Translation:The White Terror in Texas/c2
This translation of a non-English source text has been given the following ratings:
San Antonio (Texas), 13 February 1862
After a short stay in Austin, I determined to return to San Antonio, where I hoped to lie low as long as the storm lasted. One of the first scenes I witnessed was the murder in broad daylight of Bob Augustin [sic]. When he left the hearing, acquitted by the judge, this poor wretch found himself surrounded by the members of the Vigilance Committee. One of them dealt him a knife stab, that Bob parried with his hand. At the same time, an angry mob seized him by the hair, felled him on the very doorstep of the Justice of the Peace, and dragging him through the square, as they would have a dog, hanged him from the China lilac in full view of the office of the Court Administrator.
The printing press of the Three weekly Express had been set ablaze. The bazaar of Theissen, a German merchant whose skill the Americans envied, as well as the bookstore of the honest Berends, were openly threatened with the same fate.
The rangers on horseback had set up camp two miles from the city. As soon as the new recruits had shown sufficient training, they were hastily sent to the West, where they were in all appearance intended for a campaign in New Mexico, which in reality was hidind a project of pirates against California. The administration of the war, in San Antonio, was making considerable purchases of mules, wagons, corn, preparing shipments for three or four thousand men, and provisions for six months. Anyone who has traveled in the Far West does not ignore the immense difficulties of crossing the plateau, for masses of thousands. But the San Francisco Mint, its Bureau of the Guarantee, the vaults of the individuals, the mining stores of the El Dorado, did they not offer a bait, a booty, worthy of gigantic efforts? This project, now aborted, explains the enigmatic speech which I am about to relate.
Try to visualise, on the square of San Antonio, opposite the Moorish style Mexican church, a general riling up a hundred horsemen formed in a circle. Dressed in coutil trousers with orange stripes and a blue flannel jacket, these improvised soldiers carry the rifle with its butt resting on their right thigh, and held upright by means of the hand applied to the battery. They welcome with cheers, or more precisely with the Texan yell that takes after the battle cry of the savages, the words of their speaker.
"Over there in the West, cries out this one, opens a territory still partially unknown, but of which we know enough to appreciate its richness. The mountains, rivers, plains, the towns there are also rich. There is everything of all that is most precious to man and especially to the soldier. There is what we are lacking. There is gold and silver… and we need it." — To others, one would have shown glory; to the son of Southern planters, you say: there is gold… and we will take it.
But voluntary recruitment was not enough. The army, the number of which was ridiculously inflated, did not amount to two hundred thousand men. The planters tried a moral pressure to have bear arms all whom depended on them: workers, merchants, businessmen, craftsmen, journalists, clerks, printers. At the end of October, there were three classes of men under the banners: the first were adventurers, among whom I include stateless men who were in the profession of arms, either a resource, or a lure to their ambition ; the second, the sons of slave masters; the third, customers or the planters, or those obligated to them. And when this third class got enrolled, as a result of threat and fear, recruitment ceased suddenly. The government appeals then addressed citizens who did not want to fight, who had preserved their livelihoods, their occupations. They addressed fathers, farmers, traders, who were leading an independent existence, careful of the future of their children.
The leaders, whom terror and violence had hitherto profited, then conceived the absurd project of the mass uprising. They showed lack of common sense to the point of ordering, in a civilized society — which has its agriculture, industry, its intellectual endeavours, its schools, public services — to the point of ordering in this society a general uproar of the savage. It was a final resource, also meant to be a theatrical flourish. All able-bodied men, young or old, married or unmarried, U.S. citizens or resident aliens, are told: "The time has come to take up arms to defend your homes and the honor of women. A bloodthirsty enemy without honor is about to set foot on your sacred soil. To arms! To arms against the barbarian invaders! Come with the gunpowder and percussion caps that you have at home; grab your rifle, your shotgun, your pistols, your knives, your spears, all the weapons that you may have." They were supposedly training people in companies, gathering these companies into battalions and regiments, and launching these ill-equipped and ill-disciplined masses on to the threatened locations, where they would have become the object of the most disastrous slaughter.
Let us first note the exaggeration, not to say the impudence of this call. A materialist faction, which has seized power and which holds the torch in hand, seeks to depict to us the volunteers of the North, Illinois farmers, artisans of Massachusetts, as savages, arsonists and violators. Yet we know what order and what security were enjoyed by the country under the Union. It was the reign of liberty and justice. Apart from the interests of the planters, there did not rise a complaint, no grievance was ever filed. And now we are put to the yoke, telling us to fight for our rights, for our homes which they claim are dedicated to the fire, for the women who are threatened in their honor! Not satisfied with distorting the facts in such a brutal way and so crudely, this pagan faction herself commits all the outrages of which it blames others, and fights for legalizing them.
But it is in vain that she parodies with false display the war of Independence. Who are they deceiving by comparing the Charleston riot and the looting of its treasury to the selfless action of the Bostonians tossing the cargo of tea into the sea? Who are they deceiving by designating the volunteers of New York under the name of the Hessian regiments employed by the British in their fight against the colonies? Who are they deceiving still by calling her constitution corrected, enriched with the provision, "slavery will never be abolished"; by calling, I say, this constitution "the political will of Washington"?
There are limits to parody. — But it should be known by which violent means they began to put the mass uprising into effect. I extract from the general agenda the following plan: "Two lists will be established, said the governor. One will have the names of all persons subject to the call. The other, to be known as the black list, will have the names and residence of all those eligible who in any way will have tried to avoid it; as also the names of friends or advisers who try in any manner to weaken the action of the officers in the execution of their duties. All these people will be marked as suspicious, and labeled as enemy of the South." We see what measures the government resorts to in order to sustain itself; these threats are made with aplomb and shamelessness that have never been equaled. Even the sacred ministry of the Council is stated prima facie suspect mission. You will take up arms for us, say the planters, you will leave your families and occupations; you will march to the call without hesitation, without lukewarmness — or we'll treat you as enemies. What happens to individual freedom, the rights of the people and their safety, intellectual existence itself, in the midst of such a state of society?
As soon as the 1st of September, for fear of being forcibly sent in the army, I had called for the protection of our consul in New Orleans. The militia law provides that "all able-bodied free male inhabitants, after one month's residence in the State, and ten days in the county, are liable to do military duty." Like I said, there is no distinction of age, of civil status, or nationality. The only legal exemptions are listed in the following order: " Teachers, ferrymen, mail courriers, court clerks and judges, ministers." This mass uprising is to form in Texas thirty-two regiments, to whom the rules of military discipline are applicable. Insubordination, resistance, or the simple failure to register are matters for the war councils (Articles 19 and 20). Civil imprisonment, or for commercial matters, is not to be exercised against mobilised members of the regiments.
These regiments are under the command of the military commanders. They are employed not at maintaining public order, but to the defense of sea and land borders. It is, as the law says unambiguously, true military duty. It is indisputable, under all recognized principles of human rights, and in agreement with all the previous ones, that non-naturalized foreigners are entitled to refuse it.
Though inhabiting Texas for the moment, and however sympathetic I was toward the maintaining of public order in the cities and in the countryside, I did not however recognize its legislators the right to enlist me in active military service, and send me to Indianola to bombard cruisers, or to Albuquerque to combat the United States troops, even for an exact opposite motive to that of "the extension and perpetuation of slavery."
It was not without surprise that I received from our consul in New Orleans, under date of October 6, the following reply: "As regards the obligation to serve in the militia, I must admit that, if the law is the same in Texas than here, I could no commit you to refuse. In this state, everyone (except the consuls, vice-consuls and consular agents) have to march." — Everyone is called by the law, I know ; but it is precisely against the law enforcement that I protest. The British consul, also in New Orleans, has retrieved from all those companies those of his nationals who resorted to him: he demanded and obtained forty-two discharges in one day. The English consul in Galveston, Mr. Lyon, whose cover the Irish claimed, who had applied for citizenship, but who had not yet been declared Americans, replied, "Whosoever is born on British soil, and is not fully naturalized in Texas, has the right to consular protection for him, his wife, his children and property. I intend that he enjoy all the immunities accorded to him by the law of nations and the treaties, in particular exemption from military service."
Let us compare this language to the letter from Mr. Deynoodt de Tilly. The general taking to arms "is fair, says our consul, because as they protect you, you are obligated to protect others." The reader has seen how we were protected on the border. "I will point out, also said our consul, that this service does not affect your nationality. One loses one's right as a Belgian citizen only if serving under another flag, this is to say that one be a soldier of a foreign army." — To belong to a regiment employed in active service in time of war, is that not to serve under the flag of the country whose regiment bears the ensign? Can one make, in such cases, a distinction based on the method of recruitment, a distinction between free corps and mobilised militia ? Marching under the same leader, toward the same goal, do they not also belong to the active armed force? I will go further. I will say that in America, where the entire armed forces are made up of volunteers during peacetime, the militia is the sole and true raised by conscription, and therefore the true regular army.
Unable to expect any protection from the Belgian consulate, I was left to rely on myself. I was not unaware that they threatened the deserters, sometimes of sending them to the penitentiary, at other times of putting them to work in the mines. However, I relied on the resilience of the people. In this country, which last year had as motto free speech, free press and free men, one would now see mute tongues, the press, either servile or muzzled, and men beneath the yoke. But the result was only exterior. I could remember Italy, champing at the bit under the whip of Austria, secret societies sprouting everywhere, with the momentum and confidence which belong only to violently oppressed peoples. They would get the hint from one another, they were preparing in silence. They would challenge the henchmen; spies were betrayed by their peers. The ground seemed ready to give under the steps of the planters.
In Texas, a powerful opposition, a nearly invicible force of inertia, came to stop or at least delay the government's military projects. We swore that we would stay in our homes, owners of our weapons, and if we were some day to use a musket, it would not be for the right of the planter of having men as work slaves and of abusing their wives, but to claim our own right to live free and in brotherhood.
Before the events were fully developed on this side, a fortuitous circumstance gave me satisfaction to snatch an outlaw from the hands of our tyrants. Mr. Charles Anderson — brother of Major (now General) Anderson who suffered in Fort Sumter the first fire from the secessionists — lived at the water head of the San Antonio river. He was an enlightened man, influent, owner of a large fortune, and that summer had used all these benefits for the cause of the Union. He had extensive correspondence, messengers on all roads; _ the planters viewed him as head of the opposition in Texas. On 1 September, the Vigilance Committee gave him the order to sell his possessions and leave the country within ten days.
Such an order meant ruin at a time like this, when the properties could find no buyers, and the paper money (which was not received outside of the Confederate States) would trade at forty or fifty percent loss. Anderson, however, submitted. He left his land for a trifle, his home, his cattle, but he refused to sell his slaves and gave them their freedom.
At this news, a cry of rage rose from the ranks of the planters. It was announced that the judge would refuse the legalization of the act, and that the poor blacks would be sold as masterless slaves, to the benefit of the State, at the court auction. A discussion ensued, and Anderson, who had already sacrificed everything, was placed under arrest and taken to the camp of the rangers, two leagues from the city. Soon, even his detention was not enough to appease the anger, and they spoke openly of the execution of this miscreant.
I lived in a house somewhat aside, in the suburb of San Antonio. I had befriended a young man among my neighbors, who before long had to go away, but whose mother I kept visiting. This lady, born in Pennsylvania, long resident of Ohio, was devoted to the Union and to the cause of freedom. She devised a plan for the escape of Anderson, and I was fortunate enough to assist her in this endeavor, which turned out successful.
A generous citizen, whose name I would reveal if he weren't still in Texas, undertook to see the prisoner, and give him a note with, in a few words, the first instructions for his escape. He went to the camp, managed to talk to an officer whose tent Anderson was in, and through a ruse whose failure would have cost him his life or at the very least his freedom, he placed in the hands of the captive the paper pellet that bore the message.
From then on, we waited every night for Anderson. He had to go to the mother of the young X, whose house he knew, and I was in charge of the preparations for the journey. I kept two horses in the courtyard, who seemed surprised to find themselves locked in every night. My window was only shut in appearance, held only by a large book placed on the sill. On the 22nd (October 1861), I went to bed early as usual, and I had dozed off when the weighty volume fell on the floor; a determined arm pushed the window open, and the voice of a woman, firm but also a little more terse than usual, throws these words in the room: "He's here, and wishes to leave at once."
I was up and dressed in sixty seconds and went out into the garden. Anderson sought my hand in the dark. He squeezed it with an effusion that is not easily described, stirred with this sense of silent satisfaction which Latude must have experienced, as he was going through, under his disguise, the doors of the castle of Vincennes. The generous and Republican woman whose work this was, wrapped in a large shawl, huddled by the massive trunk of a live oak as old as the world, listened to the grave melody of the wind.
The feet of the gentleman were wounded, torn by brambles and bushes. Anderson, after having stolen away, at nightfall, to the gaze of the sentries, had spent several hours in the Salado River, hidden in water up to his neck. From there he heard the drumbeat of the alarm, he did not doubt that his flight was known, and that the pursuit had already started on all sides. He had got lost among these trailless hills and valleys, which all look alike and follow one another indefinitely.
The evening wore on; the minutes were numbered. We had to care for the preparations for departure. Saddle a horse, noiselessly, in the absence of light, giving it an ample ration of corn on the cob, ration to be his last. To provide the fugitive with the necessary items for an equestrian journey of three hundred leagues, the first hundred of which must be done at night: a map, full of handwritten notes; a compass; a piece of candle and some matches, a revolver, gunpowder, percussion caps and bullets, and a belt with twelve hundred francs in gold, a bottle of fresh water, six days worth of hardtack. Calculate the route of the night. Instead of reading the time on a gas-lit dial, feel around with your fingers at the hands of the watch. Eleven hours and twenty minutes. A horse, and may God guard you!
At saddling up time, Andersen entrusted me some business papers. He also gave me the last official letter which he had received from the secessionists authorities: I kept it as evidence. Lacking a second saddle, I jumped on the other horse which I rode, bareback, like the rancheros, with a rope round the nostrils. We headed to the ford of Espada, located at some distance downstream. A continuous soft rain was soaking the ground, and the night was advantageously dark. We reached the desired passage safely. We shook hands, "God bless you" were the last words which we exchanged.
I heard a moment Anderson's pony galloping noisily in the mud, then the sound faded and was lost. The outlaw whom I had left had launched in an almost limitless space, a field of several hundred leagues, with no other guide than his compass, and no other companion than his horse; forced to flee the Indians in this fast gallop which we call "the gallop for his life"; forced to fear the white people. He was going to walk at night and hide during the day, not daring to light a fire for drying himself, lest the light or smoke give him away; barely sleeping for fear of being surprised; coming across large rivers, where his salvation would depend on the strength and courage of his horse. What isolation in the vast expanse of nature! What resolution, what confidence in his strength, what energy of character in the man who faces such a situation! As for me, while admiring his courage, I trotted my way back home, to which I returned long before daylight.
From the day after the escape, the town was full of rumors. A prize was offered to whom would put them on the trail of the fugitive and of his accomplices. Captain Mechling was shackled, accused of having been won over for money. Several old friends of Anderson had suffered early morning home visits. To other people suspected of unionism, rangers had made forced visits, pistol in hand. A deputation of planters had called on Lorenzo Castro, an influencial person in the city, friend of the fugitive, asking him to account for the assistance he had given the outlaw in this situation. The poor man, trembling at the prospect of "pulling the rope", had melted in protests, perfectly sincere besides. Anderson's friends had all lacked dedication and resolution.
Toward evening a traveler came to San Antonio from the direction of the south. He was taken to the town hall, where he was questioned. He had crossed pursuing detachments. Any travelers? — None. — Countrymen? — Oh yes, I met one around daybreak, who told me to warn the wife, at the fork of the Medina River, that his chickens were sold. He is a prankster, this one. When I got to the Medina, nobody knew what I meant. — They had the narrator give the description of the countryman who had mystified him so crudely. That was Anderson. He had gone about twelve leagues from the point where I had left him.
The following days saw other travelers who had had other encounters. With imaginations on the loose, the fugitive had been seen everywhere, he was situated on all roads at the same time. He had rested one day at Mr. Hood's, of Atascosa; he had dined with Mr Reuter, near Castroville. His countless friends, always his friends, had prepared fresh horses for him every ten miles. A reasonable man, telling me about the escape under the seal of the most intimate confidence, suggested that he was not ignorant of it. "One day we will know, he told me with a hint of malice, one day we will know who deserves the merit."
More serious findings were made by the vigilance Committee. In its issue of November 2 (1861), the San Antonio Herald, its voice, contained a snippet describing some facts related to the escape, and ending with: "There is no doubt but Anderson was assisted in his escape by citizens of this place, and we are not without some hope that they may be discovered." These lines are clear enough to anyone familiar with these times and the country. The main fact on which the planters had any hope to capture "the traitors" was the discovery of the horse that Anderson had ridden on the night of his departure. Once he had crossed the Nueces River, the outlaw had exchanged, in a farm, his exhausted horse. The fact had been discovered, Anderson being identified by the report provided by the farmer, and the animal brought back to San Antonio, so that they could go back to its first owner.
First were conducted some research on the brand iron burn. They asked a Pole — who was kind enough to not name me. He said that he had sold the horse, and having been paid, had worried little of the name or residence of the buyer. But this answer did not deter the inquisitors. On Friday, November 8, the horse was paraded by enforcement officers, around the public square of San Antonio and all along main street. At the same time, the Herald proclaimed by sound of trumpet the duty, for all good citizens, to come forward and to make known the identity of the animal. This time again the expectation of the Committee was foiled since no one came forth; I remained unknown. In the meantime, Anderson had succeeded in reaching the Mexican border; he embarked on 28 November in Tampico, and on December 11, arrived in New York. Let us hope that he will make himself useful to his country and to the cause of liberty; that he will bring to the government in Washington the good news of the latent opposition that is getting organized in Texas; that he will protest before the world, as an eyewitness, against terror and despotism with which the planters undertake to achieve their unholy project: "the extension and perpetuation of enslavement."
In December, the Texas Legislature imposed the free negroes the alternative of exile or return to slavery. This was the complement of the measure prohibiting the masters to free their slaves in the future. It was not allowed to either be generous, or reward loyal service, or even free one's slaves by will. The status of free negro was regarded by the planters "as an anomaly and a danger". Already the Texas borders were closed to people of color who were enjoying their freedom, coming from neighboring areas. A very light-colored mulatto, of free origin, who landed last year in Galveston, was captured, condemned, and he was awarded for six months to a master in the countryside "for the proceeds, said the decree, be reserved, at the expiration of the term, for payment of the court costs and extradition."
Another proposal was made at the same time, but set aside momentarily. It was to substitute for civil imprisonment a temporary servitude for the benefit of the creditor, servitude which would have no other term that the extinction of the debt itself. The debtor, of whatever quality, man or woman, black or white, American or foreign, would become enslaved for some time, to give away not only his labour but also his freedom, to waive the free disposition of his own self. The debt would be paid out slowly, painstakingly, in this state of temporary servitude. The master would hold the delinquent payer at the tip of his whip, and would probably not fail to avenge the inconvenience and the alleged distress that a long overdue debt would have caused him.
Those in Europe should not imagine that such a project is simply an individual work, isolated, unconnected to the plans of the ruling party. The legislatures of the territories of New Mexico and Arizona have already given it the force of law. I saw a German who once was a temporary slave, and who would still be, as was so slow the payment of his debt, had some compatriots not satisfied the demands of his master by an advance payment.
There is more. One can hear discuss openly the project of putting into servitude all whites who own no land. The social system is based, indeed, on the principle that "capital owns its work." He who has but his arms, the proletarian, as we say in Europe, can therefore have no existence by himself: he must be owned by others. Regardless of the monstrosity of this doctrine, which denies the spiritual equality of men, and which brings to nought the idea of humanity, no system is more contrary to the development of personal qualities and to that of the country's industry. It is the condemnation of personal efforts in what is most respectable and noble of them.
But let's go back to the free people of color. The recent law was individually served them, and as there were none who should prefer the alternative of slavery — even with the ability to choose the master — preparations for exile were made all around. Some were well-established families, artisans who lived of their work, livestock herders, barbers, tailors, washerwomen. Some were able to gather, at least in part, a humble capital. Separating the others from their customers was reducing them to begging. Citizens who had long dealt with these free individuals, neighbors who lived on good terms with them, undertook to raise complaints. But the Rangers of the camp, who roamed constantly the city with their weapons, had soon cut short these demonstrations. A passerby was designated as sympathetic to free negroes. The soldiers fired, and pursued the unfortunate "unionist" from street to street, until he fell dead at the corner of the marketplace.
However, a subscription was organized; supplies and transportation were prepared. A train was formed for Monterey, in the province of Nuevo Leon (Mexico), one hundred and thirty leagues from San Antonio. We had to sneak if we wished to give but a piece of advice to these poor outcasts of the modern world. On the eve of departure, walking side by side with a resident who belongs to the secessionist party, I met on the street one of the exiles who greeted me in passing; I returned the salute. "What?, cried my companion, inflamed with anger, and stopping short, you take off your hat for a negro!" — "Will you, I replied, that the negro be more polite than me?"
The convoy was formed early in the morning (18 January) on the other side of the bridges of the San Pedro. I was given to attend the departure, to be a witness of this other exodus. These were not individuals who were being struck, they were not guilty nor even political opponents: they were a class that was sent in exile… because they had some dark in their skin.
None of the local Protestant ministers appeared at the time of departure — not even the Baptist minister, who could claim nearly all the banished among the members of his Church. A mulatto spoke hastily a few parting words, each one shook hands with his friends, and could be heard on all sides: "may God keep you safe!"
These scenes, together with other ones that I pass over in silence, had followed one another in a short time. Life was filled with emotion and movement. It seemed like one of those melodramas of boulevard theatre, where the changing of scenery is waiting for a whistle from the machinist. However, I still have to add a final picture. The decorations are in place, the actors are ready, but the curtain is not rising just yet. As in Dumas's Monte Cristo, the conclusion of the drama is for the next day. Tomorrow, at the first dawn of day, will begin this final scene, of which I will give you the story later, if God will protect me too. Should it be otherwise, may my friends remember me sometimes. Amidst a world of profit, whose passions of greed know neither restraint nor modesty, I did not allow myself soiled. I kept my pure traditions of integrity and discretion. I still have the weakness to believe that man has duties, not only purely personal duties, but duties of humanity. I have the weakness of having faith in progress, in the success of just causes, in the moral idea. And I'm leaving tomorrow, having lost time, my efforts, my belongings, almost uncertain of my next meal, and yet more pleased at heart and happier with myself than I ever was after the most flattering of my small literary success. These words of praise of Bailly by Arago often come back to me: "Cousin, the academic, carrying to the widow of Bailly a loaf of bread under his arm, deserved much of humanity as if he had written a beautiful thesis."
There are situations that we cannot understand, if we have never seen anything similar. Mrs Roland said somewhere: "I always doubted that Marat was a subsistent being." Social classes, just like individuals, have their excesses which amaze us. Swept to madness, angry up to cruelty, they abandon themselves to the passion of the moment, without restraint or limit. They seem to satisfy a burning rage. The remote viewers doubt these facts. Let them cast their eyes around them, and judge accordingly. We too, in old Europe, have, by fits, some impulses of greed that threaten to bring everything down. We no longer say divide, but corrupt, in order to conquer. Celebrated under the false name of material interests, the golden calf is at the pinnacle.
Ah! my dear Van Bemmel, let us not leave our society adrift on the sea of lucre and greed; let us not unroll the banners where is written: "All for money." Above all, let us not deny the loftiest and most sacred attributes of our nature: the ability to progress, the consciousness of law, the moral idea. Let us be fair, and we shall be great.
- Translator's note: Bob Augustine
- Translator's note: a chinaberry tree
- General (lately major) Van Dorn, good officer, fiery character whose expensive habits, contracted in frontier life, brought him to repudiate the flag of the United States for an unexpected promotion.
- Conversely, the governor had released (end of September) all those in the penitentiary who had agreed to sign pledges.
- Here is its text :
Head Quarters Department of Texas,
San Antonio, October 4th 1861.
I remain, sir, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
H.-E. Mc Culloch,
Col. Prov. C. S. Army.
Comd. Depart. of Texas.
To Mr. Chas. Anderson Camp "Edward Clark."
- The article reads as follows :
We mentioned last week that Mr. Anderson had escaped from the guard here doubtless to join his family, and put out for old Abe’s dominions. We were right in our conjectures, as we learn from young Mr. Clay Wills a youth well known for his veracity, who met Anderson on Saturday last about 140 miles this side of the Rio Grande. When met he said his name was Wilson; that he was on his way to Brownsville to get a large contract from the Southern Confederacy, and requested that Wills would not mention having seen him for several days after getting here, lest he might lose the contract. He was riding a fine black horse and was making good speed as Wills thought. There is no doubt but Anderson was assisted in his escape by citizens of this place, and we are not without some hope that they may be discovered.
- Translator's note: decoding this quote is challenging in the French original.