Jean Jaurès 1914

Letter From Anatole France on the Death of Jaurès

Source: L’Humanité, August 2, 1914;
Translated: by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2010

I say this with a pain-filled pride: he was my friend. I saw him from up close. In private this great man showed himself to be simple and cordial. He was the very soul of kindness and goodness. Of all the faculties that nature granted this superman, that of loving is the one he most fully exercised. I heard that great voice, which filled the world with its luminous and terrible splendor, become cordial and caressing for a friend.

His learning was sure and profound. It extended beyond the wide circle of social questions and reached all things of the spirit.

You will excuse me if I recall that one day, in the waiting room of the Palais de Justice, during the Dreyfus Affair, after having painted an extensive and profound portrait of that cause, which shook all consciences, he recited to us the most beautiful verses from the reign of Louis XIII and explained them with exquisite taste.

Less than a month ago, going to see him at his house in Passy – so modest or, more accurately, so poor but glorious – I found him reading one of Euripides’ tragedies in the original. His immense intelligence took a break from study in study, and rested from one task in another.

In the serenity of a pure conscience, pursued by frightful hatreds, the butt of slander, he hated no one. He ignored his enemies. Martyrdom crowned his exemplary life and offers it as an example to all good citizens and servants of humanity.

My overflowing heart explodes. I can only stammer. My pain suffocates me. To never see him again, he who had the biggest of hearts, the most vast of geniuses, the most noble of characters.

I offer with a respectful tenderness my most profound condolences to his widow and children, to his friends, to his collaborators, and to the great Socialist Party, for which he is still alive.