France has just been the object of a violent and
premeditated attack, which is an insolent defiance of the law of nations.
Before any declaration of war had been sent to us, even before the German
Ambassador had asked for his passports, our territory has been violated.
The German Empire has waited till yesterday evening to give at this late
stage the true name to a state of things which it had already created.
For more than forty years the French, in sincere love of
peace, have buried at the bottom of their heart the desire for legitimate
They have given to the world the example of a great
nation which, definitely raised from defeat by the exercise of will,
patience, and labour, has only used its renewed and rejuvenated strength in
the interest of progress and for the good of humanity.
Since the ultimatum of Austria opened a crisis which
threatened the whole of Europe, France has persisted in following and in
recommending on all sides a policy of prudence, wisdom, and moderation.
To her there can be imputed no act, no movement, no word,
which has not been peaceful and conciliatory.
At the hour when the struggle is beginning, she has the
right, in justice to herself, of solemnly declaring that she has made, up to
the last moment, supreme efforts to avert the war now about to break out,
the crushing responsibility for which the German Empire will have to bear
before history. Our fine and courageous army, which France today
accompanies with her maternal thought has risen eager to defend the honour
of the flag and the soil of the country.
The President of the Republic interpreting the unanimous
feeling of the country, expresses to our troops by land and sea the
admiration and confidence of every Frenchman.
Closely united in a common feeling, the nation will
persevere with the cool self-restraint of which, since the beginning of the
crisis, she has given daily proof. Now, as always, she will know how
to harmonise the most noble daring and most ardent enthusiasm with that
self-control which is the sign of enduring energy and is the best guarantee
In the war which is beginning, France will have Right on
her side, the eternal power of which cannot with impunity be disregarded by
nations any more than by individuals.
She will be heroically defended by all her sons; nothing
will break their sacred union before the enemy; today they are joined
together as brothers in a common indignation against the aggressor, and in a
common patriotic faith.
She is faithfully helped by Russia, her ally; she is
supported by the loyal friendship of Great Britain.
And already from every part of the civilised world
sympathy and good wishes are coming to her. For today once again she
stands before the universe for Liberty, Justice, and Reason.
'Haut les coeurs et vive la France!'