Redirected from Dreyfus Affair
It centered on the 1894 treason conviction of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish artillery officer in the French army. Dreyfus was, in fact, innocent: the conviction rested on false documents, and when high-ranking officers realised this they attempted to cover up the mistakes. The writer Emile Zola exposed the affair to the general public in the literary newspaper L'Aurore (The Dawn) in a famous open letter to the Président de la République Félix Faure, titled J'accuse! (I Accuse!) on January 13, 1898. In the words of historian Barbara W. Tuchman, it was "one of the great commotions of history".
The virulence of the passions aroused by the case was due to the spread of Anti-Semitism in France. This may have been due partly to the failure of the Union Générale--a Roman Catholic banking establishment which aimed at superseding Jewish finance--in 1885; it also may have been partly due to the publication of Edouard Drumont[?]'s book La France Juive in 1886.
But the case itself was more immediately the outcome of the continuous attack upon the presence of the Jews as officers in the French army, spearheaded by Drumont and others in the journal "La Libre Parole" (founded with the help of the Jesuits in 1892.) The articles of the "Libre Parole," which denounced French Jewish officers as being future traitors, led a Jewish captain of dragoons, Crémieu-Foa, to declare that he resented as a personal insult the slanderous assault made upon the body of Jewish officers. He fought a duel, first with Drumont, then with Lamase, under whose name the articles had appeared. It had been agreed that the report of the proceedings should not be made public. The brother of Crémieu-Foa, following the advice of Captain Esterhazy, one of the Jewish captain's seconds, communicated the information to the journal "Matin."
The Marquis de Morès, who had been chief second of Lamase, and was a well-known anti-Semite and famous duellist, held Captain Mayer, chief second of Crémieu-Foa, responsible for the breach of confidentiality. Though innocent of the matter, Mayer accepted a challenge from the marquis. The duel was fought on June 23, the Jewish captain being mortally wounded at the first attack; he died a few days after the duel. Owing to the sensation that was caused by this event, the "Libre Parole" thought it wise to stop the campaign against the Jewish officers until further orders.
Origins of the case Among the military services reorganized after the war of 1870 was that of the Intelligence Department (the secret service), which had as one of its principal occupations to watch the German embassy. The ambassador, Count Münster, owing to an affair involving the military attaché, had promised on his word of honor that for the future his attachés should abstain from bribing the French officers or officials. But it was known at the Intelligence Office that the new attaché, Colonel Schwarzkoppen, probably without the knowledge of the ambassador, continued to entertain paid spies, being in direct correspondence with the War Office in Berlin. According to indications furnished by a former Spanish military attaché, Señor Val Carlos, Schwarzkoppen and the Italian military representative, Colonel Panizzardi, had come to an agreement to exchange the results of whatever discoveries they might make; and to keep an eye on this plotting the Intelligence Office succeeded in securing the help of a charwoman employed at the German embassy, a Madame Bastian, who collected carefully all the scraps of paper, torn up or half-burnt, which she found in the waste-paper baskets or in the fireplace of Schwarzkoppen's office, put them all in a paper bag, and once or twice a month took them or had them taken to the "section de statistique." There the pieces were carefully fitted together and gummed.
By this means it was ascertained that since 1892 certain secret information concerning the national defenses had leaked out. Some large plans of the fortress at Nice had been given up by an individual who was alluded to in one of Schwarzkoppen's notes as "that scoundrel D?" ("ce canaille de D?"). The fragments of another memorandum of Schwarzkoppen conveyed the idea that the German attaché had found an informant who pretended to bring him the documents just as issued from the War Office. There was therefore a wolf in the fold; Val Carlos was certain of it.
The anonymous letter; the bordereau During the summer of 1894 there arrived at the Intelligence Office a document which was far more alarming than any which had preceded it, and which was credited to the German embassy. This was the anonymous letter which has since become celebrated under the name of the "bordereau." This letter, written on so-called "papier pelure" (thin foreign notepaper), ruled in squares and almost transparent, was torn from top to bottom in two places, but was otherwise intact. The writing was upon the two sides of the first page. According to the official version, which was long believed to be the true one, the paper had arrived by the usual means, through Madame Bastian; but the appearance of the document, which was hardly torn, makes this story unlikely. It would appear from other disclosures that the letter was taken intact from the letter-box of Colonel Schwarzkoppen in the porter's lodge at the embassy, and brought to the office by an agent named Brucker, who had formerly acted as a go-between for Madame Bastian and the Intelligence Office. The documents which the letter announced as being sent off did not reach the War Office; and the envelope of the letter has never been produced. Here is the text of this famous document:
This communication was clearly written in August, 1894, at the latest. The "manuel de tir" for field-artillery is the résumé of the methods designed to regulate the actual firing of ordnance on the battle-field; this shooting never takes place during the grand maneuvers in September, but only during the "écoles à feu," which begin in May and finish in August. It is these "écoles à feu" that the writer incorrectly designates as "maneuvers," and the word probably has the same meaning in the last sentence.
It seems evident that the bordereau was handed over to Major Henry, who, with Major Cordier, was then assisting Colonel Sandherr, the head of the Intelligence Office. According to General Auguste Mercier[?], the letter in question arrived at the office with other documents whose dates ranged from Aug. 21 to Sept. 2; it is probable that Henry kept it in his possession a considerable time, which makes it the more surprising that he did not recognize the undisguised writing of one of his former fellow soldiers, Major Esterhazy. It was not until Sept. 24 that he spoke concerning the document to his fellow workers and to his chief, Colonel Sandherr, who immediately informed the head of staff, General de Boisdeffre, and the secretary of war, General Auguste Mercier. The informant of the German military attaché was a French officer; they concluded from the tone of the letter that he was a staff-officer. Nothing justified this last supposition. On the contrary, the wording, technically and grammatically incorrect; the difficulty which the author had in procuring the "manuel de tir" (which was distributed freely among the staff); the small importance which his correspondent appeared to attach to his disclosures, often leaving him for a considerable time "without information"--everything pointed to its not being by a staff-officer.
Nevertheless, this "first falsehood," suggested perhaps by the previous warnings of Val Carlos, was generally accepted; right from the start, the investigations led down a false path. At first no result was obtained from an examination of handwritings in the bureaus of the department. But on Oct. 6 Lieutenant-Colonel d'Aboville suggested to his chief, Colonel Fabre, the idea that the bordereau, dealing as it did with questions which were under the jurisdiction of different departments, must be the work of one of the officers going through their "stage" (i.e., staff-schooling), they being the only men who passed successively through the various branches to complete their military education; moreover, as, out of the five documents mentioned, three had reference to artillery, the officer probably belonged to this branch of the army. It only remained to consult the list of "stage" officers on the staff who had come from the artillery. While looking through it, the two colonels came to a halt before the name of a Jewish officer, Captain Dreyfus. Colonel Fabre, in whose office he had been during the second quarter of 1893, remembered having given him a bad record on the report of Lieutenant-Colonel Roget and Major Bertin-Mourot; Dreyfus had given these gentlemen the impression (upon the most superficial grounds) of being presuming and overbearing, of neglecting the routine of service to go into matters which were kept secret. Fabre and D'Aboville immediately began to search for papers bearing the writing of Dreyfus; by coincidence it showed a likeness to the writing of the bordereau; these officers, inexperienced and prejudiced, mistook a vague resemblance for real identity.
Alfred Dreyfus From the end of 1892 to September, 1894, Dreyfus went through his "stage" in the Staff Office, receiving excellent reports on all hands, except from Colonel Fabre. From Oct. 1, 1894, he went through a "stage" in a body of troops, the Thirty-ninth Regiment of the line, in Paris. His personal characteristics, little fitting him to command, and his slightly foreign accent, combined to prejudice people against him; he had also a rather haughty demeanor, associated little with his military companions, and appeared rather too self-confident. But his comrades and superiors, without being much attached to him, recognized his keen intelligence, his retentive memory, his remarkable capacity for work; he was known as a well-informed officer, a daring and vigorous horseman, with decided opinions, which he knew how to set forth skilfully and to uphold under discussion. In short, he was a brilliant and correct soldier, and seemed marked out for a glorious future. Added to all this, he possessed a comfortable private fortune (which brought him an income of $5,000 or $6,000 a year) soundly invested in his brothers' business; he was without any expensive vices, if not without failings, and was leading a settled life. It is difficult to imagine what motive could possibly have incited him to the vile traffic of which he was destined to be suspected.
His patriotic sentiments were fervent almost to the point of Jingoism. He had also come under the influence of the Boulangist movement[?], which, for many of his equals, meant revenge on Germany. Anti-Semitism appears to have been behind the idea that he was a traitor. Even the wording of the bordereau should have shown the absurdity of this supposition; Dreyfus would not have written, "I am just starting for the maneuvers," since that year none of the "stage" officers went to the maneuvers, having been officially advised by a circular on May 17 not to do so.
Without pausing to consider these objections, Fabre and D'Aboville took their "discovery" to General Gonse, deputy-chief of the staff, and to Colonel Sandherr, an anti-Semite of long standing. General de Boisdeffre, informed in his turn, told the story to the secretary of war. General Auguste Mercier[?] had held this office since December, 1893. Brought face to face with the bordereau, his concern was to act swiftly, because, if the affair came to be known before he had taken any steps, he would be reproached for having shielded a traitor. This fear, and perhaps the hope of being able to pose as the saviour of his country, decided him; once started he was forced to pursue the matter. However, he sought the opinion (October 11) of a small council formed of the president of the cabinet (Charles Dupuy[?]), the minister of foreign affairs (Hanotaux), the keeper of the seais (Guérin), and himself.
The council authorized Mercier to proceed to a careful inquiry; he ordered an examination by an expert in handwriting[?]. The matter was entrusted to Gobert, an expert graphologist of the Bank of France[?], who had been recommended to him. With great conscientiousness Gobert pointed out the striking differences between the writing of the bordereau and that of the documents which were given to him for comparison, the "personal folio" of Dreyfus, from which his name had been erased but the dates left, so that it was easy to identify him from the army list; there were some letters which struck the experienced eye at once, such as the open g (made like a y) and the double s made in the form fs, features which were to be found only in the bordereau.
Gobert concluded (Oct. 13) "that the anonymous letter might be from a person other than the one suspected." This opinion was pronounced "neutral"; a second inquiry was called for, and this time the "expert"'s qualifications for the task were doubtful. Alphonse Bertillon, head of the "service de l'identité judiciaire" at the Prefecture of Police, had already been entrusted with certain photographic enlargements of the bordereau. Bertillon, who already knew the identity of the suspected man, sent in his report the same day. His inference was as follows: "If we set aside the idea of a document forged with the greatest care, it is manifestly evident that the same person has written all the papers given for examination, including the incriminating document." Sheltered by this opinion, Mercier no longer hesitated to order the arrest of Dreyfus. The arrest was conducted in a melodramatic fashion, according to the plans of Major Du Paty de Clam, who, as an amateur graphologist, had been initiated from the very beginning in all the details of the affair.
Dreyfus was ordered to appear before the minister of war on the morning of October 15, in civil clothes, under pretense of an "inspection of the 'stage' officers." He answered the summons without suspicion. In the office of the head of staff, he found himself in the presence of Du Paty and three others, also in civil dress, whom he did not know at all; they were Gribelin (the archivist of the Intelligence Office), the "chef de la sûreté," Cochefert, and the latter's secretary. While awaiting the general, Du Paty, pretending that he had hurt his finger, asked Dreyfus to write from his dictation a letter which he wished to present for signature. The wording was most extraordinary; it was addressed to an unknown person, and asked him to send back the documents which had been lent to him by the writer before "starting for the maneuvers"; then followed the enumeration of these documents, taken word for word from the bordereau. Du Paty had flattered himself that the culprit, on recognising the words, would confess; a loaded revolver lay on a table to allow him to execute justice upon himself.
Things did not turn out as Du Paty had expected. Dreyfus wrote tranquilly on under the major's dictation. There was a moment when Du Paty, who was closely watching him, imagined he saw his hand tremble, and remarked sharply upon it to Dreyfus, who replied, "My fingers are cold." The facsimile of the letter shows no sign of disturbance in the writing, hardly even a slight deviation. After having dictated a few more lines, during which "Dreyfus entirely regained his composure," he ceased the experiment, and placing his hand on the captain's shoulder, he cried: "In the name of the law I arrest you; you are accused of the crime of high treason!" Dreyfus, in his stupefaction, hardly found words to protest his innocence. He pushed away the revolver indignantly, but allowed himself to be searched without resistance, saying: "Take my keys, examine everything in my house; I am innocent." Du Paty and his associates assured him that a "long inquiry" made against him had resulted in "incontestable proofs" which would be communicated to him later on. Then he was placed in the hands of Major Henry, who had been listening from the next room, and whose mission it was to deliver him over to the military prison of Cherche-Midi[?]. In the cab that took them there, Dreyfus renewed his protestations of innocence, and asserted that he had not even been told what were the documents in question, or to whom he was accused of having given them.
At Cherche-Midi Dreyfus was turned over to the governor of the prison, Major Forzinetti, who had received orders to keep his imprisonment secret, even from his chief, General Saussier, an unheard-of measure. Apparently, the minister had some doubts as to the guilt of Dreyfus, and did not wish to publish his arrest until the inquiry furnished decisive proofs.
The conduct of the inquiry was entrusted to Major Du Paty de Clam. Immediately after the arrest he went to see Madame Dreyfus, and ordered her, under the most terrible threats, to keep the matter secret, even from her brothers-in-law. He then made a minute search of the rooms, which furnished no evidence whatever: no suspicious document, no "papier pelure" (foreign notepaper) was found: nothing but well-kept accounts. A similar search made in the house of M. Hadamard (Dreyfus' father-in-law) ended in the same failure.
Du Paty repeatedly visited Dreyfus in prison. He made him write standing up, seated, lying down, in gloves -- all without obtaining any characteristics identical to those of the bordereau. He showed him fragments of a photograph of that document, mixed up with fragments and photographs of Dreyfus' own handwriting. The accused distinguished them with very little trouble. Du Paty questioned him without obtaining any other result than protestations of innocence broken by cries of despair. The suddenness of the catastrophe, and the uncertainty in which he was left as to its cause, reduced the wretched man to such a terrible state of mind that his reason was threatened. For several days he refused to take any food; his nights passed like a frightful nightmare. The governor of the prison, Forzinetti, warned the minister of the alarming state of his prisoner, and declared to General de Boisdeffre that he firmly believed he was innocent.
Not until Oct. 29 did Du Paty show the entire text of the bordereau to Dreyfus, and then he made him copy it. The prisoner protested more forcibly than ever that it was not his writing, and regaining all the clearness of his intellect when faced by a definite accusation, tried to prove to his interlocutor that out of five documents mentioned in the bordereau, three were absolutely unknown to him.
He asked to see the minister: consent was given only on condition that "he start on the road to a confession" In the mean time writing-experts had proceeded with further examinations. Bertillon, to whom the name of the prisoner had now been revealed, set to work again. To explain at the same time the resemblances and the differences between the writing of Dreyfus and that of the bordereau, he supposed a most intricate system: Dreyfus, he thought, must have imitated or traced his own handwriting, leaving in it enough of its natural character for his correspondent to recognize it, but introducing into it, for greater safety, alterations borrowed from the hands of his brother Matthew and his sister-in-law Alice, in one of whose letters they had discovered the double s made as in the bordereau! This is the hypothesis of "autoforgery," which he complicated later on by a supposed mechanism of "key-words," of "gabarits," of measurements by the "kutsch," of turns and twists.
Bertillon's provisional report, submitted on Oct. 20, inferred "without any reservation whatever" that Dreyfus was guilty. General Auguste Mercier, still not satisfied, had the prefect of police appoint three new experts, Charavay, Pelletier, and Teyssonnières; Bertillon was put at their disposal to furnish them with photographic enlargements. Pelletier simply studied the bordereau and the documents given for comparison, and concluded that the writing of the bordereau was in no way disguised, and that it was not that of the prisoner.
The two others, influenced by Bertillon, declared themselves in favor of the theory of identity. Teyssonnières, an expert of no great repute, spoke of feigned writing. Charavay, a distinguished paleographer, judged the prisoner guilty, unless it was a case of "sosie en écritures"--a most extraordinary resemblance of handwriting. He also spoke of simulation to explain away the palpable differences. On October 31 Du Paty finished his inquiry, and handed in his report, which accused Dreyfus but left it to the minister to decide what further steps should be taken.
By this time General Mercier was no longer free to decide; the press had interfered. On October 28 Papillaud, a contributor to the "Libre Parole," received a note signed "Henry"--under which pseudonym he recognized without hesitation the major of that name; "Henry" revealed to him the name and address of the arrested officer, adding falsely, "All Israel is astir."
The very next day the "Libre Parole" narrated in carefully veiled words the secret arrest of an individual suspected of espionage. Other newspapers were more precise; on Nov. 1 Drumont's special edition announced in huge type the arrest of "the Jewish officer A. Dreyfus"; there was, it declared, "absolute proof that he had sold our secrets to Germany"; and what was more, he had "made full confession." All this was very awkward for General Mercier; he was in a corner. If ever he had had the idea of dropping the case, it was too late now; he would have hazarded his position as a minister by doing so. He summoned a council of the ministers, and, without revealing any other charge than that concerning the bordereau, declared that the documents mentioned in the memorandum could only have been procured by Dreyfus. The ministers, most of whom now heard the story for the first time, unanimously decided to institute proceedings. The papers were at once made over to the governor of Paris, who gave the order to investigate (Nov. 3).
No sooner had the name of Dreyfus been pronounced than the military attachés of Germany and Italy began to wonder if he had been in direct correspondence with the War Office of either country. They made inquiries at Berlin and at Rome, and received answers in the negative. In his impatience, Panizzardi had telegraphed in cipher on Nov. 2: "If Captain Dreyfus has had no intercourse with you, it would be to the purpose to let the ambassador publish an official denial, in order to forestall comments by the press." This telegram, written in cipher, and of course copied at the post-office, was sent to the Foreign Office to be deciphered. The first attempt left the last words uncertain; they were thus translated: "our secret agent is warned." This version, communicated to Colonel Sandherr, seemed to him a new proof against Dreyfus. But a few days later the real interpretation was discovered, of which Sandherr himself established the accuracy by a decisive verification. From that time it became morally impossible to bring home to Captain Dreyfus any document which would infer that the traitor was in communication with Panizzardi.
The Judicial Inquiry The judicial inquiry had been entrusted to Major Bexon d'Ormescheville, judge-advocate of the first court martial of the department of the Seine. Comrades of Dreyfus said that they remembered, or thought they remembered, that in his past conduct he had shown signs of excessive curiosity. One officer testified that he had lent him the "manuel de tir" for several days, but that was in July, whereas the bordereau was now believed to have been written in April. An agent named Guénée, charged by Major Henry with the task of inquiring into the question of his morals, picked up a collection of tales which represented Dreyfus as a gambler and a libertine, whose family had been obliged several times to pay his debts. Another inquiry by the Prefecture of Police showed the inanity of these allegations: Dreyfus was unknown in gambling-houses, and Guénée's informants had confused him with one of his numerous namesakes. There was no visible motive; the accusation rested solely on the disputed handwriting.
However, public opinion had already condemned him. The press claimed that Dreyfus had exposed the system of national defense. All the treachery that had remained untraced was blamed on him. People were indignant that the penalty of death for political crimes had been abolished by the constitution of 1848; even death seemed too light a punishment. The only excuse that they found for him was that his race had predisposed him to commit an act of treason, the "fatalité du type."
The yellow press also blamed the minister of war, for keeping the arrest a secret, in the hope of being able to hush up the affair; he was said to be in league with "the Jews". General Mercier now understood that the condemnation of Dreyfus was for him a question of political life or death; convinced or not, he determined to establish the man's guilt. On November 28, he declared in an interview with Le Figaro that Dreyfus' guilt was "absolutely certain." Then, aware of the defects of the evidence, he ordered that a secret dossier should be prepared by collecting from the drawers of the Intelligence Department whatever documents concerning spies could more or less be ascribed to Dreyfus. This dossier, revised and put into a sealed envelope by Mercier himself, with the cooperation of Boisdeffre and of Sandherr, was to be communicated only to the judges in the room where they held their deliberations, without either the accused or his counsel having been able to see it.
As soon as it had become known that General Mercier had decided to pursue the matter, public opinion changed in his favour. "One must be for Mercier or for Dreyfus," proclaimed General Riu. Cassagnac, who, as a personal friend of Dreyfus' lawyer, maintained some doubts as to his guilt, summed up the situation in these words: "If Dreyfus is acquitted, no punishment would be too severe for Mercier!"
The Trial of Dreyfus The report of Major d'Ormescheville, handed in on Dec. 3, was prejudiced and illogical; out of a heap of "possibilities" and numberless insinuations, he vainly tried to deduce a proof of some sort. Edgar Demange, whom the Dreyfus family had chosen as their lawyer, accepted this task only on the condition that the perusal of the papers should convince him of the emptiness of the accusation; he was convinced. He concentrated on obtaining a public hearing, promising on his honour not to raise any delicate questions which might lead to a diplomatic contest. The brothers of Dreyfus and certain statesmen made urgent application in the same direction. However, a private hearing was decided on by the minister's, as being required by "state policy," he announced this conviction to the president of the court martial; such an announcement was equivalent to an order.
The case began on December 19 at Cherche-Midi, and lasted four days. Seven judges, none of them an artilleryman, composed the court; the president was Colonel Maurel. From the start the commissary of the government, Major Brisset, demanded a secret trial. The protests of Demange, who tried to make it known that the accusation was based on a single document, were overruled by the president, and a secret trial was unanimously agreed to. In the court-room there remained, besides the judges, only the accused and his attorney, the prefect of police Lépine, and Major Picquart, entrusted with the duty of giving an account of the proceedings to the head of the staff and to the minister. The case dragged along with hardly any incident worthy of remark. The "colorless" voice of Dreyfus, his unsympathetic appearance and military correctness weakened the effect of his persistent denials. On the other hand, the "moral proofs" would not bear discussion. Du Paty got entangled in his description of the scene of the dictation; Bertillon brought forward a revised and much enlarged edition of his report. The only testimony which produced any impression was that of Major Henry. After his first statement he asked to be recalled. Then, in a loud voice, he declared that long before the arrival of the bordereau an honorable person (meaning Val Carlos) had warned the Intelligence Department that an officer of the ministry, an officer of the second bureau, was betraying his country. "And that traitor, there he is!" With his finger he pointed out Dreyfus. And when the president asked him if the "honorable person" had named Dreyfus, Henry even stretched out his hand toward the crucifix and declared," I swear it!"
The last hearing on December 22 was devoted to the public prosecutor's address and to the pleading of Demange, who strove for three hours to prove that the very contents of the bordereau showed that it could not be the work of Dreyfus. In his reply, Brisset was satisfied with asking the judges to take their "magnifying-glasses." A calm listener, Major Picquart, thoguht the result was very doubtful unless help came from the secret dossier. This dossier was given up, still sealed, by Major Du Paty (who was ignorant of the exact contents) to Colonel Maurel, and the latter immediately entered the room where the judges were deliberating on the case, and communicated it to his colleagues. The recollections of the military judges being rather vague on the subject, it has not been possible to reconstitute with certainty the substance of the portfolio. It is known, however, that it included at least the document "canaille de D . . ." (a commonplace initial which it was absurd, after Panizzardi's telegram, to attribute to Dreyfus), and a sort of military biography of Dreyfus, based on, but not identical with, a memorandum from Du Paty, who had been told to make the various documents of the secret dossier coincide with one another. This biography represented Dreyfus as a traitor by birth, having begun spying as soon as he entered the service.
Among the other papers of the secret dossier were the fragments of Schwarzkoppen's note alluding to an informant who pretended to take his knowledge from the ministry, and, according to Commander Freystaetter, the first and false interpretation of Panizzardi's despatch! After judgment had been pronounced the dossier was given back to Mercier, who had it pulled to pieces, and later on destroyed the biographical notice. But, contrary to instructions, Major Henry reconstituted the secret dossier, added to it Du Paty's explanatory note (which last was destroyed by Mercier in 1897), and locked it in the iron chest where Picquart afterward found it. Allusion has been made several times (since 1894) to a second dossier, "ultra-secret," which was composed of photographs of papers stolen from, and then given up to, the German embassy; namely, seven letters from Dreyfus, and one said to be from the Emperor of Germany to Count Münster, naming Dreyfus. If such a dossier was ever in existence, it certainly contained nothing but a mass of ridiculous forgeries.
The conviction, already more than half decided by the experts and by Henry, could not withstand this new assault. Dreyfus was unanimously pronounced guilty; the sentence was transportation for life to a fortress, preceded by military degradation. Upon hearing this decision, communicated to him by the clerk of the court, Dreyfus, who firmly believed he would be acquitted, was stunned. Taken back to prison, he was seized with despair, and begged for a revolver. Forzinetti, who had not lost faith in his innocence, had great difficulty in calming him. More than that, the touching letters from his wife made him accept life as a duty he owed to his own family.
The appeal of Dreyfus to the military court of revision--a simple formality--was rejected on Dec. 31. The same day the condemned man received a visit from Du Paty de Clam, who had been sent by the minister of war with the mission to declare to Dreyfus that if he would make a confession and reveal the nature of his indiscretions, he might obtain a mitigation of his sentence. Dreyfus answered that he had nothing to confess; he only asked that the investigations might be continued so as to discover the real criminal. Du Paty, somewhat moved, said to him on going out: "If you are innocent, you are the greatest martyr of all time." Dreyfus wrote an account of this interview to the minister; he finished with these words: "Once I am gone, let them go on searching; it is the only favor I ask."
The military degradation took place on the Champ de Mars[?] on January 5. During the parade of "execution" Dreyfus preserved a military attitude which shocked some onlookers. When General Darras had pronounced the accustomed words, he cried out in a loud voice: "You are degrading an innocent man! Long live France! Long live the army!" He repeated this cry while the adjutant on duty was tearing off his stripes and breaking his sword, and again while passing before the crowd, which was calling for his death, and the journalists, who called him Judas.
If the unanimous verdict of seven judges dissipated any public doubts, the reiterated protestations of the condemned man brought them to life again. The report was spread that he had made a confession. While waiting for the parade, locked up with Lebrun Renault, the captain of gendarmerie on service, he was supposed to have said: "The minister knows that I am innocent; and that, if I have given up any documents to Germany, it was only to get more important ones in return; before three years are over the truth will be known." This tale had its origin in the obscure account which Lebrun Renault had rendered of his conversation with Dreyfus; in reality, the latter had merely related his interview with Du Paty and protested his innocence. Renault himself, in an interview, related, in the words of Dreyfus, the origin of the bordereau, but of confession not a word. However that may be, this idle talk made the staff uneasy, because it brought into the case the German embassy, which was showing signs of indignation. In short, General Gonse called on Lebrun Renault and took him successively to General Mercier and to the president of the republic, Casimir-Perier, who imposed upon him absolute silence for the future.
Germany Concerned In the mean time serious complications with Germany were expected. The German government, once assured by Schwarzkoppen and by the War Office at Berlin that Dreyfus was utterly unknown to them, protested publicly against the statements in the newspapers which persisted in bringing Germany into the case. Several times after the arrest of Dreyfus semi-official notes of protest had been inserted in the different organs of the press; Count Münster, the German ambassador, denied to Hanotaux that Germany had taken any part in the affair. These declarations, politely received, left the French government absolutely skeptical, for it knew from a positive source the origin of the bordereau.
A note from the Havas Agency (Nov. 30) put the foreign embassies out of the case; but the press continued to incriminate Germany. At the beginning of December, Münster, by the express order of the German emperor, invited Hanotaux to call at the embassy and repeated his protestations. The report was spread abroad that Germany had demanded and obtained the restoration of the documents which established the traitor's guilt! Provoked by the persistence of these attacks, the German embassy inserted in the "Figaro" of Dec. 26 a fresh notice denying formally that it had had with Dreyfus "the least intercourse, either direct or indirect." And as this notice also seemed to have little or no effect, the emperor telegraphed to Münster on Jan. 5 to go personally to Casimir-Perier and say, "If it be proved that the German embassy has never been implicated in the Dreyfus case, I hope the government will not hesitate to declare the fact." Otherwise, it was given to be understood that the ambassador would leave Paris. This despatch, communicated by Münster to Dupuy, who was then temporarily engaged at the Foreign Office, had the appearance of an ultimatum. The president of the republic up to this time had known very little of the details of the case, and had been kept by Hanotaux in complete ignorance of Münster's previous communications; but now he had the contents of the legal documents shown to him. After having read them, he granted to Münster the audience which had been requested. Then, considering honesty to be the best policy, he asserted very frankly that the criminal letter had been takenfrom the German embassy, but that it was not an important document and that nothing proved that it had been "solicited."
After having referred the matter to Berlin, Münster consented to the drawing up of a note by the Havas Agency which once more put all the embassies out of the case, and terminated the incident (Jan. 9, 1895). General Auguste Mercier did not long enjoy his triumph. On Jan. 15, under pretext of a ministerial crisis, in which his friends abandoned him, Casimir-Perier handed in his resignation as president of the republic; the mysteries and the unpleasantnesses of the Dreyfus affair hastened this decision. At the congress called together to elect a new president, printed ballots were passed about in favor of General Mercier; one handbill even set him down as the savior of the republic for having had the traitor Dreyfus condemned in spite of all difficulties. He obtained three votes! Ribot, entrusted by the new president (Félix Faure) with forming a cabinet, did not appeal to an assistant so compromising as Mercier; the office of minister of war was given to General Zurlinden.
Two days later, during the night of Jan. 17, in bitterly cold weather, Dreyfus, dragged from the prison of La Santé, was transferred by rail to La Rochelle, thence to the island of Ré, into a military reformatory. The populace, recognizing him, followed him thirsting for his blood; an officer struck him; stoical, he forgave his tormentors, whose indignation against such a traitor as he was supposed to be he understood and shared. At Ré, as at La Santé, he was authorized to receive a few visits from his wife, but the authorities managed to make them as short and as painful as possible.
A law passed ad hoc had just instituted as the place of transportation for political crimes the Iles du Salut off French Guiana, instead of the peninsula of Ducos (New Caledonia), where, it was said, supervision was difficult; it has been suggested that vengeance was being taken on Dreyfus for his obstinate refusal to confess. The notice drawn up by the War Office for the use of his guardians denounced him as "a hardened malefactor, quite unworthy of pity." This word to the wise was to be only too well understood and carried out. On the evening of Feb. 21 the unhappy man, taken hurriedly from his cell, was embarked on the "Ville de St. Nazaire," which was to carry him across the Atlantic to a place of exile.
Devil's Island The Iles du Salut, where Dreyfus was landed on March 15, compose a small archipelago situated twenty-seven miles off Cayenne[?], opposite the mouth of the River Kuru. Notwithstanding its name ("salus," health) it was a most unhealthy region, with incessant heat, continuous rain for five months of the year, and effluvia arising from the marshy land. The smallest island of the group, Devil's Island, which had until Dreyfus' arrival been occupied by a leper hospital, was destined to be his abode. On the summit of a desolate rock, far from the few palm-trees on the shore, a small hut of four cubic yards was built for him; night and day an inspector stood guard at the door, with strict orders not to address a word to him. In the daytime the prisoner was permitted to exercise until sunset in a small rectangular space of about two hundred yards, near his hut.
Madame Dreyfus had asked permission to follow her husband to his place of exile; the wording of the law seemed to point to it as her right; the ministry refused, alleging" that the rules to which the condemned man was subject were incompatible with it. Dreyfus had therefore no company except that of his jailers. The governor of the islands showed some humanity; but the head warder Lebars, who had received instructions from the minister to enforce harsh measures, went beyond his orders. Badly fed, especially at the beginning of his term of exile, obliged to do all sorts of dirty work, living by day among vermin and filth, and by night in a state of perpetual hallucination, Dreyfus, as was to be expected, soon fell a prey to fever. The doctor interfered and obtained an amelioration of the rules.
Dreyfus himself, clearly convinced that it was his duty to live, fought energetically to do so. To keep up his physical strength he compelled himself to take regular exercise; to prevent his intellect from getting dulled he had books sent to him which he read and reread, wrote out résumés, learned English, took up his mathematical studies again; to employ the long hours of leisure that still remained he kept a diary. He could correspond with only his own family, and even to them might refer only to domestic matters. His letters, examined by the administration, were one long cry for justice. Sometimes he begged his wife to go, leading her children by the hand, to entreat for justice from the president of the republic. He wrote himself to the president, to Du Paty, to General Boisdeffre, without receiving any replies.
Little by little the horrible climate did its work. Fever consumed him; from never employing it he almost lost the power of speech; even his brain wasted away. On May 5, 1896, he wrote in his diary: "I have no longer anything to say; everything is alike in its horrible cruelty." His gentleness, his resignation, his exact observance of all rules had not been without making an impression on his jailers; several of them believed him innocent; no punishment for rebellion against discipline was inflicted on him. Early in Sept., 1896, the false report of his escape was set afloat by an English paper. This rumor was really circulated by Matthew Dreyfus in the hope of shaking up the sluggishness of public opinion and to prepare the way for the pamphlet of Bernard Lazare demanding a fresh hearing of the case of 1894. Although contradicted at once, the rumor roused public opinion. Rochefort and Drumont proclaimed the existence of a syndicate to free him, published some false information about the rules that the condemned man had to obey, affirmed that with a little money it was the easiest thing imaginable to accomplish his rescue. The colonial secretary, André Lebon, took fright. It did not matter that these tales were absolutely without foundation, that the prisoner was of irreproachable conduct; to make assurance doubly sure, he cabled instructions to the governor of Guiana to surround the outer boundary of Dreyfus' exercising-ground with a solid fence, and in addition to the sentinel at the door to post one outside.
Until this work was finished, the prisoner was to be secured day and night in his hut, and at night, until further orders, he was to be subjected to the penalty of the "double buckle": gyves in which the prisoner's feet were shackled, and which were then firmly fixed to his bedstead, so that he was condemned either to absolute immobility or to dreadful torture. This order, barbarous and, moreover, illegal, was strictly carried out, to the equal astonishment of Dreyfus and of his warders. For twenty-four sultry nights the wretched man was upon the rack; for two months he was not allowed to stir out of his disgusting and suffocating hovel. When the cabin was opened once again it was encircled by a wall which hid even the sky; behind this wall his exercising-ground, hemmed in by a wooden fence over six feet high, was no more than a sort of narrow passage from which he could no longer see the sea.
The poor victim was now utterly depressed. On Sept. 10, 1896, he stopped keeping his diary, writing that he could not foresee on what day his brain would burst! His family was no longer allowed to send him books. The letters of his wife were forwarded to him no longer in the original hand, but in copies only. On June 6, 1897, a sail having been sighted during the night, alarm-guns were fired, and Dreyfus, startled in his sleep, saw his keepers with loaded rifles ready to shoot him down if he made one suspicious movement. In August the authorities ascertained that the heat and moisture in his stifling hut were really unbearable, and had the man transferred to a new cabin, larger than the first, but quite as dismal. A signal-tower was erected close by mounted with a Hotchkiss gun. Happily for Dreyfus his moral fortitude, after a temporary eclipse, had recovered its strength; and from Jan., 1898, the letters of his wife, although containing no particulars, roused his hopes by a tone of confidence which could not be mistaken. Eventful incidents had taken place during those three awful years.
Matthew Dreyfus The family of Dreyfus, faithful to the charge he had left them when he went away, had not ceased their efforts to discover the real culprit. Matthew Dreyfus undertook the direction of these researches; he worked with an untiring devotion, an affecting zeal, and a fruitful imagination that was not always seconded by sound judgment. The primary elements of a thorough inquiry were lacking; the Staff Office, far from seconding his efforts, had him jealously watched; intriguers set traps for him; he felt that he was spied upon; at his first false step the new law of espionage?a very strict and extremely elastic one?would find an excuse for getting him out of the way. As for the politicians whom he tried to interest in his cause, the greater part refused to enter into the question, or, intimidated by the minister of war, gave up the search after the very first investigation. The only threads he had to guide him were some of his brother's notes and a copy of the indictment that had been deposited abroad. He knew, further, from Dr. Gibert of Havre, to whom Félix Faure had confided the matter, that Dreyfus had been condemned on the evidence of a secret document, which had not been shown to the counsel for the defense. This information was corroborated by some remarks made by certain of the judges of 1894. One of them spoke of the case to an old lawyer named Salles, who repeated the conversation (on Oct. 29, 1896) to Demange. Before that Hanotaux had confided to Trarieux, and Trarieux to Demange, that the conclusive document contained the initial of Dreyfus' name (meaning the paper "canaille de D . . . "). Matthew Dreyfus started with the idea, plausible but false, that this document really had reference to the author of the bordereau, and that the initial was not fictitious; and from that idea arose his persistent search for an officer the initial letter of whose name was "D." He followed up several clues, none of which bore any result. The light was to come from an altogether different quarter.
Colonel Picquart Not long after the condemnation of Dreyfus the Intelligence Office had changed its chief. Sandherr, incapacitated by general paralysis, had resigned his post simultaneously with his assistant, Cordier (July 1, 1895); Major Henry, who aspired to the position although he did not speak a single foreign language, was not appointed Sandherr's successor; but in his stead Major Picquart, who had been ordered to report the debates in the Dreyfus case in order to send an account of the proceedings to the minister and to the chief of the staff, received the appointment. He was a young and brilliant officer, of Alsatian origin, hard-working, well-informed, with a clear intellect, a ready speech, and who, moreover, appeared to share all the prejudices of his surroundings; he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel on April 6, 1896, and was the youngest officer of that grade in the army. Immediately upon his arrival at the office he reorganized the service, which the prolonged illness of Sandherr had caused to be neglected. He required in particular that the paper bags in which Madame Bastian continued to collect the waste papers from the German embassy, and which she brought to Major Henry, should pass through his hands before being confided to Captain Lauth, whose work it was to piece and paste them together. These bags, however, never brought anything of importance to light, though they showed that the leakage of secret information had not ceased since the condemnation of Dreyfus.
The chief of the staff, Boisdeffre, on transferring the service into Picquart's hands, had declared to him that in his opinion the Dreyfus affair was not definitely settled. They must be on the lookout for a counter-attack from the Jews. In 1894 they had not been able to discover a motive for the treason; there was therefore every reason for continuing the researches to "strengthen the dossier."
The "Petit Bleu" In the month of March, 1896, Henry, much occupied by the state of his mother's health and by different matters he had to attend to in the country, made only short and infrequent visits to Paris.One day he sent Madame Bastian's paper bag, particularly bulky on this occasion, to Picquart without even having had time to glance at it. Picquart, also without inspecting it, passed it on to Lauth. Lauth later brought his chief a pneumatic-tube telegram (commonly known as a "petit bleu"), the fragments of which he had found in the bag; pasted together, they contained the following words:
To Major Esterhazy, 27 Rue de la Bienfaisance, Paris.
Sir: I am awaiting first of all a more detailed explanation [than] that which you gave me the other day on the subject in question. Consequently I beg you to send it to me in writing that I may judge whether I can continue my relations with the firm R. or not. C.
The writing of this note was disguised, but the place it came from left no room for doubting that it emanated from Colonel Schwarzkoppen; the office possessed another document, known to have been written by him, and signed with the same initial "C." The "petit bleu" had not been sent by mail; apparently, after having written or dictated it, Schwarzkoppen reconsidered his determination and had thrown the note into the waste-paper basket, taking care to tear it up into very small pieces?there were more than fifty of them; he had foreseen neither the tricks of Madame Bastian nor the patient industry of the Intelligence Department.
"It is fearful," said Captain Lauth on delivering it. "Can there possibly be another one?" (meaning another traitor among the officers). Picquart could share only the same impression; but determined upon avoiding the indiscretions and the blunders which had been committed in 1894, he resolved to undertake personally a secret inquiry before spreading abroad the news of his discovery. He put the "petit bleu" away in his strong-box, and shortly afterward had photographs of it taken by Lauth, in which he strove to remove the traces of the rents.
The object of this precaution was both to make the reading of the photograph easier and to prevent the officers who would handle these photographs later on from guessing the origin of the document.
Major Esterhazy Picquart began by getting information about the personality of Major Esterhazy, to whom the "petit bleu" was addressed. To this end he applied to his friend Major Curé, one of Esterhazy's fellow soldiers. The details he gathered through this source were not creditable to Esterhazy.
Picquart did not at once fathom all the details of Esterhazy's relations with the German attaché, of which the "petit bleu" had given him but a glimpse. Picquart did know, however, all the corruptions and scandals of Esterhazy's private life, the suspicions of malversation (in Tunis) and of espionage which had tainted his character; he learned further that Major Esterhazy, a neglectful officer, constantly absent from his garrison, was nevertheless extremely fond of getting information on confidential military questions, particularly those concerning mobilization and artillery. He diligently frequented artillery tests, and when he could not succeed in being ordered to attend the "écoles à feu," went there at his own expense. This is what he had done notably in 1894, the year of the bordereau. He also borrowed books and documents, and had them copied by his secretaries.
Picquart's Investigations At first Picquart did not establish any connection in his own mind between the "petit bleu" and the bordereau; he simply thought he was on the track of a fresh traitor, and hoped to catch him in the act. Different circumstances prevented him from pursuing his investigations. Besides, Esterhazy had been warned, and not only was it impossible to surprise him in any compromising visit, but he showed himself openly at the German embassy, to which he went to ask for a passport for his colonel. He even carried his audacity to the point of insisting that he be allowed to return to the War Office, in preference to the Intelligence Department, and was able to urge his request through the highest parliamentary and military influence.
However, a fresh incident occurred to strengthen Picquart's suspicions. The French military attaché at Berlin, Foucault, informed him of a curious conversation he had had with one Richard Cuers, a spy who wavered between France and Germany. Cuers told Foucault that Germany had never employed Dreyfus?that the only French officer who was in Germany's pay was a major of infantry who had furnished some sheets from lectures held at the "école de tir" at Châlons.
The Secret Dossier Picquart acquainted General de Boisdeffre with his discovery, and upon the order of the general and of the minister of war, General Billot, he was directed to continue his inquiry as quietly as possible; still, Boisdeffre seemed from that time little disposed to recommend judicial proceedings. If Esterhazy were really a traitor, he would be dismissed from the army quietly; another Dreyfus affair was to be avoided. Picquart now set to work in earnest to get samples of Esterhazy's handwriting, and he succeeded in obtaining two letters which the major had written to the chiefs of Billot's cabinet. On looking at them Picquart was startled; the writing was identical with that of the bordereau attributed to Dreyfus. He wished to make sure of his impression, so he showed some photographs of these letters (from which he had removed the proper names) to Du Paty and Bertillon.
Du Paty declared: "They are from Matthew Dreyfus"; Bertillon said: "It is the writing of the bordereau." And when Picquart assured him that these letters were of recent date, he declared:" The Jews have, for the past year, been training some one to imitate the writing; he has succeded in making a perfect reproduction."
The connection between the letters and the bordereau flashed across the mind of the colonel in all its terrible certainty. If Esterhazy, as the handwriting seemed to indicate, were the author of the latter, Dreyfus must be the victim of a judicial error. For a moment he clung to the idea that he must have further proofs of Esterhazy's guilt; where could they be if not in the secret dossier, communicated to the judges in 1894, and in which he had also placed blind confidence, without the least knowledge of its contents? This dossier, notwithstanding Mercier's orders, had not been destroyed; it was still in Henry's safe. During the latter's absence Picquart had the dossier brought to him by Gribelin, the keeper of the records; he turned it over in feverish haste, but this masterpiece of the "bureau" contained absolutely nothing that applied, or could be made to apply, to Dreyfus. Of the only two papers that were of any importance, one, the document "canaille de D . . . ," did not in any way concern any officer, but only a poor scribbler who had assumed the name of Dubois, while the other, the memorandum of Schwarzkoppen, almost certainly pointed to Esterhazy. As to Du Paty's commentary, this was a mass of wild suppositions. Later this commentary was claimed by General Mercier as his private property and quietly destroyed by him.
Much concerned, but still confident of the honesty of his chiefs, Picquart immediately drew up a report and brought it to Boisdeffre, who ordered Picquart to go and relate his story to the deputy-chief of the staff, General Gonse. The general received the colonel, listened without flinching to his revelations, and concluded that they must "separate the two affairs," that of Dreyfus and that of Esterhazy. These instructions, confirmed by Boisdeffre, seemed absurd to Picquart, since the bordereau established an indissoluble bond between the two cases; he should have understood from that moment that his superiors had determined not to permit at any cost the reopening of the Dreyfus affair.
Father Du Lac Boisdeffre had for spiritual adviser Father Du Lac, an influential Jesuit, who appears to have played an important though secret part in all this story. Perhaps the officers would not admit even among themselves that under their pompous formulas was hidden, above everything, the fear of seeing their positions in the military world melt away if they publicly confessed the part they had taken in the error and illegal act of 1894; for the innocence of Dreyfus once established, the communication of the secret dossier would appear to everybody what it was in reality?an odious crime. As to General Billot, to whom Picquart, following Boisdeffre's orders, made a complete report of the case, he appeared deeply moved. He had not the same reasons as his companions to defend the judgment of 1894 at any cost, for he had had nothing to do with it, and learned for the first time the story of the secret dossier. But this soldier-politician lived in terror of his surroundings; he did not dare to see the affair clearly, and took for his motto the words of the comedy: "Je suis leur chef; il faut que je les suive" (I am their leader; I am bound to follow them).
Against the young chief of the Intelligence Office there was from this time forward on the part of his superiors secret strife which was bound to end in rupture, but of which Picquart was for a long time unconscious. He did not perceive that in his own office he was jealously spied upon, opposed, and deceived by his fellow workers, Henry, Lauth, and Gribelin. One of them, Henry, had some mysterious motives besides the desire to please his superiors. Since 1876, when they had served together at the Intelligence Office, he had been the comrade, the friend, and even the debtor of Esterhazy, although he pretended to know very little about him. Between these two men there existed a bond the exact nature of which has remained unknown, but which must have been very powerful to involve Henry in the falsehood, deceit, and forgeries which were unveiled later. If it is not certain that Henry was Esterhazy's accomplice, it seems very probable that from the end of 1894 he knew him to be the author of the bordereau, and knew also that the traitor had him in his power.
The Castelin Interpellation X In September, 1896, the rumor of the prisoner's escape brought the case abruptly back to public notice. The anti-Jewish press inveighed against the accomplices, the protectors of the traitor; a member of the Chamber, Castelin, announced that at the opening of the next session he would interpellate the ministry on this subject. Moreover, it was known at the Staff Office that the Dreyfus family was pursuing an inquiry and was getting ready to publish a pamphlet demanding the revision of the case.
Picquart, now that his eyes had been opened, was much preoccupied with all these plots. He believed Castelin to be working for the Dreyfus family. He had also been affected by a strange forgery, quite inexplicable to him, which had come into his hands early in September: a letter in a feigned handwriting, and in the style of a German, pretending to be addressed to Dreyfus by a friend, Weiss or Weill, and referring to imaginary "interesting documents" written in sympathetic ink, easily legible to expert eyes. This was probably the beginning of the plot to discredit Picquart, who insisted to Gonse that the initiative should come from the Staff Office. Gonse answered by vaguely advising him to act with prudence, and was opposed to the "expertises" in handwriting that the colonel demanded. In the mean time the bombshell burst. On Sept. 14 "L'Eclair" published under the title "The Traitor" a retrospective article which pretended to bring to light the real motives for the judgment of 1894. The article revealed for the first time the fact of the communication to the judges of a secret document, but this document?the letter "canaille de D . . ."?now became a "letter in cipher" in which the following phrase was found: "This creature Dreyfus is becoming decidedly too exacting." This article had been brought to "L'Eclair" by a contributor to the "Petit Journal," where Henry had some acquaintances; nothing further is known concerning it. Picquart attributed it to the Dreyfus family, and desired to take proceedings, which his chiefs would not authorize. This only caused him to insist more firmly that immediate steps should be taken. Then took place between General Gonse and Picquart this memorable dialogue:["Le Procès Dreyfus Devant le Conseil de Guerre de Rennes," I. 440, 441, Paris, 1900.]
"What can it matter to you," said the general, "whether this Jew remains at Devil's Island or not?"
"But he is innocent."
"That is an affair that can not be reopened; General Mercier and General Saussier are involved in it."
"Still, what would be our position if the family ever found out the real culprit?"
"If you say nothing, nobody will ever know it."
"What you have just said is abominable, general. I do not know yet what course I shall take, but in any case I will not carry this secret with me to the grave."
From that day Picquart's removal was decided. He was authorized for the sake of appearances to continue his investigations concerning Esterhazy, but he was forbidden to take any decisive step, or, above all, to have the man arrested. With an adversary so cunning, ordinary measures?secret searches in his rooms, opening of his correspondence, examination of his desks?were of no avail, and never would be. For Esterhazy had been warned. He went to Drumont some time before the appearance of Lazare'spamphlet, and said that they desired to reopen the Dreyfus affair, and to involve him in it in order to retard his promotion ("La Libre Parole," Dec. 3, 1902).
Henry's Confirmatory Letter Meanwhile, Henry insinuated to General Gonse that it would be well to put the secret dossier (of the Dreyfus case) out of the way, for indiscretions might arise?perhaps had already arisen?because of it (an allusion to the article in "L'Eclair," which he wished to be attributed to Picquart). Gonse did not need to be told twice, and removed the dossier (Oct. 30). A very few days later Henry triumphantly brought him a letter from Panizzardi, in blue pencil, which, he said, he had just found among some scraps in Madame Bastian's paper bag (Oct. 31). It was thus worded:
My dear friend: I have read that a deputy is going to ask several questions on the Dreyfus affair. If they request any new explanations at Rome, I shall say that I never had any dealings with this Jew. That is understood. If they question you make the same reply, for nobody must ever know what has happened to him. Alexandrine
The writing was apparently Panizzardi's, and in order to compare it Henry produced an earlier letter, supposed to have been taken from the waste of the secret dossier, written with the same pencil, on the same sort of paper ruled in squares, and containing the same signature. In reality, the letter brought for comparison contained fraudulent additions hinting at a Jewish traitor, while the new document was a forgery from beginning to end, executed by one of Henry's customary forgers, probably Leeman, called Lemercier-Picard, who later admitted to Count Tornielli that he had written it. Gonse and Boisdeffre believed or pretended to believe in its authenticity, and likewise convinced General Billot thereof. When Colonel Picquart expressed his doubts to Gonse the latter answered: "When a minister tells me anything I always believe it."
On Nov. 6 the memoir which had been prepared by the Dreyfus family, and which had been written by Bernard Lazare, appeared at Brussels. He laid bare the inconclusive character of the incriminating document (without, however, publishing it), confirmed the communication of the secret document, but affirmed, in opposition to "L'Eclair," that it bore only the initial "D" and not the name of "Dreyfus" in full. The pamphlet, distributed to the members of the Chamber, received from the press a cold welcome. But a few days later (Nov. 10) "Le Matin" published the facsimile of the famous bordereau attributed to Dreyfus. It became known later that it had been obtained from the expert Teyssonnières, who alone had kept the photograph of the bordereau confided to all the writing-experts in 1894. The publicity given to this facsimile would allow writing-experts all the world over to prove the differences that existed between the writing of the bordereau and that of Dreyfus; it might also meet the eyes of people who would recognize the writing of the true culprit, and that is exactly what happened. Esterhazy's handwriting was recognized particularly by Schwarzkoppen (who only then understood the drama of 1894), by Maurice Weil, and by a solicitor's clerk, the son of the chief rabbi Zadoc Kahn. The confusion at the Staff Office was now great; it grew worse confounded when Maurice Weil, one of Esterhazy's intimate friends, sent to the minister of war an anonymous letter which he had just received and which warned him that Castelin intended to denounce Esterhazy and Weil as accomplices of Dreyfus. The Staff Office pretended to recognize Picquart's hand in all these incidents, or at any rate to regard them as the result of his alleged indiscretions. His immediate departure was resolved upon. He had already been told that he would be sent to inspect the intelligence service in the east of France. Boisdeffre went with him to the minister, who rebuked Picquart soundly for having let information leak out and for having seized Esterhazy's correspondence without authorization. In recognition of his services in the past, he was not disgraced, but was ordered to set out immediately, and to resign his position to General Gonse. He did not protest, but started on Nov. 16. Two days later Castelin's interpellation, which had become a decided bugbear to the Staff Office, was made, but it failed of its purpose. Castelin demanded that proceedings should be instituted against the accomplices of the traitor, among whom he named Dreyfus' father-in-law Hadamard, the naval officer Emile Weyl, and Bernard Lazare. General Billot, who had addressed the Chamber before Castelin, affirmed the perfect regularity of the action of 1894, and made an appeal to the patriotism of the assembly to terminate a "dangerous debate." After a short and confused argument the Chamber voted an "ordre du jour" of confidence, inviting the government to inquire into the matter and to take proceedings if there were cause. A petition from Madame Dreyfus, invoking, with the support of the article in "L'Eclair," the communication of the secret document, was put aside by the judicial committee for want of sufficient proof.
Machi-nations Against Picquart XI. Meanwhile, under a pretext, Picquart was hurried off from Nancy to Marseille, and later on to Tunis; and, to avoid notice, he was attached to the Fourth Regiment of sharpshooters in garrison at Susa. During the whole time General Gonse wrote to him upon the question of money, as if to suggest purchasing his silence. Picquart recorded in a codicil to his will the history of his discovery, which he intended for the president of the republic; in this way he was sure "not to take his secret with him to the grave."
Scheurer-Kestner's Inquiries Henry, though under the nominal direction of Gonse, had become the real head of the Intelligence Office, where he quietly prepared a whole series of forgeries, designed, when the opportunity presented itself, to crush Picquart if he ever attempted to cause trouble. After having put at rest the mistrust of his former chief by pretended protestations of devotion, in June, 1897, he suddenly flung off his mask. Picquart, irritated at continually receiving missives from the agents of his former service, wrote a rather hasty note to Henry, in which he denounced "the lies and the mysteries" with which his pretended mission had been surrounded during the past six months. Henry, after having consulted his superiors, answered, declaring that as far as "mysteries" were concerned he knew only that the following facts had been established against Picquartby an "inquiry": (1) The opening of correspondence unconnected with the service. (2) A proposal to two officers to testify, should such action be necessary, that a paper, registered as belonging to the service, and emanating from a well-known person, had been seized in the mails?a reference to a remark made by Lauth to Picquart, that the "petit bleu" addressed to Esterhazy was deficient of the regular stamp of the post-office. (3) The opening of a secret dossier, followed by disclosures. This letter, to which Picquart replied by a brief protest, opened his eyes; he understood the plot that was being hatched against him, the dangers which threatened him for having been too discerning. He asked for leave, went to Paris, and disclosed his affair to his old friend and comrade Leblois, a lawyer. Without revealing to Leblois any secret document, even the "petit bleu," he told him that he had discovered Esterhazy's crime and the innocence of Dreyfus; he authorized him, in case of necessity, to inform the government, but absolutely forbade him to apprise either the brother or the lawyer of Dreyfus. Leblois did not long remain the only recipient of the secret. A few days later chance brought him in contact with one of the few statesmen who had shown any sympathy with the researches of Matthew Dreyfus?the Alsatian Scheurer-Kestner, former member of the Chamber of Deputies for Alsace and coworker with Gambetta, and now vice-president of the Senate and one of the most justly esteemed men of the Republican party. Since 1895 Scheurer-Kestner, induced by the deputy Ranc and by Matthew Dreyfus, had made some inquiries. In 1897 the friends of Dreyfus returned to the charge. Scheurer-Kestner was surprised to find that all the so-called moral proofs, the tales that were brought forward to explain the crime of Dreyfus, did not bear investigation. The expert Teyssonnières, sent to him by his friend and colleague Trarieux, former minister of justice, did not succeed in convincing him that the bordereau was in the writing of Dreyfus. In great distress, he went to tell his old comrade Billot of his suspicions; the general reassured him: a secret document discovered since the condemnation, at the moment of Castelin's interpellation, had removed all doubts; Billot related the substance of it to him without letting him see it. This "crushing blow," which he kept in reserve for the partizans of Dreyfus, was Major Henry's forgery.
Scheurer-Kestner was at this point of his inquiry when Leblois, who had met him at dinner one evening, conceived the idea of having recourse to him as the medium by which to save Dreyfus and, through Dreyfus, Picquart. Going to Scheurer-Kestner's house, Leblois told all he knew, and showed him Gonse's letters. Scheurer-Kestner was finally convinced, and swore to devote himself to the defense of the innocent (July 13, 1897). But he was much puzzled as to what course to pursue. Leblois had forbidden him to mention Picquart's name, and Picquart had forbidden that the Dreyfus family should be told. In this perplexity, born of the initial mistake of Picquart, Scheurer-Kestner pursued the most unlucky tactics imaginable; instead of quietly gathering together all his documents and uniting his forces with those of Matthew Dreyfus, he allowed the rumor of his convictions to be spread abroad, and thus put the Staff Office on the alert, gave them time to prepare themselves, and allowed the hostile press to bring discredit upon him and to weaken beforehand by premature and mutilated revelations the force of his arguments.
Tactics of the Staff Office Billot soon began to feel uneasy; he conjured his "old friend" to do nothing without having seen him; that is to say, until the end of the parliamentary recess. Scheurer-Kestner, without suspecting anything, gave him his word, leaving a clear field to Esterhazy's protectors. In the mean while this personage had been quietly dismissed from active service. Billot, who it is claimed looked upon him as "a scoundrel, a vagabond," perhaps even as the accomplice of Dreyfus, had indignantly opposed his readmission into the War Office. On Aug. 17 Esterhazy was put on the retired list "for temporary infirmities"; but, that done, there remained the prevention of his being "substituted" for Dreyfus. That it was Scheurer-Kestner's plan to demand this substitution, the Staff Office did not doubt for a moment, for Henry's secret police had followed Picquart to Leblois' house, and then Leblois to Scheurer-Kestner's. It was even fancied that Scheurer-Kestner was much more fully informed than was really the case. Toward the middle of October a meeting was held at the War Office, in anticipation of Scheurer-Kestner's impending campaign. Gonse, Henry, Lauth, Du Paty de Clam, were all present; the last, although having nothing to do with the Intelligence Office, had been summoned to it as the principal worker in the condemnation of Dreyfus, and as interested therefore more than any one in maintaining it. Gonse set forth the plot "of the Jews" to substitute for Dreyfus Esterhazy, an officer of doubtful character, but whom a minute inquiry had cleared of all suspicion of treachery: who was, however, a nervous man, and who, under the blow of a sudden denunciation, might lose his head and take flight or even kill himself; and that would mean catastrophe, war, and disaster. Esterhazy must then be warned, to prevent him from going quite mad. But how was it to be done? It was decided to send him an anonymous letter in order that he might take courage. Billot objected to this proceeding; it seems, however, that somebody disregarded the objection, for Esterhazy received (or pretended to have received) a letter signed Espérance, warning him that the Dreffus family, informed by a certain Colonel Picart, intended to accuse him of treason. One fact is certain?that he settled in Paris, went to see Schwarzkoppen, and told him that all was lost if he (Schwarzkoppen) did not go and declare to Madame Dreyfus that her husband was guilty; on the indignant refusal of Schwarz-koppen he threatened to blow his brains out. At the Staff Office Henry and Du Paty, understanding at once the wishes of Boisdeffre and of Gonse, resolved to join forces with Esterhazy. The keeper of the records, Gribelin, went in disguise to take a letter to Esterhazy fixing a rendezvous in the park of Montsouris. There, while Henry (fearing, as he said,recognition by his former comrade) kept watch, Du Paty, who was also disguised, told Esterhazy that he was known to be innocent, and that he would be defended on condition that he conformed rigorously to the instructions that would be given to him. After this interview Esterhazy went to Schwarz-koppen quite cheered up, and told him that the staff was entering into a campaign for his defense. A week later Schwarzkoppen had himself recalled to Berlin; it was the discreet but significant avowal that "his man was taken." Meanwhile Esterhazy, as agreed upon, was receiving his daily instructions from the Staff Office. Every evening from this time on Gribelin brought to him at the Military Club the program for the next day; Du Paty and Henry, whose connection with the affair Esterhazy soon knew, saw him several times, sometimes at the Montmartre cemetery, sometimes on the Pont d'Alexandre III. Later on, when these meetings were considered too dangerous, they corresponded with him through the medium of his mistress, of his lawyer, or of his cousin Christian.
Following instructions, Esterhazy wrote to Billot, ending his letter with the threat that if he were not defended he would apply to the German emperor. He wrote in the same strain to the president of the republic, claiming that a lady, afterward mysteriously referred to as the "veiled lady", had given him a photograph of a very important document which Picquart had acquired from an embassy and which seriously compromised persons of high diplomatic rank. This braggadocio was taken so seriously that General Leclerc received an order at Tunis to question Picquart on having given to an outsider?the "veiled lady"?the "document of deliverance." Receiving no answer, Esterhazy, in his third letter (Nov. 5), virtually held the knife at the president's throat: the stolen document proved the rascality of Dreyfus; if he should publish it, it would be war or humiliation for France. This time they made up their minds to listen to him. General Saussier was charged with interrogating Esterhazy in regard to the "document of deliverance"; he obtained no details from him, but made him promise to send back the document to the minister. On Nov. 15 (the day when Matthew Dreyfus wrote his denunciation) it was "restored" to Saussier in a triple envelope, sealed with Esterhazy's arms: the "document of deliverance," as Esterhazy called it, was a photograph of the document "canaille de D . . ." There is nothing to prove that Esterhazy had ever had it in his hands. Billot acknowledged the receipt by the hand of his "chef de cabinet," General Torcy. By these barefaced stratagems Esterhazy and his defenders on the staff made certain of the complicity of the minister and of the president of the republic, while they compromised Picquart more deeply.
The "Speranza" and "Blanche" Telegrams With the latter they proceeded to further measures. At the end of October Boisdeffre had ordered General Leclerc, commanding the corps of occupation in Tunis, to send Picquart to reconnoiter on the frontier of Tripoli, from which quarter pretended gatherings of the local tribes were reported. It was a dangerous region, where Morès had met his death; General Leclerc was astonished at the order, and, having heard from Picquart the cause of his disgrace, forbade him to go farther than Gabes. Some days later Picquart had to clear himself of the accusation of allowing a woman to purloin the "document of deliverance" of Esterhazy. Then, on Nov. 11 and 12, he received one after the other two telegrams worded: (1) "Arrest the demigod; all is discovered; very serious affair. Speranza." (2) "It has been proved that the 'bleu' was forged by Georges. Blanche." The obscure allusions and the names in these forgeries were derived from Picquart's private correspondence, which had been looked through, and were intended to produce the impression that Picquart was in some plot to release Dreyfus; the "demigod," it was pretended, referred to Scheurer-Kestner. The two telegrams, copied before they left Paris, had convinced the Sûreté Générale that Picquart was the moving spirit in the plot. On receiving them, and afterward an anonymous letter in the same style, Picquart sent a complaint to General Billot, and asked that inquiries be made regarding the author of these forgeries.
During this time Scheurer-Kestner was being deceived by his "old friend" Billot. On Oct. 30 he had a long conference with Billot, at which he accused Esterhazy. Billot declared that in spite of persistent investigations nobody had been able to find any proofs against Esterhazy, but that there were positive proofs against Dreyfus. Scheurer-Kestner implored him to distrust suspicious documents, and finally gave him a fortnight in which to make an honest and thorough investigation, promising that he himself would not speak during that time.
Silence of Scheurer-Kestner He kept his word; Billot did not. During the fortnight not only was the collusion between the staff and the traitor fully organized, but the press, furnished with more or less news by the War Office, spoke openly of Scheurer-Kestner's futile visit to Billot and launched a veritable tempest against the "Jewish syndicate," which had bought a "man of straw" as a substitute for Dreyfus in order to dishonor the army. Scheurer-Kestner, patient but much distressed by the tempest, persisted in his fixed idea of acting only through the government. He saw Méline, the president of the council, several times, but Méline would have nothing to do with his dossier, and advised him to address to the minister of justice a direct petition for revision. This was not bad advice. According to the new law of 1895, a petition for revision founded on a new fact (discovered after the sentence) could only be submitted to the Court of Cassation by the keeper of the seals, after the latter had taken the advice of a special commission. The disposition of the minister (Darlan) was not unfavorable to the adoption of this course; and it is worthy of note that the new facts which were allowed later by the court were at that moment easy to establish; namely, the resemblance between Esterhazy's writing and that of the bordereau and the communication of the secret dossier to the judges.
Conjunction of Matthew Dreyfus and Scheurer-Kestner The pursuit of such a course would also have had the advantage of taking the matter out of the hands of military justice and of placing it in those of the civil judges, who were less prejudiced. However,Scheurer-Kestner did not dare to pursue this course; he thought his documents not sufficiently complete. Official notes from the ministry (Nov. 6 and 9) stated the attitude which the government was resolved to take?it determined to respect the "chose jugée" (the matter adjudicated). As for the legal proceedings to secure revision, the notice added that Captain Dreyfus had been "regularly and justly" condemned?a formula which soon became the burden of General Billot's song. Matters might still have dragged on had it not been for chance. At the instance of the Dreyfus family, Bernard Lazare had prepared a second and more detailed pamphlet, in which had been gathered the opinions of a large number of French and foreign experts upon the writing of the bordereau as compared with that of Dreyfus. The unanimous conclusion of these experts was that the handwritings were not identical; but while some of them maintained that the writing of the bordereau was natural, others saw in it a forgery. At the same time that this brochure was published, Matthew Dreyfus ordered handbills reproducing in facsimile the bordereau and a letter of his brother's, which were offered for sale. One of these handbills fell into the hands of a stockbroker, Castro, who had had business relations with Esterhazy; he immediately recognized the bordereau as the writing of his former client, and informed Matthew Dreyfus of the fact. The latter hastened to Scheurer-Kestner and asked him: "Is that the same name?" "Yes," the latter replied (Nov. 11).
For four days they hesitated as to the course to pursue, Scheurer-Kestner still persisting in keeping the fortnight's silence promised to Billot on Oct. 31. In the interim, by means of the press the public mind had been influenced by indications as to the real traitor and by counter-declarations by Esterhazy in "La Libre Parole" concerning the conspiracy of the Jews and of "X. Y." (Picquart).
On the night of Nov. 15, in a letter to the minister of war which was published at once, Matthew Dreyfus denounced "Count" Walsin Esterhazy as the writer of the bordereau and as the author of the treason for which his brother had been condemned.
Trial of Esterhazy XII. The hasty denunciation of Esterhazy by Matthew Dreyfus was a tactical though perhaps an unavoidable blunder. To accuse Esterhazy formally of the treason imputed to Dreyfus and not simply of having written the bordereau (perhaps as a hoax or a swindle)was to subject the revision of the case of 1894 to the preliminary condemnation of Esterhazy. With the staff and the War Office fully enlisted against Dreyfus, the court martial which Esterhazy himself at once demanded was of necessity a veritable comedy. Not only was the accused allowed his liberty until the last day but one, not only did his protectors in the Staff Office continue to communicate indirectly with him and to dictate the answers he should make, but the general entrusted with the preliminary as well as with the judicial inquiry, M. de Pellieux, showed him an unchanging friendliness and accepted without examination all his inventions.
Convinced of the guilt of Dreyfus through the assurances of the staff, and before long by Henry's forged documents, Pellieux refused at the outset to examine the bordereau, on the subject of which there was "chose jugée." Even after the formal order to prosecute, an interpellation of Scheurer-Kestner to the Senate (Dec. 7) was necessary to induce General Billot to promise that all the documents, including the famous bordereau, should be produced for examination. On this occasion also, as he had done some days before in the Chamber of Deputies (Dec. 4), the minister did not fail to proclaim on his soul and conscience the guilt of Dreyfus, thus bringing to bear the whole weight of his high office on the verdict of the future judges of Esterhazy. Premier Méline, on his part, gained applause for declaring "that there was no Dreyfus affair," and the Chamber in its "ordre du jour" stigmatized "the ringleaders of the odious campaign which troubled the public conscience."
Attitude of the Press Against this "odious campaign" was set in motion a whole band of newspapers connected with the Staff Office, and which received from it either subsidies or communications. Among the most violent are to be noted "La Libre Parole" (Drumont), "L'Intransigeant" (Rochefort), "L'Echo de Paris" (Lepelletier), "Le Jour" (Vervoort), "La Patrie" (Millevoye), "Le Petit Journal" (Judet), "L'Eclair" (Alphonse Humbert). Two Jews, Arthur Meyer in "Le Gaulois" and G. Pollonnais in "Le Soir," also took part in this concert. Boisdeffre's orderly officer, Pauffin de St. Morel, was even caught one day bearing the "staff gospel" to Henry Rochefort (Nov. 16); nobody was deceived by the punishment for breach of discipline which he had to undergo for the sake of appearances.
An extraordinary piece of information (which was immediately contradicted) was printed by "L'Intransigeant" (Dec. 12-14); it was attributed to the confidences of Pauffin, and it dealt with the "ultra-secret" dossier (the photographs of letters from and to Emperor William about Dreyfus).
The Revisionist[?] press, reduced to a small number of organs which were accused of being in the service of a syndicate, did not remain inactive. It consisted of "Le Siècle" (Yves Guyot, Joseph Reinach), "L'Aurore" (Vaughan, Clémenceau, Pressensé), and "Le Rappel," to which were joined later "La Petite République" (Jaurès) and "Les Droits de l'Homme" (Ajalbert). "Le Figaro," losing most of its subscribers, changed its politics on Dec. 18, but became once more "Dreyfusard" after the discovery of Henry's forgery. "L'Autorité" (Cassagnac) and "Le Soleil" (Hervé de Kerohant) were the only newspapers among the reactionary press which were more or less in favor of revision. Some of the revisionists, falling into the trap laid for them, widened the scope of the debate and gave it the character of an insulting campaign against the chiefs of the army, which hurt the feelings of many sincere patriots and drove them over to the other side. Public opinion was deeply moved by two publications: one, that of the indictment of Dreyfus (in "Le Siècle," Jan. 6, 1898), which was absolutely remarkable for its lack of proof; the other ("Figaro." Nov. 28, 1897), that of letters written twelve years before by Esterhazy to his mistress, Madame de Boulancy, in which he launched furious invectives against his "cowardly and ignorant" chiefs, against "the fine army of France," against the entire French nation. One of these letters especially, which soon became famous under the name of the "lettre du Hulan" (Uhlan), surpassed in its unpatriotic violence anything that can be imagined.
The "Lettre du Hulan" "If some one came to me this evening," it ran, "and told me that I should be killed to-morrow as captain of Uhlans, while hewing down Frenchmen, I should be perfectly happy. . . . What a sad figure these people would make under a blood-red sun over the battle-field, Paris taken by storm and given up to the pillage of a hundred thousand drunken soldiers! That is the fête that I long for!"
Esterhazy hastened to deny the authorship of the letter, which was submitted to examination by experts. While silence was imposed on the officers of Esterhazy's regiment, suspicions were thrown on the defenders of Dreyfus. The director of the prison of Cherche-Midi, Forzinetti, who persisted in proclaiming his prisoner's innocence, was dismissed. The Staff Office struggled to bring Picquart into disrepute. Scheurer-Kestner insisted on having his evidence; they were forced to bring him back from Tunis. The day before his arrival his belongings were searched; an officer escorted him from Marscilles to Paris (Nov. 25). General de Pellieux, who had been made to believe by a series of forgeries that Picquart had for some time been the moving spirit of the "syndicate," treated him more as the accused than as a witness.
The general entrusted with the investigation concluded that there was no evidence against Esterhazy. However, Esterhazy was instructed to write a letter asking as a favor to be brought up for trial, the rough copy of which was corrected by Pellieux himself. General Saussier, governor of Paris, instituted a regular inquiry (Dec. 4). But the officer empowered to conduct it, Major Ravary, did so in the same spirit as Pellieux. Esterhazy's defence was to acknowledge his relations with Schwarzkoppen, giving them a purely social character. The "petit bleu" was, according to him, an absurd forgery, most likely the work of Picquart himself. He did not deny the striking resemblance between his writing and that of the bordereau, but explained it by alleging that Dreyfus must have imitated his handwriting to incriminate him. As for the documents enumerated in the bordereau, Esterhazy denied that he could possibly have known them, especially at the time to which they now had agreed to assign the bordereau (April, 1894). He had borrowed the "manuel de tir" from Lieutenant Bernheim of Le Mans, whom he had met at Rouen, but in the month of September; later on, he retracted and said, in agreement with Bernheim, that it was not the real manual, but a similar regulation already available in the bookstores.
This mass of deceptions, to which was added the romance of the "veiled lady" (supposed to be a mistress of Picquart) was taken seriously by Ravary. Three experts were found (Couard, Belhomme, Varinard) who swore that the bordereau was not in Esterhazy's hand, though apparently traced in part over his writing (Dec. 26). These men were coached by the staff. Du Paty writes to Esterhazy: "The experts have been appointed. You will have their names to-morrow. They shall be spoken to; be quiet!" Thereupon Ravary wrote out, or signed, a long report which he concluded by saying that, while the private life of the major was not a model to be recommended, there was nothing to prove that he was guilty of treason. The bordereau was not in his writing; the "petit bleu" was not genuine. He stigmatized Picquart as the instigator of the whole campaign, and denounced his subterfuges and indiscretions to his superiors.
The Esterhazy Court Martial Ravary concluded that the case should be dismissed at once (Jan. 1). However, Saussier ordered the affair to be thoroughly cleared up before a court martial presided over by General Luxer. The hearing took place at the Cherche-Midi on Jan. 10 and 11, 1898. From the commencement the Dreyfus family, who had appointed two lawyers (Fernand Labori and Demange), were refused the right of being represented in court. The reading of the indictment, the superficial examination of Esterhazy (who contradicted himself several times), the testimony of the civil witnesses (Matthew Dreyfus, Scheurer-Kestner, etc.), were conducted in public; then a hearing behind closed doors was ordered, doubtless to stifle Colonel Picquart's evidence. The public knew nothing of Picquart's deposition, or of that of the other military witnesses, of Leblois, or of the experts, and nothing of the Revisionists' case in general. General de Pellieux, seated behind the judges, interfered more than once in the debates, and whispered to the president. Picquart was so harshly treated that one judge exclaimed: "I see that the real accused is Colonel Picquart!"
Finally, as everybody knew beforehand would be the case, Esterhazy was acquitted unanimously and acclaimed with frenzy by the "patriots" outside. Pellieux wrote to the "dear major" to stigmatize the "abominable campaign" of which he had been the victim, and to authorize him to prosecute those who dared to attribute the "Uhlan" letter to him. As to Picquart, he was, to begin with, punished with sixty days' imprisonment, being confined on Mont Valérien; it was understood that he would be arraigned before a council of inquiry (Jan. 13).
Emile Zola's "J'Accuse." XIII. Esterhazy's acquittal closed the door on revision for the time being; but the Revisionists did not consider themselves defeated. For two months their ranks had been increased by a large number of literary men, professors, and scholars who had been convinced by the evidence given; it was one of these "intellectuels," the novelist Emile Zola, who took up the gauntlet. Almostfrom the first he had enlisted among the advocates of revision. He had written in the "Figaro" brilliant articles against the anti-Semites and in favor of Scheurer-Kestner, whom he termed "a soul of crystal." "Truth is afoot," he said; "nothing will stop her." On Jan. 13 he published in "L'Aurore," under the title "J'Accuse," an open letter to the president of the republic, an eloquent philippic against the enemies "of truth and justice." Gathering together with the prophetic imagination of the novelist all the details of a story of which up to then the outlines had hardly been discerned, he threw into relief, not without a good deal of exaggeration, the "diabolical rôle" of Colonel Du Paty. He charged the generals with a "crime of high treason against humanity," Pellieux and Ravary with "villainous inquiry," the experts with "lying and fraudulent reports." The acquittal of Esterhazy was "a supreme blow ["soufflet"] to all truth, to all justice"; the court of justice which had pronounced it was "necessarily criminal"; and he finished the long recital of his accusations with these words:
"I accuse the first court martial of having violated the law in condemning the accused upon the evidence of a document which remained secret. And I accuse the second court martial of having screened this illegality by order, committing in its turn the judicial crime of wilfully and knowingly acquitting a guilty person."
Zola's audacious action created a tremendous stir. It was, he owned himself, a revolutionary deed destined to provoke proceedings which would hasten "an outburst of truth and justice," and in that respect he was not deceived. His philippic raised such an outcry in the press and in the Chamber of Deputies that the War Office was forced to enter upon proceedings. A complaint was lodged against the defamatory phrases with regard to the court martial which had acquitted Esterhazy. The case was tried before the jury of the Seine, and lasted from Feb. 7 to 23, 1898.
First Zola Trial The "patriots" in the cafés, the "camelots" selling songs and broadsides, the professional anti-Semites who were masters of the streets under the friendly eye of the police, threatened and hooted all the "enemies of the army," applauded the generals and even the most insignificant officers in uniform, not excepting Major Esterhazy, to whom Prince Henry of Orleans asked to be presented. Scuffles took place between the anti-Revisionists and the handful of "Dreyfusards" who served as a body-guard to Zola. Even in the audience-chamber, "arranged" with care by the staff and its friends at the bar, officers in civil dress caused a stir and gave vent to noisy manifestations. There was fighting in the lobbies. Cries of "Death to the Jews!" were uttered on all sides.
Zola's lawyers, Fernand Labori and Albert Clémenceau, had summoned a large number of witnesses. The greater number of the military witnesses declined at first to reply to the summons, but the court did not admit their power to refuse, and they were obliged to submit. However, in order that the "chose jugée" should receive due respect, the court decided not to allow any document, any evidence which bore upon facts foreign to the accusation, to be produced.
The president, Delegorgue, in applying this principle, observed a subtle, almost absurd, distinction; he admitted all that could prove Esterhazy's guilt but not Dreyfus' innocence or the irregularity of his condemnation; his formula, "The question will not be admitted," soon became proverbial. In reality, it was exceedingly difficult to trace a dividing-line between the two classes of facts; and the line was constantly overstepped, now under the pretext of establishing the "good faith" of the accused, now to justify the incriminating phrase that the second court martial had covered by order the illegality committed by the first. It was thus that Demange was able to bring out, in a rapid sentence, the fact of the communication of the secret document, which fact he learned from his fellow advocate, Salles.
Picquart's Evidence Concerning the Dreyfus affair, the most important testimony was that of Colonel Picquart, who appeared for the first time in public, and gained numerous sympathizers by his calm, dignified, and reserved attitude. Without letting himself be either intimidated or flattered, he related clearly and sincerely, but avoiding all unnecessary disclosures, the story of his discovery. His adversaries, Gonse, Henry, Lauth, Gribelin, did not leave a stone unturned to weaken the force of his evidence and to assert that from the very commencement he had been haunted by the idea of substituting Esterhazy for Dreyfus. There was a long dispute over his supposed plan of having the "petit bleu" stamped during the suspicious visits that Leblois had paid him at the ministry. Gribelin pretended that he had seen them seated at a table with two secret dossiers in front of them, one concerning carrier-pigeons, the other concerning the Dreyfus affair. Henry (appointed lieutenant-colonel for the occasion) declared that he had seen, in the presence of Leblois, the document" canaille de D . . ." taken from its envelope. Picquart denied the truth of this statement, which the dates contradicted; Henry thereupon replied: "Colonel Picquart has told a lie." Picquart kept his temper, but at the end of the trial sent his seconds to Henry, and fought a duel with him, in which Henry was slightly wounded. As to Esterhazy, who also tried to pick a quarrel with him, Picquart refused to grant him the honor of a meeting. "That man," said he, "belongs to the justice of his country." In this trial the important part played by Henry began to appear; till then he had purposely kept in the background, and concealed a deep cunning beneath the blunt appearance of a peasant-soldier. One day (Feb. 13), as if to warn his chiefs that he had the upper hand of them, he revealed the formation of the secret dossier; he also spoke, but vaguely, of a supposed ultra-secret dossier, two letters which (he pretended) had been shown him by Colonel Sandherr. These were apparently two of the forged letters attributed to the German emperor, which were whispered about sub rosa in order to convince refractory opinions.
Among the civil witnesses, the experts in handwriting occupied the longest time before the court. Besides the professional experts, savants such as Paul Meyer, A. Giry, Louis Havet, and Auguste Molinier, affirmed and proved that the writing and thestyle of the bordereau were those of Esterhazy. Their adversaries refused to admit this evidence on the ground of the supposed difference between the original and the published facsimiles, of which many, according to Pellieux, resembled forgeries. The lawyers then asked that the original bordereau might be produced, but the court refused to give the order.
The "Thunderbolt" Quoted General de Pellieux had established himself counsel for the Staff Office. An elegant officer, gifted with an easy and biting eloquence, he addressed the court at almost every hearing, sometimes congratulating himself with having contributed to Esterhazy's acquittal, sometimes warning the jurymen that if they overthrew the confidence of the country in the chiefs of the army, their sons would be brought "to butchery." Like Henry, but with less mental reservation, he ended one day by divulging a secret. On Feb. 17 he had a prolonged discussion with Picquart as to whether Esterhazy could possibly have been acquainted with the documents of the bordereau, the real date of which was now acknowledged (Aug. or Sept. and not April, 1894). Suddenly, as if unnerved, he declared that, setting the bordereau aside, there was a proof, subsequent in date but positive, of the guilt of Dreyfus, and this proof he had had before his eyes; it was a paper in which the attaché "A" wrote to the attaché "B": "Never mention the dealings we have had with this Jew."
General Gonse immediately confirmed this sensational evidence. This was the first time that the document forged by Henry?the "thunderbolt" of Billot?had been publicly produced. The impression this admission created was intense. Labori protested against this garbled quotation, and demanded that the document should either be brought before the court or should not be used at all. Then Pellieux, turning toward an orderly officer, cried: "Take a cab, and go and fetch General de Boisdeffre." While waiting for the head of the staff the hearing was adjourned; it was arranged not to resume it that day, for in the interval the government, informed of the incident, had opposed the production of a document which brought the foreign embassies into the case, and of which Hanotaux, the minister for foreign affairs, warned by the Italian ambassador, Tornielli, suspected the genuineness. At the next day's hearing Boisdeffre was content with confirming the deposition of Pellieux on every point as "accurate and authentic," and boldly put the question of confidence to the jury. The president declared the incident closed.
In vain did Picquart, questioned by the lawyers, declare that he considered the document a forgery. Pellieux was content with styling him scornfully "a gentleman who still bore the uniform of the French army and who dared charge three generals with a forgery!" From that moment the debates were curtailed. The jury, deliberating under fear of physical violence, declared the defendants guilty without extenuating circumstances. In consequence Zola was condemned to the maximum punishment?one year's imprisonment and a fine of 3,000 francs. The publisher of "L'Aurore"--defended by George Clémenceau?was sentenced to four months' imprisonment and a similar fine (February 23, 1898). The prisoners appealed to the Court of Cassation for annulment of the judgment. Contrary to their expectation and to that of the public the Criminal Court admitted the plea on the formal ground that the complaint should have been lodged by the court martial which had been slandered, and not by the minister of war.
The Sentence Annulled The sentence was therefore annulled, on April 2. Chambaraud, the judge-advocate, as well as Manau, the attorney-general, let it be understood that it would be better not to resume proceedings, at the same time allowing a discreet sympathy for the cause of revision to appear. But the War Office, urged on by the deputies, had gone too far to draw back. The court martial, immediately assembled, decided to lodge a civil complaint. This time only three lines from the article were retained as count of the indictment, and the case was deferred to the Court of Assizes of Seine and Oise at Versailles. Zola protested against the competence of this court, but the Court of Cassation overruled him. The case was not called until July 18, under a new ministry. At the last moment Zola declared he would not appear, and fled to England to avoid hearing the sentence, which would then become final. The court condemned him without debate to the maximum punishment, the same as had already been pronounced by the jury of the Seine. His name was also struck from the list of the Legion of Honor. The experts, on their part, slandered by him, brought an action against him which ended in his being condemned to pay 30,000 francs ($6,000) damages.
Political Aspects of the "Affaire." The excitement which accompanied the Zola case had been echoed in the Chamber of Deputies. The different parties began to make the most of the "affaire" for their political ends. A very small phalanx of Socialists grouped round Jaurès, whose generous nature proved more clear-sighted than the shrewdness of his colleagues, and accused the government of delivering the republic up to the generals. A more numerous group of Radicals with "Nationalist" tendencies reproached them, on the contrary, with not having done what was necessary to defend the honor of the army and to nip in the bud a dangerous agitation. The chief spokesman of this group was the "austere intriguer" Godfrey Cavaignac, descended from a former candidate for the presidency of the republic, and himself suspected of a similar ambition. Between these two shoals the premier Méline steered his course, holding fast to the principle of "respect for the judgment pronounced." Prudently refusing to enter into the discussion of the proofs of Dreyfus' guilt, he gave satisfaction to the anti-Revisionists by energetically denouncing the Revisionists. Thus it was that on Jan. 15 and 22, Cavaignac having called upon the government to publish a document "both decisive and without danger"--the alleged report of Gonse upon the supposed avowals of Dreyfus to Lebrun-Renault. Méline flatly declined to follow this track, which he called "la revision à la tribune." After a stormy debate, during which blows were exchanged on the platform, the Chamber decided in Méline's favor (Jan. 24). Again, on Feb. 12, in response to a question concerning "his dealings with the Dreyfus family," General Billot declared that if the revision took place he would not remain a moment longer at the War Office.
On Feb. 24 the ministry were challenged as to the attitude which certain generals had assumed during the Zola trial. Méline, without approving of the errors of speech, explained them as the natural result of the exasperation caused by such an incessant campaign of invective and outrage. But this campaign was about to end: "It must absolutely cease!" he cried, with the applause of the Chamber, and he gave it to be understood that the mad obstinacy of the "intellectuels", as the advocates of revision were contemptuously called,would only end in bringing about a religious persecution. At the same time he made known a whole series of disciplinary measures demanded by circumstances. By the end of January a council of inquiry had declared for Colonel Picquart's retirement on account of his professional indiscretions in connection with Leblois. The ministerial decision had been left in suspense. it is easy to understand in whose interest?during the Zola trial; now it was put into execution, and Picquart's name was struck off the army list. His "accomplice" Leblois was dismissed from his duties as "maire adjoint," and suspended for six months from the practice of his profession as a lawyer.
Two Favorable Symptoms During the four months which followed the first verdict against Zola the cause of the Revisionists was at the lowest ebb. The only effect that their campaign seemed to have had was to divide French society. On the one side were the army, nearly all the leading classes, and the "social forces," without considering the rabble; on the other, a handful of intellectual men and of Socialists. Nationalism, another form of Boulangism, resumed its sway, associated with anti-Semitism, whose exploits resulted in filling the streets of Algiers with blood. The battle continued in the press, and the League of the Rights of Man (president, Senator Trarieux) concentrated the partizans of revision. But from a judicial point of view all the avenues seemed hence-forward barred. Apart from the epilogue of the Zola trial only two cases, which received scant notice, maintained a feeble spark of hope despite the darkness. On the one hand, Colonel Picquart, after having vainly knocked at all the doors of military justice, had decided to lay a complaint before a civil court against the unknown authors of the forged "Speranza" letter and of the forged telegrams which he had received in Tunis. On the other hand, a cousin of Major Esterhazy, Christian Esterhazy, lodged a complaint against his relative, who, under pretense of investing their money "with his friend Rothschild," had swindled Christian and his mother out of a considerable part of their small fortune. The same examining magistrate, Bertulus, was entrusted with the two cases; each one threw light upon the other. Christian had been one of the intermediate agents in the collusion between Esterhazy and his protectors in the Staff Office, and he divulged some edifying details on this subject.
In the month of May the elections took place. The new Chamber was as mixed in its representation as had been its predecessor, with the addition of a few more Nationalists and anti-Semites. It did not include a single open Dreyfusard: some (Jaurès, J. Reinach) had not been returned; others had not even faced the struggle. Besides, during the electoral period the recognized attitude of all parties had been to keep silent on the "affaire" and to exaggerate the formulas of enthusiasm for the army; later on, a few provincial councils called for strong measures against the agitators.
At its first meeting with the Chamber Méline's ministry was put in the minority, and a Radical cabinet was formed (June 30). It had for president Henry Brisson[?], who had just failed as candidate for the presidency of the Chamber. Brisson had remained, and persisted in remaining, completely unacquainted with the "affaire"; but he took as minister of war Godfrey Cavaignac[?], who would be of use to him as a security with regard to the Nationalists, and leave him full power on this delicate question.