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L'affaire Dreyfus et l'opinion publique

 | 
Michel Denis
, 
Michel Lagrée
, 
Jean-Yves Veillard

Quatrième partie. La planète libérale et l'Affaire

British Opinion and the Pretenders to the French Throne during the Dreyfus Affair

Maurice Larkin

Texte intégral

  • 1 A Prince of journalists : the Life and Times of Henri Stefan Opper de Blowitz, London, 1962, p. 17 (...)

1The Times Paris correspondent in the 1890s — the ebullient Henri Stefan Opper de Blowitz — would have taken a sceptical view of this colloque. “When one wants to know a country, it is into the minds of those who form its ruling class that one must enter Indeed his successor half a century later, Frank Giles, commented” This is no bad rule, either for those days or now : in a free country, and for ninety-five per cent of the time, policy is shaped and public opinion guided by a tiny handful of people, mostly living in the capital and most actively engaged in politics, journalism or finance1”.

  • 2 Donald MacKenzie Wallace, head of the Foreign Department of The Times. Ibid., p. 188.

2Even when Blowitz’s master in London spoke mysteriously of “that curious psychological entity called the British public”, he was thinking primarily of the readership of The Times2. As for lesser mortals, what they may have made of the Dreyfus Affair was epitomised in the reports of Mr. Dooley, the fictional Irish emigrant commenting on the Rennes trial from the Olympian heights of his Chicago bar.

  • 3 F. P. Dunne, Mr. Dooley in the hearts of his countrymen, Boston, 1899. Republished, 1968, p. 253. (...)

Says the président of the court “Call Colonel Pat the Clam, who is sick and can’t come. Swear General Billot, General Boisdeffre... and the former members of the government.”
-I object to them being sworn, says Maître Blancmange.-
They must be sworn, says the president. How the devil can they perjure them-selves, if they aren’t sworn ?
-General Billot, says the president, what do you know about this infernal case which is brooding like a nightmare over our beloved country, and getting us up every morning before milking time ?.
-Nothing at ail,” says General Billot.
-Neither do I, says the président. But I think the captain guilty3.

3If the English-speaking public were mystifïed by the complexities of the Dreyfus Case, they were equally bewildered by the political events that accompanied it and the role of the rival pretenders who were allegedly seeking to profit from it — pretenders moreover whose various genealogies seemed as confusing as the schemes devised to bring them to power.

4While the press and democratically-elected governments may claim to represent public opinion — but more often seek to mould it — the Foreign Office, The Times and the rest of the British press were probably not at odds with popular sentiment when they chose to concentrate their attention on those aspects of French affairs that affected British interests, more particularly the empire. During the Dreyfus crisis of 1898-9, The Times had lengthy reports on the case and its ramifications — but substantially less on the various political factions that were seeking to turn the affair to their advantage. This tilt of emphasis was even truer of the Foreign Office. While the British embassy in Paris dutifully sent Lord Salisbury press-cuttings and comments on what was going on in French domestic affairs, the bulk of these occasioned no response in London’s letters to the ambassador. As was usual between busy foreign ministries and their many embassies, the flow of correspondence was essentially from the periphery to the centre — with perhaps only one ministerial missive to every ten that came from an embassy, most often on issues of empire.

5The activities of the French monarchical pretenders might be expected to have been a matter of some concern to both the British government and the British public. Royalist and Bonapartist propaganda put much emphasis on the inability of Republican governments to protect French interests overseas — with the implication that the restoration of either claimant would confront Britain with tougher competition in the future. At the same time the former ruling families of France had traditionally found refuge in Britain when misfortune struck their dynasties as in 1830, 1848 and 1870 ; and militant political activity on their part, while resident in Britain, could embarrass their host’s relations with the current French government. The Duc d’Orléans had two bases in Britain, York House in Twickenham and Wood Norton in Worcestershire, even if much of his time was spent in leisure pursuits elsewhere ; and although the Bonapartist claimant, Victor Napoléon, was principally based in Belgium, Napoléon III’s widow was still an established and popular figure in British Society. The Duc d’Orléans saw his residence in Britain as no obstacle to speaking his mind about his hosts — so much so that his wisest adviser, the Comte Alfred de Gramont, felt compelled to remonstrate with him. Relaying a report on a recent dinner in Nice in 1898, the Comte told him,

  • 4 Archives Nationales, 300 AP, Archives de la Maison de France (branche d’Orléans), III 805 (marked  (...)

Le Prince de Galles aurait dit entre autres choses :
Je ne comprends pas pourquoi le Prince Henry et le Duc d’Orléans qui habite l’Angleterre disent toujours tant de mal de mon pays !”
Je voudrais bien que Monseigneur se mette bien dans la tête que si l’Angleterre ne veut pas, Monseigneur ne rentrera jamais en France pour régner.
L’Angleterre a toujours été ainsi. Elle a payé et excité la Révolution de ‘89 ; elle a renversé Napoléon 1 ; elle a démoli le roi Louis Philippe ; et maintenant elle écrase et détruit la France pour pouvoir agir tranquillement. Pour elle, c’est la bonne politique ; et, plût au ciel ! que nous puissions faire de même et cela d’une façon aussi suivie ! !
Nous pourrons détester et mépriser les Anglais, mais il n’est pas possible de ne pas les admirer.
Je voudrais que Monseigneur, qui habite l’Angleterre, ne dise plus de mal des Anglais, et qu’il leur laisse entendre sans rien promettre ; qu’on pourrait à l’occasion se comprendre4.

6The only part of this letter that the Duc d’Orléans seems to have taken to heart was the litany of Britain’s past perfidy against the French monarchy (in ail three of its dynastie forms).

  • 5 Monson to Lord Salisbury, 28 Feb. 1899, No. 124, Public Record Office, FO 27/3 456.
  • 6 Monson to Salisbury, 19 Sep. 1899, No. 410, P.R.O., FO 27/3 459
  • 7 Monson to Salisbury, 20 Feb. 1899, No. 106, P.R.O., FO 27/3 456

7In fact neither the Foreign Office nor the leading British newspapers took the pretenders seriously — or the plebiscitary republicanism of Déroulède. The British Ambassador in Paris, Sir Edmund Monson, dismissed the Reuilly affair of 23 February 1899 as “the ridiculous escapade of Monsieur Déroulède and his friends”, while “recent events have very conclusively proved that there is no disposition here towards a monarchieal candidate, Impérial or Royalist ; but certainly the latter has done all in his power to dispirit his supporters, while the former has done nothing in any direction whatever5”. The Royalists’ schemes to hijack Déroulède’s abortive coup could be “more fully described as”playing at treason “than a serious plot6” while the Duc d’Orléans’s San Remo déclaration of 16 February 1899 on “la question juive” was so worthless that “its futility doubtless renders it innocuous in the eyes of the authorities7

8Blowitz of The Times was equally contemptuous. He had entertained a certain personal respect for the Duke’s father, the Comte de Paris, until the Comte’s involvement in the Boulanger affair destroyed faith in his judgement. But the Duke was impossible.

  • 8 Times, 8 June 1899.

Since the beginning of the Third Republic, I have seen many pretenders appear and disappear, but never have I seen a pretender act more against his interests and prestige than the Duke of Orléans... He has made himself the pretender, not of the nation, not of France, but of a party rejected by the immense majority of Frenchmen, and he has put at the head of his chimerical programme racial animosity and vengeance for the collapse of a disastrous financial enterprise8.

  • 9 Giles, Blowitz, p. 192.
  • 10 See notably Lur-Saluces to Orléans, 6 Feb. 1899, A.N., 300 AP, III 806. The Duke’s adoption of ant (...)

9The “disastrous financial enterprise” to which Blowitz referred was the Catholic Union Générale bank, which collapsed in 1882 — with personal financial loss to Blowitz himself, it was later suggested9. But Blowitz refused to accept the Duke’s claim in the San Remo déclaration of February 1899 that the current wave of antisemitism had its origins in the Jewish “égorgement de l’Union Générale.” Both as an informed observer and a converted Jew, Blowitz deplored the résurrection of this old canard, just as he resented the Duke’s opportuniste adoption of antisemitism — largely on the urging of André Buffet and the Comte Eugène de Lur-Saluces10.

  • 11 Letter of 20 Feb. 1899, A.N. 300 AP, III 806.
  • 12 Letter of 28 March 1899, A.N., 300 AP, III 806.
  • 13 Lur-Saluces to Orléans, 26 June 1899, A.N., 300 AP, III 806.

10Blowitz was not alone in deploring the pretender’s leap onto the antisemitic bandwaggon : a number of the Duke’s more moderate advisers were equally alarmed. The Comte Alfred de Gramont responded to the San Remo déclaration by imploring the Duke : “je supplie Monseigneur de ne plus parler... des Juifs11” while the Duc Honoré de Luynes warned him against alienating the “gros industriels” who “te seront bien nécessaires et ils forment l’avenir de la France et l’appui indiqué de tout nouveau gouvernement12”. Gramont was especially worried by the Duke’s relations with the disreputable Jules Guérin of the Ligue Antisémitique, while even the opportunistic Lur-Saluces later recognised that a number of senior army officers regarded Guérin as a political liability to the Orleanist cause13.

  • 14 Monson to Salisbury, 24 Feb. 1899, N° 109, P. R. O., FO 146/3 583.
  • 15 Times 24 Feb. 1899.
  • 16 Times, 25 Feb. 1899.
  • 17 Times, 27 Feb. 1899.

11For British opinion, Guérin was the lowest rung to which Orleanism had descended in its disorientated attempts to climb to power. Boulanger had been a man of straw, ail things to ail men, but guaranteeing nothing. Déroulède was not only in Sir Edmund Monson’s phrase a “prominent mischiefmaker14” but he was a plebiscitary republican who had no intention of handing over any gains he might make to a dynasty he despised. For Blowitz of The Times, the Reuilly affair had “sent a laugh over half the téléphoné wires in Paris15” — it was “a farce amusing everybody but the infatuated man to whom his judges refuse the martyrdom he covets16”. Yet Blowitz believed that the government was right to put him on trial, since “if, instead of meeting a calm and reflecting general, Monsieur Déroulède had fallen in with one as much of a cabotin and as ambitious as himself they would have gone to the Elysée. They would not have succeeded in upsetting the Republic, but they would have succeeded in provoking civil war and in shedding blood17”. But if Déroulède had sincerity, a political programme, and a quixotic panache in his favour, Guérin had little to recommend him ; and the episode of Fort Chabrol both amused and mystified British commentators. The bizarre inverted logic was perhaps best understood by the Irish — and by none better than the fictitious Mr. Dooley.

  • 18 DUNNE, Mr. Dooley, p. 262.

Jules Guérin goes to the chief of police.
I’ve asked some ladies and gentlemen to a five o’clock revolution at my house, he says ; and I’d like to be sure there’ll be no disorder.
— Well, says the chief, it will not be easy... the président — I forget his name — has been asked to go to the races with some friends and they will probably try to kill him.. We have to protect the low as well as the high. If anything happens to the man, the case is liable to be taken up by the ex-presidents’ association ; and they are numerous enough to make trouble for us.
— Give us the best you have, says Jules ; and if you have nothing to do after you close up, you might drop in... and have a manifeste with us. Come just as you are. It’s an informai révolution18.

  • 19 Letter of 5 Dec. 1898, A.N., AP, III 805.

12The Duke’s low standing in British eyes would have been even lower, had his adoption of antisemitism extended to declaring Dreyfus guilty. To the British it was self-evident that Dreyfus’s conviction had to be re-examined ; and it was equally self-evident that the international court circles in which the Duke moved were of the same opinion. Even André Buffet preferred to limit himself to a public déclaration that “le Duc d’Orléans veut que la lumière soit faite devant les juges naturels de l’accusé” ; and he advised the Duke to confine his public statements to denouncing the attacks on the army, using a phrase such as ” ceux qui s’associent à la campagne d’injures contre l’armée ne sauraient s’autoriser de moi19.”

  • 20 Monson to Salisbury, 9 July 1899, No. 337, P.R.O., FO 27/3 458.
  • 21 Times, 8 June 1899.

13The anti-British utterances of the Duke’s cousin, Prince Henri d’Orléans, were in some ways of greater concern to the British government since they impinged directly on British impérial interests. Well-known as a traveller, he had encouraged French penetration of eastern Siam in the 1890’s, despite British protests, while in 1897-98 he was an unofficial participant in a tripartite French mission to establish links with Menelik II of Abyssinia and to make eventual contact with Marchand in the Nile valley. But Monson and Blowitz wrote of him with the same contempt that they displayed for the Duke, Monson informing Salisbury that his “journalistic effusions have so little importance that I should not take the trouble to call your Lordship’s attention to a letter which he has published in the Matin, were it not that he has thought fit therein to continue his systematic attempts at mischief-making by a gratuitous reference to Fashoda, and the conflicting interests of France and England in other questions of the globe20 Blowitz in The Times accused him of attempting “to create a younger branch pretendership, but thus far his only device for winning popularity has been to calumniate England and seize every opportunity of fomenting distrust of her. His téléphoné conversations with Menelek, whose alliance he hoped to offer France as earnest money, have however merely induced sarcastic assertions that he was the victim of a mystifier who personated Menelek, and his démonstration in favour of Esterhazy involved him, so to speak, in Esterhazy’s fall21”.

  • 22 Ibid.
  • 23 J. Reinach, Histoire de l’Affaire Dreyfus, 7 vols, Paris, 1901-8, vol. III, p. 53. Victoria appare (...)
  • 24 Letter of 23 March 1899, A.N., 400 AP, 203 (Mon-Mor).

14If the British ambassador made little reference to the Bonapartes, other than to remark on their quiescence, Blowitz was prepared to compliment them on their caution, while seeing Prince Louis as a more interesting figure than his elder brother Prince Victor : “in spite of ail déniais, Prince Louis has supporters outnumbering those of Prince Victor, though the cautious attitude of both contrasts favourably with the imprudent and irritating demeanour of the Duke of Orléans22”. The Bonaparte family, like most other members of Europe’s monarchical network, assumed that Dreyfus was innocent ; and indeed the Empress Eugénie had been told by Queen Victoria as much23. They had likewise avoided Orleanism’s mistake of hitching a lift on the accelerating juggernaut of antisemitism. The Duc de Morny approved of Victor’s caution, and commended an attitude of “conciliation rassurante” towards Republican politicians, avoiding ail suggestion of révolution in the Bonapartist press — given the fact that the bulk of the nation was currently Republican. But in the event of the republic collapsing, it was vital that the issue of a new regime be put to a plébiscité, not to parliament since “un vote des Chambres serait favorable au duc d’Orléans, un vote populaire à Vous.” As far as money was concerned Morny thought that there was a strong case for gently wooing Jewish and Protestant financiers by “les familiariser avec l’idée qu’ils ne seront jamais plus en sécurité que sous Votre égide24.”

  • 25 G. de Beauregard to Blanc, 1 Jan. 1899, A.N., 400 AP, 175 (Bas-Bea).
  • 26 E.g. Buffet to Orléans ( ?), 16( ?) Feb. 1898, A.N., 300 AP, III 804.
  • 27 Letter of 1 Dec. 1900. See Larkin, “La République en danger ?..” pp. 96-7.
  • 28 Report of Royalist agent, No. 121 bis, 25 June 1900, 300 AP, III 806.

15Blowitz’s suspicions that Prince Louis was outpacing his brother in public esteem had some foundation in fact. Some of the more militant Bonapartists were asserting that if Victor was not prepared to take advantage of the existing political situation, he should abdicate in favour of Louis25. His recent promotion to the rank of général in the Russian army not only gave him the evocative title of General Bonaparte, but helped to increase mmours that Russia was seeking to strengthen the reliability of her French ally by substituting Prince Louis for the existing effete Republican government26. Indeed Déroulède himself was to Write to Louis, commenting that in any future plebiscitary republic, “toutes les candidatures présidentielles sont libres et le suffrage universel reste le maître [...] Beaucoup de bons républicains aiment et estiment en vous [...] la mise en œuvre de vos forces morales et physiques. Aucun de nous veut pour cela ni vous livrer la République ni restaurer une dynastie, mais nous voyons volontiers [...] qu’un jour viendra où le général Louis Bonaparte pourra très bien être [...] un des fidèles serviteurs de la démocratie républicaine27”. But Louis was no more disposed than his brother to emulate past Bonapartes and risk all on a 18 brumaire. It was left to the Royalists’ all-too-fertile imagination to conjure up the spectre of Louis arriving with the Czar to visit the Paris exhibition of 1900 — “on profiterait de l’enthousiasme populaire provoqué par la présence des souverains msses pour essayer de tenter en faveur du Prince Louis un coup de force28”.

  • 29 Times, 27 July 1899.
  • 30 Times, 26 May 1900.
  • 31 Lur-Saluces to Orléans, 5 June 1899, A.N., 300 AP, III 806.
  • 32 Monson to Salisbury, 7 July 1899, No. 328, P.R.O., FO 27/3 458
  • 33 Lur-Saluces to Orléans, 6 Feb. 1899, and report from a lady, 9 Oct. 1898, A.N., 300 AP, III 806 an (...)
  • 34 Thuret to Orléans, 7 Oct. 1898, A.N., 300 AP, III 805.
  • 35 Herbert to Salisbury, 26 July 1899, No. 354, P.R.O., FO 27/3 459.
  • 36 On the rumours, see police report, 6 Aug. 1899, F7 12 870.
  • 37 See note 35.

16Any attempt to replace the existing regime with a monarchy or a plebiscitary republic would require at the very least the sympathetic acquiescence of a large section of the Paris garrison — and probably the active support of a number of influential générais. Blowitz wrote in July 1899, “I do not say that the majority of générais are in favour of a pronunciamento, but I say that the majority are imbued by the vague idea that a pronunciamento has become necessary29 ” May 1900 found him praising Galliffet for his firm handling of expressions of discontent by disgruntled officers : “this army, devoted to its task, well-disciplined and hard-working, contains also so dangerous a band of intriguing, unscrupulous and ambitious officers, secret enemies of the Republic under whose flag they serve”. And he singled out for specific mention, Générais Mercier, Boisdeffre, Pellieux, Gonse and Billot, — to which he added Major Lauth and the military archivist, Félix Gribelin30. These officers, however, were essentially men who had been discredited in one way or another by their handling of the Dreyfus Case ; they did not represent a list of dedicated opponents of the régime as such. Only General Georges de Pellieux came clearly into this category — and for reasons that Blowitz probably did not know. Blowitz may well have heard of the disappointed hopes that Déroulède had placed in Pellieux on 23 February, but he was almost certainly unaware of Pellieux’s subsequent déclaration to Lur-Saluces that the Royalists could “entièrement compter” on him and that he was “tout dévoué” to the Pretender31. His death in 1900, however, removed him from the Orleanists’ list of firm supporters. As for the British ambassador, Sir Edmund Monson, he merely reported to Salisbury the names of générais whom Galliffet decided to move to less sensitive posts, following spéculation as to their sympathies for Déroulède. When Emile Zurlinden was deprived of the Military Governorship of Paris, Monson confined his comments to the remark that “General Zurlinden is an agreeable man socially ; but gives the impression of being weak32” — an assessment that coincided ironically with the Orleanists’ own assessment of him. Lur-Saluces, together with another enquirer into the political sympathies of French générais, concluded that he was “timide33”, while ail that a direct approach from a third emissary received was a non-committal smile34. Similarly when Michael Herbert, First Secretary of the Paris embassy, reported the removal of Generais François Oscar de Négrier and Georges de Pellieux, he assumed that this was as a resuit of their truculence over aspects of the Dreyfus Affair rather than their subsequent involvement in anti-Republican conspiracy — and he may well have been right35. There is little evidence to give substance to rumours in the Ligue des Patriotes that Négrier was prepared to lead a takeover of the Elysée36. Even so, Herbert regarded Négrier as “one of the bravest and most popular generals in the French army, and the government have shown no little courage in applying in his case disciplinary measures which are without doubt thoroughly deserved37

  • 38 For details and evidence, see Larkin, “La République en danger ?”, p. 103. The bulk of the archiva (...)
  • 39 Thuret to Orléans, 20 Jan. 1899, A.N., 300 AP, III 806.
  • 40 Ibid. and undated second report of same period, A.N., 300 AP, III 806. The other corps commandera (...)

17Given the indiscrétions of the Royalists, it is surprising that neither the French nor British press appears to have got wind of the identifies of the generals on whom the Royalists pinned most hope — other than figures such as Pellieux who were already notorious for their part in the Dreyfus case or who had been publicly known as being under government suspicion. The Orleanist family archives reveal that of the twenty corps commanders in France, seven were regarded by the Royalists as well disposed towards them, three as possibly sympathetic, four as hostile, while the remaining six were unknown quantifies38. But even among the favourable, only General M.L. Garnier des Garets (2nd corps, Amiens) seemed actively prepared to advise on the preparations for a coup. He shared the Royalists’ hopes that an expected strike of Paris Exhibition-site workers in the early months of 1899 might lead to a strengthening of the Paris garrison and thereby provide a right-wing coup with potential military support39. Much more typical of the well-disposed were the cautious responses of General L.F.H. Metzinger (15lh corps, Marseille), G.P. Jacquemin (13,h, Clermont Ferrand) and G.E. Sonnois (4th Le Mans), who all told Thuret that the Royalists would have to get control of the Ministry for War before they could count on the génerals’ active participation ; otherwise, as Sonnois pointed out, the unity of the army would be imperilled. If this condition were met, however, Metzinger undertook to keep order for the Royalists in Toulon, Nice and Marseille, while Jacquemin gave a similar undertaking for St. Etienne40.

  • 41 Giles, Blowitz, p. 199.

18Neither the French government nor the press seems to have been aware of these discussions, however ; and Blowitz followed the pack in barking after the well-known discontents in the Dreyfus case who for the most part were little disposed in reality to prejudice their reputations still further by turning an attentive ear to schemes of subversion. This rather belied Blowitz’s popular réputation among contemporaries that he was the best-informed journalist in Paris — a réputation that he had done much himself to foster by his embellished or fanciful accounts of his personal encounters with the mighty and their readiness to unburden themselves to him. Paul de Cassagnac was admittedly using the hyperboles of professional jealousy and antisemitic prejudice when he wrote of Blowitz : “For twenty-five years a man has had free access to all the forbidden places, to French politicians, to the Head of the State [...] For him, there is no secret in the home or foreign policy in our country. He is told everything, and it is from him that from time to time French people get to know what is going on in France. This man is a Jew41”.

19The Times’s financial links with Le Matin and Blowitz’s cavalier comments on the corruptibility of French newspapers were not of a nature to endear him to his professional rivais ; and French hostility was to reach its height when Blowitz’s adopted son, Stephan Lauzanne, eventually became editor-in-chief of Le Matin in June 1901. Indeed the talent of Le Matin for invented rumour and political blackmail was palpably seen as owing not a little to the influence of its editor’s upbringing in the Blowitz household, even if in reality it owed more to the unscrupulous imagination of the paper’s proprietor, Maurice Buneau Varilla, whose opportunism was eventually to bring Le Matin, Lauzanne and himself to disaster in 1944. Blowitz’s ghost might at least dérivé a certain satisfaction from the fact that Le Matin.’s confiscated typeface was to be given to Le Monde — as still reflected in the gloomy gothic of Le Mondés title heading.

  • 42 See retrospective comment in Times, 29 Aug. 1900.
  • 43 Ibid.

20If Blowitz, like his rivais, failed to identify the real friends of the Royalists among the generals, he kept a sharp eye on others. His central European contacts informed him of the “very intimate” relations between the Duc d’Orléans and General de Galliffet when the annual August migration to Marienbad brought the two together in the off-duty detente of spa-life42. However, the appointment of Galliffet to the Rue Dominique in June 1899 and the arrest of André Buffet in August 1899 made Galliffet much more circumspect in his choice of conversational companions. Indeed the following August found Galliffet cutting the duke altogether when the two crossed paths in the spa’s shaded alleyways43. Another habitué of Marienbad, Sir Horace Rumbold, Britain’s ambassador in Vienna, saw fit to inform Lord Salisbury on 27 August 1899 that “ under a pledge of secrecy” he had just been told that Galliffet

  • 44 No. 200, P.R.O., FO 146/3 581. On the Orleanists’ schemes to dispossess Déroulède of the fruits of (...)

speaks with réprobation of the abortive monarchical plot in which M. Déroulède and his associâtes are implicated. The very complete proofs in the hands of the French government show the Duc d’Orléans to be gravely compromised in this affair. The most tempting offers were made to the General in connection with it. These he refused to entertain, not choosing, he says, to play the part of General Monk, and considering it besides highly reprehensible that any pretender, however legitimate his pretensions, should seek to profit by the distracted state of France at this moment to advance his cause. The Duc d’Orléans seems indeed at first to have had scruples on this score, but allowed himself to be overruled on its being represented to him that even if it failed, the plot would at least have the effect of turning out the Ministry. Since then the General has acquired proof that one of the first measures resolved upon by the conspirators was his arrest... In complete contrast to His Royal Highness’s conduct is the policy of careful abstention followed by Prince Victor Napoléon on advice given him by the King of Italy.
With respect to the Dreyfus Affair, Gen. de Galliffet [...] admits that Gen. Mercier is guilty on several counts, the first of which is laying before the first Courtmartial professedly incriminating evidence which was carefully kept from the accused and his counsel. His principal “crime”, however, and for which, if prosecuted, he is liable to the severest penalty, is his having deliberately destroyed both the original and the copy of a most important document. The General allows that Mercier ought by rights to be tried by Court Martial, but characteristically and unaccountably adds that he will not allow him to be prosecuted.
As regards the issue of the trial, Gen. de Galliffet hints that it will be unfavourable to Dreyfus, but on account of patent Vices de forme’, the affair will be referred to another, court and must ultimately come again before the Cour de Cassation who will find that Dreyfus was wrongly sentenced for a crime instead of a délit, and prescription applying as regards the latter offence, he will be at once liberated, and the affaire thus come to an end in its judicial aspect. This, M. de Galliffet lets it appear, is the solution aimed at by the peccant generals as extricating them from their difficulties and letting them down easy. A complete acquittai by the present court martial might, according to the General, lead to very serious conséquences by the exaspération it would produce in the friends of the army, and the numerous adversaries of the Jews and Freemasons.
M. de Galliffet is in any case determined to resign office immediately after the meeting of the chambers. He and his colleagues are at present kept together by the work of réparation and justice in which they are engaged, but their divergences on other points are so great that once the affaire is disposed of, the Ministry must break up44.

21Galliffet was notoriously indiscreet, both in conversation and in correspondence — especially with the type of person who frequented Marienbad, since he tended to regard them as superior spectators of the humdrum life of French politics, whose own temptation to gossip was too elevated to impinge upon the lesser mortals who held the offices of State in France. He was in any case a man of changing opinions — as exemplified among much else in his subséquent décision not to fulfil his predictions in the matter of his own resignation.

  • 45 For Willette’s initial request to publish Uie Duke’s letter, see Willette to Orléans, 5 Jan. 1900, (...)
  • 46 For Willette’s admissions, see La Liberté (Belgium), 23 Feb. 1900.
  • 47 Times, 24 Feb. 1900.
  • 48 Letter to Président of the Bachelor’s Club, 15 May 1900, A.N., 300 AP, III 808.

22If the Haute Cour proceedings and their aftermath made militant conspiracy an unattractive option for a while, relations between the Duc d’Orléans and his British hosts did not improve. When the newspaper artist, A. Willette, sent him a sériés of pro-Boer cartoons — one of which depicted Paul Kmger humiliating Queen Victoria — the Duke replied with a letter of congratulation : “Vos dessins valent des coups de sabre, et vous avez marqué au front l’ennemi héréditaire de la France Although the Duke naïvely sought to cover himself by requesting Willette not to publish these remarks45, Willette predictably showed the letter to journalists, slyly adding : “je vous autorise à dire que vous l’avez vue, mais non à reproduire ce qu’elle contient46”. There was a storm of indignation, the only dissentient voice being that of Blowitz who wrote that the Duke’s offence was beneath contempt and was not worth the publicity that reprisais such as expulsion from Britain would give him47. The duke was expelled from the St. James’s, Bachelor’s and Marlborough Clubs, following a correspondence that was remarkable for his arrogant and evasive bluster : “il importe que l’on sache si votre hospitalité devient une servitude et si vous prétendez abandonner les séculaires traditions de liberté individuelle qui ont fait la force et la grandeur de votre pays. J’attends votre décision quelle qu’elle soit. La mienne est prise. Philippe48.”

  • 49 Victoria to Orléans, 13 Jan. 1901, 300 AP, III 808.
  • 50 Milbanke to Salisbury, 10 Aug. 1900, N ”. 172, P.R.O., FO 146/3 620.
  • 51 Milbanke to Salisbury, 28 Aug. 1900, N°. 181, P.R.O., FO 146/3 620.
  • 52 Notes of Gen. de Charette, March 1897, A.N., 300 AP, III 803.
  • 53 Edward VII to Orléans, 13 June 1902, A.N., 300 AP, III 808-9.
  • 54 “Isabelle” to Orléans, 7 Sept. 1902, A.N., 300 AP, III 808-9.

23There then followed two years of enforced exile from Britain, which was only terminated at the price of a succession of self-abasing letters. Although the dying queen dictated a remarkably affectionate reply to his letter of apology49 this was not the end of his expiation. The Duc de Luynes, who was related to the First Secretary at the embassy in Vienna, Ralph Milbanke, interceded with Milbanke at Marienbad — Milbanke informing Lord Salisbury that the apology was a “diffuse and somewhat lame story Luynes pointed out that the Duc d’Orléans had at one time served in a British regiment which was now currently fighting in the Boer War and to which the Duke had privately contributed” a considérable sum for the benefit of the regiment But the Willette affair had made him something of a pariah in Marienad. Milbanke reported to Salisbury that “I have not seen His Royal Highness, even at a distance here. He takes very long walks, associâtes with scarcely anybody and in fact leads a lonely life of mortifying isolation. He is no doubt miserable at the position he has made for himself by his unpardonable folly50”. The Duc d’Orléans had indirectly sought support from the Austrian Emperor through the Arch-Duke Joseph August — but the Emperor told Milbanke that the Duke’s explanation of events was, in Milbanke’s words, “thoroughly unsatisfactory Milbanke reported that” The Emperor added some very uncomplimentary remarks about the Duc d’Orléans. Even his former friends had given him up and he was simply “un gamin”51”. Three years earlier Pope Léo XIII had asked General de Charette “Le Duc d’Orléans, s’est-il rangé — est-il plus calme ? and the Papal Secretary of State, Cardinal Rampolla, had similarly enquired,” Votre prince s’est-il assagi un peu ?52”.The answer was as negative as ever. When the Duke, swallowing his pride, congratulated Edward VII on the end of the Boer War, he merely got the briefest and stiffest of acknowledgements ;53 and another three months was to elapse before he was given to understand, at third hand, that he might return to Britain54.

Notes

1 A Prince of journalists : the Life and Times of Henri Stefan Opper de Blowitz, London, 1962, p. 178. Blowitz was principal Tïmes correspondent in Paris from 1874 to 1902.

2 Donald MacKenzie Wallace, head of the Foreign Department of The Times. Ibid., p. 188.

3 F. P. Dunne, Mr. Dooley in the hearts of his countrymen, Boston, 1899. Republished, 1968, p. 253. For the benefit of an international readership, I have taken the liberty of anglicising Mr. Dooley’s immortal but impenetrable utterances.

4 Archives Nationales, 300 AP, Archives de la Maison de France (branche d’Orléans), III 805 (marked ? fin 1898’). I am grateful to die Comte de Paris for authorisation to consult these papers.

5 Monson to Lord Salisbury, 28 Feb. 1899, No. 124, Public Record Office, FO 27/3 456.

6 Monson to Salisbury, 19 Sep. 1899, No. 410, P.R.O., FO 27/3 459

7 Monson to Salisbury, 20 Feb. 1899, No. 106, P.R.O., FO 27/3 456

8 Times, 8 June 1899.

9 Giles, Blowitz, p. 192.

10 See notably Lur-Saluces to Orléans, 6 Feb. 1899, A.N., 300 AP, III 806. The Duke’s adoption of antisemitism is examined in M. Larkin, “La République en danger ? The Pretenders, the Army and Déroulède, 1898-1899” English Historical Review, 1985, pp. 85-105, and in B. Joly, “Le parti royaliste et l’affaire Dreyfus (1898-1900)”, Revue historique, 1983, pp. 311-64.

11 Letter of 20 Feb. 1899, A.N. 300 AP, III 806.

12 Letter of 28 March 1899, A.N., 300 AP, III 806.

13 Lur-Saluces to Orléans, 26 June 1899, A.N., 300 AP, III 806.

14 Monson to Salisbury, 24 Feb. 1899, N° 109, P. R. O., FO 146/3 583.

15 Times 24 Feb. 1899.

16 Times, 25 Feb. 1899.

17 Times, 27 Feb. 1899.

18 DUNNE, Mr. Dooley, p. 262.

19 Letter of 5 Dec. 1898, A.N., AP, III 805.

20 Monson to Salisbury, 9 July 1899, No. 337, P.R.O., FO 27/3 458.

21 Times, 8 June 1899.

22 Ibid.

23 J. Reinach, Histoire de l’Affaire Dreyfus, 7 vols, Paris, 1901-8, vol. III, p. 53. Victoria apparently showed Eugénie a letter that she had received from Wilhelm II, asserting Dreyfus’s innocence.

24 Letter of 23 March 1899, A.N., 400 AP, 203 (Mon-Mor).

25 G. de Beauregard to Blanc, 1 Jan. 1899, A.N., 400 AP, 175 (Bas-Bea).

26 E.g. Buffet to Orléans ( ?), 16( ?) Feb. 1898, A.N., 300 AP, III 804.

27 Letter of 1 Dec. 1900. See Larkin, “La République en danger ?..” pp. 96-7.

28 Report of Royalist agent, No. 121 bis, 25 June 1900, 300 AP, III 806.

29 Times, 27 July 1899.

30 Times, 26 May 1900.

31 Lur-Saluces to Orléans, 5 June 1899, A.N., 300 AP, III 806.

32 Monson to Salisbury, 7 July 1899, No. 328, P.R.O., FO 27/3 458

33 Lur-Saluces to Orléans, 6 Feb. 1899, and report from a lady, 9 Oct. 1898, A.N., 300 AP, III 806 and 805.

34 Thuret to Orléans, 7 Oct. 1898, A.N., 300 AP, III 805.

35 Herbert to Salisbury, 26 July 1899, No. 354, P.R.O., FO 27/3 459.

36 On the rumours, see police report, 6 Aug. 1899, F7 12 870.

37 See note 35.

38 For details and evidence, see Larkin, “La République en danger ?”, p. 103. The bulk of the archival evidence is contained in A.N., 300 AP, III 805 and 806.

39 Thuret to Orléans, 20 Jan. 1899, A.N., 300 AP, III 806.

40 Ibid. and undated second report of same period, A.N., 300 AP, III 806. The other corps commandera whom the Royalists believed sympathetic to them were Generals F.A. Jeannerod (lst, Lille), C. Kessler (6th, Châlons) and J. de Monard (20th, Nancy). See note 38.

41 Giles, Blowitz, p. 199.

42 See retrospective comment in Times, 29 Aug. 1900.

43 Ibid.

44 No. 200, P.R.O., FO 146/3 581. On the Orleanists’ schemes to dispossess Déroulède of the fruits of his labour, see Larkin, “La République en danger ?...”, pp. 92-4, 100-104.

45 For Willette’s initial request to publish Uie Duke’s letter, see Willette to Orléans, 5 Jan. 1900, A.N., 300 AP 808.

46 For Willette’s admissions, see La Liberté (Belgium), 23 Feb. 1900.

47 Times, 24 Feb. 1900.

48 Letter to Président of the Bachelor’s Club, 15 May 1900, A.N., 300 AP, III 808.

49 Victoria to Orléans, 13 Jan. 1901, 300 AP, III 808.

50 Milbanke to Salisbury, 10 Aug. 1900, N ”. 172, P.R.O., FO 146/3 620.

51 Milbanke to Salisbury, 28 Aug. 1900, N°. 181, P.R.O., FO 146/3 620.

52 Notes of Gen. de Charette, March 1897, A.N., 300 AP, III 803.

53 Edward VII to Orléans, 13 June 1902, A.N., 300 AP, III 808-9.

54 “Isabelle” to Orléans, 7 Sept. 1902, A.N., 300 AP, III 808-9.

Auteur

University of Edinburgh

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