largest section
of the Socialist Party the excuse, which they were eager to grasp,
for supporting M. Malvy, and more particularly their friend M. Joseph
Caillaux, against what they were pleased to denounce as abominable
detraction.

Newspapers to-day are credited, perhaps, with more political influence
than they really possess. But it is clear that if nearly the whole
of the important press of a country can be captured by a particular
faction, and only such news is allowed to be published as suits the
convenience of the Government in power, the people at large have no
means of correcting the false impressions of events thus thrust upon
them. That is an extreme case, which has, so far, been realised, in
practice, in only one country. But the German agents who were so
active in Paris were fully alive to the advantages of such a policy
of purchase and manipulation of the press for their own ends. They
made efforts to secure a control of the majority of the shares in some
of the most influential journals of Paris. How far this process was
surreptitiously carried will never be known: not far enough, certainly,
to affect the tone of the organs they were anxious to manipulate.

But enough was done to show the great danger which would have resulted
to the community, had a newspaper trust been successfully created on
the scale contemplated, but fortunately never carried out, by the
infamous Bolo Pasha and his associates. Their own journal, _Le Bonnet
Rouge_, even when increased during the war from a weekly to a daily
issue, was not by any means sufficient for their needs, although that
traitorous sheet alone was able to do a great deal of mischief. But
their control was extended to the _Journal_, a paper, prior to the
war, of considerable circulation and influence. Their attempts to
expand further were in full swing when, thanks to the work of MM. Léon
Daudet and Barrès in the _Action_ _Française_, and still more to that
of their bitter opponent Clemenceau in _l'Homme Enchaîné_ and in the
Senate, the French Government was forced to arrest the proprietors of
the _Bonnet Rouge_ and put them on their trial as traitors. It was
known that M. Caillaux and M. Paix-Séailles--the latter connected
with M. Painlevé's Cabinet and the repository of anti-French
confidences--had contributed considerable sums to the support of the
incriminated paper.

When M. Almereyda, one of the most important persons connected with the
_Bonnet Rouge_ (to whose columns a leading Socialist was a contributor)
died suddenly in prison, the editor of that journal telegraphed to M.
Caillaux concerning the lamentable departure of "our friend." As these
facts were accompanied by other revelations still more compromising,
public opinion became greatly excited. There could be no doubt that
the conspiracy was more than a mere anti-patriotic newspaper intrigue
of financial origin, or an attempt of discredited politicians to
float themselves back into office on the wave of discouragement and
defeatism: it was an endeavour, supported throughout by German funds,
to destroy French confidence in order to ensure French destruction.
A complete exposure of the whole plot, in which M. Caillaux and Bolo
Pasha were alleged to be the leading figures, was threatened in
the course of the _Bonnet Rouge_ trial. Eleven members of the Army
Committee of the Senate were appointed to consider M. Caillaux's
connection with M. Almereyda and the _Bonnet Rouge_.

M. Caillaux has been by far the most formidable advocate of a German
peace from the first. That an ex-Premier of France should take up such
a position would seem almost incredible, but that Signor Giolitti in
Italy and Lord Lansdowne in England have pursued the same course in a
less objectionable way. The political relations between Clemenceau and
M. Caillaux in the years prior to the war had not been unfriendly. M.
Caillaux had been Finance Minister in Clemenceau's Cabinet in 1907, and
they had both worked together for M. Pams against M. Poincaré in the
contest for the Presidency. But two more different personalities it
would be difficult to find.

M. Caillaux is a financier of financiers. His whole career has been
associated with the dexterous manipulation and acquisition of money
in all its forms. Clemenceau never had anything to do with finance in
his fife, and wealth is the last thing anybody could accuse him of
possessing. Clemenceau, though no sentimentalist, makes an exception
in his view of life where Frenchmen, France and Paris are concerned.
With Caillaux audacious cynicism in everything is the key-note of
his character all through. Moreover, the one is very simple in his
habits, and the other is devoted to ostentation and display. Caillaux's
cynicism is as remarkable as that of Henry Labouchere, though more
malignant. When he carried the Income Tax through the Assembly and was
upbraided for having made himself the champion of such a measure, he
claimed that, though he had obtained for his measure a majority in the
Assembly, he had used such arguments as would destroy it in the country.

Whatever may be the truth of that story, it is certain that the
result has been as predicted. So in the course of the Agadir affair.
M. Caillaux, as Prime Minister during the whole of the proceedings,
was reluctant, and perhaps rightly so, to assert the claims of
France with vigour. He was, in fact, quite lukewarm on behalf of his
country, the representatives of other nations doing more for France,
it is said, than she, or her Premier, did for herself. No sooner,
however, was the business settled than M. Caillaux, the judicious but
unavowed anti-expansionist, claimed that he had secured Morocco for
France! However this may be, M. Caillaux has always favoured a close
political and financial understanding with Germany, as by far the more
advantageous policy for France, in opposition to a similar _entente_
with England: a view which, of course, he was quite entitled to take
and act upon, though its success in practice must have reduced France
to the position of a mere satellite of the Fatherland. Before the war
it was possibly a justifiable, though scarcely a far-seeing, policy.

The war itself rather strengthened than weakened his tendency in this
direction. Having comfortably recovered from the unpleasing effect
of the murder of M. Calmette of the _Figaro_, for which crime his
wife was acquitted, he used all his influence, in and out of France,
to bring about a peace with Germany, which could with difficulty be
distinguished from complete surrender, as soon as possible. This while
the German armies were in actual occupation of more than a fifth of his
devastated country, that fifth being the richest part of France. His
interviews with Signer Giolitti, a vehement partisan of Germany, and
certain strange intrigues in Rome and elsewhere, could only be regarded
as the more suspicious from the fact that he travelled with a passport
made out in a fictitious name. Altogether M. Caillaux's proceedings at
home and abroad, in Europe and in South America, gave the impression
that he was pursuing a policy of his own which was diametrically
opposed to the welfare of his countrymen.

Some who have watched closely M. Caillaux's career from his youth up
are of opinion that the man is mad. But there is certainly method
in his madness. Whatever the defects to which the high priests of
international financial brotherhood may plead guilty, they never
admit lunatics into their Teutono-Hebraic Holy of Holies. Access to
the interior of that sanctuary is reserved for the very elect of the
artists in pecuniary conveyance. But it is precisely within this
innermost circle of glorified Mammon that M. Joseph Caillaux is most
at home and most influential. And these people, so ensconced in their
golden temple, were the ones most anxious to bring the war to an end no
matter what became of France. This, as has been well said, was a civil
war for Jews; but for the Jews of the great international of Mammon
it was civil war and hari-kari at one and the same time. So there was
weeping and wail in Frankfurt-am-Main, there was wringing of hands in
Berlin on the Spree, and the Parisian devotees of the golden calf were
not less profuse in their lamentations.

As a matter of fact, international finance was, and is, the most
pacifist of all the Internationals, and M. Joseph Caillaux as director
of the _Société Générale_, a portion of the great _Banque de Paris et
Pays Bas_, represented its view perfectly. But that he is not devoid
of political as well as financial astuteness is apparent from the
extraordinary success he has achieved in securing close intimacy and
friendship with the French Socialists. This has assured him the support
not only of Jean Longuet and his friends, with whom he was specially
bound up, but also of _L'Humanité_, with Renaudel, Sembat, Thomas and
others connected with that useful journal. It has, indeed, been very
difficult to understand the bitter hatred which the Socialists of
France have manifested towards the thoroughgoing patriot Clemenceau,
and their persistent championship of pro-Germans such as Caillaux
and Malvy. But the dry-rot of pro-Germanic pacifism has infected a
large proportion of the younger school of international Socialists
in every country. With Socialism, as with commerce and finance, the
German policy of unscrupulous penetration has been pursued with great
success. Honest fanatics as well as self-seeking intriguers have fallen
victims to their wiles. Caillaux was equally fortunate in capturing
both sections. Even the rougher type of German agents, such as Bolo and
Duval, were not without their friends in the Socialist camp.

The investigation of his conduct before the Army Committee of the
Senate was, in effect, an informal trial of M. Caillaux, M. Malvy's
case having already been remitted by the same body for definite
adjudication by the High Court. Naturally, M. Caillaux and his friends
strained every nerve, first to prevent Clemenceau from being forced
into office by public opinion; and then, when his assumption of
the Premiership became inevitable, to upset his Ministry while its
members were scarcely warm in their seats. The French Socialist Party,
unfortunately, aided M. Caillaux and his friends in their attacks,
after having declined the Premier's offer of seats in his Cabinet.
Shortly afterwards Clemenceau himself was summoned to appear as a
witness before the Committee of the Senate on this serious indictment.
It is difficult for us to imagine the sensation which this produced.
Here was M. Caillaux, who had been Prime Minister of France only a
few short years before, who had previously been Clemenceau's intimate
colleague, openly charged with the despicable crime of trading France
away to the enemy.

No wonder a great many thoroughly patriotic Frenchmen could not
believe, even in the face of the evidence, that a statesman of M.
Caillaux's ability, with a great future before him after the war, could
be guilty of such actions as those which were imputed to him. But his
old colleague who had just taken office was in possession of documents
which threw an ugly shadow upon all M. Caillaux's recent proceedings.
As usual Clemenceau went straight to the point. The Government had not
furnished the members of the Committee with mere surmises or doubts
cast upon the general conduct of the incriminated person. There were
printed statements already at their disposal of the gravest character.
With three notorious persons M. Caillaux had intimate connections.
One of them, when arrested, had died suspiciously in prison: the two
others were still under arrest upon most serious charges. If this were
the case of a common citizen he would have been brought at once before
a magistrate. The whole country was crying out for the truth in this
Caillaux case as well as in the Malvy affair.

This happened soon after Clemenceau had accepted office. A month later,
M. Caillaux being in the meantime protected against arrest by his
position as deputy, Clemenceau repeated that if all the probabilities
accumulated against Caillaux had been formulated against any private
person his fate would have been practically decided already. "The
Government has undertaken responsibilities. The Chamber must likewise
shoulder responsibilities. If the Chamber refuses to sanction the
prosecution of M. Caillaux, the Government will not remain in office."

M. Caillaux's admitted conferences with well-known defeatists in Italy
were of such a nature that Baron Sonnino, the Italian Minister for
Foreign Affairs, had himself informed the French Government that he
was inclined to expel Caillaux forthwith. No doubt he would have done
so, but for the fact that M. Caillaux had been, and might possibly
still be again, an important personage in French and European affairs.
Throughout, Clemenceau promised that the public should have the full
truth. He kept his word. The delays in bringing M. Caillaux to a
definite judgment have not been due to him. M. Caillaux's immunity as
deputy was suspended. He was arrested and imprisoned on January 15th,
1918. Four days later came the partial disclosure of the documents
found in his private safe in Florence.

That such papers should ever have been left by a man of M. Caillaux's
intelligence where they might quite conceivably be attached, and
that he should have carefully put in writing the names of men whom
he hoped to use for the purpose of furthering a _coup d'état_, do
unquestionably support the theory that he is subject to intermittent
fits of madness. His extraordinary proceedings at Buenos Aires, where,
according to the United States representative in the Argentine capital,
he entered into a series of most compromising negotiations with the
German von Luxburg, were no good evidence of the permanent sanity of
this successful and experienced man of affairs. But "madness in great
ones must not unwatched go." His object was avowed in that remote city:
to make peace with Germany at any price, for the purpose of reviving
international finance. All these statements coming in succession, and
accompanied by the formulation of the cases against M. Malvy, Bolo
Pasha, with Duval and others of the _Bonnet Rouge_ clique, at length
roused furious public indignation, which the actions of M. Humbert, the
senator and owner of the _Journal_, the paper that Bolo had in effect
bought, further inflamed. Who could be regarded as entirely free from
treacherous designs, when such a crushing indictment as that officially
formulated against Caillaux could be accepted as correct?--when a
Minister of the Interior could be publicly charged with criminal
weakness towards persons more than suspected of high treason of
the most sordid type?--and when a man of Bolo Pasha's career and
associations evidently exercised great influence, not to say authority?

The revelations at the trials of the accused persons, and the ugly
evidence submitted not only made matters look worse for M. Caillaux,
but roused general amazement that such deadly intrigues should have
been allowed to go so far under the very eyes of the authorities. The
career of Bolo Pasha, the direct agent-in-chief of the main conspiracy,
was well known. The men with whom he was on terms of close intimacy
were suspected persons, long before any action was taken. The secret
service department was well aware that he had huge sums of money
at his disposal that were very, very far in excess of any that he
could command from his private resources. The origin of his title of
dishonour from the Khedive could not have escaped notice. Yet he, a
born Frenchman, all whose begettings and belongings were a matter of
record, pursued his shameless policy in the interest of Germany with
apparent certainty of immunity from interference.

It was this very same certainty of immunity that made all but a few
afraid to speak out. Bolo, in fact, was a privileged person, until
there was a statesman at the head of affairs who not only did not
fear to take the heavy responsibility of the arrest and imprisonment
of M. Caillaux, but was also determined that the proceedings in the
other cases already commenced should be pushed to their inevitable
conclusion. "The unseen hand" in France, therefore, was no longer
unseen. Yet so wide was the reach of the octopus tentacles, directed by
underground agency, that even to this day not a few innocent, as well
as guilty, people are in mortal fear lest disclosures may be made which
will in some or other way implicate them. For the trial of M. Caillaux
has yet to come.

The two really dramatic episodes in all this gradual exposure of infamy
were the arrest and imprisonment of M. Caillaux, upon the suspension
of his privileges as deputy, and the public trial of Bolo Pasha. After
what had happened since August, 1914, it seemed almost impossible that
any Minister, however powerful he might be, would venture to go to the
full extent of what was indispensably necessary with M. Caillaux. A
man who had been Prime Minister of France, who in that capacity had
gathered round him groups of politicians whose members looked to him to
ensure their personal success in the future, was formidably entrenched
both in the Senate and in the Assembly. To incur the personal enmity
of such a capable statesman and such a master of intrigue as Joseph
Caillaux was more than any of the previous Ministries had dared to
risk. There were too many political reasons against it. Even the most
honest of the Socialist Ministers themselves seem to have felt that.
All the time, likewise, an influential portion of the Press vigorously
supported the ex-Premier. They carried the war into the enemy's camp by
denouncing his critics either as unscrupulous and lying reactionaries,
who were endeavouring to ruin a really progressive statesman, as men
imbued with such lust for slaughter and eagerness for revenge that they
had lost all grip of the actual situation, or as malignant intriguers
behind the scenes whose one object was to blacken the character
of an opponent who stood in the way of their schemes for personal
aggrandisement.

Furthermore, M. Caillaux, holding the eminent position already referred
to in the world of finance, had the whole-souled and entire-pocket
backing of the French and German-Jew international money-lords. These
magnates of plutocracy, marvellous to relate, found themselves on
this issue hand in glove with the most active international French
Socialists. Nobody who was in the least afraid of political cliques,
of journalistic coteries, of financial syndicates, or of Socialist
rancour, could put Caillaux under lock and key. And the military
outlook lent itself to the encouragement of the leading advocate of
surrender and his acolytes. The word was assiduously passed round that,
now Russia was out of the fray, a drawn battle was the very best that
the Entente could hope for.

France was bled white, Great Britain was war-weary and her workers
were discontented, Italy--think of Caporetto--while, as to the United
States, America was a long way off, President Wilson was still "too
proud to fight" in earnest, American troops could never be transported
in sufficient numbers across the Atlantic, and, to say nothing of
dangers from submarines, there was not enough shipping afloat to do
it. All pointed, therefore, to prompt "peace by negotiation," and
what better man could there be to negotiate such a peace than M.
Joseph Caillaux? It was because he was the one political personage
in France who could secure fair terms for his distressful country,
at this terrible crisis, that he was so persistently attacked by the
Chauvinists as a pro-German and accused of the most sordid treachery by
men who envied him his power at the international Council Table!

Such was the situation. So long as M. Caillaux was at large, and able
to direct the whole of the forces of defeatism, no genuinely patriotic
Ministry could be successfully formed, or, if formed by some fortuitous
concurrence of circumstances, could last for three months. Treachery
breeds treachery as loyalty engenders loyalty. When Clemenceau took
office, therefore, everything depended upon what he did with Caillaux.
Paris and all France held their breath as they awaited the event.
Patriots were doubtful: defeatists were hopeful: soldiers were on the
look-out for a man.

On January 15th, then, M. Caillaux was arrested and put in prison
by Clemenceau and his Ministry. All the predictions of upheaval and
disaster, indulged in by M. Caillaux's friends, were falsified. The
country breathed more freely. Thenceforward, France knew whom to back.
But, supposing that M. Caillaux had still been within the precincts of
Parliament and carrying on his political plots when the terrible news
came of the disasters of Cambrai and St. Quentin, and when the German
armies were within cannon-shot of Paris--how then? Those who knew
best how things stood believe themselves that counsels of despair and
pusillanimity might have prevailed, to the ruin of the country.

No such fateful issue as that involved in Caillaux's arrest hung upon
the result of the trial of Bolo Pasha. But Bolo's whole career was a
tragical farce, to which even Alphonse Daudet could scarcely have done
full justice. Bolo was a Frenchman of the Midi: a Tartarin with the
tendencies of a financial Vautrin: a fine specimen of the flamboyant
and unscrupulous international adventurer. His first experience in the
domain of extraction was as a dentist in the country of his birth. A
handsome, blond young man of fine appearance and manners and methods of
address attractive to women, he soon found that the drawing of teeth
and other less skilled professions led to the receipt of no emoluments
worthy of his talents. To take in a well-to-do partner and decamp with
his wife and the firm's cash-box was more in the way of business.

So satisfactory was this first adventure that he extended his field
of operations, and several ladies had the advantage of paying for his
attentions in the shape of all the money of which they chanced to be
possessed. Somehow or other he found himself in the Champagne country
during the wine-growers' riots, and continued to have a good time in
the district while they were going on. But in 1905 the claret region
proved more lucrative. For in Bordeaux the charm of his disposition
produced so great an effect upon the widow of a rich merchant of that
city that she succumbed to his attractions and married him. This
provided Bolo with the means for setting on foot all sorts of financial
enterprises in Europe and America. He thus became a promoter of the
open-hearted and sanguine type, found his way into "society" of the
kind which opens its arms to such men, had sufficient influence to
become a chevalier of the Legion of Honour, and by 1914 had lost all
his wife's money and more into the bargain--was, in fact, in very
serious financial straits from which he saw no way of extricating
himself. Certain Egyptian friends he had made, who later obtained for
him his title of Pasha from the Khedive, were not then in a position to
help him.

But Bolo without money meant a German agent in search of a job. It
proved easy to get it. He notified the Germans through the Egyptians
that he could do good service in France if only he were provided with
plenty of funds. He was so furnished with hundreds of thousands of
pounds. _L'Homme Libre_ said of him that he revelled in the prestige
of having money, to such an extent that he believed that money was
everything. Rather, perhaps, he had become so accustomed to indulge
in pleasures and political and financial intrigues of every sort that
he would run any risk rather than give up the game. So it was that he
carried on the dangerous policy, if such it could be called, sketched
above.

About his guilt there could be no doubt. That he had been closely
connected with people in high places as well as in low, and possessed
considerable personal magnetism, was clear. All this came out in court,
where persons of every grade, from Ministers and Senators to Levantine
rogues and Parisian courtesans, passed in and passed out like figures
on a cinema film. Bolo, of course, denied every charge, and posed as a
financier of high degree, but he was condemned to death, and his appeal
against the sentence was fruitless, though he pretended he could make
harrowing disclosures. He met his death bravely on April 10th. His fate
was a heavy blow to other spies and conspirators.

There was an interpellation on the Bolo trial, a month before his
execution that led to a powerful speech by Clemenceau, in which he
declared that he was first for liberty, next for war, and finally for
the sacrifice of everything to secure victory. He then made a vigorous
appeal to the Socialists to join with the rest of the country in
supporting his Government in a supreme effort to free France from the
invader. "It is a great misfortune that my administration should be
denounced by Renaudel"--then editor of _L'Humanité_--"as a danger to
the workers. My hands are to the full as hardened by toil as those of
Renaudel and Albert Thomas, good bourgeois citizens as they are, like
myself. I have in my pocket a paper in which Renaudel is stigmatised
as Clemenceau's orderly; nay, adding insult to injury, he is held
up to public obloquy as _Monsieur_ Renaudel." Then, addressing the
Socialist group, he declared with vehemence: "We have done you no harm,
but my methods are not yours. You will not defeat Prussian Junkerdom
by baa-ing around about peace." The appeal was quite bootless. On a
division confidence in the Clemenceau Government was voted by 400 to
75. The Socialists were the 75. The vote was a direct outcome of the
sordid and gruesome Bolo case.


           SUMMARY OF EVENTS RELATING TO TREACHERY IN PARIS,
                      JULY, 1917, TO JULY, 1918.

 _July, 1917._--Clemenceau attacks M. Malvy, then Minister of the
 Interior, for ruinous weakness towards traitors.

 Assails the Ribot Ministry as responsible for the propaganda of the
 pro-German journal _Le Bonnet Rouge_.

 It was shown later that this newspaper had received State support to
 the extent of £4,000 a year.

 _August, 1917._--M. Almereyda (_alias_ Vigo), connected with Bolo
 Pasha, M. Caillaux and the _Bonnet Rouge_, arrested and dies in prison.

 M. Malvy "explains" the Almereyda affair.

 _September, 1917._--M. Malvy resigns.

 _October, 1917._--Debate in Chamber upon M. Léon Daudet's charge of
 treason against Malvy.

 Captain Bouchardon begins investigation.

 Proprietors of _Bonnet Rouge_ arrested.

 _November, 1917._--Revelations by Clemenceau in _l'Homme Enchaîné_,
 which had been going on for a twelvemonth, take effect on public.

 _Bonnet Rouge_ trial.

 Revelations concerning M. Paix-Séailles's document about French troops
 at Salonika to have been published in _Bonnet Rouge_. Paix-Séailles in
 M. Painlevé's _entourage_.

 Clemenceau exposes Caillaux's intrigues with Almereyda, the _Bonnet
 Rouge_, the defeatists in Italy, and comments on the large subsidies
 to the _Bonnet Rouge_ which enabled it to become a daily instead of a
 weekly sheet.

 Clemenceau forms Ministry.

 _December, 1917._--Clemenceau examined before Committee of Senate on
 Caillaux affair.

 Clemenceau declares if Parliament would not sanction prosecution of
 Caillaux his Ministry would resign.

 Caillaux's immunity as deputy suspended by vote.

 _January, 1918._--Captain Bouchardon's report on Bolo Pasha published.

 Traces Bolo's career from 1914, his intrigues with Germany through
 ex-Khedive of Egypt and other Egyptians. Receipt by Bolo of £400,000
 from Deutsche Bank.

 Bolo buys shares in _Journal_, and tries to buy shares also in the
 _Figaro_ and the _Temps_.

 M. Caillaux arrested.

 His private safe brought from Florence containing strange papers
 relating, among other things, to a suggested _coup d'état_.

 United States agent at Buenos Aires reveals series of negotiations
 between M. Caillaux and the German representative, Count Luxburg,
 having for object the conclusion of a German peace.

 M. Malvy arraigned before the High Court of the Senate.

 _February, 1918._--Trial of Bolo begun. Caillaux, Humbert and others
 incriminated.

 U.S.A. secret service shows that large sums passed from Count
 Bernstorff, German Ambassador in Washington, to Bolo for the purposes
 of German propaganda.

 Bolo found guilty and condemned to be shot on February 16th.

 M. Malvy's case before the High Court extended.

 _March, 1918._--Bolo appeals.

 Bolo case discussed in Chamber. Socialists attack Clemenceau. Vote of
 confidence in Clemenceau's Ministry 400 to 75.

 Terrible military disasters at Cambrai and St. Quentin due to heavy
 German attack on positions weakened by withdrawal of British troops.

 _April, 1918._--Bolo shot.

 Caillaux in gaol.

 Malvy trial continued.

 _May, 1918._--Caillaux "explains" his connection with _Le Bonnet
 Rouge_.

 _June, 1918._--Committee report on M. Malvy's case and fix date of
 trial.

 _July, 1918._--M. Malvy found guilty of undue laxity towards traitors
 and condemned to exile from France.

 French Socialists infuriated at M. Malvy's expulsion.



                              CHAPTER XX

                        "LA VICTOIRE INTÉGRALE"


In the endeavour to give a connected statement of the very dangerous
German offensive, conducted by their spies and agents in Paris, at the
most critical period of the whole war, I have been obliged to some
extent to anticipate events in order to show Clemenceau's share in the
exposure of this organised treachery. By 1917, as already recorded,
anti-patriotic and pro-German intrigues in Paris and France had become
more and more harmful to that "sacred unity" which had been constituted
to present an unbroken front to the enemy. After the miserable
breakdown of Russia, largely due to the Bolshevik outbreak fostered
by German intrigue and subsidised by German money, the position was
exceedingly dangerous. German troops withdrawn from the Eastern front
were poured into France and Flanders by hundreds of thousands, and the
Allied armies were hard put to it to hold their own. At this time,
when it was all-important to maintain the spirit of the French army,
the enemy offensive in Paris and throughout France became more and
more active. What made the situation exceptionally critical was the
fact that the rank and file of the French soldiery began to feel that,
however desperately they might fight at the front, they were being
systematically betrayed in the rear. While, therefore, Clemenceau, in
his capacity as Senator and President of the Inter-Allied Parliamentary
Committee, voiced the great and growing discontent of the country with
the lack of real statesmanship displayed in the conduct of the war, he
also fulminated against the weakness of the wobbling Ministers who,
knowing that defeatism and treachery were fermenting all round them,
took no effective steps to counteract this pernicious propaganda.

The notorious _Bonnet Rouge_ group, however, with M. Joseph Caillaux,
Bolo Pasha, Almereyda and others in close touch with M. Jean Longuet
and his pacifist friends of the Socialist Party, were allowed to carry
on their virulent anti-French campaign in the Press and in other
directions practically unchecked. It might even have been thought that
these persons had the sympathy and support of members of the Government.

Thus, when M. Painlevé took office on M. Ribot's resignation in August,
1917, the outlook was dark all round. The position of the Allied armies
was by no means satisfactory: the state of affairs in Paris itself was
not such as to engender confidence: Mr. Lloyd George's headlong speech
of depreciation on his return from Italy had undone all the good of the
unanimous resolution passed by the Inter-Allied Parliamentary Committee
of which Clemenceau was President, declaring that no peace could be
accepted which did not secure the realisation of national claims and
the complete triumph of justice all along the line. In short, a fit
of despondency, almost deepening into despair, had come over Allied
statesmen. Notwithstanding distrust, however, war-weariness was not
spreading among the soldiers and sailors. But among the politicians
it was, and German "peace offensives" were being welcomed in quarters
which were supposed to be resolute for "_la victoire intégrale_." M.
Painlevé's administration was scarcely hoisted into the saddle before
it was ignominiously thrown out again. The instability of successive
French Ministries was becoming a danger which extended far beyond
the limits of France. The unification of the Allied command and the
concentration of effort on the Western front had become imperative.
The arrest of all those against whom there was serious suspicion of
treason, no matter how highly they might be placed, was a necessity of
the moment. Vigorous support for the generals and armies engaged in
resisting the reinforced enemy was called for from every quarter. So
the President, M. Poincaré, found himself in a dilemma. But none of
the leading politicians who had been prominent since the war began was
prepared to take the responsibility of forming an administration and
then acting upon the lines which the situation demanded.

It was at this crisis, perhaps the most dangerous that France has had
to face in all her long history, that the President asked Clemenceau to
become the Prime Minister. He was then seventy-six years of age and had
withdrawn from all those conferences and discussions behind the scenes
which, under ordinary circumstances, invariably precede the acceptance
of office. The Socialists declared that, no matter what Clemenceau's
policy might be, they could not serve under him as President of
Council. Clemenceau could not rely upon support from M. Poincaré, and
on every ground he was much disinclined to come to the front under
existing conditions. But his duty to France and its Republic outweighed
all other considerations, and this old statesman shouldered the burden
which far younger men declined to take up.

The Socialists went quite wild against him--to the lasting injury, as
I hold, of their party and their cause--the Radicals and Republicans
themselves were more than doubtful of the possibility of his success.
Many politicians and journalists of the Right doubted whether they
could make common cause with the man who above all other things stood
for the permanence of Republicanism and was the bitter enemy of
Clericalism in every shape. Shrewd judges of public opinion stated that
his Ministry could not last three months.

But courage, frankness and good faith, backed by relentless
determination, and the genius that blazes up in the day of difficulty,
go far. The whole French people suddenly called to mind that this
old Radical of the Bocage of La Vendée, this Parisian of Parisians
for nearly sixty years, whatever mistakes he may have made in
opposition or in office, had invariably stood up for the greatness,
the glory, the dignity of France; that he had voted at Bordeaux for
the continuance of the war when France lay at the feet of the ruthless
conqueror and Gambotta was striving to organise his countrymen for
resistance to the death; that from those dark days of 1871 onwards he
had always vehemently adjured his countrymen to make ready to resist
coming invasion; that from August 1914 he had never failed to keep a
stout heart himself and to do his utmost to encourage his countrymen
even when the outlook was blackest for the Allies; that he had ever
been the relentless denouncer of weakness and vacillation, as he
had also been the unceasing opponent of pacifism, pro-Germanism and
treachery of every kind; that now, therefore, when _la Patrie_ was in
desperate danger, when Paris might yet be at the mercy of the enemy,
of whose hideous ruffianism they had had such bitter experience,
Georges Clemenceau was the one man to take control of democratic and
Republican France in the interest of every section of the population.
These stirring memories of the past rose up behind Clemenceau in the
present.[E]

Thus it was that the new Prime Minister, coming down from the Senate to
read his Declaration to the National Assembly, as the French custom is,
was certain beforehand of a cordial reception from the great majority
of the Deputies. What might happen afterwards depended upon himself and
his Ministry: what should occur on this his first appearance in the
tribune after nearly eight years of absence depended on themselves.
They took good care that, at the start at least, he should have no
doubt as to their goodwill. Only the Socialist minority abstained.

The Declaration itself was worthy of the occasion, and it was a
stirring scene when the veteran of the Radical Party, the Tiger of the
old days, rose to deliver it to the House, which was crowded on the
floor and in the galleries with deputies and strangers eager to hear
what he had to say:--

"Gentlemen, we have taken up the duty of government in order to carry
on the war with renewed energy and to obtain a better result from our
concentrated efforts. We are here with but one idea in our minds, the
war and nothing but the war. The confidence we ask you to give us
should be the expression of confidence in yourselves. . . . Never has
France felt more keenly the need for living and growing in the ideal
of power used on behalf of human rectitude, the resolve to see justice
done between citizens and peoples able to emancipate themselves. The
watchword of all our Governments since the war began has been victory
for the sake of justice. That frank policy we shall uphold. We have
great soldiers with a great history led by men who have been tested and
have been inspired to deeds of the highest devotion worthy of their
ancestral renown. The immortal fatherland of our common humanity,
overmastering the exultation of victory, will follow, on the lines of
its destiny, the noble aspiration for peace, through them and through
us all. Frenchmen impelled by us into the conflict have special claims
upon us. We owe them everything without reserve. Everything for France:
everything for the triumph of right. One simple duty is imposed upon
us, to stand by the soldier, to live, suffer and fight with him, and to
throw aside everything that is not for our country. The rights on our
front, the duties in our rear must be merged in one. Every zone must be
the army zone. If men there are who must cherish the hatreds of bygone
days, sweep them away.

"All civilised nations are now arrayed in the like battle against
modern forms of ancient barbarisms. Our Allies and ourselves together
constitute a solid barrier which shall not be surmounted. Throughout
the Allied front, at all times and in all places, there is nothing
but solid brotherhood, the surest basis for the coming world. . . . The
silent soldiers of the factory, the old peasants working, bent over
their soil, the vigorous women who toil, the children who help in
their weakness--these likewise are our _poilus_ who in times to come,
recalling the great things done, will be able to say with the men in
the trenches, 'I, too, was there.' . . . Mistakes have been made. Think
no more about them save only to remedy them.

"But, alas! there have also been crimes, crimes against France which
demand prompt punishment. We solemnly pledge ourselves, before you and
before the country, that justice shall be done with the full rigour of
the law. Personal considerations or political passion shall neither
divert us from fulfilling this duty nor induce us to go beyond it.
Too many such crimes have cost us the blood of our soldiers. Weakness
would mean complicity. There shall be no weakness as there shall be no
violence. Accused persons shall all be brought before courts-martial.
The soldier of justice shall make common cause with the soldier in
the field. No more pacifist plots: no more German intrigues. Neither
treason nor semi-treason. War, nothing but war. Our country shall not
be placed between two fires. Our country shall learn that she is really
defended.

       *       *       *       *       *

"The day will come when from Paris to the smallest village of France
storms of cheers will welcome our victorious colours tattered by
shell-fire and drenched with blood and tears--the glorious memorials
of our great dead. It is for us to hasten the coming of that day, that
glorious day, which will fitly take its place beside so many others in
our history. These are our unshakable resolves, gentlemen: we ask you
to give them the sanction of your approval."

Such is a free summary of a Ministerial pronouncement that will ever
be memorable in the annals of France and of mankind. It swept the
Chamber away as the recital marched on. But organised attacks upon the
President of the Council at once followed. Now came the supreme test
of the mental and physical efficiency of this wonderful old man whose
youth is so amazing. He could read a telling manifesto with vigour
and effect. Would he be able to reply with equal power to a series of
interrogations in an atmosphere to which he had been a stranger for so
many years? Questions, by no means all of them friendly, poured in upon
Clemenceau from every part of the Chamber. From his attitude towards
Caillaux and Malvy to his view of the League of Nations and his policy
in regard to negotiations with the enemy, no point was missed that
might embarrass or irritate the statesman who had undertaken to stand
in the gap. He showed immediately that he was fully capable of taking
his own part. The fervour of the new France was heard in every phrase
of his crushing reply:

"You do not expect me to talk of personal matters. I am not here for
that. Still, I have heard enough to understand that the criticisms upon
me should make me modest. I feel humble for the mistakes I have already
made and for those which I am likely to make. I do not think I can
be accused of having sought power. But I am in power. I hope it will
not be a misfortune for my country. You tell me I have made mistakes.
Perhaps you do not know the worst of them. I am here because these are
terrible times when those who through all the struggle have loved their
country more than they knew see the hopes of the nation centred on
them. I am here through the pressure of public opinion, and I am almost
afraid of what it will demand of me, of what it expects of me.

"I have been asked to explain myself in regard to war aims, and as to
the idea of a League of Nations. I have replied in my declaration, 'We
must conquer for the sake of justice.' That is clear. We live in a
time when words have great power, but they have not the power to set
free. The word 'justice' is as old as mankind. Do you imagine that the
formula of a League of Nations is going to solve everything?

"There is a committee at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs even now
preparing a scheme for a League of Nations. Among its members are the
most authoritative exponents of international law. I undertake that
immediately their labours are finished I will table the outcome of it
in this Chamber, if I am still Prime Minister--which does not seem
likely." (Laughter and cheers.)

"I am not unfavourable to arbitration. It was I who sent M. Léon
Bourgeois to The Hague, where a series of conventions were agreed upon
which Germany is now engaged in violating. Many believe that a miracle
will bring about a League of Nations. I do not myself think that a
League of Nations will be one of the results of this war. If to-morrow
you proposed to me that Germany should be included in a League of
Nations, I should not consent. What guarantees do you offer me?
Germany's signature? Go and ask the Belgians what they think of that.

"You never weary of saying that the first thing is for Germany herself
to destroy German militarism, but she is far from destroying it; she
still holds it fast.

"M. Forgeot wants to make war, but while we are making war he wants
us to talk about peace. Personally, I believe that when you are doing
things you should talk as little as possible. Do M. Forgeot's ideas
come within the range of practical politics? Do people believe that
the men in the trenches and the women in the factories do not think of
peace? Our thoughts are theirs. They are fighting to obtain some decent
security of life; and when you ask me my war aims, I reply that my war
aim is victory in full." (Loud cheers and Socialist interruption.)

"I understand your aspirations, some of which I share, but do not let
us make mistakes about war. All these men want peace. But if, while
they are fighting, the rumour goes round that delegates of one or other
belligerent country are discussing terms of peace--that yesterday we
were on the eve of peace, that next day there was a break-off--then
we are condemned to flounder about in mud and in blood for years
still. That is the way to disarm and discourage us all. For these
reasons, I am not in favour of Conferences where citizens of different
belligerent countries discuss peace which the Governments alone are
able to decide. I want to make war. This means that for the moment we
must silence all factious discussion. Is there a man who has been more
of a party man than I? I see to-day that I have been far too much of a
party man. My programme is a military and economic programme. We have
got Allies, to whom we owe loyalty and fidelity, which must override
every other consideration.

"We have not yet achieved victory. We have come to a cruel phase of
the war. A time of privation is at hand, a time when our spirit must
rise to greater heights yet. Do not, then, speak of peace. We all want
peace, we are making great sacrifices to obtain peace, but we must get
rid of old animosities and turn solidly against the enemy. Leave all
other questions alone.

"There is one on which, however, I must touch. Scandals have been
spoken of. Do you think we can have three years of war without
Germany trying to keep spies busy in our midst? I complained that our
look-out was insufficient, and events have too clearly shown that I
was right. I am told to tell you the truth. You shall have it. But we
must distinguish between crimes and accusations. As the examination
proceeds facts will be disclosed which will have their effect. How
can you expect me to mention names or reveal fragments of truth?
Certain people have been guilty of indiscretion, want of reflection,
or weakness. It is not I but the judge who has to decide. You shall
have the truth. In what form? If there is any revelation of a political
nature to make there is a political tribunal in this country to make
it. It shall judge. Just as civil justice must do its work during war
time, so must political justice." (A voice: "Caillaux!") "I mention no
name. A journalist has freedom as to what he may say, it is his own
responsibility; but the head of the Government has a quite different
task. I am here to put the law in motion if political acts have been
committed which are subject to a jurisdiction beyond the ordinary
tribunals.

"Those facts will be brought before the tribunal, but I refuse here to
accuse any man.

"Justice is our weapon against treason, and where treason is concerned
there can be no possibility of pardon. In any case, you have got
a Government which will try to _govern_ in the strict, but high,
idealistic sense of the word. Where I differ from you, gentlemen of
the Extreme Left, is when you want to bring abstract conceptions into
the field of hard facts. That is impossible. We shall try to govern
honestly and in a Republican spirit. You are not obliged to think we
shall succeed. But we shall do our best. If we make mistakes, others
have done so before us, others will do so after us. If at last we see
before us the long-awaited dawn of victory, I hope--if it is only
to complete the beauty of the picture--that you will pass a vote of
censure upon me, and I shall go happy away! I know you will not do
that; but allow me to point out, as I have a right to tell you, that
you have almost passed a vote of censure on me already before listening
to my Ministerial programme. I challenge you to say that we have made
any attempt to deceive you. If we get painful news, our hearts will
bleed, but we shall tell that news to you here. We have never given
anybody the right to suppose that we constitute a peril to any class of
citizen or a danger to the national defence. If you think the contrary,
prove it, and I will leave the House. But if you believe that what we
want above all is the welfare of France, give us your confidence, and
we will endeavour to be worthy of it."

His deeds have been on a level with his words. Bolo and Duval shot:
Caillaux in gaol: Malvy exiled by decree of the Senate: the _Bonnet
Rouge_ gang tried and condemned: the wretched intrigue in Switzerland
with the poor German tool, Austria exposed and crushed: a new spirit
breathed into all public affairs: the army reassured by his perpetual
presence under fire and his unfailing resolve at the War Office that
the splendid capacity and intrepidity of all ranks at the front shall
not be sacrificed by treachery or cowardice at the rear: the Higher
Command brimful of enthusiasm and confidence, due to the appointment of
the military genius Foch as generalissimo of the United Allied Armies
and the reinstatement of General Mangin at the head of his _corps
d'armée_: the Allies, like France herself, convinced that they have at
last discovered a man. Such was the stirring work that Clemenceau had
been doing since he took office.

So to-day Clemenceau is still democratic dictator of the French
Republic as no man has been for more than a century. When the enemy
was arrayed in overwhelming numbers close to Amiens and within a few
miles of Calais, when the German War Lords were decreeing the permanent
subjugation of the territories they occupied in the West and in the
East, when the long-range guns were bombarding the capital and the
removal of the seat of government to the provinces was again being
considered, the great French nation felt more confident of its future
than at any moment since the victories won around Verdun. To every
question Clemenceau's answer invariably was, "Je fais la guerre. Je
fais la guerre. Je fais la guerre."

Those who doubted were convinced: those who were doubtful saw their
aspirations realised: those who had never wavered cheered for victory
right ahead.

On June 6th, 1918, the French Socialist group in the Chamber of
Deputies made another of those attacks upon the National Administration
which, sad to say, have done so much to discredit the whole Socialist
Party, and even the Socialist cause, throughout Europe and the world.
Pacifism and Bolshevism together--that is to say, an unholy combination
between anti-nationalism and anarchism, have indeed shaken the
influence of democratic Socialism to its foundations, just at the time
when a sound, sober and constructive Socialist policy, in harmony with
the aspirations of the mass of the people in every Allied country,
might have led mankind peacefully along the road to the new period of
national and international co-operation. The Socialist Deputies in the
Chamber held Clemenceau's Ministry, which they had done their very
utmost to discredit and weaken, directly responsible for the serious
military reverses recently undergone by the French and Allied armies.
They insisted, therefore, upon Clemenceau's appearance in the tribune.
But when they had got him in front of them their great object evidently
was not to let him speak. There this old statesman stood, exposed to
interruptions which were in the worst of bad taste. At last he thought
the opportunity for which his enemies clamoured had come, and began to
address the Assembly. But no sooner had he opened his mouth than he was
forced to give way to M. Marcel Cachin. Only then was he enabled to get
a hearing, and this is a summary of what he said:--

"I regret that, our country being in such great danger, a unanimous
vote of confidence cannot be accorded to us. But, when all is said,
the opposition of the Socialists does not in the least enfeeble the
Government. For four long years our troops have held their own at the
front with a line which was being steadily worn down. Now a huge body
of German soldiers fresh from Russia and in good heart come forward to
assail us. Some retreat was inevitable. From the moment when Russia
thought that peace could be obtained by the simple expression of wishes
to that end we all knew that, sooner or later, the enemy would be able
to release a million of men to fall upon us. That meant that such a
retirement as we have witnessed must of necessity follow. Our men have
kept their line unbroken against odds of five to one. They have often
gone sleepless for three days and even four days in succession. But
our great soldiers have had great leaders, and our army as a whole has
proved itself to be greater than even we could expect.

"The duties we have to perform here are, in contrast to their heroism,
tame and even petty. All we have to do is to keep cool and hold on. The
Germans are nothing like so clever as they believe themselves to be.
They have but a single device. They throw their entire weight into one
general assault, and push their advantage to the utmost. True they
have forced back our lines of defence. But final success is that alone
which matters, and that success for us is certain. The Government you
see before you took office with the firm resolve never to surrender. So
long as we stand here our country will be defended to the last. Give
way we never shall.

"Germany has once more staked her all on one great blow, thinking
to cow us into abandoning the conflict. Her armies have tried this
desperate game before. They tried it on the Marne, they tried it on the
Yser, they tried it at Verdun, they tried it elsewhere. But they never
have succeeded, and they never shall. Our Allies to-day are the leading
nations of the world. They have one and all pledged themselves to fight
on till victory is within our grasp. The men who have already fallen
have not fallen in vain. By their death they have once more made French
history a great and noble record. It is now for the living to finish
the glorious work done by the dead."

This great speech raised the overwhelming majority of the Assembly
to the highest pitch of enthusiasm. Nearly all present felt that the
destinies of France hung in the balance, and that any vote given which
might tend to discourage the men at the front at such a time was a
direct service rendered to the enemy whose bombs were even then falling
in the heart of Paris. The vote of confidence in Clemenceau and his
Ministry was carried by 377 votes to 110; and of these 110 more than a
third were convinced shortly afterwards that the course they had then
taken in order to preserve the unity of their forces as factionists was
unworthy of their dignity as men.

Then, too, when the tide turned and the German hordes, after fresh
glorious battles of the Marne and of the Somme, were in headlong
retreat, Clemenceau, unelated by victory as he was undiscouraged by
defeat, repeated again: "Je fais la guerre. Je fais la guerre. Je fais
la guerre." Not until the German armies were finally vanquished would
the Republican statesman talk of making peace. On both sides of the
Atlantic, therefore, as on both sides of the Channel, knowing Great
Britain and the United States by personal experience and able to gauge
the cold resolution of the one and the inexhaustible resources and
determination of the other, speaking and writing English well, he is
now, as he has been throughout this tremendous war, a tower of strength
to the forces of democracy and a very present help to all who are
resolved to break down German militarism for evermore.



                              CHAPTER XXI

                              CONCLUSION


"Georges Clemenceau, President of the Council and Minister of War, and
Marshal Foch, General-in-Chief of the Allied armies, have well deserved
the gratitude of the country."

That is the Resolution which, by the unanimous vote of the Senate
of the French Republic, will be placed in a conspicuous position in
every Town Hall and in the Council Chamber of every commune throughout
France. The Senators of France are not easily roused to enthusiasm.
What they thus unanimously voted, in the absence of Clemenceau, amid
general acclamation, is a fine recognition of his pre-eminent service
as well as of his indefatigable devotion to duty at the most desperate
crisis in the long and glorious history of his country. Nothing like
it has ever been known. The reward is unprecedented: the work done has
surpassed every record.

It is well that the great statesman should be honoured in advance of
the great military commander. Marshal Foch has accomplished marvels in
more than four years of continuous activity, from the first battle of
the Marne to the signing of the armistice of unconditional surrender.
All Europe and the civilised world are indebted to him for his masterly
strategy and successful manœuvres. But France owes most to Clemenceau.

Towards the close of this historic sitting Clemenceau himself entered
the Senate. He received an astounding welcome. Everyone present rose
to greet him. Men who but yesterday were his enemies, and are still
his opponents, rushed forward with the rest to applaud him, to shake
hands with him, to thank him, to embrace him. The excitement was so
overwhelming that Clemenceau, for the first time in his life, broke
down. Tears coursed down his cheeks and for some moments he was unable
to speak. When he did he, as always, refused to take the credit and
the glory of the overthrow of the Germans and their confederates to
himself. In victory in November, as when he was confronting difficulty
and danger in March and July, his first and his last thoughts were of
France. The spirit of France, the citizens of France, the soldiers and
sailors of France: these were they who in comradeship with the Allies
had achieved the great victory over the last convulsions of savagery.
He had been more than fully rewarded for all he had done by witnessing
the expulsion of the foreigner and the liberation of the territory.
His task had merely been to give full expression to the courage and
determination of his countrymen.

Clemenceau spoke not only as a French statesman, as the veteran
upholder of the French Republic, but as one who remembered well the
horrors and defeats of 1870-71, now followed, forty-eight years later,
by the horrors and the triumphs of 1918. The Senators who heard him
and acclaimed him felt that Clemenceau was addressing them as the man
who had embodied in himself, for all those long years, the soul of the
France of the Great Revolution, and now at last was able to show what
he really was.

This moving reception in the Senate had been preceded by an almost
equally glowing display of enthusiasm in the Chamber of Deputies.
There too--with the exception of a mere handful of Socialists whose
extraordinary devotion to Caillaux and Malvy blinds them to the genius
of their countryman--the whole Assembly rose up to welcome and cheer
him. Clemenceau, speaking there, also, under strong emotion, after two
stirring orations from M. Deschanel and M. Pichon, assured the Deputies
that the armistice which would be granted to Germany could only be on
the lines of those accorded to Bulgaria, Austria-Hungary and Turkey.
Marshal Foch would decide the details, which now all the world knows.

But, after having dealt with the armistice implored by Germany,
Clemenceau went back to the past and said: "When I remember that I
entered the National Assembly of Bordeaux in 1871, and was--I am the
last of them--one of the signers of the protests against the annexation
of Alsace-Lorraine . . . it is impossible for me, now peace is certain
and our victory assured, to leave the tribune without paying homage to
those who were the initiators and first workers in the immense task
which is being completed at this moment.

"I wish to speak of Gambetta" (the whole House rises with prolonged
cheering) "--of him who, defending the territory under circumstances
which rendered victory impossible, never despaired. With him and with
Chanzy I voted for the continuation of the war, and in truth, when I
think of what has happened in these fifty years, I ask myself whether
the war has not continued all the time. May our thoughts go back to
them; and when these terrible iron doors that Germany has closed
against us shall be opened, let us say to them: 'Pass in first. You
showed us the way.'"

The French Premier went on to speak of the problems of peace, which
could only be solved, like the problems of war, by national unity for
the common cause, "for the Republic which we made in peace, which we
have upheld in war, the Republic which has saved us during the war." He
appealed "First for solidarity with the Allies, and then for solidarity
among the French." This was needful for the maintenance of peace and
the future of their common humanity. Humanity's great crusade was
inspired not by the thought of God but of France. "_Ce n'est pas Dieu,
c'est la France qui le veut._"

The Deputies rose again and again. It would have been strange if they
had not.

But fine though these speeches were, and impressive as was the Prime
Minister's adjuration that, since the problems of peace were harder
than those of war, they must prove their worth in both fields--it
was Clemenceau's personal influence that gave them their special
value. Undoubtedly the splendid fighting of the French and British
and American troops and the admirable skill of their commanders had
produced that dramatic change from the days of depression from March
to July to the period of continuous triumph from July to November.
This Clemenceau never allows us for one moment to forget. But he it
was who had breathed new life into the whole combination, military
and civilian, at the front and in the factories. No man of his time
of life, perhaps no man of any age, ever carried on continuously such
exhausting toil, physical and mental, as that which this marvellous old
statesman of seventy-seven undertook and carried though from November
1917 to November 1918.

His energy and power of work were those of a vigorous young man in
the height of training. Starting for the front in a motor-car at four
or five o'clock in the morning at least three times a week, he kept
in touch with generals, officers and soldiers all along the lines
to an extent that would have seemed incredible if it had not been
actually done. Once at the front he walked about under fire as if he
had come out for the pleasure of risking his life with the _poilus_
who were fighting for La Patrie. Marshal Foch and Higher Command were
in constant fear for him. But he knew what he was about. Valuable as
his own life might be to the country, to court death was a higher duty
than to take care of himself, if by this seeming indifference he made
Frenchmen all along the trenches feel that he and they were one. He
succeeded. Fortune favoured him throughout. Then having discoursed
with the Marshal and his generals, having saluted and talked with the
officers, he chatted with the rank and file of the soldiery and rushed
back to Paris, arriving at the Ministry of War at ten or eleven o'clock
at night, ready to attend to such pressing business as demanded his
personal care. And all the time cheerful, alert, confident, showing,
when things looked dark, as when the great advance began, that the
Prime Minister of the Republic never for one moment doubted the Germans
would be hurled back over the frontier and France would again take her
rightful place in the world.

And that is not all. Clemenceau's influence in the Council Chamber of
the Allies was and is supreme. The old gaiety of heart remains, but
the soundness of judgment and determination to accept no compromise
of principle are more marked than ever. Many dangerous intrigues
during the past few months, of which the world has heard little, were
snuffed clean out by Clemenceau's force of character and overwhelming
personality. The French Prime Minister wanted final victory for France
and her Allies. Nothing short of this would satisfy him. There was
no personal loyalty he wished to build up, no political object that
he desired to attain, no section or party that he felt himself bound
to propitiate. Therefore the other Ministers of the Allies found
themselves at the table with a statesman who was something more than an
individual representative of his nation. He was the human embodiment of
a cause. What that meant and still means will only be known when the
dust of conflict has passed from us and the whole truth of Clemenceau's
policy can be told.

For my part I have done my best as an old and convinced
Social-Democrat, and on some important points his opponent, to give
a frank and unbiassed study of Clemenceau's fine career. His very
mistakes serve only to throw into higher relief his sterling character
and the genius which has enabled him to command success. Read aright,
his actions do all hang together, and constitute one complete whole.
Comprising within himself the brilliant yet thorough capacity of his
French countrymen, he has risen when close upon eighty to the height of
the terribly responsible position he was forced to fill.

Therefore his efforts have been crowned with complete victory. Having
forgotten himself in his work, the man Clemenceau will never be
forgotten. He will stand out in history as the great statesman of the
Great War.

And now that he and we have won--our aid, as none knows or
appreciates better, having been absolutely indispensable to the
French triumph--Clemenceau feels so deeply that France as a whole
has shared in the great awakening that, having himself appointed the
devout Catholic Marshal Foch generalissimo of the Allied armies, he,
of all men, joined in the _Te Deum_ of Thanksgiving in the Cathedral
of Lille! The work he has done, the risks he has run, the unshakable
determination he has displayed, have raised him high above all petty
considerations of politics, creeds, classes, or conditions. Therefore
he is the hero of France after her desperate struggle for national
existence.



                                 INDEX


  Adulteration, John Bright on, 194

  Albert, 16

  Amadé, General, 212

  Arago, Etienne, 9, 24, 32, 35

  Armistice of 1871, 36

  Aumale, Duc d', and Boulanger, 95


  Bakunin, 50

  Barodet, 69, 86, 87

  Barrès, M., 265

  Basly, M., miners' agent, 180

  Bazaine, Marshal, 32, 36, 40

  Bebel and Jaurès on the Fleet, 238

  ---- and the Social-Democrats, 244

  Beesly, Prof., 50

  Bellers, John, 234

  Benedek, Marshal, 27

  Berlin, brutality and greed of, 34

  Beslay, 45, 49

  Billot, General, 157

  Bismarck--the forgery at Ems, 33

  Blanc, Louis, 16, 39, 78, 85

  Blanqui, 49, 56, 58, 59, 61

  "Blessed word," the, 19

  Boer War, the, 216, 217

  Boisdeffre, General, 157

  Bolo Pasha, 273-280

  _Bonnet Rouge_, arrest of proprietors, 267

  Bordeaux, the Government at, 249

  Boulanger, General, 10

  Boulanger, General, and Army reforms, 96

  ----, as War Minister, 96

  ----, candidate for Paris, 101

  ----, deprived of his command, 99

  ----, downfall, its effect on the influence of Clemenceau, 105

  ----, elected for the Nord, 100

  ----, enters politics, a candidate for the Nord and the Dordogne, 99

  ----, fails to profit by his success, 103

  ----, flight and suicide, 104

  ----, his duel with M. Floquet, 98

  ----, his popularity after the affair Schnäbele, 97

  ----, his relations with the Duc d'Aumale, 95

  ----, his visits to Paris, 99

  ----, posted to the command of army corps at Clermont-Ferrand, 99

  ----, returned for Paris by a heavy majority, 103

  ----, rides through Paris on his black charger, 102

  ----, the pet of the _Salons_ 97

  Bourbon, House of, 16

  Brandès, M., Clemenceau's attack on, 251

  Briand, M., 206

  ----, as an anarchist, 225

  Bright, John, on adulteration, 194

  Brisson, M., 78, 157, 162

  British statesmanship, blindness of, 236

  Broglie, Duc de, 10, 73, 74, 78, 101

  Brousse, Paul, 100

  Brown, John, and the American Civil War, 52

  Buffet, 72

  Butchery of peaceful citizens, 17


  Caillaux, M., 206

  ----, and a German peace, 267-269

  ----, and Italian defeatists, 272

  ----, and the Income tax, 268

  ----, before the Army Committee of the Senate, 270

  ----, the financier, and the Income tax, 227

  Calmette, M., the murder of, 269

  Cambon, Jules, warns M. Pichon in 1913, 250

  Camélinat, 45, 49

  Canrobert, 17

  Carnot, M. Sadi-, 93, 118

  ----, President, supports Lesseps 112, 113

  Carrousel, the inscription on the, 138, 139

  Casablanca, French settlers at, 212

  Caserio, the anarchist, 137

  Cassagnac, Paul de, 125

  Charles X, 20

  Chateaubriand, 17

  Church and State, conflict between, 220-224

  Cipriani, 58

  Cinquet, M., 166

  Citoyen Egalité, 16

  Clemenceau, a Premier, asks England how many hundred thousand men she
could land in North-Eastern France in case of a sudden war, 219

  ---- and Boulanger, 95

  ---- and Boulangism, 100

  ---- and Morocco, 202

  ---- and strikes, 198-201

  ---- and the coal miners, 135

  ---- and the doctrine of _laissez-faire_ 135

  ---- and the _Entente_, 120

  ---- and the story of Boaz and Ruth, 137

  ---- and the strikers at Carmaux, 120

  ---- and the wine-growers' agitation, 195-197

  ----'s anti-Czarist policy, 120

  ----'s appeal to Frenchmen, 245

  ---- as a conversationalist, 124

  ---- as a duellist, 125

  ---- as an orator, 123, 124

  ---- as doctor at Montmartre, 32

  ---- as Mayor of Montmartre, 35

  ---- as Minister of the Interior, 172

  ---- as municipal dictator, 35

  ---- as one of M. Floquet's seconds at the duel with Boulanger, 99

  ---- as professor of French at Stanford, U.S.A., 29

  ---- as Senator for Var, 171

  ---- at Nantes as a student, 15

  ----'s attitude in the matter of M. Wilson's trading in decorations, 93

  ----'s attitude towards the Catholics, 61

  ----, author's conversation with, 207

  ---- becomes "suspect" and ceases to be Mayor of Montmartre, 42

  ----'s betrothal to Mary Plummer, 30

  ---- calls up the State engineers and re-lights Paris, 183

  ----, charges against him, 119, 120

  ----'s contempt for politicians as politicians, 94

  ----'s criticism on the German fête of Sedan, 138

  ----'s criticism on the catastrophe of the Charity Bazaar, 137

  ---- defends himself in the National Assembly, 119

  ---- denounces M. Ribot, 265

  ----'s disregard of monetary considerations, 125

  ----'s distrust of colonisation by conquest, 234

  ----, Dreyfus affair, 151-170

  ----'s duel with Commandant Poussages, 53

  ----, efforts of his enemies to connect him with the Panama scandal, 117

  ----, failure to attain Presidentship of Chamber, 126

  ----, fight for Draguignan, 122

  ----, freedom of speech, 94

  ----, French intervention in Egypt, 91

  ----, French peasantry, knowledge of, 133

  ----, his reception by the miners at Lens, 177

  ---- in America, 29

  ---- in prison of Mazas, 25

  ----'s individualism antipathetic to Socialist view of collective social
progress, 121

  ----'s influence in council chamber of the Allies, 299

  ---- introduces measure to establish Municipal Council of Paris, 54

  ----'s knowledge of Parisian life, 54

  ----, letters to the _Temps_, 29

  ----, literary works, 141

  ----, love of animals, 142

  ----, love of Paris, 139, 140

  ---- on French intervention in Egypt, 91

  ---- on the "Right to Strike," 174

  ----, opponent of Gambetta, 90

  ---- opposed to colonial adventure, 88

  ---- opposed to colonisation by conquest, 62

  ---- opposed to execution of Generals Lecomte and Thomas, 42

  ----'s opposition to M. Ferry and his support of M. Sadi-Carnot, 93

  ----'s powerful personality, 131

  ----'s power of work, 125

  ----'s reply to Jaurès, 189

  ---- retires from parliamentary life after defeat at Draguignan, 123

  ----'s sense of humour, 55

  ----'s speech at Hyères, 206

  ----'s speech at Lyons on the miners' strike, 181

  ----'s speech in favour of amnesty of Communists, 56

  ----'s speech in the National Assembly, 43

  ----'s statement of Socialism, 131

  ---- the Tiger, 81

  ----, the universal sceptic, 172

  ----, tour of propaganda, 43

  ---- turns journalist, 128

  ---- turns lecturer, 232

  ----'s view of Boulangist agitation, 101

  ----'s warning after the battle of the Marne, 250

  ----, 1870-71, the war of, 237

  Cluseret, 48, 51

  Commune, administration of the, 45

  ----, establishment of the, 41

  "Communist Manifesto," the, 50

  Comte, Auguste, 25, 26

  Constans, M., said to be the cause of the Boulanger fiasco, 103

  "Co-operative Commonwealth," 51

  Cottu, M., indictment of, 116

  Courbet, 45

  Courrières-Lens colliery disaster, the, 173


  Damiens, the assassin, 136

  d'Aumale, Duc, 23

  Daudet, M. Léon, 265

  Delcassé, M., 173

  ---- and Clemenceau, antagonism between, 229-231

  ---- and the Kaiser, 205

  ----, King Edward's courtesy to, 218

  Declaration, Clemenceau's, 284-290

  Delescluze, 45, 51, 58

  Déroulède, M., saves a situation, 217

  Dilke, Sir Charles, 89, 204

  Dombrowski, 51

  Doumergue, M., 206

  Dreyfus, 10

  Dufaure, 78, 84


  Edward VII, King, 213

  Eiffel, M., indictment of, 116

  Electrical engineers' strike in Paris, 182

  _Encyclopædia Britannica_: tribute to M. Clemenceau, 214

  Engels, 50

  England's opposition to construction of Suez Canal, 106

  Esterhazy, Major, 157-162


  Fallières, M., 213

  ---- and M. Clemenceau in London, 218

  Favre, Jules, 36

  Ferry, Jules, 78, 84, 87, 88, 89, 92, 213

  ---- and colonial expansion, 119

  Fez, French delegation at, 204

  Flahault, 17

  Floquet, 78, 115

  ----, duel with Gen. Boulanger, 98

  Flourens, M., his pen-picture of King Edward, 214-216

  Foch, Marshal, 295

  Fontane, M., indictment of, 116

  Fontenay le Comte, 14

  Foreign affairs in 1908, 213

  France and England, a better feeling between, 21

  ---- and Great Britain, relations between, 213

  ----, the wealth of, 234, 235

  Francis Joseph, 27

  Franco-German agreement of 1909, 239

  ---- convention of 1911, 239-241

  _Fraser's Magazine_, extract from, 45

  French Revolution, 16

  Freycinet, M., 84, 96


  Gallifet, 51

  Gambetta, 10, 43, 44, 60, 64-79, 82, 83, 87, 88, 89, 90, 210

  Gauthier, M., urges the Government to complete Panama Canal, 114

  Germany and Morocco, 202

  ----, preparations of, 243

  Germinat, Admiral, and the Navy, 226

  Gonse, General, 157, 163, 166

  Grévy, Albert, 78, 82, 84, 85, 86, 88, 92, 93

  Gribelin, M., 166

  Guesde, Jules, 261

  Guesdists, the, 121


  Haldane, Lord, 204

  ----, "sublime confidence" in Germany, 242

  "Harum, David," his motto, 62

  Haussmann, Baron, 22

  Henry, Colonel, 158, 165

  ----, the anarchist, 136, 137

  Henty, George, 167

  Herz, M. Cornelius, and his part in the Panama scandal, 109, 116, 117, 118

  Hugo, Victor, 23

  Humbert, M., 272

  Hyndman, Hugh, 45


  Income tax, a graduated, 227

  Infiltration, German, and France, 258-260

  Interpenetration, German, 257

  Ismail Pasha, Khedive, 106

  Italian campaign, the, 21

  Italian Carbonari, 17


  Jacques, a liquor dealer, chosen to fight Paris against the General, 102

  Jaurès and peace, 238

  ----, 124, 125, 139, 157, 163, 164, 168, 169, 170, 183-192, 212

  ---- in public affairs, 121

  Jouaust, Colonel, 165, 166

  Jourde, 45, 49

  Judet, M., one of Clemenceau's detractors, 118

  Junck, M., 166

  Junker party and the Crown Prince, 205

  _Justice, La_ 84


  Kaiser, the, and preparations for the war, 218

  ----, and the King of Spain, 203

  ----, and the Sultan of Morocco, 203

  King Edward and Clemenceau, 214-217


  Labori, M., 160

  Labour, Minstry of, and M. Viviani, 229

  Lac, Father du, 158

  Langlois, Colonel, 53

  Lauth, Major 165, 166

  Le Blond, Maurice, 29

  Lecomte, General, 41, 42, 53

  Lesseps, M. Ferdinand, 106-107

  ----, Count Ferdinand de, indictment of, 116

  ----, Count de, 115

  ----, Count, two estimates of his character, 111, 112

  ----, M. C. de, indictment of, 116

  Lichnowsky's, Prince, revelations, 244

  Liebknecht, Wilhelm, 168, 169

  Longuet, 45, 262

  Lottery Bill, the Panama, 109

  Loubet, President, 118

  Louis XVI, 16

  ---- XVIII, 20

  ---- Philippe, 16, 20


  MacMahon, Marshal, 10, 36, 69, 72-78, 82, 85

  Madeira wine and a story about Cette, 191

  Malvy, M., and pro-Germans, 264

  Mannesmann, Brothers, 212

  Marx, 50, 131

  Marxists, the, 121

  Méline, M., 157

  Mercier, General, 157, 166

  Michel, E. B., 45

  Mill, John Stuart, a dedication to, 25

  Montagnards, insurrection of the, 57

  Morny, 17

  Morocco affair, the, 173

  ----, French policy in, 211

  Mouilleron-en-Pareds, 14


  Napoleon III, 20, 22, 23, 33

  ----, chief cause of downfall of, 27

  ----, loss of prestige, 32

  ----, Louis, 16, 17, 19, 21, 27, 28

  ----, the Court of, 21

  Naquet, 87

  Narbonne and Montpellier, disaffection among the wine-growers, 194

  National workshops, 16

  Nicholas, Emperor, 21

  1918, June, the Socialists and Clemenceau, 291-293

  Noir, Victor, murder of, 32

  Norton, M., 118

  "Novel with a purpose," the, 146


  Orleans, House of, 16

  Orsini bomb, the, 21


  Painlevé, M., 282

  Panama Canal, a congress of nations called by Lesseps, 107

  ---- and financial corruption, 110

  ---- and opponents of the Republic, 111

  ----, collapse of the company, 113

  ----, horrors on the Isthmus, 109

  ----, indictment of directors, 116

  ---- scandal, accusation of deputies, senators, and academicians, 115

  ---- scandal, Presidents Carnot and Loubet's attitude, 111

  ---- scandal, the, 10

  Paris and the Provinces, 19

  Paty du Clam, Colonel, 158

  Peace as desired by Socialist leaders, 238

  Perovskaia, Sophie, 58

  Persigny, 17

  Phylloxera ravages in the Bordeaux vineyards, 194

  Pichon, M., 206, 213

  Picquart, Colonel, 157, 162, 164, 166, 206

  Plébiscite, the, 17, 19, 20, 33

  Poincaré and Clemenceau, relations between, 255

  Population, concentration of, John Bellers on, 234

  ----, Petty on the same, _ibid._

  Pyat, 43, 44, 51


  Radolin, Prince, 212

  Railways, the nationalisation of, 226

  Raspail, 58

  Ravachol, the anarchist, 136

  Reinach, M. Jacques, and his part in the Panama Scandal, 109

  ----, the tragedy of his death, 116, 117, 118

  Rémusat, de, 69

  Republic of 1848, 16

  Retreat, the great, of August 1914, 248

  Revolution, the French, Clemenceau on, 228

  Ribot, M., denounced by Clemenceau, 265

  Rochefort, 23

  Roget, M., 166

  Rollin, Ledru, 16

  Rosen, Dr., 212

  Rossel, 51

  Rouher, 23

  Rousseau, M., reports unfavourably on Panama Canal, 108

  Rouvier, M., 115, 172

  ----, defends the President in the Wilson affair, 93

  ----, refuses to accept Boulanger as War Minister, 98

  Russia, campaign against, 21


  Sarrien, M., 172, 193, 206

  Scheurer-Kestner, 157-163

  Schnäbele affair, the, Boulanger's part in it, 96, 97

  Second Empire, the, 15

  Shaw, Bernard, 192

  Simon, Jules, 73, 74

  Social-Democracy, German, and the war, 244

  Socialist demonstration against Clemenceau at unveiling of statue to
M. Floquet, 227

  ---- Party, the, anti-patriotic, 262-3

  Sonnino, Baron, and Caillaux, 272

  Spüller, 90

  Suez Canal, the, 106


  Thiers, 9, 37, 39, 44, 50, 51, 54, 68, 69

  Thomas, Albert, 261

  ----, General, 41, 42, 53

  Trochu, General, 36

  Tunis, the question of, 88


  "_Utrinque paratus_," 9


  Vaillant, 45, 125

  ---- and Hervé, and the war, 261

  ---- and peace, 238

  ----, the anarchist, 136, 137

  ----, Edouard, the Blanquist, 121

  Vendée, La, 13, 14, 15

  Venice, the annexation of, 27

  Verdun, Clemenceau on the victories at, 251

  Vermorel, 43

  Victoria, Queen, 34

  _Ville Lumière, La_, 24

  Viviani, M., 206, 229


  Waddington, 83, 84

  Ward, Mrs. Humphry, 8

  Wilson, trading in decorations, 92

  Wine, adulteration of, 194

  Working Men's Association, the International, 50

  Wyse, Buonaparte, sells concession for Panama canal scheme to Lesseps, 108


  Zola, 157-160

  ----, the trial of, 162, 164

  Zurlinden, General, 157



                     WORKS BY GEORGES CLEMENCEAU.


 _De la Génération des Éléments Anatomiques._ 8vo. Paris: Baillière et
 fils. 1865.

 _Notions d'Anatomie et de Physiologie Générale. De la Génération des
 Éléments Anatomiques._ Précédée d'une introduction par M. Charles
 Robin. 8vo. Paris: Germer Baillière. 1867.

 J. Stuart Mill: _Auguste Comte et le Positivisme_. 18mo. Paris: Germer
 Baillière. 1868. Alcau. 1893.

 _L'Amnistie devant le Parlement._ Discours Chambre des Députés, 16
 Mai, 1876. 18mo. Paris: Imp. Wittersheim. 1876.

 _Affaires Egyptiennes._ Discours Chambre des Députés, 19 and 20
 Juillet, 1882. 18mo. Paris: Imp. Wittersheim. 1882.

 _Discours prononcé au Cirque Fernando le 25 Mai, 1884._ (Account of
 Clemenceau's stewardship.) 18mo. Paris: Imp. Schiller. 1884.

 _Affaire du Tonkin._ Discours Chambre des Députés, 27 Nov., 1884.
 18mo. Paris: Imp. Schiller. 1884.

 _Politique Coloniale._ Discours Chambre des Députés, 30 Juillet, 1884.
 18mo. Paris: Imp. Schiller. 1885.

 _Discours prononcé à Draguignan, 13 Septembre 1885._ 18mo. Paris: Imp.
 Schiller. 1885.

 _La Mêlée Sociale._ 18mo. Paris: Charpentier et Fasquelle. 1895.

 _Le Grand Pan._ 18mo. Paris: Charpentier et Fasquelle. 1896.

 _Les Plus Forts._ Roman contemporain. 18mo. Paris: Fasquelle. 1898.

 _Au Pied du Mont Sinai._ 4to. Paris: Floury. 1898.

 _L'Iniquité._ Notes sur l'affaire Dreyfus. 18mo. Paris: Stock. 1899.

 _Fils des Jours._ Paris: Stock. 1899.

 _Le Voile du Bonheur._ Pièce en un acte. 18mo. Paris: Fasquelle. 1901.

 _La Honte._ 18mo. Paris: Stock. 1903.

 _Aux Embuscades de la Vie._ Dans la foi, dans l'ordre établi, dans
 l'amour. 18mo. Paris: Fasquelle. 1903.

 _L'Enseignement dans le Droit Républicain._ Discours au Sénat. 18mo.
 Paris: Fasquelle. 1904.

 _Figures de la Vendée._ Paris: Hessèle. 1904.

 _La France devant l'Allemagne._ Imp. 8vo. Payot. 1918.

       *       *       *       *       *

The above is a list of Clemenceau's most important works. His speeches
in the Chamber of Deputies from 1876 up to 1893, and in the Senate,
since 1902, will be found in the _Journal Officiel_ and the _Annales
du Sénat_. There are several studies of Clemenceau and his career: the
most recent is _Clemenceau_ (8vo, Paris--Charpentier, 1918), of which
M. Georges Lecomte is the author. But he has been disinclined to have
any detailed personal biography published. Though he must be well aware
of the eminent part he has played in the history of his own country
and of Europe, he has always preferred to speak of himself, and to be
spoken of, as only one of the people of the France whom he has so well
served.



                              FOOTNOTES:


[A] M. Maurice Le Blond.

[B] "Yes, bear in mind, reader, Monsieur Brandès's fear under existing
conditions is that Germany may be humiliated! Denmark has been
humiliated by the people of supermen who constitute the German race.
France, also, I take it, and even Belgium: perhaps Brandès will admit
that? He has not protested. He even refuses to explain himself on this
point, declaring that his silence (prolix enough) is golden--that sort
of gold which won't stand the touchstone. But his overmastering dread
is that the organisers of the greatest crime against civilisation,
against the independence of the peoples, against the dignity of the
human species, the authors of the appalling atrocities from which
Belgium and France are still bleeding, may not themselves undergo
_humiliation_."

[C] I happen to know the configuration of this district well, having
walked all over it in 1866, after I went up into the Tyrol with
Garibaldi.

[D] Since the extreme pacifist and anti-nationalist section of
Socialists captured the French Socialist Party a body of the French
Socialist Deputies have constituted a group of their own in the
Assembly. They number in all forty-one and they have a well-edited and
well-written daily journal, _La France Libre_, which represents their
views. Among their leading members are the Citizens Varenne, De la
Porte, Compère Morel, Albert Thomas and others. They are thoroughly
sound Socialists in all domestic affairs, but they cannot accept the
views of those who are now led by Jean Longuet and Marcel Cachin on
questions affecting the independence and welfare of France as a nation.
Their opinions are, in fact, much the same as those which have been
so vigorously and successfully championed by the National Socialist
Party in Great Britain. It seems a pity that none of their party have
seen their way to accept the positions in the Cabinet offered by M.
Clemenceau. The results of the General Election in Great Britain may
give them encouragement to do so.

[E] CLEMENCEAU'S MINISTRY.

  CLEMENCEAU, Prime Minister and Minister for War.
  PICHON, Foreign Affairs.
  PAMS, Interior.
  KLOTZ, Finance.
  LEYGUES, Marine        }
  CLEMENTEL, Commerce    }
  CLAVALLE, Public Works } Members of late Ministry.
  LOUCHEUR, Munitions    }
  COLLIARD, Labour       }
  BORET, Supplies and Agriculture.





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