Above the Battle
come the reserve, men of twenty-five to thirty years, more stalwart and more determined, who will reinforce the younger men and make them irresistible. We, the old men of forty, the fathers of families, are the base of the choir ; and we too, I assure you, set out confidently, resolute and unwavering. I have no wish to die, but I can die now without regret ; for I have lived through a fortnight, which would be cheap at the price of death, a fortnight which I had not dared to ask of fate. History will tell of us, for we are opening a new era in the world. We are dispelling the nightmare of the materialism of a mailed Germany and of armed peace. It will fade like a phan- tom before us ; the world seems to breathe again. Re- assure your Viennese friend, 1 France is not about to die ; it is her resurrection which we see. For throughout history Bouvines, the Crusades, Cathedrals, the Revolution we remain the same, the knights-errant of the world, the paladins of God. I have lived long enough to see it ful- filled ; and we who prophesied it twenty years ago to unbelieving ears may rejoice to-day."
my friends, may nothing mar your joy ! Whatever fate has in store, you have risen to the pinnacle of earthly life, and borne your country with you. And you will be victorious. Your self-sacrifice, your courage, your whole- hearted faith in your sacred cause, and the un- shaken certainty that, in defending your invaded
1 Alludes to a Viennese writer who had told me, a few weeks before the declaration of war, that a disaster for France would be a disaster for the liberal thinkers of Germany too.