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with his contemporaries, with his country, with himself, which was decisive. He tested and was tested, and he emerged from the conflict a lonelier, but a proven man. The rest of his life and work was the inevitable development of the ideas, the convictions and the personality which he then essentially formed. The attitude which he adopted in the contest gives the figure of the man. For him the vital question at issue was not whether Dreyfus was or was not innocent (though indeed he believed in his innocence), and far less whether it was or was not in the interest of France that the verdict of the Military Courts should be maintained. It was whether or not, if Dreyfus was innocent, France would have the courage of what he implicitly believed to be her destiny, to be the champion of justice in the world; whether his country would have the greatness to humiliate herself before her own ideal; whether, in a word, France was ready to lose the whole world to gain her own soul. But, when the Dreyfusards had won the day, he saw that their victory contained for France no less of peril than defeat. Out of the majority that had triumphed over what Péguy felt to be the lie in the soul of the French army, there was evolved a political majority that would cast down the army itself. Out of the just opposition to clericalism there grew a fanatical hatred of the Catholic faith. The noble impulse of justice was denatured to its opposite. Under the old banner of truth, sabotage marched to the defeat not of what was evil in France but of what was eternal in her. He turned upon Jaurès, whom he had valiantly helped in the heat of the struggle; Hervé's plan of military sabotage, the anti-Catholic policy of M. Combes, were in his sight crimes against France. Il m'a fallu (he said) remonter tous les courants de basse demagogie politicienne qui sortaient de partout pour corrompre le dreyfusisme, pour profiter de l'affaire Dreyfus.'
He had learned a bitter lesson, which was henceforward to become one of the chief themes of his writing the irreconcilable opposition between la mystique and la politique, that is to say, the corruption of the ideal in the practical life. Now he saw that the ideals of the great Revolution had been corrupted, that the mystical virtue of the Republic itself had been used
to hallow the indescribable rogueries of servile politicians. But, though he saw these things and fought against them hardily, of him, no less than of the great Roman, it is true that he never despaired of the Republic. He would have no dealings with the radical politicians; he demanded true republicans; he would have no dealings with the Clericals, he demanded true Christians.
'On nous parle toujours de la dégradation républicaine. Quand on voit ce que la politique cléricale a fait de la mystique chrétienne, comment s'étonner de ce que la politique radicale a fait de la mystique républicaine? Quand on voit ce que les clercs ont fait généralement des saints, comment s'étonner de ce que nos parlementaires ont fait des héros? Quand on voit ce que les réactionnaires ont fait de la sainteté, comment s'étonner de ce que les révolutionnaires ont fait de l'héroïsme?'
He would exchange false for true, not one false for another. Therefore he had enemies in every camp.
An outlaw has no force in politics, where success belongs to him who can control the existing mechanism to his purposes; and it would be untrue to say that Péguy and the Cahiers de la Quinzaine' (which he founded in 1900 and in which his whole effort centred until his death) were ever a political force in France. Péguy himself was not deceived. In 1910, when he had passed through a crisis of disillusionment, and had reached security, at the beginning of the year in which his literary achievement reached its individual perfection, he confessed in 'Notre Jeunesse' the outward failure of his generation, condemned after so long a struggle to earn its bread in poverty.
'Mais dans cette misère même, et à cause de cette misère même, nous voulons avoir été grands, nous voulons avoir été très grands. Justement parceque nous n'aurons jamais une inscription historique. Si nous avions, comme tant d'autres, une inscription historique assez mesurée à notre effort, à notre intention, à ce que nous fûmes en realité, alors nous saurions payer le prix, alors nous aurions mauvaise grâce à insister sur la considération qui nous est due.'
'Nous voulons avoir été très grands.' Péguy, his life long, was not afraid to insist upon the grandeur of the Vol. 229.-No. 454.
cause for which he fought, and of those who fought for it. He had been, he knew, the embodiment of what was eternal in the mighty political struggle which shaped him. The Dreyfus affair was no mere event in time, but an elemental upheaval of ideal forces. In it France strove against the falsity of her material limitations. Though her champions were obscure in history and the march of events had, it seemed, trampled them underfoot, they were not wholly beaten. They could not be. Another generation would arise.
'Quand nous disons aux vieux républicains: Faites attention, après nous il n'y a personne, ils haussent les épaules. Ils croient qu'il y en aura toujours. Et quand nous disons aux jeunes gens: Faites attention, ne parlez point si légèrement de la République, elle n'a pas toujours été un amas de politiciens, elle a derrière elle une mystique, elle a en elle une mystique, elle a derrière elle tout un passé de gloire, tout un passé d'honneur, et ce qui est peut-être plus important encore, plus près de l'essence, tout un passé de race, d'héroïsme, peutêtre de sainteté-quand nous disons cela aux jeunes gens, ils nous méprisent doucement et déjà nous traiteraient de vieilles barbes.
'Ils nous prendraient pour des maniaques.
'Je répète que je ne dis point que c'est pour toujours. Les raisons les plus profondes, les indices les plus graves nous font croire au contraire, nous forcent à penser que la génération suivante, la génération qui vient après celle qui vient immédiatement après nous, et qui bientôt sera la génération de nos enfants, va être enfin une génération mystique. Cette race a trop de sang dans les veines pour demeurer l'espace de plus d'une génération dans les cendres et dans les moisissures de la critique. Elle est trop vivante pour ne pas réintégrer, au bout d'une génération, dans l'organique. Tout fait croire que les deux mystiques vont refleurir à la fois, la républicaine et la chrétienne.'
Réintégrer dans l'organique.' It will be recognised for a conception taken from the philosophy of M. Bergson, or rather as an adaptation of that philosophy to the conduct of life. Not that Péguy in any way derived from M. Bergson, but in the new philosophy he recognised immediately an exact description of his own evolution and the forces at work within him.
described (not explained) the evil with which he wrestled. The opposition which it posited between the organic movement of life and the mechanical framework of intellectualism in which men sought, in vain, to contain it, was no other than the opposition which Péguy detected between la mystique and la politique. Péguy had done, exactly, that which M. Bergson demanded of those who would understand' life. He had lived organically. With a lift of the eyebrow the metaphysicians assure us that M. Bergson's philosophy is no philosophy at all. Indeed it may not be. But it does take count of the profoundest movements of the soul. It allows for and reveres them, and if in so doing it forfeits its right to be called philosophy, that is because it will not confound a method (though it be the only method) of attaining truth with the truth itself.
And here is the very essence of Péguy's thought, the source of his inward conflicts, the occasion of his outward struggles. He attacked the Sorbonne for making this confusion of kinds. The Sorbonne made, he said, of an intellectual method a compulsory creed; the machinery of the State was employed to impose this tyranny upon the people. He attacked the politicians who, he said, had erected a method of assuring the common weal into the common weal itself. The impulse was lost in the machinery of its own creation, the truth in the detail of its own explication, the faith in the Church, patriotism in militarism. Only at moments of destiny could the living reality burst through the fetters, and then only to be lost again. The Dreyfus affair was such a moment; and to the truth which was then revealed, though it was quickly covered again with false phrase and its driving force diverted to unnatural ends, a little band remained faithful. Two-thirds of the subscribers to his 'Cahiers,' he was to confess in 1910, were even then those who had supported him in the Affair. Another moment was the crisis of 1905, when M. Delcassé was forced by Germany to retire, and the sudden knowledge that they were French, that an elect nation had been humiliated, penetrated the hearts of the people. Péguy then gave the sense of this sudden humiliation and sudden awakening an immortal expression in 'Notre Patrie.' To keep the flame of this instinctive knowledge alive, to maintain
it at its brightest, was the office of the Cahiers de la Quinzaine.'
'L'interêt, la question, l'essentiel est que dans chaque ordre, dans chaque système, la mystique ne soit point dévorée par la politique à laquelle elle a donné naissance.'
The metaphor has a universal validity in the realm of the spirit. The artist must fight against the temptation of his own success, the politician against obedience to any other obligations than those which his own inward honesty imposes, the Christian against the degeneration of the communion of saints into an institution. The necessity of retaining this fine truth of soul, inculcated in others and in himself obeyed, is the fundamental and organic principle of Péguy's work. Every ramification of his work develops directly from this central source. Therefore some have said that Péguy had no æsthetic judgment, that he bowed in all things to the voice of a moral preoccupation. It is the cause of a great disappointment that M. André Suarès (who was one of Péguy's collaborators in the Cahiers') in his introduction to the volume which contains the finest of Péguy's work, 'Notre Jeunesse' and Victor-Marie, Comte Hugo,' should have perpetuated this superficial judgment. To repeat it is to confess to a deep misunderstanding of Péguy's essential greatness, which was that he divined the ultimate identity of morality and art, the indistinguishable community of all spiritual genius. The artist and the saint were to him of one kind; and, more than this, the honest workman with his hands was also of one kind with them, partaking of their sweetness, their beauty and their magnificence. It is the joy of this recognition which suffuses the words he wrote of a generation that had passed away:
'Travailler était leur joie même, et la racine profonde de leur être. Et la raison de leur être. Il y avait un honneur incroyable du travail, le plus beau de tous les honneurs, le plus chrétien, le seul peut-être qui se tient debout. C'est par exemple pour cela que je dis qu'un libre-penseur de ce tempslà était plus chrétien qu'un dévot de nos jours. Parcequ'un dévot de nos jours est forcément un bourgeois. Et aujourd'hui tout le monde est bourgeois.'
Nothing could be more profound or more human than