Alfred Dreyfus (1859 – 1935)
Translated from the French by August Jaccaci (1857 – 1930)
“Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.”
Shown above, a facsimile of the last page of the Devil’s Island diary, with the quotation from Shakespeare in Dreyfus’ own handwriting.
“The words of Hamlet to Ophelia were written by Captain Dreyfus as the fitting final expression of devotion which, from the dedication “To my wife,” throughout the diary, to the end where he laid down his pen, unable to do more, is its vital and informing spirit. The marginal annotation, written and signed by the chief guard reads, “Cinquantième et dernier feuillet” (fiftieth and last page).”
“I live only by feverish will from day to day,” Dreyfus wrote to Lucie on September 4, 1897. Imprisoned in a walled-in hut in brutal heat, for months shackled to his bed at night so that he could not turn over, watched 24-hours a day by guards who were forbidden to speak to him, denied books to read or any means of exercising, and only at several months lapse receiving any letters from his wife, (and those often just censored copies), his health rapidly deteriorated, but his determination to survive and prove his innocence remained strong. “Truly,” he writes to Lucie, “were it a question of myself alone, long ago would I have gone to seek in the peace of the tomb forgetfulness of all that I have seen, all of that I have heard. But my spirit soon revives, quivering with pain, with energy, with implacable desire for the most precious thing in this world, our honor, the honor of our children, the honor of us all.”
If you have read Five Years of My Life, you might find interesting, The Deportation Cases of 1919-1920, by Constantine Panunzio.