Achille Guynemer had two sons. The elder, Amedee, a graduate of the Ecole polytechnique, died at the age of thirty and left no children. The second, Auguste, was Sub-Prefect of Saverne under the Second Empire; and, resigning this office after the war of 1870, he became Vice-President of the society for the protection of Alsatians and Lorrainers, the President of which was the Count d’Haussonville. He had married a young Scottish lady, Miss Lyon, whose family included the Earls of Strathmore, among whose titles were those of Glamis and Cawdor mentioned by Shakespeare in “Macbeth.”
As we have already seen, only one of the four sons of the President of Mayence—the hero of the Bidassoa—had left descendants. His son is M. Paul Guynemer, former officer and historian of the Cartulaire de Royallieu and of the Seigneurie d’Offemont, whose only son was the aviator. The race whose history is lost far back in the Chanson de Roland and the Crusades, which settled in Flanders, and then in Brittany, but became, as soon as it left the provinces for the capital, nomadic, changing its base at will from the garrison of the officer to that of the official, seems to have narrowed and refined its stock and condensed all the power of its past, all its hopes for the future, in one last offshoot.
There are some plants, like the aloe, which bear but one flower, and sometimes only at the end of a hundred years. They prepare their sap, which has waited so long, and then from the heart of the plant issues a long straight stem, like a tree whose regular branches look like forged iron. At the top of this stem opens a marvelous flower, which is moist and seems to drop tears upon the leaves, inviting them to share its grief for the doom it awaits. When the flower is withered, the miracle is never renewed.
Guynemer is the flower of an old French family. Like so many other heroes, like so many peasants who, in this Great War, have been the wheat of the nation, his own acts have proved his nobility. But the fairy sent to preside at his birth laid in his cradle certain gilded pages of the finest history in the world: Roland, the Crusades, Brittany and Duguesclin, the Empire, and Alsace.
One of the generals best loved by the French troops, General de M——, a learned talker and charming moralist, who always seemed in his conversation to wander through the history of France, like a sorcerer in a forest, weaving and multiplying his spells, once recited to me the short prayer he had composed for grace to enable him to rear his children in the best way:
Louis, Messire Duguesclin, Messire Bayard, help
me to make my sons brave and truthful.”