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Anatole France: Moved by the spectacle of the miseries and crimes of war


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Nobel prize in literature recipients on peace and war

French writers on war and peace

Anatole France: Selections on war


Anatole France
From Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
Nicolas Foucquet

Translated by Winifred Stephens

She was one of those strong-minded women who, like Madame Legras and Madame de Miramion, were moved at once to a courageous pity and angelic melancholy by the spectacle of the miseries and crimes of war. The ordering of her life was in almost all respects comparable to that of a Sister of Mercy. Far from rejoicing at the promotion of her sons, it was with deep anxiety that she beheld them captive to the seductions of a world which she knew to be evil. Nicolas especially and his brother, the Abbé Basile, alarmed her by the extent of their ambition. The Comptroller’s fall, which disconcerted all France, left her untroubled. On hearing that her son had been cast down from the heights of pomp and power, she is said to have thrown herself upon her knees, exclaiming: “I thank Thee, O my God! I have always prayed to Thee for his salvation: now the path to it is open.”


From an address of Nicolas Foucquet:

“…Sire, I have been commissioned to inform Your Majesty of the destitution to which the majority of your subjects have been reduced. There is no limit to the crimes and excesses committed by the military. Murders, violations, burnings and sacrileges are now regarded merely as ordinary actions; far from committing them in secret, the perpetrators boast of them openly. To-day, Sire, Your Majesty’s troops are living in such licence and such disorder that they are by no means ashamed to abandon their posts in order to despoil those of your subjects who have no means of resistance. In broad daylight, in the sight of their officers, without fear of recognition or apprehension of punishment, soldiers break into the houses of ecclesiastics, noblemen and your highest officials….”

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