CORREZ - Édition des lettres internationales adressées à Émile Zola

Lettre de G. H. Foster à Émile Zola datée du 11 mars 1898

Auteur(s) : Foster, G. H.


Texte de la lettre

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  2. J. Foster


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Cleveland, O., March 11th 1898


Dear Sir :-

            I write you because I love France, knowing full well that nothing an American can do or say will help you. You have fought well, and as an attorney I congratulate you and your able advocate for the noble and grand defense you made. It is true the jury convicted you, but this was required by the circumstances and public opinion. The verdict of history, however, and of all fair minded thinking men in all countries other than your own, will vote you innocent. We americans cannot understand how it was possible for any jury to convict you, simply, I suppose, because we are ignorant of the mighty influence against you. If I understand the real question before the Court, it was not that Dryfuse (sic) was innocent or guilty, but that he had not been justly and honorably convicted. The course taken in your case was not in harmony with French justice, as I have seen it often administred in your courts, and I cannot understand the seemingly arbitry rulings against you. There is no nation Americans so love (sic) as the French. I saw Paris while yet the Germans were there, and was shocked at the terrible loss and distruction caused by Frenchmen. The Republic then had its birth, and I wondered if the old habits of thought and action could be so modified as to make a Republic possible. Several [years passed, and I again saw Paris. The Republic had lived, but I still wondered if the people of France has strength to withstand their own impulsive tendency to ac-][1]

             years passed, and I again saw Paris. The Republic had lived, but I still wondered if the people of France has strength to withstand their own impulsive tendency to actions of violence, which would destroy their own liberty. Years have passed since that date, and a generation born since '71, which knew not the terrors of the commune, and were not warped by an enervating monarchy, have become voters, and I have felt that the Republic was safe. But today Americans again doubt, for no form of government can long endure which denies justice to all its citizens. No doubt all Frenchmen love France, but prejudice and supposed state necessities blind them to what is justice.

            On this side of the Atlantic, we expect you to endure your punishment as a true love of France, and we trust that you will remember, that the God who rules over nations as well as men, will turn your sufferings not only to your own honor, but to the honor and glory of your country.

            We have an example that you may recall. John Brown was hung. He had violated law, but it was a law that had its origin in the evil passions and purposes of men. Now no name is more loved and honored, and no spirit has had more influence in making our country free than his. I do not believe the Court and jury were intentionally in fault. Public opinion, when it becomes excited beyond reason, is as potent in the jury box, and with courts as in legislative halls. I trust, hope, and pray that France will out ride this spasm of public tyranny, and that your suffering and loss may result in good to France and yourself. Reaction is sure to come, but I hope it will come not so forcibly as to dishonor your Republic.

            With great respect, I am,

                        Yours Truly

Signature  G. N. Foster


To M. Emile Zola

Paris, France.

[1]   Passage répété.


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Foster, G. H., Lettre de G. H. Foster à Émile Zola datée du 11 mars 1898, 1898-03-11. Édition des lettres internationales adressées à Émile Zola. 
Centre d'Étude sur Zola et le Naturalisme & Institut des textes et manuscrits modernes, CNRS-ENS ; projet EMAN (CNRS-ENS-Sorbonne Nouvelle)..
Consulté le 21/04/2024 sur la plate-forme EMAN :

Notice créée par Richard Walter Notice créée le 21/12/2018 Dernière modification le 21/08/2020