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VICTOR MARIE HUGO
chosen for him by the Supreme Will, which manifests itself as visibly in the laws of destiny as in the laws of nature. The eighty-four years he had lived bridge over the interval between the apogee of the Monarchy and the dawn of the Revolution. At his birth, Louis XIV. still reigned ; at his death Louis XVI. had already mounted the throne; so that his cradle saw the last rays of the great throne and his coffin the first beams from the great abyss. .
The court was full of festivities; Versailles was radiant ; Paris was ignorant ; and meanwhile, through religious ferocity, judges killed an old man on the wheel and tore out a child's tongue for a song. Confronted by this frivolous and dismal society, Voltaire alone, sensible of all the forces marshaled against him-court, nobility, finance; that unconscious power, the blind multitude ; that terrible magistracy, so oppressive for the subject, so docile for the master, crushing and flattering, kneeling on the people before the king ; that clergy, a sinister medley of hypocrisy and fanaticism-Voltaire alone declared war against this coalition of all social iniquities—against that great and formidable world. He accepted battle with it. What was his weapon? That which hath the lightness of the wind and the force of a thunderbolt-a pen. With that weapon Voltaire fought, and with that he conquered! Let us salute that memory! He conquered! He waged a splendid warfare—the war of one alone against all; the grand war of mind against matter, of reason against prejudice ; a war for the just against the unjust, for the oppressed against the oppressor, the war of goodness, the war of kindness! He had the tenderness of a woman and the anger of a hero. His was a great mind and an immense heart. He conquered the old code, the ancient dogma! He conquered the feudal lord, the Gothic judge, the Roman priest. He bestowed on the populace the dignity of the people! He taught, pacified, civilized ! He fought for the Sirven and Montbailly as for Calas and Labarre. Regardless of menaces, insults, persecutions, calumny, exile, he was indefatigable and imovable. He overcame violence by a smile, despotism by sarcasm, infallibility by irony, obstinacy by perseverance, ignorance by truth !
LEON MICHEL GAMBETTA (1838–1882)
THE ADVOCATE OF FRENCH DEMOCRACY
N October, 1871, Leon Gambetta, one of the makers of the new
French Republic, made a most sensational escape from Paris,
then closely invested by the German army. He passed not through, but over the lines, sailing through the air in a balloon, and landing far beyond the reach of the foes of France. At his call, all southern France rose in arms, and for five months he was the Dictator of his country. Army after army rose from farm and city and fought the foes of France, and even after Paris had fallen, he demanded that the war should go on to the bitter end. His colleagues failing to support him, he resigned his leadersdip and retired into Spain.
Before the war with Germany, Gambetta had been a member of the Paris bar, and a deputy of advanced liberal opinions, representing the “Irreconcilables” of Marseilles and Belleville. In the new Parliament he became the chief of the advanced Republicans, and later came into determined conflict with those who sought to restore the monarchy. The contest between him and Marshal MacMahon led to his being imprisoned and fined for libel, but it ended in the resignation of MacMahon and the triumph of Gambetta. He subsequently became premier, but resigned in 1882, and soon after died from an accidental wound in the hand from a revolver.
THE REGENERATION OF FRANCE [Gambetta was an orator of fine powers, and the “ablest French Republican of the nineteenth century." "Keeping alive his faith in France and its powers of recuperation, after the terrible losses of the war with Germany, he sought to arouse a like feeling in the people, calling on the peasantry and the educated alike to arouse for the regeneration of their beloved native land. We offer a translation of one of his appeals for this purpose. ]
LEON MICHEL GAMBETTA
The peasantry is intellectually several centuries behind the enlightened and educated classes of the country. Yes, the distance is immense between them and us, who have received a classical or scientific education-even the imperfect one of our day. We have learned to read our history, to speak our language, while (a cruel thing to say) so many of our countrymen can only babble! Ah! that peasant, bound to the tillage of the soil, who bravely carries the burden of his day, with no other consolation than that of leaving to his children the paternal fields, perhaps increased an acre in extent! All his passions, joys, fears, are concentrated on the fate of his patrimony. Of the external world, of the society in which he lives, he apprehends but legends and rumors ; he is the prey of the cunning and the fraudulent. He strikes, without knowing it, the bosom of the Revolution, his benefactress; he gives loyally his taxes and his blood to a society for which he feels fear as much as respect. But there his role ends, and if you speak to him of principles, he knows nothing of them.
It is to the peasantry, then, that we must address ourselves. They are the ones we must raise and instruct. The epithets the parties have bandied of “rurality” and “rural chamber" must not be the cause of injustice. It is to be wished that there were a “rural chamber," in the profound and true sense of the term, for it is not with hobble-de-hoys a “rural chamber" can be made, but with enlightened and free peasants able to represent themselves. And instead of being the cause of raillery, this reproach of a “rural chamber ” would be a tribute rendered to the progress of the civilization of the masses. This new social force could be utilized for the general welfare. Unfortunately, we have not yet reached that point, and this progress will be denied us as long as the French democracy fail to demonstrate that if we would remake our country, if we would return her to her grandeur, her power, and her genius, it is the vital interest of her superior classes to elevate, to emancipate this people of workers, who hold in reserve a force still virgin and able to develop inexhaustible treasures of activity and aptitude. We must learn and then teach the peasant what he owes to society and what he has the right to ask of her.
On the day when it will be well understood that we have no grander or more pressing work; that we should put aside and postpone all other reforms; that we have but one task, the instruction of the people, the diffusion of education, the encouragement of science,-on that day a great step will have been taken in your regeneration. But our action needs to be a double one, that it may bear upon the body as well as the mind. To be exact, each man should be intelligent, trained not only to think, read, reason, but able also to act, to fight. Everywhere beside the teacher we
LEON MICHEL GAMBETTA
should place the gymnast and the soldier, to the end that our children, our soldiers, our fellow-citizens, should be able to hold a sword, to carry a gun on a long march, to sleep under the canopy of the stars, to support valiantly all the hardships demanded of a patriot. We must push to the front these two educations. Otherwise you make a success of letters, but do not create a bulwark of patriots.
Yes, gentlemen, if they have outclassed us, if you had to submit to the supreme agony of seeing the France of Kléber and of Hoche lose her two most patriotic provinces, those best embodying at once the military, commercial, industrial and democratic spirit, we can blame only our inferior physical and moral condition. To-day, the interests of our country command us to speak no imprudent words, to close our lips, to sink to the bottom of our hearts our resentments, to take up the grand work of national regeneration, to devote to it all the time necessary, that it may be a lasting work. If it need ten years, if it need twenty years, then we must devote to it ten or twenty years. But we must commence at once, that each year may see the advancing life of a new generation, strong, intelligent, as much in love with science as with the Fatherland, having in their hearts the double sentiment that he serves his country well only when he serves it with his reason and his arm.
We have been educated in a rough school. We must therefore cure ourselves of the vanity which has caused us so many disasters. We must also realize conscientiously where our responsibility exists, and seeing the remedy, sacrifice all to the object to be attained-to remake and reconstitute France! For that, nothing should be accounted too good, and we shall ask nothing before this; the first demand must be for an education as complete from base to summit as is known to human intelligence. Naturally, merit must be recognized, aptitude awakened and approved, and honest and impartial judges freely chosen by their fellow-citizens, deciding publicly in such a way that merit alone will open the door. Reject as authors of mischief those who have put words in the place of action; all those who have put favoritism in the place of merit; all those who made the profession of arms not a means for the protection of France, but a means of serving the caprices of a master, and sometimes of becoming the accomplices of his crimes.
Orators of Southern and Central Europe
HE countries of Europe aside from Great TH Britain and France—with which we have so far
chiefly dealt-have had their orators; men equipped by nature and education to control the opinions and move the feelings of mankind; but, seemingly, in no great numbers. Certainly the paucity of names of distinguished public speakers leads to the conclusion that oratory of a high order has not flourished in those countries. Greece in modern times has produced no rival of Demosthenes, nor Italy of Cicero, nor even any orators worthy to be compared with those of minor fame in classic times. The same is the case with the remainder of Europe. Take Germany, for instance, that land of thinkers and philosophers—where are its Burkes and Gladstones, its Mirabeaus and Hugos, its Websters and Clays? The fact would seem to be that the long division of Germany into minor kingdoms has checked the growth of forensic or political oratory in that country, there being little opportunity afforded for the cultivation of the art of eloquence. The same may be said of Italy. Moreover, despotic institutions have certainly had a limiting effect upon oratory wherever they have existed, and the fine oratory of the world is limited to the republics of Greece and Rome, the revolutionary periods of England, France and the United States, and the free institutions of these countries in the nineteenth century. As a result, modern Europe, outside of France, has not been rich in oratory, and we are not able to present an extended or very notable list.