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GEORGES CLEMENCl 

THE TIGER OF FRANCE 

GEORGES LECOMTI 






CORNELL 

UNIVERSITY 

LIBRARY 




BEQUEST 

OF 

STEWART HENRY BURNHAM 
1943 



Cornell University Library 
DC 342.8.C62L46 1919 

Georges Clemenceau the Tiger of France, 





3 1924 028 221 285 



WW B Cornell University 

^^' h) Library 



The original of tliis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/cletails/cu31924028221285 



GEORGES CLEMENCEAU 

THE TIGER OF FRANCE 




Georges Clemenceau 



GEORGES CLEMENCEAU 

THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



BY 

GEORGES LECOMTE 



TRANSIATED BY 

DONALD CLIVE STUART 




D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 



NEW YORK 


LONDON 
19 19 




3- 




' (..;i;/;i;y 



Copyright, iqiq, by 
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I. All for France i 

II. Policies and Deeds 21 

III. The Man loi 

IV. Fundamental Characteristics 128 

V. The Patriot 153 

VI. The Orator — The Writer 190 

VII. At the Front 218 

VIII. Victory 264 



GEORGES CLEMENCEAU 

THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



ALL FOR FRANCE 

THE life of Clemenceau is sixty years of battle 
for Liberty, for Justice, for a better lot for 
men, and, dominating all, a passionate love for 
France which, for him, is identified with this ideal. 

No one in our time has fought for his opinions 
more sharply, with more witty and bolder good hu- 
mor, with more implacable, jovial and keen logic. 

A party man he certainly was, and with what un- 
tiring ardor; but without ever losing sight of the 
higher interests of his country! 

Those who approached him at the moment of our 
most violent internal struggles can ever bear wit- 
ness that the fierceness of his blows resulted less 
from his ardent temperament, over which he al- 
ways keeps full control, than from his faith in the 
correctness of his ideas and from his conviction 
that, in trying to have them prevail, he was defend- 

I 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



ing best the moral power and the future of the; 
country. 

Therefore, it is without efifort that he ceases to 
think, write, speak or act as a party man each 
time, in the hours of international tension — Tan- 
giers, Casablanca, Agadir, defender of the law for 
three years' military service — ^he feels it his duty 
to unite our forces and to make a stand for the 
safety of France. 

And from the second of August, 1914, the 
day when Germany attacked without waiting 
until war should be declared — so violent was 
her murderous frenzy — M. Qemenceau, having 
no other thought than the protection of the coun- 
try, devoted to it all his energies, all his vigilant 
clear-sightedness, all the authority which his ardor, 
his past as a patriot, his talent and his services 
gave him over men. 

No more adversaries! And, what is more dif- 
ficult, no more friends except those who, like him, 
consecrated themselves passionately to the defense 
of the French soil, of the French soul, of the right 
of men and of nations to be free ! No other party 
than that of France! His wonderful articles in 

2 



ALL FOR FRANCE 



his paper, L'Homme Libre, of a quickening firm- 
ness and of a tenderness which, while comforting 
his readers, brought tears to their eyes, resounded 
like calls to arms, like cries of love and grief. 

Indeed, those who remember his noble, vibrating 
pages of L'Aurore at the time when Pan-German- 
ism wanted French capitulation at Tangiers or war, 
and his prophetic campaign in favor of a return to 
three years' military service, understood still better 
the great, radiant heart which hid itself under sar- 
casm, under irony, under combative fierceness, and 
the unconquerable patriotic fervor which a half 
century of violent political struggles had not been 
able to quench. 

From these very days of anguish. It was evident 
that Clemenceau, who, on other points, had not al- 
ways been in accord with the whole of the Nation, 
found himself in perfect communion of ideas with 
it. 

The terrible drama that he had always foreseen 
and feared — ^how many of his pages bear witness to 
it ! — found him morally ready for the most resolute 
acts of preservation. In his stirring articles of 
that period, which one will never re-read later with- 

3 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



out emotion, he is one of the most faithful and 
poignant interpreters of the suddenly awakened 
heroism of the French people, of the stoical res- 
ignation which this people attempts, in order never 
to lose this firmness, even during the worst trials. 

And the Nation later did not forget that Clemen- 
ceau, in relieving his own heart, had expressed mag- 
nificently its hope, its faith, its will not to die. 

For it was with the knife at her throat, that 
France, wholly given up to her dream of peace, saw 
brutally put before her the question : life or death ! 

Many pages of Clemenceau, which are easy to 
find in his twenty years of daily articles, prove that 
he had not waited for the cataclysm to insist that 
if misfortune wished the red specter of war to rise 
over the world through the act of Germany, insati- 
able for prey and for power, it would no longer be 
for this or that province for which France must 
struggle, but for her very existence. And France, 
torn from her noble, pacific illusion, came to under- 
stand, in a sudden illumination, that such, indeed, 
were the stakes. 

A party man, who never lost from view his na- 
tion's interest, Clemenceau was also, with all his 

4 



ALL FOR FRANCE 



restrained ardor, with all the resources of a quick 
and clear intelligence, all the vigor of his nerves 
of steel and of his implacable logic, with also the 
charm of his witty and sarcastic joviality, a ter- 
rible fighter. 

Strong in his convictions, carefully considered 
and examined in his heart, persuaded, except in 
case of a successful demonstration to the contrary, 
that he is right, he wills to be right. He is against 
his habitual enemies, of course; but also— and this 
is more meritorious — he is, on occasion, against his 
own friends, when he believes that they are mis- 
taken. And in many memorable circumstances, he 
has valiantly proved it. For example, a certain 
speech in the Senate on freedom in teaching, shows 
that a man of that temper is a prisoner only of his 
reason. 

In battle — which as a courageous man he loves, 
and- the risks of which have never stopped him — 
he admits no underhanded attacks, no perfidy, no 
crafty insinuations. 

He goes ahead with blows straight -from the 
shoulder. As they say in the language of the fenc- 
ing-school, he has a good thrust and a quick parry. 

5 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



He is a delicate blade. He plays close but his play- 
is clean. As strongly as he is assailed, he in his 
turn remains wittily courteous in the most difficult 
situations, but with a courtesy sharpened and ready 
for cutting replies. 

Can one be astonished that good form and po- 
liteness do not always disarm anger when profound 
convictions and social interests are concerned? A 
redoubtable fighter, because of these very qualities, 
M. Clemenceau, so resolute in the defense of his 
opinions and in his care to put his acts in harmony 
with them, has created for himself strong hatreds 
which, moreover, are renewed according to the 
phases of his uninterrupted battle of sixty years. 

Beside the men who, satisfied for having crossed 
swords for their principles even if they were de- 
feated, are proud of having been at close quarters 
with such a fighter and who esteem him for his un- 
doubted loyalty and for the fairness of his fighting, 
there are others who never pardon the wit, the elo- 
quence, the logic to which they have succumbed in 
spite of their merits and who, filled with rancor, 
watch for the hour of cunning revenge. 

Finally there are those who, worthy of respect 
6 



ALL FOR FRANCE 



for the ardor of their convictions, but not separat- 
ing the ideas which they execrate from the cham- 
pions by whom the ideas are defended, wish to 
knock down men in order to strike at their doc- 
trines. 

A redoubtable adversary, because he incessantly 
battled for his convictions, which have never 
varied for sixty years and which never admit of 
compromise, M. Clemenceau garnered in the course 
of his long, harassed existence, an ample harvest 
of such hatreds. Some of them were implacable. 
As happens too often in the feverishness of po- 
litical struggles in which, wholly given over to the. 
passion of the passing moment, one does not take 
enough care to keep intact one's forces of the future, 
they do not give way before the most prodigious 
phantasmagoria. And the crowds, too often be- 
wildered by a vehemence which does not grow 
weary of making a great disturbance, and not hav- 
ing enough coolness to control their impressions, 
throw off all restraint. 

As a result, M. Clemenceau's usual mode of ac- 
tion was modified for a short time. Up to that 
moment he had spoken much and acted still more. 

7 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



From that time on, deprived for some years of the 
parliamentary tribune, he wrote more than he spoke. 

Who could complain? Not French literature 
surely, which he enriched with masterly pages. Nor 
is it the cause of htunan progress which can suffer, 
nor that of the country which, with his pen in 
his hand, he did not cease to serve powerfully with 
still more liberty than he had had on the tribune, 
where, in order to prove his point, every orator, 
fascinating as he may be, must reckon with the im- 
mediate opposition of his audience. 

In the peace of his study, whence he appeals to 
the men of his time through newspapers and books, 
each one of his writings is a deed. Moreover, in 
this new form he continues to say the same thing, 
to uphold the same political and social conceptions. 
In the meditation of a life which from that time on 
is spared external disturbance, the more he puts 
his ideas to the test, the more he is convinced of 
their correctness. With sharp dialectics, in strong 
and concise language, he defends his unchangeable 
doctrines by discussing subjects which the passing 
hour chances to offer. 

Far from being struck to the ground, he discov- 
8 



ALL FOR FRANCE 



ers an unsuspected talent. He has been forced to 
forge a new weapon. A great writer is born to 
us. And we have a great orator, ready, when the 
hour comes, to reanimate the tribune with his ful- 
minating logic. 

He remains a force; and even a force increased 
by means of action that no one suspected. With- 
out awaiting the caprice of voters, M. Clemenceau 
finds in himself the possibility of serving Liberty, 
Right, France. 

Short-lived hatreds luckily have not succeeded in 
making absolute confusion, for we were not far 
away from the critical hours — Tangiers, Casa- 
blanca, Agadir, three years' military service, War! 
— when if such a force had really been struck down 
in the hubbub of our internal struggles, France 
would have been deprived of one of her most fer- 
vent and useful champions. 

Even those who then struck him the hardest 
blows were the first to rejoice — because they are 
patriots before all else — that these blows had not 
been mortal. 

What a lesson! Let us meditate upon it. Above 
all, may we keep the memory of it when, on the 

9 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



morrow of victory, our political quarrels will spring 
up again, unless our fraternity of five years of sor- 
row and suffering preserve us from them. 

As for me, how could I ever forget that evening 
last winter when, with the other representatives, 
of a sorrowing association, we went to see M. 
Clemenceau in the Premier's office, in order to tell 
him, in the name of our dead, the hope that we all 
— whatever our opinions were before 1914 — ^placed 
in him for an energetic conduct of the war until a 
consoling victory was won. 

All the men assembled around him had the right 
to speak since all were suffering for the country, 
since all were constituting themselves the pious in- 
terpreters of the young Frenchmen who had been 
sacrificed in order that France might live. 

But how many more of those were among them 
who, joining the torture of anxiety to that of re- 
grets and grief, have still, after such sacrifices, 
children in the battle and are breathless with fear 
to-day at the same time that they weep over the 
anguish of yesterday. Apprehensions they hide, 
tears they choke back in order to feel them- 

10 



ALL FOR FRANCE 



selves more worthy of the sons whose resignation 
and heroism dictate to them their duty forever. 

Delegations of bruised people whose voice 
makes the voice of the dead heard cannot be ne- 
glected. Among its members, all thinking only of 
the safety of the country, dreaming only of strength- 
ening by their confident sympathy the action of the 
patriot minister who directs with so much ardor 
the work of national defense, was found one of the 
men who, deceived, and convinced that they were 
acting in the interest of the country, formerly flung 
themselves violently in tragic hand-to-hand struggles 
against M. Clemenceau. 

There are terrible conflicts of the past, which, 
however, very few of those present remember. 
These stories count so little in history when they 
have not killed their men at the first onset or para- 
lyzed his power forever! 

While still very young, I had been the unhappy 
witness of this clash. In spite of the emotions and 
the troubles of the hour, I remembered it. For the 
first time since that battle I saw these two ancient 
adversaries face to face. And I looked at them. 

I^n what a different atmosphere and with what 
II 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



other feelings they found themselves! The aggres- 
sor of former times, who had struck these blows in 
the name of the country, came to tell Clemenceau 
of his confidence in his patriotic energy, to place 
in him the hope of a tortured father who does not 
want the sacrifice of his heroic child to be in vain. 

Since this furious assault twenty-five years have 
passed during which the minister of to-day, con- 
tinuing the senator and the polemist of yesterday, 
the orator and the deputy of former years, has 
multiplied his efforts to have France strengthen her 
armor of defense and to keep faith in herself. 

Perhaps our companion, to whom a similar grief 
united us, was so grateful to M. Clemenceau for 
his salutary campaigns and for his proud, French 
attitude, that, quite naturally, he no longer remem- 
bered their less cordial encounter in the past. 

To-day, there are in all hearts so many more 
anxious preoccupations in which it is right that 
these indistinct trifles should be submerged! At 
any rate, not one of us showed the Chief of the 
National Defense more esteem and gratitude. 

As touching as the interview was, I wished that, 
for tb-; moral value of this lesson, our companion 

12 



ALL FOR FRANCE 



had forgotten nothing and that, at this very mo- 
ment, in the fervor of his patriotic hopes and, 
under the pressure of sorrow which was making him 
speak, he had had enough memory — I do not speak 
of his sincerity, which is beyond the shadow of a 
doubt — ^to say to himself, "What good fortune for 
France that our blows did not carry and that this 
Frenchman is still standing to defend her!" 

I do not know what happened really in his soul ; 
but I am sure that before this adversary, who one 
day had disengaged himself from a group of men 
to leap in fufy at Clemenceau's throat and strike 
him down, the Minister of War acted and spoke 
as if he had forgotten, as if nothing of these old 
struggles between Frenchmen had remained, could 
not remain in the mind of a man who is thinking 
only of maintaining the union of all citizens for the 
supreme effort for deliverance and who, neglecting 
all that divided us for the collective work of na- 
tional defense, is haunted by but one idea — the 
safety of his country. 

"I am not here to play politics," he declared to 
us. "I am making war." 

13 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



Calm, attentive to the suggestions of the speak- 
ers, he told us his hopes and what we could do, in 
a moral way, to help him to realize them. Neither 
his black eyes, so alert, so lively in his quiet face, 
nor his voice, grave, like his meditation, in spite of 
its unaltered youthful ring and certain shades of 
combative joviality, reveal any memory of former 
times. 

Some prejudice remained against him in the 
country where bursts of confidence and instinctive 
admiration for certain men were often disconcerted 
by his harsh criticism. 

It was difficult to pardon him for the sharpness 
of his attacks against the most popular men among 
those who, after having saved all they could for 
France, that is to say, her honor, founded the Re- 
public with him and organized it by trying to main- 
tain order in the newly won liberty. 

He was against any scattering of our forces for 
the sake of the conquest of a great colonial empire. 
The reasons which he gave so eloquently for this 
fight for a more rapid realization of the democratic 
regime or for the grouping of all our military forces 

14 



ALL FOR FRANCE 



against German aggression, always to be feared, 
were far from having convinced every one. 

The ardent patriotic campaigns of Clemenceau 
in fateful hours, his attitude, so firm, so dignified, 
so clever in the face of German demjmds, at the 
time of the dangerous conflict in regard to the 
deserters of Casablanca, and later his magnificent 
articles in which the national soul found expression 
of its will, caused little by little the old misunder- 
standing to disappear. 

Clemenceau, who had never ceased to exercise 
great power through his talent as an orator and 
writer, and who kept through it all his prestige in 
the eyes of countless Frenchmen, appeared to most 
of them as a force in reserve and a hope. 

How many times in the course of recent trips 
to our villages and cities have we not heard said 
by good people who were formerly stubborn but 
now won over: "Sometimes, I felt so far away 
from him! I have not always liked him! But we 
must recognize the fact that without him so many 
sacrifices were running the risk of having been 
made in vain, and his mighty hand has saved every- 

15 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



thing. . . . He is my man to-day, because he is 
France's man." 

Yet it is not alone the roaring of his fiery pas- 
sion against the measures of certain ministers who 
had come into power since 1914 which irritated 
people against him. They were astonished that in 
the midst of war he launched such vigorous cam- 
paigns against methods which he considered bad 
and against men whom he reproached with not 
being able to free themselves from these methods. 
His reasons were not always understood. There- 
fore many people were irritated. 

Displeased at such vehemence in such a crisis, 
they did not make allowance for that ardor which 
glowed, for that conviction which wants to con- 
vince, that anxious and passionate love for France. 
They did not take into consideration that these vicn 
lent imprecations and these sharp remarks, which 
relieved the apprehension of a Frenchman whose 
whole strength is being exerted for the safety of 
the country, harbor no lasting hatred against indi- 
viduals. Scarcely is the resistance broken down, 
when the sarcasm or the reproach hurled in the 

16 



ALL FOR FRANCE 



battle is effaced from his mind, ardent but without 
rancor. 

His friends, without getting too much stirred up 
over the keen shafts of his irony, and without tak- 
ing the harshness of his polemics tragically, may 
have sometimes regretted his judgment of certain 
men and certain deeds. Yet even when it happened 
that they were not in accord with him, since they 
knew his clear-sightedness, his sincerity and his de- 
sire to serve his country, they still did him the 
honor, while not sharing certain of his opinions, 
of being disturbed over such lack of harmony. 
Therefore, estimating at its high value the great 
French force which M. Clemenceau represents with 
his clearness, his energy and his radiance, they did 
not cease saying to those who were exasperated by 
his violent censure since the beginning of the war : 
"Don't get angry! Have faith in his love for 
France! He is the sentinel on watch on the ram- 
parts. His sharp black eyes are fixed upon the 
drama. At the least flutter of his old heart beating 
for the deliverance of the country, he utters a wild 
cry of alarm!" To those who are bitter and sad 
and who, fearing the breaking down of our re- 

17 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



sistance, wish that the voice of M. Clemenceau 
might lose its prestige in his country, we repeat: 
"What impudence ! What a mistake ! Let us rather 
keep this force aHve. The war will not end with- 
out us being in need of him. In critical days, if 
they must come again, perhaps we shall be relieved 
and very glad to have at the helm this pilot, who 
for four years has been leaning over the unfathom- 
able depths." 

The critical days which were feared, came. In 
a period of wavering and uneasiness it was dis- 
covered that the soil of the country was mined and 
that, protected by weakness or culpable plots, 
bandits in the pay of Germany were setting their 
wits to work to demoralize the Nation, to corrode 
the stoicism of our soldiers, to break the instrument 
of our salvation. 

It was a fearful plot through which we almost 
perished. Clemenceau was in the front rank of the 
courageous Frenchmen who denounced it. He de- 
manded punishment for it from the tribune of the 
Senate, on the authority of the services rendered 
by him, in such a clear-seeing manner, to the Sena- 
torial Commissioners of the Army and ,of Foreign 

i8 



ALL FOR FRANCE 



Affairs. All France trembled at his voice. What! 
After three years of heroism and sacrifice, that is 
what we have come to! Indifference, carelessness, 
intrigue were running the risk of making all this 
useless. War-like effort was paralyzed by such 
machinations. 

Rising up against defeatism, Clemenceau had 
just proved that he was indeed the watchful and 
resolute sentinel. Popular acclaim made it under- 
stood that he had been the interpreter of the hope 
of France. 

A great and irresistible swing of opinion swept 
him into the power to carry on the war resolutely 
until the liberation of the country. 

For almost a year, without distinction of party 
or origin, all French patriots who love their country 
enough not to play politics at this moment, are be- 
hind him with united and beating hearts. Unanim- 
ity of action has been brought about among all 
those who without giving up any of their personal 
opinions, are thinking of the safety of their country 
and its future. 

The power of M. Clemenceau's policy is strength- 
ened by the warm confidence with which he feels 

J9 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



himself surrounded and which he justifies by the 
most energetic conduct of public affairs and of the 
war. 

The nation recognizes itself in him. He ex- 
presses his soul in each one of his words. He 
realizes its will in each one of his acts. There is a 
perfect understanding between France and the head 
of the government. This is one of the most precious 
elements of Victory. 



II 

POLICIES AND DEEDS 

THE political career of M. Clemenceau is too 
well known by all for it to be necessary to 
comment at length upon its different stages and 
incidents; but at least, they permit us to perceive, 
in passing, certain essential traits of this striking 
figure which, from now on, is in the immediate 
foreground of history. 

Bom the twenty-eighth of September, 1841, at 
Mouilleron-en-Pareds, near Fontenay-le-Comte, 
and having his secondary education at the Lycee 
de Nantes, this young Vendean recruit arrived in 
Paris in i860, during the Second Empire. He came 
to study medicine and fulfill his apprenticeship for 
man's estate in the Latin Quarter, over which a 
thrill of liberty was already sweeping. 

His father, also a doctor, philosopher, democrat, 
a lover of books and of beauty, had already inspired 
in his son, through his personal influence, a desire 

21 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



for a serious life in the laboratory and the library 
where the future doctor feels developing within 
himself the taste for" positive sciences, exact knowl- 
edge and logical reasoning. 

One morning in 1845 after Orsini had thrown 
his bomb on the retinue of Napoleon III, the 
authorities, quickly seized with a madness for re- 
pression, tore the father of Clemenceau away from 
his patients and his books to cast him hurriedly into 
exile along with a number of other men no less 
innocent of this crime. The young student, indig- 
nant at beholding his father arrested without reason 
by two gendarmes, embracing him, made this prom- 
ise, with clenched teeth : "I will avenge you !" 

"Work!" simply replied his father with hand- 
cuffs on his wrists which, moreover, were removed 
eight or ten days later, so strong was the revolt of 
the people against such absolutely unjustified vio- 
lence. 

This dialogue is worthy of antiquity. We only 
recall it to show in what a serious and fervent state 
of mind our medical student came to the study of 
science. 

It is these months of studious youth, ennobled by 
22 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



an ardent desire for knowledge, by this lofty ideal- 
ism, which will always be accompanied by his' love 
for the real and the true, that Clemenceau's clear 
brain began to acquire that strong, general culture, 
always increased, at all times and through all, by a 
vast amount of reading. 

That is one of his characteristics which must be 
remembered from now on, because it distinguishes 
him from many practical men of action who are 
sometimes a little too negligent of opinions, and 
because it appears at every hour, in all the forms 
of his activity. 

But this nervous and vigorous Vendean had too 
much impetuous vitality and was tempered too 
early in life by a healthy existence in the country, 
by the pleasures of the open air, to find joy and 
interest only among books. 

The life of his. epoch, with its grandeurs, its sad- 
ness, its graces, with unexpected picturesqueness 
and even its banality, sometimes so stimulating, with 
its struggles of ideas and the ferments which agitate 
secretly the great city, arouse this young man, 
whose whole career, in his discourses, in his political 
policies, in his writings, reyeals him so full of life, 

23 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



so in love with life, so fitted to create life. Again, 
this is one of the essential traits of his personality. 
With what curiosity, with what fervor he plunges 
into the life of his times ! His father was a repub- 
lican idealist, a faithful servant of democracy of 
which he had never asked any thing except to be 
worthy of the hope which believers of his kind 
placed in it. He was exactly the type of man of 
1848, generous, disinterested, brotherly, patriotic; 
and he had implanted in the heart of his son his love 
for liberty. The Latin Quarter was captivated by 
him. What a charming way, when one possesses 
nobility of character to carry ones eighteen years 
of age! Clemenceau shares its thrills. He fre- 
quents rarely the debating societies whose purely 
verbal agitation seems sterile to him. Life in 
Bohemia does not amuse him; but he soon mingles 
in the less disordered meetings where his clear firm 
thinking, his logic and his clean cut speech are 
appreciated. He is of those men who, even before 
they have a right to vote, have a manner of author- 
ity. He collaborates on ephemeral journals of the 
opposition party where his articles make him 
suspected by the government. 

24 



POLICIES !A.ND DEEDS 



A few weeks passed in the prison of Mazas, in 
1862, for writings pronounced subversive of order 
and, in 1865, his doctor's thesis on The Genera^ 
tion of Anatomic Elements in which he reveals his 
fondness for experimental philosophy, are the two 
first facts which can be inscribed on his record. 
After this, curious about the world, he travels in 
order to see what men are, elsewhere, and how they 
organize their efforts; in order, also, to love and 
know France better and to serve her better. There 
is his stay in England and then a longer stay in 
America where, as a very scholarly doctor, he 
teaches French literature and translates Stuart 
Mills' book, Auguste Comte and Positivism. 

Then he returns to France. It is in Montmartre 
among the artisans, the employees, the shop keep- 
ers, and the lesser bourgeoisie of the Butte that he 
sets up his hope for social betterment, his will for 
justice. He cares for the people. He counsels 
them. He guards them from moral sickness, from 
Utopian schemes, from discouragement. Ardent and 
strong, full of faith in the future, he is the support 
of the weak whom he invariably and sincerely loved, 
for whom he always spoke, wrote and acted, and 

25 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



whom he always wished to protect from all violence 
whether from above or below. 

In 1 87 1 came the war, the rending of France, 
humiliation, and the suffering of defeat. This 
memory will never be blotted out. His heart re- 
mains deeply wounded by this sorrow. His whole 
political life retains the mark of it. The Govern- 
ment of National Defense appoints him mayor of 
Montmartre where he is popular because of the 
moral and material welfare he has brought about; 
and in the election in February, Montmartre quickly 
elects him its deputy to the National Assembly. 

He is convinced, with Gambetta, that if France 
has the courage to be firm in her will to resist, she 
will wear out Germany, already tired of war, and 
she will obtain, if not victory, at least a peace which 
harms her less. Therefore, at Bordeaux, he votes 
against the peace negotiated so painfully under the 
Prussian knife by Jules Favre and Thiers. 

With grief, and hope, he signs the stirring pro- 
testation of fidelity to Alsace-Lorraine. This is a 
solemn oath which pledges his whole life, which he 
has never forgotten, and which he will keep. 

26 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



Then come still more torturing hours : civil war 
under the eyes of the conqueror, in the midst of all 
the ruin. The ferment is most violent at Mont- 
martre. He hurries there and tries to calm the 
vrrath, to clear up fatal misunderstandings and to 
restore harmony after so much suffering. 

The first shots are fired at Montmartre. Another 
of his characteristics which must be remembered, is- 
that he is horrified by violence, by the hazardous and 
summary justice of the street corner, which is al- 
most always injustice. Thus, as soon as he hears 
the first shots, he rushes to this possible tragedy 
to try to stop it by all the authority of his youthful 
prestige. Popular' anger outstrips him, quick as is 
his departure, and before M. Clemenceau is able to 
arrive, the bloody bodies of General Lecomte and 
General Clement Thomas are lying at the foot of 
the wall where the mob has shot them. The irrep- 
arable has happened. 

Between the Government, which has taken refuge 
at Versailles, to be near the National Assembly, no 
longer held at Bordeaux, and the Commune, which 
has just set up its rebellious power, he rises to perr^ 
form the task of conciliation, to avoid new violence, 

27 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



to spare the young Republic blood-stains on its flag, 
to free its future from rancor and wrath, to keep 
new grief and suffering from being added to the 
present grief and suffering. 

Courageous attitude! ungrateful role! In order 
to gain entire freedom of action, he renounces his 
office of deputy; but finds himself paralyzed by vio- 
lence. Suspected by all those to whom, on one side 
or the other, he preaches moderation, he feels that 
his good will is powerless. Blood flows. Ruin piles 
up. In the delirium, crimes increase. Terrible re- 
pressive measures follow. 

After the last volleys normal life takes up its 
course. Montmartre does not hold a grudge against 
Clemenceau for having wished to protect the people 
against itself. From 1871, convinced of the inter- 
est he has in the workers, the weak, the disinher- 
ited, Montmartre chooses him as its representative 
in the Municipal Council. 

Indeed, having passed his youth in the midst of 
peasants bowed by toil, and later, among the work- 
ers in factories or at the work bench, a witness of 
the hardness of their lot, the newly elected repre- 
sentative thinks only of ameliorating the conditions 

28 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



of their work and life and of protecting them 
against all abuses of power. 

His fraternal pity has not talked more than it 
has wept He has the restrained emotion of the 
strong. But from that time on, he affirms, with 
the rude and sharp accent of sincerity, a deep re- 
spect for man and his rights. It resounds in his 
speeches and later puts into his writings a note of 
gently scolding tenderness, and inspires his acts 
many a time. 

In the course of his long political life this friend- 
ship for the htmible has never ceased. It is a 
friendship somewhat hard, which feels a sort of 
modesty in not allowing itself to be seen too much, 
nor indulging in a pathetic note. Therefore, having 
dreamed only of Hberating the people, of educating 
them, and of preparing them for equitable, social 
cooperation, for sixty years of active cordiality, M. 
Clemenceau can smile and shrug his shoulders when 
he hears himself called "an enemy of the working 
class" by grandiloquent special orators whose heart 
is perhaps less close to the workman than is the 
heart of Clemenceau. 

At the Communal Assembly, of which he became 
29 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



president when quite young, he claimed in behalf of 
Paris, as a proof of confidence which it merited, the 
right to administer its own affairs, a right enjoyed 
by all other communes of France. He scarcely had 
the time to pursue this campaign for municipal self- 
government, at that time so ardent, but of exagger- 
ated importance, for in the elections of 1876, after 
the vote of the Constitution which organized the 
Republic and after the dissolution of the National 
Assembly, Montmartre sent Clemenceau to the 
Chamber of Deputies which, like the newly created 
Senate, was sitting at Versailles. 

The first act of the new deputy, in 1876, was his 
speech on the immediate and complete amnesty for 
those condemned by the Commune. This discourse 
is celebrated because of its loftiness of view, its 
boldness, its logical, concise and vigorous argument. 

He pleaded, as extenuating circumstances, the 
exasperated and rebellious patriotism of the one 
party and the fear of the other party of being balked 
once more in the establishment of the Republic, the 
restlessness of poverty resulting from the too sud- 
den abolishment of the daily pay of the national 
guards before the resumption of work, certain 

30 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



blunders on the part of the government, the grievous 
folly of people too long deceived, having suffered 
too much. 

The time to forget had not yet arrived; but if 
the Chamber of Deputies, moved by this striking 
speech of moderation, did not follow M. Clemen- 
ceau, at least it hailed in him one of the new orators 
with whom it would be necessary to reckon most 
carefully. 

Very soon M. Clemenceau appears in the front 
rank of men who, in a Chamber careful not to push 
evolution unduly and among ministers anxious not 
to shock the habits of the country, demand a rapid 
realization of the democratic programme. 

The struggles, which at first are intermittent and 
moderate, become after 1880 bitter and almost con- 
tinuous. 

Whatever personal opinion one may have on the 
two methods of realizing an ideal, and even if one 
regrets the lack of harmony which in the two camps 
hindered able men from placing all their force and 
ability in the service of France, one must recognize 
that the attitude of M. Clemenceau was in accord- 

31 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 

f. 



ance with all that is known of his temperanjfent and 
of his passionate firmness of conviction. 

His sincerity is evident. He could not think or 
act otherwise. He is always courteous even when 
attacking an adversary; but however strongly he 
may have been forced at times to treat men harshly, 
it was the ideas behind them that he was attacking. 

He fights bravely, face to face, and fairly. He 
has physical courage as well as moral courage. Pre- 
cisely because he does not insult or calumniate any 
one, he does not tolerate insolence or spiteful 
insinuations. His perfect politeness from which 
nothing can make him depart even in the bitterest 
debates, but which is accompanied by a biting wit, 
is distrustful. Clemenceau detests violence, but he 
has a strong feeling of his personal dignity. And 
on the tribune, or elsewhere, he will not allow any 
one to make a fool of him. 

Smiling, amused, quick to parry a thrust, he- 
accepts with humor even a very sly response to his 
points, but he is recalcitrant against vulgar insults. 

After instantly avenging himself by some terrific 
joke which puts the laughter on his side, he does 
not fail to gain complete satisfaction by sending his 

32 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



seconds to call upon his insolent adversary. This 
office was performed by his two friends, the good- 
natured giant, Georges Perin, and Paul Menard- 
Dorian, charming in his affability. These two men 
honored my youth with their affection for me. The 
former is a fencer to be feared on the tribune as 
well as on the duelling-ground. The latter is a 
peaceful, prudent, business man. How often they 
were seen walking along, philosophizing, talking of 
literature and art which they loved, toward the 
home of the adversary ! M. Clemenceau's sensitive- 
ness, which became well known, assured him full 
freedom of discussion even in the worst attacks. 

About the same time M. Clemenceau, never 
neglecting any means of influencing public opinion, 
founded his famous newspaper. La Justice. Could 
he have chosen a name more expressive of him? 
He entrusted the editing to his colleague of the 
extreme-left, Camille Pelletan, a talented journalist, 
who excelled in treating the most difficult subjects 
in a witty and brilliant manner. 

Clemenceau was the inspiration of his newspaper, 
he directed its policy effectively, came every eve- 
ning to work over the edition and to discuss the ideas 

33 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



of his collaborators without ever, in his respect for 
the opinions of others, imposing his own ideas upon 
them. 

However, he wrote very little. At long intervals, 
according to the exigencies of parliamentary life, he 
dashed off a few concise, logical and authoritative 
lines, which were rarely signed by his initials, al- 
most never by his name, but which bore his stamp. 
He was recognized. 

Yet M. Clemenceau had been a journalist. He 
sent articles to the Temps from America ; and when 
he returned to France he had collaborated somewhat 
on certain papers. But then his political policies 
consiuned all his time. Leaving to his co-editors 
the comments from day to day, he reserved for him- 
self the resounding exposures from the tribune 
which had the value of calls to action. 

He brought together for the editing of this paper 
young men who had talent and a future, Alexandre 
Millerand, Stephen Pichon, Georges Languerre. 
The latter withdrew very suddenly after a short 
time. The journal bore the stamp of Clemenceau's 
personality in other respects besides the political. 
Contrary to so many parliamentarians who despise 

34 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



literature and art, while rendering them a purely 
formal homage, and who ill-treat them in general 
in their partisan sheets, Clemenceau, a man of broad 
culture, brought up by a father who was a phil- 
osopher, a scholar and an artist, gave literature and 
art the important place which they deserve every- 
where. 

He had only to recall the role they played in his 
qwn education to realize that he had no right to 
deprive his readers of them. Extremely attentive 
to all the manifestations of the mind, he perceived 
their correlations. He hated walls which narrow 
the field of the intelligence. In order to understand 
the reciprocal action of politics and literature, he 
had no need of the caprice of an election to make 
him live a most zealous literary life and to make 
him turn to action through ideas. 

From this time on, an acclaimed orator, leader 
of a great party inflamed by political struggles, he 
honors art and literature along with science. He 
knows their influence on the intellectual develop- 
ment of a people. He knows what books, pictures, 
statues are worth as an expression of its feelings 
and of its state of mind. Therefore he wants his 

35 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



readers to be informed in regard to all the works 
of the human mind. 

As long as La Justice lived, this combative polit- 
ical journal was one of the most literary of the 
period. Avoiding the usual contradiction of the ad- 
vanced sheets which, not long ago, defended almost 
always the most retrograde forms of literature and 
art, Clemenceau's journal upheld an art of intelli- 
gence and of truth, a literature which was alive, 
human, social, all trembling with the poetry of real- 
ity, turned toward the future, unquestionably in har- 
mony with the political tendencies of the publisher. 
This was done by the vibrating, colorful talent of 
Gustave Geffroy, "the Just Man of Justice," ac- 
cording to the title with which he was hailed as the 
Prince of Letters by Barbey d'Aurevilly. 

Between a leading editorial by Camille Pelletan, 
of Millerand or of Stephen Pichon and the amusing 
political news of Edouard Durranc, a smiling 
philosopher to whom we owe the famous caption, 
revived later by the artist Forain, "How fine the 
Republic was during the Empire," Gustave Gef- 
froy wrote with the most delicate feeling and the 
finest taste of the works of Claude Monet and of 

36 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



Rodin, of Camille Pissarro and of Renoir, of J.-F. 
Raflfaelli and of Cheret, of Eugene Carriere and of 
Toulouse-Lautrec. In his weekly literary review, 
if not in his almost daily stories, he studied ardently 
the books of Edmond de Goncourt, Zola, Alphonse 
Daudet, Barbey d'Aurevilly, Villiers de ITsle-Adam, 
Rosny, Mirbeau, Huysmans, etc., and later, the 
dramatists of the Theatre-Libre, the poems of the 
Parnasians, of Paul Verlaine, later those of Albert 
Samain, and of all the fine writers of the new gen- 
eration. Never were readers better informed on 
the art and literature of their time than were those 
of this political journal. 

Clemenceau was delighted and allowed him to 
continue. Never was a critic freer under a more 
broad-minded and liberal patron. Finding the time 
to look at these pictures, to read and love these 
books of an art so modem, he would have been 
careful to dispute the opinions of his critic even if 
they had differed from his own. But what satis- 
faction he felt to see his critic exalt an art and a 
literature of intelligence, of life, of truth, of gener- 
ous social tendencies, in conformity with his own 
taste ! This is a distinguishing characteristic of the 

37 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



journal, which it is necessary to bring to light, be- 
cause it establishes an essential trait in Clemenceau's 
character. 

La Justice had a charming atmosphere of com- 
radeship about it, with its picturesque decoration of 
drawings, made by the editors themselves, repre- 
senting the collaborators of the journal, with 
Clemenceau at the top and his crew of friendly 
writers below him, Louis Mullem, Jean Ajalbert, 
Charles Martel, Leon Millot, etc., men who were 
faithful to the journal through friendship. The 
journal was well edited but little read; and, begin- 
ning with its directors, it enriched no one. 

The office of the "boss" in a comer of the edi- 
torial room was far from solemn and was easily 
accessible. What interesting discussions on books, 
art and men took place around Gustave Geffroy's 
table, on a corner of which in order to talk more 
at ease sat Clemenceau, jovial and bantering, and 
suddenly launching into a discussion of ideas. 
Sometimes there were talks on politics in which 
such men took part as came and went on business, 
Eugene Carriere, Stephen Pichon, and J.-F. Raf- 
faelli, Lucien Descaves, Paul Bonnetain, and many 

38 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



younger men who brought to these discussions the 
fire of their curiosity and the love for literature. 

It was about 1881 that the patriotism of Clemen- 
ceau, disapproving the dispersion of our military 
forces for the sake of colonial conquests, came into 
collision with the patriotism of other leaders of the 
Republic, who, without renouncing any of our 
hopes, thought to arm us better against German 
aggression by gaining territory, wealth, and soldiers 
recruited among the native warriors, and by giving 
us back faith in ourselves, through military glory. 
At that time a German aggression did not seem 
probable and moreover did not come to pass during 
these years of expansion over-seas. 

This divergence of views in regard to the suc- 
cessive expeditions to Tunis, Tonkin, Madagascar, 
Dahomey and Soudan, was prolonged for a long 
time. The divergence was just so much more sharp 
because it was a question of the future of the 
country. 

In the two camps there was an equal desire for 
public welfare and a care for the interests of 
France: but they were two opposite conceptions 

39 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



which, in the heat of battle, appeared to be abso- 
lutely antagonistic and incapable of being brought 
into agreement. 

Clemenceau's view had numerous determined 
partisans on the Right as well as on the Left. There 
were those who, before every other consideration, 
wanted us to be on guard against a German attack, 
which was always possible, and who refused to 
allow our defenses to be weakened even momen- 
tarily. There were also those who, in their desire 
for a generous and peaceful socialistic policy, pre- 
ferred to devote all their strength to the ameliora- 
tion of the lot of men. The deputy of the artisans 
of Montmartre, desirous of making life less hard 
for the people, belonged, of course, to the latter 
class. But, beyond this, he had borne with a bleed- 
ing heart the tortures, the sufferings, the humilia- 
tions of war. He was apprehensive of our reha- 
bilitation which was too rapid to suit him. He had 
only to recall the alarm of 1875, so vivid still, when 
we had been saved from irremediable disaster only 
by the veto of Great Britain and Russia; and he 
understood at last that the unbroken power of 

40 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



France is necessary to maintain the equilibrium of 
the world. 

Well informed in regard to the state of mind of 
the new Germany, which already regretted not hav- 
ing bled us more, and to the insatiable greed for 
power developed by her success, from that moment 
he took into consideration the fact that, sooner or 
later, her mad idea of world-dominion would prove 
a peril against which we would have to hold our- 
selves in constant readiness. 

Finally, because of his old friends in the unhappy, 
annexed territory of Alsace-Lorraine, he became 
one of those who, finding everywhere the love of 
French civilization and the vivid memory of France, 
believed that the peace which seemed to sanction 
such a revolting oppression of peoples, was pre- 
carious. So while we were exerting ourselves in 
the tasks of peace, he wished us to stand on the 
frontier with grounded arms that we might be bom 
again and grow strong. 

The workers for the policy of expansion had in 
their hearts the same memories, the same prudence 
and watchfulness for the future; but, reassured in 
regard to the danger of an immediate aggression, 

41 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



they thought that, without compromising our de- 
fense and even by acquiring means to strengthen it 
later, it was their duty to profit by favorable cir- 
cumstances to increase the national wealth. 

With all the means for prompt and decisive ac- 
tion, the more quickly they acted, the sooner we 
would be assembled again, with increased strength 
to guard the Vosges. 

Unfortunately the lack of harmony in regard to 
this policy had no other result than to show up our 
effort by not supporting such a project with suffi- 
cient resources. 

Now that the conquest of an immense colonial 
domain has become a happy fact of history, can we 
not render justice to the clear-sighted, bold states- 
men who, before the rivalries of the last ten years, 
gave to France this increase of power; and, on the 
other hand, can we not also recognize that the fears 
of more circumspect people, were very natural at 
that moment? 

It is certainly easier to be just in serene history 
than during the irritation of political battles. At 
any rate, even those who were not convinced 
through Clemenceau's arguments and who regretted 

42 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



his opposition, were glad to acknowledge the lofti- 
ness of his views, his constant care for the interests 
of France, the sober eloquence of his incisive and 
vigorous speeches. 

His speeches of the year 1885 throughout the 
whole of France dealt with the hastening of demo- 
cratic reforms and the necessity of a vigilant guard 
at the frontier without any scattering of strength. 
They were echoed everywhere and wherever they 
were made they remained famous. 

In spite of the thirty-three years which have 
•passed since the speeches were made, in the 
provinces his auditors still speak of them as the 
most striking memory of their lives. It makes little 
difference whether his listeners were hostile or 
friendly now; for to-day they have rallied to his 
splendid effort for national deliverance. 

Famous for the stubbornness and the vigor of his 
opposition, for his incisive eloquence and brilliant 
argument, admired by some, execrated by others, 
indifferent to none, he was the leader of a great 
party for whose triumph he traveled over France 
on the eve of elections. During several months he 
spoke from city to city, welcomed by many as a 

43 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 

hope, less warmly by those who reproached him for 
his inexorable criticism, but who gave to his talent 
the homage of curiosity. 

He was then full of the strength of his young 
maturity. 

When he had descended from the tribune and 
was waiting for the train, Clemenceau, his force 
and liveliness unaltered by age, charmed every one 
by his simplicity, his animation and by the loftiness 
of some idea suddenly thrust in between two jokes. 
Only the sullen and morose whom he disconcerted 
failed to be touched by the charm of his personality. 

Twice during my youth I was the witness of the 
strong impression produced by the orator and man, 
in his famous "swing around the circle." Moreover, 
having had occasion several times to verify the 
lasting impression which it left on the minds of 
those who heard him, I felt I ought to record in 
the biography of Clemenceau the great power of 
this propaganda and the picture which he left in 
the memory of the town and country people, who 
came to hear him in the neighboring city. 

The uneasiness resulting from the confusion and 
scandal of these uncertain elections, so painful to 

44 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



the honesty of the French people, "was not long in 
producing the Boulangist outbreak. 

Clemenceau, who was in sympathy with General 
Boulanger as long as he believed him to be a patri- 
otic reformer, thinking only of the great task of 
rehabilitation, was naturally in the front ranks of 
those who wanted to save France from an unfor- 
tunate venture. 

It was a long and hard battle during which many 
blows were exchanged. One cannot throw himself 
with impunity, as a leader, into the midst of a fight. 
Long after the order, "Cease firing!" the dis- 
appointed and the vanquished were watching for 
revenge. This is too human a feeling not to be 
understood. 

Clemenceau, who for twenty years had not been 
sparing of his blows, was particularly exposed to 
reprisals; but the danger of brawls did not trouble 
him. On the contrary, with renewed vigor, he kept 
up the battle for his unchangeable ideas, for the vic- 
tory of his political methods, and for the means to 
defend France. 

But in the exasperation of political hatred and in 
the violence of hand to hand struggles, one is rarely 

45 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



fastidious about the means employed. How many 
men, even among the best, fail to retain at certain 
moments, their coolness, their critical sense, and 
their feeling for moderation. 

The most unjust attacks were hurled against 
. Clemenceau. The most fantastic accusations were 
thrown in his face. In order to recognize their 
utter falseness, it would have sufficed to examine 
with calm, good sense the public and private life 
of Clemenceau, the constant lack of means in which 
his journal existed in spite of the kindly devotion 
of rich friends, and of his companions in the fray, 
ready to serve their cause and their chief. 

As proofs were necessary to dupe the honest peo- 
ple who were aroused and credulous and who, with 
the idea of serving the country, led the assault, 
needy rascals manufactured them. A storm of 
forged documents appeared. At first they circu- 
lated surreptitiously, but as soon as they fluttered in 
the wind of battle, their gross and clownish fraud 
appeared. Or the tribune of the Chamber of 
Deputies, Clemenceau, pushing aside these trumpery 
accusations, had only to cite indisputable facts to 

46 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



do justice to them. From that moment not one of 
them could stand. 

The forgers were dragged by the Minister of 
Public Aflfairs to the Court of Assizes, where 
Clemenceau came as a witness to defend the truth. 
With what serene pride he showed the folly of this 
venture! But in the violence of political struggles 
it is not enough to crush so-called proofs. The 
popular mind holds the impression for a long time. 

Thus, while his loyal adversaries, who had been 
duped by this fraudulent stuff, were grieving over 
their mistake, others were bent upon perfidious in- 
sinuations. 

Did Clemenceau's patriotism have any other rea- 
son than his concern in his desire for cordial rela- 
tions with England for our national interest ? Does 
not the history of the last fifteen years prove the 
beneficence of this idea? 

When one examines facts, people and things, 
against the background of time, how plainly it 
appears that this idea is in perfect harmony with 
the whole political policy of Clemenceau, who was 
always restless in regard to the aggressive whims 
of Germany and anxious to have more guarantees 

47 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



against her. One wonders through what strange 
aberration, even thirty years ago, many people did 
not see that the pohcy of Clemenceau was not only 
logical but necessary because it was in perfect ac- 
cord with his parliamentary life. The general 
elections of 1893 were at hand. They were held in 
the confusion of this outbreak. Public opinion did 
not have time to get possession of itself, to judge 
calmly. In 1889 Clemenceau, whose name appeared 
on the list of voters of the district of Var and 
Seine, had chosen to vote in this department where 
many a time the people had appealed to him; but 
the voters of Var cast their votes haunted by the 
calumnies daily repeated to them. 

Clemenceau was beaten in spite of an admirable 
campaign of energy and clearness, in spite of his 
famous speech at Saberne, a model of proud elo- 
quence, the cry of a man who bares his whole life 
before his adversaries and, forgetting himself, 
speaks with loftiness and heat. 

The people believed that he was beaten, and were 
eager to stamp upon him with impunity. What 
means of action, henceforth, had this deputy, with- 
out ofifice or tribune, whose influence had been in 

48 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



his words, and in his power over the representa- 
tives of the Nation ? 

His journal, with its small circulation, retained 
its influence only because of the political situation 
of its director. How would he himself live, without 
fortune and without business ? Would not his talent 
be exhausted by this necessary struggle? And in 
what way could it show itself? Outside of those 
who think of their country and deplore its wrongs, 
what joy there was among men freed from the 
sound of that sharp voice, from the fear of that 
keen and pitiless criticism ! 

As accustomed as they were to the mental power 
of Clemenceau and to the resources of his intel- 
lectual activity, no one suspected his secret strength. 
Perhaps he knew nothing of it himself. In his early 
youth he had been a journalist but only for a few 
months. For twenty-five years he had written al- 
most nothing; and yet, since this was his only 
means for influence during the period when he 
was discredited, he began resolutely to write. 

With a serenity which astounded his enemies, he 
shut himself up among his books. In plunging into 

49 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



work, he tasted the joys of the author, the pleasure 
of absolute independence. Each morning in La 
Justice he gave his opinion on men and the ideas 
of the day. 

His voice, far from being stifled, rang out. It 
was quickly recognized that, with his pen in hand, 
Clemenceau retained all the brilliant gifts of his 
logic and irony, which had made his spoken words 
feared before. 

There was one unfortunate circumstance. For- 
merly he only mounted to the tribune at long inter- 
vals. Now he spoke every day. As a man bent 
on realizing his dream, through the medium of the 
slightest event in the street, in the Chamber of 
Deputies or in the world, he championed his ideal. 
And with what powerful sarcasm he handled those 
whom he believed guilty of desertion or negligence! 

No longer constrained by the limitations of his 
audience, he clearly expressed the most subtle and 
delicate shades of his thought. He rises to views 
which, in the fencing on the tribune, are scarcely 
possible; for the orator must be understood by all 
at once. His articles, substantial, full of life and 

SO 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



of a lofty philosophy, made a deep impression. 
They are successful. 

History furnishes many examples of writers 
who become distinguished in political life and make 
a brilliant career. Is it not the first time, in France 
at least, that a statesman late in life has begun a 
brilliant literary career? 

Our newspapers contended with each other for 
his aid. La Depeche of Toulouse and, a little later, 
the Journal, sought him. Every week he wrote 
striking articles for them, but he did not give up his 
old Justice, which he had founded with such high 
hope and for which he took such pleasure in writ- 
ing. He published not only his reflections on 
current events, but also stories, touching and pic- 
turesque, images of life, his impressions of the 
work of profoundly human artists who interested 
him. Impressed by the life which characterized his 
page. Illustration asked him for a novel. He wrote 
Les plus forts (The Strongest), a book full of pity 
for the inevitable destruction of the weak. He 
points out the sole remedy : social solidarity, justice. 

A few months after this brilliant revelation of an 
"old beginner," as he called himself when he be- 

51 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



came Premier at sixty-six, his originality and his 
importance as a writer were so well established that 
the friends of Edmond de Goncourt invited him to 
speak at the great banquet which the French lit- 
erary world gave to honor the work and life of this 
great artist. 

The politician showed himself that evening, as 
on other occasions, a scholarly speaker of profound 
thought, of fine and unerring taste. 

Speaking of profoundly human literature, of the 
truth in the study of manners and history, rendering 
homage to the love of truth which characterized 
the author of Marie Antoinette and Germinie 
Lacerteux, he was applauded by the thousand writ- 
ers assembled at the Grand Hotel. This acclama- 
tion avenged him for the violent attacks of a short 
time before, and convinced him that his talent had 
won him the right to be cited in the first rank of the 
literary world. 

While carrying on his work as a writer, he did 
not cease to be himself and to defend the ideas of 
which he had been the apostle, which education h^d 
given him and which study, reflection and the 
knowledge of men and history had strengthened. 

52 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



These ideas were, love for his country, passion for 
Justice and Liberty, a lofty democratic ideal which 
is not lost in the clouds, but resists an empiricism, 
faithless and without audacity. As a writer, Cle- 
menceau had only continued his effort as a states- 
man. 

His old electors of Var were not deceived. 
Regretting the injustice they had done him, they 
seized the first opportunity for reparation to the 
man who, with different weapons, always fought 
the same fight. In a spontaneous outburst wnich 
effaced all memory of their former unfaithfulness, 
they offered to elect him again at a partial election. 

They could better understand what a representa- 
tive they had lost when they saw with what dignity, 
with what joy at being free, and of having no need 
of office to serve the cause of mankind, Clemenceau, 
although thankful to them, claimed his right of 
absolute independence. 

It is a wonderful letter, which, like the famous 
speech at Saberne, I have kept with care, because 
it reveals his character. It reads as follows : 

53 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 

"My dear friend: — 

"I am deeply touched by the kind letter in which you 
offer me the candidacy at the legislative elections. It is 
a joy to me to see in you one of those who, four 
years ago, fought me with the greatest ardor. Our past 
defeat is nothing but an incident in the universal struggle 
of the weak against the strong. I scarcely remember that 
I was concerned. 

"Since the age of manhood, my heart has been with 
those conquered by destiny and I proudly bear witness 
that I have always served them without faltering. I have 
done all I could for them, even beyond my means, because 
I am not yet free of the burdens too easily accepted for 
the advantage of our cause. 

"In the cruel struggles which develop so much hatred 
on the side of the powers that are threatened, I have con- 
quered many powerful enmities, which I am proud to say 
were merited. 

"Their coalition deprived me of the legislative office 
which I would not have renounced of my own accord. 

"Shall I admit it to you ? A free lion, I have found my 
liberty precious. Parliamentary action must have, with the 
electors as well as the elected, a daily collaboration which 
cannot exist without some sacrifice of independence. 

"To-day I have the right to differ in opinion even with 
you, my dear friends, if I believe that you are mistaken. 
Leave me this liberty of will and of deed. I shall only 

54 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



employ it to try each day, to show myself worthy of your 
votes in the past. It will not be difficult for you to choose 
among yourselves the man who can take up in Parliament 
of the Republic our program of action for the freedom of 
the mind against oppression of dogma, for social justice 
against iniquity. 

"And when it is heard that I have nothing to ask of 
you, nothing but friendly encouragements for the profit of 
the common cause, then I shall return among you. We 
will take up our conversations of former times, and we 
will rejoice in the beautiful Republic in our hearts, of 
which I hope our children will soon wish to try the same 
experiment. 

"My dear friends, I remain at your sides in the good 
fight. My thoughts, my acts will be always for more jus- 
tice, always for more liberty. 

"G. Clemenceau." 

Several years pass. Clemenceau, in full control 
of his literary activity, exercises a great political 
influence through the means he has at hand. Parlia- 
ment takes notice of the power he has over public 
opinion and cannot be insensible to the pricks of his 
spur. 

In 1898 an important new journal is founded: 
L'Aurore. What memories of terrible torment the 

55 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



name alone recalls ! Ernest Vaughan, the director, 
who had been carrying on Henri Rochefort's 
Journal, asked Clemenceau to write the leader every 
day, with absolute freedom to express his views. 

Here is a new and well manned ship, on which 
Clemenceau feels that he can fight more effectively 
than on the old boat. Justice, which is a bit disabled. 
He transports his munitions from one ship to the 
other. He is convinced that, here as elsewhere, he 
will have only to continue his struggle for the better 
utilization of our national strength for Liberty, for 
the rights of the weak, to gain the realization of his 
democratic ideal. 

Moreover, the state of mind of the political 
parties has not changed. It is the same atmosphere, 
the same battle. One scarcely speaks in political 
circles of a pamphlet in which a writer insinuates, 
with sketchy arguments, that Captain Alfred Drey- 
fus of the General Staff, recently condemned for 
treason, was not judged according to the rules of 
our law. i, This apostle of the Symbolistic School, 
transformed into the champion of justice, known 
for the bitterness of his criticism and for his inter- 
esting history of the Jews, is named Bernard La- 

56 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



zare. Obstinate, combative, he carries conviction 
to certain numbers of our contemporaries. 

Clemenceau sees, with some indifference, or 
rather with a certain antipathy, this little agitation 
which, if it really amounts to anything, can only 
distract France from the important problems of 
her destiny. 

As a patriot who has faith in the conscience and 
clear-sightedness of the chiefs of the army, he be-* 
lieves that, since an officer has been condemned by 
his peers, it must be that his crime was well proved 
according to the laws of justice. 

This story, therefore, does not interest him and 
even irritates him a little. He is not far from being 
angry at the writer who dares to play the role of 
Voltaire. 

The day when he agreed with Vaughan to write 
the daily leaders in L'Aurore, after having obtained 
all guarantees for his personal liberty and for the 
political orientation of the journal — and this was 
the essential point to him — he had the curiosity to 
ask M. Vaughan who the other collaborators would 
be. Different names were cited to him, among 
which was the name, Bernard Lazare, 

57 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



5 "I hope," Clemenceau cut in jovially, "that he is 
not going to bother us with his Dreyfus story." 

That is exactly where he stood at the beginning 
of the "affair." I only speak of it to give a new 
proof of his liberty of mind and his independence. 

Since this was a question of confidence, the loyal 
patriots and disinterested men on both sides had 
nothing to renounce in regard to their opinions; 
and, whatever attitude one took toward this drama, 
it must be recognized that it was one of the most 
painful memories of French life. 

Therefore, it should be considered as nothing 
more than history. It is over. A new era has be- 
gun upon our battle-fields, in the communion of 
sacrifice and suffering in city and village. 

It is a sacred era because of the blood of our dead 
and wounded. So much the worse for the unfor- 
tunate ones who, weighed down with distrust and 
suspicion, wish to hypnotize themselves instead of 
rushing forward to speed the effort for the morrow. 
On the day of victorious peace, for which we shall 
have bled and suffered, France will cry to us : "For- 
Vrard!" 

In this state of mind to which reason and patriot- 
58 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



ism elevates us, how easy it is, without hurting 
any one's conviction, to recall the role of Cle- 
menceau in this tumultuous chapter of our history. 

The former adversaries who had read with beat- 
ing hearts his wonderful articles in 1905 at the 
time of the German menace at Tangiers, and later 
in 1 912, followed his persuasive campaign in favor 
of the three years' law ; those who had not forgotten 
his proud energy in 1908, at the critical hour when, 
as Premier, he made France respected even in re- 
gard to the deserters of Casablanca ; those who saw 
what this aged man was trying to spare us; can 
these men doubt that if Clemenceau fought the 
revision of the famous trial, it was because he was 
convinced that it must be so for the good of the 
country? 

It is the finest homage that their gratitude can 
render him to-day. These four years of union in 
peril and in grief make easy that serene justice 
whidi, giving life to our strength, alone can prc^- 
long that harmony to which we owe our safety. 

Could this lover of justice and troubled patriot, 
whom we have just shown at work, have another 
attitude from the moment that he believed that 

59 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



Law had been violated and the rules which guard 
it disregarded, and that the stubbornness to 
acknowledge the mistake, must only harm. the moral 
prestige and strength of the country? 

For a long while, at a time when others were 
quickly aroused, he remained impassive. Certainly, 
when the first doubts came to him, careful of our 
national defense, he hesitated before the possible 
counter-blows of such a debate ; but could he suspect 
that this long and violent debate would spread from 
the court room and convulse France? His heart 
had always acquired new strength in the hope and 
desire for a more watchful guard on the Vosges; 
and it was due to Alsace and through the agency 
of his old friend, Scheurer-Kestner, that his doubt 
grew to conviction. From that moment he would 
have believed himself a renegade if, knowing that 
he had justice and the good name of his country 
to defend, he had stolen away. 

We remember the bitter and keen eloquence with 
Jvhich he fought for three years. His adversaries 
might regret it but they could not fail to recognize 
it. He was one who ennobled the tragedy of France 
by the loftiness of his views. And what sovereign 

60 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



logic he mingled with his feelings! In this discus- 
sion he was faithful to himself. He kept on his 
own high plane by the power of his reasoning, by 
his sudden flights aboye the minute scrutinizing of 
texts, by the thrills of passion, of anger and of hope, 
by the brilliancy of his irony. 

Do not his friends and enemies also agree in 
declaring that even in the most passionate days of 
torment, Clemenceau, careful to wound the country 
as little as possible, was always able to avoid unjust 
generalizations and useless violence, each time that 
he saw men in his camp allow themselves to be 
carried away by fury toward a dangerous anti- 
militarism which must lead the weak to a still more 
foolish and dangerous anti-patriotism, cried: "Be- 
ware!" Therefore, having nothing of this kind 
with which to reproach himself, he had later the 
moral power which was necessary to combat the 
spread of such madness. 

Clemenceau was not one of those who lingered 
by the last ripples of the agitation with the secret 
thought that from that time on all French life 
would be conditioned; but he did consider that 

6i 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



parliamentary action would supplement his effort 
as a writer in the still troubled atmosphere where 
certain social problems would become urgent. 

From the department of Var, which constantly 
renewed its proofs of cordial fidelity, he accepted a 
senatorship. 

In the Luxembourg Palace, as in his journals, 
Le Bloc and L'Aurore, from which he was relieved 
temporarily, he defended his unchanged ideas and 
the work of the Revolution. He did not conceal 
its errors and mistakes. He regretted its crimes, 
but he refused to condemn it piece-meal. He only 
wished to see the whole of it, which in his eyes was 
beneficent, and the origin of a new world where the 
rights of men are safeguarded. 

"Plainly the Revolution is not Sinai," one could 
hear him say sometimes. "But in difficult moments, 
that is what one must fall back on." 

His first reappearance on the tribune showed 
that, during his voluntarily prolonged absence, he 
had lost none of his sober vigor, his jovial caustic- 
ity, his vigorous logic. But one perceived also that 
this strong bulwark was now protected by ideas 
which less interrupted meditation and long com- 

62 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



munion with the highest minds of the past could 
bring to his brain. The writer which he has be- 
come shines through the orator he has not ceased 
to be; but the life and activity with which he is 
endowed are unaltered. And on the other hand, 
since his reason is shown in brilliant and picturesque 
form in his chats with his colleagues in Parliament, 
he is more and more listened to. 

But he is not always followed. It is true that 
with characteristic independence he does not hesi- 
tate to ride alone in the opposite direction from his 
party when he believes that his friends are getting 
dangerously away from salutary principles. For 
example, an apostle of liberty, for his adversaries 
as well as for himself, he does not permit any one 
to tamper with liberty no matter how strong the 
pretext may be. Thus, while demanding the sep- 
aration of church and state and the dispersal of 
the religious order, he defended the freedom of 
teaching in the parochial schools with a noble re- 
spect for what goes on in the depths of the con- 
science and with a clear-sighted skepticism in regard 
to such hindrances. It is a memorable speech in 
which, without caring for what was being thought 

63 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



round about him, he fights for liberty in which he 
has faith, just as formerly, with equal contempt f or 
blame or blows, he had fought for justice. 

To resist the irritations, the anger and surprise 
which one calls forth in every camp, and to keep 
one's influence intact, one must rely on a proud will 
and on the strength of great talent. Clemenceau, 
walking ahead without regard for those who are 
with him, does not feel the need of singing to cheer 
himself when he finds himself in difficulty. 

One of his friends who hoped to see his influence 
increased for the sake of the country, expressed 
his regret to him that he did not allow himself to 
head a group as the offer had been made so often. 
We heard him answer with conviction: "You do 
not know how strong one is when he is alone." 

This proud reply reveals his character. 

He has faith only in energy put into the servicer 
of reason. 

One day, twenty-five years ago, an acquaintance 
of mine, who is a writer, regretting that Cle- 
menceau was not in Parliament, told him of his 
joy in the power he had obtained through litera- 
ture. The future Minister of National Deliverance 

64 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 

\ y. 

yiade this reply, great in its glad confidence: "As 
long as I can talk and write, if I am right, I feel 
;|hat I am unconquerable." 

Every morning in UAufore, Clemenceau con- 
tinues to exercise that free and individual influence 
which is so precious to him. He came back to his 
journal with the powers of direction; and, not be- 
ing any longer able to curb the satisfaction of tell- 
ing his opinion of the men, the ideas and the things 
of his time, he published a daily article. 

He thinks and writes with wonderful independ- 
ence; but he feels that his readers are with him. 
They increase, when William II, obedient to the 
injunctions of Pan-Germanism, makes his theatrical 
visit to Tangiers, humiliates France by threats and 
odious demands and when the indignant Clemenceau 
begins the most patriotic campaign to relieve French 
hearts, chafing under the outrage. 

He belongs to the generation of those who, as 
men, lived through the defeat and invasion. He 
suffered from it until he wept unwilling tears. He 
was one of the witnesses and one of the helpers in 
the admirable effort which France made in order 

65 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



to be bom again. Although bruised, she has put 
her faith in the triiunph of justice and moraUty. 
Without being false to one of her memories or 
hopes, she has remained at peace. Has she not, 
therefore, the right to life, to her free development? 
Does she deserve to suffer extortion and outrage 
again? Clemenceau does not allow her to be 
treated as a vassal. Enough of such extortions at 
the slightest caprice! Torn as she is, France is 
not so weak that she must be resigned. Let Ger- 
many know our resolution never to allow ourselves 
to be molested any more! And let France, with 
the sentiment of her strength in the union of her 
sons, speak firmly in order to force from every one 
respect for her rights and dignity. 

Each morning during the anxiety of this long 
crisis, Clemenceau, in his flaming articles, makes 
himself the interpreter of the French grief, anger 
and energy. He is convinced that a country can- 
not become resigned to certain things. He thinks 
that since a great people cannot live in shame, at 
certain hours it is better to risk everything than 
to accept all. From that moment France has the 
same will. He feels. He speaks just so much 

66 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



louder. When a Nation rises up under an insult, 
it is because it has the power to impose its right 
to live. 

Then, firm without provocation, a patriot with- 
out boasting or violence, with what grave emotion, 
with what filial piety he recalls our merits, sets 
forth our claims, and shows the nobility of our 
patience which, however, must not be mistaken for 
cowardice ! 

Manly and tender articles which are like won- 
derful cries of love and pride ! Each one of these 
calls for modesty, for iustice, for good manners, 
which Germany hears is like a sharp command: 
"Halt!" France, whose indignation they express 
so well, reads them with beating heart. Already 
the memories of struggles is effaced. She salutes 
in M. Clemenceau one of her standard bearers! 

When the alarm is over, public opinion sweeps 
him into power. This is the first time that it has 
been offered to him whatever those intended, who 
reproached this "demolisher of Ministries" with his 
"perpetual disappearing acts." He is sixty-five 
years old. Through what aberration was such a 

67 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



power left unemployed so long, which would have 
become more quickly trained by struggling with 
the exigencies and responsibilities of the govern- 
ment? He accepts it, not in order to reign but 
to act. Abandoning his pen and his liberty as an 
orator, he renounces a power more brilliant than 
the one in which he is installed by the pubhc con- 
fidence. But he does not want it to be said, and 
said correctly, that he is deserting. He interprets 
government according to the principles to which he 
has been faithful all his life. 

Scarcely is he appointed Minister of the Interior, 
when a solemn occasion offered to put into prac- 
tice one of his most constant ideas. A strike breaks 
out in the mining district. Suddenly it develops to 
a fearful extent. Violence is feared. They tell 
him that it will be wise to send troops as usual to 
prevent disorder. But for forty years in the tribune 
and in his articles he has been protesting against 
employing soldiers as a protective measure in 
strikes. He always said that by having the army 
appear before any brawl took place the State seemed 
to take sides with the owner against the workmen. 
What will he do? They watch him. Moreover, 

68 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



the outbreak is increasing and on all sides they 
press him to act. There is no irreparable damage 
done yet, or else he would have done his duty, which 
is to reestablish order, humanely but firmly. But 
from hour to hour the fear that violence is near 
grows. 

Then, still leaving the soldiers in their barracks, 
the Minister of the Interior goes, all alone, to the 
heart of the strike. Full of fire and with hands 
outstretched he harangues the strikers. Through 
yells and menacing jestures, still alone, he plunges 
into the most tumultuous part of the crowd. The 
strikers were held in check by the fearlessness of 
this old man who gave the impression of vigorous 
youth, by the boldness of this republican chief who 
wanted to offer to democracy a supreme proof of 
his confidence in it. He told the strikers that it 
depended on their wisdom alone and on their mod- 
eration in the exercise of their rights whether they 
would be spared the presence of troops. 

They listened to him. They allowed him to de- 
part in spite of a plot, which was revealed to him, 
but which did not restrain him, to hold him as 
hostage. Alas, growing more and more excited 

69 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



from hour to hour, the strikers were not long in. 
wronging their cause by indulging in brutality. 

Against brutality it is necessary to protect lives, 
labor, and property. With a heavy heart, Clemen- 
ceau resigned himself to calling out the soldiers, 
but with order for patience and restraint. Jostled, 
bruised, they, the military, remain impassive under 
the missiles with which they are bombarded. 
Rather than incur the blame of having fired without 
being forced to, an officer, some infantry and gen- 
darmes fall, bleeding. 

Somewhere else, the head of a troop telephones 
that his men are threatened and demands for them 
the authority to use their arms. Clemenceau, far 
away from the riot, cannot find out personally 
whether the order which is asked for is justified. 

It is a moment of perplexity and anxiety. Sorry 
for the workmen he thinks less of the soldiers, who 
are also boys of France, men who have a right to 
live. In the impossibility of judging the question 
himself, he replies that he cannot give such an 
order from a distance; and that the captain is the 
sole judge of the situation, since he alone is in the 
riot ; and that he must obey instructions authorizing 

70 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



the use of arms only in case the soldiers' lives are 
in peril. 

This fortunate calmness saved all! A little later 
this chief, who had been left free in his judgment, 
announced that his men were able to get out with- 
out firing a shot. No blood had flowed. What 
would have been the result of a second's madness! 

Two years had passed since he became Premier, 
while retaining the Ministry of the Interior, when 
arrogant Germany tried to pick a quarrel with us 
over the deserters of Casablanca. 

This was a perfidious act which no one can for- 
get because it shows with what brutal cunning the 
Pan-Germanists were trying to force us into war 
or to demoralize us by giving us, through repeated 
humiliations, the feeling of our powerlessness. For 
the sake of their projects of world-dominion with 
which they were intoxicated they wanted us either 
conquered or well resigned to slavery and the worst 
spoliation. 

Formerly a noisy minority, these madmen had 
finished by intoxicating, with their wild greed, the 
whole of Germany. Junkers and soldiers, mad with 

71 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



pride, had found accomplices for their unhealthy 
dreams in excited professors, in big business, which 
was hampered and insatiable, in commerce crazy 
about expansion, among the least important pro- 
fessors and teachers zealous for this propaganda 
for rapine, among employees and workmen avid 
for bigger pay. 

The Crown Prince was jealous of his father and 
impatient to supplant him. The Pan-Germanists, 
by making the rabbit-faced young man gesticulate, 
were striving to control the emperor through the 
fear of unpopularity. Ready for war, convinced 
that it would pay them at once in glory and booty, 
they multiplied pretexts to make it surge forth. 
Scarcely was one dispute settled amidst the grum- 
blings of their disappointment when another arose. 
Three years had not passed since the imperial de- 
barkation at Tangiers, when they affronted us by 
an intolerable demand in regard to two deserters 
from our Foreign Legion. For a long time Ger- 
many had taken umbrage at the Legion which was 
the refuge of innumerable malcontents from beyond 
the Rhine. In the bitter propaganda against it one 
felt Germany's desire to destroy the Legion. 

72. 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



This time, two Germans enrolled in our Foreign 
Legion, having deserted, Germany had the idea of 
snatching them away from our justice. The people 
which had this fanciful idea is the most military 
nation of all. and the one in which military duty and 
discipline are most sacred. The intention of ex- 
asperating us was only too evident. 

We had right on our side incontestably. Accord- 
ing to international law, the German demands could 
not stand. If we weakened in so just a cause it 
was the abdication of our sovereignty and independ- 
ence. If we humiliated ourselves before such a 
wild idea of Germany, how could we hope to have 
our simplest rights respected by other countries and 
by her in the future. What sufifering, what revolt 
dwelt in the French soul! 

Three years earlier, as a writer who had no other 
responsibiUty than the impression made by his 
articles, Clemenceau had said that, in spite of our 
peaceful inclinations, the acceptation of certain 
demands constitutes a downfall to which one can- 
not be resigned without fighting. 

What was he going to do? There was not a 
moment's hesitation. His duty was clear. The 

73 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



interest of the country dictated it to him. We are 
within our rights. If we give up we shall have 
to give up always. France, henceforth, will be at 
the mercy of any caprice. If she is conquered, she 
has kept her honor intact up to the present. The 
defeat which they hope to inflict upon her without 
even the excuse of an unfortunate struggle will 
lower her irreparably. Sure that one cannot bend 
without a moral disaster, Clemenceau speaks and 
acts. Responsible for the destiny of the country, 
he does without hesitating what he had counseled 
as a journalist. He shows that his well thought- 
out articles and discourses are not mere phrases. 

Many thoughtful men of strong character are 
alarmed and disapprove, and inclined toward a com- 
promise which Germany would not refuse and 
which at least would save appearances. Is not war 
for two Prussian deserters going too far? 

They come to see Clemenceau. They send emis- 
saries to him. They chide him and warn him 
against his own temperament. 

He knows that the German deserters are only a 
pretext to weaken us forever by a capitulation. He 
demonstrates it. He tries to have it understood 

74 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



without always succeeding. Far from it! The 
most resolute begin to shake their heads. 

Impassive, not worrying at seeing himself almost 
alone in his opinion, Clemenceau does not hesitate 
before this responsibility which, this time, can 
justly be called "frightful." 

With the calmness which this hard fighter never 
possessed so much as when hours are critical, with 
a dignity joined to clear-sighted freedom of 
thought, he resists Germany. 

The negotiations, immediately difficult, are car- 
ried on in his office. He by no means refuses to 
discuss and to turn the dispute in the direction of 
the law. The tribunal of The Hague could be seized 
if necessary, but with the reservation that one would 
not demand of France, as was intended, a pre- 
liminary hiuniliation. 

Clemenceau is not uncompromising except on the 
question of our sovereignty. That is precisely the 
blow the enemy wants to deal us. Brutal, it rattles 
the sabre. Our Premier does not tremble nor is 
he afraid. 

With frankness, with confidence, he explains the 
stakes of this battle and shows that our firmness, 

75 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



ready for everything, Is the sole chance for a happy 
solution. The press, interpreter of public opinion, 
is unanimous for resistance. The energy of 
Clemenceau need not be fortified, and yet when one 
speaks in the name of the country, one has more 
authority if conscious of the resolute tenseness of 
the press behind them. Already Clemenceau is 
supported by the nation. 

To the German ambassador, who has instruc- 
tions to intimidate our minister by threatening hid- 
den meanings, he responds, without excitement, 
with words of reason. Wretched arguments for 
swashbucklers! Law makes very little impression 
on rascals who have come to trample on you. There- 
fore, they decided to rattle the saber in a still more 
terrifying manner. 

In this case there is but one resource: to show 
that, strong in our right, we have no fear. Ironical 
and resolute, Clemenceau watches. He does not 
give way. 

Then his Teutonic excellency decides on a plan 
which it is thought will bring France to her knees 
in panic. 

"Mr. Premier," the ambassador says gravely, "if 
76 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



complete satisfaction were not given to my Govern- 
ment, I would be forced by order of his Majesty, 
the Emperor, to ask for my passports." 

"The express leaves for Cologne at nine o'clock, 
it is now seven," the Premier replied imperturbably 
after having consulted his watch. "Your Excel- 
lency, if you do not wish to miss the train you had 
better hurry!" 

Very much disconcerted by the reply which plainly 
was not in the tone of the solemn conversation of 
chancellors' offices, and especially disconcerted by 
that sardonic impassivity which proved how much 
he had failed to make his point, the ambassador 
departed, but without having asked for his pass- 
ports. The next day he came back, with less noise 
of the sabre about his civiUan's trousers, to say 
that France's procedure was accepted. 

It is possible that Germany had not yet resolved 
to draw the sword at that time. At any rate, we did 
not know. She neglected nothing to make us fear 
it. She was ready to rush at us. The dangers were 
great, but Clemenceau understood that firmness was 
our sole chance of safety. His energy preserved 

77 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



us perhaps from war, certainly from surrender. 
That day he earned the gratitude of France. 

However, such a brilliant service did not keep 
him from being overthrown after three years of a 
government during which, as a patriot loving liberty 
and justice, he tried to put his acts into harmony 
with the ideas of his whole life. 

He went out of office, a bigger man, popular, 
loved by the crowd, which was pleased by his 
energy, his jovial and witty good-fellowship, his 
picturesque independence. In its eyes he had the 
prestige of one "who is not like the others." He 
might have fallen from power. He did not fall in 
the esteem of the country which was glad to find 
in him his impulsive nature, good sense, good 
humor, honesty and courage, and even some of his 
faults, such as his hot-headedness, a bit too much 
satire and vehemence in criticism. But the French- 
man is temperamental. 

When he was no longer minister, Clemenceau 
was not slow in perceiving the sacrifices which he 
had made to France in ceasing, for three years, to 
write in order to govern her. 

78 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



Incapable of keeping still when colleagues, whom 
he esteemed, misrepresented his ideas, sometimes 
he could not resist the temptation of taking up for 
ten minutes his journalist pen in order to reestablish 
truth. Here was another scandal. What must be 
thought of a minister who departs so much from 
tradition as to carry on a discussion in the papers? 

These were brilliant, mad outbursts, moreover. 
But when for almost twenty years one had been in 
the habit of writing every morning what he thinks 
it is pretty hard to stop. And why should Clemen- 
ceau give up speaking his mind on everything? 
Because he has been Premier? Not for a moment! 
Thus he continues. He takes up the battle, under 
a new form for his unchangeable ideas. 

His Homme Libre is established. More keen and 
impetuous than ever, with the same fire in his 
heart, he defends the interests of France, and ad- 
dresses himself with cleverness to the good sense 
of all. He appeals with emotion to the generous 
sentiments of the privileged class and to the reason 
of the people for a realization, without jolts, of the 
fraternal democratic ideal. 

He lashes out at chimeras, and claws at political 
79 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



expediency. Verbosity, even when brilliant, wears 
him out. He hates the phrases which do not act. 
He desires good sense, logic, freshness, a little 
confidence and boldness. When he finds only soft- 
ness, sentimentality, lack of spirit, and fear of 
action, he reprimands and lashes. His spirit has 
never been younger. He has kept all his vigor of 
thought, and the unexpected quality of his incisive 
phrases which throw any defect or weakness into 
high relief. 

Sometimes he goes too far and is mistaken. He 
knows it. "Who has not made mistakes?" he ad- 
mitted recently with the same frankness toward 
himself as toward others. "I have made more than 
you think!" 

Irritated by a sudden disagreement with certain 
men, it happens to him that he forgets momentarily 
their virtues and their services, and even long 
intimacy with them. 

His irony is pitiless. He must say what he 
has in his heart; and with what picturesque and 
striking epigrams he says it. Fortunately, his 
reader, who knows his freshness and his impetuosity 
and who likes him for it, tones down the flourish. 

80 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



There remain his watchful patriotism, his clear 
reason, the lofty idealism with which his sense of 
reality is ennobled. 

Before and since the war some of his friends did 
not always share his opinions about certain men 
and acts and were even vexed at them ; but knowing 
the value of his judgment, the trustworthiness of 
his information and his sincerity, they have always 
examined his reasons seriously and are always 
uneasy when they do not agree with him. 

L'Homme Libre had only existed for a few 
months when the unbridled armaments of Germany 
left no more doubt in regard to her aggressive in- 
tentions. Clemenceau, who by his reading and his 
conversations with well-informed foreigners is well 
acquainted with the German state of mind, is not 
deceived. From year to year he has seen Pan- 
Germanism grow and make all Germany mad. He 
has seen greed and pride increase to excess in the 
people. How many pages bear witness to it! He 
sees that the Kaiser, restive under his bullying 
grandiloquence, will allow himself to be swept 
along. 

The pacifist Clemenceau does not hesitate to-day 
8i 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



any more than yesterday. That threat banishes 
the beautiful dream of calm, human progress. 

What difference does it make ? We must protect 
ourselves from Germany. 

First of all we must return to the three years' 
military service with a rapid increase in the means 
of defense. Heavy burdens? Greater inconveni- 
ence for young men? Another obstacle to the 
development of the nation? 

What difference does it make? We must live. 
We must make every sacrifice in time to avoid new 
annexations, slavery, poverty. 

Only a large army ready to cover the frontier 
can preserve us from the sudden crushing attack 
easily prepared by a government which believes in 
brute force and has the enthusiastic aid of the 
unanimous people, while the rest of the world re- 
mains in peace and silence. 

Thus there must be a quick reinforcement of the 
heavy artillery; but it will take a year before this 
program, to be laid down and voted, can increase 
our security. All the more reason, therefore, to 
bar our frontiers with as many bayonets as possible. 

Many of the political friends of Clemenceau 
82 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



winced before this unpopular measure which bled 
the country of money and men. They did not see 
or they did not wish to see. Such a burden on 
the eve of election! And perhaps after all it was 
an imaginary danger which "reactionaries" were 
exaggerating. Then, trying to blind themselves by 
easy reasons, deaf to painful truth, they fretted 
and fumed. 

What difference does it make? Clemenceau, who 
knows, who does not close his eyes to evidence, 
does not wish to incur the responsibility of a fatal 
weakness. 

He cannot be accused of tenderness for Barthou's 
cabinet, which was brave enough to fight for this 
salutary law. He had treated Barthou rather 
harshly in other circumstances, although he liked 
him. But he does not hesitate to attack with his 
usual boldness some of his less brave friends. 

Untiringly, and with an eloquence springing from 
his anxiety, he chides, he demonstrates, he appeals 
to the noblest sentiments and to the simplest in- 
stincts of self-protection. His voice is not 
suspected. It has never echoed with greater fervor. 

83 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



People listen to him. Thanks to him, "constit- 
uencies" are forgotten. 

Clemenceau put his whole soul into a campaigji 
admirable in its energy, its forceful argument and 
persuasive power. He sees that the life and future 
of France are at stake. Anxious, excited, tortured, 
he insists. His words resound like calls to arms. 
You feel his hopes vibrating in them, the emotion 
of his memories. He does not want Parliament to 
be enticed into hiding the peril from the nation. 
Without worrying about the discredit that faces 
him in certain political circles which are already 
hurling insults, he tries to warn France. 

Once again she finds her own sentiments in this 
great voice. She becomes resigned to the heaviest 
and most grinding burdens as the only way to avoid 
still crueller sacrifices. The memory of her great 
history, the certainty of her moral value, her con- 
sciousness of the force which gives her lofty ideals, 
renews her energy. 

That is what this old man who is always so 
young expresses with his eloquence and his emo- 
tion. In his thrilling articles the patriot, still bleed- 
ing from the wounds of 1870, recalls the miseries 

84 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



of the defeat and invasion, the murderous plunder- 
ing brutality of Germany let loose. He makes one 
feel that this time in the murderous frenzy of her 
hatred, greed and pride, her attack will still be more 
devastating and it will be the end of France. 

These are proud, resolute and tender pages in 
which, with filial piety, with the most delicate 
poetry, and with the firm accent of a warrior ready 
for everything in order to defend our homes, he 
evokes the grandeur of our past, our untiring, noble 
effort throughout the ages for the reign of justice, 
for the liberty of men, and nations, for the triumph 
of our ideal fratemalism. 

They are warmly written pages, where, in the 
compelling lyricism of a man of action which is 
one of the characteristics of his style, he sings of 
our glory through the ages, the charm of our land 
of France, the delicate shadow of our sky, the 
gentleness of our manners and laws, the precision 
of our language, the beauty and enchantment of our 
civilization. 

These are treasures for which we are accountable 
to future generations and which we must defend. 
Then soberly and with pathos, he begs the people 

85 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



not to deny the evidence and close their eyes to the 
peril, in order not to take the painful measures 
which alone can avert it. 

A practical statesman at the same time that he 
is a poet, he fights error with close argument and 
exact facts. He replies victoriously to all objec- 
tions ; he denounces the hypocrisy of false security. 
He deals harshly with the weakness and blindness 
of selfish office seekers. 

The return to the three years' military service is 
voted. The Premier at that time was M. Louis 
Barthou, whose political reputation will rest on 
the fact that he was brave enough to make the 
necessary fight for this law and to keep up the strug- 
gle in spite of insults. Together with him, Cle- 
menceau was the essential worker. How many 
progressive republicans rallied to his voice ! Grateful 
France will not forget these accents in which she 
found again faith in herself and her wish to live. 

In spite of other campaigns which did not please 
every one, Clemenceau was more popular than ever 
when war broke out. 

As soon as he understood that its red specter, 
86 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



which he had feared to see so long, was rising over 
the world, he girded up his loins and threw himself 
into battle with all his strength. 

The land of our ancestors, our history filled with 
blood and glory, the men and women of France, 
our peasants, our soldiers, their mothers, the French 
language and thought, inspired his keen and tender 
eloquence, and increased his strength for battle. 

From the first day he is in the breach. With his 
burning words, he sustains courage. He cries out 
his gratitude. He tries to animate every one with 
his sacred flame. 

Negligence, and lack of foresight, exasperated 
him. With what sadness he points them out ! Too 
distrustful at the beginning, censorship cuts and 
suppresses his articles. He grows indignant over 
it. Do they not understand that he only wishes to 
serve, avoid waste, and fatal carelessness, to be on 
guard against fatuous foolishness, of certain pre- 
posterous, careless functionaries, whether they be 
military or civil? He wishes to spare us in these 
critical hours the revolt of mothers and wives who 
are angered by the scandal of slackers. 

As they annoy him he attacks with more heat and 
87 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



bitterness. As a protest he makes out of his Homme 
Libre, cut in two by the censor's scissors, L'Homme 
Enchaine while awaiting better times, in which he 
continues to warn and reprimand. 

It is a struggle of three years for France, which, 
in his tenderness for the resignation and heroism of 
Frenchmen, he wished so strongly to spare them 
useless sacrifices and the risks of disasters, too cruel 
after so much misery, anguish and grief. 

When we have the feeling that his severity is too 
harsh toward certain men and sometimes feel sorry 
when we see him attack certain ideas, which, taken 
as a whole, are happy, we remain faithful to him 
because we can imagine his fear and his impatience. 

From morning until evening he only thinks of 
the country and her salvation. He suffers from 
mistakes which might compromise the magnificent 
national outburst of heroism. He feels their danger. 
By pointing them out he would like to be able to 
save France from them or avoid their prolonga- 
tion. 

In such a vital crisis he knows the importance 
of an undecisive week or of a lost day. He sees 

88 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



the dangers of negligence, the terrible consequences 
that a mistake might have that is persisted in. 

Therefore his warning is sharp, sometimes even 
threatening. Clemenceau speaks strongly because 
he is in a hurry to be understood. In the haunting 
idea of salvation, he attacks with a virulence that 
may seem excessive men whose ideas are not in 
accord with him. 

This severity finds its justification in its cause 
so worthy of respect. Can a company of soldiers 
which is threatened complain because the sentinel 
cries out his warning too loudly ? 

He was president of the Commission of External 
Affairs and the Senate, and later of the Commis- 
sion of the Army, when M. de Freycinet, former 
member of the National Defense of 1871, became 
for the time being Minister of State in Briand's 
cabinet. In this capacity M. Clemenceau played a 
useful role in the speeding up of the armaments 
and tried to make his sure knowledge and his well- 
tried clear-sightedness of use in a happier ^conduct 
of the war. 

Every one who is well informed renders full 
89 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



justice to the work, to the discernment and to the 
useful influence of these two commissions. A 
patriotic policy always animated their ability and 
their good will. Clemenceau inspired them through 
his faith, his good sense, his logic, the power of his 
mind ; and his capacity for work did wonders. 

Never allowing himself to be duped by unsound 
reasons and always battling against their stubborn- 
ness, with what firmness he shook them out of 
routine, apathy and slowness! 

War had surprised us, pretty badly equipped 
against the formidable means of aggression which 
Germany had accumulated. In July, 1914, two 
weeks before the cataclysm, he had cried with 
anguish from the tribune of the senate : "Beware !" 
The program for the manufacture of munitions, 
voted in the spring of 19 14, could only be partially 
realized at the end of several months. Therefore 
it was necessary to improvise while the battle was 
going on more rapid and complete programs and 
more efficacious. 

The minister of war at that time was M. Mil- 
lerand, who deserves praise for having kept his 
calmness in tragic hours, and who, on the morrow 

90 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



of the first victory of the Mame, mobilized with 
great resoluteness French industry, which had been 
for the most part driven out of its shops by the 
invasion. He found in the commission of the army, 
in the senate, a watchful and powerful aid. 

The effort of his successors was not less sustained, 
pursuant to the prospects of a long struggle. 

The influence of M. Clemenceau at the head of 
the Commission of External Affairs was just as 
salutary. He knew history well and was supple- 
menting his knowledge constantly by a study which 
was serious and without preconceived notions of 
all moderii questions. He received many visitors of 
considerable note, and, knowing how to make them 
talk, he brought into the debate over which he pre- 
sided very precious information, which his clear- 
sightedness illuminated. 

He made the political world appreciate the ad- 
vantage of not being an ignoramus. 

Then his attention is called little by little, by 
courageous writers, to the adroit maneuver of the 
Germans to separate us, to make our weapons fall 
from our hands, and to weaken before victory our 
effort for defense. 

91 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



He observes. He gets information. He reasons. 
What he discovers makes him indignant and 
frightens him. He discovers men who are selling 
France for money. There are others who, by the 
weakness and carelessness of profiteers, favor their 
designs by giving them the means to betray. There 
are those who are doing a disservice to the country, 
a whole insolent band, master of the power that is 
terrorizing, in the pay of Germany and at the serv- 
ice of the guilty plot, is demoralizing the rear of 
the army, inciting soldiers to revolt, leading us 
imperceptibly, by blackmail, threat and insult, to a 
<iefeatist peace which will be the death of France. 

Then one Sunday in July, 1917, restraining his 
heart aroused by so much ignominy, the old patriot 
cries out to the French people what was being done 
with its heroism, with its resignation, with its spirit 
of sacrifice! 

With all the authority that he has, he, the wit- 
ness of our grief, and of our efforts to build up the 
ruins, smashed it. 

The sentinel was watching. He uttered the cry 
■of alarm in time. The whole of France acclaims 
him. 

92 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



France recalls his acts, his speeches, his articles, 
his constant appeal during forty-seven years. In 
these tragic hours she has faith in him. She feels 
that in such a crisis, together with his lofty and 
rare qualities, his faults themselves can serve us. 

Tired of party coalitions, of eloquence which 
does not act, or of haggard weakness that stammers, 
of selfish ability, boiling under a closed lid, France 
wants him in power. 

A good Frenchman, M. Raymond Poincare, 
. President of the Republic, a big enough man not to 
remember in such a peril the stings of former years, 
calls him to power. And Clemenceau, for the sake 
of the work of salvation which must unite these 
two statesmen, rushed with outstretched hand to 
the hand stretched out to him. This forgetfulness 
of themselves in the time of danger of the country 
will redound to their honor. 

In spite of this almost unanimous swing of opin- 
ion, what a risk and what a trial power is in such 
circumstances for a man who had had the attitude 
of M. Clemenceau! 

His criticism was severe. Thinking only of 
France, he knew neither friends nor enemies. He 

9:^ 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



spared no one. Of how many choices and decisions 
he disapproved ! How many methods have incurred 
his censure ! Having shown himself harsjij he must 
foresee the harshijess of others. They atrevjpajting 
for his measures. There is no GovernMent more 
difficult than his. The situation that results from 
uncertainty, from the conduct of the war, renders 
the task still more thankless. 

Resolutely he takes the helm in his hands. He 
is strong in the confidence which the country places 
in him. He profits by the unfortunate experiences 
which he has had. He will not allow mistakes from 
which he has suflfered to be made again. 

Above all, he thinks only of the war. He carries 
it on with the wild energy of a man who does not 
want his country to die. Having no other ambition 
than to save all that he loves, he has the pure and 
stoical faith of a member of the Convention defend- 
ing Liberty. Sole survivor of a generation of men 
who have disappeared, inconsolable because they 
were not able to reestablish violated Rights, he 
makes it a matter of honor to realize their hope. 

Behold him standing at the helm in the tempest! 
His sharp, calm eyes so intensely black in his white 

94 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



face, watch through the deep, foaming waves for 
the reefs and mines. He is wet by the spray. But 
staunch under his little soft hat, with a turned down 
brim, a hat which has become the legend of the 
battle-field, he stands firm. 

Energetic, he tolerates only energy. Full of con- 
fidence, he wants others to be confident. Under the 
hardest blows of the sea, master of himself, 
humorous and sardonic, he raises a laugh by his 
picturesque jokes which heartens the struggling 
crew. 

Then suddenly what words he speaks, simply and 
profoundly human, of a controlled emotion, which 
bring tears to the hardest eye ! 

In power once more he remains faithful to his 
unchangeable ideas. 

Suppressing political censorship, he bares him- 
self to blows. Although certain of his friends blame 
him for it, his respect for liberty goes so far that 
he tolerates articles dangerous for national unity. 

Finally, as painful as this thankless part of a 
great task may be for him, he lets the hand of jus- 
tice descend pitilessly on the crimes, the weak- 
PS 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



nesses, and the mistakes of which, as a senator and 
journalist, he denounced the peril. 

He sacrifices everything for the safety of his 
country except his principles of an unregenerate 
liberal. 

He always had a horror of useless verbiage, but 
more than ever in this cataclysm in which all forces 
must be tense for action. He knows that we are 
the dupes of words and that we die of them. There- 
fore this great orator, sure of success as soon as 
he speaks, has a power and a will for silence from 
which nothing will make him depart. Insistent 
teasing makes him on 'the contrary only more dumb. 

He only mounts on the tribune when he has 
something to say and at the moment that he is 
chosen. 

Then he speaks wonderfully to France the lan- 
guage which his love of France inspires in him and 
which, in her instinct of conservation, in her noble 
idealism and her clear feeling for the real, she would 
like to be able to speak to herself. 

Not only does he assemble our forces and make 
war, but with a serene indiflference for politics he 
does nothing but make war. He knows war. He 

96 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



knows its political conduct, its resources in men and 
material, for this is his especial field. He is pre- 
cisely informed on all details and has the figures 
in his memory. Let one of the most meticulous 
members of the Commission ask him about different 
stores of supplies and the state of our military 
strength, he replies with exact figures. His trust- 
worthy information and memory are highly valuable 
for the conception of possible enterprises and his 
judgment concerning those suggested to him. 

He was surrounded by civilians and soldiers who 
were active collaborators, reserved and sparing of 
words; and they protected him from useless annoy- 
ance and idle talk. He was able to study affairs as 
a man who knows how to work. Pe is construc- 
tive. His ability to think clearly prevents any news, 
grave as it may be, from obscuring his vision or 
exciting him. 

Since the habit of procrastination appears to him, 
especially in war times, to be a harmful weakness, 
he never goes to sleep at night having put off until 
to-morrow the decisions he must make. He does 
not leave his desk without having reflected and 
studied imtil the solution of the problem is found. 

97 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



No one is ignorant of the prestige in the eyes of 
the allies which the complete mastery of himself, 
his power over men, his good sense and wide knowl- 
edge, give him. 

Just and frank, but with a perfect courtesy in 
his happy and witty frankness, he is listened to with 
the most cordial sympathy in the allies' councils. 
The light of his mind shines there. He is both 
powerful and persuasive. 

Every one knows the personal influence which 
he had, on a grave day, for the acceptance by all 
the nations of the principles of a supreme command 
of the armies; at other times, the influence he 
exercised in putting through helpful measures. 
History will tell us later of these striking details. 

It is sufficient now to know how much the min- 
isters and generals of the Entente, at difficult times, 
liked his clear judgment, his justice, his uprightness, 
his simple "gentlemanliness" and his pleasing 
humor. 

Just as he does not like to be influenced by in- 
trigues and teasing from within, so he does not 
wish to be moved by sharp practice from without. 

Count Czernin, Austrian prime minister, at the 
98 



POLICIES AND DEEDS 



same time impudent and ridiculous, collapsed under 
the straight-from-the-shoulder blow which Cle- 
menceau delivered to him in the prompt reply: 
"Count Czertiin lied." 

And the Chancellors' offices will remember for 
many a day the vigor with which the imperial back- 
ing was lashpd by the pihrase: "There are some con- 
sciences which are rotten !" 

When the expressive words resounded, there 
were among us timid men who regretted this reso- 
lute hitting from the shoulder. "What a mistake!" 
they wailed. But partisan spirit is responsible for 
many other mistakes. 

OSix months have passed since these two memor- 
able boxing bouts. Now that one sees by the 
experience at Brest-Litovsk, where parleying with 
the knavery of the Central Powers leads as long as 
they are not defeated, one understands better that 
these straight blows, so beautifully landed, pre- 
served us from a wasp's nest of dangerous negotia- 
tions. This well-directed blow, given so oppor- 
tunely, was a diplomatic victory. 

He considers very carefully his most energetic 
acts. He understands all the phases, all the tangled 

99 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



interests of the war towards which he has exerted 
all his force of mind for four years. Animating 
every one by his energy and his faith, himself 
sustained by the soul of the Nation, which recog- 
nizes itself in his old heart, he ia on the way toward 
the realization of the hope which has illuminated 
his whole life. 
The liberation of the country is his reward. 



Ill 

THE MAN 

MUSCULAR, vigorous, alert, with his broad 
brow concealing sharp black eyes, with his 
resolute carriage and energetic movements, this 
Vendean is the descendant of a strong race. 

After a life of uninterrupted labor which was 
tormented by political struggles, persecutions and 
prison, his father died about twelve years ago al- 
most ninety years of age. 

Passionately curious about ideas, attentive to the 
efforts and creations of modern thoughts in all 
fields, never tiring of intercourse with lofty minds 
of all epochs, he absorbed with the same animation 
pages of yesterday and pages of to-day. 

Shut up among his books, indifferent to the petti- 
ness and ugliness of life, which his wise old 
philospphy did not wish to see, he read, meditated, 
and pondered over ideas, deeds and men. 

This ancestor of his with his active brain was 

lOI 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



a noble figure; and, faithful toward himself, confi- 
dent of the future, he thought until he drew his last 
breath. Gustave Geffroy, during his stay in the 
Vendean country, talked much with this old man 
who loved youth and conversation, and, without 
naming him, reproduced an unforgettable repre- 
sentation of him in an interesting novel. 

His physical activity was surprising almost up 
to the time of his death. The father of M. Clemen- 
ceau rested from his reading by taking long walks 
which were conducive to meditation. He loved 
nature and men more than books, in which he 
sought especially, in fiction as well as in history, 
stirring representations of nature and humanity. 

With his stick in his hand, he walked daily in 
the country. He was cordial with the people and 
interested in all agricultural affairs. He loved the 
familiar landscape. 

With his strength of oak, he cared little for bad 
weather and, many a time even in his extreme old 
age, when he was surprised by a sudden shower, 
he simply came back to a blazing fire and dried him- 
self. 

His stubborn and bantering indifference did not 

T02 



THE MAN 



permit complicated precautions. Do we not recog- 
nize his ways and his moods in his son when, in 
the first line trenches, he obstinately refused to take 
care of himself? 

Six children blessed the industrious, useful, 
worthy life of the father of M. Clemenceau. Our 
Premier arrived second in this family. He owes 
respect to a sister a few years older whose faculties 
age has not dimmed. The moral and physical 
strength of the other children is well known. 

No one is more given over to tradition than this 
family of "revolutionists." For more than three 
hundred years they have been doctors, and with 
honor, for one of our kings ennobled one of the 
distant ancestors. Without doubt his majesty did 
not foresee the famous coalition of the Socialists. 

In addition to the arms which he forges tmtir- 
ingly for France, Clemenceau has weapons which 
do not seem to have made much impression on him 
or his father. Thus it was not to justify them that 
he became a doctor. 

This old tradition stops with him. His son, M. 
Michel Clemenceau, a captain of colonial troops 
who first entered Saint Mihiel at the head of his 

103 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



company, is a chemical engineer. But cannot tradi- 
tion, interrupted once during three centuries, "be 
renewed? ; 

Our future minister of National Defense passed 
the vacations of his youth in the village of Mouil- 
leron-en-Pareds (Vendee), the cradle of his ma- 
ternal ancestors where his mother, faithful to 
another tradition, came at the time of his birth. 

He was a student at the Lycee of Nantes, where 
his father was practicing his profession. Later he 
became a student at Paris. During the summer he 
played and hunted with the young country boys, 
was happy in his absolute liberty in the fields and 
woods. Intoxicated with light and air, he acquired 
the love of nature, which is felt in all his works. 
He got to know men and the art of talking to them 
familiarly, cordially and with dignity. He acquired 
this love for the earth and this respect for the per- 
sistent work of the peasant, which was, as we shall 
see, one of the elements of his patriotism. 

This healthy, rude life in the country strength- 
ened him morally and physically and offered peaceful 
moments of repose during the squalls of his political 
life. A whole side of this character of Clemenceau 

104 



THE MAN 



would escape us if we lost sight of the influence 
on him of his native land and of the labor of the 
peasants. 

In this man of the city, of Parliament, of journals 
and books, there has remained through all the ex- 
citements and struggles a touch of the country 
gentleman. That is the reason he is able to be 
understood by the peasant soldiers. He talks to 
them in the trenches with the same familiar ease 
that he would at the turn of a deep road of Vendee. 

He has their good sense and their sense of 
reality ; and in the spontaneousness of his sallies of 
wit and quickness of his repartees he has their 
bantering outlook, their patience and tenacity, and, 
when it suits them, their formidable capacity for 
silence. 

One day one of his friends who was not yet 
hardened to calumny and was trembling with in- 
dignation at some foolish lying remarks, told him 
he intended to reply and to send a challenge for a 
duel. Clemenceau smiled with contempt for such 
odious polemics; and, convinced that an honest man 
who is sure of his conscience ought not to waste his 
life on such trifles, irritating to-day but effaced by 

105 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



truth to-morrow, said: "Who is slandered more 
than I am? Do I reply? I wait!" 

Because of the swiftness of his thought and the 
picturesque vivacity of expression some people be- 
lieve him to be impulsive and incapable of control- 
ling his changing humor flaming with anger or 
dangerous joke. 

This is a mistake. Sovereign calmness hides 
under his jovial and brilliant petulance. One can- 
not imagine the degree of calmness which Clemen- 
ceau can attain. He never is so much master of 
himself as in the gravest moments when, in the 
midst of the obstacles and dangers, he makes a 
decision. 

Thus like all real men of action, Clemenceau 
only appears nervous when, seeing the peril and not 
having the means to ward it off, he suffers at not 
being able to act. But when he has the possibility 
of fighting it and of making his ideas prevail, of 
joining in the work of salvation, he is immediately 
wonderful in his lucid calmness. 

At no time have his intimate collaborators, who 
really know his character, been mistaken in it. The 

1 06 



THE MAN 



often recognized sign of battle in his placid gravity, 
his appearance and his movements, even his gayest 
playfulness, which reveals a great freedom of mind, 
is blended with his greatest anxiety. 

We shall not go so far as to say with a certain 
man given to paradox, who, looking at him care- 
fully, remarked: "Clemenceau is joyfully serene 
to-night. Things are not going well!" But it is 
true that, with his perfect control over himself, he 
is never so calm as at the moment when he has 
to be. 

Therefore, in this war in which the life of France 
is at stake, since he has the responsibility of the 
gigantic struggle and can act, he astonishes those 
who do not know him well by his thoughtful gravity 
and calm. 

He is master of himself enough to be able to 
measure out his violence, note its effect, and stop it 
at the right moment. What a nervous force he 
holds in check for the sake of clear reasoning! 

Men who have not been able to make themselves 
heard declare, with a look of fear, that he does not 
know how to listen. This is another mistake. 
Clemenceau receives eagerly everything brought to 

107 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



him. At the same time that he is scrutinizing his 
visitor he stores up his words, he reflects and dis- 
cusses them in his own mind even when he does 
not discuss them with his opponent. 

Yes, indeed, he listens. And how? With what 
power of absorption, with what a keen, critical 
sense! But he does so only if he is interested, if 
the person who is talking does not appear foolish, 
confused, harebrained. 

Since he hates to lose his time and has a horror 
of confused wordiness, of dreaming, disordered 
minds, of blunderers and fools, there are persons of 
great importance and of high rank to whom he 
listens no more after two minutes of their rambling 
talk and whom no human power will force him to 
hear again. 

Having received this rap over the knuckles, these 
men are naturally the ones who reproach him and 
who give him the reputation of not getting informa- 
tion or opinions. 

He gets information, certainly, but only from 
those who know. He gets opinions, but cwily from 
those who think. 

Watch him at loggerheads with men who, on the 
io8 



THE MAN 



contrary, are sober and dear in their exposition of 
the subject and are bringing him sure information 
or an interesting idea. After having looked into 
their eyes and listened with calmness and in impres- 
sive silence to their words, he sums up in a few 
words the objections that he believes to be valid. 

He discusses as long as he believes he is right, 
or until he has brought forth arguments so strong 
that his opposition is strengthened. Then he keeps 
silent. And his collaborators know what this silence 
means. It is useless to insist in a last charge. The 
case is heard. 

Then come a few hours more of consideration to 
see if really he can find nothing against the argu- 
ment that he is on the point of adopting. Then 
very simply, with the good faith which is character- 
istic of him, he makes it his own because he con- 
siders it the best henceforth. 

It is not only when they bring him an interesting 
view that he takes the opinion of others into con- 
sideration. He knows how to listen when before 
a public debate or a decision to be made, he wishes 
to test his ideas beforehand. 

He fences so that he will be opposed. He pro- 
log 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



yokes counter attacks. He tries his strength. It 
is curious cerebral gymnastics after long mental 
control. It is a practice stroke before the game. 

These are trial games which, with partners well 
chosen, permit him to discern better the strength 
and the weakness of his argument. And this is also 
a proof of his fairmindedness. 

Another peculiarity of his character is, after the 
examination of a difficult affair or consideration 
concerning some ticklish debate, the clear-sighted- 
ness in which he selects the essential point upon 
which he must insist, and also the weak point where 
the adverse attack may well strike, and which it will 
be necessary to defend with the greatest energy. 
Then he fortifies it and masses his reserves there. 

This is an excellent habit of mind always, but 
how much more precious when one is at war and 
when one must expect the most unforeseen offen- 
sive, such as sham peaces, offers of armistices and 
parleys, campaigns kept up behind the lines. One 
likes to feel himself led by a chief who knows 
where to place his gabions and at what propitious 
moment to unmask his machine guns. 

This timeliness of M. Clemenceau is very for- 

IIO 



THE MAN 



tunate and is always the fruit of long deliberation 
with himself. Nothing can distract him even when 
he seems to be thinking of something else from the 
intense application of his mind, with which he falls 
to the study of a problem, until the best solution and 
the surest means of obtaining it appear to him. As 
remarkable as his faculty of improvisation, he is 
not one of those who trusts to chance. He has the 
clear and foreseeing brain of a leader. 

This serious study of facts and these long, pro- 
found reflections, are set off by his roguish joviality. 

Behold him in his own home, in his modest 
ground-floor apartment in the rue Franklin where 
he has lived for twenty-five years. He works at 
his table shaped like a horse-shoe, suitable for the 
display of the many different official documents 
with which he is occupied at the same time. Or see 
him in his minister's cabinet, formerly at the De- 
partment of the Interior, now at the Department 
of War. The cares which assail him, the constant 
stream of people, news which sweeps in like waves 
from the whole world, the sudden appearance of his 
ministers, of generals, of diplomats, the secret ar- 

III 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



rival of his intimate aides, the different combina- 
tions which he follows through everything, nothing 
alters his calm and his lucidity of mind. 

Motionless but looking straight at his interlocu- 
tors, he suddenly becomes animated if the com- 
mxmication interests him. 

Then, while listening or while answering, with 
lively gestures sometimes he claps upon his power- 
ful skull, now pretty bald, his inseparable cap with 
earlaps, made of soft wool in the winter, of silk 
during the summer, a hunter's cap which, like his 
little soft hat, is a part of his legendary appearance. 
Sometimes he takes it off to put it on again soon 
with a light tap, keeping up the discussion all the 
time. 

A headdress worn in this fashion does not give 
to its owner the air of an old man, I beg you to 
believe. 

It is a headdress which in the course of the con- 
versation does not remain long in repose and which 
all the Prime Ministers and military chiefs of the 
Entente must have seen rise and fall on this expres- 
sive, dominating face. 

Or, behold Clemenceau pass, his step alert, reso- 

112 



THE MAN 



lute, in spite of his years, his hat a bit cocked over 
his ear, his sardonic face, his cane oyer his shoulder. 

He has always been known for this carriage of 
his head and his gait. Kept young by horse-back 
riding and fencing, he remained for a long time 
supple and slender. Age has given him a little 
embonpoint without weighing him down. He walks 
less quickly, perhaps, but still with great precision 
and sprightliness. 

He is not, he never will be, an old pussy-footing 
parliamentarian. He never turns his shoulders side- 
ways, but walks straight along in crowds. Above 
these square shoulders observe this battering mien, 
this mouth ready, under the white mane of his 
moustache, for a sly joke, this merry and attentive 
look. Listen to this vivacious voice, at times a bit 
dry and yet very warm, harmonious and of a timbre 
which stirs. 

Above all, follow his logical, persuasive, close 
demonstration, so full of new and vast ideas, in 
which gleams his feeling for the real. 

Ah, no ! Old age has not yet laid its hand upon 
this vigorous man of seventy-eight years, with his 
clear thought and energetic look. 

113 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



He has examined everything within himself. He 
knows where he is going, what he wants, and how 
to increase his chances of getting it. 

Then he jokes, he jolHes, he disconcerts and en- 
chants people by his picturesque, pithy sayings, by 
his expressive phrases, and by his humor. One 
does not find him dull even in his gravest moments. 

Blunders exasperate him. Solemn stupidity, dot- 
ing upon itself, adds some gayety to his irritation. 
The extravagances of certain pretentious hare- 
brained persons mix joy with his amazement. 
The human animal, whatever it may be, always 
diverts and interests him. And tranquilly, with an 
amused look, he watches the comedy of the world. 
But he is not stingy toward the human animal with 
his cutting jokes. What barbed shafts, always with 
good humor, he fires at it ! 

With a light paw and with a smile, he toys with 
the lack of good sense and logic, with weakness and 
fear, with incoherence he passes by, cordial, jocose, 
bantering. And he leaves behind him a wake of 
striking jokes and prolonged laughter. They re- 
sound still there where he was, while his spirit has 
awakened other laughter. 

114 



THE MAN 



Everywhere he appears the conversation becomes 
animated and its tone rises. In the corridors of the 
Senate and in the Chambers of the Deputies the 
usual banal, stupid gossip is being carried on. 
Clemenceau arrives hiding so many serious thoughts 
under his joviality, immediately by his radiance and 
by the inspiration of his presence, he shakes every 
one out of his torpor and forces them to come out 
of their dullness. Faces light up, gestures become 
more lively, clever ideas and brilliant repartee flash! 
back and forth. The fire-works begin, gay wit 
sparkles, the charm of his mind has worked. 
Around Clemenceau no one can be sad or dull. The 
stupid get away as from too hot a fire. 

On certain days his radiant vitality and his energy 
accomplish wonders. He awakens in his steps con- 
fidence and hope. 

Here is a simple example: On the second day 
of the great offensive in March against the British 
troops, at the moment that the German flood was 
submerging everything in front of it and, through 
a formidable break in the line, was rolling towards 
Paris, with a heavy heart under the impassive air 
which must be kept in such hours, in my haste to 

115 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



have news less bad, I entered the Palais -Bourbon 
where sometimes information, not yet printed, cir- 
culates. 

The atmosphere was lugubrious. No favorable 
rumor. Dismayed faces, shakings of the head and 
the manner of people who are expecting the worst. 
Except for certain deputies and journalists who, 
controlling their anxiety, were standing their 
ground, how few among the best were showing 
souls sufficiently steadfast. This ant hill above 
which too many black moths were flying was 
scarcely reassuring. After having tried to react 
against this uneasiness by taking an air of calm con- 
jfidence, I hurried elsewhere to breathe. On the 
threshold I encounter a friend who, like me, was 
happy to get away. We talk. 

"Clemenceau has not come ?" I asked him. 

"No," he replied. "He has been away at the 
front all day." 

"It is plain that they are having a bit of a hurri- 
cane." 

The next day, impelled by the same desire foi* 
quicker news, I enter there as I go elsewhere. Noth- 
ing more favorable. The break has rather been 

ii6 



THE MAN 



enlarged. The onrush of the waves continues to 
shake everything. There is really no reason why 
the same faces should not have the same expressions 
of sadness and apprehension. Yet I find them trans- 
formed. Their eyes are clearer, their demeanor is 
more proud and more resolute. The words that 
one hears are more confident The atmosphere is 
better. I ask questions. 

Clemenceau has just passed by. He has reani- 
mated hope. His ardor has warmed everybody. It 
is wonderful that an old heart has so much youth. 

And then the soul of France is in him. 

How has M. Clemenceau been able to maintain 
his strength and youth while accomplishing this 
formidable labor as a writer and carrying on his 
uninterrupted political activity? 

It is because, being a furious worker and a sol- 
dier, careful to conserve his spirit for the battle, 
he has always kept up his vigoi* by a rigorous 
hygiene. Moreover, are not work and struggles 
pleasures which are the least fatiguing? 

Clemenceau does not smoke, eats little, scarcely 
drinks an)^ing but water. Until about 1890 he 

117 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



was a constant attendant at first representations of 
plays of a social or literary value. For some thirty 
years, except for very rare occasions, as for ex- 
ample a dinner at the home of intimate friends 
where he hopes to have an agreeable give-and-take 
of ideas, he does not go away from home at night 
and goes to bed very early. 

It is true that he gets up regularly at three o'clock 
every morning, and sometimes even earlier. Not 
having need of a long sleep, he is not far from be- 
lieving that sleep is a prejudice. Courageous peo- 
ple, quite snobbish that they have gotten up at six 
o'clock, and the workmen who are getting to 
their work at the same hour, and in whose eyes he is 
nothing except a bourgeois profiteer, do not suspect 
that at this moment, if he is minister, he has already 
studied two or three dossiers and if he is become 
a journalist again has written his article. And what 
an article! Substantial, full of ideas and facts, of 
well arranged arguments, incisive, brilliant and with 
sudden, lofty flight. 

In order to furnish him with the latest news of 
the evening the secretary has them sent by mes- 
senger to his home. They are slipped under the 

ii8 



THE MAN 



doormat where Clemenceau knows that he will find 
them. But how often in his haste to know of the 
events and to get to work, thinking that he has slept 
too long, the industrious and impetuous old man 
comes to lift up the mat before the messenger has 
brought the dispatches for him to devour! 

This famous old statesman comes every night to 
look under the door mat for the news of some event 
which he can interpret in the light of his knowledge 
of life and men, for the instruction of his con- 
temporaries. It seems to me that this spectacle is 
not without a touch of grandeur. 

Then, when the precious envelope has appeared, 
for three or four hours he enjoys the delight of a 
hard battle, in solitude, until the illuminating idea 
springs forth and he hits upon his stirring phrases. 

After that, he indulges in a half hour's gymnastic 
exercise which keeps up the vigorous suppleness of 
his muscles and insures, through a perfect circula- 
tion of blood, the calm lucidity of his mind. 

At eight o'clock the first visitors, to whom morn- 
ing appointments were given, present themselves. 
Busy men cannot avoid crowding their days except 
by being methodical. Thus Clemenceau, exact and 

119 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



precise like all great workers, does not keep people 
waiting. Try to arrange three or four appoint- 
ments, one of which will be with Clemenceau, and 
I am sure that if he foresees you have an interesting 
communication to make you will get an appointment 
with him first. 

As courteous as he is punctual, as a general rule 
he keeps his correspondence up to date. What a 
lesson this is for certain ill-mannered, negligent peo- 
ple who think they can afford to be geniuses by 
never deigning to reply. This glorious old man, in 
spite of his busy life, does not wish to do to others 
what he would not wish to have done to himself. 
So he takes the trouble to acknowledge, by a note, 
the receipt of the smallest book sent to him. God 
and his concierge know how his door is bombarded 
with them. 

This stream of visitors, which renews his in- 
formation and gives him food for thought at the 
same time that it gives him the means of a more 
efficient control of affairs, always leaves time to 
study several dossiers. 

Immediately after his breakfast, which is a rapid 
formality in order not to disoblige his cook, comes 

1 20 



THE MAN 



his departure for the Senate. Without neglecting 
its deliberations or the lobbying, too fully informed 
in regard to aflfairs under consideration, he presides 
over either the Commission of the Army or the 
Commission of External Affairs and leads the in- 
terrogation of the ministers with vigor and without 
allowing any concealment of the real state of affairs. 

Then he goes to his editorial office, where he is 
glad to talk intimately with his co^editors or with 
friends who chance to come. He is too full of life 
not to like to have life around him. He goes there 
every evening. But if you wish to find him in good 
humor, be careful not to present yourself before him 
before he has read the afternoon editions and re- 
vised his morning article according to the impres- 
sions of the day. Otherwise, no matter how much 
of a friend of his you may be, you will only find 
an impatient man sweeping his eyes over the eve- 
ning papers while he listens to you and furious at 
not being able to read better and listen to you more 
tranquilly. A half-hour later, when his article is 
corrected and the papers are read, he becomes the 
gayest of talkers. 

It is the same program at the Ministry. There is. 

121 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



this difference that the revision of his article is 
replaced by the careful and minute study of affairs, 
whether the morning is passed in the rue Saint 
Dominique instead of at home and whether there 
passes through his office a great number of sum- 
moned visitors such as ministers, members of 
Parliament, generals, ambassadors, public officials, 
journalists. At three o'clock the stream of visitors 
begins again, made pleasajnt by inevitable interrup- 
tions of rapid talks in regard to dispatches and 
decisions to be made. This continues imtil Clemen- 
ceau locks himself in to work with his colleagues 
who, summing up affairs in a few precise phrases, 
know how his brain works. 

There are often private interviews with the Presi- 
dent of the Republic, whom Clemenceau keeps in- 
formed of everything. Once a week he meets with 
the Council of Ministers, which, since the war, has 
held constant meetings in which harangues were 
kept up for hours. From time to time he makes a 
visit to the Senate or the Chamber of Deputies when 
he thinks that his presence can be useful or when 
he has something to say; but he refuses to waste 
time in the corridors in order to foil plots. 

122 



THE MAN 



Moreover, he has so much to do and the phases 
of the struggle demand such close application that 
he becomes more and more sparing o£ his words 
and time. 

He always had a horror of superfluous verbiage; 
and even during his first presidency of the Council, 
which he spent at the Ministry of the Interior, his 
busy life forced him to demand great brevity and 
to avoid useless conversation. 

One day he was terribly beset and overtaxed. 
One of his prefects, who was short of money, in- 
sisted on being received, and at the moment when 
the minister was showing a visitor out he made a 
last effort through the half -opened door. 

"One word !" begged the prefect, who was really 
in need of very prompt assistance. 

"All right; but only one!" Clemenceau replied 
imperiously. 

"Dough!" implored the official who was sud- 
denly inspired by necessity. 

Then, disarmed and diverted, the minister had 
him enter and the two men talked it over. 

Another time one of his most faithful friends 
123 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



who in normal times he takes the greatest pleas- 
ure in seeing, comes into his office at a rush-hour. 

"What do you want?" he cries out hastily, ex- 
tending his hand. 

"Simply shake hands," the friend explains. 

"It's done!" Clemenceau replies brusquely but 
affably. "Now get out !" 

Then, without a smile for his visitor, he goes 
back to work. 

What are his recreations? Since he has been 
carrying on the war, they are frequent visits to the 
front in the invigorating atmosphere in which his 
soldier's heart is at home. In time of peace, his 
books, with which every room in his apartment is 
furnished from top to bottom. There are pictures 
by artists whose talent harmonizes with his love of 
truth and life. There are walks, for he loves trees, 
water, the great spectacles of the streets, and hunt- 
ing, which is an excuse for moving about in the 
deep peace of the fields and woods. 

Finally, he loves animals. He likes to have them 
around him constantly and watch them. Their 
beauty charms him. Their peacefulness calms him. 

124 



THE MAN 



He likes their colors, their forms, their life. Dogs 
are his preferred companions. Their joyous, intelli- 
gent, docile fidelity is a pleasure to him. In their 
instinct, sharpened by the relations and conversa- 
tions one has with them, he finds more wisdom, 
kindness and uprightness than in the strange soul 
of some men. 

He always has beautiful dogs of all kinds about 
him. They are his familiar companions who never 
enervate him and whom he never scolds. It is not 
uncommon to see the watchful face of one of them 
through the window of his automobile. During his 
first premiership his favorite, a magnificent English 
dog, stretched out luxuriously in front of the flam- 
ing logs in his office, received his guests with him. 
After certain trying interviews with narrow, stub- 
born people, how many times he must have turned 
towards his dog and wondered at his good sense! 

This friend of trees and beautiful gardens suf- 
fered to see the park of the ministerial residence 
lifeless and deserted. One would have said it was 
the park of the Sleeping Beauty and that after a 
hundred years of silence there was nothing in it 
except emptiness and motionlessness. Tired of 

125 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



seeing nothing move except the water with which 
the gardener watered the lawns, he had the idea of 
stocking it with animals. He put peacocks and 
swans into it ; and, while he worked and listened to 
his visitors, he looked at the majestic walk, the 
impressive immobility and the shaded plumage of 
the birds. 

This was a fine scandal. The employees of the 
Ministry were shocked at this unusual fancy. The 
inhabitants of the faubourg Saint-Honore, furious 
to hear the monotonous call of the peacock night 
and day, complained repeatedly to the chief of 
police. A long and memorable battle of ambuscades 
and cruel cunning ensued. One of the swans was 
poisoned. The chief of police was on the eve of 
being forced to summon his recalcitrant minister. 
Finally, so the story goes, in order to be able to look 
at the colorful splendor of the peacocks, M. Clemen- 
ceau had to resign himself to the removal of their 
vbcal cords. 

If it is true it is to be feared that on that day 
our Premier may have jolted the people who unfor- 
tunately laid themselves open to his blows. 

He had less trouble with his love for the works 
126 



THE MAN 



of art. He soon became a collector of Japanese 
curios and his interest in Nippon was another bond 
between him and Edmond de Goncourt. For a long 
time in his former apartments an expressive Jap- 
anese mask indicated his door to visitors. 

His portrait has been painted by Edouard Manet, 
whose sincere talent he liked while still very young; 
also by J.-F. Raffaelli, who represented him in all 
the energy of his oratory, in the masterpiece of life 
and truth now in the Luxembourg; finally by Car- 
riere, whose intelligence and profoundly human art 
pleased him. Busts have been made of him by 
Rodin, with whose genius he was familiar, and 
lately by the excellent sculptor, Sicard. Clemenceau 
respects too much the free interpretation of an artist 
to ever be astonished at the interpretations they 
gave of him. 

Finally, without disappointment or weariness, he 
reposes from his battles and his immense labor by 
contemplating with an eye sensitive to plastic beauty 
a few pictures by his friends, in which he finds a 
bit of nature that he loves so much, and a little 
humanity and life which he always tries to under- 
stand better. 

127 



IV 

FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS 

REASON, first of all, his good sense, strong 
logic of his mind, these are the essential traits 
of this great figure on which we have insisted in 
passing. The brain of this rationalist is the clear 
and vigorous brain of France. But M. Clemenceau 
never loses himself in abstraction. He is a strong 
idealist, a man of principles. And he has always 
shown himself thus with the faith and fervor of 
an apostle. He has also a very keen sense of the 
real, an inborn virtue which an experience of life 
has greatly developed. 

He is not one of those who become intoxicated 
with words and imagine a world conforming to 
their dream and their hope. 

He believes in the force of ideas and enjoys with 
a critical mind, which is always wide awake, their 
animating nobility; but he does not wish to be the 
dupe or slave of even very seductive phrases when 

128 



FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS 

they have not a very intimate relationship to 
reality. A man who fights daily for a little more 
of liberty, of justice, and of happiness, he defends 
himself against the paradise of too positive doc- 
trines. He mistrusts enchanting mirages, which 
make the vulgar crowd exacting and discourage it 
from effort. 

He has perhaps more horror of dreams than of 
empiricism. Winged dreams intoxicate, empiricism, 
sprawled in the mud of low interests and of per- 
sonal gratification, degrades. He likes lofty flights, 
but on the condition of never losing from view the 
nutritive earth and men who painfully dispute the 
right to live. 

He keeps his eyes fixed upon the future, for 
which each one is somewhat responsible since each 
one of us makes some of it by his acts and his 
thoughts. He occupies himself with the present 
hour and exerts all his forces against the perils, the 
harshness and the injustice of the epoch in which 
we live. He struggles against the immediate ob- 
stacles which one can hope to break down by using 
force. He does not think one has the right to evade 

129 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



this imperious and thankless duty by uttering elo 
quent harangues about the rosy future. 

Is this not the secret of his long oratorical duel 
with Jaures, for whose great honesty he always had 
the highest esteem and who in his spirit of justice 
and his sense for the value of things always re- 
turned his esteem! In June, 1896, when M. Clemen- 
ceau was still only Minister of the Interior in the 
cabinet of M. Sarrian, whom he was soon to re- 
place, I remember having been present at the 
famous three days' contest of these two men who 
are so dissimilar. 

In listening to his very carefully studied dis- 
course, of which the very important passages were 
very plainly written out, as was that of Jaures 
moreover, but which was constantly animated by 
brilliant, clever and fitting repartee, I said to myself 
that one could sum it up thus : 

"You are prophesying on the heights! You are 
living in the future! You are making ideal con- 
structions for the future without considering the 
present. I, too, think of the morrow, but through 
to-day! And, with ax in hand, destroying the 
obstacles, I try to make for humanity a freer road, 

130 



FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS 

where its flesh and heart will bleed less in order to 
bring it nearer to better times." 

Love of justice is another characteristic of this 
existence. It contributes to establish the unity of 
his life. 

Political justice. Social justice. In a word, 
justice. 

Clemenceau has sacrificed most to it. He has 
fought for it ardently, in all its forms, in every 
epoch. In summing up the policy and work of M. 
Clemenceau we have recalled the important inci- 
dents of this long struggle of sixty years for justice. 
It is siifficient to add that in all the stages of his life, 
the former deputy from Montmartre, who had come 
to take up his existence in the midst of industrial 
workers, has never ceased to give thought to them. 

Let one re-read all his discourses, which are gen- 
erally documents of bold generosity, all his articles 
and all the pages of his books, one will see that this 
is his constant preoccupation. He wants their work 
to be tetter paid, to be in conditions more favorable 
to safety and health. He desires benevolent and 
intelligent justice, less physical exhaustion, a better 

131 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



lot for them with greater possibilities for libera- 
tion. And the uplifting of the people together with 
their education is one of his cares. 

Therefore, finding the reproach unjust and abso- 
lutely comical on the part of certain men who, with- 
out having more callous hands than M. Clemenceau, 
institute and proclaim themselves the sole defenders 
of the people, he shrugs his shoulders. 

He does not recognize their right to do so. This 
preposterous pretension riles him and makes him 
smile at the same time. 

One would neglect one of the essential traits of 
his character if one did not bring out his love of 
liberty. For him it is a religion. He is the believer 
and the apostle of it. He is convinced of its benefi- 
cence eren with its excesses and its risks. 

Without it, there is no dignity for nations any 
more than individuals. There is no better guarantee 
of the social order. It is the safety valve which 
prevents explosions. It alone can prevent violence. 
He sees in it the very condition of human prog- 
ress. 

Therefore, it is necessary to have patience with 
132 



FUNDAMENTAL; CHARACTERISTICS 

it. Wisdom demands it. Only let us try to accus- 
tom men to liberty. They enjoy it for such a short 
time. Is it not natural that, intoxicated, they should 
have a tendency to abuse it? Then with patience, 
with confidence, let us show them its dangers. For 
the good, a thousand times greater than the evil, 
let us know how to resign ourselves to the inevitable 
bad consequences of mistakes committed in its 
name. Liberty is noble and salutary. Liberty is 
holy. Do not raise your hand against her ! Do not 
touch her even if you are unjustly her victim. 

As a minister he respects her. As head of the 
national government he does not feel the right of 
giving up military and diplomatic censorship which 
is necessary against indiscretions directly danger- 
ous to our defense; he does not allow, in spite of 
the patriotic apprehension of some of his friends, 
political censorship, which raged so furiously dur- 
ing the first three years of the war, to be established. 
And yet, like a good many alarmed republicans, he 
takes notice of the extravagant abuse that certain 
men make of this liberty and of the unfortunate in- 
fluences it might have on the moral forces of a 
nation at war, and on our defensive power. Liberty 

133 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



for him is a doctrine. He received it from his 
ancestors of 1789 and 1848. Personally he will 
never lay hands on it ; while he lives no one will lay 
hands on it without a protest from him. 

Therefore, invariably, in all its forms, in all cir- 
cumstances, he has defended it against its adver- 
saries, but none the less energetically against its 
friends. 

Listen to him when, with sorrow he sees them, 
even for impressive reasons, get away from this 
salutary principle : 

'T believe," he says to them, "that the history of 
the Revolution teaches that violence exercised by 
the party of liberty always ends by turning against 
liberty." 

And on another day, still more resolute, he cries 
to them : 

"As for me,T declare to you plainly and without 
reservation, that if there could be a conflict between 
the Republic and liberty, it is the Republic which 
would be wrong and it is liberty that I would ad- 
judge right." 

And it is in the name of these powerful principles 
that he, an uncompromising believer in the separa- 

134 



FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS 

tion of State and Church, and hostile to monastic 
orders, wages one of his most difficult and cour- 
ageous battles, for the liberty of teaching in the 
schools. 

And with what nobility he, the unbeliever, speaks 
of religious sentiment and shows the dangerous 
foolishness and injustice of attacking it. How far 
we are away from aggressive sectarianism, with this 
republican, without any other faith than the virtue 
of his principles, but so intelligently respectful of 
what happens in the depths of souls, against which 
one is powerless ! 

"Governments," he declares, "have no power over 
beliefs. They can do nothing else for a religious 
belief than give it a new means of life by persecut- 
ing it." 

"To the question of knowing whether we wish 
to destroy religions, I would make this very plain 
reply. Gentlemen, which will be the point of de- 
parture of my whole discussion : We do not wish, 
we cannot — and I am glad of it — destroy a single 
belief, in a single conscience." 

When one has such a noble conception of liberty, 
it is natural for him to love it; and it is not diffi- 

135 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



cult to make one love it. What is difficult is to 
have every one understand it and apply its principles 
with this intelligent generosity and respect for the 
opinions of others. This is the best way to assure 
the triumph of liberty. 

What is also very striking in M. Clemenceau is 
the radiance of his soul. 

There are dried up people before whom one re- 
tires within oneself. There are cold and distant 
persons who feel nothing or are awkward in show- 
ing the little that they feel. They leave a cold 
impression wherever they go. Instead of exalting 
the heart, they awaken by their egoism, by the cal- 
culated prudence of their words, only narrow, per- 
sonal sentiments. 

He is a burning flame. He is subject to enthusi- 
asm and anger. With his marvelous vitality, which 
age has not affected, he inspires every one. 

See the good fellow, jovial and bantering, his hat 
on the side of his head, his cane over his shoulder. 
His black eyes laugh. A joke springs from his lips. 
He is amused by humanity which he discovers 

136 



FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS 

and as he shows this picturesquely he, in turn, is 
amusing. 

If he is stirred, he shows that also with a 
brusque but kind word. His glance becomes grave, 
his voice trembles, and he moves others. 

He passes by, familiar and yet giving all the 
impression of the perfect gentleman. And he leaves 
in his wake sympathetic animation. He speaks with 
conviction a language so engaging that it brings out 
noble sentiments and arouses confidence. 

He knows, for he has only to be sure of himself, 
that such fervor is strength. In order to sweep 
others along to enthusiasm and faith, he likes to 
repeat certain phrases which have become well 
known : 

"One must believe, one must hope, in order to be 
strong." Or : 

"One must love, one must believe. There is no 
other secret of life!" 

Again, more sadly, when he sees the depressing 
effect of skepticism and indifference, he makes this 
famous saying his own : 

"The great sickness of the soul is coldness." 

One day at Sabeme in his famous speech of 1893, 
137 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



he rebelled with deep irony against the insurrec- 
tion of certain youths, uninspired and lacking in 
boldness of thought: 

"Some young men have come with ideas of old 
men, who do not want all men with ideas of young 
men." 

And the youthfulness of his spirit, of his hope, 
of his enthusiasm has remained so strong that he 
might well repeat to-day twenty-five years after it 
was first spoken, this phrase of striking redundancy. 

Among the essential traits of his character which 
are in harmony with the warmth and radiance of 
his whole being are his taste and power for action. 

His whole thought leads him to it. He is not 
one of those whose thought is mere contemplative 
meditation. When, by dint of study, observation 
and deliberation, he gets an idea he wishes to live 
it and translate it into action. 

His brief, concise speeches are already action. 
They contain potential power and are only delivered 
in order to direct this power. 

Clemenceau feels the nobility of action and pro- 
claims it in all circumstances. He considers it one 

138 



FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS 

of the first dignities of man and one of his greatest 
privileges. 

He looks with astonishment and with ironic pity 
at those who- do not enjoy it. 

The weak-willed and the inert seem to be fit to 
be placed in hot-houses. If they are wise enough 
to remain in private life, he only pities them for not 
knowing the joy of action. 

However, if with this infirmity they are foolish 
enough to think of governing men, he sends them 
with sarcasm back to their life of useless contem- 
plation. He knows too well that the irresolute man 
incapable of action himself, and believing, on the 
contrary, that he has the power, never plays any 
other role in his incurable softness and bitter envi- 
ousness, than that of paralyzing the action of 
others. 

He has a strong sense of the ridiculous and the 
most ridiculous thing in the world to him and the 
thing which exasperates him the most, is the ram- 
bling of people who talk, not only to say nothing, but 
also in order to do nothing, and who happily im- 
agine that from the moment they have spoken, the 
face of the whole world changes. 

139 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



In the forty years of his parliamentary life he 
must have had to endure many discourses of men 
seeming to believe that the phrase is sufficient unto 
itself. As a deputy or senator, he never resigned 
himself willingly to hear them to the end; but if as 
a minister, undergoing an interpellation, he must 
be patient under this Niagara, what ironical feel- 
ings, all the more formidable because controlled, he 
has in face of this useless and heavy flow of words. 

He is not satisfied with bringing out an idea and 
with suggesting a method of procedure. He is so 
fully convinced of the justice of this idea and of its 
beneficence that he hastens to fight for it. As soon 
as this method of procedure appears preferable to 
others, he does everything to assure its triumph. 

His love for action throws him into battle. He 
knows the risks, but he does not fear the blows; 
and he believes it is his duty to engage in battle be- 
cause the success of a just cause depends upon it. 

The pusillanimous, who would like to have their 
opinion win out and yet have not the strength to 
fight until victory is won, make him smile. 

This is the way he shakes them in his firm grasp 
when he says in his strong, concise language: 

140 



FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS 

"To win a battle, you must fight it." 
Hear this other strong declaration of a fighter 
who believes in the virtue of making an effort: 
"The victors are the people whb fight." 
At other times a little worried over separations 
between men of thought and men of action, which 
he noticed in France, he asked them to knock down 
the barriers, to spare each other the dangerous fool- 
ishness of mutual contempt, to know each other bet- 
ter and to unite. He tries to bring out the nobility, 
the poetry of action: 

"To think is beautiful. To act is also beautiful. 
The latter is perhaps more difficult, because of all 
the shrieking interests which rise up in front of a 
new policy. Instead of excommunicating one an- 
other, help one another, you artists, thinkers, men of 
action. There is nothing which cannot be accom- 
plished through the combined effort of the whole 
human race." 

If he has not much consideration for the rambling 
talk of light-weight people who are content with a 
rambling chattering, and who have no will for 
action, he likes much less those who groan and 

141 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



grumble without having tried to remedy what they 
complain about. Nor has he any sympathy for 
those who having ventured into the battle, have not 
succeeded; and who, instead of talking firmly about 
their wrongs, indulge in lamentations. Jeremiads 
seem grotesque to him, and he turns away from 
them as being incongruous. 

Battle has sometimes burned him cruelly. If he 
has struck too severe blows, he has received terrible 
blows which he did not merit. Had he been less 
well armed for the battle and had he had a soul of 
weaker temper, he might have died of it. If, at a 
given moment, he has been able to carry on his 
policy, it is because of his admirable power and the 
talent which he has discovered in himself and de- 
veloped at the price of great labor. 

At that critical hour, when insulted, calumniated 
and swept out of Parliament, he would have been 
excused for feeling some bitterness and discourage- 
ment, did any one hear him complain or utter a 
single word of revolt or sorrow? 

No. The day after his defeat in the elections of 
1893, the former deputy from Var, anchored at his 
table, proudly shut in with his books, had chosen a 

142 



FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS 

new mode of action and expression. He had made 
a writer of himself. His first article, superb in its 
serenity, faith and ardor, appeared forty-eight 
hours later. He set himself to his task with the 
good humor of the strong. Even in his most inti- 
mate conversations among his closest friends he 
never allowed a word of complaint to escape him. 

Therefore, as a man for whom obstacles do not 
exist and who is inspired by the effort to knock 
them down, he reserves his friendship for those 
who do not abandon him. 

I remember a young man of merit in whom, be- 
cause of his intelligent bravery in life, Clemenceau 
was interested. In an hour of weariness and doubt, 
such as the best of us know, he came to M. Clemen- 
ceau, who was at that time Minister of the Interior, 
to ask for an unimportant position in the city gov- 
ernment. 

Believing that the young man's activity could be 
better employed, Clemenceau looked at him with a 
little surprise and sadness. Then, with the con- 
viction that his young friend would overcome this 
weakening, he was rather slow in satisfying his 
desire. 

143 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



Indeed, regaining confidence in himself and be- 
coming desirous of doing free, creative work, at the 
end of several months this former candidate for 
the office came to Clemenceau to thank him for the 
proof of confidence which he had shown in not 
naming him for the place. The "Tiger" gave him 
the smile he reserves for those with whom he is 
satisfied. 

We will only speak of his proverbial physical 
courage in order to put it on record. No matter 
how redoubtable the sword, he never hesitated to 
cross it with his own. Taking his aim with calm- 
ness, he faced the pistol of the most famous duel- 
ists. At the front, when his contempt for danger 
upset the general staff, he had the bantering humor 
of an old poilu. 

His moral courage is not less. And his energy 
deserves to remain famous on the score of being a 
good example. In the course of his long life he has 
given proof of his courage in all forms, in all cir- 
cumstances. But some essential touches would be 
lacking in this portrait if we did not insist upon 
certain circumstances in which he showed best the 
measure of his energy and courage. 

144 



FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS 

In a hospital he has undergone one of those deli- 
cate major operations from which one does not 
know whether one will die or not-, no matter how 
successful it has been pronounced. He is very weak 
and pale and lies motionless on his bed of torture. 
He has not even had the strength to frighten the 
nun, who is nursing him, by one of his teasing 
fancies. 

In this state of great weariness and weakness he 
perceives that they are whispering the name of one 
of his very old friends and he insists that they 
bring him in for a moment. A half minute after 
the friend, very much moved, is in the room, and 
is ready to withdraw after he has exchanged silently 
a look of affection with him. 

M. Clemenceau, worn out, motionless, bloodless, 
not knowing whether he would be alive to-morrow, 
but playful as on his happiest days, assumes for a 
moment his air of sarcastic good humor and in a 
very low voice improvises a wonderful joke on this 
visitor whom he certainly did not expect to see. In 
the most picturesque way he jokes his friend about 
his role in the world and a peculiarity of the town 
in which he lives. 

145 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



We are sorry not to be able to tell it to our read- 
ers. It would amuse them ; but the diplomatic cen- 
sorship of M. Clemenceau would not allow it to 
pass. 

Then, with a bantering smile and a friendly touch 
of the hand, he closed his eyes in order to get to- 
gether his forces against Death hiding near his 
bed. It is a simple anecdote, but such is the man. 

In speaking of the phases of his political life we 
have recalled to mind the interruption in it and we 
have shown how he found in literature and journal- 
ism the means for continuing to fight for his ideas ; 
but do people take into account enough the great 
power that he had to employ to make this immediate 
and complete change of profession? 

Without doubt he has read widely. He knows 
an enormous amount. He was brought up on the 
classics, the Encyclopedists, and English sociolo- 
gists, and he was always too interested in his own 
times not to know modem literature. 

At this time he was fifty-three years old. He 
carried his years well, having kept his suppleness 
and strength by horse-back riding and fencing. But 

146 



FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS 

he had never written, or almost never. There is no 
more difficult profession than that of the writer 
even though one is accustomed to it and has prac- 
ticed it since one's youth. This impetuous man of 
action had to get into quite another swing. Finally 
his power for work, his spirit of battle, his faith in 
himself, might have been affected by this truly 
fantastic outbreak, of which he had just become a 
victim, and by the sly dastardliness which he was 
too clever not to see. 

Imagine the fearful tension of his whole being 
necessary for this transformation. And the force 
of will he needed to discover that there was a writer 
in him and to become a great writer. 

It was during this period that Clemenceau showed 
perhaps the greatest energy by winning his bread 
with his pen, writing stories and two articles a day, 
pursuing and enlarging his policy and proving to 
others, in this unmerited fall from power, that he 
was worth more than they believed. 

It was not a momentary impulse when, in the 
excitement of battle and the hope of victory, a reso- 
lute man gave his whole force! It was for years 
and years the patient effort of every day and every 

H7 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



hour. There again, with his unconquerable good 
humor, he was victorious. 

We have seen him at close range with strikefs 
becoming more and more excited and on the point 
of becoming uncontrolled. To appreciate the brav- 
ery and energy of M. Clemenceau it is necessary to 
know in detail the conditions in which, moved by 
his desire to hinder violence, he exposed himself 
to the anger of the crowd. 

While Minister of the Interior he had left Paris 
in haste to tell the miners that it depended upon 
them alone to avoid the presence of soldiers. Al- 
ready, once before on this day, he came to Lens 
without escort to talk to the miners man to man. 

They telephoned to him that at Denain the excite- 
ment was getting absolutely alarming and that the 
strikers, armed with clubs, were beginning to 
threaten. He hurries there. From the town hall 
he harangues the miners and tries to calm them 
with his ardent persuasiveness. Nothing is accom- 
plished. Their own uproar intoxicates them. Then 
he announces that he will go in a moment to talk 
with their delegates at the railroad station. 

148 



FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS 

In order to do so he has to cross the square, where 
there is nothing but this thick swarm of mad people. 
The prefect, the mayor, the police try to dissuade 
him from the dangerous step. The feverishness of 
the mob increases. Everything is to be feared. As 
much as is possible with such a man, they show him 
the folly of this undertaking. 

"I have promised," he said simply. "We shall 
see!" 

Moreover, he had sworn to do all to quiet this 
conflict. 

Then, calm, with his hands in his pockets, with 
fearless eyes, he descends alone into that howling 
mob, bristling with brandished clubs and threaten- 
ing fists. With their eyes fixed upon his, the men 
scarcely leave him a narrow passage. He permitted 
no one to be with him. Alone, he makes an opening 
through the mob. His calm courage wins him a 
way. Absolute master of himself, without even 
setting his jaws, he advances with slow step. At 
this moment it only needed the violence of a 
drunken or impulsive man to have Clemenceau 
struck down or made prisoner! He maintains his 
calmness so well that he hears one of the strikers 

149 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



cry out in order to excite his comrades to seize the 
minister : 

"There is your Bastille to capture!" 
Clemenceau does not falter. His assurance, with 
no sign of provocation, imposes respect on the mob. 
The strikers let neither their hands nor their clubs 
fall upon him. He passes. He arrives safely. He 
can go to talk reason to the representatives of these 
excited men. Alas! Reason does not always win. 
But at least Clemenceau has the satisfaction of be- 
ing able to say to himself that he had done all that 
was humanly possible so that reason could be heard 
through his voice. 

Do we realize all the will power which Clemen- 
ceau had to exert in his firm resistance to the de- 
mands and threats of Germany in the dangerous 
crisis of the deserters of Casablanca? We have 
mentioned the incident already; and we recall it 
again in order to show up in full relief the calm 
power of Clemenceau. 

Intoxicated with power, mad in its greed and its 
desire for domination, Germany does not submit to 
our refusal to allow her to take Morocco, which she 

150 



FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS 

wants so badly; and in spite of difficult compromises 
she shows her ill-humor in trying constantly to pick 
a quarrel with us. If the Pan-Germanists and the 
military party, headed by the Crown Prince, are 
wildly pushing on to "refreshing and joyous war," 
the Kaiser and the business world still hesitate. It 
is not because of ideals of morality and right, but 
because the game was dangerous for a nation who 
was prosperous and predominant in the world. If 
they are not yet unanimous in wishing to declare 
war on us, at least they wish to intimidate us. If 
war arises from the quarrel they are ready to 
wage it 

This state of mind is well known. Clemenceau 
is resigned. With death in his soul he counsels 
prudence everywhere. We are not going to run the 
risk of covering France with blood for the sake of 
Morocco, are we? If the Germans remain intracta- 
ble, we ought to capitulate. Thus why lay ourselves 
open to a humiliation which Germany will not fail 
to inflict upon us, for she is sure that we do not 
want war, that we shall not declare it ? 

Yet Clemenceau resists. Many people shrug their 
151 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



shoulders with apprehension. He listens to noth- 
ing. He holds fast. 

Hard responsibility! Suppose his hard uncom- 
promising policy lets loose the tragedy? 

But, well informed, he considered all sides of 
the question. Being convinced that Germany could 
not want war already, he did not bend. Also, in 
harmony with the Nation which he knows is trem- 
bling with exasperation, he said to himself that a 
nation cannot resign itself to certain results without 
collapsing. Battle, with its risks, but also with its 
chances, together with the honor of not having 
avoided it, is better than downfall and shame. 

The outcome proved him to be right. Germany 
bowed before his firmness. 

But let us think of those days and nights that he 
had to live in that terrible uncertainty under the 
weight of that solitary anxiety. 

Let us recognize the fact that few men would 
have had the strength to shoulder such a great 
danger. 



THE PATRIOT 

WITH his passion for justice, and his adora- 
tion for liberty, it is his love for the country 
which unites most clearly his life as a political man 
and his life as a literary man. 

As far as one goes back into his past, one finds 
eloquent words in regard to France which are cries 
of faith and of savage tenderness. 

In 1 87 1, at the Assembly at Bordeaux, he is one 
of the protesting deputies — to-day the sole survivor 
among them — who swear fidelity to Alsace-Lor- 
raine and who do not resign themselves to the 
separation. 

When later at Versailles he demands under the 
form of amnesty the obliteration of our painful civil 
discords, it is in the interest of the country for 
national reconciliation that he calls for generous 
measures. 

During the years of struggle against the distant 
153 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



military expeditions, it is the worry over our 
frontier which obsesses him. In his uneasiness to 
see our forces dangerously scattered, he repeats with 
a sharp insistence by which people could not help 
being persuaded that it is on the Rhine that we 
must conquer colonies for ourselves. 

From this moment he foresees so well what our 
new duel with Germany will be; the day when, the 
dagger at our throat, we shall be forced into it. 
At Draguignan, 13th of September, 1885, he cries 
out: 

"Do you not know that if misfortune should 
bring it about that we would have to endure a war 
which we would not seek but which would be im- 
posed upon us, it is not for a province that we would 
fight but for the existence of the country?" 

The violence with which our social quarrels are 
made sad did not grieve him merely because of the 
mourning and misery which they bring with them, 
but by reason of the hatred and the grudges which 
they arouse and which in certain tragic circum- 
stances could bring about a weakness of national 
cohesion in the face of the enemy. By counselling 

154 



THE PATRIOT 



a generous political policy he gives salutary warn- 
ings. 

Thus, in 1891, the day after the bloody first of 
May of Fourmies, he says to the Chamber of Depu- 
ties: 

"We wish to bring about a social condition which 
would permit all the sons of France to respond to 
her supreme call the day when she is threatened. 

"Save the home, save the country! Because, if 
destiny does not permit us to get out from under 
the fatality that seems to weigh upon us, it is neces- 
sary at a given moment for France to find all of 
her children under the folds of her tri-colored flag. 
What heart, what arm would be willing to miss the 
supreme rendezvous!" 

At the most cruel moment of his life, when, 
braving the wildest attacks, he would have been 
very excusable for only thinking of himself, he 
always thinks of France. Above sordid tricks and 
injustice, he rises toward her. In this trial con- 
cerning the Norton papers, which were boldly but 
fortunately so clumsily forged, he had come into 
the Court of Assizes as a witness, but he spoke as 

155 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



an accuser. And escaping from all this pestilence, 
with what piety he says to soothe his soul : 

"For me the country is not only the soil we tread, 
where we build our homes, where the family is 
"brought up, where the France of to-morrow is made 
after the France of to-day. It is the community of 
ideas, of strong desires, and, if I may be allowed to 
say it, in a conquered, dismembered country, it is 
a community of hopes." 

As a journalist, senator and minister, the sole 
liberty which he, the believer in and the champion 
of liberty, does not recognize for anybody is that 
of disarming the country by a propaganda more 
stupid than infamous, by the insurrection organized 
against the sacred duty of defending the land, the 
soul and the independence of France. But he is not 
contented with stopping the blasphemy on certain 
impious lips and by driving out the apostles of de- 
featism and the perverters of weak consciences. He 
tries to enlighten with his ardent inspiration the 
crowd that they wish to mislead. It is with tender- 
ness, with all his faith and with all his eloquence, 
that he proclaims our reasons for cherishing and 
protecting our country. 

156 



THE PATRIOT 



In the wonderful discourse which, as Premier^ 
he pronounced at Amiens in 1907, at the time of the 
inauguration of the monimient of M. Rene Goblet, 
he moved his audience and all the Frenchmen who, 
the next morning, were warmed by this burning 
page, by this cry of love, of gratitude and of pride : 

"If there is a country which has the right to the 
love of its children and obtains it from the first 
smile, it is our France of yesterday, of to-day and 
to-morrow, the France of our proud ancestors, the 
France of our good brave soldiers, whom the most 
implacable adversary has not been able to conquer 
without admiring them; the France of our great 
thinkers, mistress of the clearest instrument of ex- 
pression that ever was, the France of the artist in 
all fields, where free scope is given to the superior 
instinct of a winged race, perpetually in quest of a 
supreme achievement of simphcity, of clearness, of 
beauty; the France of our workers of all rank, so 
courageously stubborn in their labor, so prudently 
attentive to the home, always awake to knowledge, 
always anxious to become finer, with quick instinct 
for everything new, and passionately jealous for 
the glories of the past, always ready to 'astonish 

157 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



their detractors by the sudden ease of their flights 
toward the summits as well as by the spontaneous- 
ness of their sincere return to cold reason; the 
France of the great human renaissance, achieved in 
our powerful effort of our revolutionary renova- 
tion in the name of the rights of the individual. 
The France of idealism in battle, by which the 
ancestral treasure of all humanity has been won- 
derfully increased; the France finally of our 
enchanted earth, garden of the planet, which attracts 
and retains the most indifferent, by the sweet inti- 
mateness of his welcome, by the grace and the 
charm, of the most lovable setting for human life. 
Gentlemen, we call upon our ancestors and our sons 
as witnesses, it shall not be tolerated that this great 
and noble France, whose fate was given to us in 
terrible hours, shall undergo from wicked hands, 
irreparable injury. We will preserve her, we will 
guard her, we will love her, trying to leave her 
greater, loftier, more beautiful still, to the genera- 
tion whose duty it will be to increase her always 
in beauty." 

This is a solemn promise which he, for his part, 
is keeping with such animating energy. 

158 



THE PATRIOT 



But while humiliating, by these words of pride 
and love, the braggarts of anti-patriotism, he wishes 
to be convinced that they are affecting a disinter- 
estedness that in reality they have not in their 
hearts. He esteems them more than they esteem 
themselves. He places confidence in them in spite 
of themselves. In the discourses in the Senate in 
1912, in regard to the Franco-German agreement, 
relative to Morocco, he rehabilitates them by antici- 
pation in their own eyes : 

"Rhetoricians, unfortunate men, not understand- 
ing the sense of the words they are pronouncing, 
can slander their mother, their true mother, the one 
for whom they have the right of the respect of all, 
but if ever the day comes when it will be necessary 
to march, these men without a country will come 
to ask you for a gun." 

The grave imanimity with which, on the second 
of August, 1914, the mobilization was carried out, 
has proven that Clemenceau was not mistaken. In 
front of the abominable outbreak of the whole Ger- 
man people, drunk with pride, and rendered mad 
by the certaijity of the quarry, no one lay in wait 

IS9 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



with doctrines of desertion. At the call to arms no 
Frenchman was missing under the flag. 

As resigned as he was that France should not 
voluntarily interrupt her work of peace, to retake 
by force the strip of her territory which had been 
torn away, Clemenceau was of those who never 
believed in a lasting equilibrium of the world as 
long as Alsace-Lorraine, so French, was in the 
grasp of Germany. 

Its annexation, which he had not accepted even 
in silence, remained an incurable sorrow for him. 
He thought of it only with sadness. And each time 
that in the noble villages and towns of Alsace- 
Lorraine, of a character entirely French, he saw in 
the Prussian grip, he saw faces no less French of 
our compatriot prisoners, he felt that this revolting 
servitude could not be eternal ; he always went back 
there with his heart oppressed, with as much depres- 
sion as on the day after the declaration of war. 
We have the following detail from an eye-witness. 
When, on his return from his annual cure at Carls- 
bad, he was traveling through the annexed coun- 
tries, without having time to stop, he had himself 

1 60 



THE PATRIOT 



awakened at dawn to salute silently our towns, our 
cities under the yoke, and as from as far as he 
could see them, the spires of the cathedral of Strass- 
burg, which dominate so many houses of beautiful 
French architecture. 

Therefore, each time in these forty-seven years 
of separation he had occasion to speak of his 
attachment to Alsace-Lorraine, he did not fail to 
recall their martyrdom and to express with an emo- 
tion, with which he is not prodigal, the fidelity of 
our memory. 

In 1908, particularly as Premier and as Minister 
of the Interior, he seized upon the pretext of the 
unveiling of the monument of Scheurer-Kestner, 
his old friend, to demand in the face of distrustful 
Germany our right not to forget. He did it with 
the prudence and the tact which his high official 
office demanded. But see in these measured words, 
in this restrained ardor, the intensity of his sad- 
ness and of his hope, and the delicacy of his admir- 
ing affection : 

"It was," said he, "the time of youthful enthusi- 
asm. In our hearts was rising the radiant hope of 
the great days, which through us were to be born 

161 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



again. By us, France, having become again the 
country of the rights of man, was going to find in 
the applause of fraternal nations the moral 
grandeur of former days. 

"To the sincere invocations to this beautiful 
dream it was war that answered. War and crush- 
ing defeat, war and dismemberment. 

"The armistice concluded, Alsace, in her supreme 
manifestation of French life, elected Scheurer- 
Kestner as one of its representatives in the National 
■ Assembly. I saw him at Bordeaux when the fright- 
ful hour of the great rending sounded. A friend of 
Alsace, he held with all the fibers of his being to 
this loved land, where the flux of the orient and the 
reflux of the Occident strike with changing for- 
tunes. He felt then with a peculiar refinement of 
grief the cruel misery of the mutilation. He could 
not detach himself from France. 

"Several months from that time I found him at 
Thann, struck squarely in the heart, but always 
sweetly stoical and trusting in the future. We 
called forth the memory of the peaceful life of 
Alsace in former days, when, in the evening, I 
accompanied the family, in the silence of the snow, 

162 



THE PATRIOT 



to the rehearsals of choral societies, in this tradi- 
tional country of the art of singing. There, work- 
men and employers, in friendly union, of the love 
of art, mingled sentiments and thoughts in a love 
of the common country. 

"Other times had come. I made with Scheurer- 
Kestner the hard pilgrimage to Belfort, Strass- 
burg, ravaged by the hurricane of fire and steel. 
The prey of what feelings? Ask your own heart. 

"And yet, on these smoking ruins, Scheurer- 
Kestner, expressed strongly his unconquerable hope 
in the future. He saw France finding and multiply- 
ing her forces during a peace giving opportunity 
for work, in the patient effort of every hour, in a 
peace stubbornly straining toward the reparation 
of ills, of all ills, through the development of a 
democracy of justice and fraternity. 

"Gentlemen, I am not afraid to evoke the memory 
of this bloody past. Solicitous for the responsi- 
bility which is attached to my office, I have been 
able to talk without restraint of events which have 
become history and proclaim feelings which we 
could neither repudiate nor conceal without debas- 
ing ourselves. When we render homage to a noble 

163 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



Alsatian who has honored France, what kind of 
men would we be if we were able to ignore the 
Alsace of history. No one has the right to ask 
that of us. 

"No doubt it has been said that silence in such 
a case is the best safeguard for a distrustful dignity. 
It seems to me rather that our dignity would really 
only be affected if we stopped our mouths with our 
own hands when we are able without fear of a 
malevolent interpretation, to give rein to the feel- 
ings which this day suggests. 

"All nations have known in turn the pride of vic- 
tories and the humiliations of defeat; and, in mis- 
fortune rather than in triumph, perhaps the best 
part of the country has been created by the 
drawing together and the fusion of souls. If the 
peril of victory lies in the temptation of abusing it, 
it is in the resistance to the blows of fortune that 
courages are steeled and that the forces of life are 
banded together. 

"We have received France in our hands coming 
forth from a terrible trial. In order to remake her 
in her legitimate power of expansion and in her 
dignity of high moral value, we have need neither 



THE PATRIOT 



to hate nor lie : not even to recriminate. Our eyes 
are turned toward the future. 

"What a lowering in our own esteem, as well as 
in the esteem of others, if we did not dare to give 
rein to the feelings which rise in our hearts when, 
before this monument, we come in contact with the 
memories of a glorious history of two hundred 
years in which our fathers have inscribed the im- 
mortal epic of the French Revolution. Two hun- 
dred years of life in common at the culminating 
point of civilization have melted customs, feelings, 
thoughts, all which determine a solid amalgamation 
of humanity otherwise than in the ages when the 
modern spirit was scarcely in the process of forma- 
tion. We have received, we have given. Common 
to all were the joys, the griefs, the glories and the 
wretchedness from which the magnificent move- 
ment of modern civilization surged forth. 

"In all the fields of our national activity, Alsace 
and Lorraine had won an eminent place, and espe- 
cially in the war, for at all times the men of the 
province were ready for battle. Alsace gave even 
sailors to the world as the statue of Admiral Bruat 
on the public square at Colmar bears witness. Metz 

i6S 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



gave us Fabert, as great a soldier as he was a citizen. 
In Pigalle's marble, Strassburg has kept the victor 
of Fontenoy, the most striking example of spon- 
taneous naturalization, 

"In the wars of the Republic and the Empire, in 
which France grew strong in an incomparable series 
of deeds of arms, Alsace and Lorraine offered a 
remarkable list of warriors, many of whom were 
of the first rank and whose names are inscribed on 
the Arc de Triomph. Forty generals, a whole nation 
on the field of battle ! 

"Great hearts, who with their blood have made 
our country. 

"Why should I not cite them all? 

"Kellerman (from Strassburg), who, in dying, 
wants his heart placed under the obelisk of Valmy, 
with this inscription: 

" 'Here died the brave men who saved France 
on September 20, 1792.' 

"Westermann (from Molsheim), dragged with 
Danton before the revolutionary tribunal, cries: 
'Before you send me to the scaffold wait at least 
until my seven wounds, all received in my breast, 
have become scars.* 

166 



THE PATRIOT 



"Ihler (from Thann) wins the admiration of his 
chiefs at the attack on the lines at Wissembourg: 
a glorious ancestor of the young captain who re- 
cently fell under the French flag. 

"Bouchotts (from Metz), Minister of War, as- 
sists powerfully the Committee of Public Safety 
in the organization of the armies. 

"Lefebore (from Rouffach) decides the victory 
at Fleurus. 

"Kleber, ancient hero, sleeps at Strassburg on the 
place d'Armes with the citation for great bravery 
which was to win the victory. 

"The son of Kleber (from Metz) is made illus- 
trious by the charge at Marengo. 

"Wagram sees Lasalle (from Metz) fall at the 
age of thirty-four years, covered with glory. 

"Eble (from Rohrbach) saves the army at Beve- 
sina. 

"Ney, finally, Ney (from Sarrelouis), left a 
Frenchman in 1814 by the delimitation of the new 
frontier, finds himself thrown on the German side 
by the treaties of 1815. Thus, when he appears 
before the Chamber of Peers, his defender, Dufer, 
without having consulted him,, can argue that his 

167 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



changed nationality takes him out of the jurisdic- 
tion of the court. But the man of Moskawa, 
trembling with emotion, rises and cries out: 'No, 
Gentlemen, I am a Frenchman ! I insist upon dying 
as a Frenchman !' We can see his statue from here, 
a replica of the one at Metz." 

Knowing that Clemenceau, head of the French 
Government, was getting ready to extol Alsace- 
Lorraine without any limits except those which he 
thought best to impose upon himself, we wished 
to have the emotion of hearing this discourse, of 
which all the phrases, pronounced with increasing 
emotion, and all the implications, understood and 
acclaimed by all, gripped all hearts. 

While in power and when he had become once 
more a senator and journalist, Clemenceau saw to 
it more and more that France should keep her armor 
and her moral force which, alone, permits a nation 
to defend itself well. 

We have told of the important role in the diffi- 
cult struggle for the return to the law of the three 
years' military service, which Louis Barthou, 
Premier at that time, sustained by such eloquence, 
patriotic deputies such as M. Georges Leygues and 

i68 



THE PATRIOT 



others, carried on, with so much courage and perse- 
verance until victory was won. 

Certain sad gentlemen, when the safety of France 
was at stake, only sought an electoral platform 
suitable for the caperings of their ambitions, and 
did not take into consideration the role which Ger- 
many was playing through bribery in this trouble. 
At their instigation, some ill-humor was manifested 
in two or three garrisons, among certain soldiers 
who had not been carefully enough prepared for the 
boredom of a third year in barracks. 

Clemenceau was grieved over it and he scolded 
them in a fatherly way. With a trembling in his 
voice, he appealed to the noble sentiments which he 
knew survived in their erring hearts. 

They had been talked to about disarmament; and, 
in the madness of a day, some of the gentlemen had 
accepted the idea without a thought of the mortal 
peril that such a suggestion carries for us. 

Addressing one of them as a son who is tempo- 
rarily insane, Clemenceau talks reason to him with 
great firmness mixed with tenderness and with 
gripping eloquence. It is one of the great pages 
which bring tears to the eyes: 

169 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



"Some one must begin, you say? Not at all. 
Two at least are necessary in order to begin. While 
you are disarming do you hear the sound of cannon 
on the other side of the Vosges? Take care. You 
will weep out all the blood in your heart without 
being able to expiate your crime. Athens and 
Rome, the two greatest things of the past, were 
swept from the earth the day the sentinel failed to 
watch as you have begun to do. You, your France, 
your Paris, your village, your field, your road, your 
brook, all this tumult of history from which you 
come forth because it is the work of your ancestors, 
is all this nothing to you and are you going to 
quietly deliver up the soul from which your soul 
has been formed, to the fury of the foreigner? 
Yes. Then say that is what you want. Dare to say 
it so you can be cursed by those who have made 
you a man, that you may be dishonored forever. 

"You stop ? You did not understand ? You did 
not know ? A sacrifice has been asked of you heavier 
than you thought? It was an increase of effort 
which was asked of you as well as of others who 
would have believed themselves unworthy of France 
if they had murmured. Well, remember that this 

170 



THE PATRIOT 



is not enough for the country. Some day, when 
hope is blooming, you will leave your parents, your 
wife, your children, all that you cherish, all which 
holds your heart, and you will go, singing, as yes- 
terday, but another song, with brothers, real broth- 
ers, to meet frightful death which will mow down 
human lives in a fearful hurricane of steel. In 
that supreme hour you will see in a flash all that is 
comprised in this word, so sweet: 'My country.' 
And your cause will appear so beautiful you will 
be so proud to give all for it, that, whether wounded 
or killed, you will fall content." 

A prophecy which came true. Among the few 
mutineers of 1913, brave little fellows without 
malice, whose disappointment was poisoned, how 
many died a hero's death after having endured the 
hardest trials for their country, which they did not 
believe they loved so much. Under the bitterness 
of the blasphemies by which they calumniated 
themselves, Clemenceau had divined their true 
hearts. To help them to recover themselves, he had 
given them, in a magnificent outburst, the best he 
has in himself. 

171 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



We were still far from the tragedy. No one 
could foresee in what kind of a moral atmosphere 
it would find France, nor how France would re- 
bound under the aggression. Did the most confi- 
dent imagine that in face of the threat, in spite of 
evil doctrines, she would be entirely thrilled with 
sacred enthusiasm and sublime devotion? 

However, because Clemenceau had never doubted 
the French nation, admirable when it feels it must 
stand up for the defense of its rights, he had fore- 
seen the near future and the magnificent spirit of 
sacrifice, with which, singing as they went to war, 
our soldiers would dazzle the world. 

He wrote about this time : 

"In the life of nations, there comes an hour when 
a hurricane of brilliant exploits passes over men!" 

What a phrase to place as the heading for books 
in which historians will retrace for future genera- 
tions the martyrdom and the heroism of France, 
streaming with blood, but radiant with glory. Is 
it not also an inscription to carve upon monuments 
which will be erected everjrwhere to our immortal 
dead? 

With all his kindliness, a little rude but efficient 
172 



THE PATRIOT 



because of his frankness, he was bolstering up the 
weakening souls. At the same time, with an 
anxiety that sounded in his voice, he was busy with 
material means for our defense. The fifteenth of 
July, 1914, a few days before the cataclysm, which 
one felt was threatening more and more, but which 
one did not believe so close, Clemenceau cried out 
on the tribune of the Senate : 

"We, clinging to what remains to us of France, 
we do not wish, we cannot undergo the same trial 
the second time. It is not sufficient to be heroes. 
We must be conquerors." 

This strong will, for four and a half years, in- 
spires all his efforts in the war, and explains to us 
the passionate violence of his attacks, all which 
appeared to him, rightly or wrongly, to slow up and 
compromise victory. For four years he has lived 
only for victory. It is towards victory that all his 
moral and physical force is directed. 

The people love him for his jovial and warm 
brusqueness and take into account all that he has 
done personally for the country. Therefore it is 
with entire justice that the people in their pic- 
turesque and familiar language call him affection- 

173 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



ately "Father Victory." These sentences were 
pronounced in the course of a half century, and in 
dififerent periods of his life, in most diverse cir- 
cumstances and in different states of mind, in the 
hours of bold and triumphant youth, as well as in 
the hours of terrible struggles in which his enemies 
thought that they could strike him down ; they were 
spoken in regard to our civil discords or in regard 
to our political battles for a better guard on our 
frontiers. We should have been glad to multiply 
these citations but we believe that we have shown 
the defense, the glory, the happiness, the prosperity, 
of the country in justice and liberty, with the 
omnipresent ideas of M. Clemenceau. 

It remains for us to seek the profound sources of 
this vigilant and apprehensive patriotism. First of 
all there is as a fundamental element an ardent, 
tender and always youthful love for his native soil. 
Mouilleron-en-Pareds. Vendee. Its deep roads. 
Its marshes. Its trees. Its sky. It is there where 
the old people, whom he continues, lived worthily 
and industriously. It is there that float ethereal, 
vivid memories of childhood and of family. It is 

174 



THE PATRIOT 



there tha,t wild, turbulent and high spirited, he spent 
the first years of his school life. It is there again 
that his sentiment awakened in the poetry and in the 
luminous mystery of nature. What enchantment 
he discovered little by little in tiig grandness of 
nature! With what intoxication, alert, vigorous, 
overflowing with life, he took possession of them! 

"My joy," he says to them in one of his books, 
"was to run, to drink in the sky, the wind, the rain, 
the sun, to intoxicate myself with the odors of grass, 
to marvel at the spectacle of the earth." 

The landscape where, in thfe exultation of his 
youthful energy, one has known this happiness, is 
forever sacred, were this landscape in the eyes and 
the soul of a simple passer-by, without character 
and without beauty. 

For a man endowed with a little fraternal imag- 
ination, patriotic sentiment results not only from 
the joys smd the personal emotions, which his native 
comer have given to him, but also from the intensity 
in which he represents to himself the similar joys 
and emotions, which from innumerable hills and 
plains of France, united by so many memories of 
our common history, have brought to other com- 

175 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



patriots. The love of the country is born of the 
strong tenderness which is inspired in us, by all 
these little countries. And in his rude warrior's 
heart Clemenceau has always kept this bit of grass 
of his native land, kept fresh by the pure waters of 
his first memories. 

Thus, in short, he loves the earth like a man who 
has lived in the midst of peasants, who knows and 
respects their hard labor. He knows the hardship, 
the patience, the humble heroism of each day which, 
so to speak, sanctifies the attachment of the country- 
man to his little field. The peasant is fierce and 
without generosity if not without pity. That is 
possible. But this hardness in his feeling of pos- 
session has its excuse in the constant hardness of 
his effort. No respite. No security. The hail 
ravages what the frost spares. From father to son 
without allowing himself to be cast down by fail- 
ures, he exhausts himself over the furrows. 

Clemenceau, who, in the toil of his perpetual 
battle, has acquired so much esteem for the workers 
who do not give away, cannot but have respect for 
these silent but untiring people, ignorant of their 
own valiance. 

1176 



THE PATRIOT 



As a child, as a young man, and, during his 
whole life, at each one of his happy sojourns in his 
native village, and elsewhere, he has been the won- 
dering witness of their perseverance. He knows 
all the forms of rural labor, the demands and the 
cares of each season. 

His experience in the country knows what hard- 
ships are represented by the honest golden loaf of 
the French family. He knows all the exhaustion 
and care in the recompense of the vintage. He 
knows the fatigue represented in the linen shirt 
which the living wear or in the cloth which en- 
velops the dead for eternity. 

Do not believe that this warrior of these great 
political and national battles passes with indiffer- 
ence before the bed, the chest, or the cupboard that 
is transmitted from generation to generation! No 
one appreciates better the merit and lofty value of 
this treasure, so touching. It is because Clemenceau, 
full of sentiment and, poetical under his brusque- 
ness, as much as he is a realist, understands the 
human dignity and the energy symbolized by these 
poor touching things, loves his coimtry and wishes 
to preserve it 

177 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



V For his mind, which reconstructs tragedies and 
recalls them, war, invasion, mean the red flame of 
the fire in the thatched roofs, the ancestral furniture 
on the wagons, going at hazard on the roads, the 
broken plow and harrow, the frightened beasts gal- 
loping before the wave of fire. 

In his hatred of the Prussian, four times in a 
hundred years the destroyer of the rustic homes of 
France, in his unconquerable will to crush forever 
his noxious domination, there is in Clemenceau, 
rest assured, the tender memory of his native land, 
of the grave and meritorious existence of the 
French peasant. And that is one of the reasons 
why, holding the incendiary looting Boche by the 
throat, he will not let him go. 

But his patriotism has other profound sources. 
It is ennobled by the highest ideals. For him France 
is not only his native land, the coimtry of gay and 
delightful life, of likeable customs, filled with 
memories. 

It is also the cradle of generous thoughts. From 
there in all times came great hopes which enchanted 
humanity or offered it a solace. It is from our 

178 



THE PATRIOT 



country that the crusades set forth to make the fra- 
ternal pity of Christianity shine over the whole 
world, still savage. Chivalry with its elegances of 
bravery, its proud courtesy even in battle, and the 
refinements of its worship of woman, revealed to 
the astonished nations a superior civilization. 

Was it not also in our cities that the cries of 
liberty first resounded? They grow stronger from 
century to century, at the same time that the love 
of country is bom, and is exalted in our hearts 
until the days wheji the generous and human aspira- 
tions of the French soul are inscribed in books, 
which delight the heart of the world. 

French idealism has brought forth, among many 
ruins and sufJerings, light and liberty. Without it, 
what cruelty, what slavery would still exist. 

Right, so often derided, would succumb still more 
under brutality and caprice. Human life, which is 
too often held cheaply, would be the object of less 
respect. Consciences, whose free meditation one 
would wish never to be troubled, would suffer many 
other injuries. Finally, man, whom so many chains, 
so much ignorance and so many fears still bind, 
would be absolutely lost in servitude and darkness. 

179 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



The world is thankful to France for the libera- 
tion she has brought to it Her prestige is made 
of her everlasting and glorious efforts to free men 
and to give them a superior moral life. The words 
"Liberty, Justice, and Human Fraternity," are for 
the universe synonyms for the word "France." 

Is not a striking proof of this given to us by this 
war ? With what enthusiastic sympathy, with what 
pride, with what happiness people who are free or 
who aspire to liberty have come to group themselves 
about us, to strike down forever a race and a gov- 
ernment of oppression! 

Justly proud of her noble and long history, of 
which she is writing with her blood the most 
sublime pages, France is loved above all because of 
the hope which she has caused to blossom in the 
human soul. 

The patriotism of a man such as Clemenceau is 
born of the faith in the beneficence of this French 
ideal, of the pride and the happiness he feels in see- 
ing our country surrounded by the grateful affec- 
tion of nations, because always, throughout the 
ages, he has made himself the disinterested propa- 
gator of the French ideal. 

i8o 



THE PATRIOT 



He wants France to be victorious in order that 
this ideal may triumph forever and in order that 
the shining light of our country may be increased. 

He has said it himself in one of his memorable 
speeches which we cannot neglect without failing to 
recognize one of the elements, one of the essential 
forces, of his patriotism. For example, he says in 
the Chamber of Deputies in 1884 : 

"We have received from our constituents not 
only the mandates to defend the material country, 
our fields and our cities, but also the great patri- 
mony of ideals which is the domain of the French 
Revolution, which is our conquest, the conquest of 
democracy, the conquest of humanity and of right 
over oppression and arbitrary power. That is the 
domain which we have received from our fathers 
and which we will defend at all costs. But it is 
necessary to give us the means to do so." 

Later, in 1893, at Sabeme at a time when under 
a machine gun fire of insults and calumny, he would 
have been very excusable to speak only of himself, 
he keeps enough serenity to define his patriotism. 
Summing up all that France represents in his eyes, 

181 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



he cries out in the same spirit that we have just 
indicated : 

"Let us prepare to-day in maintaining in all her 
force, France, the great sower of ideas, of emanci- 
pation, of liberty, of justice ; France, the country of 
men. Diminished, conquered, let us take care of 
her forces of defense. 

"And if we are permitted to unite for an hour 
our hostile arms in a victorious effort for the coun- 
try, it will be because we have been the favorites of 
destiny. 

"Whether this good fortune is given to us or not, 
let us try to merit it by placing above all the safe- 
guarding of the soil of the country; by developing 
unceasingly in the hearts of our fellow citizens that 
which makes the moral strength of the coimtry ; the 
restless, radiant mind of France in quest of an ever 
loftier ideal." 

One of the essential characteristics of Clemen- 
ceau would be lacking if in performing our task of 
historian we had not added from some of his 
speeches to all his other reasons for loving his coun- 
try, his love for the ideal which renders his country 
to his eyes more noble, more lovable, more glorious. 

182 



THE PATRIOT 



Especially the sufferings and grief of mutilated 
France, of which he was the powerless spectator in 
1870-71, the martyrdom of Alsace-Lorraine and her 
great cry of despair the day she was torn away, 
aroused with a cruel wound the delicate deep 
patriotism. 

In the midst of youthful impressions, of clear 
memories and exalting thoughts, this was the direct 
and poignant emotion which dominated forever his 
whole life. 

Clemenceau had seen our soldiers conquered in 
spite of their heroism because they were insuffi- 
ciently armed. He had seen our villages on fire and 
our people under the yoke because our keystone of 
defense had been too weak. So he had sworn that 
he would do everything so that France could not 
be trampled, drenched with blood, and put to ran- 
som again. Alsace-Lorraine attached to the black 
and white boundary post of the victorious Empire, 
renewing constantly in all forms its proud protest, 
remained for him a source of grief and remorse. 

He belongs to a generation for which, in spite of 
the tasks and dangers of the ensuing hours, these 

183 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



atrocious things could never become historical anec- 
dotes. 

Clemenceau, whose first great political act was a 
solemn oath of fidelity to Alsace-Lorraine, is one 
of those who never became resigned and who have 
kept with hope the apprehension of new German 
outbursts and maintained the hope of being able to 
render them impossible. 

The only one living in the parliamentary world 
of the men who had a role in this tragedy, Clemen- 
ceau makes the new-comers understand the state of 
mind of the older people who, if they have not had 
the happiness to reconstruct the country, have at 
least built its ruins, remade its forces, added youth- 
ful glory to his glory and have not let hope be 
extinguished. 

In the language of the foresters, the "witnesses" 
are the great trees, rare survivors of former cut- 
tings, that are kept in the midst of the young growth 
and thickets to recall the majesty of the lofty forest 
trees which have disappeared. 

Ravaged, but powerful and dominating, they rear 
their lofty motionless trunks above the little 
branches which bend and the frail foliage rustling 

184 



THE PATRIOT 



at their feet. Having resisted the worst torments, 
having seen the young vegetation wither, and die 
around them, they permit us to imagine the deep 
perspective, disappeared these many years, of the 
great trees which sprang up with them and which, 
like them, would be ancestors to-day. 

When at the turn of a path, their lofty silhouettes 
rise tip, for some minutes one does not pay atten- 
tion to the twigs of the little trees of our height 
which sway and crack. The heart is only moved by 
the old shivering of the "witness," especially if, in 
our youth, we have heard hundreds of other great 
trees of the same period now cut down, swaying 
over our heads with the same rustling. It is the 
past with its hopes, its failures, its grandeur, its 
pain, and also its teaching which lives here again. 

When Clemenceau came back into power he was 
the sole survivor in the Chamber of an epoch al- 
ready far away. When I saw him mount to the 
tribune and heard him speak in his noble, proud 
language, which had not echoed then for so long a 
time, I could not help thinking of the impressive 
"witnesses" of our forests. 

The new parliamentarians who crowded around 
185 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



him had not known the same tempests, nor trembled 
with the same hopes, and anger, nor vibrated with 
the same enthusiasms. They had not come into 
politics or even into life itself until after the great 
torments that Clemenceau and his companions of 
battle had suffered. The dismemberment of the 
country was already far-away history when they 
entered the lists. Many of them had brought 
there, if not forgetfulness and renunciation, at least 
other preoccupations more immediately pressing 
upon them and which do not allow them to see how 
far the future of liberty, of humanity, of peace, of 
justice depends upon the indispensable reparations 
for the rendings and the violence of the past. They 
spoke another language, and war, although discon- 
certing for their dreams, had not gotten them out 
of the habit of speaking thus. 

Others, nobly disinterested but prisoners of their 
wild dreams which are disastrous when the life of 
the country is at stake, were too dazzled by these 
chimeras to look squarely at the frightful reality 
with which we are locked in a death struggle. While 
they dream, unreasonable and dogmatic, they para- 
lyze the defense by anticipation of the future peace 

i86 



THE PATRIOT 



•with which they burden our present effort. In spite 
of all our chances to conquer, the danger increases, 
at the same time that the hardest sacrifices are im- 
posed upon us to remedy our errors and mistakes. 

Thus, here is the "witness" of a former genera- 
tion, of old French wounds and of living hopes, on 
the tribune and in power. 

France, which does not wish to die and which 
recognizes herself in him, has called him back into 
power. With a movement which strikes down all 
resistance, she forces it. In vain the frail, bending 
saplings make the noise of their agitation sound at 
his feet. His high, straight, powerful trunk, car- 
rying the traces of struggles and old wounds, is the 
rallying point of the whole French will. All alone 
of his -time, he is silhouetted on the sky of torment 
as if his companions of yore were still standing 
around him against the blast. 

On that day listening to M. Qemenceau we 
heard the voice of our ancestors. By his declara- 
tion, his ardent cry of love for the country, liberty, 
justice, the rights of individuals and nations, in his 
powerful but serene speech, he told us that, for the 
moment, our whole duty was to unite our forces 

187 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE , 



more than ever, to fight without discussion and to 
resign ourselves silently to all suffering in order to 
conquer. 

We recognized this voice because we had heard it 
in childhood and our youth. With what emotion 
we found it again. Let him smile who wishes. 
We are glad to tell him our joy and confidence. 
Those who formerly spoke this proud but reason- 
able language certainly did not have so much elo- 
quence as M. Clemenceau; but it was the same 
thought, the same strength of conviction and of 
hope. 

For them the Republic was before all, at the price 
of all sacrifices, the defense of the country. Many 
of them had become republicans only through patri- 
otic anxiety and faith. But the Republic was also 
the reign of law, equal for all and master of those 
who make it. It was the sincere respect for com- 
plete religious and political freedom. It was the 

reign of justice, of work, of talent. It was the 
suppression of intrigue and favoritism. It was the 

struggle against the arrogance of the unscrupulous, 
personal interests, against all corporation power or 

i88 



THE PATRIOT 



any reestablishment of a new feudalism under finan- 
cial, parliamentary or other form. 

Certain deviations of these ideas had come about, 
even before the war. Since the war they appeared 
more shocking and more dangerous. It was too 
long a time since the voice of the country had re- 
sounded imperiously, with such power. Honor to 
the "witness" which had risen to revive tradition 
and call back duty! The Committee of Public 
Safety and the Government of National Defense 
have spoken through his mouth. Immediately, 
with the energy of his ancestors, he harmonized his 
acts with his words. 

There rose in the battle, the "witness" bearing in 
his old heart together with his own ardor, that of 
his companions who had fallen without seeing their 
noble dream come true but without having re- 
nounced it. 

He, the survivor, has the supreme joy of keeping 
the solemn oath made by all in sorrow and of realiz- 
ing the hope common to all these patriotic French- 
men whom death has mowed down around him. 

History knows no more wonderful destiny. 



VI 

THE ORATOR— THE WRITER 

THE eloquence of Clemenceau is movement, it 
is life. 

Instantly his clear thought finds the expressive 
phrase, and the one which is best adapted to the 
audience which he is addressing. Its hurrying 
rhythm makes it all the"^more striking. 

He has a horror of emphasis and of tumultuous 
volubility accompanied by great gestures. He is 
irked by a trailing affluence of style; and if by 
chance in the course of a speech he happens to be- 
come entangled in it, he quickly frees himself. 

For his temperament, all that belongs to the 
theater and the old style of acting. This sonorous- 
ness, sometimes very artificial, is far from always 
corresponding to the ardor within the orator! If 
he is the heir of the doctrines of the revolution and 
if he has received the ideas of the men of 1848, he 
has little taste for their oratorical solemnity. 

190 



THE ORATOR— THE WRITER 

Clemenceau does not like long-haired eloquence. 
His own eloquence wears, as he does, short hair. 
Therefore, one sees better the vigorous bone struc- 
ture and the form of its powerful skull is outlined 
more clearly. 

His terse, tense sentences, go straight to the tar- 
get like an arrow. They are not encumbered with 
epithets. Strong, short, stripped of useless words, 
they contain only the words necessary for the ex- 
pression of the idea. Moreover, each discourse is, 
as a whole, carefully arranged and put together, 
which produces a great effect on the mind. 

One can say that a speech of Clemenceau's con- 
sists of reason with just enough substance in order 
to live and to influence and to endure. 

There is no dryness in this strong soberness. 
There is no grandiloquence, but restrained ardor 
which bums underneath his words, an inner flame 
which gleams brightly. More than by the sound 
of words, it is manifested by rigorous logic, by 
resolute accents. There is a swift movement which, 
together with the sudden improvisation and the flash 
of brilliant repartee, burst like a thimderbolt through 
his closely knit arguments. 

191 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



Clemenceau is certainly vivacious and impetuous 
in his gestures. On the tribune, as in the corridors, 
in his editorial office, in a drawing room, he is a 
conversationalist who is full of life. He keeps in 
touch with his auditors, rebelling at interruptions 
even when he wants to appear to be listening. 

But he is one of these orators who, talking with 
his arms at rest or with his hands in his pockets, 
have their oratorical eflfect rather in their look, their 
facial expression and in the compressed energy of 
what they are saying. 

He walks up and down, master of himself, atten- 
tive to the least motion in the room, never losing 
sight of the aim of his vigorous demonstration, even 
when he seems to allow himself to be diverted for a 
second by trifles along the way. 

His hand rests for a moment on his portfolio, if 
it is with him, or runs along the cover of the tribune 
ivhile he walks with calm steps as he pursues his 
tense discourse. 

At a remark thrown out by an innocent who does 
not know the danger of such imprudence, he turns, 
sarcastic and quick to reply. Laughter ripples, and 
undisturbed, as if he were not concerned with these 

192 



THE ORATOR— THE WRITER 

fireworks, which he has fired off, he takes up his 
demonstration with a gleam of amusement in his 
eyes. 

If the interrupter is wordy, and if Clemenceau 
does not mind allowing him to get into a fix, he 
puts his hands down deep in his pockets, leans up 
against the desk until the uncontrolled talker has 
finished his observations. Moreover, he does not 
lose anything by waiting. The reply will, as always, 
be courteous. But generally it does not put the 
laughter on the side of the imprudent gentleman. 
The penalty that he must pay is almost always in 
proportion to the length of his palaver. 

He also has the art of putting an end, by a re- 
partee covering the whole case, to the quick fire 
interruptions which spring forth all at once from 
a whole group. Thus, one day when the socialists 
were pretty well aroused and were chopping up his 
carefully prepared speeches with their violent re- 
marks, he calmed them down with this sly dig: 
"Be careful of arousing too much fear, lest in the 
future city people may be intolerant !" 

The interrupters were the first to smile and hence- 
forth abstained from troublesome remarks. 

193 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



^ If he hears some curious thing which astonisheS' 
him or if he remembers an illogical or incoherent 
fact, a piece of foolishness or wild dream, Clemen- 
ceau, as a man into whose brain such nonsense can- 
not enter, makes his well known gesture of stupefac- 
tion in the face of such extravagance, by holding up 
his outstretched hands as high as his head. 

Then with his cutting and yet animated voice he 
demonstrates, chides, demands. With all the 
authority of his clear thought, he holds people bowed 
under the force of his arguments. At these mo- 
ments you could hear a pin drop. Clemenceau 
straightens up, throws back his head and fixes his 
eyes on his auditors. He pays no attention to the 
interruptions thrown at him. With his accustomed 
gesture of emphatically pointing his forefinger down 
at the crowd, he plants his reasons in the heads of 
the listeners. 

On the tribune he constantly gives an impression 
of great clearness and unrelenting logic together 
with an impression of absolute control over him- 
self, of an ease, which nothing disconcerts, and of 
good humor. One feels that he likes this lively 
battle of ideas, that his fencing, with its sudden and 

194 



THE ORATOR— THE WRITER 

unforeseen thrusts, amuses him, because of all his 
natural gifts which it gives him a chance to exer- 
cise. 

This rapid, sober eloquence, with its striking 
logic, is, moreover, very beautiful in its concise 
strength. It has the nervous beauty of the im- 
petuous thoroughbred, the strong beauty of a 
weapon of battle. His are speeches which bear re- 
reading. 

The dramatist, Henri Becque, whose human plays 
retain all their interest in the study, far from the 
stage, used to say: "The best drama is the drama 
of the library." He meant a drama which can bear 
reading. The same is true of oratory. Speeches 
can please by their animation and physical charms, 
such as the voice, gesture, and bearing of the orator. 
But how many of them out of the atmosphere in 
which they were pronounced and which helped their 
success, do not bear reading because of their poverty 
of expression, their loose unordered construction, 
and their redundant banality. Clemenceau's 
speeches are well rounded out and well arranged. 
His sentences, never weighed down by epithets, are 
strong in their striking nakedness. 

195 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



Also, hurried as he is to arrive at his goal through 
his close arguments and by expressive, pithy say- 
ings, a speech of Clemenceau's at whatever period 
it was delivered, is always rich in substance and 
ideas. All his observations are summed up in a 
few words, in a way not to slow down the quick 
movement of his demonstration; but they reveal 
vast culture, knowledge of history, meditation over 
the works of social philosophy, and the discipline 
of an intense pondering over the great problems of 
yesterday, tc^day and forever. 

An evolution took place in his eloquence when 
Clemenceau, deprived of the tribune for the time 
being, began to mold his thought by writing. Up 
to that time his form of expression had been very 
familiar. 

His eloquence remains full of life, incisive and of 
a keen logic. It retains its quickness, its sharpness, 
and the persuasive power of a strong and rapid 
dialectic. However, in certain passages of a com- 
plex shade, one feels that the orator assumes the 
habit, even when he is speaking, of hunting for the 
written form of his idea. He is no longer satisfied 

196 



THE ORATOR— THE WRITER 

with a speech which would only be a brief, brutal 
bit of sword play. 

A man of action, of course he cares above all for 
the goal he wishes to reach and the influence he 
wishes to exercise. He loses nothing of his inex- 
orable logic, of his brilliant irony, of his precious 
gift of rebounding under interruptions which he 
answers with a phrase and without stopping. But 
he is glad to allow the philosophical and social rea- 
sons of his ideas to appear. 

His speeches, from this time on, perhaps have 
not, in certain passages at least, this naked force 
which made them so impressive. Their movement 
is not so quick. But, as a compensation, what ful- 
ness, what richness is found in them! 

By refinements and subtleties, by the construction 
of sentences, by scholarly perspectives of words and 
thoughts, which cannot deceive writers, one recog- 
nizes the work of a pen, made, surely, with a rare 
quickness of composition, but without which the 
sentence cannot possess color or high relief. It has 
not been learned by heart like certain stock phrases 
of some of our most brilliant orators ; but one can- 
not doubt that it has been written and that the 

197 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



essential part of its structure must remain in the 
mind of the speaker. 

Even in this new and enriched style, Clemenceau 
is not one of these orators who, troubled by the idea 
of an impeccable unfolding of their speech com- 
mitted to memory, walk right along as if on a tight 
rope, too much preoccupied with their feat to notice 
the thrills of the audience and to reply to them. 

His speeches are carefully studied and of a rare 
loftiness of view ; but their careful preparation does 
not disturb his accustomed ease or the timeliness 
of his brilliant fancy. 

Let an interruption be made, and immediately, if 
it deserves a reply, ihe fencer on the tribune, stop- 
ping most carefully thought-out oratorical periods, 
protects himself with a clever or caustic parry. 
Then with perfect freedom of mind, he takes up his 
demonstration, so effective by the nobility of his 
idea and the brilliancy of his words. 

Since the time when the writer has made the im- 
pression on the orator, Clemenceau, as Minister and 
twice as Premier, has had occasion to pronounce, 
at memorable ceremonies, certain written dis- 

198 



THE ORATOR— THE WRITER 

courses of magnificent oratorical movement and of 
a striking depth of thought which are masterpieces 
of literary eloquence. 

If he is placed upon the tribune by popular ac- 
clamation as during the manifestation in honor of 
Alsace-Lorraine or is forced by the sudden turn of 
events in the war to speak in the Senate or in the 
Chamber, immediately, the orator, forgetting the 
writer, finds again all his gifts as a powerful im- 
promptu speaker. 

He knows how to be in turn familiar and pathetic 
through his sober intensity. With his voice, heavy 
but pleasing in its quality and emotion, when he 
wishes, he rises to the most gripping lyricism of 
expression and thought. 

Thus, one day in the autumn of 19 18 after 
M. Paul Deschanel's spirited speech, paying homage 
to our victorious soldiers and inspiring greatest 
hopes in all French hearts, he paraphrased with a 
burning ardor, the song of the Marseillaise. Trans- 
ported by the spirit of this wonderful improvisation, 
the deputies leapt to their feet and broke out into 
thunderous applause. 

199 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



In movement and in life the orator is like the 
writer. 

With his pen in his hand, Clemenceau preserves 
his clear, close logic, his picturesque, terse power of 
expression. 

His articles are generally long and cannot be 
shortened because they are very substantial. But 
the sentence is almost always brief, sinewy and in 
high relief. 

With Qemenceau, the warrior, the discussion of 
ideas is often adorned with fillips on the noses of 
his adversaries. In hot discussions, his flashing 
irony illuminates the most difficult train of reason- 
ing, and adds a great attraction. 

In front of his blank paper, he keeps his good 
humor. He shoots his arrows with a kind of jovi- 
ality. He scratches in joking. His laughter, even 
when very malign, lessens the sting. One guesses 
the most of the time that, when once his feelings 
are relieved, he is ready to hold no grudge against 
the people he has handled roughly. This is very 
rare in battle, for there are people who get angry 
in proportion as they strike, and growing wild in 

200 



THE ORATOR— THE WRITER 

the slaughter feel their hatred increase against the 
men that are violently attacking. 

That which distinguishes Clemenceau's pages 
from the pamphlets of certain other polemicists, 
even of great talent, is their fulness. 

Very often articles of this kind are brilliant, but 
empty. The word replaces the idea. On the other 
hand their authors do not have to fret about pre- 
senting new arguments. Since the public is gen- 
erally convinced and follows them passionately, it 
only desires one thing: the repetition of the same 
theme with variations as long as their frenzy lasts. 

The articles which Clemenceau has published 
every day for twenty-five years are, on the con- 
trary, astonishingly diversified. Far from inter- 
esting only by humorous sarcasms, all offer, in ad- 
dition, the attraction of a noble and generous 
philosophy, of profoundly human thoughts, and of 
well arranged reasoning. 

They are doctrinal articles which become, acces- 
sorily in the course of the discussion, polemical 
articles. Clemenceau is a fighter for an idea, but 
not a pamphleteer. 

When one reads him regularly for a certain num- 

20I 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



ber of years, one admires not only his strong argu- 
ments and his wit, but also his vast knowledge of 
the world of ideas, his feeling for life and history, 
the loftiness of his views. 

The least event of the day — an incident in the 
street or in Parliament, the scandal which is ex- 
posed or condemned, the latest book or an exposi- 
tion being held — is a reason for him to philosophize. 
Without pedantry, and only by discussing it in a 
wide-awake, striking manner, he lets appear all 
that he has read or seen, all that he knows, and the 
grave meditations of a lucid, powerful brain always 
at work. 

It happens that too much philosophy leads this 
clear, sober talent into a little too much abstraction, 
sometimes confused and in a less felicitous form. 
These are the defects of very noble qualities. One 
cannot complain, because we owe so many pro- 
found, luminous pages to that ardent interrogation 
of his thoughts. 

To this worship of reason and this passion for 
the free play of ideas which come from his family 
education and his reading, are joined his sensitive- 
ness to nature and his curiosity, sometimes tender, 

202 



THE ORATOR— THE WRITER 

sometimes amused, often indignant, in regard to the 
human comedy. This is the result of his contact 
in the city and in the fields, with numberless men of 
all socied classes, of all opinions, of all countries. 

M. Clemenceau has shown these precious literary 
qualities in his stories and in the pages of his ro- 
mance, Les plus Forts. For, if he has written many 
cutting and persuasive articles on the political situa- 
tion, if he has carried on many resounding cam- 
paigns in which his concise logic and his power of 
discussion were employed, there is a large part of 
his work, which, more serene but full of life, is an 
evocation of nature and humanity. 

Although very different from the other writings 
of M. Clemenceau it is in close relationship with 
them, because, the picturesque stories, moving and 
full of pity imderneath, the direct irony, were bom 
of the same social philosophy, of the same generous 
inspiration and contributed in establishing in Cle- 
menceau the perfect unity of thought and action 
under the different forms in which it is manifested. 

Attentive to the spectacles of nature and to the 
actions of men as he is curious about ideas and 
wrapped up in history, his clear brain has been fed 

203 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



on our classic authors whose sohd reason and 
knowledge of the human heart, and whose unerring 
judgment enchanted his spirit. He was steeped in 
the masters of the i8th century who are dear to 
him because of their free criticism, their independ- 
ence of mind and their generous aspirations. He 
followed carefully the works of the English soci- 
ologists and the works of the French socialists of 
the middle of the 19th century, so fraternal and so 
sincerely desirous of concord and harmony. 

His language, original as it may be and so faith- 
ful in its expression of a clear-cut character, under- 
goes a different influence. His thought bears the 
mark of it. 

The good sense, the healthy morals, the firm 
honesty of our classicists and their vigor have 
strengthened his passion for truth, his pressing 
need for frankness and clearness, his revolt against 
all that is hypocritical, soft and unreasonable, and 
have increased his uneasiness in the face of chimeras 
and mental disorders. 

He is still more directly related to the encyclo- 
pedists, to the great prophets and men who pre- 
pared the modern world. 

204 



THE ORATOR— THE WRITER 

Curious about ideas, stirred by plastic arts as well 
as by the theater and literature, taken up with phil- 
osophy as well as with social problems, as he fences 
in the political battles, he has the effervescence of a 
Diderot. 

Everything interests him powerfully. In his 
mind there are no barriers between the fields of his 
knowledge. All the forms of creative activity are 
correlated in him. He has ideas on everything. He 
feels the need of immediately having his say on 
everything and a certain happiness in being heard. 

Then, like the writers of the i8th century, he is 
in love with liberty, right, justice. Like them he is 
an optimist. He believes in progress, in knowledge 
as a beneficent teacher, in the amelioration by her of 
the lot of men. 

If a few people astonish and irritate him — ^while 
amusing him — by their incoherence and their lazi- 
ness of mind, he has confidence in human reason, 
in the future of humanity. It is optimism and 
confidence which increase his power for action. 

He has the passion, the impetuosity, the fluttering 
of a Diderot — but of a more active Diderot. At 
the same time one finds in his pages something of 

205 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



an after-taste of the irony of Voltaire and a little 
of his withering smile, with more joviality in his 
observation of human defects. 

Let us add to this, the influence of certain mas- 
ters of the last century. For example, as affirma- 
tive as Clemenceau is in his precise rigorous 
opinions, does not one find in his independence and 
boldness, in the face of no matter what problem, 
the subtle freedom of mind of a Renan? In his 
short sentences, striking in their pithiness, is there 
not sometimes a recollection of Victor Hugo? Fi- 
nally in Clemenceau's most burning pages, which he 
writes in critical hours, under the impulse of a 
strong emotion, do not his restrained exaltations, 
his alarmed patriotism, his fraternal glow recall 
somewhat the lyricism of iMichelet speaking of 
France and the country? 

Thus appears the literary filiation, in thought and 
form, of this statesman who became a writer and 
remained a man of action in his study. It is plain 
that, if our impressions as a reader are correct, he 
is of a great lineage. 

Through all these distant formative influences, 
which only a very careful analysis establishes, there 

206 



THE ORATOR— THE WRITER 

is the vigorous personality of Clemenceau, this thing 
which makes him one of the masters of modern 
French literature. It is the rare union of the lofti- 
est idealism with a sharp sense of the real, the 
taste for philosophical speculation joined to a great 
sensitiveness for Nature, Art and Beauty. 

His meditation and his power of action, which 
rarely go together, strengthen each other. This 
harmony is found in his writings. He passes with- 
out effort from the exposition of his views to the 
evocation of a spectacle of nature and of the world. 

Like his eloquence, his style is movement itself. 
Logic, one of the controlling factors of his brain, 
is adorned with imagery and color. Impetuous but 
always of an unchangeable lucidity, passionate but 
always controlling his ardor, he goes from the most 
rigorous argument to irony, to sarcasm, to strong 
chiding, to the most tender poetry, to lyricism. 

He reasons with all his intelligence and wiU 
brought into action. 

And suddenly a flame springs from his heart. 

His literary work, at the same time rumbling 
with passion and of such high intellectuality, his 
quick, jerky, sentences which suddenly become 

207 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



gripping, bear the mark of this firiii, clear reason 
and of this motive power. 

With his pen in his hand, he gives himself en- 
tirely. And one guesses that, happy in his full 
liberty, having only to reckon with himself, he 
gives himself with pleasure. 

In reading him one imagines the satisfaction that 
such a fighter must have, even in the midst of the 
worst injustice, when, in the silence and solitude of 
his study, he is able to enjoy the magnificent power, 
which is possessed by a man of letters in front of a 
blank sheet of paper. 

And one feels that, to-day after twenty-five years 
of this spiritual pleasure, M. Clemenceau delights 
in the enchantment which the writer feels, at de- 
pending only upon himself. 

On the tribune, in the corridors, the man of 
politics, if he wishes to have influence, must be oc- 
cupied with ideas, with interests, and reactions of 
things round about him. Necessarily in order not 
to condemn himself to powerlessness, he leaves a 
little of his faith at each turning, and of his thought 
at every embrasure. The writer, if he has the 
courage, is the sovereign master of his soul. Cle- 

208 



THE ORATOR— THE WRITER 

menceau, who was as firm and independent as a po- 
litical man can well be, had this courage. He had 
also the great reward. His haste to take up his pen 
shows well that, having given himself this enjoy- 
ment, he will not renounce it, henceforth, any more 
than he will renounce the exalting dignity of letters. 

In the least important of his daily articles, M. 
Clemenceau shows himself a master writer by the 
loftiness of his views, the persuasive force of his 
reasoning, bj the firmness of his concise sentences, 
the strength and brilliancy of his shafts and by the 
sudden sweep of his emotion. 

The best of his articles, those which are most 
closely related to his doctrines and continue his 
policy best, those also which deal with some sub- 
jects of humanity and have been brought together 
into volumes, such as: La Melee Sociale (1895), 
Le Grand Pan (1896), Au Fil des Jours (1900), 
Aux Embuscades de la Vie (1903). The extraor- 
dinary variety of the subjects treated in these 
books does not prevent an impression of imity from 
clinging about them. It results from the generous 
philosophy with which the ideas, the events, the 

209 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



men of the moment are appreciated. And the 
commentary, which he makes upon them, has so 
much loftiness, is of such a free and profound spirit 
reveals such a knowledge of life and of history, that 
in spite of the passing present to which these bril- 
liant articles are connected, one still reads with 
interest the books in which they are assembled. 

These fine pages written from day to day have 
been carefully joined together by M. Clemenceau 
by prefaces which sum up eloquently his conceptions 
of life; and they put into high relief the doctrines 
which inspired them. Thus the existence of the 
hard social battle, a fierce continuation of the strug- 
gle for life in all nature, the existence of the con- 
flict of species, the law which he represents pro- 
foundly, finds it a corrective in human solidarity 
in the face of grief, of oppression, of poverty. 
The profound prefaces, stirring in their thought, 
have the value of manifestos. The preface of the 
Grand Pan, an impressive hymn to science and 
nature in which he has shown with so much poetry, 
his knowledge and his taste for Hellenism, is won- 
derfully eloquent. 

With all of these lively discussions having as a 

2IO 



THE ORATOR— THE WRITER 

subject some event of the day, M. Clemenceau 
mixes stories with sudden, correct observations, 
sometimes mischievous and sometimes pathetic, in 
which he shows best his knowledge of humanity. 
This is when he has been able to express most freely 
his feelings for the country and the rural customs. 

The fighter for ideas excels in bringing out a 
landscape with its form, its color, its rustling, its 
perfumes. The deep roads of Vendee have in him 
their faithful painter. 

It is not only the corners of the earth full of 
memories for him that he is able to call forth with 
a stroke of the pen. He represents with the same 
truth in all their peculiar atmosphere, the villages 
and forests of Morvan, as well as different regions, 
where, in his too short stays, he has been able to 
grant himself the sweetness of observing feeling 
and listening to nature. 

Having kept the habit since his youth, of under- 
standing the mysterious silences of peasants, he 
reconstructs with clearness their state of mind. He 
makes them live as they are and speak as they 
express themselves. There is no affectation or 
gloominess about his descriptions of them; but only 

211 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



their true sentiments and, through their merit of 
industrious, economical and patient beings, their 
funny Httle tricks for their own interest. 

There is always the animosity of the strong 
against the weak in these stories, as in most of 
Clemenceau's pages, together with a pity which does 
not forbid a sly shaft of wit, and together with a 
revolt against oppression. 

Such is the theme of his novel, Les plus Forts, 
published twenty years ago, when in very different 
social surroundings and setting, one finds his noble 
conception of life applied to a more brilliant form 
of the struggle for life. 

In the hurly-burly of resounding campaigns and 
of his parliamentary activity M. Clemenceau still 
found time to write, under the title Au pied du 
Sinai, a series of picturesque stories. He traced 
several silhouettes of Oriental Jews, with whom he 
had become familiar at Carlsbad and he gave him- 
self up to his taste for sly observation, very much 
diverted by the peculiarity which he perceived. 

Clemenceau completed these discussions of ideas, 
and impressions of nature and humanity, by studies 
of painters and sculptors in whose work he finds 

212 



THE ORATOR— THE WRITER 

what he prizes above all in the work of others and 
what he tries to put in his own work : human emo- 
tion, the thought and labor of the modem man, the 
setting and character, the love of today under the 
magic, flowing poetry of life. 

That is why he hailed in turn in most eloquent 
pages the sculptor Constantin Meunier, who with 
such simple grandeur represented miners and 
lightermen at work; J.-F. Raflfaelli, painter of 
smoke, of rubbish heaps, and of people of the sub- 
urbs, and, later, of the streets and crowds of Paris ; 
Claude Monet, who represents the most subtle at- 
mosphere; Eugene Carriere, who expressed with 
such pathos the deep life of human beings. 

This literary portrait of Clemenceau would not be 
complete if one did not mention the sympathetic 
curiosity with which, in the midst of so much read- 
ing and work, he interested himself, even after his 
return to parliament, in the work of the writers of 
to-day, the young and the unknown, as well as their 
famous elder brothers. 

Every original creation interested him, no matter 
how obscure was the name with which it was signed. 
When current events gave him the opportunity, with 

213 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



what pleasure he used the theses of these books in 
his daily articles as an argument in support of his 
own ideas! 

In his weekly pamphlet Le Bloc, which he edited 
alone, and in which no one else ever wrote a line, 
and in which better than any other place he had the 
means of satisfying his intellectual activity, how 
many writers, unknown or famous, had the honor 
of seeing their works studied, discussed with sym- 
pathy or warmly praised by this lofty mind, happy 
to point them out as interesting examples of con- 
temporary thought! 

In the hours of this intense literary life, this 
Frenchman found, in the company of masters and 
in exercising the art to which he had devoted him- 
self with such passion, new reasons to love his coun- 
try better and to be proud of it. 

If since his infancy many reasons, still more 
determining, had not instilled in his heart the love 
for his country, his admiration and his love for the 
French language would have made him a patriot. 

Let us repeat the hymn with which he hailed the 
language in his toast at the banquet for Edmond de 
Goncourt, where the friends of the noble artist, 

214 



THE ORATOR— THE WRITER 

recognizing in Clemenceau a writer worthy of pay- 
ing him homage, asked Clemenceau to speak. I 
still hear the strong accent of that act of faith when 
, he said with emotion : 

"Language of simplicity, of clearness, of truth, 
in which, like the most perfect mould of thought, 
the most subtle sensations, the most lofty con- 
ceptions, the noblest assertions are formulated 
spontaneously. Language of liberty, which awak- 
ened the world through the appeals of the liberated 
spirit, language of pity, of severe justice, of pro- 
found kindness, whence sprang the living spring 
of human solidarity. Language of friendship, lan- 
guage of love, whose natural harmony can, without 
the rh)d:hm of verse, delight the soul on the heights 
of sublime emotion. Language adored by all those 
who feel it move within them, who live it. Lan- 
guage of our ancestors, language of the earth, lan- 
guage of our country. Yes, it is France herself, 
it is the glory of the past, and, in spite of evil 
hours, it is the unconquerable hope, the solid an- 
chor of the future." 

Singing the praise of the French language, Cle^ 

215 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



menceau took occasion to speak with respect of the 
grandeur and. nobility of the role of the writer : 

'The peasant tills the soil, the workman forges 
the tool, the scientist calculates, the philosopher 
dreams. Men attack each other in grievous bat- 
tles for life, for ambition, for fortune or glory. 
But the solitary thinker, writing, acting, fixes their 
destiny. It is he who awakens in them sentiments 
which engender the ideas through which they live 
and which they try to establish as social realities. 
It is he who with his haunting phrases, pushes them 
into action to reestablish justice, truth. It is he 
who enchants them with his young hopes whose 
intoxicating appeal sweeps them into life. It is he 
who consoles them, remakes them, and healing their 
wounds, leads the conquered of yesterday to the 
victory of to-morrow. He opens hearts, penetrates 
life, reveals man to man, and truly creates him in 
his consciousness and will. 

"To have been for one hour the workman of 
such a work, would suffice for the glory of a life." 

In speaking thus before one of the greatest mas- 
ters of French literature, who incarnated so nobly 
the merit and the dignity of the writer, M. Clemen- 

216 



THE ORATOR— THE WRITER 

ceau showed his pride and his joy of living in full 
liberty in the enchantment of creative exaltation, 
the beautiful life of a writer, which permitted him 
to continue his influence on men. 



VII 

AT THE FRONT 

CAN one be astonished that from the first shots 
fired and the first charges of the Uhlans, a 
man of such a soul and of such a temper, partici- 
pated in the war ? 

For a long time in an ever more anxious atmos- 
phere of storm, he felt that the lightning was 
threatening to set the whole horizon on fire. In his 
journal and on the tribune, he sounded the alarm 
bell. After having helped to forge, by the law of 
three years' military service, the weapon of defense 
which we needed, he begged the young Frenchmen 
to resign themselves to being, for ten months 
longer, the shield of the country. Then, on the 
eve of the catastrophe which he felt was near, be- 
lieving that there was still time, he had sounded a 
cry of alarm in the Senate in order that our output 
of munitions might be accelerated. 

His haunting fear came true. Without reason, 
218 



AT THE FRONT 



in spite of our praiseworthy patience, Germany falls 
on us. Qemenceau, inconsolable for the defeat 
and invasion, sees again the nightmare by which 
he is obsessed since 1871. The German flood is 
again going to strike against our frontier. Can he 
not stem it? 

Qemenceau hopes so. The spirit of the nation 
is wonderful. No more discords. The doctrines 
of renunciation are forgotten. Is it the same na- 
tion in which, at certain times of illusion, in cer- 
tain quarters confused by ignorance, unfortunate 
men calumniated each other? Within twenty-four 
hours all France has risen, trembling with indigna- 
tion. It is the spirit of 1792. They rush to arms 
for liberty. In the rending of its calm happiness, 
in the anxiety of battle near at hand, the whole 
country is admirable in its stoicism, resignation, con- 
fidence. 

For Clemenceau, who is not in power and who 
intends to serve in his way during the tragedy in 
which the fate of France is being played, there is 
nothing to do, save inspire hearts. 

With what emotion and with what eloquent pages 
he sets about it ! Each one reads him to strengthen 

,219 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



his faith. It is truly the generous, tender, firm soul 
of the country which is wonderfully expressed un- 
der his pen. His inspired articles are among the 
pages which comfort best of all and do the most 
good. Those who go and those who stay, find in 
them new reasons for loying France more, for suf- 
fering, for sacrificing for her. 

In spite of the lack and the insufficiency which 
he knows, Clemenceau hopes that heroism and in- 
telligence will supplement our preparedness on cer- 
tain points and that all will go well. He believes 
that they will get the best out of what there is and 
will be able to create with boldness and decision 
Tvhat is lacking. 

Indeed, they set their minds to it. They work 
and improvise. Under the first terrible shock, after 
a strategic retreat, our armies rebound. The vic- 
tory of the Marne and the rapid mobilization of 
French industries, to a great extent dispossessed of 
their factories, give the world time to come to our 
aid. 

Yet, the machine is not running well. The real- 
ity of this terrible war surpasses everything which 
could be imagined or foreseen, without counting 

22D 



AT THE FRONT 



the red tape and apathy. Of course, there were 
men whose careless mediocrity concealed in the 
easy tasks of peace, would be revealed in all its 
scandal and fatality as soon as war broke out. 
Again, time is necessary to discover them and oust 
them. 

During the interregnum of the Chambers and the 
parliamentary Commissions which were not in ses- 
sion during the first weeks of the war, Clemenceau 
watches, observes, gets information. Already in 
the general silence, he begins his role of sentineL 
Informed, he warns. As they do not listen to him 
as quickly as he would like, he redoubles the energy 
of his sentry duty. He talks more loudly. Think- 
ing only of being useful, of avoiding delays and 
mistakes injurious to the country, he complains that 
they are mistaking his intentions and that they seem 
to want to stifle his entreaties. 

Without criticising the conduct of the war, what 
does he point out? The bad organization, the poor 
means, the inability to change methods of the sani- 
tary department which, surprised by the slaughter 
of these great unforeseen battles, and deranged by 
the retreat, does not adapt itself resolutely enough 

221 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



to the proportions of the tragedy. Tortured and 
shuddering, Clemenceau, who knows the value of 
French blood, wants more efficient care provided 
for the wounded without delay. The doctor speaks 
for this, at the same time as does the patriot. 

Then the baseness of slacking, favored by equally 
guilty complacency, disgusts him, shocks him, wor- 
ries him. He knows that in a country like ours, 
where the equality of duty and danger should be 
the rule, nothing has so much power as these shame- 
ful subterfuges to demoralize people. 

How will the mothers, wives, fiancees, bear the 
anxiety and perhaps the grief, if, in their neighbor- 
hood, there are too many families cunningly ex- 
empted from these sufferings? No longer believ- 
ing in justice, will they have the power of resig- 
nation? It is to be feared that they will feel their 
courage fail them and break, by their rancor and 
by their complaints, the efforts of our defense. 
Then in his disgust and apprehension, Clemenceau 
rises against this cynicism of these sly deserters, 
pours forth vituperation on the accomplices and on 
the irresponsibility of their unmoral powers which 
protect cowardice. 

222 



AT THE FRONT 



This was a just campaign made necessary by a 
disgraceful tendency toward slackers on the part 
of some, in contrast with the enthusiastic rush to 
arms on the part of the country. When M. 
Clemenceau had become minister, he put his most 
intimate colleagues in charge of the hunting down 
of the disgraceful slackers. Unfortunately, in spite 
of everything, many were able to take refuge in 
so-called war-work and were sheltered by laws 
which made this comedy of theirs legitimate. When 
the two chambers began to sit again, M. Clemen- 
ceau foimd in the Commission of the Senate, which 
immediately set methodically and seriously to work, 
a new means of carrying on his activity against 
this abuse. Henceforth, he had not merely his 
journal L' Homme Libre to point out weakness and 
slowness. (L'Homme Libre was cut to pieces every 
day by the censor's scissors and sometimes its pub- 
lication was stopped. As a protest, he changed the 
name of this journal to L'Homme Enchaine.) 

As a member and then the president of the Com- 
mission of External Affairs of the Senate, he was 
able to take advantage of the frequent appearance 

223 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



of the ministers before these Commissions, to give 
them precise facts, to demand that these mistakes 
be remedied, to demand rigorous measures of pres- 
ervation. 

With all his ardent soul, with all his clear rea- 
son, exclusively applied to the safety of France, he 
participates in the work of national defense. 

From the first weeks, he saw that the war would 
be very long and that we should arm ourselves as 
if it were going to be very much longer. He wants 
programs for the manufacture of munitions quickly 
drawn up on a large scale, corresponding to the ne- 
cessities of modern warfare. 

Speaking in the name of a Senatorial Commis» 
sion which is animated by the most intelligent patri- 
otism, he thinks of our soldiers who are suffering 
and bleeding and who, badly equipped, have only 
their breasts to defend France. 

Therefore how anxious he is to see coming out 
of the arsenals, the shops, without delay, material 
worthy of their bravery and able to render it ef- 
ficient ! 

He insists, he presses, he is on guard against red- 
224 



AT THE FRONT 



tape and against the harmful esprit de corps which, 
distrustful and disdainful of unsanctioned initia- 
tive, discourages good intentions. 

At the same time, in the Commission of Exter- 
nal Affairs he checks up the official statements by 
the private information which his colleagues and 
he procure. All working together, they try to per- 
ceive and to propose the best measures for the diplo- 
matic conduct of the war. 

Thus, since the beginning, without respite and 
without stopping, with nothing but solicitude for 
the public welfare, he consecrated all his activity 
to national defense. 

He knows every lack, all the problems that arise 
day by day, all the fortunate or unfortunate at- 
tempts, failures as well as successes, the progres- 
sive struggle for the greater output of munitions, 
the ups and downs of our relations with the Allies 
and the neutrals. 

He is informed of everything. He has the fig- 
ures and the smallest details in his memory. One 
can say that he understands absolutely all the parts 
of the mechanism of the war. 

225 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



He is not satisfied with the information that 
comes to him. Not content with suggesting pro- 
grams and with speeding up their realization, of 
getting information on the best employment of men 
and material placed at the disposition of the su- 
preme command, he wishes to find out about it him- 
self. As soon as he can he goes to the front. 

In the haste of these rapid journeys, he stops a 
moment at Headquarters and talks with the chiefs. 
What old prejudices there may be against him! 
And yet one is glad to recall in what conditions 
eight years before, he had appointed General Foch 
Director of the War College, in spite of the foolish 
and ill-timed objections of a political order which 
were made. And he did this because, caring only 
for France, he intended to choose the man most 
capable of forming a group of the finest officers to 
defend her. One remembers also his firm attitude 
against the aggressive chicanery of Germany in re- 
gard to the deserters of Casablanca and his refusal 
to allow France to be humiliated. 

Also he expresses himself with such frankness! 
Under his sarcastic harshness one feels such a love 
for his coimtry and such cordial gratitude for those 

226 



AT THE FRONT 



who serve it with all their heart and with inteUigent 
energy ! 

They perceive that he listens, observes, questions, 
and discusses with calm lucidity. He does not 
hesitate to advance certain ideas when they show 
him that they are not correct. He wants people 
to speak to him with the same frankness which he 
brings into these conversations himself. He up- 
holds just claims. 

Finally his radiant patriotism, with its clearsight- 
edness, its firmness, and its hope, enchants those 
who approach him. It is the soul of France, proud, 
resolute, gayly courageous, which Clemenceau 
brings to the armies. 

These conversations just behind the lines, are 
only brief halts in his trips to cantonments, trenches, 
the true goal of these journeys of investigation. 

Gaitered, wrapped up in his heavy civilian coat, 
the felt hat, knocked in and pulled down over his 
face, Clemenceau, such an old nimble hunter, walks 
in the midst of the poilus. With a familiar power, 
of which no one dreams of taking advantage be- 
cause he keeps a great dignity in his most affable 
good humor, he speaks to them. And he knows 

227 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



how to make himself tmderstood, whether he talks 
about the country or about victory. Not one of 
them would be tempted to murmur: "Hot-air 
artist." He has a manner. The most rebellious 
undergo the grip of his will and his warm heart. 

'> Those who are most ill-disposed toward parlia- 
mentarians, in his presence are without distrust and 

without any thought of jeering. They have seen 
him very near bursting shells. They know that he 
is not afraid. He does not pose. He is cordial, 
spontaneous and bantering. He has the soul of the 
poilu. They adopt him. 

He is Clemenceau ! It does not make any differ- 
ence that they have not always been in accord with 
him, they are none the less proud to look out of 
the loop-hole to be under the shell-fire not far away 
from this glorious comrade, with his big white 
mustache, former chief of the Government of 
France, who, like a brave sentinel, wishes to mount 
guard in the midst of the men of the line, and who, 
recalcitrant to the order of the men on the staff, 
always wants to go farther in order to see better. 

Such indeed is his constant desire. He only 
thinks of dragging beyond the permitted limits the 

228 



AT THE FRONT 



officer that the chief of the sector has given him as 
a guide. And if it is the Commandant himself 
who accompanies him, he revolts more strongly 
against the orders which have come from higher up, 
against the prudence which, however, one is right in 
having. 

Furious at feeling himself even in the lines, a man 
enchained, he protests, he uses all his jovial, author- 
itative and persuasive powers of seduction; but his 
efforts are vain against the obedience to orders and 
against the feeling of just and grave responsibility. 

Then feigning more ill-humor than he has, he 
tries to pique the pride of his guardian : 

"You are not obliged to accompany me!" he de- 
clares ironically with a gleam of mischief in his 
look. 

The chief of the sector, very sorry at not being 
able to let this thoroughbred have his head, is very 
careful not to take this mischievousness as an of- 
fense, smiles but resists. 

Worn out, he counsels his tormentor: 

"I can't do anything about it. Telephone to 
general headquarters." 

Here is Clemenceau, scolding, imperious, sar- 
229 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



castic, at the telephone: Excessive precautions! 
They're holding him up! They don't let him see 
anything! Imaginary danger! And then what 
difference does it make ! 

One guesses from his more and more insistent 
and irritable replies that at the other end of the line 
the General or Colonel, with very deferential ob- 
stinacy, is strongly forbidding him. 

Clemenceau knows that his insinuation is unjust 
and his smile proves it, but irritated at his power- 
lessness, he risks without conviction another blow 
straight at the pride of his distant interlocutor: he 
shouts over the wire with his cutting, sardonic 
voice: "Because the officers of the staff are often 
kept far away from the trenches is no reason for 
forbidding me access to them." 

But there also they know him. They don't get 
angry. They are polite toward his ill-humor, but 
they resist. 

With what rage, full of playfulness, he hangs up 
the receiver! Down deep in his heart he is full of 
respect for these officers, who, in spite of his author- 
ity and prestige and his sharpness, do not give way 
under orders. 

230 



AT THE FRONT 



But he is Premier, Ministei of War. It is he 
who now gives orders. No one will hinder him 
perhaps from going where he wants to go? He 
does as he pleases. 

He is the chief, that is to say, the man who is 
responsible. He wants to see how all the wheels 
of the enormous machine move, how and in what 
spirit his orders are executed. 

He wishes to talk as much as possible with his 
generals, in whom he sincerely and gladly places 
confidence, and who are happy to have at their head 
a man of this kind. He feels the beneficence of 
intimate relations with them, talks man to man, 
apart from official documents and telephone calls. 
What misunderstandings, mistakes and slowness 
one can avoid by speaking with frankness. Unity 
of views and efforts is assured. 

For the same reason he wishes to be as much as 
possible with the troops and talk simply and cor- 
dially with our soldiers, bring to them even in the 
lines the grateful heart of France, prove to them 
by his own presence in the zone battered by machine- 
guns, his kind solicitude. 

Comfort them? Not at all. They have no need 
231 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



of that. Their bravery is all energy, all boldness. 
For so long a time their stoical soul has known 
resignation. 

But perhaps they will not be indifferent at seeing, 
at the turn of a road swept by shell-fire, or some 
corner of the trench, when they are going to the 
front, the glorious old man in a roar of the storm 
of shells. 

From their words and their looks he feels that 
his appearance among them gives them pleasure. 
Being sure of this he considers it his duty not to 
neglect this way of helping the coimtry. That is 
the reason that he replies only with a smiling ges- 
ture of resolution to his many friends who are 
worried over this adventurous roaming about under 
skies laden with steel. 

If he goes to the front lines it is not only because 
he thinks that his visits are useful. It is also be- 
cause, at grips with most terrible difficulties, he 
himself finds the greatest comfort in this at- 
mosphere of enthusiasm, of sacrifice and of 
heroism. 

It is a sacred atmosphere where, in the suffering 
and the perpetual peril, the greatest virtues shine 

232. 



AT THE FRONT 



forth. With what simplicity! What a total dis- 
regard of unimportant preoccupations! At every 
moment the best in man is shown there. Never, at 
any time, in any country, has there been more moral 
beauty. The noblest idealism upholds their 
strength. All this without caring for their attitude, 
without any claim of sublimity, with a frankness 
in regard to the little, usual weaknesses, in the pic- 
turesque carelessness which often accompanies the 
valor of our poilus. 

Then he, the man of action, the chief of the gov- 
ernment, who, in order not to relax his terrible 
effort, needs to live in faith and in hope, with what 
relief he comes to steep himself in this mighty mass 
of humanity exalted by its sacrifice which will per- 
haps never be found again in this paroxysm of re- 
nunciation and of noble ardor. 

Clemenceau brings back as much moral force as 
he takes there. 

Back of the lines, even if the great majority of 
Frenchmen keep their souls proudly open to hope 
and share in saving the country, stoicism and 
grandeur do not always exist. In this immense col- 
lective work, in which we should all be proud to be 

233 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



humble, nameless workers, there are those who do 
not succeed in controlling themselves enough to for- 
get themselves. There are falterings, vanities, in- 
trigues which, far away from danger, are not ef- 
faced under the red badge of courage. One finds, 
together with abnegation, devotion, eager, con- 
fident patriotism, egoism, cupidity, cynical ambition, 
infamy, low-minded profiteering, crime. 

Near the garden of virtues there is the muck- 
heap of ugliness and shame. There are pestilential 
emanations of which the least among us must be- 
ware. It is all the more necessary for the respon- 
sible leader to preserve all his lucid firmness, all his 
power for action, and he must neglect nothing to 
maintain his strength. 

What a refreshing tonic are these visits to the 
front when, in spite of the hardness of such a life 
in the mud, the blood and in the hail of steel, in 
spite of the strokes of the terrible Reaper, Death, 
hearts are radiant with hope. Let us not doubt 
Clemenceau, so filled with admiration and grati- 
tude for the wonderful halo which emanates from 
them. 

Clemenceau carries on the war with the soul of a 

234 



AT THE FRONT 



warrior. He studies, of course, reports, dispatj:hes, 
statistics with great care. But he never loses from 
sight the reaHty: the men beyond the piles of of- 
ficial papers. He thinks of them when figures are 
given to him. When theories are submitted to 
him he wonders, no matter how correct and bril- 
liant they are, how the men in the horizon-blue uni- 
forms will react to them. 

Then he wishes to see and find out about the re- 
sults, without taking into consideration a lack of 
synchronism between the front and the rear. 

Neither the liaison officers nor the telephone were 
sufficient to keep them in unison. It is good that 
the chief, if he knows how to watch, to persuade, 
to be obeyed, should institute himself the high 
liaison officer between the nation and the army and, 
that, well informed and zealous servant of the coun- 
try, he should make his voice heard in Parliament 
and at Headquarters. 

That is why Clemenceau, applying more than ever 
his method since he has been in power, goes to the 
front as soon as he can get a day off or merely an 
evening between conferences and committee meet- 
ings, and important meetings of Parliament. 

235 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



He goes at full speed toward the zone of the 
Allies. His little soft hat, his large white mus- 
tache and his sharp black eyes may be seen behind 
the window of the automobile. 

As he goes by, people recognize him. They at- 
tempt a salute when the speed of the car allows it. 
If not, they smile and without knowing each other 
they feel the need of pointing out to each other, by 
a gesture or by a word, the presence of Clemenceau. 

The crowd loves his activity, his picturesque 
good-fellowship, and his bantering ways. People 
are glad to say to themselves that the sentinel is on 
careful guard. 

In the auto, beside the Minister of National De- 
liverance is one of the most energetic and intel- 
ligent men of the young army : General Mordacq, 
chief of the military cabinet, with six palms on his 
war-cross, his fifth stripe and his stars won on the 
field of battle. He is just the kind of a helper 
needed by Clemenceau. He is industrious, has a 
clear mind, a strong character, acts with decision, 
speaks only when he has something to say. 

Clemenceau works on the way. He does not 
start out without his portfolio. If he has not docu- 

236 



AT THE FRONT 



ments under his eyes, he has the figures and all the 
details clearly engraved in his memory. It is a 
precious occasion to reflect and discuss without the 
perpetual uproar of the whirlwind entrances, visits 
and telephone calls. 

To what sector is he going? 

Where they fought yesterday, that is to say where 
there is heroism to glorify and wounds to heal, sor- 
row to console, for the empty spaces in the ranks 
oppress the hearts which survive. 

Where they will fight to-morrow, because on the 
eve of the "Da'sf' it is a good thing to make those, 
who are going to risk all for France, know she is 
with her defenders with all her tender and strong 
soul. 

Where they are fighting to-day. In the uproar of 
shells and the hell of the mad attack. There the 
men are sustained by the feeling of duty, of honor, 
of all the nobleness, of all the charms, of all the 
beautiful hopes that France represents in their eyes. 
They are exalted by the memory of their wives, 
their fathers, the home which must be preserved for 
the future. They rush into the hurricane of fire, 
struggle on the ground, fight one against the other. 

237 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



Is it not well that they should see the chief, that 
they would hear his warm words, shake his friendly 
hand, when going into the furnace and when hag- 
gard, worn out, still trembling with the superhuman 
act, they come out of the lines? 

The shells fall near by. Two minutes before the 
windows of his auto were broken. 

Just now the divisional staff was up in the air 
because the Minister having gone his own way, they 
did not know in what trenches he was walking and 
whether anything had happened to him. 

Perhaps at this time the victorious march of the 
victorious French armies, followed by the general 
advance of the Belgian, British and American 
armies, has made this personal contact less neces- 
sary. 

Since the days in June when Mangin threw back 
the Prussian Guard, since the fifteenth of July, the 
great day of the stolid stand of Gouraud in Cham- 
pagne, the great breath of victory has exalted the 
heart and brought joy and hope into the terrible 
effort. Gouraud's stand made possible the liber- 
ating movement so masterfully conceived by Foch, 
Petain, and Fayolle, so . masterfully executed by 

238 



AT THE FRONT 



Mangin, Humbert, Debeny, under the orders of 
FayoUe himself, by Degoutte and Berthelot under 
the command of Maistre. But in March, April, 
May, June, how many dark days there were, where, 
while the reserves were barring the road to Paris, 
it was absolutely necessary to have the ardor of 
Clemenceau burning at the front. 

Those who were in the furnace can bear witness 
to the happy effect of his frequent presence and his 
comforting talk. It was France, invincibly con- 
fident and resolved not to die which was expressing 
herself in his words. 

Nothing ever betrays his anxiety before the men 
who were dominated by his faith, his will, his hope. 
He showed the magnificent good-humor, the witty 
joviality, the calm which he maintains in the most 
critical days. In his low, jerky voice there was only 
a little more emotion which made his appeal more 
impressive. 

How well he knows how to appear before our 
soldiers, with a resolute affability, which immedi- 
ately breaks the ice, and how well he knows how to 
speak to them with a cordial brusqueness ! 

The politeness with which he accompanies his 
239 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



spontaneous good-fellowship does not fail to sur- 
prise them agreeably. He has his own way of ap- 
proaching them. 

If he meets a troop on the march or at rest, with 
his cane along his arm and his hands in his pockets 
of his overcoat, he salutes them with a clear: 

"How do you do, Gentlemen !" 

Astonishment among the soldiers. Military 
discipline hardly allows such greetings. 

This is no affectation in Clemenceau. If he uses 
this phrase it is because it corresponds to his feel- 
ings. 

He knows that in the ranks of the French army, 
men of all classes and professions rub elbows. 
Thinkers are lined up with workers; peasants are 
near merchants; employees are with lawyers. He 
is full of respect for these citizen-soldiers who en- 
dure, with so much resignation and such long brav- 
ery, suffering and incessant danger. 

He knows their life, the charming happiness, the 
delightful customs of which it is composed. He 
thinks of the work, the charms, the pleasures which 
they have renounced without complaining for four 
years. He appreciates the hard sacrifice which they 

240 



AT THE FRONT 



are all making for their country; the man of the 
fields homesick for his plowing and his animals; 
the city man deprived of his elegance and his com- 
fort; the scholar who has left his books; the man 
of affairs taken from his business. 

Above all, he knows what has been accomplished 
by the greatest soldiers France has ever had and all 
that we owe thefti. 

He attempts to render their efforts less trying. 
He does not cease to watch personally over the 
material comfort of their heroism. 

But that is not enough. As he admires them, as 
he has vowed to them the most affectionate grati- 
tude, he tries to make tliem feel it on every occa- 
sion. 

"They have rights over us !" This is a great idea 
which, in one of his pithy sayings, he expressed 
publicly as a program of gratitude. 

Having shown by tliis personal salutation in what 
great esteem he holds tliem and with what feelings 
he speaks to them, he talks to them man to man, 
with a familiar joviality. His frankness calls out 
frankness, and in this, as everywhere, he has a witty 
thrust, sometimes caustic, which amuses them. It 

241 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



is an agreeable covering which he gives to his rea- 
son and good sense. 

Then on certain difficult days, with a sudden 
flight of oratory of striking simplicity, he makes 
the thrill of noble enthusiasm pass through their 
whole being. It is the country which sends them 
to the attack through the emotional voice of this 
inspiring man. 

He is certainly playful, full of good-fellowship, 
wittily familiar; but he has such dignity and so 
great a power of mind even in his most intimate 
friendly talks, that the greatest lout would not have 
the slightest temptation to be disrespectful. 

While talking heart to heart, in a friendly tone 
which is humorous on occasions, Clemenceau re- 
mains the chief. 

And suddenly with an inspiring word, compre- 
hensible to the most simple souls, he recalls the duty 
with which he is invested. He carries his soldier's 
stripes in his brain and character. 

Everywhere he passes, so free and easy and so 
simple, his presence brings pleasure and excites en- 
thusiasm. People rush to hear him, to shake his 
hand. They try to find in the midst of the ruins, 

242 



AT THE FRONT 



in the "bush," in the torn up ground some symbol 
of the feelings which they have for him. 

For example, a little while ago in the famous 
"mountains" to the east of Reims, which almost in 
his presence had been snatched from the invader, 
our poilu was happy to see him in such a place at 
such a moment, seeking in this landscape, pock- 
marked like the surface of the moon, some simple 
flowers which gave the illusion of a tri-color bouquet. 

With what joy they offered it to Clemenceau, who 
was very much moved at the receipt of these flowers 
picked in such a place by men who had just con- 
quered it! 

In the hospitals at the front, where he stops as 
much as possible to comfort the wounded, in the 
hospitals back of the lines, which he visits some- 
times, he finds immediately the comforting words 
and intonations. 

A room which he has traversed is a room where 
for several instants pain seems less sharp and sor- 
row is certainly quieted. 

There, the doctor which Clemenceau was and still 
is a little, appears in the minister. His words in- 

243 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



vestigate and care for their health before they cheer 
them up. 

Therefore, grateful looks follow him when he 
goes away, and if by chance at the head of the bed 
he meets the father, the mother or the wife of the 
poor wounded man, how he knows how to win their 
heart and with what soothing tones he consoles them 
and gives them hope ! What moving scenes of this 
kind were reported by witnesses! 

With the officers the same outburst of gratitude 
and affectionate respect, the same rapid penetration 
of hearts, an equal love for France brings them 
together instantly. They know up to what point his 
efforts are stretched toward victory, and with what 
solicitude he surrounds their soldiers. Like the 
soldiers, the officers say that this grand old man, 
henceforth above all ambition, desires nothing, seeks 
nothing for himself, lives only for the liberation of 
his country and for its complete triumph which 
alone can guarantee our children a long security in 
the future. 

He knows that these are the same men as their 
poilus. They run the same risks, often even more. 

244 



AT THE FRONT 



Honor and responsibility impose obligation. On 
the days of attack, standing up first on the parapet 
of the trench and marching at the head of their 
company, of their battalion, they are by their very 
position more exposed to the shots of the enemy. 
Magnificent in their calmness, their energy, their 
enthusiasm, an example with the smiling elegance 
of their stoicism, they have been mowed down by 
tens of thousands. 

Most of them have come up from the ranks. In 
the unit in which they were serving, in the midst of 
their comrades they won their stripes by their brav- 
ery and almost always by the price of their blood. 

Those who, having had the time to be educated 
in the military schools before the cataclysm, have 
survived forty-eight months of slaughter, have led 
the same heroic hard life. These young ancestors 
are very rare to-day. They are all of equally strong 
steel. 

The sole difference between officers and soldiers 
is, in general, better education, fitness to command 
which comes from mastery over oneself, and a 
preponderant part in danger, since the officer, on 
whom the eyes of all his men are fixed at every hour, 

245 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



must go over the top ahead, stand up in order that 
his men may lie down and expose himself first to 
the hurricane of fire. 

In almost all of our regiments for four years and 
a half, five times, eight times, ten times, the staff 
of officers has been renewed. Scarcely in one divi- 
sion on the battle line, does one find five or six 
captains or lieutenants who already had their golden 
bars at the beginning of the war. Also the stripes 
on their left arm bear witness that they only have 
been half spared. 

Clemenceau realizes that it is to such a precious, 
select body of men chosen during the torment, mag- 
nificent for their moral value, energy and spirit, that 
one owes, in great part, the long resignation of our 
armies, their untiring spirit, our -victories, and the 
maintenance of the sublime state of soul which has 
given them to us. He appreciates their merit and 
their sacrifices. He is grateful to them for theif 
great role of the safeguarding of France. 

Without doubt he is one of those who think that 
after having erected symbolic statues to the pictur- 
esque and stoical poilus, the saviors of the country, 
we shall not in this way have paid all our debt if 

246 



AT THE FRONT 



we do not erect on some Paris square a monument 
to the admirable infantry officer, glorious martyr, 
rushing to death at the head of his soldiers, and to 
his brother in heroism and endurance, his faithful 
companion of the first lines, of the nerve-racking 
bombardment of the big guns, the officer of the 
trench-mortars. 

Clemenceau is happy in the midst of such men. 
He is glad to listen to them, to speak to them, and 
to let them feel his gratitude and respect. 

And these brave leaders give him a hearty wel- 
come. Immediately their will for victory is in com- 
munion with his ardor. 

The youth of this astonishing old man makes 
them marvel. His spirit is in unison with their en- 
thusiasm and their gayety. Therefore, they are 
eager as soon as he appears. 

And when the chance of his wandering seats him 
at breakfast at their mess, the half hour passed 
around him is enchanting. His playful and bril- 
liant vitality conquers them, his faith exalts them. 

It is he, however, who feels himself their debtor 
because of the moral force that emanates from the 
assemblies of these young heroes, and, also, because 

247 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



of the great increase in confidence and hope which 
he brings away from them. 

Much direct evidence made it my duty to note the 
impression which his air and his words leave on 
these officers, free in their judgment, the most of 
them of a savage independence, who each day com- 
ing back from afar, are not dazzled either by fame 
or by office and only speak thus because they think 
thus. 

The great leaders of our armies, the generals, the 
commanders of units, know that under his orders 
they do their duty in full security. 

Their minister is hard but frank. With him 
there is neither slyness nor cowardliness to be 
feared. 

Head of the government, he conducts the war; 
but he does not interfere in the details of opera- 
tions. There is never any irresolution nor haggling. 

When a maneuver has been decided upon, it is 
carried out to the end. Even when it does not give 
all the results that one hoped, if those who have 
executed it are not responsible for its failure by 

248 



AT THE FRONT 



some stupid mistake, Clemenceau, firm and loyal, 
protects them. He is not the man tq lighten his 
responsibilities by the choice of scapegoats. His 
uprightness condemns such subterfuges to which 
he would never have recourse. 

He places the greatest confidence in those whom 
he considers worthy, and does so until he has been 
so deceived that he begins to fear for the success 
of his work of liberation. 

He shows himself pitiless only for carelessness, 
folly, and blameworthy thoughtlessness. Then for 
the safety of the coimtry he does not hesitate be- 
fore any punishment as hard as it may be. 

All these great leaders of war, which war has 
made, or whose previous advancement the war has 
justified, love his resoluteness, his energy, and his 
strength. 

They feel themselves at ease with him, the charm 
of his good humor works upon them also. No 
minister is less solemn. Man of action himself, he 
understands men of action. He has their soul. He 
knows how to speak to them, and his patriotic pas- 
sion accords with theirs. 

249 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



He has the same cordial frankness with the gen- 
erals of the Allied armies. M. Clemenceau visits 
them often. Attentive to all their efforts, he does 
not fail to tell them with what sympathy France 
follows the development as well as the results. 
They like his energy and his good humor. They 
do not conceal how much they are pleased by his 
clear-sightedness, his resoluteness, and also by his 
original fancy which, even expressed in English, 
keeps all its charm of spontaneity. 

The chief of our government speaks English 
with much ease. By this bond, intimacy becomes 
closer and easier. So many misunderstandings can 
be thus avoided. And the hearts of all of these men, 
so different, overflow with feelings so alike, that 
they feel a real joy to be able to communicate with- 
out an interpreter their fervor and their hope. 

Just as Clemenceau admires their boldness and as 
his uprightness is at ease in the presence of their 
loyalty, they like his clear conceptions, his lofty 
reason and the rigorousness of his logic. They have 
confidence in him and seem always to take pleasure 
in seeing him. Among our allies, his gift as an in- 
spirer of men, is strongly appreciated. Confidence, 

250 



AT THE FRONT 



sympathy, personal influence, together with the dan- 
ger that he has run, explain the success of his 
intervention at tragic hours. 

The unity of command, indispensable for victory, 
existed in fact, in a certain measure, under the 
glorious command of the victor of the Marne. But 
the principle had never been formally recognized. 
At the departure of Marshal Joffre this very desir- 
able unity was broken in practice. 

Our enemies knew marvellously how to profit by 
the weakness which resulted from the lack of co- 
hesion. Many times the peril had appeared to 
clear-sighted minds, but they tried in vain to remedy 
it. It was, alas, only in the face of catastrophe that 
prejudices gave way, that pride consented to listen 
to reason. 

Suddenly after years of relative security, the 
formidable German waves rolling from the Russian 
frontier, sweeping along an irhmense quantity of 
material, as they passed the garrisons of the depots, 
were in danger of submerging everything. 

They are pouring in all together at the most 
vulnerable point and the scattered condition of our 
forces does not permit the rapid barrage which 

251 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



would make them flow back. During two da3^s the 
toad to Paris is practically open. The whole mass 
is likely to be able to rush through the breach. 

Hours of the greatest danger which France and 
civilization have run since 19 14. Days and nights 
of anxiety! Those who read on the map the ter- 
rible threat have not yet told all the fear with which 
they were panting. 

In the midst of these powerful waves, whose fury 
was carrying everything along, Clemenceau, calm as 
always in battle when he can act, calls the ministers 
and the generals of the Entente to a council for the 
supreme resolutions. 

Are they going to compromise, through childish 
obstinacy, the future of humanity? His patriotism 
has such accents, his reason speaks so loftily and 
so clearly, his ardor so sets on fire their hearts, 
that soon, with Foch aiding, they are convinced, 
hearts are won, all resistance is broken. From the 
little house of DouUens with its great historic scene 
past the unity of command was realized once for all. 
That day the barbarian was struck down. 

History will tell later the details of that decisive 
day. It does honor to all of those who played a 
252 



AT THE FRONT 



role. Bat erne can bdieve that the pressing, moving 
argument of M. Qemenceau was aided by the con- 
fidence which he had inspired for a long time in his 
interlocutors, by the sympathy of his firm character, 
and the loftiness of spirit his mind had awakened in 
them. 

Now <Mi the roads of the f rcmt, he is constantly 
going toward Germany and to-morrow he will pass 
om- frontiers. He encounters, among the ruins, in 
their cities and in their villages systematically de- 
vastated, the Frendi population held in slavery for 
four years, hungry, put up for ransom, victims of 
htnniliations, of butcheries and of nameless out- 
rages, which the scrfdiers of the Entente have just 
freed f rtxn the German ycke. 

His heart bleeds. Forty years ago he had prom- 
ised to do everything so that the soul of the coim- 
try should not be outraged again, so that the soil 
of the country should not be sullied again. Now he 
sees again, with what aggravations of tortures, of 
anguish, of misery, the frightful, the grievous spec- 
tacle. He, the enemy of all violence, sees the most 

253 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



atrocious proofs of voluntary violence, useless and 
cruelly refined in its horror. 

As soon as our tricolor floats anew over the re- 
captured cities, he goes there. Passing in the midst 
of the soldiers of hberty who continue their vic- 
torious march while singing, he rushes to these old 
men, these women, these children, finally snatched 
from servitude and torture. 

These moments of first meeting are poignant. 
The heart beats as if it would break. Here, at the 
edge of the village, at the turn of a city street, are 
our compatriots, intoxicated at feeling they are free. 
Emaciated, in the midst of the ruins, bearing the 
marks of their long torture which they have borne 
so stoically, weeping for their dead and for the 
hostages driven away by butts of guns toward the 
tombs of German jails, they await France, they 
come to meet France. In spite of so much grief 
and misery their hearts are radiant with joy as 
their skeletons of houses are decked with flags. 

While awaiting the president, M. Raymond Poin- 
care, who will be there to-morrow and whose 
patriotism will know how to speak to these grief- 
stricken freed slaves, a comforting language, France 

254 



AT THE FRONT 



comes to them, cordial, tender and warm, In the 
person of M. Clemenceau. 

He is too firm ever to have tears in his eyes, but 
his low, broken voice betrays his emotion. It is 
rumbling with restrained sobs. Then suddenly 
pulling himself together, Clemenceau wants it to 
vibrate with happiness, with hope, with faith. For 
this liberated region the nightmare is over. While, 
under the flash of our cannon, it is disappearing 
elsewhere, here it is necessary to think from this 
day on, of the future, to prepare it, to rebuild the 
city for future generations for which, in the most 
terrible battle, our soldiers are winning the neces- 
sary security. 

What does he say to these trembling people, drunk 
with the happiness of no longer feeling that they 
are slaves and with having found again maternal 
France whom all, perhaps, did not believe to be so 
sweet and dear. 

c3 Scarcely has he spoken to them ardent and af- 
fectionate words, which are like an embrace, when 
he invites them to the immediate work of recon- 
struction. He calls them to work because he knows 
that with France in ruins no one has a right to be 

255 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



lazy and that, after so much suffering, laziness might 
be a bad counselor. That is his first word. Indeed 
never was work more necessary. 

This chumed-up earth, these piled-up ruins, these 
long perspectives of desolation which he has had 
to traverse to reach this part of France, have made 
M. Clemenceau reflect on our past errors and on the 
work of resurrection. 

He thinks of the salutary efforts from which 
political quarrels have sometimes turned us away, 
of the unbelievable waste of energy caused too often 
by political hatreds. 

These vast cemeteries where lie so many young 
heroes who have sacrificed themselves to pay for 
our mistakes, to save the country compromised by 
our discords, these interminable visions of distress 
which overwhelm the heart, dictate to him moving 
words of tolerance and of social harmony. 

In a feeling of pity for France and for ourselves, 
let us not add through grudges, suspicion and the 
violence of our internal struggles, weakness to so 
much death, hatred to so much grief. 

Companions in sorrow and anguish, let us love 
one another, let us respect one another! 

256 



AT THE FRONT 



1 Ought not this unheard of catadysm to be a be- 
ginning of a new era? 

At Lille, at Tourcoing, at Roubaix, among these 
people who welcome him with the Marseillaise and 
who rush to this fervent old man who brings them 
the spirit of French hearts, with a grave melancholy 
but also with much joy and hope, as soon as the first 
words of meeting are exchanged he says, on the 
spur of the moment: 

"Henceforth we must be more than ever united 
against the enemy, at first to finish the work of the 
war, and then to harness ourselves to the equally 
difficult work of peace. 

"The ancient republics were destroyed through 
internal dissension. We have almost suffered the 
same fate. May the terrible war which leaves far 
behind all that we have seen in history, even the 
wars of the revolution, serve as a lesson for us. 
Let us have our differences of opinion ; let each have 
his preferences, but let us respect the opinions of 
others; may there be none but Frenchmen, all 
brothers, communing in the same love for the 
country. 

"Let us think of France. We have not always 

257 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



been models of wisdom. We must realize the 
union of all citizens. We must not ask any one ta 
gi ve u p his convictions. Let us put into practice 
the device, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, graven 
on all our monuments. Thus will the work of peace 
be achieved as soon as the punishment of the Boches 
is assured." 

The memory of numberless graves by which he so 
often passed during four years, the terrible haunting 
fear of this abominable destruction, the wails of 
the victims crying vengeance will inspire M. Cle- 
menceau when, in the name of country, he will out- 
line the necessary conditions in order that the sword 
of France may be sheathed. 

After having sworn the oath in 1871 not to bow 
before force, to remain faithful to Alsace-Lorraine 
and never renounce the reparation of the crime, he 
has surely sworn to himself the new oath to neglect 
nothing in order that France, trampled four times 
in an hundred years, bloody, covered with ruins, 
may never have to fear again such wounds. 

Possessing great popularity as head of the Gov- 
258 



AT THE FRONT 



ernment, he is responsible to future generations for 
our future security. 

Knowing marvellously all our history and all our 
traditions unchangeable through all the political up- 
heavals, he knows all the precautions which are in- 
dispensable to protect the West of Europe against 
the Teutonic flood, to keep the peace of the world 
from being at the mercy of a madness for world 
power and rapine, to allow the noble ideal of France, 
humane and just, to be realized in happy labor and 
in peace. 

His patriotism will give him the force to demand 
all the collective and individual punishment of the 
authorities who made of our country a land of 
horror. He will demand all the reparation in 
money, machinery, material and labor, for the 
ravages systematically carried out. He will insist 
upon all the restitutions in annual pa3rments in gold, 
wood, coal, etc., and especially upon the rigorous 
guarantees which will remove from the nation the 
German army and will keep it from being recon- 
stituted. 

All his speeches in regard to this are so many 
solemn promises which will help to give us, in 

259 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



tears, in anxiety, in grief, the courage to suffer and 
to struggle. 

For the realization of this promise, M. Clemen- 
ceau is in perfect accord with M. Raymond Poin- 
care, president of the Republic, whose proud and 
firm words have strengthened us by the same prom- 
ises, with the energetic declarations, so ardently 
French, of M. Antonin Dubost, interpreter of the 
will of the Senate, with the eloquent speeches of 
M. Paul Deschanel, interpreter of the feelings of 
representatives of the nation. 

France wants justice to be done and her future to 
be saved. 

Then, when the treaty of peace shall have been 
dictated to Germany under the ruined arches of the 
cathedral of Reims — a symbol of all the dishonor- 
able destruction uselessly carried out by these vile 
people — when peace shall have been signed at Ver- 
sailles in the same Galerie des Glaces where, in 1871, 
German unity was triumphantly proclaimed in the 
form of the Empire established, not for peace but 
for conquest, when our victorious soldiers shall have 
passed under the Arc de Triomphe to receive the 

260 



AT THE FRONT 



homage of the nation whose great citizens they shall 
become, then, quietly, his hat cocked on the side of 
his head, his cane over his shoulder, the great 
Minister of National Deliverance will go to his little 
apartment in Rue Franklin where he has thought 
so much for France, where he has worked so much 
for her. 

He will find again his wonderful books which 
have taught him so much, the books of contempo- 
rary writers which help him to understand the pres- 
ent better, the books of young writers which he 
never neglected and which make him foresee the 
morrow. 

The famous hat with earlaps, his hunter's cap, 
which during the most terrible of hunts, sometimes 
on his head, sometimes rolled between feverish fin- 
gers, will have been present at so many famous 
interviews, will take up the dance before the blank 
paper. 

The little knocked-in hat, with the brim pulled 
down, will only be used on rare days when he walks 
in the woods. 

And doubtless toward three o'clock in the morn- 
ing, Clemenceau, impatient to follow, hour by hour, 

261 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



the reorganization of the world, the reawakening 
of French activity, the achievement in peace of the 
work accomplished by him in war, will go with the 
same haste to lift up his door-mat to find — before 
they arrive — the latest dispatdies in order to think 
over and write sooner his article for the day. 

May he be able to give it to us for a long time 
still, in order that France may know how to profit 
by her victory and may not be conquered in her 
triumph by a renewal of her mistakes. 

May he then with an increase in authority which 
his glorious service to France will give him, write, 
for the teaching of all citizens, the book on Democ- 
racy of whidi he has often spoken to his intimate 
friends. He will bring to it all his experience of 
men, institutions and customs. He will tell what a 
free people ought to do to harmonize order and 
liberty, to quicken its reason, to spare the fearful 
waste of its forces, to give workers more benefit 
of their labor, to assure a better continuity of effort 
and power, to give a better moral life to the coun- 
tiy, to give it a more just sense of the real while 
developing its idealism, to assure it, by better teach- 

262 



AT THE FRONT 



ing, an education indispensable to one who wishes 
to be worthy of liberty. 

After the war, if he wishes to stay out of politics, 
with his pen, Clemenceau can still serve France by 
one of the means of expression over which he has 
acquired such mastery. 

Let him aid the French democracy, to establish 
the reign of reason, liberty, justice from which she 
is still so far removed and in which each one, not 
demanding rights which encroach upon the rights 
of others, will acquit himself, ptmctiliously and 
without any constraint except the moral law, of the 
corresponding duties. 

Without this, the Republic is only the deceiving 
parody of a high ideal. 

Let us hope especially that M. Clemenceau, be- 
cause he still has duties toward the country, will 
be willing to render us the supreme service not in 
leaving us in writing the testament of his experi- 
ence, and of his meditations, but of organizing in 
the government itself, the industrial awakening of 
France and its political life in the peace he will have 
won for us. 



VICTORY * 

THE ARMISTICE SAVES THE BEATEN GERMAN 
ARMY 

WRITTEN during the days of supreme effort, 
I am finishing this book when the hoped-for 
victory, for which we have made such sad sacrifices, 
has at last recompensed France's stoicism, consoled 
her for her mourning, precluded the possibility of 
her resting buried beneath her civilization's glorious 
ruins. Victory's light shines in our eyes, wet with 
tears after so much mourning and anguish. Vic- 
tory's wings beat above the banners of triumph and 
joy which, since the sound of the cannon an- 
nouncing our deliverance, fly joyously from every 
window. 

Not only France, but the world's liberty, man- 
kind's peaceful future, are saved — things for whose 

• Translated By John L. B. Williams. 
264 



VICTORY 



safety the most free and peaceful peoples of the 
world have stood united. 

And Clemenceau, the flame of whose energy has 
inspired all hearts, whose foresight and faith have 
put new life into the forces of the Entente and the 
United States, too scattered until he came, enjoys 
the supreme recompense of seeing the beaten bar- 
barians submit to victorious Right, of seeing France 
and civilization henceforth free from the Grerman 
menace. 

His heart, never trembling even in the worst days, 
gives way to the sweetness of this resurrection. The 
old man who stoically steeled himself so long against 
every weakness and tenderness lets his tears flow. 
He weeps for joy ; he weeps at the recollection of all 
the suffering and sorrow which have paid for this 
triumph. So overcome is he with happiness and 
compassion that he does not think of hiding his 
tears. 

"I can die now," he says with poignant sincerity 
to the men who come near him in victor^s first 
moments. 

To bring about this victory he had assembled and 
265 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



exerted all his strength. He had asked to live only 
until this supreme moment came. 

Now that France and all the world are safe, he 
feels justified in resting from such a terrible effort 
of will and even in closing his eyes on the vision of 
Peace. 

But to build a solid foundation for the future of 
the free peoples, to realize the benefits of the victory 
Justice has won, M. Clemenceau's clear-sighted firm- 
ness is still essential to the councils of the French 
Government and also, in perfect unison with the 
resolute firmness of the allied plenipotentiaries, to 
the meetings of the Peace Conference. Let us re- 
joice that M. Clemenceau's heart, which the weight 
of war and anguish could not break, did not break 
for joy when peace came. 

After a time of mortal danger when, on two occa- 
sions, March and May, 1918, all seemed lost, Vic- 
tory appeared for the first time on the evening of our 
national fete day, that terrible night of July four- 
teenth-fifteenth, 1918, when Paris, breathless with 
anxiety, heard the roar of furious cannonades as 
General Gouraud's unconquerable soldiers stopped 
the German rush. Then, on July eighteenth, Vic- 

266 



VICTORY 



tory shone forth brighter than ever when, under 
General Fayolle and his officers, well worthy of hav- 
ing such a commander — Generals Mangin, Humbert 
and Debeney — our troops, assisted by American and 
Italian soldiers, broke the enemy's lines. 

Little by little, week by week, Victory came nearer, 
with a force that was irresistible, under the genial 
inspiration of Marshal Foch, commander-in-chief of 
the Entente's armies, thanks to the clear and method- 
ical science of war evidenced by Marshal Petain, to 
the skillful maneuvering of his colleagues. Generals 
Maistre, Degoutte and Berthelot, to name only the 
most famous, and to the Belgian army, electrified 
by the presence of its King, that true knight. And 
as the American armies with their brave, well 
equipped men (under General Pershing, whose no- 
ble, simple modesty equals that of American his- 
tory's greatest men) entered the fray valiantly and 
enthusiastically, the German retreat was hastened on 
every front. 

Demoralized by severe checks following too great 
hopes, by the continuous attacks of the free allies, 
by sudden assaults that were everywhere successful, 
which followed one another rapidly in different 

267 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



places and against different positions and which gave 
them no respite, the German armies — still fighting 
but invariably beaten — retreated day after day. 

In Flanders and at Saint-Mihiel, on the Oise and 
in Champagne, in the Argonne, on the Piave, Vic- 
tory followed our flags. But when will worn-out 
and defeated Germany realize hopeless disaster? 
When will she admit this fact to herself and to other 
nations? Will winter come before her leaders re- 
sponsible for this monstrous enterprise capitulate to 
us and to their people, tmless the disbanding of their 
armies forces them to it? 

At that very moment Bulgaria falls under Fran- 
chet d'Esperey's blows. His master strokes carry 
out General Guillaumat's plans. Turkey, worn out 
by suffering and hopeless sacrifices, follows Bul- 
garia's lead. These disasters prove to Germany — 
and to the rest of the world — ^that her cause is lost. 

For eighteen months past Austria has not had 
courage enough to follow up her desire for peace. 
She feels that the game is up, and, to gain a little 
indulgence, decides to accept any terms she can get, 
on knees bended in thankfulness. 

A sign of the times! A certain proof of Vic- 
268 



VICTORY 



tory! Now the end indeed begins. For years M. 
Clemenceau has been acting rather than speaking 
and, great orator that he is, has been condemning 
himself to silence. He mounts the tribune to an- 
nounce the armistice with Austria and to make its 
conditions known. He is careful to state, first of 
all, that even if deliverance is at hand, we are none 
the less not at the end of the war, and that great 
efforts may still be necessary to bring that about. 
But later, when Victory is a certainty, with what 
greatness of mind and what spirit of Justice he 
speaks for France, for her allies, of his own part, 
recognizing the faults and mistakes he has made: 

"Let me tell you," he says first of all, in response 
to the applause, "I am not worthy of so much hom- 
age. What I have done, France has done. Through 
you she has willed it, and through you I have been 
able to do it. 

"They told us we wanted war. Yes, we wanted 
it, after Germany attacked us, but we wanted it to 
insure a just peace with its necessary guarantees. 

"Men who have seen with their own eyes what 
the Germans have done in the invaded territory 
will understand that, after such crimes, it is out of 

269 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



the question for us not to demand guarantees that 
will prevent these things from happening again. 

"This is the most formidable war the world has 
ever seen. With the advance of armaments, with 
scientific progress and the interest entire peoples 
now take in hurling themselves into battle to ob- 
tain their rights, I ask you what they would become, 
what all the human race would become, if they were 
exposed to future wars surpassing all those which 
we have seen. I do not want to see this, and I need 
not say that no man wants it. Words are beau- 
tiful, deeds are difficult, cruel, sad, at times. . . . 

"It must be said. If we had not had allies in 
this war we could not have triumphed. No single 
one of the allies could have triumphed without the 
assistance of the others. In some quarters that 
statement will appear, perhaps, to diminish our 
glory: but in that very fact I see a better chance 
for mankind's future. 

"We have made friends with our old enemies, the 
English. We love them. For we see the prodi- 
gies of valor they have done on our battlefields. 

"The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Presi- 
dent of the Chamber of Deputies have just ren- 

270 



VICTORY 



dered their homage to glorious Belgium, to noble 
Italy, to Greece and to Serbia, as well as to all the 
new bom peoples who are about to find themselves 
relieved from the frightful yoke and who, thanks 
to us and to our allies, are about to live again for 
the true glory, that of Justice and Liberty. 

"I do not speak of the United States of America, 
our friends of long standing. When they came to 
our country we were already friends, we have found 
each other again. 

"Our alliance for war must be followed by an 
unbreakable alliance for peace. 

"The peoples of the world have come to realize 
that all their interests are one. 

"We have won the war. Perhaps we shall have 
to wait for some time for the peace that is to fol- 
low it. But henceforth destiny has fixed for an in- 
definite time the fortunes not only of France but 
of all the countries that are worthy of Liberty. 

"Let us unite! Let us continue our discussions 
of ideas, but let these discussions cease when 
France's interests are at stake. 

"Let me tell you this. Truly it is necessary that 
we be humanitarian, but it is necessary that we be 

271 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



Frenchmen first of all. It is necessary that we be 
Frenchmen because France represents a conception 
of idealism, of humanity which has prevailed 
throughout the world, and because it has never been 
possible to serve humanity without France's being 
present. 

"The time has come when great and magnificent 
victory's dawn breaks, when our thoughts turn 
towards the ends of union and fraternity. This is 
what I would ask you. And if any one wishes to 
know who has asked it of you, you may say France 
herself has done so. You will not be alone in this 
great humanitarian crusade, for we have all car- 
ried on our part of the struggle. Also at this cru- 
sade's end, I should like to change slightly our an- 
cestors' formula and to have us promise that we 
shall be brothers in the word's true meaning, and 
that, if we are asked who has inspired us with this 
thought, we answer, 'France wills it, France wills 
it!'" 

These are the noble and simple words of a man 
who, disdainful of oratorical artifice, interrogates 
his conscience to express with emotion all the 

272 



VICTORY 



thoughts which, in that moment of patriotic expres- 
sion, rise from his serene heart. 

When, in the midst of applause which will not 
stop, M. Clemenceau descends from the tribune, the 
Chamber of Deputies, which has been standing for 
several minutes to show its gratitude to him, crowds 
around him, while continuing its applause, to escort 
him to his seat. And in the midst of hands 
stretched out towards his or waved about his 
face, Clemenceau makes his way through the inter- 
minable ovation, calm, grave, modest, making in 
reply to this enthusiasm the gesture of cordial pro- 
test which is habitual to him. 

Already shattered by four months of uninter- 
rupted defeat, the German army and the German 
nation feel themselves incapable of further sacri- 
fices. The people at home, who have lost all hope 
of ultimalte victory for German arms, finish and 
complete the army's discouragement. The news of 
the armistice with Austria astounds the beaten sol- 
diers, in their ranks mutiny starts. Their leaders 
feel that nothing is to be gained by prolonging the 
conflict. To-morrow a severe defeat following 
three months of retreat may result in the disgrace- 

273 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



ful, irreparable disbanding of the troops. At this 
very moment — and the German General Staff is 
not ignorant of the fact — a formidable offensive is 
being prepared in Lorraine under General de Cas- 
telnau, who, since he will find opposed to him scat- 
tered and inferior opponents, will carry all before 
him. 

Then, beaten, on the eve of certain disaster, Ger- 
many asks for grace and raises surrender's white 
flag. Under this protection German ministers and 
generals, frightened at seeing the spirit of demor- 
alization and revolt increase hourly in their defeated 
armies and among their people, who are at the end 
of their strength — the Kaiser has taken refuge in 
headlong flight — cross the lines to hear our armis- 
tice conditions dictated. These conditions are 
harsh. Prudence and humanity would have de- 
manded that they be even more so. Behind them 
the German envoys feel the growing tempest that 
threatens to overturn Germany so that, in their 
haste to announce to the German people that the 
war is over, they concede everything to the allied 
demands. 

The world is free ! Free peoples can hope for a 
274 



VICTORY 



peaceful future! Humanity is freed from the op- 
pressive brutalities of force. 

At eleven o'clock in the morning on Monday, the 
eleventh of November, the bells of every church 
and the cannon of every nearby fort announce the 
deliverance of the world to Paris, which instantly 
is adorned with flags. How joyously they wave in 
autumn's sun ! In spite of so much mourning and 
anguish, joy is in all hearts. But think of what 
must have passed at that moment in the soul of the 
great French minister, whose energy, mastery of 
himself, unconquerable belief in justice, even in 
the most critical days galvanized all the workers 
for victory — ^military and civil alike — into the ac- 
tion that produced the triumph of the Right. 

THE TERMS OF THE ARMISTICE ARE READ 
IN THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES 

On Tuesday, the fourth of August, 19 14, as I 
came out of the Palais Bourbon, my eyes were full 
of tears, my heart was heavy with anguish. But it 
was full of hope. I had just been present at the 
session in which, at a grave communion of all the 

275 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



nation's representatives, the war measures were 
voted. I then promised myself not to return to the 
Palais Bourbon until the session that announced 
Victory was held. 

I returned to the Palais Bourbon on the eleventh 
of November, 19 18. Alas, with what sorrow in 
my joy, and with what a feeling of solitude in the 
joyous throngs! For during those four years of 
furious and frightful battle, how many heroes have 
died that France might not die! In one day of 
apotheosis after so much sufifering, Victory shines 
above France which has so well deserved it and, 
radiant, fills the rooms of the Palais Bourbon. Sor- 
row is borne along on Victory's wings, rustling in 
the light of freedom. But what emotion is set free 
throughout all this glorious day ! 

On that tragic afternoon in 1914, to make our 
way to the Chamber of Deputies, in the silence of the 
streets with their closed shops, in the silence of 
Paris suddenly emptied by mobilization, we .met 
some women with downcast looks, grief stricken. 
We met some foreigners who marched behind the 
flags of their nations to fight for France under the 
tri-color, for the liberty of the world. Paris was 

276 



VICTORY 



firm and resigned to her fate. But the force of the 
drama was wearing on her, and a feeling of op- 
pression was everywhere. 

Now there were only expressions of joy and hope. 
In the golden sunlight of an autumn day — our hap- 
piness made the sunlight appear all the more golden 
— from basement to ridge-pole the city's houses 
were decorated. On every house, even in the most 
humble streets, the flags of rejoicing smiled down 
on crowds whose enthusiasm lent life to the city's 
wonderfully decked out spectacle. 

The multitude marches along in the streets. 
Every one is decorated with a ribbon or a cockade. 
They are together, brought there by the necessity 
of being with other Frenchmen who, like them, are 
radiant with the same hope and the same joy. They 
exchange delighted words, happy smiles. One great 
bond of friendship unites all hearts. They don't 
know where they are going. But each one of the 
multitude finds himself moved by an instinctive need 
to let himself be carried along to the statues of 
Strassburg and Lille. 

From the multitude rises a sound like the ocean's 
roaring. In a thousand places songs start up. 

277 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



While the cannon echo the great national pride, the 
"Marseillaise" sounds forth everywhere. All at 
once, in this chaos of joy, escorts improvise them- 
selves around a banner which some one — ^nobody 
knows who — carries. In one immense feeling of 
brotherhood, men and women who never saw each 
other before, take arms and singing, force their 
way through the crowds in their pilgrimage towards 
the statues. Somehow, in the midst of such a 
crowd, there is always a drum or a horn, eager to 
beat the rhythm or sound the note of its tremen- 
dous joy. 

Oh, Michelet, you who loved France so much and 
spoke so movingly of her great emotions, why are 
you not here to write, with your ardent lyric spirit, 
the poem of this national brotherhood! 

Farther along, people dance about a poilu, mad 
with enthusiasm, or they gather around an em- 
barrassed Tommy, or American soldier. Then here 
are sailors, arms linked in those of fresh Breton 
girls, whose caps bob about in the crowd, opening 
a path through the mob as they dance their native 
"roulee." 

Make way for this splendid procession. Through 
278 



VICTORY 



this anthill of people gathered about the trophies 
captured from the Germans and assembled in the 
Place de la Concorde, men force their way, drag- 
ging by a hundred ropes a Boche cannon on which 
are perched women and children, singing as they 
are dragged through the streets. 

Around the Palais Bourbon the crowd is trans- 
figured with enthusiasm and good humor. It 
'■i knows perfectly well that it won't be able to get m- 
side the building or to see anything. It simply 
wants to be there to take part in the great national 
act which is going to be accomplished. A wall may 
separate in a physical sense the people from this act, 
for the people can't get into the Chamber of Depu- 
ties itself. But the people are present. With all 
their souls the people are in close communion with 
the chief actors in the impressive ceremony that is 
taking place inside, for the chief actors are the 
mouth-piece of the people's emotion and fervor. 

In the Chamber the galleries are full. I got there 
at the minute the doors opened. The first persons to 
appear in the galleries were three women in deep 
mourning sorrowing mothers or widows who seek 

279 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



consolation in their grief by witnessing the solemn 
proclamation of the results which their dear ones' 
sacrifice has won. There will be no more of that. 
These mourning figures are prominently placed be- 
cause it is necessary that the memory of the dead 
— which they symbolize — ^be present in the spirit 
of the assembly. 

The representatives arrive. M. Paul Deschanel 
enters, his arrival being accompanied by long ap- 
plause which precedes and follows him. M. Des- 
chanel, grave, deeply moved, takes the president's 
chair, and I recall that meeting on the fourth of 
August, 1914. I hear again, as if it were yester- 
day, M. Viviani's firm, sad, confident speech, re- 
calling all the vexations and threats which we had 
suffered for forty-four years, recalling our meri- 
torious patience, presenting proofs of premeditated 
German aggression, of which we were the victims. 

On that day I heard him with tears in my eyes, 
with fast beating heart, when he mentioned the mod- 
est naval force, none the less precious, which Eng- 
land already had promised us (we did not know at 
that time that Belgium would be invaded and that 

280 



VICTORY 



this violation of Justice would place Great Britain 
on our side, upstanding, with all her forces). 
■J Once again I see the six hundred deputies rise to 
their feet — ^the old revolutionist, Vaillant, first of 
all — at each mention of France, Alsace-Lorraine, 
Belgium, Serbia, and Russia, whose ambassadors 
occupied the diplomatic box. On that day party 
politics were absent from the Chamber. The spirit 
of the "sacred union," for which the President, M. 
Ra)miond Poincare, had just found the noble for- 
mula, reigned in the hearts of every man present. 
.The drama's opening was at hand. The first shells 
were about tc burst. Our soldiers continued to 
flow through the railroad stations on their way 
towards the frontier. We listened with beating 
hearts to the story of the first battles. I still hold 
in my memory the short, splendid speech M. Vivi- 
ani improvised when, after having gone to read the 
same declaration to the Senate, he returned to the 
Chamber. And I recall that speech by M. Des- 
chanel, restrained and inspiring at the same time. 
After that began the heavy silence of battle's eve. 
Here was a session one left with his very heart 
bruised. 

281 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



But on the eleventh of November, 1918, the feel- 
ing is one of relief and of joy. It is not yet time 
for the conditions of the armistice to be read to 
the Chamber of Deputies. That moving communi- 
cation shall be made at four o'clock. Waiting for 
that time, the deputies follow their usual procedure 
according to the order of the day. M. Deschanel, 
who occupies the president's chair as he did in 1914, 
as he has occupied it for fifteen years with splendid, 
French dignity, states that there are questions for 
discussion which concern the French people and that 
it would be noble to discuss them at such a mo- 
ment. The assembly accords with this viewpoint, 
and the audience in the galleries, in spite of its im- 
patience, resigns itself to waiting. 

Suddenly there is a series of sounds. Some thou- 
sands of students, women and workmen, in the be- 
lief that M. Clemenceau will pass that way in pro- 
ceeding from the Ministry of War to the Chamber, 
massed themselves in front of the Palais Bourbon 
and in the nearby streets. The formidable weight 
of this crowd, against which no one could do any- 
thing, forced its way into the court of the Palais, 
which is on the rue de Bourgogne, The crowd 

282 



VICTORY 



sings the "Marseillaise" ; it cheers Clemenceau and 
cheers him again. M. Aristide Briand, who hap- 
pens along, speaks a few magician's words to them. 
M. Paul Deschanel, who also happens along dur- 
ing a brief interval of silence, directs them with a 
magnificent gesture towards the statue of Strass- 
burg. M. Clemenceau appears for a moment at a 
window to end this interminable ovation. Very 
modestly, he tells his admirers to shout "Vive la 
France!" 

The session is resiuned in the Chamber. Every 
deputy is there, either seated or standing in a half- 
circle. Anxious to avoid a theatrical entrance, M. 
Clemenceau comes in quietly. The eyes of those 
present are not slow in discovering him. They 
recognize the familiar head, the quick, sharp- 
pointed glance of his black eyes. The crowd of 
deputies opens before him. Clemenceau enters with 
a slow step, his bearing is simple. A tremendous, 
long-drawn-out shout of recognition, of admiration 
and of friendliness greets him. The deputies and 
the spectators rise and applaud him endlessly. 

Clemenceau makes a simple, grave gesture, now 
283 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



to this side and now to that, with his gray-gloved 
hands or by an inclination of his mighty head. 
Now he has been seated for some time. Appar- 
ently he is perfectly calm, quite unmoved, but in 
reality he is deeply moved. The ovation contin- 
ues. From the benches the deputies rush to clasp 
his hands and to thank him. The socialist Jean 
Bon follows Abbe Lemire — a. symbol of the sacred 
union which is tremendously applauded. 

In spite of his incomparable mastery of himself, 
Clemenceau is deeply moved. He feels that in this 
day of consummation he can give way to his emo- 
tion. Persons who know well his voice, his ges- 
tures and his facial expressions are aware that he 
Js mastered by this emotion. In the morning of 
that day, when he held in his hands, duly signed, 
this armistice which avenges our dead, which real- 
izes our hopes, he, whom no one had ever seen 
weep, burst into tears. He is the sole survivor of 
the protesting delegates who, in the assembly at 
Bordeaux, swore fidelity to Alsace-Lorraine. He 
has kept the solemn pledge. He feels with him all 
the old companions of his hope. And our hearts 

284 



VICTORY 



place them properly at his side. It is a beautiful 
sight, when Clemenceau sheds these tears. 

In the tribune, his raised hand asks for silence. 
And then, in a voice that emotion chokes, he profits 
by this fervent union of souls to beg that it be pro- 
longed for France's good. 

"Let us all promise, in this moment, to work al- 
ways with all the strength of our hearts for the pub- 
lic good." 

Noticeably, in this splendid day in French life, 
M. Clemenceau is being more simple and sober than 
is usual with him. As much as possible this great 
orator tries, in these moments, not to be eloquent, 
but to permit stuff that history is made of speak 
for itself. 

After adjusting his spectacles and pushing back 
the green cover that binds the armistice terms, he 
commences briefly, with energetic dryness in his 
voice, under which one feels great emotion welling 
up, to read the articles of the armistice, far-seeing 
and carefully thought out, whose very harshness 
guarantees for us in the future the peace which our 
soldiers have won and which France needs to pre- 
serve her peaceful happiness. 

285 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



As we hear the well-ordered succession of pre- 
cautionary measures, we feel the relief that work, 
long considered, clearly conceived, made with ten- 
der thought for the present and future safety of 
France, in which nothing is forgotten nor left to 
chance, brings to our hearts. 

Every clause of the armistice is strongly ap- 
plauded. And all this, inspired as it is by enthusi- 
asm, happiness and appreciation, increases ten-fold 
to salute the portions of the armistice which assure 
us the best satisfactions and the most precious guar- 
antees. 

"This morning, at eleven o'clock, firing ceased on 
all fronts," declares M. Clemenceau, in the voice of 
a man who utters a cry of deliverance. 

In the future no more dead, no further mutila- 
tions, no new mourning. This ends the nightmare. 
And as the articles of the armistice are being read, 
cannon sound from time to time, solemnly punc- 
tuating each one of them. It echoes under the roof 
of the Palais Bourbon. It echoes even more in all 
our hearts. 

With the same spirit are saluted the clause pro- 
viding for the immediate restitution of Alsace-Lorr- 

286 



VICTORY 



raine, the no less rapid return of prisoners, both 
military and civil, the surrender of murderous air- 
planes and submarines, the occupation of the Rhine 
frontier and of the large cities which are at the 
strategic bridgeheads. 

Every one stands and applauds frantically when, 
with firm voice, with sober pride in his tones, 
Clemenceau recalls that it is by the force of her vic- 
torious arms that France is freed. And then, to 
emphasize better for the gratitude of the country's 
representatives, the genial and glorious leader who 
directed the deliverance, like a trumpet call Clemen- 
ceau pronounces the name of Marshal Foch, among 
the first of the names signed to the armistice. 

He closes the documents containing the armistice, 
he removes his spectacles. Then M. Clemenceau, 
who so far has dispensed with all comment on the 
statements so justly pitiless, overcome by the sublim- 
ity of such an event and such a time, as if all other 
words were superfluous, pronounces these four 
phrases, which the cannons' imperious voices ac- 
company : 

"In the name of the French people, in the name 
of the Government of the French Republic, I send 

287 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



the greeting of France, one and indivisible, to our 
regained Alsace and Lorraine." 

Then, with one grand gesture, which carries his 
homage to all the graves scattered over France: 

"Honor to our great dead, who have won this 
victory for us." 

At this moment a new roar of cannon sounds in 
the glorious silence. The applause is wanner than 
ever. 

"When our living," continued M. Clemenceau, 
"on their return pass in review before us on our 
boulevards as they march towards the Arc de Tri- 
omphe, we shall cheer them to the echo. Salute 
them in advance for the world they have made 
anew." 

Then with a magnificent burst of spirit, contain- 
ing the eloquence which comes forth from his 
French heart and from the depths of his emotion, 
with his arms raised above his head, he unites the 
glory of all stages in our country's history : 

"Thanks to them France, yesterday the soldier of 
God, to-day the soldier of mankind, will always be 
in the future the soldier of the Ideal." 

288 



VICTORY 



The rest is silence. Silence on Clemenceau's 
part, that is. Mastering his emotion with simple 
dignity he descends from the tribune. The greater 
part of his hearers hasten towards him. Only to 
shake his hands do their hands cease applauding. 
An enthusiastic escort follows him to his bench, 
where words of gratitude keep coming to him for 
a long time, while the Chamber and the galleries 
do not tire in their applause. 

M. Paul Deschanel in a short, pathetic speech, 
winged with inspiration, sings in his turn the de- 
liverance of Alsace-Lorraine and the glory of our 
soldiers. 

This hjmin the thunder of cannon also accom- 
panies. Speaking in the name of the representa- 
tives of France, over whose labors he presides and 
who subscribe to his sentiments with an enthusias- 
tic ovation, M. Deschanel promises our returned 
province respect in every way "for their beliefs, 
their traditions, their customs and their liberties." 
A noble and solemn pledge which will be kept! 

Scarcely has the long drawn out applause ceased 
when, with a very happy thought, M. Albert 

289 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



Thomas proposes that the representatives from Al- 
sace-Lorraine, present during the session in the gal- 
leries, receive the honors of the Assembly. In re- 
sponse to a cordial gesture of invitation, M. Des- 
chanel makes toward a box. Abbe Wetterle, Dep- 
uty for Colmar, and the representative for Metz, 
M. Georges Weil in the horizon-blue uniform of a 
captain in the French army, are brought to the 
front of a box from the back of which they have 
followed the proceedings of the session. They bow 
in response to an immense ovation. 

Then, since he is expected in the Senate to per- 
form the same task, M. Clemenceau rises to make 
his way out. The entire Assembly rises at the same 
time. There is loud applause. A long cry of grat- 
itude accompanies him to the door — "Long live 
Clemenceau! Long live the Republic! Long live 
France." And in an ardent communion of their 
hearts, deputies, journalists, spectators of both 
sexes, and even the members of the diplomatic corps 
sing the "Marseillaise." These are inspiring mo- 
ments ! Exaltation of the soul fills one's eyes with 
tears, consoles one a little in sorrow! 

The cannon are silent. After a short suspension 
290 



VICTORY 



of the session M. Retioult, President of the Com- 
mission of the Army, in a noble speech asks the 
Chamber to proclaim that our great soldiers and the 
great chiefs so worthy of them, Clemenceau and 
Foch, have deserved well of the State. He renders 
solemn homage to Marshal Joffre, the conqueror 
of the Marne and the Yser, he glorifies the Repub- 
lic. His are eloquent, just words, which shall be 
remembered. 

Finally, in the midst of so much applause, M. 
Alexandre Varenne, socialist to the depths of his 
French heart, with particular inspiration finds the 
means to gain loud applause from the Assembly by 
pronouncing these noble words which do him 
honor : 

"At this most solemn moment of all history, this 
moment which sees a new world spring into being, 
we have in our hearts infinite gratitude for all those 
who have contributed to the work which victory 
has just crowned. How are we to thank them all? 
By taking an oath to serve them with all our 
strength. Union has won the victory. Let us think 
of to-morrow, perhaps more difficult in its prob- 
lems than to-day. And let us swear not to forget 

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the magnificent hour we have just Hved through !" 
And after the vote of thanks to Clemenceau, 
Foch, to the armies and to their leaders, with a last 
burst of applause the gathering goes its way with 
uplifted soul. 

Outside, following four years of darkness and 
sadness, there is the joyous resurrection of life. 

The city is illuminated. Arc lights shine down 
on the dancers and the joyous crowds which force 
their way through the streets to the sound of the 
"Marseillaise." Great hope fills all hearts. These 
are the great days of reward which France has mer- 
ited by her stoicism, her courage and her faith in 
herself. 



FOR THE PEACE OF THE WORLD IN 
JUSTICE AND LIBERTY 

Soon afterwards the representatives of the free 
nations assemble at Paris to organize peace and to 
preserve the future from unjust violence. 

Paris, aflfectionate, touched and grateful, ac- 
claims, in the person of President Wilson, the Re- 
public of the United States, which with such superb 

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enthusiasm has risen in her might to safeguard the 
ideal with which her birth was illuminated. 

At the first meeting, by unanimous vote of the 
people, by the voices of President Wilson, Mr. 
Lloyd George, Signor Sonnino, who speak for their 
respective nations, with warm applause from all the 
delegates, M. Clemenceau is chosen President of 
the Peace Conference. 

With what elevation and serenity of mind he 
speaks! With what confidence, also, in the work 
which is to be accomplished, in the future of the 
brotherly spirit of friendship which has won victory 
for the allied arms ! These are the words in which, 
acknowledging the honor which was thus done to 
bruised, bleeding and devastated France, and to him- 
self, he points out the grandeur in mankind's his- 
tory of this imposing union of the civilized nations 
of the world for undertaking such a beautiful task : 

"President Wilson," he said, "has particular au- 
thority for saying that this is the first time that a 
delegation made up of all the civilized peoples of 
the world is collected together. The greater the 
bloody catastrophe has been which has devastated 
and ruined one of France's richest parts, the broader 

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THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



and finer ought to be the reparation, not only for 
actual damage — reparation in the vulgar sense, if I 
may say so — which is due to us, but the more noble 
and higher reparation which we are trying to bring 
about in order that peoples may escape from this 
fatal restraint which, piling up ruins and sorrows, 
terrorizes whole peoples and does not permit them 
to bend their energies to work through fear of the 
enemies who can descend upon them the next day. 
A great and noble eagerness has come to us all ; we 
must hope that success will crown its efforts. It 
can be thus only if we have ideas which are fixed 
and eternal. I said some days ago in the Chamber 
of Deputies and I repeat here that success is pos- 
sible only if we remain firmly united. We have 

COME HERE AS FRIENDS, WE MUST GO OUT OF THIS 

DOOR FRIENDS. That is the first thought I have to 
express to you. Everything ought to be subordi- 
nated to the necessity for the strictest union between 
the people who have taken part in this great war. 
The League of Nations is here, it is in you; it is 
your duty to make it live, and to bring that about 
it must be in your hearts. I have told President 

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Wilson that there are no sacrifices to which we are 
not ready to consent. 

"I do not doubt that you are disposed to do this. 

"We shall arrive at this conclusion only on the 
condition of forcing ourselves to conciliate, in an 
impartial manner, interests apparently contradic- 
tory, only by taking the broader viewpoint of 
greater, happier and better humanity. 

"Gentlemen, that is what I have to say to you. 

"I am touched beyond expression to witness the 
confidence and friendship which you wish to give 
me. 

"The program of this Conference has been set up 
by President Wilson; it is no longer a peace con- 
cerning greater or smaller territories which we have 
to make, it is no longer a peace of continents. It is a 
peace of peoples. This program is sufficient in it- 
self. Further words would be superfluous to add. 
Gentlemen, let us try to act quickly and well." 

The peace conference found in this wise and 
sober discourse the sentiments which animate it. 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



THE CRIME 

Under the driving force of M. Clemenceau — who, 
while occupying himself with not letting France be 
enslaved under her glorious but terrible ruins, thinks 
only of establishing the reign of liberty and jus- 
tice in the world — the Peace Conference was follow- 
ing to completion its difficult work when an as- 
sassin's revolver just missed striking down this en- 
ergy which is employed only for mankind's peace- 
ful development. 

The crime was the deed of a weak minded per- 
son, intoxicated by anarchistic proposals, the un- 
thinking worker of German hatred, which in the 
future can count only on the deeds of the Bolsheviki, 
in all the allied countries, to escape reparation for 
its crimes. 

Happily, although the assassin's bullets lodged 
very near certain vital organs, the great old man's 
astonishing physical youth quickly repaired the dis- 
orders resulting from such a grave wound, which, 
especially at that age, might well have been mortal. 

France understood that in striking down Clemen- 
ceau, the incarnation of the French soul and of 

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French hopes, it was France herself who was 
aimed at. 

From the moment when the news of that crime 
was made known,, in every part of our country and 
in every class of the people a great cry of anguish 
and horror arose. For two weeks an uninterrupted 
stream of old men, soldiers, students, women and 
young girls came to the illustrious wounded man's 
modest lodgings with flowers in their hands to ex- 
press words of indignation, gratitude and hope. 

Besides, by the unanimous manifestations of their 
anxiety and their sadness, the free peoples ex- 
pressed that they considered the attack on M. 
Qemenceau an attack against the great peaceful re- 
organization of the world of which they will all be 
the beneficiaries. 

M. Qemenceau alone, in the sad emotion of the 
first moments, preserved his sang-froid, his spir- 
ituelle joviality and the good humor which never 
forsakes him, just as he always did in the most crit- 
ical times. 

On foot, calm, with slow steps, in spite of the 
bullet which interfered with his breathing, he 

297 



THE TIGER OF FRANCE 



crossed the vestibule and the court of his house, as 
he made his way towards his apartment. 

Perhaps he was a little pale — one would be — ^but 
he marched in his usual way with his shoulders 
erect, his black eye sharp and keen, his fighting cap 
in its usual position on the comer of his head. And 
in his face the bystanders noticed the astonished 
and sardonic smile usually there when he is face to 
face with something stupid or dull. 

Twenty minutes later he had sufficient moral and 
physical strength to tell M. Raymond Poincare — 
the President of the Republic who had affectionately 
hurried there to tell him his patriotic sense of re- 
lief and his personal happiness to see M. Clemen- 
ceau unharmed — with the humor which is peculiar 
to him, his impressions while the shooting was go- 
ing on : 

"When I felt the whistle of the first bullet so 
near my head I muttered, 'The animal shoots well.' 
At the second shot (which was indiscreet enough to 
get inside of me as far as my lung), I said, 'But he 
shoots too well.' Finally, under this rain of bul- 
.lets which whistled about my ears and almost didn't 
stop there, I reflected, 'at least my enemies will not 

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be able to insinuate any longer that I haven't ballast 
in my head — ^lead ballast.' " 

Thus, compelling himself to be like himself in 
this supreme peril — ^as in all the dangerous hours of 
his life — M. Clemenceau added some picturesque 
words to the ineffaceable anecdotes which can be 
told about his energy and sang-froid. 

These words, thought out and pronounced in such 
a moment, make us understand better the mastery 
which such a man could keep over his nerves and 
brain in the great war's most terrible hours. 

For the peaceful future of all the free peoples as 
well as for the rebuilding of murdered France, what 
good fortune it is that the glorious old man, so clear 
sighted and so resolute, stands at the helm of our 
country's ship of state! 

This last scene throws in brilliant relief the man's 
attractive figure. France, happy in finding in him 
her ardent, firm and jovial soul, salutes M. Clemen- 
ceau as "Minister of Victory." This title history 
will preserve for him. 

THE END 





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