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ANTI-SEMITISM

but had been obliged to leave the firm in consequence of his disastrous speculations, had joined the Legitimist party, and had started the Union Générale with funds obtained from his new allies. Bontoux promised to break up the alleged financial monopoly of the Jews and Protestants and to found a new plutocracy in its stead, which should be mainly Roman Catholic and aristocratic. The bait was eagerly swallowed. For five years the Union Générale, with the blessing of the pope, pursued an apparently prosperous career. Immense schemes were undertaken, and the 125-fr. shares rose gradually to 3200 francs. The whole structure, however, rested on a basis of audacious speculation, and in January 1882 the Union Générale failed, with liabilities amounting to 212,000,000 francs. The cry was at once raised that the collapse was due to the manœuvres of the Jews, and a strong anti-Semitic feeling manifested itself in clerical and aristocratic circles. In 1886 violent expression was given to this feeling in a book since become famous, La France juive, by Edouard Drumont (b. 1844). The author illustrated the theories of German anti-Semitism with a chronique scandaleuse full of piquant personalities, in which the corruption of French national life under Jewish influences was painted in alarming colours. The book was read with avidity by the public, who welcomed its explanations of the obviously growing debauchery. The Wilson scandals and the suspension of the Panama Company in the following year, while not bearing out Drumont's anti-Semitism, fully justified his view of the prevailing corruption. Out of this condition of things rose the Boulangist movement, which rallied all the disaffected elements in the country, including Drumont's following of anti-Semites. It was not, however, until the flight of General Boulanger and the ruin of his party that anti-Semitism came forward as a political movement.

The chief author of the rout of Boulangism was a Jewish politician and journalist, Joseph Reinach (b. 1856), formerly private secretary to Gambetta, and one of the ablest men in France. He was a Frenchman by birth and education, but his father and uncles were Germans, who had founded an important banking establishment in Paris. Hence he was held to personify the alien Jewish domination in France, and the ex-Boulangists turned against him and his co-religionists with fury. The Boulangist agitation had for a second time involved the Legitimists in heavy pecuniary losses, and under the leadership of the marquis de Morès they now threw all their influence on the side of Drumont. An anti-Semitic league was established, and with Royalist assistance branches were organized all over the country. The Franco-Russian alliance in 1891, when the persecutions of the Jews by Pobêdonostsev were attracting the attention of Europe, served to invest Drumont's agitation with a fashionable and patriotic character. It was a sign of the spiritual approximation of the two peoples. In 1892 Drumont founded a daily anti-Semitic newspaper, La Libre Parole. With the organization of this journal a regular campaign for the discovery of scandals was instituted. At the same time a body of aristocratic swashbucklers, with the marquis de Morès and the comte de Lamase at their head, set themselves to terrorize the Jews and provoke them to duels. At a meeting held at Neuilly in 1891, Jules Guérin, one of the marquis de Morès's lieutenants, had demanded rhetorically un cadavre de Juif. He had not long to wait. Anti-Semitism was most powerful in the army, which was the only branch of the public service in which the reactionary classes were fully represented. The republican law compelling the seminarists to serve their term in the army had strengthened its Clerical and Royalist elements, and the result was a movement against the Jewish officers, of whom 500 held commissions. A series of articles in the Libre Parole attacking these officers led to a number of ferocious duels, and these culminated in 1892 in the death of an amiable and popular Jewish officer, Captain Armand Mayer, of the Engineers, who fell, pierced through the lungs by the marquis de Morès. This tragedy, rendered all the more painful by the discovery that Captain Mayer had chivalrously fought to shield a friend, aroused a great deal of popular indignation against the anti-Semites, and for a moment it was believed that the agitation had been killed with its victim.

Towards the end of 1892, the discovery of the widespread corruption practised by the Panama Company gave a fresh impulse to anti-Semitism. The revelations were in a large measure due to the industry of the Libre Parole; and they were all the more welcome to the readers of that journal since it was discovered that three Jews were implicated in the scandals, one of whom, baron de Reinach, was uncle and father-in-law to the hated destroyer of Boulangism. The escape of the other two, Dr Cornelius Herz and M. Arton, and the difficulties experienced in obtaining their extradition, deepened the popular conviction that the authorities were implicated in the scandals, and kept the public eye for a long time absorbed by the otherwise restricted Jewish aspects of the scandals. In 1894 the military side of the agitation was revived by the arrest of a prominent Jewish staff officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, on a charge of treason. From the beginning the hand of the anti-Semite was flagrant in the new sensation. The first hint of the arrest appeared in the Libre Parole; and before the facts had been officially communicated to the public that journal was busy with a campaign against the war minister, based on the apprehension that, in conspiracy with the Juiverie and his republican colleagues, he might exert himself to shield the traitor. Anti-Semitic feeling was now thoroughly aroused. Panama had prepared the people to believe anything; and when it was announced that a court-martial, sitting in secret, had convicted Dreyfus, there was a howl of execration against the Jews from one end of the country to the other, although the alleged crime of the convict and the evidence by which it was supported were quite unknown. Dreyfus was degraded and transported for life amid unparalleled scenes of public excitement.

The Dreyfus Case registers the climax not only of French, but of European anti-Semitism. It was the most ambitious and most unscrupulous attempt yet made to prove the nationalist hypothesis of the anti-Semites, and in its failure it afforded the most striking illustration of the dangers of the whole movement by bringing France to the verge of revolution. For a few months after the Dreyfus court-martial there was a comparative lull; but the highly strung condition of popular passion was illustrated by a violent debate on "The Jewish Peril" in the Chamber of Deputies (25th April 1895), and by two outrages with explosives at the Rothschild bank in Paris. Meanwhile the family of Dreyfus, absolutely convinced of his innocence, were casting about for the means of clearing his character and securing his liberation. They were wealthy, and their activity unsettled the public mind and aroused the apprehensions of the conspirators. Had the latter known how to preserve silence, the mystery would perhaps have been yet unsolved; but in their anxiety to allay all suspicions they made one false step, which proved the beginning of their ruin. Through their friends in the press they secured the publication of a facsimile of a document known as the Bordereau—a list of documents supposed to be in Dreyfus's handwriting and addressed apparently to the military attaché of a foreign power, which was alleged to constitute the chief evidence against the convict. It was hoped by this publication to put an end to the doubts of the so-called Dreyfusards. The result, however, was only to give them a clue on which they worked with remarkable ingenuity. To prove that the Bordereau was not in Dreyfus's handwriting was not difficult. Indeed, its authorship was recognized almost on the day of publication; but the Dreyfusards held their hands in order to make assurance doubly sure by further evidence. Meanwhile one of the officers of the general staff, Colonel Picquart, had convinced himself by an examination of the dossier of the trial that a gross miscarriage of justice had taken place. On mentioning his doubts to his superiors, who were animated partly by anti-Semitic feeling and partly by reluctance to confess to a mistake, he was ordered to the Tunisian hinterland on a dangerous expedition. Before leaving Paris, however, he took the precaution to confide his discovery to his legal adviser. Harassed by their anxieties, the conspirators made further communications to the newspapers; and the government, questioned and badgered in parliament, added to the revelations. The new disclosures, so far from