More fortunate than the majority of the prophets who cannot speak smooth things, Madame Adam has lived to find honour in her own country: La grande Francaise has come into her own. God willing, she should live to see that revanche for which, through good and evil report, she has laboured unceasingly these forty-five years, to see the arrogant Prussian humbled to the dust and Alsace-Lorraine restored to France. 1917, she firmly believes will revenge and reverse the tragedy of 1871. More fortunate than the great British soldier who spent his veteran days in warning his countrymen of the ordeal to come, Madame Adam, now in her eighty-first year, may yet hope to see the banners of the Allies crowned with victory, the black wreaths on the statue of Strasburg in the Place de la Concorde changed to garlands of rejoicing.
There have been dark days in these forty-five years, times when, even to herself, the struggle for la patrie seemed almost a forlorn hope. It was so at the time of the Berlin Congress in 1878, when, after his visit to Germany, Gambetta abandoned the idea of la revanche. It was so in 1891, when she realised that the influence of Paul Deroulede’s Ligue des Patriotes had ceased to be a living force in public opinion, when France had become impregnated with false doctrines of international pacifism and homeless cosmopolitanism, when (as she wrote at the time) there were left of the faithful to wear the forget-me-not of Alsace-Lorraine only “a few mothers, a few widows, a few old soldiers, and your humble servant.” But never, even in the darkest of dark days, was the flame of her ardent patriotism dimmed. After her breach with Gambetta, determined not to be defeated by the Government’s abandonment of a vigorous anti-German policy of preparation, she founded the Nouvelle Revue, to wage war with her brain and pen against Bismarck and the ruler of Germany. The objects with which she created that brilliant magazine, as explained by herself to Mr. Gladstone in 1879, were threefold—“to oppose Bismarck, to demand the restoration of Alsace-Lorraine, and to lift from the minds of young French writers the shadow of depression cast on them by national defeat.” The fortnightly “Letters on Foreign Politics” which she contributed regularly to the Nouvelle Revue, for twenty years were not only persistently and violently anti-Teuton: they became a powerful force in educating public opinion in France to the necessity for an effective alliance with Russia, and to the cause of nationalism, in the Balkans, in Egypt, and wherever the liberties of the smaller nations were endangered by the earth-hunger of the great. She disliked and feared the policy of colonial expansion inaugurated by Gambetta and pursued by Jules Ferry, because she felt that it must weaken France in preparing for the great and final struggle with Teutonism which she knew to be inevitable. Thus, when Ferry requested her to cease from attacking Germany, she defied him, assuring him that nothing less than imprisonment would stop her, and that no honour could be greater than to be imprisoned for attacking Bismarck.