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1922.12 乔治-克莱蒙梭

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发表于 2022-11-24 21:57:05 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

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乔治-克莱蒙梭
作者:Sisley Huddleston
1922年12月号
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很难说出另一个人的一生像乔治-克莱蒙梭那样丰富多彩。我们倾向于只在他的最后阶段想到他;但事实上,乔治-克莱蒙梭的历史就是第三共和国的历史。他的故事很精彩,很圆润。如果忽略他学生时代的那些早期事件,即他在皇家监狱中尝到的苦头,他的公共生活可以说是从法国被德国打败开始的。当时,他是蒙马特的市长。50年后,他的公共生涯结束了--如果它确实还没有结束的话--因为德国被法国打败了,并且在凡尔赛宫的同一个冰室里签署了和平条约,而就在这一天,威廉一世在近半个世纪前被宣布为皇帝。


这个故事有一种艺术上的完美性,这在现实生活中是很少见的。但是,如果阅读他漫长人生中的各个章节,就会发现他的传记充满了沧桑感。克莱蒙梭经历了一切。他比任何可以提及的法国政治家都有更高的 "上升 "和更深的 "下降"。有的时候,他被法国人几乎一致的声音嘶吼着赶出了政治。也有一些时期,整个国家都在为他叫好。不止一次,他的一切似乎都要结束了;但他只是转而从事其他职业,等待时机。

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我记得有一次与一个人进行了长时间的讨论,他认为历史或小说中唯一完整的人物是尤利西斯。他说,尤利西斯是丈夫、父亲、情人、政治家、战士、流浪者、诗人,他知道地球和地狱的秘密,受到众神的喜爱。我被要求说出另一位生活如此全面的人物;当我翻阅历史和小说中的伟大名字时,我被提醒这个人错过了很多,因为他既不是丈夫也不是父亲;那个人虽然是杰出的哲学家,但一直不活跃;另一个人虽然是战士和政治家,但从未出过远门,所以一直保持着省思。也许当我想到穆罕默德时,我最接近于说出理想的全能型男人的名字;从那时起,我想到,也许列夫-托尔斯泰是所有男人中最完整的一个。但可以肯定的是,克莱蒙梭必须在为数极少的几个人中占据一个崇高而光荣的位置,他们尝遍了人生的所有经历,并以各种身份展示自己。

他是旺代人,在他出生的房子里有一块牌匾,他生前还为他立了一座雕像:在经历了学生时代的风风雨雨之后,他已经写下了受崇高人性感召的文章,他获得了博士学位。他在美国住了一段时间,住在路易-波拿巴,即后来的拿破仑三世早年住过的那个房间。他为《Temps》杂志撰稿,并完全学会了英语。他在康涅狄格州格林威治的养老院呆了四年,成为历史和法国文学的教授。正是在那里,他遇到了他后来结婚的年轻学生,在法国和德国之间的战争前夕。

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因此,他一直对美国情有独钟,事实上,在分裂战争期间,他对亚伯拉罕-林肯的同情就体现出来了。对于英国,他也一直有一种特殊的感情,从他拜访约翰-斯图尔特-米尔和赫伯特-斯宾塞的日子开始。

关于他在甘贝塔身边参与战争的情况,我们没有必要详细谈论。克莱蒙梭是那些反对缔结和平的人之一,而这是一场失败。对于品格高尚的革命者,尽管他们有缺点,克莱蒙梭总是深怀敬意,他并不掩饰对布朗基和路易丝-米歇尔的喜爱。维克多-雨果、甘贝塔和克莱蒙梭以及这些省份的代表们都签署了反对夺取阿尔萨斯-洛林的抗议书。


此后十七年的议会生活,充满了最不间断的行动。即使在这期间,他也有时间关注艺术,爱德华-马奈在与非利士人的斗争中也得到了他的支持。他为《正义》等杂志提供了大量的稿件。但是,最后,布兰格将军的运动使他成为最恶毒的攻击目标,他被卷入了臭名昭著的巴拿马事件。他还被指控收受英国的钱财。他的敌人以伪造的文件为借口,掀起了一场风暴,他被赶出了公共生活。

这就是一个值得注意的时期的结束。但另一个时代开始了。克里蒙梭成为文学家。作为一名记者,估计他的文章可以写满100多卷,每卷350页;而且这些文章都写得非常有技巧和力度。此外,作为作者,他的作品也相当丰富。从La Melée Sociale到Le Grand Pan,从Les Plus Forts到Le Voile du Bonheur,克莱蒙梭的作品充满了天才的活力--这也许是强度的另一个名称。

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请记住,克莱蒙梭,一般被认为是纯粹的政治家,是他那个时代大多数伟大艺术家的朋友--阿尔方斯-多德、埃德蒙-龚古尔、克劳德-莫奈、罗丹、卡里埃、塞尚、奥克塔夫-米尔博。他的一些关于艺术的文章是我所知道的最好的欣赏文章之一。我们可以提到那篇关于克劳德-莫奈的系列画作《鲁昂的教堂》的宏伟文章。人们可以提到他对雕塑家康斯坦丁-穆尼埃的赞赏。人们还记得他对德-龚古尔的美好赞誉。

但本质上,也许克莱蒙梭成为了伟大的论战者。在我们这个时代,或者说在任何时代,都没有这样的人。他为德雷福斯的辩护非常精彩。每天从他笔下流出的文章被汇集成七卷,尽管它们涉及每天的发展,但读起来不可能不被激起愤怒。有一篇文章的开头是 "C'est dommage"。每一小段都重复这句话作为反问句--'C'est dommage!'。它因激情而颤抖,但也让人感到讽刺的冷酷火焰。

人们可以批评克莱蒙梭后来的一些行为,--作者不得不承认,某些措施,如逮捕凯洛(Caillaux),似乎是令人震惊的,而且肯定会被后人视为他职业生涯中不可原谅的污点。- 但是,克莱蒙梭与那些迫害德雷福斯、起诉左拉、不择手段、仇恨和狂热像刀片一样锋利的反动派斗争的那些年,是一段辉煌的岁月,后来的失误都无法抹去。

克莱蒙梭表现出他的勇敢、不屈不挠、火热、热爱真理和正义,是腐败和虚假的敌人。他的口才,他的逻辑,他刺耳的讽刺,他的社会激情,从未被人超越过。经常是冒着生命危险,左拉和克莱蒙梭离开司法宫,强行穿过激动的人群。

古斯塔夫-格夫罗伊(Gustave Geffroy)说,克莱蒙梭的这七卷书只能与帕斯卡尔(Pascal)谴责耶稣会的《省志》(Lettres Provinciales)和伏尔泰(Voltaire)的《通信》(Correspondence)相提并论,后者以正义的精神反对他那个时代的任意指责和指责,火力十足。这些书既充满了细节,又有巨大的概括性。


六十岁时,克莱蒙梭被选入参议院,再次开始了新的职业生涯。从1902年开始的几年里,风波不断。教会和国家的分离是搅动人们思想的问题之一。殖民主义运动被广泛讨论。德皇前往丹吉尔的航行似乎已经预示着战争的到来。

克莱蒙梭在1906年才成为萨里安内阁的部长;回忆一下这个内阁的一些成员的名字是很有趣的:布尔乔亚、普恩卡雷、布里安、莱格、巴尔图、杜默格--还有担任副国务卿的阿尔贝-萨罗特。作为内政部长,克莱蒙梭不得不镇压北方的罢工。他被指责过于强硬,但恰恰相反,部队得到了明确的命令,不得对挑衅行为作出反应。克莱蒙梭亲自到被激怒的罢工者中间,他的讲话有助于平息动荡的情绪。大量的社会改善措施都归功于克莱蒙梭。

萨里安辞职后,法利埃总统让克莱蒙梭负责组建一个新的部。斯蒂芬-皮雄(Stephen Pichon)和约瑟夫-凯洛(Joseph Caillaux)进入了他的内阁,雷内-维维亚尼(René Viviani)也进入了内阁。维维亚尼担任了一个全新的职务,即劳动和社会福利部部长。这是对让-焦雷(Jean Jaurès)及其政党的回应,他们当时正积极宣扬只有集体主义才能改善工人的命运。他还吸收了德雷福斯(Dreyfus)恶名昭彰的皮卡尔(Picquart)上校进入内阁,试图进行和解。

对克莱蒙梭的另一个指责是他在1907年的葡萄种植者起义中表现出来的能量。应该记得,当时朗格多克的四个省都担心会发生类似内战的事情。市长们集体辞职了。在纳博纳设立了路障,血流成河。米迪运河上的桥梁被烧毁或用炸药炸毁。士兵们发生了叛变。克莱蒙梭努力扮演着和平缔造者的角色,并最终取得了成功。

事实上,虽然人们对克莱蒙梭的印象主要是他那句醒目的 "我打仗",但在英国国王与德国和奥地利皇帝会谈后,他在马里恩巴德会见爱德华国王时,为国际和平作出了积极的努力。

经过三年的努力,他因一句不幸的、急躁的话语而失去了权力。德尔卡塞介入了一场辩论,克莱蒙梭回顾了他在阿尔赫西拉斯事件后辞职的情况,实际上是听从了德国的命令,他坦率地告诉德尔卡塞,他应对法国二十年来经历的最大羞辱负责。现在,法国人一听到羞辱这个词就开始不安起来,因此,对克莱蒙梭的抢票也就不足为奇了。


我们现在已经到了可以称为战争时期的时期。它始于凯洛交出刚果的一部分,以换取在摩洛哥更自由的权力。1912年初,克莱蒙梭与凯尔洛的争吵开始了。他指责总理在外交部长的头上进行个人的、神秘的外交活动。凯洛本人很快就倒台了,由雷蒙-庞加莱取代。真的可以说,在这次摩洛哥的外交武器冲突之后,战争变得不可避免了。

欧洲的两个大国相互对峙,法国不知道何时会受到打击。庞加莱被任命为共和国总统。克里蒙梭通过在议会和报刊上的攻击获得了打破各部的声誉,当然他也知道准确的时机和正确的措辞。

在三年军法通过后的战争期间,克莱蒙梭作为一名热心的爱国者工作。他只有一个想法--法国的安全和胜利。在战争的前三年,他一直在写作和演讲,激励着法国。作为陆军委员会主席,他经常访问前线。他很快成为法国最受欢迎的人物。士兵们对他顶礼膜拜。早在他被总统召见上台之前,就有人要求他担任总理。

没有人能够否认他在激励法国人民和法国军队方面所做的出色工作。我清楚地记得,在1917年,无疑出现了倦怠的迹象。士兵们实际上已经开始叛变了。巴黎的人们公开宣称,他们已经受够了战争。内政部长马尔维无疑表现出了软弱,克莱蒙梭指责他背叛了法国的利益。克莱蒙梭看到了凯尔洛拉着这些 "不正常 "的弦的隐秘之手,他对阿加迪尔的部长大发雷霆。

判断凯洛的行为是明智的还是愚蠢的,这不是我的事;但对他的实际指控,在他被监禁两年后由参议院高级法院审判时,肯定是没有理由的。据推测,克莱蒙梭会援引国家的理由;不得不承认,克莱蒙梭的这些激烈行动,他成了名副其实的独裁者,是法国的专制统治者,在和平主义者中激发了恐惧,在胆小的人中激发了勇气。他的方法是否总是合理的,我不会试图去确定。不过,他的观点很容易理解。法国要么是遭受失败,要么是对国内外的敌人全力以赴地进行战争。

不能让任何东西削弱爱国主义。战争的紧迫性将压倒一切考虑。博洛、马塔-哈里、阿尔梅里达、杜瓦尔、勒诺尔都遭受了死亡。马尔维被流放。Caillaux被判刑。士兵们的精力被激发出来。福煦被选为总司令。美国人开始涌入他们的部队。克莱蒙梭无所不能,无所不在。他无处不在,劝说议会、士兵和人民做出最大的努力。如果说有哪个人可以说是赢得了这场战争,那肯定是克莱蒙梭。

他的论述是典范。它们令人振奋。他粗犷的寒暄在每个人的嘴里都有。人们对他的信心是无止境的。

如果他在战争结束时辞去职务,可能会得到很好的建议。这是他的神化。这是他的胜利。不幸的是,他决定参与制定和平条款。灾难性的《凡尔赛条约》在很大程度上归功于他。法国本能地意识到所犯的错误,尽管这些错误并不像今天这样明显。

当他最辉煌的时刻过去一年多后,他作为共和国总统的候选人出现时,所有人都对他刮目相看。他被打败了。偶像被推翻了。于是,每一个曾在他脚下卑躬屈膝的大咖都开始向他叫板;今天,尽管他在国外很受欢迎,尽管他做出了巨大的贡献,但他在国内被指责为和平的所有不幸、所有的失望、所有的幻灭、所有的灾难。

V
克莱蒙梭会不会像拳击手说的那样 "回来"?这也许是个疑问。他现在已经八十一岁了,虽然充满了热情,能够进行旅行和巡回演讲,但据认为他很难再一次日复一日地掌握权力的缰绳。当第一次计划美国之行时,人们认为老虎已经从他三年的沉默中走了出来,目的是扫除普恩卡雷、布里安和其他人,他们误用了条约,像坏工人一样抱怨他们的工具。

这些公开的声明具有很大的政治意义。有人认为,如果克莱蒙梭没有个人野心,那就存在克莱蒙梭派。对于其他法国政治家来说,不可能说他有构成一个政党的个人追随者。布里安先生可能有朋友,庞加莱先生可能有支持者;但议会中既没有布里安主义者,也没有庞加莱主义者。克莱门斯派形成了一个团体,人数不多,但很稳固,而且可能很强大。

M. 安德烈-塔迪欧先生八个月前创办了一份报纸《国民回声报》,他以前的负责人的名字被附在上面。克洛茨先生是法国各部长的顽固批评者之一。曾为克莱蒙梭拉线的乔治-曼德尔先生仍在观察机会。人们认为,如果克莱蒙梭的美国之行取得了成功,他就有可能全能地回来。如果他只是一个形象代言人,他将是一个伟大的形象代言人。

人们对他和他的政党的评价会是这样的。'就是这个人,在国家危机时期,在严重的紧急情况下,当德国人获胜,法国崩溃,一切都几乎失去的时候,他进来拯救了局势。他团结了法国人民。他鼓舞了法国军队。他刺激了英国和美国的友谊。他给了我们统一的指挥。他赢得了战争。现在,另一场危机,同样严重的危机,正向我们袭来。法国的部长们把事情弄得一团糟。法国的财政状况很糟糕。赔款还没有着落。更糟糕的是,法国已经失去了克莱蒙梭曾经加强的友谊。意大利已经消失了。与英国的盟约几乎变成了敌意。甚至比利时也在犹豫不决。波兰正在逃避。小协约为自己打下手。最糟糕的是,美国正在反对法国。没有克莱蒙梭的三年的结果是联盟的破坏和友谊的毁灭。现在,克莱蒙梭再次出现在舞台上,美国被赢回来了。他的航行产生了神奇的效果。他正在消除其他人所做的恶作剧。他是唯一能够消除祸害的人。


我们不难看出,这样的表述将是不可抗拒的。假设克莱蒙梭胜利地穿越了美国,那么他肯定会胜利地回到法国。克里蒙梭很可能没有进行过这样的个人计算;但他的朋友们利用他向美国发出的信息的方式表明,他们进行过这种计算。他的敌人(他的敌人很多)也想到了这些,这一点从一些报纸对他的野蛮攻击中可以看出,这些报纸在他执政期间一直很恭顺,但后来却把法国的所有问题都归咎于这位前总理。

这些报纸同时爆发出一股批评的洪流。他们用一些文件来支持他们的指控,而这些文件或多或少都因为遗漏了日期和重要段落而被伪造了。关于他是否将君士坦丁堡交给了英国人,以及是否阻止了东方的法国军队向中欧进军的讨论十分激烈。这场争论是没有必要的。我提请注意这一点,只是为了表明某些人一想到克莱蒙梭的活动就会产生积极的恐惧。他们认为,在他自我要求的美国之行中,有一个他们希望能够智取的政治手段。只有时间才能证明他们的估计是否正确,以及克莱蒙梭方面是否正在进行新的权力争夺,如果不是克莱蒙梭本人的话。


同时,人们应该认为,无论后来人们如何利用克莱蒙梭在美国的知名度,他心中的主导思想是绝对真诚的。他仍然是伟大的爱国者。他仍然是联盟的伟大维护者。也许他的眼光是有限的。也许他试图将世界划分为敌对阵营并维护反德联盟的做法是错误的。也许德国也应该加入到国际联盟中来。也许克莱蒙梭自己已经表明,他已经过时了,他无法超越1918年。也许他的思想已经定型,而且他愚蠢地认为世界也可以定型。但至少应该为我们这个时代的一个人主持公道,他将以旗帜飘扬和号角声进入历史--决心、精力、爱国主义的崇高、真正的好战品质的最高形象:他不考虑琐碎的阴谋,不为私欲或政治企图所动。

他的生活习惯一直都很简单。当巴拿马丑闻将他赶出政坛时,他毫不犹豫地告诉世人他的债务,他的财务斗争,他为获得单纯的生计所做的艰辛努力。据称他通过贿赂方式获得的数百万美元,他证明是虚构的。那些知道他如何生活的人知道,他几乎没有生活。他靠自己的笔,靠议员和参议员的少量津贴生活。他表现出完美的独立性。如今,他主要住在家乡旺代最简陋的小屋里。他的品味从来都不奢华。他是一个喜欢战斗的人,可以说是为了战斗而战斗,尽管一般来说他都是站在真理和正义的一边--他在他的著作和演讲中一次又一次地用美丽的语言定义这些词。

法国人的一个不幸的习惯是,他们到处都能找到雇佣兵的动机,而且他们对背叛这个词念得太轻了。尽管克莱蒙梭仍旧火爆,但没有理由怀疑他在这个年龄会离开他现在的平静生活,会因为任何不符合最高动机的事情而投身到政治的动荡和混乱中。

人们必须为他所宣扬的团结的统治思想鼓掌。他为支持法、英、美三国集团而进行的征战,是值得最热烈赞扬的。在这个民族自负的混乱时代,没有什么学说比我们相互依存的学说更需要雄辩的宣传。在战争期间和战后的一小段时间内被接受的民族博爱,已经被那些心胸狭隘的人给弄丢了。

人们会认为,没有什么真理会像一个国家的苦难就是另一个国家的苦难这样不言自明。人们本以为,将老战友们联系在一起的情感会超越金字塔,在这个基础上,一个更大、更辉煌的和平、繁荣和相互同情的时代将被建立。

然而,事实并非如此。这需要最优秀的演说家的舌头,最有说服力的作家的笔,世界上最崇高的公民的影响,来提醒我们这个时代的真正需要,当我们所有的利益相互渗透和交错时。


就克莱蒙梭使自己成为这一团结理想的使徒而言,他成为一个更加耀眼的人物。但是,尽管法国、英国和美国的团结构成了新世界的坚实基础,但甚至在这种博爱之上还有一些东西--仍有维克多-雨果和同类精神的梦想,那就是为人类的联合国家提供一个固定的形式和宪章。



Georges Clemenceau
By Sisley Huddleston
DECEMBER 1922 ISSUE
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I
IT would be difficult to name another man whose life has been so varied as that of Georges Clemenceau. We are inclined to think of him only in his last phase; but, in fact, the history of Georges Clemenceau is the history of the Third Republic. His story is wonderfully rounded off. If one ignores those early episodes of his student days, when he tasted the miseries of the Royal prison, his public life may be said to have begun with the defeat of France by Germany. At that time he was the mayor of Montmartre. Fifty years later his public career finished — if, indeed, it has yet finished — with the defeat of Germany by France, and the signing of the peace treaty in the same Galerie des Glaces at Versailles wherein, on the very date nearly half a century before, Wilhelm I was proclaimed Emperor.


There is an artistic perfection in this story which is rarely encountered in real life. But, if one reads the various chapters of his long life, one will find his biography full of vicissitudes. Clemenceau has been everything. He has had higher ‘ups’ and deeper ‘downs’ than any French statesman who could be mentioned. There have been times when he has been hissed out of politics by the almost unanimous voice of France. There have been other periods when the whole nation has clamored for him. More than once, everything seemed to be ended for him; but he merely turned to other occupations and bided his time.

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I remember once having a long discussion with a man who held that the only complete character in history or fiction was Ulysses. Ulysses, he said, was husband, father, lover, statesman, warrior, wanderer, poet, who divined the secrets of earth and hell and was beloved of the gods. I was challenged to name another personage whose life was so comprehensive; and as I went over the great names of history and fiction, I was reminded that this man had missed much, in that he had been neither husband nor father; that man, though distinguished as philosopher, had been inactive; the other man, though both warrior and statesman, had never voyaged and so had kept the provincial mind. Perhaps I came nearest to naming the ideal all-round man when I thought of Mohammed; and since then it has occurred to me that probably Leo Tolstoi is of all men the most complete. But certainly Clemenceau must take a high and honorable place among the exceedingly few men who have tasted all experiences that life has to offer, and have revealed themselves in every capacity.

A native of La Vendée, where the house in which he was born is marked by a plaque, and a statue has been erected to him in his lifetime: after a stormy youth as student, in which already he wrote articles inspired by a high humanity, he obtained his degree of doctor. For some time he sojourned in America, living in the same chamber that had been occupied at an earlier date by Louis Bonaparte, afterward Napoleon III. He wrote for the Temps, and learned English perfectly. For four years he remained, becoming professor of history and of French literature, in a pension at Greenwich, Connecticut. It was there that he met the young pupil whom he afterward married, on the eve of the war between France and Germany.

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He has thus always had a penchant for America, and, indeed, during the War of Secession, allowed his sympathies with Abraham Lincoln to manifest themselves. For England, too, he has always had a special affection, from the days when he visited John Stuart Mill and Herbert Spencer.

Of his part in the war, by the side of Gambetta, it is unnecessary to speak at length. Clemenceau was one of those who pronounced against the conclusion of a peace which was a defeat. For revolutionaries of noble character, in spite of their faults, Clemenceau always had profound esteem, and he did not disguise his affection for Blanqui and Louise Michel. The protest against the seizure of Alsace-Lorraine was signed by Victor Hugo, Gambetta, and Clemenceau, besides the deputies of these provinces.

II
There followed seventeen years of Parliamentary life, filled with the most incessant action. Even during this period, he found time to devote his attention to the arts, and to him Édouard Manet owed something in the shape of support in his fight against the Philistines. He contributed copiously to journals such as La Justice. But, finally, the movement of General Boulanger found him a target for the most malicious attacks, and he was involved in the notorious Panama affair. He was accused, too, of receiving money from England. Fortified by forged documents, his enemies raised such a storm that he was driven out of public life.

This was the end of a notable period. But another epoch opened. Clemenceau became the man of letters. As a journalist, it is estimated that his articles would fill more than a hundred volumes, each of 350 pages; and they are all written with extraordinary skill and force. In addition, his output as author is considerable. From La Melée Sociale to Le Grand Pan, from Les Plus Forts to Le Voile du Bonheur, the works of Clemenceau are alive with genius — which is, perhaps, another name for intensity.

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Let it be remembered that Clemenceau, who is generally regarded purely as a politician, was the friend of most of the great artists of his time — Alphonse Daudet, Edmond de Goncourt, Claude Monet, Rodin, Carrière, Cézanne, Octave Mirbeau. Some of his writings on art are among the finest appreciations that I know. One may mention that magnificent article on the series of paintings by Claude Monet, ‘Les Cathédrales de Rouen.’ One may mention his appreciation of the sculptor Constantin Meunier. One recalls his fine homage to de Goncourt.

But essentially, perhaps, Clemenceau became the great polemist. There has been nothing like it in our time or, indeed, any time. His defense of Dreyfus is wonderful. The articles that came daily from his pen have been brought together in seven volumes and, although they deal with day-by-day developments, it is impossible to read them without being stirred to indignation. There is one article which begins ‘C’est dommage.’ Every short paragraph repeats these words as a refrain — ‘C’est dommage!’ It is quivering with passion, but one also feels the cold flame of irony.

One may criticize some of the later acts of Clemenceau, — the writer is bound to confess that certain measures, such as the arrest of Caillaux, appear to be shocking, and will assuredly be regarded by posterity as inexcusable blemishes on his career, — but those years which Clemenceau spent battling against the wild reactionaries who persecuted Dreyfus, who prosecuted Zola, who stooped to all iniquities, and whose hatred and fanaticism were sharpened like blades, is a glorious passage, which no subsequent blunders can efface.

Clemenceau showed himself to be courageous, indefatigable, fiery, a lover of truth and of justice, an enemy of corruption and of sham. His eloquence, his logic, his piercing satire, his social passion, have never been surpassed. Often it was at the risk of their lives that Zola and Clemenceau left the Palais de Justice, forcing their way through the excited crowd.

Gustave Geffroy says that these seven volumes of Clemenceau can be compared only to the Lettres Provinciales of Pascal, denouncing the Jesuits, and the Correspondence of Voltaire, aflame with the spirit of justice against the arbitrary denunciations and the condemnations of his time. These volumes are, at once, full of detail and of huge generalization.

III
At the age of sixty, Clemenceau was elected to the Senate, and once more began a new career. The years from 1902 were stormy. The separation of Church and State was one of the problems that agitated men’s minds. The Colonial movement was much discussed. The voyage of the Kaiser to Tangiers seemed already to presage the war.

Clemenceau became minister only in 1906, in the Sarrien Cabinet; and it is curious to recall the names of some of the members of this cabinet — Bourgeois, Poincaré, Briand, Leygues, Barthou, Doumergue — besides Albert Sarraut, who was Under-Secretary of State. As Minister of the Interior, Clemenceau had to suppress the strikes in the North. He has been accused of excessive vigor, but, on the contrary, the troops were given definite orders not to respond to provocations. Clemenceau himself went among the inflamed strikers, and his discourses helped to calm turbulent spirits. A large number of measures of social amelioration are due to Clemenceau.

After Sarrien resigned, President Fallières charged Clemenceau with the task of forming a new ministry. Stephen Pichon and Joseph Caillaux entered his cabinet, and so did René Viviani. Viviani took up an entirely new post, that of Ministre du Travail et de la Prévoyance Sociale. This was a reply to Jean Jaurès and his party, who were then actively preaching that only collectivism could improve the lot of the worker. He also took into his cabinet Colonel Picquart, of Dreyfus notoriety, in an attempt at conciliation.

Another reproach made against Clemenceau is his energy displayed during the wine-growers’ revolt of 1907. It should be remembered that something like civil war was feared in the four départements of Languedoc. The mayors resigned en masse. Barricades were erected at Narbonne, and blood flowed. Bridges were burned or blown up with dynamite on the Canal du Midi. There were mutinies of soldiers. Clemenceau endeavored to play the part of peacemaker and, eventually, succeeded.

Clemenceau, indeed, though he may be chiefly remembered by his striking phrase, ‘Je fais la guerre,’ made vigorous efforts for international peace when he met King Edward at Marienbad, after the interviews that the British King had had with the German and Austrian emperors.

He fell from power, after three strenuous years, through an unfortunate and impetuous word that he uttered. Delcassé had intervened in a debate, and Clemenceau, recalling the circumstances of his resignation after the events of Algeciras, practically at the bidding of Germany, told Delcassé frankly that he was responsible for the greatest humiliation France had experienced for twenty years. Now, the French start restively at the word humiliation, and it is not surprising that a snatch vote was given against Clemenceau.

IV
We have now reached the period which may be called the war period. It began with the surrender by Caillaux of a portion of the Congo, in return for a freer hand in Morocco. It was at the beginning of 1912 that Clemenceau’s quarrel with Caillaux began. He accused the Prime Minister of conducting a personal and occult diplomacy over the head of the Foreign Minister. Caillaux himself quickly fell, and was replaced by Raymond Poincaré. It may truly be said that the war became inevitable after this Moroccan clash of diplomatic arms.

The two Great Powers of Europe faced each other, France wondering when the blow would fall. Poincaré was made President of the Republic. Clemenceau had gained a reputation for breaking ministries by his attacks in Parliament and in the press, and certainly he knew the precise moment and the right phrase.

During the war which followed the passing of the three years’ military law, Clemenceau worked as an ardent patriot. He had but one thought — the safety and the victory of France. The first three years of the war saw him writing and speaking and inspiring France. As President of the Army Commission he visited the front frequently. He soon became the most popular figure in France. The poilus worshiped him. There was a demand for his services as Prime Minister long before he was called to power by the President.

No one can deny the wonderful work he did in stimulating the French people and the French army. In 1917, I well remember, there were undoubted signs of lassitude. The soldiers were actually beginning to mutiny. The people in Paris openly declared that they had had enough of the war. There was certainly weakness shown by the Minister of the Interior, Malvy, whom Clemenceau accused of betraying the interests of France. Clemenceau saw the hidden hand of Caillaux pulling these strings of défaitisme, and he fulminated against the Minister of Agadir.

It is not my business to judge whether Caillaux behaved wisely or foolishly; but the actual charge against him was certainly not justified by the evidence brought forward, on his trial by the High Court of the Senate, after two years’ imprisonment. Presumably Clemenceau would invoke reasons of state; and it has to be admitted that these drastic actions of Clemenceau, who became a veritable dictator, the arbitrary ruler of France, inspired fear among the pacifists and courage in the faint-hearted. Whether his methods could always be justified is a matter that I will not attempt to determine. His point of view, however, is easy to understand. Either France was to suffer defeat, or she was to pursue the war integrally against enemies at home and abroad.

Nothing was to be allowed to sap patriotism. The exigencies of war were to prevail over all considerations. Bolo, Mata-Hari, Almereyda, Duval, Lenoir, suffered death. Malvy was exiled. Caillaux was condemned. The energies of the soldiers were stimulated. Foch was chosen as Generalissimo. The Americans began to pour in their troops. Clemenceau was omnipotent and omnipresent. He was everywhere, exhorting Parliament, soldiers, people, to supreme efforts. If any one man can be said to have won the war, certainly it is Clemenceau.

His discourses are models. They vibrate. His rough pleasantries were in every mouth. The confidence in him was unbounded.

Probably he would have been well advised, had he resigned office when the war ended. This was his apotheosis. This was his triumph. Unfortunately, he decided to take a hand in framing the terms of peace. The disastrous Treaty of Versailles is largely due to him. France realized instinctively the errors that were committed, though they were not so apparent as they are to-day.

When, a little more than a year after his greatest moment, he presented himself as candidate for the Presidency of the Republic, everybody looked askance. He was defeated. The idol was overthrown. Thereupon every cur who had groveled at his feet began to bark at him; and to-day, in spite of his popularity abroad, in spite of his immense services, he is blamed at home for all the misfortunes of peace, all the disappointments, all the disillusionments, all the disasters.

V
Will Clemenceau ever ‘come back’? as the boxers say. It may perhaps be doubted. He is now eighty-one years of age and, although full of enthusiasm and capable of travels and lecture tours, could hardly, it is supposed, hold the reins of power day in and day out, once more. When the American trip was first planned, it was thought that the old Tiger had emerged from his three years’ silence, with the set purpose of sweeping aside the Poincarés, the Briands, and the rest, who had misapplied the Treaty and, like bad workmen, complained of their tools.

Great political significance was attached to these public declarations. If Clemenceau has no personal ambitions, it was argued, there exist the Clemencistes. Of no other French statesman is it possible to say that he has personal followers who constitute a party. M. Briand may have friends, M. Poincaré may have supporters; but there are in Parliament neither Briandistsnor Poincarists. The Clemencistes form a group which is not numerous, but which is solid and may be powerful.

M. André Tardieu eight months ago founded a paper, L’Écho National, to which the name of his former chief was attached. M. Klotz is one of the persistent critics of the various French ministers. M. Georges Mandel, who was the wirepuller for Clemenceau, is still watching for opportunities. It was considered likely that, if Clemenceau made a successful American tour, he would return all-powerful. If he would only be a figurehead, he would be a great figurehead.

What would be said of him and of his party would be something as follows: ‘Here is the man who, in a time of national crisis, in a grave emergency, when the Germans were winning, France was cracking, and all was nearly lost, came in to save the situation. He rallied the French people. He inspired the French army. He stimulated the friendship of England and America. He gave us unity of command. He won the war. Now another crisis, equally grave, is upon us. The French ministers have muddled things. French finances are bad. Reparations are not forthcoming. What is perhaps worse is that France has lost the friendships which Clemenceau had strengthened. Italy is gone. The entente with England has turned almost to enmity. Even Belgium is hesitating. Poland is escaping. The Little Entente plays for its own hand. Worst of all, America is turning against France. The result of three years without Clemenceau has been the disruption of alliances and the destruction of friendships. Now Clemenceau reappears on the scene, and America is won back. His voyage has had a magic effect. He is undoing the mischief that others have done. He is the only man capable of undoing the mischief.’


It will be easily seen that such a representation of the case would be irresistible. Assuming that Clemenceau traversed America triumphantly, then he would surely return to France in triumph. The probability is that no such personal calculations occurred to Clemenceau; but that they occurred to his friends is clear by the manner in which they utilized his messages to America. That they occurred to his enemies, with whom he is plentifully endowed, is clear from the savage attacks that were at once launched against him by a number of newspapers, which, during his reign, had been obsequious enough, but which have since put the blame for all France’s troubles on the former Prime Minister.

These newspapers broke out simultaneously into a torrent of criticism. They supported their accusations by documents which were more or less falsified by the omission of dates and vital paragraphs. The discussion raged about whether he had given Constantinople to the British, and prevented the French army in the East from marching toward Central Europe. Into this controversy it is unnecessary to go. I call attention to it only as demonstrating the positive fear that seized certain people at the very idea of Clemenceau’s activity. They saw in his self-imposed mission to America a political manœuvre which they desired to outwit. Time alone will show whether their estimate was right and whether a new bid for power on the part of the Clemencistes, if not on the part of Clemenceau himself, was being made.

VI
In the meantime, one should take it that, whatever use may subsequently be made of Clemenceau’s popularity in America, the predominant thought in his mind was one that was absolutely sincere. He remains the great patriot. He remains the great upholder of alliances. It may be that his vision is limited. It may be that he is wrong in attempting to divide the world into hostile camps and to preserve the antiGerman league. It may be that Germany too should come into the fellowship of nations. It may be that Clemenceau has himself shown that he is outmoded, that he cannot get beyond 1918. It may be that his mind has become stereotyped, and that he foolishly imagines that the world can be stereotyped. But at least this justice should be done to the one man of our time who will enter into history with flags flying and trumpets blowing — the supreme figure of determination, of energy, of patriotic exaltation, of true warlike qualities: that he was not thinking of petty intrigues, and was not moved by amour propre or by political designs.

Always has he been simple in his habits. When the Panama scandal drove him from politics, he did not hesitate to tell the world of his debts, of his financial struggles, of his arduous efforts to gain a mere livelihood. The millions he was alleged to have received by way of bribes, he demonstrated to be fictitious. And those who know how he has lived know that he has lived hardly. He has lived by his pen, and on the small stipend of the deputy and senator. He has shown perfect independence. In these days he dwells chiefly in the most humble of cottages in his native Vendée. His tastes have never been luxurious. He is a man who has loved fighting, one would say, for the sake of fighting, though generally he has been on the side of truth and justice — words which he has defined in beautiful language time and again, in his writings and in his speeches.

It is an unfortunate habit of the French that they find mercenary motives everywhere, and that they pronounce the word treachery far too lightly. Fiery as Clemenceau still is, there is no reason to suspect that he would leave, at his age, the quiet joys of his present life, would throw himself into the turbulence and confusion of politics for anything less than the highest motives.

One must applaud the ruling idea of solidarity which he preaches. His crusade in favor of the grouping of the three countries, France, England, and the United States, is one that deserves the warmest encomiums. There is no doctrine which requires more eloquent advocacy in these disrupted days of national egotisms than the doctrine of our interdependence. The fraternity of peoples, which was accepted during the war and for some little time after the war, has been frittered away by niggling little-minded men.

One would have thought that no truth would be so self-evident as that the malheur of one country is the malheur of another. One would have thought that the sentiments which bound together the old comrades-inarms would have outlasted the Pyramids, and that on this foundation a greater and more glorious era of peace and prosperity and mutual sympathy would have been built.

It is, alas! not so. It requires the tongues of the finest orators, the pens of the most persuasive writers, the influence of the noblest citizens of the world, to remind us of the real need of our day, when all our interests interpenetrate and interlock.


In so far as Clemenceau makes himself the apostle of this ideal of solidarity, he becomes a still more shining figure. But, although the unity of France, England, and the United States constitutes the firm foundation for the new world, there is something above and beyond even this fraternity — there remains the dream of Victor Hugo, and of kindred spirits, which is to give a fixed form and a charter to the UNITED STATES OF MANKIND.

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