Our Work

Page

Auguste Roubille

Our work[1]

Heartache, yes, we can feel some—for the homeland and for humanity!

That our France could be so debased by the very ones who claim to defend it, that such wickedness of soul is possible and becomes visible like rotten meat rising to the surface of water, yes, such things were done to make us sick and sad.

But these sentiments are a luxury in battle: we could not dwell on them or become soft. That our senses were offended, that the collective dignity suffered was not very important to continuing the effort or to the uninterrupted current of energy that must bind tomorrow to today.

The true sentiment of the situation, the pride necessary for reviving the muscles, our support and reassurance will be drawn from the examination of what we gained—in spite of such obstacles!

A man was in the penal colony, locked up under illegal conditions after having been judged illegally. He fell victim to Lebon, to Deniel[2], to immurement, to eternal silence, to double shackles, to crucifying lies, alone, all alone, as dead as a corpse in the grave!

He was never supposed to see France again nor his fellow countrymen nor his family! His wife was a widow, his children orphans: all the social powers, joined together, had crossed out his name. He was stricken forever from among the living.

Bernard Lazare lit the first torch from which other flames afterwards lit up. We were a handful of pioneers in the darkness and the light became a target for stoning us. We experienced all the calumnies, all the outrages, all the proscriptions! The strongest held up the weaker: we did not abandon the wounded on the road and no one ever ran away. Thus, slowly, we advanced.

After that, Destiny joined our ranks. What we should have served, served us, instead, in a powerful way. At critical times miracles came. The enemies were pointed out and knocked down like by an invisible finger. Even the apparent failures were changed into victories, without fanfare but with considerable impact.

From twenty we became a hundred, then a thousand… and from then on at every public demonstration, at every new fact, the number of partisans of Truth grew. The reflection from its mirror gained ground and invaded, like the light of dawn, the hitherto dark corners of the still darkened consciences.

We pulled the man out of the penal colony. Our will raised Lazarus from the dead. Do you remember that we defied that this would never happen without a general revolution? It only took four customs officers and a few policemen to keep within decent limits not the furious but the curious crowd.

Did we deny that the caste or chapel spirit could have influenced his conviction? The event revealed [General] Mercier trying to repeat the secret communication blow of 1894 with the judges in 1899. We could see the generals joined together to try to save one of their own at the expense of the innocent man, preferring the impunity of Esterhazy to the confession of the initial error that covered up so many crimes afterwards!

Dreyfus was saved physically—expecting better—and will not return to Devil’s Island nor suffer again, of course, the torture of degradation. Such is the material conquest.

The moral conquest is huge. In open court, in the cold, cruel light of day, when it was the people’s turn to judge, they could appraise some of their leaders, gauge their special mentality, survey their immoderate tongues and childish tricks and realize how these sea snails could led them into the promised slaughter…

This evolution is worth two revolutions because it was not bloody and it liberated minds.

 

Next:  The Defenders

[1] La Fronde, September 14 1899, in Vers le lumière 1900.

[2] André Lebon, Minister of the Colonies and Oscar Deniel, The Governor of Guiana and Director of its prisons.