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About The Conservative (Nebraska City, Neb.) 1898-1902 | View Entire Issue (Aug. 31, 1899)
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you , to reach the heights ou which you
stand , I slmll be able to hold out to the
end. It is not physical suffering that I
fear that hns never beeii strong
enough to break me down ; its blows
glance off but the torture of soul ; the
( knowledge that my name is dragged in
| the mire , the name of a man who is in
nocent , the name of a man of honor ;
cry it aloud , my darling , cry to every
one that I am innocent the victim of a
terrible fatality. "
And again he wrote :
"Oh , my darling , had not I you , how
gladly would I die ! Your love holds
me back ; it is your love only that makes
me strong enough to bear the hatred of
a nation. And the people are right to
hate me ; they have been told that I am
a traitor. Ah , traitor , the horrible
word ! It breaks my heart. "
About this time Dreyfus thought of
suicide , but was persuaded from such a
step by a letter from his wife :
"Your heroism has conquered me.
Strong in your love , strong in my con
science and in the immovable support I
find in our two families , I feel my cour
age born again. I shall struggle , there
fore , to my last breath. I shall strug
gle to my last drop of blood.
* * * I have always loved you
deeply ; you know it. Today I do more
I marvel at and venerate you. You
are a holy , a noble woman. I am proud
of you , and I will try to be worthy of
you. Yes , it would be cowardice to
desert life. It would be to taint my
name the name of my dear children
to sully that name forever. I realize
that today ; but how could it be other
wise ? The blow was cruel ; it broke
down iny courage ; it is you who have
lifted me up. "
The day before his degradation Mme.
Dreyfus' application to see her hus
band was granted. Of their meeting
after three months of separation Drey
fus wrote :
"Our conversation , even through the
bars of the prison , has done me good.
My limbs trembled under liie when I
Went down to meet you , but I gathered
all my strength , so that I should not
fall from my emotion. Even now my
hands are still trembling ; our interview
has violently shaken me. If I did not
insist that you should stay still longer ,
it was because I was at the end of my
strength to hide myself , so that I might
weep a little ; do not believe that be
cause I weep my soul is less brave or
less strong ; but my body is somewhat
weakened by three months of the prison ,
without a breath of the outer air. I
must have had a robust constitution to
have been able to resist these tortures.
* * * As for me , you must
have felt that I am decided to face
everything. I want my honor , and I
shall have it. No obstacle shall stop
On the 5th of January the unfortun
ate victim was humiliated j &Q court.
yard of the Ecole Militaire , in Paris ,
before the troops which were drawn up
in military array. A reporter of
"L'Autorito" thus describes the scone :
"Dreyfus listens in silence while a
clerk reads the sentence. General Dar-
ras then says : 'Dreyfus , you are un
worthy to bear arms. In the name of
the French people wo degrade you. '
"Then Dreyfus is seen to raise both
arms , and , head erect , ho cries out in a
strong voice , in which no tremor is no
" 'I am innocent ; I swear I am inno
cent. Vive la France 1'
"And the vast crowd outside answers
with a cry of 'Death to him ! '
"The adjutant then begins his work ,
first cutting from the condemned man's
uniform his galleons , cuffs , buttons , all
insignia of rank , ending by breaking his
sword. During the ceremony Dreyfus
several times raises his voice :
' ' 'On the heads of my wife and chil
dren I swear1 that I am innocent. I
swear it. Yiva la France ! '
"It is over at last , but the seconds
have beeen as centuries. We had never
before felt pangs of anguish so keen.
And afresh , clear , and without any
touch of emotion , is heard the voice of
the condemned man in a loud voice ,
" 'You degrade an innocent man 1'
1 'The prisoner is then allowed to pass
before the line of soldiers. As he approaches
preaches the railing the civilian crowd
gets a better view of him and yells ,
'Death to him ! '
"When he arrives before a group of
reporters he pauses and says , 'Tell the
people of France that I am innocent. '
"They mock him , however , crying ,
Dastard 1 Traitor 1 Judas I Vile Jew ! '
"He passes on and comes to a group
of officers of the general staff , his late
colleagues. Here again he pauses , and
says , 'Gentlemen , you know I am inno
"But they yell at him as did the re
porters. He surveys them closely ,
through his 'pince-noK1 and says calmly ,
'Yon are a set of cowards. ' There is
utter contempt in his voice. At length
the direful march is ended. Dreyfus
enters a van and is driven to the Prison
dela Sante , "
That evening he wrote to his wife :
"This day's emotion have broken my
heart ; my cell offers me no consolation.
Picture a little room all bare four
yards and a half long , perhaps closed
by a grated garret window , a pallet
standing against the wall no , I will not
tear your heart , my darling. I will tell
you later , when we are happy again ,
what I have suffered today , in all my
wanderings , surrounded by men who
are truly guilty , how my heart has bled.
I have asked myself why I was there ,
what I was doing there. I seem the
of a hallucination ; but , alas ! my
garments , torn , sullied , brought me
back roughly to the truth. The looks of
scorn they cast on mo told me too well
why I was there. Oh , why could not
my heart have been opened by a sur
geon's knife , so that they might road
the truth ! "
On the 17th of January , 1895 , ho was
: rausforred to the prison of Saint-Martin
do Re , from which two days later he
"Thursday evening , toward ten
o'clock , they came to wake me to bring
mo here , where I arrived only last night.
[ do not want to speak of my journey ;
it would break your heart. Know only
; lmt I have heard the legitimate cries of
a bravo and gonorons people against
nim whom they believe to bo a traitor.
* * * If there is a divine jus
tice , wo must hope that I shnll bo re
compensed for this long and fearful tor
ture , for thi = ? suffering of every minutn
and every instant. * * * I
would rather , a hundred thousand times
rather , bo dead. But this right to die
belongs to none ; the more I suffer the
more must it impel your courage and
your resolution to find the truth.
* * * AH to mi/ regime here , I
am forbidden to speak to you of it. "
At Saint-Martin do Be he was per
mitted to write to his wife but twice a
wook. On January 28th ho said :
"This is one of the happy days of my
sad existence , because I can como to
pass half an hour with you , talking to
you and telling you of my life. I have
received your two letters of Friday and
Saturday. Each time that they bring
mo a letter from you a ray of joy pierces
my wounded heart. * * * I know
that you all suffer as I do , that you par
take of my anguish and my tortures ,
but you have your activity to distract
you , a little , from this awful sorrow ;
while I am hero , impatient , shut up
alone night and day with my thoughts.
I ask myself even now how my brain
has been strong enough to resist so
many and so oft-repeated blows ; how is
it that I have not gone mad ? * * *
And then think of the terrible way I
have still to traverse before I shall ar
rive at the end of my journey crossing
the seas for sixty or eighty days under
conditions so appalling. I do not speak
you know it of the material condi
tions of the passage ; you know that my
body has never worried me much ; but
the moral conditions ? To bo during all
that time before sailors , the officers of
the navy that is , before honest and
loyal soldiers who will see in mo a
traitor , the most abject of criminals !
At the bare thought of it my heart
On the ninth day of February the
chamber passed a law declaring his place
of confinement to bo French Guiana , in
South America , and early in March he
wrote from the lies du Salut :
"I shall not speak to you of my voy
age ; I was transported in the manner in
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