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Chapter 10

Let us forget this man, and let us look at Humanity.

The invasion of France by Germany, in 1870, was a night effect. The
world was astonished that so much gloom could come forth from a people.
Five black months--such was the siege of Paris. To create night may
prove Power, but Glory consists in the creation of daylight. France
creates daylight. Thence her immense human popularity. To her
Civilization owes the dawn. The human mind in order to see clearly turns
in the direction of France. Five months of darkness, that is what, in
1870, Germany succeeded in giving to the Nations; France has given to
them four centuries of light.

To-day the civilized world more than ever feels the need which it has of
France. France has proved this by her danger. The ungrateful apathy of
Governments only increased the anxiety of nations. At the sight of Paris
threatened, there arose among the peoples dread that their own heads
were in danger. Would they allow Germany to go on? But France saved
herself quite alone. She had only to rise. _Patuit dea_.

To-day she is greater than ever. What would have killed another nation
has hardly wounded her. The darkening of her horizon has rendered her
light more visible. What she has lost in territory she has gained in
radiancy. Moreover, she is fraternal without an effort. Above her
misfortune there is her smile. It is not on her that the Gothic Empire
weighs. She is a nation of citizens and not a flock of subjects.
Frontiers? Will there be any frontiers in twenty years? Victories?
France counts in her past victories of war, and in her future victories
of peace. The future belongs to Voltaire, and not to Krupp; the future
belongs to the book, and not to the sword. The future belongs to life,
and not to death. There is in the policy opposed to France a certain
amount of the tomb; to seek life in the old institutions is a vain task,
and to feed upon the past is to bite the dust. France has the faculty of
giving light; no catastrophe, political or military, will deprive her of
this mysterious supremacy. The cloud passes away, the star is seen once

The star possesses no anger; the dawn bears no malice. Light is
satisfied in being light. Light is everything; the human race has no
other love. France knows herself beloved because she is good, and the
greatest of all powers is to be loved. The French revolution is for all
the world. It is a battle perpetually waged for Right, and perpetually
gained for Truth. Right is the innermost part of man; Truth is the
innermost part of God. What can be done against a revolution which has
so much right on its side? Nothing. To love it. That is what the nations
do. France offers herself, the world accepts her. The whole phenomenon
lies in these few words. An invasion of armies can be resisted; an
invasion of ideas cannot be resisted. The glory of barbarians is to be
conquered by humanity; the glory of savages is to be conquered by
civilization; the glory of darkness is to be conquered by the torch.
This is why France is desired and assented to by all. This is why,
having no hatred, she has no fear; this is why she is fraternal and
maternal; this is why it is impossible to lessen her, impossible to
humiliate her, impossible to irritate her; this is why, after so many
ordeals, after so many catastrophes, after so many disasters, after so
many calamities, after so many falls, incorruptible and invulnerable she
holds out her hand to all the peoples from above.

When our glance rests on this old continent, stirred to-day by a new
breath, certain phenomena appear, and we seem to gain a glimpse of that
august and mysterious problem, the formation of the future. It may be
said, that in the same manner as light is compounded of seven colors,
civilization is compounded of seven peoples. Of these peoples, three,
Greece, Italy, and Spain, represent the South; three, England, Germany,
and Russia, represent the north; the seventh, or the first, France, is
at the same time North and South, Celtic and Latin, Gothic and Greek.
This country owes to its heaven this sublime good fortune, the crossing
of two rays of light; the crossing of two rays of light is as though we
were to say the joining of two hands, that is to say Peace. Such is the
privilege of this France, she is at the same time solar and starry. In
her heaven she possesses as much dawn as the East, and as many stars as
the North. Sometimes her glimmer rises in the twilight, but it is in the
black night of revolutions and of wars that her resplendence blazes
forth, and her aurorean dawn becomes the Aurora Borealis.

One day, before long, the seven nations, which combine in themselves the
whole of humanity, will join together and amalgamate like the seven
colors of the prism, in a radiant celestial arch; the marvel of Peace
will appear eternal and visible above civilization, and the world,
dazzled, will contemplate the immense rainbow of the United Peoples of


Victor Hugo