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September 1914.[1]

Among the many crimes of this infamous war which are all odious to us, why have we chosen for protest the crimes against things and not against men, the destruction of works and not of lives?

Many are surprised by this, and have even reproached us for it—as if we have not as much pity as they for the bodies and hearts of the thousands of victims who are crucified! Yet over the armies which fall, there flies the vision of their love, and of la Patrie, to which they sacrifice themselves—over these lives which are passing away passes the holy Ark of the art and thought of centuries, borne on their shoulders. The bearers can change. May the Ark be saved! To the élite of the world falls the task of guarding it. And since the common treasure is threatened, may they rise to protect it!

  1. Written after the bombardment of Rheims Cathedral.