Territorial Claims of France

I

IF the vulture empires which attacked France had succeeded in conquering her, they would, as in 1871. have torn from her pieces of her territory; they would, as they announced their intention of doing at the time when they believed themselves sure of success, have stolen certain groups of men, against their will, from their fatherland. France is actuated by other principles: being victorious, she will not abuse her vict ory by violating the rights in whose name she has been fighting. We may speak of the territorial claims of France, but not of her territorial ambitions, for what she is determined to obtain by the treaty of peace, is only what is due to her, what has been taken from her by force, and what she has never ceased rightfully to demand, in the name of the people concerned and in accord with them. However cruel and incurable the wound which Germany inflicted upon her by the Treaty of Frankfort, France certainly would never have made w ar to assert her claims, however legitimate: she would not have committed a crime against mankind, in order to punish a crime against the Law of Nations! But she was challenged; France will not definitively sheathe her sword until the great injustice of 1871 shall have been repaired in full; until the people of Lorraine and Alsace are restored to the country of their heart. There is no question of conquest, but of the return of brothers long separated to the home of the French family; it is not a matter of annexation, but of disannexation. The violence done to the people of Alsace and Lorraine in 18701871, the poisoned spring from which so many misfortunes have issued, will be fully atoned for.

France, then, demands Alsace and Lorraine in their integrity. Let us not say ‘Alsace-Lorraine’; that is a German administrative expression which combines two countries that differ widely in history, language, and customs, but whose attachment to the great French patrie is the same.

The Germans themselves have never denied that Lorraine is French territory, which thinks and speaks in French, and w hose customs are French. Metz was united to France in the time of Henri II (1552), with Verdun and Toul; the remainder of the duchy maintained an independent life until 1766; but it had for a long time been following the orbit of France, and had lived her intellectual and moral life. Bismarck declared that he did not desire the annexation of Metz, but that it was demanded by Moltke and the staff; this probably was a lie; the sly fox had arranged to have his hand forced by the generals; but it is,at all events,a proof that he felt the need of finding an excuse for such a detestable proceeding. The Germans have never tried, as in Alsace, to win ov er the intensely French inhabitants of the Lorraine marches, either by oppression or by assimilation; but they have tried to submerge them beneath a sea of miners and workingmen, coming from all corners of Germany, particularly to the Thionville district; at times they succeeded by this expedient in changing the result of an election; but this floating population has never blended with the old French stock in Lorraine, and has not succeeded in changing its character in the slightest degree. Lorraine will go back to France as French as it was before 1870.

The Alsatian is as devoted as the Lorrainer to the French fatherland, but he differs more from the average French type. He speaks a German language which is not the German of Germany, but a special dialect, to which he is much attached, and which he handles with all the lightness of touch, all the caustic vigor of a Frenchman. As for the blood of the race, the ancient substratum is Celtic; it received the very deep impression which the civilizing genius of Rome imprinted wherever its domination was established. During the Middle Ages, it formed a part of the Holy Roman Empire; but we find it jealous above all of retaining its local privileges and its individual character. It was divided into a large number of small sovereignties, some secular, some ecclesiastical; its cities engaged in commerce, by way of the Rhine, with the ‘Germanies,’ and by way of the passes of the Vosges, with France, who was then solidifying her power and establishing her national unity.

Alsace is drawn toward France by community of origin and culture, and by the reputation for strength and justice which cast s a halo about the monarchy of Saint-Louis. Amid the chaos throughout Central Europe which followed the period of the religious wars, Alsace, ravaged by the opposing forces, sought the protection of the King of France. M. Batiffol has shown very clearly in a remarkable recent book,1 how the little Alsatian republics invoked the support and protection of Richelieu before the French armies had marched into the country to drive out the Imperial troops. It is much truer to say that Alsace gave herself over to France, than that France conquered her. The treaties of Westphalia, by sanctioning the claims of the King of France to Alsace, did not tear men by force from their native land.

France quickly became the chosen country of the Alsatians, who, moreover, retained their customs, their language, their local liberties. The splendor of the reign of Louis XIV, the excellent administration of the intendants in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, completed the fusion. When the French Revolution broke out, Alsace hailed the birth of Liberty; the people of Strasburg placed on the Kehl bridge, which separates them from the Duchy of Baden, a placard with these words: ‘Here begins the Country of Liberty.’ It was at Strasburg, in the salons of Mayor Dietrich, that Rouget de l’Isle sang for the first time the ‘Chant de l’Armée du Rhin,’ which was soon to be called the ‘Marseillaise’ and to fly round the world on the wings of Liberty. The intense patriotic enthusiasm of the Revolution; the glory of the campaigns of the National Defense; the great epic wars of Napoleon I; the anguish of the twofold invasion in 1814 and 1815 — all these Alsace lived and felt with the whole of France.

Many Alsatians stand in the front rank of our most illustrious generals: Kléber, Kellermann, Lefebvre, Rapp, and many others. The fusion, after that great epoch, was absolutely perfect: there was thenceforth but one France, of which Alsace formed a part. When, in 1871, the victorious Germans demanded the cession of Alsace, they cut deep into the living flesh of the country.

To these facts about French Alsace is opposed the historical and ethnographical fiction which German scholars have devised to justify the conquests of the German sword. While the French were the first to define and invoke the right of nations to decide their own destiny, the Germans base their claims on ethnographic and linguistic considerations. ‘Wherever the German language is heard is the German Fatherland.’ That is the exact formula of t riumphant Pangermanism. Whoever speaks any German language or any language of Germanic origin — Alsatians, Flemings, Scandinavians, German-Swiss — must return nolens volens to the fold of German unity. The German-Americans also belong there, and some day the Germans will try to remind them of it. If a person has once become a German, he never ceases to be one, even if he becomes a citizen of another state; for the Delbrück Law assumes that the German, even when a naturalized citizen of another country, does not lose his German citizenship and can always claim it. This theory of race and language does not prevent the Germans from incorporating in their Empire French Lorrainers, Danes of Schleswig, and Poles; they invoke then military and economic necessity, the right of the German people to defend itself, to be powerful, and so forth.

Thus, for the French and for all free peoples, what determines the nationality of a group of men, is the heart, the spontaneous act of their free will; for the Germans, it is language and race; it is the hereditary accident of birth. In the first case it is a democratic, national principle; in the second, it is an autocratic principle, based on the oppression of men’s consciences in the name of a pseudo-scientific theory.

II

This irreconcilable divergence of principle explains the political and moral importance which the Alsace question has assumed since 1870. Right was made flesh, and the battle of principles was translated into living hearts by suffering and anguish. The more the German scholars and politicians declared, ‘Alsace is German,’ the more firmly the Alsatians answered, ‘No: Alsace belongs to the Alsatians and the Alsatians prefer to be French.’ Whenever they have had a chance, the Alsatians have thus unwearyingly answered, ‘No!’ They said it in the National Assembly at Bordeaux, in 1871, when, by the voice of Keller, they protested against the treaty of Frankfort; they said it in the Reichstag at Berlin in February 18, 1874, when, in the name of all the Deputies of Alsace and Lorraine, summoned for the first time to sit in the Parliament of the Empire, M. Teutsch read the famous and superb protest whose words must always be remembered, because they belong, as a declaration of Right confronted with Might, to mankind’s noblest patrimony. The most important portion of it was the following: —

‘All of us who are here present have been sent by our electors to assert our affection for France, as well as our right to decide our own fate without foreign interference. You say to us, “You are members of the German family, you are our brothers.” Is this simply bitter sarcasm, or do you speak seriously when you say this? It is impossible for us to regard ourselves as belonging to your family.’

The Alsatians and Lorrainers continued to say ‘No’ at every election, notably in 1887, when, despite tremendous pressure, they gave 247,000 votes to the protesting candidates. They said it again in 1913, when the children of Saverne followed through the streets the famous Lieutenant von Förstner, the incarnation of oppressive and brutal Prussian militarism, and made fun of his arrogance, his monocle, and the four armed grenadiers who formed his escort. They said it again by every manifestation of the Alsatian spirit, by the caricatures of Hansi and of Zislin, by Dr. Bucher’s Revue alsacienne illustrée, by the eloquence of Abbé Wetterlé, by the labor of the Alsatian factories and brains, by the annual exodus of the young people to France.

This obstinate ‘No’ fully conscious of its grandeur, this ‘No’ which resisted the most brutal oppression as well as the most skillful enticements, irritated to the utmost the masters of Germany. Cost what it might, this must be stopped, this protest which held the whole power of the Kaiser and his armies at bay, even if it were necessary, for that purpose, to start another war. ‘They will lick our feet after the victory,’ gracefully observed the w ife of a German professor of the University of Strasburg, in August, 1914.

After the outbreak of the war, the Alsatian and Lorraine soldiers availed themselves of every opportunity to go over to the flag of their choice and to avoid fighting for Germany, w hile in the ‘ Reichsland ’ — as the conquered provinces were officially designated — the people were overwhelmed with convictions for the most trivial reasons: a gesture, a smile, a song in which the Boche believed that he could detect a manifestation of sympathy for the French. The Alsatians have reckoned that the German judges in the annexed provinces, imposed, during the war, four thousand years of imprisonment, to say nothing of the fines. No, indeed! German domination will not be regretted in Alsace and Lorraine!

To show how the French idea survived, even in the least cultivated, simplest Alsatian souls, we subjoin a few artlessly touching passages of the examination of a young Alsatian soldier, who went over to the French in 1917, and was questioned as to the motives which had led him to desert. He was a peasant from Sundgau, with little education, to whom the great problems of politics and philosophy were unknown. Such proofs are the most valuable, because they give expression to all that is deeply rooted and unchangeable in the character of a people. At the beginning of the war, Germany, by her immense military preparations, by the display of so many troops and so much matériel, succeeded in impressing the people with such an idea of her power that all the soldiers believed her to be invincible.

During the first weeks [said the young Alsatian], the men of my regiment (from Baden) were like madmen; they pushed forward, they believed that nothing could stop them. When they were forced to retreat, at the battle of the Marne, they had no idea that anything serious had happened. It was not until the first winter, when the war of positions had become definitely established, that they began to say, ‘There’s a hitch, somewhere, or else we should have taken Paris.’ They did not worry over such a trifling matter; but there was something which they did not understand. Then came the great success on the Russian front; the enthusiasm started up anew, and everybody believed that they were going to smash everything again. It never occurred to them that the Germans could be beaten; they believed rather that, to put an end to the business, some sort of a lame peace would be concluded, whereby Germany, in spite of everything, would derive some profit. One day an officer made the remark that Verdun was a defeat. They considered the Somme rather as a victory because the French had not broken through. But the men were indifferent and depressed. It needed the Roumanian campaign and the taking of Bucharest to spur them on. If anyone asked the soldiers why they had confidence, they would all make the same answer: ‘Hindenburg.’ They are all honestly convinced that there never was a greater general. If he should have a real set-back, a terrible demoralization would follow; for no man has ever even thought that such a thing is possible.

The young Alsatian was a witness of the devastation in the North of France, in the region of St. Quentin.

By the middle of February [he said], I had already seen between seven and eight hundred people sent away. They were divided into small groups, just enough to fill a railroad car, the men on one side, the women on the other — young girls without their mothers. I don’t know what became of the children. They never left a family together. Perhaps it was a sorting out with a view to the work they were to do; but, on the other hand, perhaps it was to overcome all resistance. Some of the poor creatures were crying, but no sobs were to be heard. You could see that they tried their utmost not to give the Germans the satisfaction of seeing them suffer. Their features were contracted, they clinched their fists in their pockets. I went away from the station, for I could not bear the sight. I imagined my parents in a similar situation. That day I felt it was too much, and I said to myself, ‘If there is still such a thing as justice, the men who have done that can never win.’ My comrades could not feel as I did, but I must say that not one of them joked about it. They preferred to say nothing.

Then the young man described the state of people’s minds in his Alsatian village.

On my first furlough, in 1915, I found the sentiments in the village more violent than I would ever have suspected. It was not only dissatisfaction, it was genuine hatred. The Germans acted as if they were in conquered territory; for a mere nothing, it was fines or prison; they forced the people to give up their crops; they threatened on every occasion. All the people were equally indignant. Not till then did I understand what the soldiers of Baden said so often: ‘The Alsatians are French to the marrow of their bones.’ Certain persons of the village had been able to obtain, by way of Switzerland, some French newspapers, and had compared the news. Now, the Germans could go on proclaiming their victories; the people did not answer, but they said to themselves that at least half of it was false. Like everybody else, when they saw the tremendous display of force, my parents believed that nothing could resist that power. They plucked up courage only when they heard that the German armies had been checked. It took a long time to reassure them.

I had my second furlough in 1916. Ideas had made headway in Alsace. People seemed to express themselves with less vehemence; it was not because they hated the Germans less, but because they were no longer surprised by any annoyance; they anticipated the worst kind of violence; they had made up their minds to bear anything. But they w ere convinced now that the Germans would end by being beaten. My parents in the village grasped it quicker than I at the front. My father said to me, ‘The French won’t even need a victory; the Germans will be forced to cross the Rhine of their own accord.’ The day before I left he talked alone with me and said, ‘Some day the French will come back here, that is certain; it grieves me to think that you are fighting against them.’ I replied, ‘You know well what fate is in store for you if I desert. Your house will be seized, you run the risk of being carried off to Germany. My brothers will get no more furloughs; they will be in bad odor in their regiment.’ I thought it over during the whole of that day. I also said to myself that I did not speak French. I could not make up my mind and I rejoined my regiment.

On March 20, 1917, when I went home for the third time, I had not yet made a decision: I had still the same objections to make. But I had been present at the devastation in northern France; I felt that I could not stay any longer in the German ranks. My father persisted and said to me, ‘I myself was forced to serve in the German army in my youth; but if they should think best to call the men of my class, I should not hesitate. Our fields and our house won’t be long in their hands.’ My mother said, ‘ Think it all over to-night; I don’t want to influence you.’ The next day I said to her, ’I have made up my mind, but what will happen to you?’ She replied, ‘Don’t take that into consideration.’

And the following night the young Alsatian went into Switzerland, and thence to France.

More convincingly than the actual course of events, this testimony, which shows vividly the deep roots of French sentiment in the simple souls of Alsace, and the ardent and passionate character which love of France has assumed during the war, makes clear the impassable gulf which separates the Alsatians from the Germans. The mother’s reply to her son is as sublime as it is un-German.

One of the few Germans who have made an effort to understand the Alsatian soul, Professor Werner Wittich, of the University of Strasburg, whose book caused a scandal on the other side of the Rhine, wrote, ‘This people is attached to France by every fibre of its being.’ And, in 1917, in the Parliament of Alsace-Lorraine, the two bishops of Metz and of Strasburg, alt hough chosen from among the most ardent Germanophils, made this solemn declaration: ‘Our consciences forbid us to ask in the name of the people the reunion of Alsace-Lorraine and Germany.’

The entrance of the French into Lorraine and Alsace will be a fait accompli when the American reader sees these lines; it will take place amid the indescribable enthusiasm of the whole native population. The unity of France will be reconstituted by the return of the two provinces torn from the hearthstone of the nation.

It was a German, Professor Fassbender, who wrote only a short time ago, ‘The reproach that we are unable to assimilate the conquered territories, is only too true; they are always like a foreign body in the German organism.’ In fact, the Poles of Posnania, of Silesia, and of East Prussia, are more Polish than in 1815, the Danes of Schleswig more Danish than in 1864, the Lorrainers and Alsatians more French than in 1871. For this reason the essentially just decision which gives these peoples back to their real fatherland, will have not only the greatest political effect, but an unexampled moral and philosophical significance. It will be the announcement and the symbol of a new era, which will begin with the victory of the Allies and will hand down in history the name of President Wilson; it has received for all future time the stamp of American and French idealism.

Should Alsace and Lorraine return to France with the precise boundaries of 1871, or shall we claim the boundaries as they existed before 1815? In 1815, by the treaty of Vienna, the Confederated power took from France, to weaken her defensive system, a slice of Alsace, between the Lauter and the Queich, with the town of Landau, and a slice of Lorraine, in the valley of the Sarre, below Sarreguemines. Sarrebrück and Sarrelouis are the principal towns in this small but rich district: Lorraine would have once more its true historical and geographical form, if these two towns were given back to her. Formerly they were profoundly French: Sarrelouis was the birthplace of Marshal Ney. There still are many families there devoted to France, although they have been separated from her for more than a century; but the coal-mines and the great manufacturing interests have attracted, particularly to Sarrebrück and its neighborhood, a large foreign population. The same may be said of Landau and the district of Alsace north of the Lauter, which seem to have been largely Germanized. France is historically and geographically justified in claiming these towns, but it is not certain that the people would be willing to accept French domination. It is a question which it is hard to answer at present, and which might be submitted to the arbitration of the League of Nations, to be decided after an investigation, and, if necessary, a plebiscitum. France is particularly desirous not to violate the principles which in this war have constituted her strength and her greatness.

In the same spirit we mention the question of the sources of the Oise. This river, a tributary of the Seine, does not run within French territory throughout its course: to form a barrier against France, or rather, in fact, to leave the door open for invasion toward Paris, the Coalit ion of 1815, the conquerors of Napoleon, took from France the district of the sources of the Oise, which is called the Trouée de Chimay, with the cities of Marienbourg and Philippeville, and gave them to Belgium, which did not ask for them. The Oise Valley, extended to the northeast by the valley of the Sambre, has at all times been the road followed by foreign invaders of France: the Oise leads directly to Paris through the intervale where there was such stubborn fighting in 1914 (battle of Guise-St. Quentin), and again very recently—in October, 1918. France might ask Belgium, in all friendliness, to allow her to close the door of her house by rectifying her frontier and occupying the small port ion of the valley of the Oise now comprised in Belgium. It is a wooded country, where the population is not very dense. As for the cit ies of Marienbourg and Philippeville, it is for the French and Belgian governments to come to an understanding with respect to t hem, in all loyalty, and taking into account the wishes of the people. We may well believe that King Albert’s government — especially if Luxembourg, being consulted by plebiscitum, pronounces in favor of union with Belgium — will deem it fair to give to France this modest gratification, which she wishes to owe only to the full consent of her heroic and noble neighbor.

III

In the eastern Mediterranean, in Syria, and in Armenia, France claims no territory: if she did found states in those parts in the time of the Crusades, she never possessed any colonies t here, and it is not colonies that she seeks there to-day. But she has it much at heart to retain the high moral and civilizing influence which she has always exercised over the non-Turkish populations of the Ottoman Empire, set free to-day by the armies of France and her allies. With regard to these young nations, liberated by her efforts, she desires to continue her secular work of protection and assistance; she is, and she wishes to remain, best qualified to guide them in their upward flight toward a civilized and well-ordered life, and to bring them the benefits of her civilization and of her high culture; for if these peoples are to-day prepared to set up as autonomous states, they are indebted therefor, above all, to France, to her influence, to her schools, to the diffusion of her civilization.

It is the whole history of France, in its splendid unity and fruitful variety, which we would fain bring before our readers, to establish the ancientness and the great value of our rights in these countries, which a great French writer, M. Étienne Lamy, has so justly called, ‘The France of the Levant.’ Charlemagne exchanges ambassadors and gifts with the great Caliph Harounal-Raschid, and receives from him the keys of the Holy Sepulchre. In the Crusades, religious and warlike France displays her strength and her genius. The crusading idea is symbolized, for the Far East as well for the West, in the gentle and noble figure of Saint-Louis. From this time on ‘Frank,’ in the Far East, signifies Christian, Latin,Western, and it has kept this meaning; a Frankish kingdom maintained itself in Palestine until 1241, with French kings and barons, with French language, civilization, and laws. The Frank, to the oppressed Christian peoples, means the protector, the defender of Christianity; it is upon him that their confidence is bestowed. Through the ages, the governments which succeeded each other in France have retained this confidence, and they were able to win the confidence of the Mussulmans, and, after 1453, of the Turks themselves.

Against Charles the Fifth, who aimed at a universal monarchy and menaced the independence of the kingdom, Francis I entered into an alliance with the Sultan of the Turks, Soliman the Magnificent. The Ambassador of the very Christian King, Jean, Sire de la Forêt, signed with the Great Turk in 1535, the first Capitulations (the name given to the treaties of special purport, entered into between the Christian powers and Turkey). Since then, the relations between France and the Sublime Porte have been kept up; but the King of France, by negot iation with the Sultans, induced them to guarantee security to all Latin Christians who should travel in the Ottoman Empire, either on pious pilgrimages or on business.

Henri IV, in 1604, obtained the concession that visits to the Holy Places should be permitted ‘to the subjects of the Emperor of France and of the Princes his friends, allies, or confederates, under the certificate and protection of the said Emperor.’ Little by little the protection of France was extended to all Latin Christians, and even to such Christian subjects of the Sultan as should lay claim to that exalted patronage. After the brilliant reigns of Louis XIV and of Louis XV, after the Revolution, and the legendary expedition of General Bonaparte to Egypt and Syria, the prestige of France in the Far East was firmly established upon her incomparable reputation for strength, civilization, and generosity. The Christians of the Far East profited by the influence which France exerted at Constantinople. Bonaparte wrote in 1802 to General Brune, ‘ The Ambassador at Constantinople is to take under his protection all the hospitals and all the Christians of Syria and Armenia, and especially the caravans which visit the Holy Places.’ The whole body of rights and duties, which has been called the French Protectorate in the East, was founded, in the first place, on a very effective protection of all Christians, before it was recognized officially by the Treaty of Berlin (1878), and sanctioned by the decrees of the Holy See. Napoleon III, in 1860, proved, by sending an expedition to the Lebanon, to help the Maronites who were being harried and massacred by the Druses, that the protection of France is not an empty word; from that time until the Great War, the Lebanon has had a governor of its own, who must be a Christian and accepted by the ambassadors of the Powers. On all occasions the protection of France has been exerted efficaciously in favor of the Christian nationalities of Turkey.

The non-Turkish peoples who were subjects of the Sultan of Constantinople represented a large number of races, religions, and social conditions, from the nomad Bedouins of the Arabian desert, whose customs still correspond exactly with the Biblical descriptions, to the Syrians, — Catholics or Mussulmans, — to the Armenians, to the Greeks, whose culture reflects that, of the European nations. Some of them are organized, like the Armenians, who will be able to form a nation and a state; the others are merely small ethnical nuclei, all that remains of a far-distant past, grouped around a chief whose power is at once national and religious: like the Samaritans, — of whom but a few hundred are left at Naplouse, — and the Chaldeans, the Yezidis, and others.

Among all these diverse groups, the historical clientele of France consists, in the first place, of the Christians of Syria and Palestine — Maronites, Melchites, and the rest. In 1250, SaintLouis wrote to the Maronite Patriarch of Lebanon, ‘We are convinced that this nation which we find established under the name of Saint-Maroun is a part of the French nation, for its friendship for the French is like the friendship which the French have for each other. We promise to give protection to you and to your people, as to the French themselves, and to do constantly whatever may be necessary for your happiness.’ Rarely has any historical compact been more exactly kept on both sides! Protection on the part of the French, loyalty and attachment on the part of the Maronites. Anne of Austria in 1649, Louis XV in 1737, renewed in precise terms the old contract, and Napoleon III revived it by the expedition of 1860.

The loyal attachment of the Maronites to France manifested itself during the last few years in a very touching manner. When, in 1898, William II went to Jerusalem with all the equipment of a comic opera, he wished to visit Mount Lebanon; he was to arrive at nightfall in the roadstead of Beirut, and had sent word by his couriers that he would be flattered to see the mountain illuminated. That night a watchword was passed along: the Lebanonians refrained even from having lights in their houses and cooking their supper; the whole mountain remained wrapped in darkness, and the next morning, when the imperial mountebank opened his eyes, he saw it covered with French flags; the boat put about and steered for the high sea.

And, during this war, at the time when Lebanon, by virtue of the atrocious designs of the Turks and Germans, was dying of hunger, the tempter came thither and offered the people food if they would accept the protection of Austria instead of that of France. The answer was an indignant refusal. More than one third of the population died of hunger; but she remained loyal to France.

It is clear that France can under no circumstances disavow such strong and ancient bonds. Even if she should wish to do so, she could not do it. She has no shadow of a wish to annex the country of the Maronites, or of any of the Syrian peoples; but she cannot leave to any other nation the civilizing and humane task of protecting and assisting them in their autonomous development. All these Eastern races have a small country of their own, which is their nationality; but they feel the need of being allied with a great country which can protect them. Lord Cromer, in his book on Egypt, wrote, ‘French civilization has a peculiar attraction, not only for the Asiatic, but also for the European races of the East.’ The prayers of these peoples summon the French to their succor, and they will not fail to fulfill this momentous duty.

This attachment of the Levantine races to France, these ancient relations which bind them together, France owes, as we have pointed out, to her history; but she owes them also, and perhaps chiefly, to her admirable schools, which diffuse primary, secondary, and higher education throughout the East, and which mustered before the war more than 120,000 pupils of all nationalities and all religions. Because she has for so many years brought Western culture into this Ottoman Empire which had only Mussulman schools, it is natural that France should be honored by the loyalty of the people.

The Armenians have not been direct protégés of France, but they too have received the stamp of French genius through their schools, and through the great historical traditions. To the greater part of the Armenians, the French language is the embodiment of high culture, of political liberty, of humanity. If Armenia, as it is certain to-day that she will, shall set up as an independent nation, under the guaranty of the League of Nations, France seems best qualified to supply her with the material and moral aid which she cannot do without, especially after the frightful persecution which she has suffered from her masters the Turks.

For a long time the Levantine Mussulmans have been accustomed to respect in France the great Christian nation which has been most closely connected with their history: the Crusades, Saint-Louis, Louis XIV, the Capitulations, the Revolution, Bonaparte and his expedition to Egypt and to Syria, —the whole past and present of France, — contribute to give her, in the eyes of the Syrian Mussulmans, incomparable prestige. Her schools are open to Mussulmans as well as to Christians, and they have largely profited by her instruction. French and British civilization are in their eyes the very incarnation of Western civilization.

During the course of the war, at a time when Russia insisted that her aspirations to Constantinople and the Straits should be recognized by treaty, an agreement was signed between England, France, and Russia. The French government, at a moment when the British armies were to make campaigns in Asia against the Turks, in which the troops of the Republic could not participate except in comparatively small numbers, felt the necessity of having its rights acknowledged and sanctioned by a written pact. The Convention of May 9, 1916, which delimits, as between France and England, the zones of influence and action, is by no means hostile to the rights of the populations; for France, it is a guaranty, a steppingstone; its purpose is to prevent disputes between allies. For the time being, it serves as a tool to work with, England looking after the reorganization of Palestine, of the Arabian peninsula, and of Mesopotamia as far as a line which intersects the Lake of Tiberias, and runs thence to the Persian frontier, passing to the southward of Mosul; France exerting her liberating and constructive influence north of this line.2

We cannot, in this short article, go into the details of this convention, or discuss it. It is subject to revision and amendment, as its faults and defects may appear in its application. Only on the question of principle would France be immovable: she would not be willing, after her victory, to lose in the East a secular influence which has always been beneficent for the people concerned, and which nothing, not even the disaster of 1870, has been able to impair.

To sum up, even if France hopes to emerge greater, stronger, and more glorious from this terrible war, during which her blood has flowed in torrents, she does not propose to tear men away from their own country. The liberation of Alsace and Lorraine, after fortyeight years of oppression and torture; the emancipation of the non-Turkish populations, subjected against their will to the suffocating domination of the Ottoman Empire, mark the arrival of a new era in the history of the world, in which the will of the nations will be more powerful than all the forces of oppression, and in which the power of the bayonet will be at the service of the majesty of Right.

  1. Les Anciens Républiques Alsaciennes.
  2. A special international régime is provided for the Holy Places. — THE AUTHOR.