Page:Lettres d'un innocent; the letters of Captain Dreyfus to his wife ; (IA lettresduninnoce00drey).pdf/21

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For months a campaign had been carried on against him in the radical press. One fortunate act would vindicate him—the conviction of a traitor. It is impossible that he could have long entertained a belief in the guilt of the prisoner. Yet, having in the first flush of seeming success publicly accused him, he dare not draw back. Already his enemies of the radical and clerical press were accusing him of selling himself to the Jews. "To-morrow," wrote Drumont in La Libre Parole, "no doubt they will applaud the Minister of War, when he comes and boasts of the measures which he has taken to save Dreyfus."

Thus the reputation of Mercier, and very possibly the existence of the Cabinet, became staked on the conviction of Dreyfus. Dreyfus was convicted. Space will not permit me to state the exact circumstances by which this most stupendous miscarriage of justice was brought about. Suffice to say, that during a secret deliberation of the court-martial forged evidence was introduced unknown to the prisoner or to his counsel. The criminal code as well as article 101 of the Code de Justice Militaire was grossly violated. It was to cover this illegality and to perpetuate its result that the conspiracy in the General Staff gradually grew into being.

The victim was publicly degraded in the courtyard of the Ecole Militaire, in Paris. The morning was clear and cold. The sunlight shimmered from the gaudy trappings of the Garde Républicaine. "On the stroke of nine from the clock of the Ecole Militaire," wrote a reporter of L'Autorité, "General Darras draws his sword and commands, 'Shoulder arms!' The order is repeated before each company. The troops execute the order. Silence follows.