Clemenceau, the Man and His Time

By H. M. Hyndman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
THE DREYFUS AFFAIR (II)

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

How determined the whole unscrupulous and desperate clique were to carry their defense of injustice to the last ditch was displayed when M. Brisson, the President of the Republic, himself a man credited with austere probity and cool courage, was forced by them to authorize proceedings against Colonel Picquart, because he had offered

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