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Full text of "Charles de Foucauld : hermit and explorer"

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CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 



NIHIL OBSTAT : 

C. SCHDT, S.T.D., 

Censor Deputatvs. 

IMPRIMATUR : 

Edm. Can. Scrmont, 

Vicarius Gemralis. 

Westmonastf.rii, 

Die i6 Aprilis, 1923. 



CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

HERMIT AND EXPLORER 

BY 

REN|E BAZIN 



TRANSLATED BY PETER KEELAN 



New York, Cincinnati, Chicago 

BENZIGER BROTHERS 

PRINTERS TO THE I PUBLISHERS OF 

HOLY APOSTOLIC SEE | BENZIGER'S MAGAZINE 

1.9 2 3 



B 
P 



Made and printed in Great Britain 



CONTENTS 



FAGB 

GLOSSARY - - - - - - vii 



I. HIS YOUTH ..---- 1 

II. THE PRELIMINARIES OF THE JOURNEY - - - l6 

1. THE DISGUISE AND THE FIRST STEPS - "I? 

2. THE STORY OF .AIARDOCHEE ABI SERVUR - 23 
III. THE EXPLORER - - - - ' "35 

IV. HIS CONVERSION - - • - - 61 

V. THE TRAPPIST - - - - - - 77 

VI. NAZARETH AND JERUSALEM - - - - IIO 

VII. CHARLES DE FOUCAULD A PRIEST — THE DESERT ROAD - 1 36 

VIII. BENI-ABBES - - - - - - IS© 

IX. TRAINING TOURS - - - - - 211 

X. THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR .... 23I 

XI. POETRY AND PROVERBS - - - . . 273 

XII. TAMANRASSET --.--. 280 

APPENDIX -..-... 25^ 



GLOSSARY 



Abd Ennebi, servant of the Prophet. 

Abdjesu^ servant of Jesus. 

Ahal, social g-athering among- the Tuaregs. 

Aman, armistice. 

Amenokal, a noble elected chief over a confederation of tribes. 

Amrar, a subordinate chief under an Amenokal. 

Anaia, the pledged perpetual protection of a man or tribe. 

Baraquer, to kneel down (of camels). 

Belras, Turkish slippers. 

Ben, son. 

Berdis, reeds or rushes. 

Bled, country, but especially used of the back-country or hinter- 
land, the Saharan desert. 

Borj, blockhouse or fortified post. 

Burnous, an Arab cloak. 

Cai'd, judge of a town or village : see Khalifa. 

Casbah, chapel or citadel. 

Chambi, Chambaa, warlike plundering tribes like the Cossacks. 

Cheggar, cloth or linen. 

Debiha, the act of putting oneself under anaia. 

Diss, a reed or rush like an alfa. 

Douar, a village of tents, arranged in streets. 

Ethel, an atlee — a kind of tree. 

Fellagas, outlawed native factions hostile to the friendly 
natives under French protection. 

Gaila, midday heat, time of siesta. 

Gandourah, an Oriental sleeveless shirt-like garment. 

Guettaf, a whitish saltwort. 

Gum, band or troop ; escort of Arab chiefs ; also French com- 
manders in Africa. 

Hajj, a Musulman who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca. 

Harka, an expeditionary column. 

Harratins, a crossbreed of Arabs and negroes, between slaves 
and freemen, who work as labourers, without political 
status. 

Hartani, singular of Harratin. 

Imrad, equality, also a clan. 

Imzad, violin, with only one string. 

Jelabia, a cowl or hood. 

Jerjir, a flower, the stems of which are blown away by the 
winds of the desert. 

Kafer, infidel. 

Khalifa, Arab chief : the order is as follows : Caid, Khalifa, 
Cadi, Adel, Bachadel. 

Khaua, brotherhood or confraternity. 



viii GLOSSARY 

Khefis, a very composite food liked by Father de Foucauld 

(see p. 382). 
Khenif, a black burnous with a yellow moon. 
Khoja, a Mohammedan schoolmaster or teacher. 
KsAR, settled village, not movable like a douar. 
KsuR, same as above. 
LiTHAM, a blue bandage fastening the veils of the Multimin 

and other Tuaregs in place. 
Makhzen, an administrative district, or a troop recruited from 

such a district. 
Marabout, a Mohammedan name for a holy man or saint. 
Mehari, a racing camel or express camel. 
Mellah, a quarter set apart, as the Jewish quarter of a town. 
MoKHAZENi, a territorial coming from a makhzen. 
Multimin, veiled men of the time of the Crusades, probably 

ancestors of the Tuaregs. 
Nouader, locks (of hair). 
Rahla, a pack-saddle for camels. 
Razzia, a raid. 

Rezzu, an expedition, or band of a tribal faction. 
RuMis, " Romans," a general name applied by Moslems to 

European Christians. 
Sbaot, Feast of Weeks, corresponding with Pentecost. 
Shehada, the Musulman form of prayer. 
Sherif, a noble, a title of honour, a local governor. 
Shott, a shallow saline lake. 
SiDi, an African title of respect given by Musulmans to one in 

authority. 
SisiT, a long garment. 

Tamahak or Tamachek, the spoken Tuareg language. 
Tebbel, a war-drum. 
Thalebs, religious teachers of Islam. 
Tholba, same as Thalebs. 
TiFiNAR, the written Tuareg language. 
Wady, river or dry watercourse. 
Zaptie, a Turkish policeman. 

Zauia, house of an Arab chief and his dependents. 
Zeriba, an improvised stockade, usually of thorn-bushes. 
Zettet, a protector who gives anaia. 



CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 



CHAPTER I 
His Youth 

CHARLES EUGENE DE FOUCAULD, whose his- 
tory I shall try to relate, was born at Strasbourg on 
September 15, 185^8- 

He was not of Alsatian origin. His father, Francois 
Edouard, Viscount de Foucauld de Pontbriand, Deputy- 
Inspector of Forests, belonged to an ancient and noble family 
of Perigord, which gave saints to the Church and very good 
servants to France, and of which it is important that I 
should here say something, because the merit of ancestors, 
even unknown, even forgotten, continues to live in our 
blood and urges us to imitation. 

According to the genealogist Chabault, the name of 
Foucauld has been known since 970, an epoch in which 
Hugues de Foucauld, having given a part of his wealth to 
the Abbeys of Chancelade and of Saint-Pierre d'Uzerches, 
retired from the world, and, in order to prepare better for 
death, entered the monastery. One Bertrand de Foucauld, 
who set out for the Crusade with St. Louis, fell in the battle 
of Mansurah defending his King against the Musulmans. 
Another, Gabriel, was delegated by Francois H to espouse 
Mary Stuart by proxy. 

Jean, chamberlain to the Dauphin, assisted, near Jeanne 
d'Arc, at the coronation of Rheims. In several letters 
Henry IV called Jean III de Foucauld " his good and very 
trusty friend." In order to express still better his friend- 
ship for him he named him Governor of the Comt6 of 
Perigord and Vicomte of Limoges : "I can assure you, 
Monsieur de Lardimalie," he wrote to him, " I esteem you 
and your virtue, and I am as satisfied with you as you could 
desire " — a fine testimonial, which was worth a government 
and would last longer. 

Numerous other Foucaulds, in the course of time, were 
killed at the head of their company or their regiment, in 
France, Italy, Spain, or Germany, always in the service 
of France. But one of its greatest glories came to this 



2 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

family from Armand de Foucauld de Pontbriand/ Canon 
of Meaux,^ Vicar-General to his cousin Jean-Marie du 
Lau, Prince Archbishop of Aries. He was a man whose 
charity was very great, who distributed to the poor the larger 
part of his income, and " frequented only his church and 
the hospitals."^ Now this income was considerable — not 
that he had inherited it, he a son of a younger son and fifth 
of eleven children ; but two years before the Revolution he 
had been endowed by the King with the usufruct of the 
Abbey of Solignac in Limoges. 

In 1790 the Archbishop of Aries addressed to his clergy 
the celebrated Exposition des principes de la Constitution 
civile du clerge, a document in which he denounced the 
attempt at schism decided by the men of the Revolution. 
It was signed by one hundred and twenty-nine bishops of 
France, defenders of the Roman Catholic and Apostolic 
Faith. The Chapter of Aries replied by an address of 
the soundest doctrine, at the bottom of which is found, 
among those of the other canons, the signature of Armand de 
Foucauld. Having become suspected through their attach- 
ment to the Church, the refractory priests were soon con- 
demned to transportation by the decret of May 26, 1792. 
Armand de Foucauld then set out from Aries for Paris to 
join Mgr. du Lau, who said: "They want to inoculate 
the Church with schism and heresy; we can only die." 
This was giving himself up to death. On August 1 1 he was 
arrested with his bishop, and led into the confiscated church 
of the Carmelites, in which numerous priests were already 
shut up. Many of these confessors of the Faith were about 
to become martyrs. They knew it. They were all prepar- 
ing for it, trembling and staunch, depending on the grace 
of God for the courage of which none are sure. 

On September 2 the prisoners received the order to walk 
in the garden of the Carmelites ; even the sick and infirm 
must go out. They understood that they were going to 
the torture. M. de Foucauld and the other Vicar-General 
of Aries, gathering round their Archbishop, directed their 
steps towards an oratory, at the bottom of the garden, 
dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. The windows of the con- 
vent were full of red caps, brandishing their arms and insult- 
ing the penned-up victims. " Let us thank God, gentle- 
men," said the prelate, " that He calls us to seal with our 

' His mother was Marie Sibylla de Lau. 
- Where he was ordained priest in 1774. 

^ Armand de Foucauld de Pontbriand, 1751-1792 (H. Oudin, Paris, 
1902). 



HIS YOUTH 3 

blood the faith which we profess." He was the first to be 
struck down by sabres and pikes. A moment after, M. de 
Foucauld fell near the body of his cousin. He was forty- 
one. To the old nobility another of the highest was added. 
In his race little Charles found by the score fine examples 
to follow. 

He did not, as will be seen, at first follow them, but he 
was brought back to them ; and none, since then, among 
the soldiers, the sailors, or priests of his house, could be 
named who had surpassed this Charles de Foucauld in self- 
sacrifice, austerity, bravery, and pity. 

He was pious during the days of his childhood. Many 
are the same in France, where there are so many pre- 
destined mothers. Madame de Foucauld had two children, 
Charles and Mary.^ She had barely the time to teach them 
to join their hands and say their prayers ; she hardly saw 
the first dawn of the passionate soul of her son Charles, 
over which she would have wept, if death had not prema- 
turely carried off that Monica from this Augustine. In 
order to train her children in piety, but quite as much to 
obey a divine attraction and habit, she used to visit various 
churches in turn, loving them all on account of Him who 
inhabits them all. In the same way, at home, with her 
children she used to decorate the crib at Christmastide, a 
statue of the Virgin in the month of May. She gave 
Charles a little altar which was placed on a chest of drawers, 
before which he used to kneel morning and evening, a relic 
of his first years, of presage still obscure, which he men- 
tions later on : "I kept it as long as I had a room to myself 
in my family, and it outlived my faith." When they went 
for a walk on the sloping woods of Saverne or spent the 
holidays together, she recommended her children to gather 
bunches of flowers and to place them at the foot of the 
calvaries at the cross-roads, betraying a French mother's 
tender love, more educationist in acts than in words, the 
memory of which is never effaced. 

Madame de Foucauld died on March 13, 1864, at the 
age of thirty-four ; her husband on August 9 of the same 
year. The orphans were then confided to their maternal 
grandfather, M. Charles-Gabriel de Morlet, a retired colonel 
of Engineers, who was nearly seventy years of age.^ Men 
do not often have that passionate application to the duties 
of primary education, nor that gift of divination which 

^ A first child named Charles had not lived. 

2 His first wife was Mile. La Quiante, and his second Mile, de 
Labouche ; the latter had no cliildren. 



4 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

teaches mothers and prompts them to take alarm at the faults 
of their children and to correct them. Affectionate, passion- 
ately fond of play, with a great gift for drawing, quick- 
witted, a pretty child and with a bold expression, Charles 
pleased the old soldier. He was spoiled; M. de Morlet 
could not resist the tears of this little Charles : " When he 
cries," he used to say, " he reminds me of my daughter." 
Even Charles's fits of anger met with a secret indulgence, 
and were passed over as a sign of character. He was 
violent. The most innocent mockery put him into a rage. 
He had once cut out and modelled a fort in a heap of sand, 
an elaborate construction of moats and towers, of bridges 
and approaches. One of his relations, thinking to please 
him, took it into his head to put lighted candles on the sum- 
mit, and potatoes for cannon-balls in the moats. Charles 
thought that they were making fun of him and flew into a 
violent fury. He trampled on his work till no trace of it 
remained; then, in revenge, after dark he threw the very 
sandy potatoes into every bed in the house. 

We know by his letters that he made his first communion 
with fervour. He was sent to the episcopal school of 
Saint-Arbogast, under the management of the priests of the 
Diocese of Strasbourg, then to the Lycee,^ The war came 
on, and the grandfather and the two children were driven 
from Alsace and took refuge in Berne. 

In 1872 M. de Morlet, not being able to go back to Stras- 
bourg, went to live in Nancy. It was in the Lycee of this 
town that Charles commenced to lose the habit of regular 
ordered work, and soon lost the Faith. 

When one goes through all the correspondence of Charles 
de Foucauld, one understands the bitterness of his memories 
of his years of study at Nancy. These years were the 
beginning of a life of frailty, the period which in penance 
he goes over again and again till the end, to efface the 
faults of mind and body. 

^ One of the former professors of the Lycee de Strasbourg has been 
good enough to write to me on this subject : " I had Charles de 
Foucauld as pupil, 1868-1869, in my sixth form. He was an intelligent 
and studious child, but was far from giving any indication of the 
passionate and quick-witted nature that he was to manifest later on. 
Besides, his delicate health did not allow him to attend the classes 
regularly enough to get always into the first places. I find, however, 
to his credit, that he was fourth and third for Latin translation, in a class 
of fifty-five pupils. He was under the care of his grandfather, M. de 
Morlet, an old gentleman with distinguished manners and language, who 
occupied himself with archaeology and was passionately fond of the 
classics." 



HIS YOUTH 5 

1 ought, indeed, to quote here some of his confessions 
after he had returned to God and judged his past. 

He wrote to a friend : " If I worked Httle at Nancy, it 
is because I was allowed to mix with my studies a quantity 
of reading which gave me the taste for study, but did me the 
harm of which you know." 

He again wrote to him that it was during his course of 
rhetoric that he lost all faith, "and that is not the only 
evil." 

The year of philosophy was worse : "If you knew how 
all the objections which tormented me, and which lead 
young men astray, are luminously and simply solved by a 
good Christian philosophy ! It meant a real revolution 
when I saw that. . . . But children are thrown on the 
world without giving them the arms that are indispensable 
to combat the enemies they find in and outside them- 
selves, lying in wait for them in hosts on the threshold 
of youth. The Christian philosophers have long since 
and very clearly solved so many questions that each 
young man puts feverishly to himself, without even sus- 
pecting that an answer, luminous and clear, lies close at 
hand." 

Still later on, in a letter to his brother-in-law, he earnestly 
begs that his nephews be brought up by Christian masters : 
" I had no bad master; all, on the contrary, were full of 
reverence ; but even those are harmful, because they are 
neutral, and youth needs to be educated not by neutrals but 
by men of faith and sanctity, learned in religion, knowing 
how to give reasons for their beliefs and inspiring young 
men with a firm confidence in the truth of their Faith. . . . 

"Let my experience, I pray you, do for the family."^ 

This collegian left the Lyc6e a bachelor (B.A.), like 
others, inquisitive about everything and determined to 
enjoy himself; and sad M. de Morlet wanted his grandson 
to enter the Ecole Polytechnique. But Charles chose to 
lead an easy life. He declared, with that frankness which 
(was one of the unchangeable features of his moral life, that 
he would prefer to go to the Ecole de Saint-Cyr, because 
the competition demanded less work ; and he set out for 
Paris. 

From memory he depicts himself as he was when he was 
attending the preparatory classes of the Ecole de Saint- 
Genevieve. 

"At seventeen I was beginning my second year at the 
Rue des Postes. I believe I had never been in such a lament- 
^ Letter of March 5, 1901. 



6 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

able state of mind. In a way I have done more harm at 
other times, but then there was some good mingled with 
the evil. At seventeen I was all egotism, vanity, impiety, 
with every desire for evil ; I was, as it were, mad. As for 
my laziness, at the Rue des Postes it was such that they 
would not keep me there, and I have told you that in spice 
of the form used so as not to grieve my grandfather, I 
considered my departure a dismissal, a dismissal of which 
idleness was not the sole cause. ... I was so free, so 
young ! What I wish above all to say is that, for me 
and for many others, the age of X . . . was the worst 
period. ... At seventeen I had made my poor grand- 
father suffer so much, refusing work to such an extent that 
in the month of February, I had not, I believe, yet cut the 
pages of Euclid which I ought to have studied every day 
since November; writing to him nearly every other day, 
sometimes letters forty pages long, to ask him to bring me 
back to Nancy, and all else that you can suppose such 
folly must suggest. . . .^ 

"Of faith, not a trace remained in my soul."^ Else- 
where he says and repeats that for thirteen years he did 
not believe in God. 

The confession, though not developed, is clear. It ap- 
pears to me that it calls for an observation, and sets a 
problem. 

No doubt faith in the Church and her morality had been 
cast aside. Had it disappeared? That is another question. 
I rather think it was kept far in the distant background, 
invisible, like a land that a navigator has abandoned and 
means never to revisit, but the existence of which he knows ; 
a land which he still loves, and, if not the days that he spent 
there, at least several of the inhabitants who live there and 
belong to his quondam home. As long as one loves a 
Christian, one still has a little love for Christ who formed 
him. General hatred alone is a sign of atheism. This 
young man read everything with the superb imprudence of 
his age, and saturated his mind with objections against a doc- 
trine which he did not know well, but in him two sentiments 
which might call the past to life survived — respect for the 
priest and most tender attachment to the family. Nay, 
more, he had a taste for reading, giving strong grounds for 
hoping he might return to the Faith, and, further, he knew 
how to read. The true name for his idleness was fantasy, 
imprudence, and sensual curiosity. But his ardent mind, 

^ Letters to aifriend, April 17, 1892, and November 8, 1893. 
2 Letter to a friend, February 24, 1893. 



HIS YOUTH 7 

capable of reflection, would not look upon life without 
understanding its lessons, would not read what pleased 
without paying attention to that which condemned him, 
save to reject the conclusion. Foucauld was an intellectual 
given up to the senses, but capable of dominating them, if 
some great event, hidden in the heart^ — the grace of God — 
showed him his error. 

I have just said that he much esteemed his religious 
masters. They first warned him, and then threatened him 
with dismissal, and soon even requested him to leave the 
school of the Rue des Postes.^ Here is what he says of them : 
" You know what I think of the boarding-school ; good for 
many, it was detestable to me. Liberty at the same age 
might perhaps have been worse, and, in any case, I must 
say that I brought away with me from this boarding-school 
such deep esteem for the Jesuits that, even when I least 
respected our holy religion, I always very highly respected 
the Fathers, and that is no small blessing."^ 

When the hour of return came, Charles de Foucauld had 
no fear of priests. Remembering the good Fathers he 
knew, he went to one of them with confidence. 

The affections of his childhood helped him still more 
powerfully. Those who loved, petted, and even spoiled 
him, he continued to cherish, and, as he came to under- 
stand better what they had done for him, to admire. In 
them, he came to see, not only his mother, sister, grand- 
father, aunts, and cousins, but the united members of a 
very Christian family, very devoted to their brother, son, 
nephew, cousin Charles, exercising a great silent pity 
towards him, and not abandoning him ; for to that pity 
he was the child of silent prayer, the wordless prayer 
that proceeds from the depths of the soul at night, when 
they are all together still on their knees, and about to 
rise. 

I have also said that a question presents itself. This is 
it. This child of a bold race was endowed with a strong 
will. It will be seen by the sequel. How could he thus 
give himself up to idleness, and afterwards live a loose life 
for many years? One could understand violent passions, 
storms, occasional adventures, but this insipid common- 
place life with no relief? What was his will doing then, 
and where was it hiding ? It was on the watch that nothing 
should disturb a life of pleasure. It is not a faculty which 

1 As Charles was poorly, his status was changed from a boarder's to 
a day-boy's. 

2 To a friend, Easter Monday, 1890. 



8 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

remains unemployed. It is at the service of that high 
centre of the mind which chooses one's abode and friends, 
one's habits and occupations. And if the misled, per- 
verted mind, detached from all restraining morals, per- 
ceives its weal in the disorder of the imagination and the 
satisfaction of the body, it is wonderfully quick in walling 
up the windows even in the garrets through which we might 
see any sky; in driving away intruding recollections; in 
protecting our inner selves from any words and examples 
involving a reproach. 

Charles de Foucauld sat for the competitive examination 
of the Military School in 1876. He just scraped through, 
and was then on the point of being rejected for premature 
corpulency at the medical examination. Colonel de Morlet 
was sad that his grandson was one of the last to be admitted. 
"On the contrary," replied Charles, " it is very jolly; I 
shall have a chance of many a rise in rank." He did not 
rise at all, and came out as he had gone in. General 
Laperrine wrote, in an account which he called Stages in 
the Conversion of a Hussar,^ these lines, full both of mean- 
ing and reserve : " Very clever indeed would be the man 
who could have foreseen in the gluttonous and sceptical 
young fellow of Saint-Cyr the ascetic and apostle of to-day. 
A scholar and artist, he employed the leisure which the 
military exercises left him to stroll about, pencil in hand, 
or to plunge into the reading of the Latin and Greek 
authors. As to his theories and lectures, he did not 
look at them, trusting to his lucky star not to be 
plucked.^' 

He told the truth ; the portraits of the pupil of Saint-Cyr 
are a proof of that. Above a too thick bust and neck the 
photographs of this period represent a round puffy face 
without distinction, which has nothing fine but the 
straight broad forehead, and the scarcely curved line of the 
eyebrows. Deep set in their orbits, the brilliant and for- 
bidding eyes appeared smaller on account of the fat which 
surrounded them. As to the almost formless and indolent 
lips, they were such as taste, talk but little, and do not 
command. Flesh predominated. How is this face here- 
after to become, with the tense energy of all the features, the 
splendour of the eyes and the celestial charity of its smile, 
almost like that of St. Francis of Assisi ? It is the miracle 
of the soul, which models the body and sets its stamp 
upon it. 

From Saint-Cyr, Foucauld passed, in 1878, to the 
^ Revue dc cavalerie, October, 1913. 



HIS YOUTH 9 

Cavalry School of Saumur.^ He shared the room of a com- 
rade with whom he had contracted a friendship at Saint- 
Cyr, Antoine de Vallombrosa, afterwards Marquis de 
Mor^s, destined to display a dazzling and brief career, and 
who was also to perish assassinated in the desert. This 
room "became celebrated on account of the excellent 
dinners and long card parties which w^re held there, to 
keep company with the one under punishment, for it was 
very rare that one of the two occupants was not under 
arrest."- The contrast was very great between Vallom- 
brosa, always on the go, a fine horseman, a sportsman, 
and Foucauld the stay-at-home, apathetic, and dreamer. 
However, for common or different reasons they were both 
in favour with the officer students : Foucauld, for instance, 
as much as his comrade, was liked for his generosity, his 
quick-witted intelligence and frankness. His pranks and 
whims were laughed at. He dressed with extreme ele- 
gance, only smoked cigars of a certain brand, never took 
the change of a louis from a waiter or jarvey, played 
for high stakes, and spent so foolishly, that his uncle, 
M. Moitessier, was soon obliged, to the great fury of 
Charles, to provide him with a legal guardian. One sur- 
mises that others besides innkeepers, bootmakers, tailors, 
and croupiers, were sharp enough to make holes in the for- 
tune of this young nobleman. The life he led at Pont-a- 
Mousson, on leaving the Cavalry School, was no more 
staid. It is even said that he was obliged to leave several 
lodgings because the other tenants complained of the racket 
he made and the disagreeable company which he brought 
in, and he finished by having some difficulty in finding a 
lodging in that little town. Fortunately, in 1880, the 
Fourth Hussars, of which he was a lieutenant, were sent to 
Algeria. 

It was a day of decision : the passion for Africa — in a 
word, the colonial passion — was to take possession of the 
young officer, and grow till it gave a fresh direction to a 
badly begun life. 

The Fourth Hussars, afterwards the Fourth Chasseurs 
d'Afrique, garrisoned Bone and Setif. Pronounce the 
word Setif before one of those who know the legend, if not 
the history of Father de Foucauld, you will almost surely 
hear one or two anecdotes of which the famous lieutenant 
was the principal personage. They are amusing; are they 
true? I doubt it. In my presence many of the tellers of 

^ From October, 1878, to November, 1879, 
2 General Laperrine, op. cii. 



lo CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

these regimental tales would change the hero's name. He 
was no longer Charles de Foucaiild, but one of his com- 
rades ; and the dates changed. I prefer to keep to well- 
established facts. Here they are. The lieutenant had 
hardly landed than he set out for the manoeuvres. A few 
weeks passed; he came back to Setif and settled down. 
Soon remonstrances were made to him, friendly at first, 
then stiifer ; he was reproached with giving scandal by 
living with a young woman who had come from France at 
the same time as he and was making a parade of the liaison. 
He took his colonel's counsels, and afterwards his orders, 
very badly. His retorts and absolute refusal as lieutenant 
to obey his superior officer injured discipline. The issue 
was a foregone conclusion — he must break with his mis- 
tress or leave the regiment. What will Foucauld do? He 
will not give in. I do not believe it can be said in this case 
that passion swayed him ; no, it was the will, terrible and 
still without a master, which refused to bend. He left his 
comrades, half broke his career, got the Minister to put him 
on temporary leave, and returned to Evian. 

He was there, far from his relations, useless, when in the 
spring of 1881 the news reached him of the insurrection of 
Bu-Amama, in South Oranais. The Fourth Chasseurs 
were going to begin the campaign, his comrades were going 
to fight. When the blood of France cries aloud, nothing 
can silence it. Lieutenant de Foucauld wrote at once to the 
Minister of War. The letter urged that he could not bear 
the thought that his comrades would be at the post of 
honour and danger, whereas he would not, and that, in 
order to rejoin his regiment, he accepted any and every con- 
dition that would be imposed on him. 

His request was granted. Foucauld set out again for 
Algeria. An unexpected event had aroused him. The 
thought of sacrifice had come home to his soul. It begets 
all sorts of nobility. Charles de Foucauld was no more a 
believer than he had been of late, but the force which makes 
Christians asserted itself in him. Since he had offered 
himself for France, he had drawn nearer to God, who 
sees his Son in man's self-sacrifice, and is moved at the 
sight. 

A native marabout, Bu-Amama, of the Ulad-Sidi- 
Sheikh-Gharaba, was stirring up the tribes, and preaching 
a holy war in South Oranais. The campaign against the 
fanatic brought out the first indications of the final per- 
sonality of Charles de Foucauld. General Laperrine, who 
was with the expedition and could judge his comrade, 



HIS YOUTH II 

writes in the Stapes de la conversion d'un hussard as 
follows : 

"In the midst of the dangers and privations of the ex- 
peditionary columns, this literary viveur showed himself 
to be a soldier and a leader, gaily enduring the hardest 
trials, constantly exposing himself to danger, devoting all 
his time to his men. He was the admiration of the old 
Mexicans of the regiment, who were connoisseurs. 

"Of the Foucauld of Saumur and Pont-a-Mousson 
nothing was left except a tiny pet edition of Aristophanes 
which was always with him, and just a touch of snobbery 
which made him give up smoking from the day that he 
could no longer procure cigars of his favourite brand." 

One of the old soldiers who had chased Bu-Amama told 
me that one day, after a long march, when Lieutenant de 
Foucauld saw his men, exhausted by the heat, rush to a 
well, he went back quickly and bought a bottle of rum from 
the canteen-woman, and returned saying, " How glad I am 
to have my bottle to give you !" And the soldiers mixed a 
little of the rum with the brackish water. " He made the 
men love him," added the narrator, "but he, too, loved 
the privates ! Many years after our fights with Bu- 
Amama, I saw my old commander, and he said to me these 
very words : ' The African army is still better than the 
European ; half of the men in my company would have 
made excellent monks.' Perhaps he exaggerated a little; 
but that proves the friendship which he still felt for us.^ 

" The Arabs made a deep impression upon him. When 
the insurrection was over, he asked for leave in order to go 
on a journey in the South and study them. As he could 
not get this leave, he sent in his resignation, and went and 
settled down in Algiers to prepare for his great journey in 
Morocco."^ 

He was twenty-four. If the unknown bulked largely in 
the future of this very young ex-officer, one thing was from 
that time certain : he was born to inhabit the East. He had 
in him that vocation which is not born, as some fancy, of 
the love of light, but rather of the love of habitual silence, 
of space, of the unforeseen and the primitive in life, and of 
the mystery one suspects of being concealed in the very 
reserved. 

When this vocation speaks and issues orders within a 

^ It was in that expedition that Lieutenant de Foucauld got to know 
the Officer- Interpreter Motyhnski, whom he was to meet again later on 
in the Tuareg country. 

^ General Laperrine, Les etapes de la conversion d'un hussard. 



12 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

man, he can do nothing but follow it. He fights against 
it, and cannot get over it. Ask the veterans of the Sahara 
who have tried service in France, and find that the best gar- 
rison is not worth the desert, and that no colonel at the 
head of his regiment experiences the sensation of free 
power, or the slight thrill of loneliness and possible adven- 
ture which keeps the little lieutenant on the alert and in 
fidgety joy. He, too, is a company commander with his 
twenty-five meharistes marching in Indian file under the 
stars, making the sand of the dunes give way under the 
feet of the camels, following a wandering and often uncer- 
tain trail, in search of a well or of some plundering band. 
Ask those who have imprudently retired to the seaside in 
Brittany or on the shores of Nice; above all, those, too old 
for a wandering life, hence feeling too deeply uprooted in 
their native land, whose homes are hidden in the neighbour- 
hood of Algiers or Oran, in a villa under the pines, where 
they still hear the noise of the wind which comes from the 
South, and receive the visits of their young successors, the 
happy ones who knock at the door, saying, " Good-morn- 
ing, Captain, I'm back from the bled.'' 

After handing in his resignation, Charles de Foucauld 
followed the first call of his vocation, which the manoeuvres 
around Setif, the tales of the old Africans, the discovery 
of a new people, lastly the war against the fanatic, had 
settled. He would not leave Africa without having studied 
it, he would be a man of action. What then would he do? 
One of the most difficult things there is : he would under- 
take to explore Morocco, a closed country, mistrustful of 
the foreigner, cruel in its vengeance, but so near our coasts, 
that one was sure, in travelling over it, to help the France 
of to-morrow. He went to Algiers. Seized by the thirst 
for knowledge which he had so far slaked at haphazard, 
he shut himself up in libraries, took lessons in Arabic, and 
got into contact with men who could prepare him for the 
daring enterprise. 

One of these, the most useful perhaps, one of the best 
known figures in old Algiers, was called Oscar MacCarthy. 
He was quite a little man, " as brown as a white man could 
be, as lean as a man in health could be,"^ who wore his 
hair close cropped and a long beard, and whom the Arabs 
sometimes called "the big-headed man," or "the gun 
man." He got this second nickname from the custom he 
had while travelling of suspending over his shoulder a big 

^ Kug^ne Fromentin, in Un ^te dans le Sahel, often speaks of his 
friend Louis Vandell, who is none but this MacCarthy. 



HIS YOUTH 13 

barometer shut up in a leather case. MacCarthy had once 
planned crossing the Sahara and reaching Timbuctoo. He 
never set out, but the biscuit prepared for that expedition 
still existed twenty years after, and MacCarthy used always 
to speak of starting soon.^ 

He had visited the least important villages, stayed in the 
douars of all the tribes, collected thousands of notes which 
he confided to friends here and there ; he had read all that 
had been written by travellers, historians, and archaeolo- 
gists about the things and people of Africa, and remem- 
bered it all. " The land of Africa was his mind's posses- 
sion. "2 

In his frail body lived an intrepid and learned soul. A 
sure guide, with methods of exploration always very much 
his own, his advice to the young officer who put himself 
into his hands is easily conjectured. To be safe every- 
where, he had become insensible to heat or cold, travelled 
without escort or baggage, his pockets stuffed with note- 
books and manuscript cards, heedless of all the conveni- 
ences of material life, protected by his destitution itself, 
according to the Oriental proverb which says: "A 
thousand horsemen could not strip a naked man." 

Oscar MacCarthy was the keeper of the library of 
Mustapha Pasha's palace in the Rue de I'Etat Major. 
" Both the old scholar and the young officer used to spend 
long hours, leaning on the balustrade of the Moorish court- 
yard, bent over ancient maps and dusty folios, turning over 
the pages of old geographers, whom Foucauld was to 
leave far behind him.'"^ 

Most important for the success of a journey in Morocco 
was the choice of the disguise. It was impossible to go 
through this hostile country without concealing the fact 
that he was a Christian. Only the representatives of Euro- 
pean Powers could do it, if they kept to the " Ambassadors' 
road," which ran from the coast to Fez or to Marrakesh, 
and did not wander from the traditional track where they 
are constantly spied upon, and obliged to know no more 
of Morocco than the functionaries and intimates of the 
Sultan, always haunted by the fear of conquest, are willing 
to show them. With only two costumes could anyone pass 
among the tribes and be received in villages where no Euro- 
pean had ever put his foot, and converse with the 
Moroccans : the costume of the Arab, and that of the Jew, 

* Un saint frangais, le Pere de Foucauld, by Augustin Bernard, Paris, 
Plon, 1917. 
^ Fromentin, Joe. cii. 3 Augustin Bernard, op. cit. 



14 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

a dealer who is tolerated and watched. But what a know- 
ledge must he possess of Musulman or Jewish ways, so as 
not to betray himself ! 

MacCarthy advised, and Charles de Foucauld accepted, 
the second solution. He has told us why : 

" There are only two religions in Morocco. It is neces- 
sary, at no matter what cost, to be of one of them. Would 
I be a Musulman or a Jew ? Should I put on the turban or 
the black cap ? Ren^ Caillie, Rohlfs, and Lenz had all 
chosen the turban. I, on the contrary, decided for the cap. 
What, above all, induced me to do so was the thought of 
the difficulties which these travellers had met with in their 
costumes — the obligation of leading the same life as their 
co-religionists, the continual presence of real Musulmans 
around them. The very suspicion and watchfulness of 
which they found themselves often the object, were a great 
obstacle to their work. I was afraid of a disguise which, 
far from favouring my investigations, might put many 
hindrances in the way ; I cast my eyes on the Jewish cos- 
tume. It seemed to me that its lowliness would help me 
to pass more unnoticed and give me more liberty. I was 
not mistaken. During all my journey I kept this disguise, 
and had only reason to congratulate myself. If I some- 
times incurred a little ill-treatment, I was indemnified for 
it, always finding facilities for work : during the stops, it 
was easy for me to make my astronomical observations in 
the shade of the mellahs, and to spend whole nights in 
writing and finishing my notes. On the march no one 
paid attention or deigned to speak to the poor Jew who was 
just then consulting compass, watch, barometer, one after 
the other, and taking the bearings of the road we were 
following : besides, in every place I obtained from my 
cousins, as the Jews of Morocco call each other among 
themselves, sincere and full particulars of the region in 
which I found myself. Lastly, I excited little suspicion. 
My bad accent might cause some, but one knows that there 
are Jews of all countries. My disguise was further com- 
pleted by the presence of a real Jew at my side. His first 
business everywhere was to swear that I was a Rabbi, then 
so to put himself forward in all dealings with the natives as 
to leave me as much as possible in the shade; lastly, he 
always had to find me lodgings by myself in which I could 
conveniently take my observations, and, if that could not 
be done, he had to forge the most fantastic stories to explain 
the exhibition of my instruments."^ 

^ Recouuaissinicc an Maroc, Preface. 



HIS YOUTH 15 

This decision to travel disguised as a Jew forced the 
explorer to learn Hebrew at the same time as Arabic, and 
also to study Jewish customs. 

It was again MacCarthy who, at the library of Algiers, 
introduced to Charles de Foucauld the Rabbi Mardochee, 
his future guide. 



CHAPTER II 
The Preliminaries of the Journey 

THE account of his exploration in Morocco, published by 
the Vicomte de Foucauld, begins at Tangier on June 20, 
1883. Now, the traveller had left Algiers on June 10, and, 
according to his plans, he was not to penetrate into the 
forbidden empire by the north, but to seek his route by the 
Rif, crossing the frontier of Algiers and Morocco. What 
reasons prevented him ? What happened between June 10 
and 20? We should not have known very much about it, 
unless, luckily, on returning to his family in Paris, the 
explorer had written for the benefit of one of his nephews, 
in a fair hand on fine sheets of vellum bound up with 
the printed pages, three important fragments, the first 
of which relates precisely the preparations for the journey 
and the incidents of the start. I shall publish first this sort 
of unedited preface of the Reconnaissance au Maroc. Like- 
wise 1 shall cite at length the story of the guide Mardoch6e, 
not so much because it is amusing, dramatic, a little ex- 
travagant, like so many Oriental stories, but because it 
shows admirably to what sort of a man Charles de Foucauld 
had confided himself. In short, when in rapidly and 
boldly analyzing the book, I come to where the author 
relates his stay at Ab-el-Jad, I shall publish the third frag- 
ment, at the head of which he wrote these lines : 

" I had to do with several members of the family of Sidi 
ben Daud. I suppressed this in my work, because if the 
knowledge of it had reached the Sultan that would have 
created dangers for my friends of Abu-el-Jad. I am going 
to tell you about it, my dear nephew." 

To-day the public may be told of these interviews, in the 
course of which the young French officer, cleverly ques- 
tioned and feeling himself found out, confessed to being a 
Christian, and confided in the honour of his host. Time 
has flown. What might have been a cause of annoyances 
— even death might have been one of them — under the reign 
of the former Sultans has assumed its true character of rare 
generosity and chivalry. The treaty of 1912 makes the 
printing of it possible. 

16 



THE PRELIMINARIES OF THE JOURNEY 17 



I. The Disguise and the First Steps 

"On June 10, 1883, at 5 o'clock in the morning, I enter 
an old house in the Jewish quarter of Algiers : it is the 
home of Rabbi Mardoch^e. My companion lives there in 
a single room with his wife and four children; he expects 
me : I am to get out of my European clothes and put on a 
Jewish costume : a long shirt with flowing sleeves, linen 
trousers reaching to the knees, a Turkish waistcoat of dark 
cloth, a white robe with short sleeves and hood {jelahia)^ 
white stockings, open shoes, a red cap, and a black silk 
turban are prepared for me. This makes up a Jewish cos- 
tume half Algerian, half Syrian, which suits the various 
roles I may have to play. 

"I dress up; and Mardochee, his wife, children, and 
myself, go out and down the steps of the little narrow 
streets that lead to the harbour, where the Oran station is. 
We shall start for Oran in the morning by the 7 o'clock 
train. To be in keeping with my costume, I asked for two 
tickets, in bad French ; Mardochee bade farewell to his 
family, and behold both of us seated in a third-class car- 
riage. The weather is splendid, the carriage full of Arab 
workmen ; we set out surrounded by gaiety and flooded with 
sunshine. 

" I am called Rabbi Joseph Aliman. I was born in Mus- 
covy, whence recent persecutions have driven me. I fled first 
to Jerusalem. After piously spending some time there I have 
reached the North of Africa, and now I am travelling at 
random, poor but trusting in God. Mutual esteem binds 
me to Mardochee Abi Servur — like me, a learned Rabbi 
who has spent long years in Jerusalem. Mardochee wears 
a costume similar to mine, that gives us a family appear- 
ance. He declares, too, that I am like him, and if neces- 
sary he will pass me off as his son. We have little lug- 
gage — a sack and two boxes. The boxes hold : the first 
one a medicine chest, which will enable me in case of need 
to call myself a doctor ; the other a sextant, compasses, 
barometers, thermometers, paper, and cards. The sack 
contains a change of costume and a blanket for each of us, 
cooking utensils, and provisions. As money, I brought 
3,000 francs, partly in gold and partly coral. It was in 
this equipment that we dragged along towards Oran. I 
am going to Oran because I wish to enter Morocco by land ; 
my project is to go from Tlemcen to Tetuan by crossing 
the region of the Rif, which makes all the coast-line between 



i8 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

the Algerian frontier and Tetuan. From Oran, I shall go 
to Tlemcen ; there, I shall find out how to travel in the Rif." 

" We arrived at Oran at 6 o'clock in the evening. The 
station is outside the town. Going halves with two Jews 
who were in the train, we took a cab which brought us to 
an hotel frequented by Israelites. We hired a room at two 
francs a day, and drawing on our provisions we took our 
first evening meal tete-a-tete. A strange house, the hotel 
in which we are ! I was surprised for a moment on hear- 
ing myself addressed in the second person singular by the 
servant. In Algeria the Jews are all addressed thus." 

''June II. — This day is the first of the feast of Sbaot 
(Pentecost), on which the gift of the faith to Moses on Mt. 
Sinai is celebrated ; the Jews are forbidden to travel to-day 
or to-morrow. I remain in my room ; Mardoch6e went to 
the synagogue and came back at night with his co-re- 
ligionists. They began to chat. I learn that my com- 
panion applies himself to seeking the philosopher's stone, 
the other Jew is a fellow-alchemist. For a long time I see 
them argue, feebly lit by a candle, their shadows making 
enormous silhouettes on the walls. I fall asleep on my 
straw mattress, lulled by this strange talk." 

" June 12. — Towards 5 o'clock in the evening, we board 
the diligence, and set out for Tlemcen. In going to the 
coach, I hear a passer-by saying to his neighbour, point- 
ing to me, ' Do you know where we get that from ? That's 
what comes to us straight from Jerusalem.' " 

''June 13. — Reaching Tlemcen at 9 in the morning, we 
at once set out in quest of the Jews of the Rif. At i o'clock 
we had not found one who could give us any useful informa- 
tion. Being tired, we bought some bread and olives, and 
we began breakfast seated on the ground in a square. 
Whilst we were thus, a band of officers of the Chasseurs 
d'Afrique, coming out of the club, passed at two paces 
from me. I know nearly all of them ; they looked at me 
without suspecting who I was.^ Our afternoon was more 
fortunate than the morning : we discovered a certain num- 
ber of Jews of the Rif ; they were to come and see us at 

^ Captain Rene de Segonzac, in an article dated from Rabat January 15, 
1917, confirming the account of Charles de Foucauld, writes: "The 
officers filed off, heedless or contemptuous ; one of them, with a sneer, 
remarked to his comrades, that that little squatting Jew, eating olives, 
looked like a monkc}^. None recognized him " {L'Afrique franfais, 
Janvier-Fevrier, 1917). 



THE PRELIMINARIES OF THE JOURNEY 19 

eight o'clock in the evening in a hired room, where we 
were to meet and discuss the means of crossing the Rif. 
No more Jewish hotels here; so we hire a room in a Jewish 
family. 

"At 8 o'clock all is ready to receive our guests : in a 
room 2 metres wide by 5 long, of which the walls, floor, 
and ceiling are painted in grey, a candle, a bottle of aniseed 
and a glass were placed on a stool. One after the other a 
dozen Jews, the greater number with white beards, come 
discreetly in, and here we are all seated on the ground in 
a circle round the candle. Mardochee fills his glass of 
aniseed, raises it and says, ' To the health of the Law ! to 
the health of Israel ! to the health of Jerusalem ! to the 
health of the Holy Land ! to the health of the Sbaot ! to all 
your healths, O Doctors ! to the health of the Rabbi Joseph 
(me)!' He touches the glass with his lips, and passes it 
to his neighbour, who empties it : then the glass goes the 
round, and each of the Jews, at one draught, empties it. 
Mardochee begins to speak. . . . 

" He tells his tale, and winds up with this wholly fancy 
incident : it is now two years since Mardochee had a dis- 
cussion with his wife's brother, and the young man left 
Algiers and was seen no more. Since then, Mardoch^e's 
wife cannot be consoled. She does nothing but weep. 

" Now, a few days ago, she was told, without being able 
to specify the town, that her brother was in the Rif, carry- 
ing on the trade of jeweller. At once she prayed her hus- 
band to go and seek out the fugitive, and he, good man, in 
order to restore health and peace to his wife, decided upon 
this journey ; he has therefore resolved to explore the Rif, 
village bv village, if necessary, to find his brother-in-law 
again. That is what brings him to-day to Tlemcen. As 
to this young Israelite who accompanies him, and whom 
they hear him call Rabbi Joseph, he is a poor Muscovy 
Rabbi who is going to Morocco, the land of pious Jews, 
to collect alms ; Mardochee brought him with him through 
pure pity, and paid for his journey as far as Nemours. 
Now he begs these doctors, who all have lived in the Rif, 
to consider and let him know if they had not seen the man 
he is seeking, a fair and pale Jew, about twenty-two years 
of age, called Juda Safertani. What present will he not 
give to anyone who will tell him where to find him? The 
company reflected, inquired and debated, but in vain ; none 
of them knew Juda Safertani. Mardochee sighs, and begs 
them to give him at least some information about the Rif : 
Where to get into it ? How to travel there ? And in what 



20 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

places are there Jews? Who are the influential men of the 
country ? The conversation on the subject is taken up 
again, the glass goes round and round and round. Voices 
grow louder, and the discussion as to the best means of 
travelling through the Rif gets animated. When our 
cousins retire, it is agreed that we shall start the next morn- 
ing for Lalla-Marnia ; from there we shall get to Nemours ; 
thence we shall, if it pleases God, enter the Rif." 

''June 14. — A diligence brings us from Tlemcen at 
9 o'clock in the morning, and we stop at 6 o'clock in the 
evening at the village of Lalla-Marnia. We settle down 
for the night in the synagogue : it is just like all the Jewish 
temples I saw in Morocco : a rectangular hall, with a sort 
of desk in the centre, and, in the wall, a cupboard. The 
desk serves to rest the book of the Law on, for the public 
readings which are given twice a week : in rich communi- 
ties it is on a raised platform and under a canopy; in poor 
villages, it consists of a horizontal piece of wood resting on 
two posts. The cupboard contains one or several copies of 
the Law (SepherTorah), written on parchment and rolled on 
wooden cylinders (like Roman books, except that it is rolled 
on two cylinders instead of one) ; these double rolls are 
about 18 inches high and are covered three or four times 
deep with the richest materials. Such is the synagogue; a 
bench resting against the wall goes all round and com- 
pletes it. We were finishing dinner when, one after 
another, thirty or forty men entered and sat down on the 
benches and chatted in a low voice. They are the Israelites 
of the place, who come to say their evening prayer in com- 
mon. At a signal all stand up, turn towards the east, and 
begin to pray in a low or subdued voice. In perplexity I 
look at them to do as they do. Trying to imitate them, I 
sway rhythmically backward and forward like a schoolboy 
saying his lesson, now dumb, now mumbling through my 
nose. At the end of eight or ten minutes everyone makes 
a great bow simultaneously, and all is over. The Jews are 
just moving off when, to my great surprise, Mardoch^e begs 
them to remain and listen to him. He is, he says, a poor 
Rabbi living in Algiers, whom a misfortune obliged to 
leave his wife and children, and, though old and ill, to 
undertake the long journey of the Rif. He is going to 
explore this province in search of his brother-in-law; he 
tells the tale of yesterday, of the despair and illness of his 
wife ; . . . lastly, and here is the crown of all ills : he be- 
lieved the journey easier than it is, and, though so far from 



THE PRELIMINARIES OF THE JOURNEY 21 

the end, he already lacks money. . . . Now he begins to 
shed tears, and, in a broken voice, beseeches his brother of 
Lalla-Marnia to have pity on him and give him some alms. 
They drily tell him to apply to the Consistory of Oran. As 
much astonished as displeased at this comedy, I ask Mar- 
dochee for an explanation as soon as we are alone, ' It was 
to get used to lying,' he replies." 

" June 15. — Left Lalla-Marnia by diligence at 4 in the 
morning. Arrived at the little harbour of Nemours at loa.m. 
,We take a room in a Jew's house and begin collecting 
information about the Rif. 

" Here we change our tales, especially mine. Mar- 
doch^e tells the same yarn as at Tlemcen, adding that the 
people of that town assured him they knew his brother-in- 
law in the Rif. As for me, I am a great doctor and a 
learned astrologer ; I have wrought wonderful cures ; I am 
invincible with diseases of the eyes, curing the worst cases; 
I have restored sight to the born blind. This great science, 
this wonderful success, has so drawn down on me the envy 
of Christian doctors, that they would have done me bodily 
harm if I had stayed in my own country. I was obliged to 
flee, and I decided to go and exercise my profession in 
Morocco, where, according to Mardochee, I hope to make 
great profits. Such was his tale on our arrival. I forbade 
him to spread the story in that form ; he told it the next 
few days, leaving out the env}' of the Christian doctors and 
the danger caused by their hatred." 

" June 16 and 17. — In vain do we try to find a way of 
entering into the Rif : many of the Jews whom we consulted 
declare that one can only enter by Nemours with the pro- 
tection of a certain Moroccan sheikh who will perhaps come 
here in a fortnight or a month, perhaps later; and even this 
means would be uncertain ; they add that it is as difficult in 
starting from here to cross the Rif as it is easy in setting 
out from Tetuan, where men of influence can give efficacious 
recommendations. I do not wish to wait a fortnight or 
pionth at Nemours ; much better reach Tetuan by sea and 
begin my journey from there." 

'^ June 18. — A steamer appears in the roadstead. It is 
going to Tangier via Gibraltar. I embark on it with Mar- 
dochee. Being Jews, we take the lowest class and cross 
on deck in the company of Israelites and Musulmans. Start 
at 9 a.m. : pretty bad weather." 



22 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

" June 19. — Wake up in the roadstead of Gibraltar. The 
packet-boat will lie at anchor all day. I land and visit the 
town ; Mardochee remains on board. A young Jew of 
eighteen who knows Spanish accompanies me ; as for me, I 
know nothing but Arabic. My excursion has a practical 
aim. On board, the water we are given is filthy; took a 
large iron pot and brought it back full of water. I walk 
about for five hours in Gibraltar, pot in hand; I push on to 
a Spanish village under a mile from the town. Cross the 
frontier and note the English and Spanish sentinels mount 
guard only 60 yards apart, the former as well as the latter 
badly dressed." 

" June 20. — Left Gibraltar at midday ; arrived at Tangier 
at 2.45." 

" On June 20, 1883, my journey really began, lasting till 
May 23, 1884. During this time my made-up tale altered 
but little. I was a Ral3bi of Algiers going, as the Musul- 
mans thought, to collect alms, to inquire about the condi- 
tions and wants of my brethren ; while Jews believed Mar- 
dochee was from Jerusalem : for the Musulmans he was 
asking for charity, for the Jews he was fulfilling the same 
mission as I. It was no longer a question of Juda Safertani 
nor of medicine. The latter had a double inconvenience : 
the Moroccans, for whom every Christian is a born doctor, 
were disposed to suspect my race on account of this pro- 
fession ; then the box of medicine inspired covetousness : 
a box suggests a treasure, and they said I had two cases of 
gold with me. At Fas, in the course of the month of 
August, taught by the experience of the first days on the 
road, I distrusted'my remedies, and changed my baggage 
and dress. The boxes were replaced by a goat-skin sack ; 
in my dress I left out what recalled the Eastern Jew— that 
is to say, the red cap, the black turban, the shoes and 
stockings, and I adopted the black cap, the blue handker- 
chief, and black helras (Turkish slippers) of the Moroccan 
Rabbis. I let grow nuader— locks of hair, placed on the 
side of the temples, which fall down on to the shoulders. 
My costume was henceforth that of all the Jews of Morocco ; 
nor was it further altered except that at the beginning of 
winter I added a khenif (black burnous with yellow 
crescents or moons). At Fas I definitely organized my 
means of transport. Up to then I had hired mules; I 
bought two that carried Mardochee and me with our bag- 
gage for ten months, until our return to the Algerian 
frontier. 



THE PRELIMINARIES OF THE JOURNEY 23 

" In the first days of my journey, I had found lodgings, 
sometimes in hired rooms in Jews' houses, sometimes in 
synagogues. At Tangier and at Tetuan, I hired rooms; 
beyond Fas, that never happened again. From there, in 
the desert I spent my nights in the open air, in inhabited 
places, under the shelter of Jewish or Musulman hos- 
pitality. When we halted in an inhabited place, a group 
of tents or village, if no Jews resided there, my escort kept 
me with them, and got me hospitality from the family from 
whom they had asked it for themselves ; when there was a 
Jewish community, the escort conducted me to the syna- 
gogue, where Mardochee and I unloaded our mules and 
took up our quarters provisionally, whilst waiting till the 
Rabbi and the Jews of the place came and offered us full 
hospitality, shelter, and food. The maintenance of travel- 
ling doctors falls upon all the families, a rota regulates the 
order in which they take their turn : in poor places the 
Rabbis keep the synagogue for putting them up, and hos- 
pitality has only to do with food, and the list makes each 
family give one day or one meal, so that one goes succes- 
sively to all the inhabitants ; in rich localities, the hospitality 
includes lodgings and lasts two, four, or eight days. The 
rota obliges one to feed a Rabbi, so that at the Jews' houses 
Mardochee and I were generally separated for meals, but 
we were allowed to lodge together with one of our two hosts. 
In rare places, we were received together outside of the rota, 
and for an unlimited time by rich families. In some miser- 
able places, the Jews turned their backs on us, and know- 
ing that we were in the synagogue, they did not come there, 
and went without saying their prayers in order to dispense 
with receiving us. We were obliged to return to our escort 
and ask a shelter from the Musulmans. With the Musul- 
mans as well as the Jews hospitality is gratuitous : I used 
to return thanks by a present of sugar or tea, sometimes of 
coral or a sheep." 

2. The Story of Mardochee Abi Servur. 

'* Mardochee Abi Servur, son of lais Abi Servur, a 
native of Mhamid-el-Rozlan, was born in the South of 
Morocco, in the oasis of Akka, towards 1830. Before he 
was fourteen, he left his country to complete his theological 
studies. He studied at Marrakesh, Mogador, and Tan- 
gier, whence he embarked for Palestine. After having 
resided a year or two in the Holy Land and having there 
become an acting Rabbi, he gained Algeria, where he spent 



24 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

some months at Philippeville as officiating Rabbi ; then, 
remembering- his native place, set sail for Morocco and re- 
turned to Akka. He was not twenty-five. Enticed by the 
prospect of a rapid fortune, he threw himself into an 
audacious enterprise ; he was the first of his race to enter 
Timbuctoo. His arrival in the Sudan and the beginning of 
his stay there were surrounded with a hundred dangers ; by 
dint of courage and cunning he maintained his position ; his 
business soon assumed great prosperity; and with fortune 
came security, credit, and even power. 

" In a short time, he was the most notable merchant in 
Timbuctoo. He then had ten or twelve years of prosperity 
and happiness. His business consisted in the exchange of 
the produce of Morocco and the Sudan ; the desert was crossed 
in every direction by caravans bearing his merchandise. 
His fortune reached 200,000 or 300,000 francs. His name 
was honoured at Timbuctoo and Mogador, and known to 
all the tribes of the Sahara. Every year he used to spend 
two or three months in Morocco. Towards 1865 he mar- 
ried. He contemplated bringing his wife to the Sudan 
and founding a colony of Israelites there, when his brilliant 
star suddenly became dim. In returning from the vicinity 
of Mogador, where his marriage was celebrated, he received 
at Akka the news that several caravans belonging to him 
had just been carried off by plunderers. A few days after 
some Musulmans arriving from Timbuctoo reported to him 
that during his absence one of his brothers, left at the head 
of the firm, had died, and that the leading man in the town 
had at once confiscated the contents of the deceased's 
house on the pretext of debts. Foreseeing grave diffi- 
culties, Mardochee left his wife at his father's in Akka, 
and hastened to set out alone for the Sudan. All sorts of 
troubles were lying in wait for him. The chief refused to 
give back what he had confiscated and became unfriendly ; 
the pent-up envy of his competitors broke loose at the sight 
of his adversity and misfortune, and displayed itself in 
noisy hostility. Mardochee felt that, for the moment, his 
residence in Timbuctoo was impossible; he gathered 
together the remains of his fortune — 40,000 francs — and 
left the Sudan. 

" Sad and discouraged, he again took the road to 
Morocco, which he had so often followed full of joy and 
hope ; only a Jew, a black slave, and a very trusty Arab 
guide, called El Mokhtar, accompanied him. All four 
were mounted with luggage on swift camels and marched 
quickly. Mardochee had converted all his wealth into gold- 



THE PRELIMINARIES OF THE JOURNEY 25 

dust; two little goat-skins contained the treasure; he car- 
ried one of them, the Jew the other. It is not without 
danger that so feeble a troop enters the Sahara ; generally 
it is crossed in a numerous caravan, but the caravans take 
thirty days to do the journey, and Mardochee, mounted as 
he was, hoped to do it in twenty-one. He had thus crossed 
the desert often, and always successfully. The first 
eighteen days on the road were passed in safety ; the 
travellers did not meet a human being. El Mokhtar led 
them outside the beaten tracks, and stopped for water at 
places known to him alone. They had just halted at one 
of them, which Mardochee saw for the first time. It was a 
little grass-bordered marsh, hidden at the bottom of a circle 
of sandy downs. The two Jews were there with hearts full 
of joy and thanksgiving, beginning to rest, for they thought 
their dangers were at an end : three days separated them 
from Aqqa, and they were watering for the last time. 

" Suddenly El Mokhtar, who had set out to go round the 
marsh, came running back looking verv disturbed. He 
had just perceived fresh traces of numerous camels on the 
other side ; more than twenty had quenched their thirst here 
a few hours ago. Would they come back? What direc- 
tion had they taken ? Their lives depended upon know- 
ing. El Mokhtar jumped on to his mehari and flew to 
reconnoitre in the direction of the tracks. Mardochee 
looked after him, and saw him go into the downs, appear- 
ing or disappearing betweefi the sand-dunes. As for him, 
he hastily takes his measures in case of a surprise; for 
safety's sake they had taken Musulman clothes and a small 
stock of perfumery with them. In a twinkling the two 
Jews undressed, disguised themselves as Musulmans, and 
buried the gold dust at the foot of a gum-tree. ' You are 
called Muley Ali, and I Muley Ibrahim,' said Mardochee 
to his companion ; ' we are two sheriffs from Tafelelt going 
to Sahel to deal in perfumes.' A question arises : if they 
are plundered, their slave will tell from where they come 
and confess the presence of the gold : they must kill him, 
but the unfortunate man is only twenty-one and since 
his childhood has been brought up in Mardochee's house. 
After some hesitation, pity gains the day; he is not to be 
killed. They begin to scrutinize the horizon again, but do 
not see El Mokhtar. Suddenly, he appears on a near ridge, 
arriving at full speed and, with the skirt of his burnous, 
making signs of despair to them. They run to their 
mounts ; it was too late. El Mokhtar had not advanced a 
hundred yards when amidst a violent dust appears a 



26 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

numerous troop of meharis in full cry after the guide. Shots 
ring out. El Mokhtar falls dead with a bullet in his skull. 
Next moment Mardochee was surrounded by sixty Arabs, 
Without saying a word they cut open the sacks which con- 
tain the goods. Finding nothing of any value, they seize 
the two Jews and strip them ; Mardochee scolds them in 
vain, calls them miscreants, and says that his name is 
Muley Ibrahim. Turban, burnous, and shirt are off in an 
instant : ' Ungodly fellows ! will you take away the trousers 
of a child of the Prophet?' He had hardly finished when 
off came his trousers, too. The filched clothes are searched, 
turned inside out, and thoroughly examined; nothing is 
found. Furious, the plunderers turn towards the two men 
who are naked on the grass. ' From where do you come? 
Who are you?' they all ask at the same time. 'They are 
not here for nothing ! They have merchandise ! They 
must come from the Sudan ! They have gold ! Where 
is it ? Let them confess, or, by God, they shall be killed on 
the spot !' They shout and push and pull them about, and 
brandish their arms. . . . Now, by their language, Mar- 
dochee recognized Arabs of the Sahil, a region not far from 
his native place. In an instant he changed his plan and says, 
with a laugh : ' Ha ! why did you not say you are Regibats ? 
I am one of your party. May God curse Muley Ibrahim 
and Muley Ali ! We are called Mardochee and Isaac, and 
are Jews of Akka ! You will not injure poor Jews, your 
servants! Flow could we have gold? We come from 
Akka, and we are going to your tribe itself to sell per- 
fumes : do you not see our stock?' 

" This speech throws doubt into the minds of the 
robbers : the accent and faces of the two men are those of 
Israelites, the box of perfumery seems to indicate that they 
are telling the truth ; they search the baggage a second time. 
Mardochee had changed his plan because he felt that if he 
persisted in calling himself a shereef they would take what 
he had, and kill him to avoid reprisals; a Jew, they would 
take everything from him, but they would perhaps spare his 
life, not having to fear any vengeance from him. Nothing 
would make him own to having gold, which would increase 
his peril. The Arabs, in fact, found nothing, and every- 
thing indicated Mardochee's sincerity ; they were getting 
ready to lead the meharis, slave, and baggage away, and 
leave the two Jews to extricate themselves as best thev 
could. Naked, without food or guide, they would get back 
to Akka or die on the way, please God. Mardochee sighed, 
wept, begged that they would at least leave him a camel 



THE PRELIMINARIES OF THE JOURNEY 27 

and goat-skin, but was unfeelingly spurned. He expected 
this refusal. His demand was just a comedy; really, he 
was pleased; he saved his life and his gold, and, knowing 
the countr)^ well, he would easily reach Akka. In less 
than an hour, when the Arabs had disappeared, he would 
set out. His despoilers are loading his meharis, and a few 
are already starting. Suddenly, one of them, in consoli- 
dating the pack-saddle of one of the four animals, perceives, 
through a tear, some bits of the straw stuffing ; he pulls out 
one: 'Ha! come back! Ha! come back!' he shouts. 
' Sudan straw ! The Jew lies : he comes from the Sudan !' 
In less than two minutes all the Arabs throng round Mar- 
dochee : ' Gold ! Gold ! ' is the only cry that is heard. ' By 
God ! I have none. By our Lord Moses, I have none. O 
gentlemen, I have none, I have none !' No more stories. A 
dagger is pressed to his throat. " Where is it?' — ' I have 
none.' The point is thrust in a little; blood flows. 'I 
have none!' he murmurs, having half fainted. The ques- 
tion will be renewed when he comes to ; while he is recover- 
ing his senses, they go on to the other Jew : he sees the 
blood flow without confessing. They leave him swooning 
and run to the slave. ' Where do you come from ?' — 
'From Timbuctoo.' 'Have your masters any gold?' 
— ' No.' In his turn he feels the point of the blade press 
against his throat ; the poor negro trembles : ' I do not 
know whether they have gold or not,' he groaned ; ' a while 
ago they dug at the foot of that tree, look.' ... It was 
useless for Mardochee and his companion to allow them- 
selves to be wounded and their throats almost cut — their 
secret was discovered ; Mardochee was ruined and would 
probably be killed to prevent any vengeance after so con- 
siderable a robbery. For the second time that day safety 
had given place to the greatest danger. ... It did not 
take long to dig up the treasure. Who will describe the 
joy of the Arabs at the sight of so much gold ? There was 
no longer any question of starting. They killed a camel 
and thought of nothing but eating to celebrate their prize. 
The two Jews spent this day and night in the midst of a 
circle of Arabs, witnessing their rejoicing without knowing 
what was to become of them. 

" The next day the Arabs wished to divide the gold 
between them. . . . They were sixty troopers; not know- 
ing how to make sixty equal parts, they ordered Mardochee 
to do the sharing. The little scales found among his bag- 
gage were put into his hands, and for two days he was, 
under the eyes of his ravishers, obliged to weigh out his 



28 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

own gold and tax his wits in allotting sixty equal parts to 
them. The unfortunate man looked upon that as a respite ; 
he expected to be butchered as soon as he had completed 
his work. Besides, was he not going to perish of hunger? 
All food was refused him, and since his captivity he fed on 
grass. 

" Most of the robbers were Regibats, some Ulad Delim 
accompanied them. On the second day of the sharing Mar- 
doch6e heard one of the men who surrounded him speak 
of the Shgarna tribe as being of the party : ' Are there any 
Shgarnas among you?' Mardoch^e asked. 'Yes, we are 
five Shgarnas here, such and such and such a one.' . . . 
A few hours afterwards, the Arabs having scattered to take 
their siesta, Mardochee went towards the Shgarni who had 
spoken to him, and falling at his feet, holding on to his 
burnous, exclaimed : ' By God and your honour ! God put 
me under your protection, do not take it away from me. I 
have a debiha^ on the Shgarnas. I am called Mardochee 
Abi Servur, such a one amongst you is my lord. By God 
and your honour ! save me, show that the Shgarnas defend 
their clients, and that their protection is not vain.' 

"The Shgarni was a relation of Mardochee's lord; he 
replied that as for the gold, he could not get it given back, 
the more so as it had been taken before the knowledge of 
the debiha, but he guaranteed the life of the two Jews; he 
could give no other pledge on account of the small number 
of Shgarnas present at the rezzu.^ On the evening of the 
same day, when the sharing was over, the Arabs held 
council; they discussed what they would do. It was 
decided that they would scour the desert in the same region. 
Then they spoke about Mardochee ; the greater number 
were for killing him and his companion. The five Shgarnas 
opposed this, acknowledging Mardochee as a client of their 
tribe. Hence, they declared, he was under their protection. 
A violent discussion arose, the chief of the rezzu, a 
Regibi ,^ wished for the death of the Jews, and his Regibats 
applauded him loudly. The Shgarnas were firm, and, 
when it was seen that they were ready to fight rather than 
abandon the suppliants, they gave way to them. 

" Mardochee led a sad life during the week which fol- 
lowed : the rezzu had resumed its incursions ; 50 kilo- 
metres a day were often covered at a rapid pace ; the two 

^ The act by which one places oneself under the perpetual protection 
of a man or a tribe. It is a prolonged ana'ia. 
2 An expedition, or band of adherents. 
^ Singular of Regibat. 



THE PRELIMINARIES OF THE JOURNEY 29 

Jews ran naked by the sides of the mounts of the Shgarnas, 
from whom they dared not get separated. They were tor- 
mented by hunger, for their protectors only had what was 
strictly necessary, and could give them nothing. Herbs, 
filthy bones flung away by the Musulmans, and a pinch of 
tea obtained through charity — such was the only food of 
Mardoch^e and his companion during this period. How 
long would this existence be prolonged ? Mardoch6e, squat- 
ting near a well at which they camped on the eighth day, 
asked himself. In vain he begged the Shgarnas to bring 
him to Akka ; they replied that if they separated themselves 
from the ressu the pact of union would be broken, and the 
latter would pursue and attack them after their departure. 
As the objection was sound, Mardochee did not insist. 
Whence, then, would deliverance come? Would it arrive 
in time? All at once a whirlwind of dust appeared at the 
end of the valley; it approached like a hurricane. A few 
Arabs jump up in a scare, but not one has, so far, seized his 
arms. The cloud is upon them, and shows two hundred 
horsemen mounted on miharis. A man comes out of it 
and rides towards the Regibats ; his white camel lies down, 
he places his feet, on which he is wearing high top boots, 
on the animal's head, levels his rifle at the Regibi chief. 
' May God curse the Regibats and Sidi Hamed the Regibi 
their patron ! May God burn your fathers and your ances- 
tors ! You have oppressed our brothers and wish to put 
our clients to death ; at this moment you are at our mercy. 
Ha, women! you are only courageous against Jews; you 
are about to learn what a man's word of honour means !' 
It was the Shgarna chief who spoke thus; celebrated in the 
Sahara for his famous courage, he was recognized from a 
distance by his white mount, better trained than the best 
horse and taught to obey his master's voice. The man who 
had taken Mardochee under his protection had sent a trusty 
servant to warn him of the danger which the Shgarnas and 
their proteges ran, and he came to deliver his brothers out 
of the Regibats' hands. 

** The Shgarnas only made use of their advantage to 
bring away their men and the two Jews. Mardochee, sent 
back to Akka under a good escort, at length regained his 
home. As to the ressu, this adventure brought it bad luck. 
They went to attack a Berber band, and were so vigorously 
received, that their chief and the greater part of the horse- 
men were killed and but very few returned. The Sahara, 
after twenty years, still remembers the disaster of this 



30 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

*' Mardochee was back in Akka, which he had never ex- 
pected to see again, but he returned ruined, and a still 
greater grief awaited him. During his absence, his father 
and mother had quitted this world. Their legacy ought to 
have been considerable ; it was a trifle. Mardochee, coldly 
received by his brothers, who had undoubtedly purloined a 
part of the inheritance, decided to leave a country in which 
he had found so much sadness. Selling what remained to 
him, he went for the last time to his parents' grave, taking 
away a little scrap of it — a relic which was never to quit 
him — and set out with his wife for Mogador. 

" There a new period in Mardochee's life began, a period 
of constant relations with Europeans, which includes the 
remainder of his existence. At Mogador, he was found 
by M. Beaumier, the French Consul, a conscientious 
Orientalist and zealous member of the Societe de Geo- 
graphic. M. Beaumier put him into touch with this society, 
which brought him twice to Paris, and entrusted him with 
missions in Southern Morocco. In his journeys to France, 
Mardochee entered into relations with the general Union of 
the Israelites, and with several scholars such as Dr. Cosson, 
who, by the help which they gave him and the paid mis- 
sions with which they entrusted him, helped him to earn a 
living for some years. Mardochee thus made, from 1870 
to 1878, two or three expeditions in the interest of the Society 
de Geographic, and several collections of plants for Dr. 
Cosson. His work fell short of what was expected, for 
at the end of this time they ceased to give him any. Mean- 
while M. Beaumier died. His means of subsistence and 
patron disappeared at the same time. Without means of 
existence at Mogador, where he was in bad odour with his 
co-religionists, Mardochee, with his wife and children, em- 
barked for Algeria, and, supported by the Societe de 
Geographic, asked the French Government for a post which 
would enable him to get a living. He was appointed Rabbi 
tutor at Oran, then at Algiers. 

" One dav in February, 1883, I was in the library of this 
latter town, chatting with the keeper, M. MacCarthy, when 
we saw a Jew, fifty or sixty years old, tall, strong, but bent 
and walking with the hesitation of those who have bad 
sight, come in. When he was near, I saw that his eyes 
were red and sore ; he wore a long black beard mixed with 
white hairs; his face expressed rather simplicity and peace 
than anything else. He was dressed in Syrian fashion; a 
crimson caftan tightened at the waist fell down to his feet; 
over this hung a blue cloth mantle of the same length ; his 



THE PRELIMINARIES OF THE JOURNEY 31 

head-dress was a red cap surrounded by a black turban ; in 
his hand he had a snufif-box, out of which he was continually 
taking pinches; his clothes, formerly rich, were old and 
dirty, and his whole person revealed a poor and negligent 
man. ' Who is that Jew?' I asked. ' He is just what you 
want ; a man who has spent all his life in Morocco, was born 
at Akka, has travelled very much and been several times to 
Timbuctoo, and can give you precious information ; he is 
the Rabbi Mardochee mentioned in the bulletins of the 
Societe de Geographic.' I went to Mardochee and ques- 
tioned him, judging that he could furnish me with good 
information. I took his address and went to see him. A 
Musulman of Mascara, with whom I was to set out for 
Morocco, having in the meantime written to me that he 
could not accompany me for family reasons, I proposed to 
Mardochee to take him in his place ; he consented, on con- 
dition that I should put on a Jewish costume. I saw nothing 
but advantage in such disguise. All that remained was to 
make my agreement with Mardochee. With my authority, 
M. MacCarthy took the negotiations upon himself, and, 
after long debates, drew up an agreement which Mardochee 
and I signed, and it is now in the library of Algiers. Here 
is a summary of it : 

" ' Mardochee will leave his wife and children at Algiers 
during the whole of my journey. He is to accompany me 
and second me faithfully in all the places in Morocco to 
which I please to go. On my side I shall give him 
270 francs a month ; 600 francs will be handed to him before 
we start, the remainder on our return ; if my absence lasts 
less than six months, he is nevertheless to receive six 
months' salary. The maintenance of Mardochee during 
the journey will be at my charge. If Mardochee should, 
without my permission, abandon me in the course of the 
journey, he will thereby lose his rights to all remuneration, 
however long may have been the time spent with me, and 
he himself will owe me the 600 francs he has received 
beforehand.' 

" My companion's obligation to leave his family at 
Algiers guaranteed me against all thought of treason on his 
part. The article by which he was to lose his pay, if he left 
me against my will, assured me that he would not abandon 
me. These two clauses, inspired by M. MacCarthy through 
his knowledge of the Algerian Jews, ensured the success 
of my journey and probably saved my life ; how often did 
Mardochee wish to leave me, and how often did the signed 
conditions alone prevent him. 



S2 CHAJ^LES DE FOUCAULD 

"These agreements were signed in May, 1883; a few 
days after, on June 10, Mardochee and I set out together 
for Morocco. 

" I have spoken little of Mardochee in the account of 
my journey, I have hardly mentioned him. His part was, 
however, great, for he was entrusted with our relations 
with the natives, and all material cares fell upon him ; 
speeches to the Jews and Musulmans, explanations on the 
object of the journey, organization of the escorts, the search 
after lodgings and food — he undertook all that ; I inter- 
vened only to approve or sav no. Intelligent, very pru- 
dent, and too much so, infinitely cunning, a fine and even 
eloquent talker, a Rabbi educated enough to inspire the 
Israelites with consideration, he rendered me great ser- 
vices ; I ought to add that he always showed himself vigi- 
lant and devoted in looking after my safety. If I have 
kept silence about his many services, it is because his ill- 
will was a constant and considerable obstacle to the execu- 
tion of my journey. While contributing to the success of 
my enterprise, from the first day to the last he did all he 
could to make it fail. In leaving Algiers, Mardochee, 
knowing only the environs of Akka and the coast of 
Morocco, thought he was setting out on an easy and danger- 
less journey. I had given him details of the places which 
I wished to visit, but as he did not even know the names 
of most of them, this enumeration awoke no idea in his 
mind. Besides, he undoubtedly said to himself, that once 
in Morocco, he would do what he liked with so young a 
companion, and change my plans at his pleasure. Now, 
the journey was full of perils, and he could not change my 
designs at all. This was doubly unlucky for him ; the con- 
ditions of the journey were, in fact, very different from 
what he had thought them. From Nemours, we had serious 
disputes, and he spoke of returning to Algiers ; the Rif was 
the cause. At the first word about the dangers of this 
region, he declared he would not enter it; I ordered him 
to seek the means of going into it, and I sought them 
myself. At Tetuan, the same quarrel lasted for a fort- 
night; at Fas, it began again with extreme violence, and 
there, so much did Mardochee dread the route which led to 
Abu-el-Jad, that he was on the point of leaving me. 
After Fas, the dispute did not cease; two causes stirred it 
up afresh each day. Mardochee did not want to follow 
the route I had fixed, and wished to travel slowly; I, on 
the contrary, was determined to execute my original plan 
exactly, and I held to travelling without loss of time. On the 



THE PRELIMINARIES OF THE JOURNEY 33 

first point, after Fas, I never yielded, and my route was fol- 
lowed according to my will. On the second point, I was 
not so successful, and, in spite of my reproaches, our pro- 
gress was extremely slow until my departure from Tisint 
for Mogador. If my journey was quicker towards the end, 
it was that I promised JMardochee a gratuity, if we were at 
Lalla-Marnia on May 25. Between these two parts of my 
journey I was on the point of breaking with Mardochee. 
When I went to Mogador, I left him at Tisint, and set out 
with a Musulman, the Hajj Bu Rhim, an excellent man 
whom I can hardly praise enough. I travelled with him from 
January 9 to March 31, 1884. Once again in Tisint, I pro- 
posed to him to replace Mardochee and to accompany me 
to Algeria ; he accepted, and I had already given Mar- 
dochee his testimonial and the sum necessary to get back 
to Algiers, when an obstacle prevented the Hajj Bu Rhim 
from starting. I took back Mardochee, who was only too 
pleased. 

" If I had to complain of Mardochee's disagreeableness, 
it is fair to say that it was not inspired by any desire to be 
disobliging to me personally : his fear of danger caused 
his opposition to my route ; his love of ease and his interest 
in prolonging services paid for by the month kept his slow- 
ness alive. 

" After my return from Morocco in 1884, Mardochee left 
Algiers no more. Retired in his house, his old passion for 
alchemy again took hold of him. To find gold ! With 
the gold of his pav he bought mercury for experiments in 
the transmutation of metals. And as he hung all day over 
his crucibles, the vapour of mercury did not take long to 
poison the last of alchemists." 



If the Reconnaissance au Maroc is almost silent as 
regards Mardochee, the intimate letters written by the ex- 
plorer are not. I must say they speak of the Rabbi with- 
out great consideration, and that the notes go decrescendo. 
Their descent is curious. Foucauld writes on June 17, 
4883, a few hours after starting : " I am very satisfied with 
Mardochee. He has but one fault ; it is excessive pru- 
dence." 

On June 24, having already travelled a few days in 
Moroccan coimtry, he writes to his sister : "I am fairly 
pleased with Mardochee ; he goes on all right, but he has 
to be vigorously shaken. I am obliged to give him a pull- 
ing up nearly every day." July 2 : "I am not pleased 

3 



34 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

with Mardoch^e. He is lazy and cowardly, he is only 
good for cooking." July 23 : " As for Mardoch^e, I am 
not satisfied with him ; you could not find a lazier creature. 
Besides, he is cowardly beyond all expression, awkward, 
and knows nothing about travelling." Lastly, January 30, 
1884, he wrote : " Mardochee is a brute." 

It is only quite at the end that a little pity, as we have 
just seen, brings back what he has to say towards indul- 
gence and excuse. When the journey is over, the route be- 
comes more beautiful, and so does his companion. 



CHAPTER III 

The Explorer 

T A RECONNAISSANCE AU MAROC is, above 
/ ^ all, a scientijEic work, at once geographical, military, 
and political. The qualities of order and precision which 
one observes in each page are quite astonishing, and still 
more so if one thinks of all the difficulties, even dangers, 
which the explorer ran, if he wished to take notes. He 
was surrounded by people who suspected, and sometimes 
divined, his being a Christian, and therefore always in 
peril. In the Itineraires au Maroc he explains how he was 
able to beguile the watchfulness of witnesses or to get them 
out of the way. 

"The position of an Israelite did not lack unpleasant- 
ness ; to walk barefooted in the towns, and sometimes in 
the gardens, to receive insults and stones was nothing; 
but to live constantly with Moroccan Jews — people, apart 
from rare exceptions, despicable and repugnant among all 
others — was utterly intolerable. They spoke openly to me 
as a brother, boasting of their crimes, disclosing their base 
feelings. How often I regretted my hypocrisy ! All this 
annoyance and disgust were recompensed by the facility 
for work which my disguise gave me. As a Musulman it 
would have been necessary to live the common life un- 
ceasingly in broad daylight, unceasingly in company; 
never a moment of solitude; with eyes constantly fixed 
upon one ; difficult to obtain any information ; more difficult 
to write ; impossible to make use of my instruments. As a 
Jew these things did not become easy, but were generally 
possible. 

" My instruments were : a compass, a watch, and a 
pocket barometer, to take the bearings of the route ; a sex- 
tant, a chronometer, and a false horizon, for observations 
of longitudes and latitudes; two holosteric barometers, 
some hygrometers and maximum and minimum thermo- 
meters, for meteorological observations. 

"My route was mapped out with the compass and 
barometer. On the tramp, I always had a notebook 2 inches 
square hidden in my left hand; and a pencil less than an 
inch long, never out of the other hand, recorded anything 
remarkable on the right or left of the road. I noted the 

35 



36 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

changes of direction by referring to the compass, the rise 
and fall of the ground by reading the barometer, the exact 
time of each observation, the stops, my rate of progress, 
and so on. Thus I was writing almost all the time I was 
on the road, and all the time in the hilly regions. Even in 
the most numerous caravan, no one ever perceived it; I 
took care to walk in front of or behind my companions, in 
order that the amplitude of my garments might prevent 
them from seeing the slight movement of my hands. The 
contempt felt for the Jews favoured my isolation. The 
description and survey of my itinerary thus filled a certain 
number of little notebooks. As soon as I reached a vil- 
lage where I could have a room to myself, I completed 
them, and recopied them into memorandum-books which 
formed the diary of my journey. I devoted my nights to 
this work; in the day I always had the Jews around me; to 
write for long before them would have filled them with 
suspicion. Night brought solitude and work. 

"To make astronomical observations was more difficult 
than to map out the route. A sextant cannot be disguised 
like a compass. It takes time to use it. I took most of 
the elevations of the sun and stars in the villages. In the 
daytime I used to watch for the moment when nobody was 
on the terrace of the house. I carried my instruments 
wrapped in clothes which I said I wanted to put out to air. 
Rabbi Mardoch^e remained on guard on the stairs and had 
to stop all who tried to get at me with interminable stories. 
I began my observation, choosing the moment when 
nobody was looking from the nearest terraces; I was often 
obliged to break off; it took me very long. Sometimes it 
was impossible to be alone. What stories were not invented 
to explain setting up the sextant? Sometimes it was for 
reading the future in the sky, sometimes for getting news 
of the absent. At Tasa, it was a preventative against 
cholera, in the Tadla it showed the sins of the Jews, else- 
where it told me the time of the day, what the weather 
would be ; it warned me of the dangers of the r6ad and I 
don't know what else. At night I operated more easily : I 
could nearly always work in secret. Few observations were 
made in the country ; it was difficult to isolate oneself there. 
I sometimes succeeded, pretending to pray; as if for medi- 
tation, I went to some distance, covered from head to foot 
in a long sisit; the folds hid my instruments; a bush, a 
rock, an undulation of the ground hid me for a few 
moments; I returned when I had finished praying. 

"To draw mountain contours and make topographical 



THE EXPLORER 37 

sketches, more mystery still was necessary. The sex- 
tant was an enigma which revealed nothing, French 
writing kept its secret; any drawing would have betrayed 
me. On the terraces, as in the country, I only worked 
alone with paper hidden and ready to disappear under the 
folds of my burnous." 

His Reconnaissance is also a diary. Usually there are 
as many chapters as there were days in it. Charles de 
Foucauld rarely dallies for descriptions. He does it in few 
words, and as an artist ; his simple landscapes, his choice 
of expression and discreet and harmonious elegance reveal 
a remarkably gifted man, and he might have been counted 
among the writers who have given us a picture of new 
countries. But he did not allow himself to yield to such 
inclinations. He wrote with the fixed intention, not to get 
himself admired, but to help France, the probable heir to 
Morocco, to prepare the way for her, for the benefit of 
comrades who, as he feels, will one day have the mission 
of conquering this empire, in which he often met chiefs 
secretly desirous of the coming of the French. In a word, 
he is already the forerunner. This mark distinguishes his 
whole life. Later on, when he reappears in Africa, 
Foucauld sets himself the mission of " taming " the Musul- 
mans, of bringing them nearer to us and to the law of 
Christ. All his efforts, all his sacrifices to the very last, 
tend only to that : they make the preaching of the Gospel 
possible for the missionaries who come after him ; he will 
also be the precursor, the quartermaster, the leader in 
religion. 

Viscount de Foucauld and Mardochee leave Tangier on 
June 21, 1883, at 3 p.m. They form part of a small caravan ; 
they are mounted on mules, thanks to which the long 
journey undertaken in Morocco is accomplished quickly 
enough. They ride until 9 in the evening, part of the time 
amidst splendid wheatfields. Next day the caravan starts 
at 4 a.m. There were then no roads in Morocco, but only 
tracks of men and beasts. Each day Charles de Foucauld 
notes the quality of the land, the principal properties of the 
trees which cover the ground in places, the colour of the 
rocks; he tells of meetings with other travellers, whether 
many partridges and doves rose on his way, if many hares 
started. At the outset of his journey he is struck by the 
multitude of brooks and little rivers that he crosses or walks 
by the side of, the vigour of the vegetation, the beauty of 
the tillage, and already he pities the poor Moroccan peasant 



38 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

from whom the pillager on one hand, the treasury on the 
other, carry off the best part of the crops. 

Almost at once the travellers make a loop to the east, and 
spend a few days at Tetuan. They set out again from 
there on July 2 in the direction of the south, for Sheshuan. 
One is surprised, in reading the Reconnaissance au Maroc, 
at the frequency of the idyllic tone. The freshness of the 
gardens, the abundance of the crops, the mildness of the 
air, are expressions which come again and again under the 
pen of the explorer when he describes certain regions, as 
that of the Sheshuan. In the first place, it is not doubtful 
that he saw accurately, but also a kind of natural sympathy 
puts him in harmony with this landscape, and makes him 
enjoy its beauty. 

Reaching the mountains on July 2, he writes : " The 
Jebel beni Hasan now affords an enchanting view ; fields 
of wheat rising one above another form an amphitheatre 
on its slopes, and, from the rocks which crown it down to 
the bottom of the valley, cover it with a carpet of gold ; 
among the wheatfields shine a multitude of villages sur- 
rounded by gardens. Springs gush out on every side; at 
every step one crosses brooks ; they flow in cascades 
amongst ferns, laurels, fig-trees, and vines, which them- 
selves grow on the edges. Nowhere have I seen a more 
smiling landscape, nowhere such an air of prosperity, 
nowhere so generous a land, nor more laborious inhabitants. 
From here to Sheshuan, the country is just the same ; 
the names of the valleys change, but there are the same 
riches everywhere; indeed, it increases as one goes on." 

From the beginning of the journey, ten days after he left 
Tangier, the explorer is right in the unknown. Into this 
little village of Sheshuan a single Christian had entered, 
a Spaniard, about 1863; he did not return. Charles de 
Foucauld, twenty years later, on July 2, stopped on the 
neighbouring heights to take a sketch, from which Viscount 
de Bondy was able to produce the large and accurate draw- 
ing published in the Reconnaissance au Maroc. He even 
went into the Jewish quarter, and on the way met people 
of Beni-Zejel, who shouted at him : " May God eternally 
burn the father that begot thee, Jew." He spent the night 
between the 2nd and the 3rd in the inellah. He does not 
seem to have visited the town itself. But he went as far as 
he could go, and alone. Into this Morocco he enters in a 
sorry garb, but with a strong and magnificent ambition — on 
the look-out for the unknown, above all. All his prefer- 
ences are for the forbidden and wilder countries. From one 



THE EXPLORER 39 

point on the map to another equally settled on, he at any 
rate tries to go by a route over which nobody has been. 
Must he wait? He waits. Pay guides more? He pays 
up. Dangers, he never thinks about them. On the word 
of many of his intimate friends, I believe that fear and he 
were strangers. 

The traveller who thus describes and sketches the land- 
scape, also points out all the characteristics of the habits 
and customs that he observes. In this excursion, he meets 
a Hajj — that is to say, a Musulman who has made the pil- 
grimage to Mecca, and he at once notes that these pilgrims, 
who have some idea of what Europeans are, in general are 
less fanatic, more polished and affable than their co-re- 
ligionists. Ten pages further on, he analyzes the different 
political position and the similar misery of the two parts 
of Morocco, the bled el Makhsen under the Sultan, and the 
free or revolted country, the bled es Siba; everywhere he 
collects and with an extreme care records information which 
may be of service to a geographer, sociologist, colonist, or 
soldier. Even had he been quite free to travel about in 
Morocco, one would be astonished that he had been able to 
become so completely acquainted with it. 

Sometimes he ceases to make notes, and judges. His 
judgments have a contour as firm as his topographical 
details or his pen sketches. He has a certain sympathy for 
the Moroccans. I made allusion, for instance, to v/hat he 
said about the pilgrims to Mecca. But he saw too closely, 
though enclosed in the crowd, what the inhabitants of the 
towns and villages were morally worth ; he cannot pass over 
in silence the vices which consume the Musulman popula- 
tions. And it is curious to read the lines I have just cited, 
when above all one remembers that the man who wrote 
them was to give a great part of his life to the conversion 
of these peoples of North Africa, as to whom he had few 
illusions even when quite young. 

He says : " Extreme cupidity and, as companions, rob- 
bery and lying in all their forms reign almost everywhere. 
Brigandage, armed attacks are, in general, considered as 
honourable actions. Morals are dissolute. The condition 
of woman, in Morocco, is what it is in Algeria. The 
Moroccans are ordinarily but little attached to their wives, 
and yet have a great love for their children. The finest 
quality they show is devotion to their friends ; they push it 
to the last limits. This noble feeling daily produces the 
finest actions. With the exception of the towns and some 
isolated districts, Morocco is very ignorant. They are. 



40 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

nearly everywhere, superstitious, and accord an unbounded 
respect and confidence to the local marabouts, the extent of 
whose influence varies. Even external religious duties are 
nowhere regularly carried out, save in the towns and dis- 
tricts above excepted. There are Mosques in every village 
or important douar ; they are more frequented by poor 
travellers who use them as shelters, than by the 
inhabitants." 

He is harder upon the Moroccan Jews. On July 7 he 
was detained at El Ksar for twenty-four hours because of 
the Sabbath, and writes : " If I could only take advantage 
of this delay to write out my notes ! But it is almost im- 
possible. In Morocco, has a Jew ever been seen writing 
on the Sabbath? It is forbidden just like travelling, light- 
ing a fire, selling, counting money, talking business, and 
what not? And all these precepts are observed with equal 
care ! For the Jews of Morocco, all religion consists in 
that : moral precepts they deny. The ten commandments 
are bygone tales, at most good for children ; but as for the 
three daily prayers and lengthy graces before and after 
meals, keeping the Sabbath and feasts, I believe nothing 
in the world would make them miss them. Endowed with 
a very lively faith, they scrupulously fulfil their duties 
towards God, and indemnify themselves at the expense of 
His creatures." 

To visit Tetuan, and above all Mt. Beni-Hasan and 
Mt. Sheshuan, Foucauld had left the road from Tangier 
to Fez. He took it up again, and, going on a line from 
nearly north to south, he reached Fez on July 11. 

He hoped not to remain long in that well-known town, 
but a man with no time to waste should not venture into 
sunny lands. A man in a hurry, chooser of the most dan- 
gerous roads ! A man — a Jew, it is true — who seems to 
forget dates and not to remember the great Musulman fast ! 
What insolence ! He was made to feel it. F'rom Fez, on 
August 14, he wrote this letter, addressed to his cousin 
M . Georges de Latouche : 

" You see I am still at Fez, and you must fhink that I 
have hardly made a start ; it is but too true. It is because I 
always wished to go by the least known roads, and it is 
sometimes a long job to find the means of travelling by 
them. 

*' From Fez, I wished to go to Tadla ; there are two 
roads; one by Rabat, easy and safe; the other very little 
frequented, very difficult, and crossing a completely un- 



THE EXPLORER 41 

explored country; naturally I had it very much at heart 
to take the second. From what I learn there is nobody 
here who can guide us safely along it. We are sending 
inquiries to Mekinez; from there they reply that there is an 
influential shereef, who knows the road, takes it sometimes, 
knows the tribes we shall come across, and who can, in a 
word, bring us safely to Bu Jaad, the capital of Tadla. 
(Tadla is a province, and not a town as shown on the maps.) 
We get him to come here; he consents to accompany us, 
but declares he will only start after the fetes which finish 
Ramadan. We have been obliged to wait, and that is why 
we have remained so long at Fez. The Ramadan festival 
will be over the day after to-morrow ; so to-morrow we set 
out for Mekinez, and from there, immediately, for Tadla. 
During the three weeks that I knew I should be obliged to 
remain in Fez, so as not to lose my time, I went from Fez 
to Tasa (three days' distance). I went there by one road 
and came back by another. The position of the town was 
known, but the roads which converge to it had not been 
marked ; I mapped them as exactly as possible. 

" I there unexpectedly discovered a town where all the 
inhabitants, Musulmans and Jews, think but of one thing 
— the coming of the French before long. These poor 
devils are in a country in which the authority of the Sultan 
is nil, and they are a constant prey to the violence and 
robbery of the powerful Kabyle tribe of the Riatas ; so thev 
do not cease praying to Allah to send them the French, in 
order to rid them of the Riatas. I remained a week at 
Tasa, because I could not find anyone with whom to get 
out of it safely. We are at last back from it, and are going 
to set out for Tadla. 

" Up to the present I am not at all satisfied with Mar- 
doch^e : he is inexpressibly cowardly and lazy. As in the 
case of Figaro, it cannot be said that these two failings 
divide him up between them ; they reign within him together 
in the most perfect harmony. He is unspeakably down- 
hearted into the bargain : he spends his time whining, and 
sometimes even sheds floods of tears. At first it was only 
ridiculous; in the end it gets very tiresome. If we are 
riding, it is the sun and the jolting of the mule ; when we 
are in town, there are the fleas and bugs. And then there is 
the water, that is hot ; and next the food is poor. All these 
little things may sometimes be hard to endure; but all he 
had to do was not to worry me in Algiers to travel with me. 
I confess to you that if I had not the accomplishment of my 
itinerary very much at heart, and not to return without 



42 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

having done anything, I should have dismissed him more 
than a month ago, and should have returned to Algiers to 
seek someone more active, enterprising, and manly. But 
I won't come back at any price without seeing what I said 
I would see; without going where I said I would go. 

" I think that my journey will cost me all that I brought 
with me, or little less ; up to the present I have spent 
1,500 francs, and I have not gone far; it is true I have to 
the good two mules worth 250 francs each. ... It is the 
travelling that is dear. If you want to go from one point 
to another, here is what you must do ; you go to some local 
notability, who can certainly bring you safely to the point 
you wish to reach. You say to him : ' I want to go to that 
place : give me your anaia, and be my zettet.' Anaia 
means protection, and the zeitet is the protector. He 
replies, very willingly, it is so much. We bargain for a 
good hour, finally the price is agreed. The said sum is 
given to him on condition that he accompanies you him- 
self or gets one of his relations or servants to accompany 
you as far as your destination. This is the only way to 
travel among the Berber and Kabyle tribes. Without this 
precaution, even the people of the place you are leaving 
run after you, to rob you within a mile of the town or vil- 
lage from which you come. 

"This zettet is the real costly thing in our journey; it 
costs more or less, according to the danger of the tribes one 
has to pass through. Sometimes it is excessively dear; 
thus, in leaving Tasa for another point on the Fez route, 
only six hours' distance by road from the town, I paid 
sixty francs (it was a question of crossing the territory of 
the terrible Riatas). You understand that with such diffi- 
culties in communication, trade in Morocco is not brisk; 
although the country is marvellously fertile, the inhabitants 
are not rich ; they cultivate just the necessaries of life, not 
being able to sell their surplus. There is no comparison 
between this country and Algeria, which is a desert com- 
pared to it. In Algeria, even in winter, there is no water 
anywhere. Here at this season there is water everywhere; 
there are running rivers, brooks, torrents, and springs. 
And note that since I set foot in Morocco I have not seen 
a drop of water fall. But there are high wooded moun- 
tains, and, in the direction of the south-east, from the ter- 
race of this house, threads of snow can be seen on the distant 
tops of the Jebel." 

A month's halt ! Charles de Foucauld employs it to make 
two great excursions — one to Tasa, as he said, in the east, 



THE EXPLORER 43 

the other to Safra. The very detailed account which he 
gives of these two excursions seems to me to be the best 
part of the Reconnaissance au Maroc. Here, also, pic- 
turesque phrases abound; for instance, this one : " At half- 
past three, we reached a pass : Tasa appeared, a high cliff 
standing out in relief from the mountain and advancing, 
like a cape, into the plain. On its summit the town 
dominated by an old minaret: at its feet vast gardens." 
Foucauld reaches the gate of the outer walls, takes off his 
shoes, and enters the town. 

The most miserable town in Morocco ! The Riata tribe 
pillage it perpetually. Always in arms, filling the narrow 
streets and squares, if they find any object or beast of 
burden which suits them, they seize it, and there is no 
hope of justice against them. " It is difficult to express the 
terror in which the population live; so they think only of 
one thing — the coming of the French. How many times 
have I heard the Musulmans exclaim : ' When will the 
French come ? When will they at last rid us of the Riatas ? 
When shall we live in peace, like the people of Tlemcen?' 
And then they pray for the hastening of that day ; they 
have no doubt of its arrival ; in this respect they share the 
common opinion of a great part of Eastern Morocco, and 
of nearly all the upper class in the Empire. ..." 

Safra, on the contrary, is flourishing, full of well-built 
white brick houses ; there the traveller walks about in " end- 
less and wonderful gardens . . . big bushy woods whose 
thick foliage spreads an impenetrable shade and delightful 
coolness on the ground." 

When these excursions were over, the terrible road was 
at last open, and the explorer was able to reach Mekinez, 
and from there Abu-el-Jad, where he arrived on Sep- 
tember 6. 

"Here was neither Sultan nor inakhzen: nothing but 
Allah and Sidi Ben Daud." This great personage has 
hardly seen Rabbi Joseph Aleman than he gives evidence 
of the most singular respect towards him. The Recon- 
naissance au Maroc does not make any allusion to this, but 
in the third manuscript note already mentioned, Charles 
Foucauld tells at length the exciting adventure which befell 
him in the town of Abu-el-Jad : 

"I arrive in Abu-el-Jad escorted by a grandson of Sidi 
Ben Daud : the Sid had sent me this distinguished pro- 
tector after having received a letter from a great lord of 
Fas, his friend, Hajj Tib Ksous. To do complete honour 
to this recommendation, he gave me audience immediately 



44 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

on my arrival in his town. Mardochee and I were received 
and questioned separately ; we presented ourselves as two 
Rabbis from Jerusalem who had been settled in Algiers for 
seven years. We had hardly come out of the Sid's house 
than we saw a Musulman, seated in the middle of a group, 
make us a sign to approach. He who called us was the 
second son of Sidi Ben Daud, Sidi Omar. He brought 
us into his house, and began to put questions about 
Algeria. Meanwhile, the Sid sent for the principal Jews 
of the town, ordered them to receive us well, and appointed 
one of them to give us hospitality in his name. These 
two audiences and such care for putting us up were extra- 
ordinary favours. 

"The day after my arrival, I received the visit of a son 
of Sidi Omar, Sidi El Hajj Edris ; although a mulatto, he 
is a very fine young man of twenty-five ; tall, well-propor- 
tioned, supple and graceful in movement, intelligent-look- 
ing, lively and gay. His title of Hajj, intelligence, educa- 
tion, and a fine appearance made him one of the most 
highly esteemed members of Sidi Ben Baud's family. 
He comes, he says, to see that we want for nothing; three 
or four Musulmans accompany him ; for half an hour we 
chat of one thing and another, our visitors showing an 
extreme affability. In taking leave of us S. Edris asks 
whether we have seen the Rabbis of Abu-el-Jad. ' Not 
yet.' — 'Whether they come or do not come, whether you 
remain several days or months, you are a thousand times 
welcome!' What is the meaning of such unparalleled 
attentions to the Jews ? 

" It was not long before I understood. Two things were 
remarkable during the four following days : on the one 
hand, the frequent visits, the excessive amiability of Sid's 
relations, who endeavoured to give me confidence and to 
make me speak; on the other, the open spying of the Jews 
who watched my least act, thrust their noses into my note- 
book as soon as I wanted to write, rushed on my ther- 
mometer, as soon as I touched it, and were rude and 
insufferable. . . . These two lines of conduct were too 
accentuated not to betray their cause. Something must have 
made Sidi Ben Daud, or his son Sidi Omar, suspect my 
being a Christian. The marabouts had resolved to en- 
lighten themselves by having me spied upon by the Jews, 
while making their own examination of me; for the last 
four days they were plainly following up this investigation. 

On September ii, in the morning of the sixth day after 
my arrival, one of Sidi Edris's slaves came into my room, 



THE EXPLORER 45 

and told me to follow him with Mardochee to his master's. 
He showed us into a house of the aau'ia. We expect fresh 
questions. No ! as soon as we are seated, breakfast is 
brought in. Tea, pastries, butter, eggs, coffee, almonds, 
grapes, and figs are placed on dazzling dishes. S. Edris 
offers me lemonade, and makes excuses for having neither 
knives nor forks ; he eats with us, which is an unheard-of 
favour, and, keeping up a long conversation, tells us that 
he knows Tunis, Algiers, Bone, Bougie, Philippeville, and 
Oran, which he visited in coming back from Mecca. At 
the end of two hours, we are dismissed, and a slave con- 
ducts us back to our house. 

" My relations with S. Edris and his father become more 
intimate from day to day. On the 13th at noon, I am called 
with Mardochee to the house of the former. Again a 
breakfast is waiting for us : S. Edris shares it with us. As 
I speak to him of my desire to leave Abu-el-Jad, he replies 
that he will escort me himself. He is one of the most 
exhalted personages of his family, and puts himself out 
only for caravans of two or three hundred camels ; but for 
my companion and me, there is nothing that he will not do. 
i\il three of us are to set out alone in a few days ; he wants 
to make friends of us ; we are to write to him on our return 
to Algiers, and he will come and see us there. When the 
meal was over, he led me to a window, and showed me the 
chain of the Middle Atlas which extends along the horizon 
towards the south. He begins describing and giving me 
a host of details about its inhabitants. For me the better 
to enjoy this fine sight, he has a chair and a small telescope 
brought me. 

" So many favours cannot possibly be disinterested. 
What are S. Edris and his father driving at? I do not 
know ; however, they have promised to escort me on my 
departure from Abu-el-Jad ; so their good intentions must 
be cultivated. The same day, I send S. Edris twenty 
francs and three or four sugar-loaves — a suitable present 
for the country. Next day, the 14th, S. Edris sends for us 
towards evening to dine with him on his terrace. As we 
are talking he repeats that he would like to go to Algiers, 
and from there to the Christians' continent; would it be 
possible? Nothing easier, I tell him, the French minister 
at Tangier will enable him to reach Algiers, where I shall 
be altogether at his service. And could he bring a Chris- 
tian to Abu-el-Jad ? He would be delighted to do so, pro- 
vided that the Christian were disguised as a Musulman, or 
a Jew, and that the Sultan knew nothing about it. The 



46 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

affair would have to be negotiated secretly between him and 
the French minister. In that case, added Mardochee, the 
French authorities would give him the best of receptions, 
for they would be very pleased to send a Frenchman to 
explore Abu-el-Jad, which no Christian has ever seen, 
S. Edris smilingly replies that Christians have visited it. 
'In Musulman costume?' — 'No! In Jewish costume no 
one knew who they were; but we recognized them.' 

" Next morning, a fresh visit to S. Edris : the conversa- 
tion became quite intimate. After what he said to us yes- 
terday, would he write a letter to the French minister, and 
enter into an engagement to receive and protect any 
Frenchman in his town ? Willingly, he said, and he was 
ready to visit the functionary, to assure him of his good- 
will towards France. 

" The same day, we were called to Sidi Ben Daud's 
house. We were shown into a beautiful hall, in which 
seven or eight marabouts of the Sid's family were seated 
on carpets around him. We were invited to sit down, and 
little negresses from eight to ten years old brought us cups 
of tea and pabners. When we had enjoyed looking at the 
saint for half an hour, we were dismissed with kind words, 
and he himself said to us : ' May God aid you I' In com- 
ing out, we were rejoined by S. Omar, who led us away to 
his house; it was he, he said, who had got us invited to 
his father's, with the thought that that visit might interest 
us. He questioned me on astronomy. The Jews had told 
him I was a great astronomer. I am said to spend my 
nights in looking at the stars. Thus the Jews spy upon 
me for the benefit of the Musulmans. On the i6th, Sidi 
Edris sends for me early ; first of all he puts into my hand 
two letters recommending Mardochee and me to the Jews 
of Kasba and to those of Kasba-Beni-Mellal, signed bv the 
Rabbis of Abu-el-Jad. They were not written willingly; 
vSidi Edris makes the Rabbis come to his house and orders 
them to sign the letters under his eyes. Sidi Edris after- 
wards gives me a word of recommendation for a friend of 
his who lives at Bezzu, a place to which I shall go later 
on. Lastly he composes a letter to the French Minister : 
he reads it to me before closing it ; it is couched somewhat 
thus : ' To the Ambassador of the French Government. I 
inform you that two men of your country have come to me, 
and that, for love of you, I have given them the best of 
receptions and have taken them where they wished. In 
like manner I will receive all those who come in your name; 
the bearers of this letter will give you more complete 



THE EXPLORER 4.7 

information. If you wish to see me, let me know through 
the French Consul at Dar-Beida. I shall at once proceed 
to Tangier.' 3idi Edris signs this document, folds it, 
seals it with his seal, and hands it over to me, recommend- 
ing secrecy and prudence : he is putting his head into my 
hands ; a great risk to run, if the letter gets lost and comes 
to the eyes of the Sultan. 

"This business done, S. Edris told me we should start 
the next day for Kasba-Tadla. Not only would he be my 
guide, but my companion as far as Kasba-Beni-Mellal, 
where I should leave the Tadla. I was to be as a brother 
to him, and he would go to the end of the world to please 
me, but he could no longer bear my living in the town with 
the Jews, who were savages. He would have my mules 
and baggage fetched, and henceforth I was to be his guest. 
An hour later, I was put up in his house. 

" From this moment, my relations with S. Edris assumed 
a new character : up to then his excessive attention had 
made me distrustful, the gift of the letter for the French 
minister was such a mark of confidence, that I could no 
longer doubt of his present good intentions : besides, this 
letter explained his advances, showing that the cause of 
them was his desire of entering into relations with the French 
Government. Sure of S. Edris, henceforth I was on the same 
footing with him as a friend. I returned his confidence and, 
as he had put himself into my hands, I put myself into his. I 
told him unreservedly who I was, who Mardochee was, and 
what I came to do. This only increased his fidelity. He 
was overwhelmed with regret at not knowing the truth 
sooner. From the first day I should have lodged in his 
house; I should have worked there, drawn and made my 
observations at my ease ; if I would postpone my departure, 
he would bring me to visit the qoubbas and mosques, put 
at my disposal the library of the zau'ia, which is rich in 
historical works, and take me for walks in the neighbour- 
hood. . . . What would he not do? 

"Then he offered me a hundred things, Musulman cos- 
tumes, a slave; ... as the waiting of the little negresses 
at Sidi Ben Baud's seemed to me so charming, he offered 
me one of them. Upon my arrival, he said, my face made 
him suspect that I was a Christian, and the Jews had con- 
firmed that opinion. Let me beware of the Jews ! they 
were untrustworthy people, rascals to be unceasingly on 
one's guard against. The day after my arrival the local 
Jews told him that I was busy with astronomy, that I did 
not speak their language, did not write as they did, never 



48 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

went to the synagogue; in a word, that they believed I was 
a Christian. He told them they were asses, and that the 
Jews of Algiers and France were different from the Jews of 
that country.^ 

" On September 17, Sidi Edris, Mardochee, and I quitted 
Abu-el-Jad. On the 20th we arrived at Kasba-Beni- 
Mellal. On the 23rd Sidi Edris bade us adieu and again 
took the road to his sau'ia. I cannot express what he was 
to me while we travelled together. As we rode, he would 
ride close beside me, and give me explanations about all we 
passed through, met, or saw. If I wished to draw, he 
stopped. On his own initiative he always chose the most 
interesting and not the shortest roads. If we stopped any- 
where he took me by the hand to see anything curious. 
He used to do more ; as the house in which he received hos- 
pitality tilled on his arrival, and a crowd came to kiss his 
hand, this great marabout used to hide a part of my instru- 
ments in his ample garments, whilst I carried the other, 
and lead me to a retired place to make my observations ; he 
would mount guard over me, to prevent me from being sur- 
prised. How many excursions we made together near 
Kasba-Beni-Mellal. If I stopped to draw, he used to sit 
down beside me, and his talk taught me a host of things. 
All I know about the sau'ia of Abu-el-Jad, Sidi Ben 
Daud's family, the population of the Tadla, came from 
him. From him I got nearly all the information printed 
in this volume from page 259 to 267, about the Wady- 
Um-er-Rebia basin. He also dictated what one reads 
from page 65 to 67, on the campaign of the Sultan in the 
Tadla in 1883 ; he had followed the expedition T)f Marrakesh 
to Meris-el-Biod as Sidi Ben Daud's representative to 
Muley el Hasen. On the subject of the relations of his 
family with the Sultan, he said to me : ' We do not fear 

^ I found, in Charles de Foucauld's papers, this note about the incident 
here related : 

" Mardochee never knew that I had disclosed my Christianity and 
the plan of my journey to Sidi Edris : an instinctive hatred rather 
than a reasoned prudence made him distrust every Musulman, and he 
would have thought himself lost if he had behcved me guilty of confid- 
ing in a Musulman. I revealed who I was and what I was doing to 
four persons only in Morocco : Samuel Ben Semhoun, a Jew of Fas ; 
the Haji Bu Rhim, a Musulman of Tisint, who was a real friend to 
me ; Sidi Edris ; and a Jew of Debdu. To the two Jews, Mardochee 
and I agreed to make our disclosures together. To the two Musulmans 
I alone made it, and Mardochee vi-as always ignorant of it. All four 
religiously kept my secret, rendered me a thousand services, and it only 
remains for me to congratulate myself for having trusted them and to 
feel a lively gratitude towards them." 



THE EXPLORER 49 

him, and he does not fear us ; he can do us no harm, and 
we can do him none.' Having asked him whether Muley 
el Hasen was loved : ' No, he is grasping and avaricious.' 
(this was, word for word, what was told me at Fas). Sidi 
Edris intends to come and see me at Algiers and in France, 
and makes me promise to return later on to Abu-el-Jad; 
that if I come back as a Turk, he will put me up in his 
house, and we shall spend pleasant weeks there, and I shall 
travel about as much as I wish. He entrusts me with the 
letter he has given me : ' If the Sultan had any knowledge 
of it, he would have my tongue cut out and my hand cut 
off.' I ask him if his father S. Omar knows that he has 
written it. Yes, it was S. Omar who inspired it, and it 
was he who told his son to behave to me as he had done ; 
but the secret remains between S. Omar and S. Edris : 
they had not confided it to Sidi Ben Daud, ' because he is 
rather old.' ' How rich this country would be if the French 
were governing it !' my companion was always saying, as 
he gazed on the fertile plains which spread out at our feet. 
' If the li'rench come here, will they make me Kaid, ' 
he once added. 

" The belief in a coming invasion by the French was the 
cause of the reception I had at Abu-el-Jad. The mara- 
bouts received me well because they took me for a spy. In 
the greater part of Morocco, it is believed that before long 
France will seize Muley el Hasan's empire, and they are 
preparing for this event, and already the great are seeking 
to assure themselves of our favour. The favours with 
which Sidi Ben Baud's family loaded me and the letter 
entrusted to me, are a proof of the state of mind of the 
highest persons in Morocco. 

" Do they dread this expected French domination ? The 
great lords, the traders, the groups oppressed by the Sultan 
or by powerful neighbours would accept it without dis- 
pleasure. To them it represents an increase of riches, the 
establishment of railways (a thing very much desired), 
peace, security ; in a word, a regular and protective govern- 
ment." 

Eleven years later, Charles de Foucauld, who had become 
a priest travelling in the Sahara, to his great astonishment 
received the following letter, signed by a young marabout, 
who had become chief of the sau'ia: 

" Casablanca, 

"August 16, 1904. 

" I desire excessively to hear from you, for I have no 
good news of you for a long while, though I am very 

4 



50 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

interested in hearing of you. Lately, I asked the French 
Consul here about you. He told me that you are in Jeru- 
salem in the Holy Land in the honest service of God, and 
that you have sacrificed your time to the Eternal. 

" I congratulate you, and I am certain that the world no 
longer interests you : and this is essential for the present 
and the future. Be good enough to write to the French 
Ambassador at Tangier, to tell him of my work and 
endeavours with you during your stay here. This is to get 
the Ambassador to write to the French Consul to let him 
know of my fidelity towards you. 

"Thanking you sincerely in anticipation, and again con- 
gratulating you on the good state to which you have 
attained. 

" For ever your devoted servant, 

" Hajj-Driss-El-Sherkaui. 

" Abu-el-Jad, where I was with you in the Kabil Tadla 
journey." 

The letter was addressed "a I'officier Foukou," and 
handed, at Algiers, to Commandant Lacroix, who filled in 
the address. 

After leaving Abu-el-Jad, Charles de Foucauld was 
escorted by one of the grandsons of Sidi Ben Daud, and 
that for as long as the travellers were in the Tadla. They 
kept going to the south and through dangerous regions. 
During a stay at Tikirt, he studied the very different 
political regimes of the tribes dwelling in the independent 
countries to the north of the Great Atlas range, or to the 
south of the mountains. In the former, the government 
was democratic, each section of the tribe governed by an 
assembly in which each family was represented. In general 
there were no laws, and, when the clans of the same tribe 
were not agreed, each followed its own will or caprice, and 
the dispute was sometimes settled by shooting. To the 
south of Mt. Atlas, there was also a kind of democratic 
State, but the tribes were not always isolated, and between 
them, there were bonds of seigniory and vassalage. All 
these kinds of local polities are explained in the Recon- 
naissance au Maroc, with an abundance of details and nice 
distinctions which prove the cleverness of the inquirer and 
the richness of his notebooks. 

A little farther on he describes the three mountain-chains 
of the Great, Middle, and Lesser Atlas. After these dry 
pages, and when he leaves Tikirt to go to Tisint, the poet 



THE EXPLORER 51 

reappears, always keeping himself well in hand, but taking- 
pleasure in painting in a few lines these gardens of the 
oasis, and, beneath the shade of the palm-trees, the land 
divided in squares, watered by a thick tangle of canals, 
and covered with maize, millet, and vegetables. They are 
spots of happiness between the most wild, bare, and deso- 
late of landscapes. He goes as far as to write : "A charm- 
ing spot, and made for none but the happy." 

In his journey to the south, he reaches the region of the 
Saharan Morocco, via Tanzida and Tisint. The descrip- 
tion which he gives of the southern landscape, as seen from 
the Tisint oasis, is, I think, the most finished picture that 
he brought back from his exploratory journey : " On enter- 
ing Tisint, one steps into a New World. Here, for the 
first time, the eye looks to the south without seeing a single 
mountain. The region to the south of Bani is one immense 
plain, now white, now brown, with its stony solitudes 
stretching far away out of sight; an azure streak limits it 
on the horizon and separates it from the sky : it is the slope 
of the left bank of the Dra. Be3'ond commences the Ham- 
mada. This scorched plain has no other vegetation than 
a few stunted gum-trees, no other relief than the narrow 
chains of rocky and broken hills twisting about like frag- 
ments of serpents. Alongside of the dismal desert are the 
oases, with their wonderful vegetation, their forests of ever- 
green palm-trees, their ksars full of comfort and riches. 
Working in the gardens, stretched nonchalantly in the 
shadow of the walls, squatting at the house-doors, chatting 
and smoking, are seen a numerous population of black- 
faced men, very dark harratin. First I am struck by 
their garments; all are dressed in indigo cottons, Sudan 
materials. I am in a new climate ; there is no winter. They 
sow in winter, reap in March; the air is never cold; above 
my head the sky is ever blue." 

Charles de Foucauld stops only two days at Tisint. He 
is the object of the most lively curiosity. " All the Hajjs, 
familiar with the things and peoples of distant countries, 
wished to see me. Once more, I recognized the excellent 
effects of the pilgrimage (of Mecca). From the fact alone 
that I came from Algeria, where they had been received 
well, all gave me the best welcome. Several, I knew later 
on, suspected that I was a Christian ; they did not say a 
word, understanding better perhaps than I the dangers into 
which their talk might throw me. One amongst them, the 
Hajj Bu Rhim, eventually became my true friend, and 
rendered me the most signal services, saving me from the 



52 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

greatest perils." Long excursions in the south, to Tatta, 
to the Mader and to Akka, filled the following month. 

Home from these two excursions, Foucauld thought of 
regaining Algeria, recrossing the inhospitable Rif, the 
western approach of which had been forbidden him at the 
start. He could not undertake such an adventure without 
powerful protection, and once more he turned southwards 
to pay a visit to Sidi Abd Allah, a person of mark, living 
at Mrimima. No doubt this man would provide him with 
the necessary guides. 

But the stranger had no sooner entered Sidi Abd Allah's 
house than the report spread that he was a Christian and 
laden with gold. Immediately two bands of robbers lay in 
ambush in the mountains, and set about watching for this 
excellent and easy prey. Foucauld was kept in sight by 
the sons of his host. In this danger, he wrote a letter to 
his friend the Hajj Bu Rhim, and gave it to a beggar. 

" At 7 a.m. next day there is a great stir in the village. 
A troop of twenty-five foot soldiers and two troopers arrive 
suddenly, and go straight into the courtyard. It is the 
Hajj coming to take me. He received my note that night. 
He got up at once and ran to his brothers and relations ; 
each armed himself and joined him with his servants; they 
set out on march, and here they are." 

Half an hour later he was delivered and left Mrimima. 
But the unreasonable demands and successive robberies of 
which he had been the victim had so reduced his resources 
that, when he had got back in Tisint and made up his 
accounts, he recognized that it was impossible for him to 
undertake the return journey without renewing his supply 
of money. Mogador, to the north-west on the Atlantic 
coast, was the nearest town, in which there were Europeans. 
There he must go. Foucauld confided his project to his 
friend the Hajj, The latter agreed to accompany the 
traveller to Mogador, wait for him there, and bring him 
back to Tisint. Mardochee, on the contrary, was to remain 
in that village. They were to join him later on. 

They had to start at night with the greatest secrecy, so 
as not to be attacked and robbed. This departure from 
Tisint for the Atlantic coast took place on January 9, 1884. 

From Mrimima, and just at one of the really perilous 
hours of his journey, Charles de Foucauld had written to 
his sister Mary. It was not the first time he had written 
to her. How, by whom, was this note brought? It was 
written on a little square of paper, folded and refolded, so 
as not to show more surface than a receipt stamp. I do not 



THE EXPLORER 53 

know. Some caravan must have taken charge of it. The 
letter was received ; it was dated from the sau'ia of Sidi Abd 
Allah Umbarek, January i. 

" A Happy New Year, my good Mimi; if only I could 
let you know this day that I am well and in no danger ! If 
you knew how sad I am at the thought of your probably 
not having heard from me for so long, and being uneasy 
about my fate, so that this day, which is a holiday for so 
many, is sadder for you than other days ! At this time, 
when everyone receives letters from relations and friends, 
you alone receive none from the only very near one you have 
in the world. 1 know how sad you must be, and how full 
your heart must be. But perhaps I am mistaken : God 
grant it ! Perhaps some of my letters have reached you. If 
you get this letter, my good Mimi, be of good cheer, don't 
be anxious. I run no risk and shall run none until my 
arrival. The road is long, but it is not at all dangerous. 
If the bad weather, which has delayed my going for the 
last month and a half, continues, I shall take three good 
months to get back. If I find the roads easy, two will be 
enough. God grant that it may be so, and that I shall 
soon be again with you. . . ." 

At Mogador, where he arrived on January 28, after hav- 
ing, for three and a half hours, travelled through "a vast 
forest overshadowing immense grazing fields," he went 
straight to the French Consulate, where he found himself 
in presence of a Jewish secretary and translator, called 
Zerbib, who was working in the offices. 

" I should like to see the French Consul, to cash a cheque 
on the Bank of England. I am the Vicomte de Foucauld, 
officer of the French Cavalry." 

The other, eyeing this dirty and tattered pedestrian from 
head to foot, and knowing the dodges of such cadgers re- 
ceived him very badly. 

" Go and sit outside with your back to the wall : you 
can't see the consul in that rig." 

Charles de Foucauld went and lay down near the wall, 
and remained there some time. Then he came back to 
Zerbib : 

"Give me a little water, and please show me a spot to 
undress and wash in." 

While he was stripping in a shed close by, someone 
looked through the keyhole. It was Zerbib. To his great 
astonishment, he saw this tramp was the bearer of a number 
of surveying instruments hidden in the pockets or folds of 
his clothes, deposited one after the other on the ground. 



54 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

" After all," he said to himself, "I may be mistaken, and 
he may be telling the truth." 

He goes at once and informs his superior. The Vicomte 
de Foucauld is shown in to M. Moutel, chancellor of the 
Consulate. The first question he puts to the latter is this : 
" Have you received the letters for my family which I 
addressed here?" Alas! of all the letters that he had 
written, the last eight months, not one had yet come to 
hand. He therefore writes without further delay to his 
sister Marie, telling her first that he has never been a minute 
ill, and has never risked the least danger. This assertion 
was not quite true. He added that of the 6,000 francs 
which he had at his disposal for the journey, 4,000 were 
spent, and that he had left in reserve 2,000 francs, which 
he now comes for. 

" In setting out, I told you I shall remain a year. At 
the bottom of my heart, I thought of remaining at most 
six months. I told you double so that you might not be 
anxious in case my absence was prolonged; and you see 
the time I gave you turns out right. My journey has lasted 
ivery nearly a year. It is now eight months since I set out. 
I am going to spend about a month here, waiting for news 
from you and money, then I shall again set out for the 
south, and return to Algeria, if it please God, by the follow- 
ing route : Mezquita, Dadis, Todra, Ferkla, Ksabi-esh- 
Sheurfa, the course of the Wady-Muluya, Debdu, Ujda, 
from where I shall re-enter French territory by Lalla- 
Marnia ; all that will take me two months and a half. As 
soon as I get back to Algeria, how happy, my dear Mimi, 
shall I be to take the steamer and hasten to you ! 

" From the geographical point of view, my journey goes 
on very well : my instruments are in good condition ; none 
of them got out of order ; I have visited new countries, and 
bring back, I believe, some useful information. From the 
moral point of view, it is very sad; always alone, never a 
friend, never a Christian to speak to. . . . If you knew 
how much I am thinking of you, of our happy days of the 
past with grandfather, and of those we spent together with 
my aunt ; and how all these thoughts absorb one when one 
is as isolated as I have just been. It is, above all, Christ- 
mas and New Year's Dav which seemed to me so sad. I 
remembered grandfather and the Christmas-tree, and all 
the good times of our childhood. y\nd on New Year's 
Day, it is for you I was sorry. . . . And yet I did not 
know that none of my letters had reached you ! I sent you 
some by special messenger, I sent you some by caravans : 



THE EXPLORER 55 

each time I found an opportunity to send off a word, I seized 
it eagerly ; and nothiing got through. My poor Mimi, how 
pleased you will be to hear from me, and how happy I 
shall be to hear from you ! I fear but one thing : it is that 
you will beg me to end my journey and return immediately. 
I pray you to be sensible : relatively I shall want only a 
very little time to end it, and then I shall have made a fine 
journey, and finished what I meant to do. When you 
start with saying what you are going to do you must not 
come back without having done it. . . ." At the end of 
the letter, Charles de Foucauld explains how the money is 
to be sent to Tangier, where a banker will write to one of 
his colleagues in Mogador, and the traveller will be able to 
set out again. 

Other letters to his sister relate, with charm and vivacity, 
the life he is leading at Mogador; it is not an idle life or 
simply repose. " I am up to my neck in my longitudes," 
he writes on February 8. "I work from morning to night, 
and a part of the night. This is a hundred times more 
thrilling than the journey itself, for there lies the result. If 
it is not good, then eight months of toil and trouble have 
been thrown away ; but I hope it will be presentable. Here 
I am marvellously placed for work. I lodge in a boarding 
hotel arranged in European fashion, but kept by Spanish 
Jews; I have a suitable room, in which I stay all day long, 
and in the evening dine in it. I go out only once a day, to 
lunch at the house of the only Frenchman in Mogador, 
M. Moutel, chancellor of the Consulate (the consul is 
absent). . . . Every day I am very pleased to find myself 
once more, for two or three hours, in a French home. . . ." 

** February 14. — I spend my time in the most routine 
manner in the world : From 7 o'clock to 1 1 in the morning I 
work: from 1 1 to i o'clock, I go and lunch at the Chan- 
cellor's; at I I get back to work; at 7 o'clock I dine at my 
hotel. Then I go back and work till i o'clock in the morn- 
ing. As to visits, I pay none, since there is nobody to 
see ; I receive one each day from the negro who commands 
the escort which accompanied me. Don't fancy this is 
enormous. At the start it was three men, and now is no 
more than two ; the third, who was a slave of the said negro, 
was latterly sold by his master. Those that remain are 
patiently, or rather a little impatiently, waiting for the 
time of my starting again. Every day the chief, the negro, 
a Sheikh of Tisint, comes to report the condition of the 
men and mules, and what he has done, and to take his 



56 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

money for the day : it means a chat and a lesson in 
Arabic. ... I am very anxious not to be too much 
noticed, so that the Moroccan Government may not get 
wind of my projects, and seek to put obstacles in my way : 
its policy has long been to prevent Europeans by every 
possible means from travelling in the interior of the 
empire. . . ." 

" March 7, 1884. — Letters are very behindhand, my goojd 
Mimi. Every minute I fancy I see a mail arrive; but 
nothing comes, always nothing. However, it is thirty-five 
days to-day since my first letters left. ... I am still stay- 
ing at the same Jewish hotel. . . . The French Colony is 
not very numerous here : the consul, the chancellor and his 
wife, a merchant and his wife, an Anglican missionary, 
nationalized French, and an Alsatian doctor. The mis- 
sionary is a very agreeable and well-bred man. He is mar- 
ried and has almost always European friends in his house. 
At present a very handsome young English lady is there, 
who speaks French perfectly. I find it very pleasant to go 
from time to time and spend the evening in this house, 
where I hear the Lac and I'Envoi de Fleurs sung, which 
reminds me of a very happy time : but it is already far 
away. , . . However, as soon as your letters arrive, I 
shall be off at a gallop towards the South." 

In a letter Charles de Foucauld pretends that he cannot 
draw. If you open the Reconnaissance au Maroc, you will 
find on the title-page : With Four full-page and a Hundred- 
and-one other Illustrations from the Author's Sketches. 
These sketches, a few pen-strokes, but composed with a 
very sure feeling for landscape, and drawn with an evident 
scruple for exactitude, add singularly to the beauty of the 
work, and afford play to the imagination. Doubtless, we 
would like to see the colour of these rocks, mountains, this 
desert and those palm-trees on the bank of a wady, but, 
however imperfect a simple line illustration may be, it helps 
to guide our eyes, which arouse memory and fill it with 
light. 

The money having come, Foucauld sets off again with 
the Hajj Bu Rhim from Mogador for Tisint on March 14, 
1884, by a different way to that which he had taken in going 
there. Reaching the Wady-vSus to the south of Agadir, 
he follows the right bank of the river some way off : 

" I shall see it all day long, winding among tamarisks, 
surrounded by cultivation, with tall olive-trees shading its 



THE EXPLORER 57 

course, and two rows of villages arranged in a zig-zag 
along its banks. The river, with its border of fields, trees, 
and houses, forms a wide green band unwinding through 
the middle of the plain, about 35 feet below the general 
level. A slope with an angle of 45° unites the hollow to 
the surrounding land. I go to the north of the slope, in 
the Sus Plain. It is an immense surface, smooth as a 
mirror, of red earth without a stone. It spreads between 
the Great and Lesser Atlas. . . . Here its width is 
40 kilometres. . . . The valley of the Sus does not vary 
during the three days that I go up it; a plain of marvellous 
fertility, enclosed between two long chains, one of which, 
less lofty and with uniform ridges, borders the horizon on 
the south by a brown line, whilst the other, shooting into 
the clouds, raises above the country the bluish flanks and 
white tops of its gigantic masses perpendicularly. . . ." 

On March 31, the traveller was back in the Tisint region, 
where Rabbi Mardochee was waiting for him. 

He did not immediately proceed to the North-East. No 
one would agree to accompany him into the country which 
he first sought to enter : he was obliged to go back by 
Tazendakht. 

We know henceforth what was Charles de Foucauld's 
manner of travelling, the endurance and courage he showed, 
and how fine a mind as scholar and poet he showed in 
writing his memoranda. I have therefore only to note a 
few names, on this return journey, so soon finished. 

From Tazendakht, he went to Mezquita, then to Dadis, 
then to Ksabi-esh-Sheurfa. On the way, he was detained 
for two days by heavy rains. On May 8 he forded the 
Muluya, apparently the widest stream that he crossed, since 
the Reconnaissance au Maroc notes here a width of over 
100 feet and a depth of 4 feet. 

The last stages brought him to Debdu, the first place 
carrying on regular trade with Algeria. The traveller had 
not a centime. Fortunately he w^as only a four days' ride 
from Lalla-Marnia. He sold his mules, thus procuring the 
wherewithal to hire others, and, starting from Ujda at 
7 a.m. on May 23, arrived on French territory at 10, and 
soon after in Lalla-Marnia, where he left Mardochee. 

After the Reconnaissance au Maroc, Charles de Foucauld 
wrote a second part, which he entitled "Information," 
with the methodical mind that is so striking in the actual 
telling of his travels. In this wholly scientific part are 
assembled the details that the traveller was able to observe 



58 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

or collect about the rivers and their tributaries ; the tribes 
and their divisions; the number of guns and horses at their 
disposal ; the routes, those which he had followed and those 
which he was told about, with notes of the duration of the 
stages : a sort of guide-book used, and still in use, by the 
leaders of our troops operating in Morocco. Towards the 
end is an appendix on the Jews of Morocco, a social and 
statistical study ; then the list of astronomical observations 
made in the course of the journey, the table of latitudes 
and longitudes, the meteorological observations, and an 
index of the geographical names contained in the volume 
and the atlas. 

A year after the return of Charles de Foucauld to 
French territory, on April 24, 1885, ^^ the Paris Soci^te de 
Geographie a report was read by Duveyrier on the Recon- 
naissance au Maroc, of which he had studied the manu- 
script. "In eleven months, from the 20th of June, 1883, 
to the 23rd of May, 1884, a single man, the Vicomte de 
Foucauld, has doubled, at least, the length of carefully sur- 
veyed itineraries in Morocco. He went over again and per- 
fected 689 kilometres of the works of his predecessors, and 
added 2,250 other kilometres to them. As to astronomic 
geography, he has determined 45 longitudes and 40 lati- 
tudes ; and where we only possessed a few dozen altitudes, 
he has brought back 3,000. You must see that we have to 
thank M. de Foucauld for opening what is indeed a new 
era, and one does not know which is to be most admired, 
these fine and useful results, or the self-sacrifice, courage, 
and ascetic abnegation, thanks to which this young French 
officer has obtained them." Duveyrier indicates after- 
wards which are the parts of the journey that may justly 
bear the name of discoveries; they are numerous and im- 
portant. He proves that the Vicomte de Foucauld's ob- 
servations have corrected by a full degree to the west the 
direction of the course of the Dra, as shown on the map of 
the German doctor Rohlfs. Lastly, he announced, in 
finishing his report, that the Soci6t^ de Gc^ographie con- 
ferred the first of its gold medals on the young explorer. 

In our curtailed account of it the journey may appear to 
be comparatively easy. In reality, it presented all sorts of 
difliculties and dangers. Although, on this last point, 
Charles de Foucauld has been very sparing in details, and 
has elsewhere voluntarily omitted many troublesome inci- 
dents which delayed or hastened his journey, it is easy, in 
going through the Reconnaissance au Maroc, to point out 
numerous occasions where the energy, endurance, and skill 



THE EXPLORER 59 

of the French officer were put to proof. For instance, on 
October 26, 1883, the chief of a caravan met on the road 
proposes to the escort to help him to loot the traveller and 
share the booty. On April 7, 1884, Charles de Foucauld's 
host tells him that he receives him willingly on the recom- 
mendation of a friend, but that if he, Abd Allah, or his 
sons, had found this Jew in the country, with so feeble an 
escort, they would undoubtedly have robbed him. On 
May 12, the traveller, who was taking notes and riding at 
the head of the caravan, is suddenly shot at from behind, 
thrown off his mount by two of his guides, who rob him of 
his money and all the objects which appear to them of any 
value. vStill more, for a day and a half these robbers 
pressed the third guide to let them kill Charles de Foucauld, 
who did not miss a word they said. It must be added, to 
the honour of the Rabbi Mardochee, that he there and then 
went to the help of his companion ; but he was quickly 
thrust aside. 

These few incidents, others that I have cited, and others 
that may be guessed between the lines; but, above all, his 
tenacity in following up his route, in spite of all kinds of 
obstacles; his refusal to interrupt his journey at Mogador 
and return directly to France ; his patience in presence of 
insults; his fidelity to take daily, on march or in repose, 
always at the risk of his life, notes and sketches ; his quick- 
ness in discerning the secret dispositions of minds so 
different from his own ; such strength of will in moral soli- 
tude, so austere a diet, such unremitting work — reveal in 
this young man a mastery over self, such as the past hardly 
foretold. " He, himself, recognized it later on, and said that 
the eight months' campaign against Bu Amama had 
changed him very much. 

The great exploration of Morocco will, as we shall see, 
change him still more deeply. 

What must be said in finishing this chapter is that 
Charles de Foucauld will never forget Morocco. Once, he 
will seem on the point of returning there : he will rejoice in 
his heart at the thought of going freely over this country to 
which France has at last come, and, along with her, a 
hope of improvement, of justice and friendship for the 
people " seated in the shadow of death." Soon the project 
of a mission that he had neither inspired nor hastened was 
abandoned, and fell along with the good political intentions 
which have found no man strong enough to defend them. 
But all his life, the officer, become a priest, will remain " at 
the disposal of Morocco"; in 1901 he will settle down, 



6o CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

almost on the frontier of this State; he will note in his 
memorandum-book, with a happiness that may be guessed, 
the visits he has received from Moroccans; in his conversa- 
tions, in his letters, above all in his prayers in which the 
unfortunates of so many nations will find a place, he will 
not cease to name Morocco. He will feel for the tribes 
which he visited, for the known and unknown of this land 
of his youth, renewed and increasing friendship. For it is 
not only the geographer, the clear-eyed artist, the French- 
man always thinking of the call of France, who will love the 
Maghreb Empire ; it will be the priest moved by a fraternal 
compassion, and who will write on a December evening : 
" For some time I have been thinking so much about 
Morocco, of that Morocco where ten million inhabitants 
have neither priest nor altar ; where Christmas night will 
pass without Mass and without prayers."^ 

^ Foreign geographers, and specially the English, have appreciated, in 
a suitable manner, the exploration undertaken by Vicomte de Foucauld 
and the account which he has given of it. I would give many quota- 
tions. I reproduce only these lines written by one of the most competent 
judges, Mr. Budgett Meakin : 

" It is a real satisfaction to have these magnificent volumes in one's 
hands. They relate the most important and most remarkable journey 
that a European has for a century or more undertaken to Morocco. . . . 
No modern traveller has approached M. de Foucauld, from the double 
point of view of the precision of the observations and the preparation 
for the journey. Besides the work accomplished by him, the attempts 
of other travellers have been but child's play " (extract from the Compte 
rendu du Congres dc geographic d'Oran, April, 1902). The Paris Societe 
de Geographie possesses three books of drawings by Vicomte de 
Foucauld, lead-pencil drawings, done during the journey in Morocco. 
These number 135. The day on which the gold medal was awarded 
to him by this Society, the explorer was in Algiers, and the reporter, 
Duveyrier, was travelling in Morocco. The medal was handed to 
Vicomte de Bondy, Charles de Foucauld's cousin. 



CHAPTER IV 

His Conversion 

'^r^HE first months, after the return from Morocco, were 
X almost entirely spent in Algeria. Charles de Foucauld 
did not at once begin to compile and write the book for 
which he brought back the materials : he verified his notes, 
deciphered them if necessary, consulted his friends — in a 
word, prepared the work that he was to do a little later in 
Paris. He made a few stops in France, some visiting tours 
and looking people up, but his " headquarters," his papers, 
library, and habits continued to be what they were before 
the great journey. At one moment, it might even be 
thought that the explorer was going to get married in 
Algeria. A young girl had taken his fancy. She was of 
a good family, and he came from far. He wrote to Paris, 
where he found little encouragement. I don't know whether 
he was badly smitten and what opposition he had. But 
when he had made another excursion to France, in the 
summer of 1885, and lived some time near Bordeaux, at 
his aunt's, Madame Moitessier, in the Chateau du Tuguet, 
he gave up the idea. He was called to quite other destinies ; 
he thus helped them forward without knowing it. 

A higher will has him in its grip. It urges him on to 
action, lashes him, and leads him on towards a hidden goal. 
The call of the desert makes itself heard once more. From 
the beginning of September, Charles has been at Nice, at his 
brother-in-law's, M. de Blic, the confidant of his thoughts. 
What are they? Do you not guess? He is going to set 
out again : naturally, he is going South. He wants to visit 
the oases and the shotts of Algeria and Tunis. It may be 
only the prelude to a greater journey. I know an intimate 
friend of his who believes that the explorer's secret intention 
was to investigate the means and find the best starting- 
point for crossing the Sahara. Henceforth who can tell? 
Foucauld hardly gave any intimation of his plans and did 
not talk about his recollections. On the eve of undertaking 
this " excursion," as he used to say, in the regions of the 
shotts, he now and then saw his sister's uneasy looks 
directed towards him. "Fear nothing," he used to reply, 
" no harm will happen to me : with care one can go any- 
where." 

61 



62 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

On Seplember 14, he embarked at Port-Vendres for 
Algiers. A few weeks earlier he had written to his friend 
de Vassal, who was at El-Golea, begging him to get two 
camels and two horses, and to engage an Arab servant for 
the expedition. 

The route in all its parts is not known to us. We only 
know that Foucauld, passing through the south of the 
province of Oran, visited Laghuat, then, going still more 
to the south, the oasis of Ghardaia and the inhospitable 
Mzab, where he was one day to return in the habit of a 
monk, and to win the sympathy of a people hostile beyond 
all others to Christians : then El-Golea, Wargla, where 
Lieutenant Cauvet was officer in charge (at the end of 
November, 1885) ; Tuggurt : the region of Jerid, between 
the shott El-Gharsa and the shott El-Jerid. An immense 
journey through desolate countries, where one must travel 
many days and sleep many nights, before perceiving, 
paled by the blinding light, a palm-grove's dash of 
green. If you try to follow it on the atlas, you will find 
few names printed between the above-mentioned. But 
what do they indicate ? Not villages, as in Europe, or 
running rivers, but dunes, stony expanses, fossil rivers, 
dried-up quagmires where, among the salt deposits of the 
evaporated waters, a few tufts of reddened or grey grass 
live with difficulty ; a well ; the uncertain habitat of a wan- 
dering tribe. We know, moreover, that Charles de 
Foucauld, in love with solitude, already affianced to her, 
often leaves his native servant and baggage behind, and 
steals off, until he no longer sees anything around him but 
the desert. He thus more than once went two days ahead. 
He used to eat what he had in his pockets. At night he lay 
down on the ground, and gazed for a long time at the stars. 
Perhaps training himself to do without sleep. Perhaps the 
religious crisis which I am going to relate kept him awake, 
questioning, waiting for the breath of God, which fills the 
heart better in darkness and silence. He loved scenery, 
and therefore the starry heavens, the grandest of all. In 
the morning he saddled his tethered horse, joined his Arab 
servant, took food enough for a day or two, and went off 
again. 

Having crossed Southern Algeria, from west to east, he 
must naturall}^ end on the Tunisian coast. The last oasis 
he visited was, in fact, the warm and hidden oasis of Gabes, 
quite close to the shore, where barley and vegetables grow 
under the bushes, and the bushes beneath the shade of high 
palms. From there he embarked for France. 



HIS CONVERSION 63 

Back in Nice, on January 23, 1886, after more than four 
months' absence, Charles rested until February 19. At 
that date he left his brother-in-law and sister, came and 
settled down in Paris, where he took a small apartment at 
No. 50, Rue de Miromesnil. The period which opens 
belongs to work and the family circle. The family, far 
from which he had lived for a long time, received him intel- 
ligently and delightfully. There was nothing but joy : no 
sermons or reproaches, and no wish put forward. He was 
feted and they were proud of him ; he saw the most select 
and thoughtful society of Paris. Men, whose ascent to 
power had made them famous without compromising them, 
conversed in his presence of the religious and political 
affairs of France. They were Christians who made no 
mystery of their Faith. Charles met them every week. 
Gentle feminine influences were all about him; he lived in 
the intimacy of relations who reminded him of his mother, 
and from whorfi he received, without their knowing it, a 
perpetual example of wit, grace, and wholesome gaiety and 
piety. They were the Countess Armand de Foucauld, 
mother of Louis de Foucauld, the future military attache in 
Berlin ; and Madame Moitessier and her two daughters, the 
Countess de Flavigny and the Countess de Bondy. 

Ines de Foucauld, Charles's aunt, a person of great 
beauty, painted twice by Ingres,^ had married M. Moi- 
tessier, a native of Mirecourt, who had made a considerable 
fortune as an importer of tobacco. She lived in a fine man- 
sion, 42, Rue d'Anjou, at the corner of Boulevard Males- 
herbes, where she received a great deal of company. Very 
intelligent, endowed with a will of the Foucaulds, which 
goes where it wants to go ; very much a woman of the 
world ; marvellously skilled in the art of making others 
appreciated and desired, of appearing interested in dis- 
cussions she did not quite understand, of starting them 
again if they languished, marking by a word or smile what 
she did not approve, without ever offending— she had held 
the political salon of one of the youngest ministers we have 
had, Louis Buffet, her husband's nephew, who was minister 
at the age of thirty. Louis Buffet ; Aime Buffet his bro- 
ther, an inspector of bridges and roads ; Estancelin, due de 
Broglie, had remained the intimates of the house. Some 
were invited of right, and there were others. Charles was 
one of those at all Madame Moitessier 's " Sunday at 
homes." In addition to that, he used to go to the Rue 

^ These two fine portraits were exhibited in Paris among others 
of Ingres in May, ig2i. One of them is dated 1851, the other 1856. 



64 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

d'Anjou several times a week to dine at 6 o'clock, of course 
always in evening-dress. When he got home to the Rue 
de Miromesnil, he undressed, put on a gandourah, soft 
leather slippers, enfolded himself in a burnous, put a 
cushion under his head, and lay on a carpet. One of the 
remarkable particularities of Charles de Foucauld's room 
was that no bed was seen there. There was none. The 
furniture was that of a man of taste, who had had ancestors 
in the history of France, and who dreams of the East. On 
the walls water-colours and pen sketches of landscapes in 
Morocco hung beside family portraits painted by Largil- 
liere : here and there were suspended arms and stuffs, 
brought back from Algeria. The book-case did not con- 
tain a great number of books, but the greater number were 
rare ones or elegant editions. Shut up all day, Charles 
used to write, delete or correct, consult his notes and put 
together the solid and magnificent book which was to make 
his name known to all the geographers in the world and 
even in other circles. If he was puzzled or had to look up 
something, he left his work-table and went to a public 
library, or to Duveyrier's. Duveyrier was celebrated at 
the age of twenty : since then he had lived in the glory of 
his past, incapable of renewing it. In i860, when young 
men are still but B.A.'s, uncertain of the road to choose, 
already a botanist, geologist, versed in Oriental languages, 
thoroughly civilized, marvellously endowed for meeting and 
winning barbarians, he made the then perilous journey from 
Laghuat to El-Golea. Imprisoned by the inhabitants of 
El-Gol6a, then delivered, he only made use of his liberty 
to plunge into the dread unknown of the Sahara, to visit the 
South of Tunis, a part of Tripoli and the territory of the 
Azjers, the most Oriental, and also the most hostile of all 
the Tuareg tribes. The book he then wrote very justly 
made him famous ; but prostrated by illness, and hence con- 
demned to be no more than an adviser on the Sahara, 
Duveyrier suffered, not only from being unable to start 
afresh and make new discoveries and increase his reputa- 
tion, but from seeing France lessened in 187 1, and as it 
were diffident of her powers. He never lost his recollection 
of the work he had done, but could not continue it. He 
received his rival, the explorer of Morocco, affectionately, 
and began to travel again, but in a way he did not like : on 
maps, in books, in his own memories, and in those of 
others. 

Slowly, the innumerable documents brought back by 
Foucauld turned into science and life. Not without some 



HIS CONVERSION 65 

astonishment can one witness this transformation in the 
habits of the former lieutenant of Pont-a-Mousson and 
Setif. Whence does it come? Principally from an ambi- 
tion that had taken possession of him, and which he served 
with that tense and restless will which was the original mark 
of Charles de Foticauld, and, it may be said, of his race. 

After the publication of the book which he wrote after the 
excursion to the shotts, he had resolved to undertake other 
great journeys. He did not speak of his plans to anybody, 
but his mind was often busy with them. Another thought 
haunted and disturbed it. 

I said that Charles de Foucauld had been deeply moved, 
during his sojourn in Algeria and Morocco, by the per- 
petual invocation of God among those around him. Their 
calls to prayer, the prostrations five times a day towards the 
East, the name of Allah unceasingly repeated in conversa- 
tions or writings, all the religious pomp of Musulman life, 
led him to say to himself: "And here am I without reli- 
gion!" For the Jews prayed also, and to the same God 
as the Arabs or the Moroccans. The vices which had cor- 
rupted the mind or heart of these men had not prevented 
their meditative witness from feeling the grandeur of faith. 
Again in Algeria, he had even said to a few of his friends : 
"I am thinking of becoming a Musulman." Words of 
feeling, which reason had not ratified. On the first exam- 
ination, it appeared to him, as he confided to one of his 
intimate friends, that the religion of Mahomet could not be 
the true one, " being too material." But the uneasiness re- 
mained. Blessed be it ! For it is a proof of superiority in 
him who experiences it, a great event in the order of grace, 
the blessed sign that a soul is going to find the way 
again. This young man, born in Catholicism, lacked a 
good understanding of this magnificent, divine and sound 
religion, and any such sense of its transcendence to 
return to it without hesitation as soon as the tyranny of 
matter weighed too heavily upon him. He was, in truth, 
sad at the bottom of his heart, with an old sadness. Live a 
life of pleasure as he would, it had only increased. It had 
held him, as he confessed when he wrote: "silent and 
overwhelmed at so-called fetes." Since then, it had neither 
been dispelled by man's science, nor by action, nor by suc- 
cess and fame. Now he had certainly submitted to the dis- 
cipline of work, and hence felt better than in the past, but 
not disburdened of his faults, not what he ought to be, 
morally very far from those dear ones whom he saw living 
in his own united and happy family. 

5 



66 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

He read a great deal. But a great secret cowardice is in 
us when it is a question of taking up a rule of life which we 
know to be strict and repressive. We seek approximations 
in order not to have to come to the ideal of perfection, and 
trembling nature makes us take counsel with men rather 
than with God, because we know that God is exacting. It 
was thus that Charles de Foucauld, in the intervals of writ- 
ing the Reconnaissance au Maroc, used to consult pagan 
philosophers, and question them upon duty, the soul, and 
the life to come. He thought their answers were poor. 
jThey are necessarily so. Unguided reason does not go far 
in the problem of creation and destiny. Charles's mind 
was too clear to be satisfied with the noise of words and the 
brilliancy of images. He also knew that the philosophy of 
ancient times had purified nothing, softened nothing, 
brought no consolation, and doubtless he would have re- 
turned to the maxim of absolute scepticism he had learnt at 
college : " Man cannot know the truth," if the sight of the 
chosen little society in which he again found himself had 
not each day shaken the fragile authority of this inference. 

The probity, delicacy, and charity which had become 
habitual and in a manner natural, the joy also of the con- 
sciences around him which were not hidden from him, but 
which he could read, constantly forced him to return to 
himself. "Here are," he said to himself, "men and 
women, all cultivated, some of quite superior intelligence, 
and since they entirely accept the Catholic Faith, may it 
not be true? They have studied it, they live it fully. And 
what do I, indeed, know of it? Honestly, do I know 
Catholicism?" 

Mere anxiety about such things is itself a prayer, and 
God was hearkening to it. A few pages of a Christian book 
which he had opened after so many others, in a moment of 
anguish — I do not know what it was — began to enlighten 
this unbeliever, v/ho had sought perfect beauty and infinite 
tenderness wherever they were not. 

Probably his aunt, cousins, and sister, who came several 
times to see him in Paris, and whom he loved tenderly, had 
some suspicion of the interior work which was leading a 
stray heart and mind to the truth. They did not hurry it 
on by any human means. They were good and kind, they 
followed the straight path, they prayed. It was by chance 
that one evening, at Madame Moitessier's, Charles met Abb6 
Huvelin, who had long been a friend of many of the 
de Foucaulds. Being very humble, very simple, very much 
a man of prayer and mysticism, this old Normal scholar 



HIS CONVERSION 67 

made a great impression on the man who was one day to 
resemble him. What did he say that evening ? 

It is quite certain he did not try to be smart. If he had 
wit, it was because he could not help having it. Friend- 
ships like that about to spring up between Charles de 
Foucauld and him have not their origin in words, nor in 
the brilliancy of talent, nor in the will to conquer. An 
unbeliever, who had also lived badly, finds himself in 
presence of another man, not only believing and chaste, 
but now a man of prayer, and the essence of pity for man's 
immense frailty and suffering; perhaps even more, perhaps 
one of the victims who are said to offer themselves in secret 
to God for suffering to make reparation for the evil, and to 
alleviate the punishment of others.^ These two men may 
only have exchanged commonplace remarks; may only 
have bowed, then looked at each other five or six times that 
evening. That was enough : they recognized and waited 
for one another; in their hearts henceforth they called 
this meeting a great event. The one thought : " You are 
religion itself"; the other: "Brother, unhappy brother, 
I am but a poor man, but God is very kind. He is 
seeking your soul's salvation." They never forgot one 
another. 

Abb6 Huvelin, born in 1838, was therefore, in 1886, still 
a young man, although he hardly appeared so ; the penitent 
life which he led from his youth, and which had made his 
comrades of the Ecole Normale smile or stirred them ; the 
fatigue of being and of having been at the mercy of all 
sorrows in quest of easing, of all human restlessness seek- 
ing a decision ; illness also, a sort of general rheumatism 
which already affiicted him, left him little but the youth of 
a quick mind and a very tender heart. His head leant upon 
his shoulder, and his face was full of wrinkles ; walking was 
often a torture to him. In Paris, this curate at Saint 
Augustine's had a tremendous clientele of penitents, innu- 
merable friends, and, what further singularly added to the 
complications of his life, a reputation for sanctity. 

Holiness is the most powerful attraction for drawing 
souls together. His had promptly revealed itself in the 
conferences which he gave to young men, from 1875, ^^ 
the History of the Church. In spite of his protestations, 
he had seen women in great numbers, and men whose youth 

^ One of his maxims was this': " One does good much less by 
what one does or says, than by what one is." See L'Enseignement 
catholique dans la France contemporaine, by Mgr. Baudrillart, Bloud 
et Cie., 1918. 



68 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

was over, mix with the piibhc for which his conferences in 
the crypt were first arranged. He spoke also in the parish 
pulpit, and they thronged to hear the talks of one who did 
not make a recitation, did not seek to astonish, but im- 
provised on a theme always thoroughly prepared, pouring 
forth an exuberant wit in living and natural language, 
prudent in doctrine, bold in what he had to say, abundant 
in reminiscences of literature or history, a man of digres- 
sions, parentheses, exclamations, and unexpected flashes — 
above all, a man with a long experience of the world and of 
mercy. Hence he was near each of his hearers : hence he 
was their sure and wished-for friend. His pity for sinners, 
one may say his tenderness for them, touched the most 
indifferent. They felt that he wished them better so that 
they might be happier, and that he was always thinking, 
for those who hardly reflected about it, of the definite hour 
at which they would appear before God, when they would 
be judged, condemned in their unhappiness without hope 
of dying, for death does not exist, even for a moment; all 
we have is two lives. 

The extreme zeal of Abbe Huvelin, the steps he took, the 
visits he paid and those he received, his immense corre- 
spondence — short, affectionate, and clear notes — the 
increase of austerity, proof of which is forthcoming at cer- 
tain periods, though we cannot exactly tell why : all this is 
explained by his love for souls in danger. 

For yet another reason, and a very powerful one, he was 
a counsellor to whom people resorted at once : he under- 
stood human suffering. He sympathized with it ; whatever 
it was, he had already met and heard and helped it. For 
him no aspect of it was unknown. Of it he said, simpli- 
fying a phrase of Bossuet's and stripping off its seven- 
teenth-century majesty : " We get a charm from sorrow." 
In the same spirit he thus defined the Church: "The 
Church is a widow." This saying to a society woman is 
also his : 

" Long ago I found out how to be happy." 

"How?" 

" By abstaining from pleasures." 

But to give a better understanding of how far such words 
go, I must quote others, and shall do so from one of his 
hearers. At the same time we shall hear the orator speak. 
It will be no hors-d'oeuvre, since we are speaking with the 
priest who is to convert Charles de Foucauld and turn him 
into Father de Foucauld.* 

* I owe this inestimable passage to Vicomte de Montmorand. 



HIS CONVERSION 69 

*' Jesus is the Man of Sorrows, because He is the Son of 
Man, and man is but sorrow. Sorrow accompanies us from 
birth to death ; it purifies and ennobles us, it gives us charm. 
It is because it is our inseparable companion that Jesus 
wished it to be His. 

" Great souls — for the honour of humanity, we must have 
some to follow in the footsteps of Christ — have called for 
and desired sorrow. They have said the Fac me tecum 
plangere of the Stabat Mater. We have no such ambition ; 
we only ask to accept sorrow with compunction and resigna- 
tion, when it is offered. 

" Far from us, above all, be those little sorrows, less easy 
to endure than the great ones, those wounds so paltry, so 
peevish, so venomous, wrought by the passions, and by 
self-love ! It is the shame of mankind to suffer so much 
for so little. 

^'^ Jesus in the Garden of Olives. He is sorrowful even 
unto death. The apostles do not understand His sorrow; 
this divine sorrow is too far beyond them. To understand 
it, one must know what sin is. They knew it not, nor can 
we know it. 

" His attitude is not a Greek attitude. He does not 
dominate His sadness, does not say, as a stoic would : 
'Sorrow, thou art but a word!' Far from it! Sorrow 
invaded Him through every pore ; it inundated His soul ; it 
rose like a tide and submerged all the heights. 

" He prays, but His prayer is not the natural movement, 
the happy breathing of His soul ; nor is it a flow of beau- 
tiful thoughts; it is a sob, a sob dying down into an amen. 
* So be it !' is His whole prayer. His will, united, identified 
hitherto with that of the Father, now for the first time seems 
something distinct. The load is too heavy : ' Thou canst 
do all things : take away this chalice from Me.' 

" He seeks help from the Apostles and finds them asleep. 
One is alone in sadness when yearning for a word from the 
heart. Friends come only in our hours of calm, or if they 
drop in during the storm, they don't say what should be 
said, or they wound by their want of tact or silliness. Such 
were Job's friends. 

"At last an angel comes to strengthen Him: Angelus 
confortavit eum. To strengthen, not to console Him. 
Grace is essentially strengthening, not consoling. . . ." 

I cannot quote more at length without going beyond my 
purpose. The above quotation and what I have said are 
enough to make us understand why all human miseries, all 
doubts, and all repentance went naturally to Abb6 Huvelin. 



70 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

He heard confessions at Saint Augustine's, he received 
many people at home. What a robust and agile mind must 
this invalid and cripple have had, to form one idea after 
another of all the moral problems submitted to him, so as to 
study and solve them in a moment ! But he was gifted with 
so sure a judgment that he unravelled all the cases, and 
with a vision so penetrating of the intimate dispositions of 
the persons who consulted him, that several attributed it to 
a singular grace of God. Even circumstances are quoted in 
which he alluded to past and secret events in the life of his 
penitents. His advice was clear, simple, full of good sense, 
and he did not change it. He varied it according to persons. 
He did not treat bears as if they were swallows. More 
than once he was heard to say : " To some one has to say : 
' You must submit to that !' In canonical decisions there 
is a force with which those who despise them have to reckon 
more fully than they think. ' ' This great specialist in spiritual 
direction was generally at home in the afternoon. People 
of all ages and classes, Parisians and passing travellers, 
were to be met in his little antechamber. By turns they 
entered the next room, filled with books and papers, in 
which M. Huvelin was sitting with a cat on his knees, and 
as resigned to the crowd as to illness. The visitors who 
had been introduced to him, even in the distant past, were 
sure to be recognized. He listened with all his faculties. 
As he was brief, he required them to be the same. His 
ofifiice was a hard one. He, though naturally gay, was very 
often seen to weep ; he suffered with all the sorrows brought 
to him, with all the sins acknowledged to him, or that he 
divined in men's hearts. 

Such was the priest eminent in holiness — that is to say, 
in the science of God and man — whom Charles de Foucauld 
had met late one summer's evening. They did not imme- 
diately see each other again. But in Charles's soul the tide 
of grace was rising. One does not know whence it first 
comes. It is promised to men of good-will, or rather it is 
already given to them, and their good-will itself is its work. 
Just when it looked a long way off, it has already covered 
the muddy background; it is cool; it brings the birds with 
it, and its waves, breaking one after another, all say : " You 
must believe, be pure, be joyous with the great joy of God, 
and get the light on the living waters." This dim stirring, 
this desire for illumination, he felt more and more strongly 
within him. Between two walks or at nightfall, he might 
now be seen to go into a church ; he would sit far from the 
altar, understanding neither what had drawn him in, nor 



HIS CONVERSION 71 

what held him there ; and he would say none of his prayers 
of former days, but this, which went straight up to heaven : 
" My God, if You exist, make me know it !" 

One October evening, in one of those family talks, in 
which the mind and heart speak freely and without trying 
to find the way, when the children were playing round the 
table before going to bed, one of his cousins said to 
Charles : 

" It appears that Abbe Huvelin will not go on with his 
conferences again; I regret it very much." 

"So do 1," replied Charles, "for I intended to follow 
them." 

The reply was not noticed. Some days later he gravely 
said to his cousin : 

"You are fortunate to believe; I am seeking the light, 
and do not find it." 

Between October 27 and 30, the next day after this con- 
versation, Abbe Huvelin saw a young man enter his con- 
fessional without kneeling down. He simply bent forward 
and said : 

" Abb^, I have not the faith, I have come to ask you to 
instruct me." 

M. Huvelin looked at him. 

"Kneel down, confess to God; you will believe." 

" But I did not come for that." 

"Confess." 

The man who wanted to believe felt that pardon was for 
him the condition of light. He knelt down, and made a 
confession of all his life. 

When he saw the absolved penitent get up, the Abbe 
added : 

"Are you fasting?" 

" Yes." 

" Go to communion !" 

And Charles de Foucauld at once approached the holy 
table, and made his " second first communion." 

He did not speak of his conversion. It was by certain 
acts that it was gradually seen that the depths of his soul 
were changed. His life continued to be laborious; peace 
had returned to it, and was always transparently visible in 
his eyes, smile, voice or words. His letters, which never 
had ceased being affectionate, became grateful. The name 
of God often occurs in them. His life is silently remoulded 
on the recovered ideal. In this renewal all is profound, dis- 
creet, and simple. 

For instance, Charles soon heard of the birth of a nephew, 



72 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

who became his godson : he set out for Dijon, spent a few 
days with his sister and brother-in-law, and was no sooner 
back in Paris than he sent them the thanks of a rejuvenated 
heart : 

"Visits to you are very pleasant. They only have one 
fault : that one is surrounded with so much kindness and 
affection that one feels one's heart too poor to give back 
as much as one has received, and one fears never to love 
enough, never to show enough appreciation and gratitude. 
Living in your home is not only most delightful, but also 
one gets better from inhaling its atmosphere of affection 
and calm. 1 hope soon to be able to return. In leaving 
you, I am thinking of nothing but the time of my return. I 
do not believe much in acting according to plans, but if I 
do not rely on my foresight, I preserve the hope that some 
unforeseen thing will bring me to you before long. 

" You know my work and ideas, and my vague thoughts 
as to the future : we spoke of them yesterday : you will 
easily follow me from now until we see each other again. 
In leaving you, it is a very great joy for me to know all 
the places between which you will divide your time. In 
writing to you, I am near you in Dijon : the day after 
to-morrow, I shall follow you to Echalot ; I shall hunt with 
you, I shall drag the wheelbarrow with Maurice ; I shall 
admire M. de Blic's library; I shall warm myself en jamille 
by the fireside. Now that I know all your retreats, I am 
going to be very often and pleasantly with you." 

The manuscript of the Reconnaissance au Maroc was 
finished at the beginning of 1887, and, immediately, the 
printed proofs began to come in abundance to the rooms in 
Rue de Miromesnil : very laborious work for a scholar so 
careful about details, who wished his work to be in full- 
dress, as he was himself at the time of the Cavalry School : 
a heavy expense for a budget which the journey to the 
shotts, ten excursions in France, and setting up in Paris, 
had already burdened him. "My income is enough for 
these unusual expenses, but only just ; also, since my return 
from Morocco, I have borrowed nothing whatever, but I 
have saved nothing. I desire to get rid of my legal 
guardian, whom I have had now for seven years. With 
this guardianship going on, I cannot think of any other 
journeys, and as my book is coming out, it is time to con- 
sider fresh expeditions."^ 

At the end of 1887 and beginning of 1888, Vicomte 

^ Letter to a friend, April 9, 1887. Tlie guardian was removed in 
October, 1888. 



HIS CONVERSION 73 

de Foucauld's works, Itiner aires au Maroc, Reconnaissance 
au Maroc, appeared among the booksellers. Their success, 
as I have said, in the restricted circle of geographers, 
scholars, and colonials, either in France or foreign coun- 
tries, was very great. But, when a great book appears, the 
people who speak of it are of two sorts, and are like the 
moon with its halo : some read the famous pages and carry- 
away with them fresh information and ideas ; others get 
some brightness at any rate. They run through a few 
pages ; they pick out some quotations ; they rehearse the 
title and extol the author on the strength of the nearest 
newspaper, review, or drawing-room talker. This was im- 
mediately the case with the Reconnaissance au Maroc. 
The young explorer was celebrated on all sides : his renown 
spread : letters of congratulation poured in to the Rue de 
Miromesnil; friends climbed the stairs, and each recalling 
his claim upon the memory of his glorious comrade called 
out : " Well, old man, there is a success for you. And 
well deserved, too ! What untold dangers you ran ! 
Where are you going to now? For you owe it to us and 
to yourself to start on fresh explorations !" 

Our friend, as we know, was not a man to discuss his 
plans in public. He preferred to think over them w4th a 
few rare initiates. Before setting out for Morocco he had 
consulted MacCarthy, books and atlases. Now he takes 
counsel of God, who has determined to take the explorer 
into His service. Nature was not destroyed by de 
Foucauld's conversion, but improved and renewed. Hence- 
forth his courage, strength of will, and extraordinary 
faculty of endurance were to be exercised for the good of 
souls. 

One of the men of our times, best endowed for colonial 
adventure and the study of unknown tongues and customs, 
was not lost to science ; but its disciple, who was never to 
deny it, now perceived that the finest employment of the 
gifts which he had received was called charity, consisting 
in the total oblation of oneself, one's work, one's thoughts, 
one's patience, and one's blood, if necessary, in order that 
men may at last recognize their Creator through such self- 
sacrifice. He wished to prepare himself for this mission 
by a journey to the Holy Land. He would visit the earthly 
home of Jesus Christ : he would go and pray in the solitude 
which had never ceased to attract him. 

On November 2, 1888, he went to Le Tuquet, in the Bor- 
deaux country : from there he reached Nancy. He said 
farewell to the family. He said that his plan was to stay 



74 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

only a few weeks in the Holy Land. And he embarked at 
Marseilles. 

In the middle of December he was in Jerusalem, which 
he found covered with snow : he lingered to walk through 
the streets, to visit the churches, to go up and come down 
the Mount of Olives : he spent Christmas at Bethlehem, 
then made a great excursion into Galilee on horseback, 
accompanied by a guide on a pack-horse. In his letters 
he shows a lively devotion for Nazareth. After leaving the 
town, he returned to it. There he meditated more feelingly 
than elsewhere. And if you wish to know the main theme 
of his meditation, I can tell you. This white town with 
steep and winding streets on the flanks of Nebi-Sain, 
touched the penitent heart of Charles de Foucauld. It 
inspired him with an unquenchable love for the hidden life, 
and for obedience, the state of voluntary humility. It re- 
echoed to him Abbe Huvelin's magnificent saying : " Our 
Lord took the last place in such a way that nobody can 
ever rob Him of it." I think I may affirm that all the 
rest of de Foucauld's life was worked and modelled by the 
recollection of Nazareth. 

It was clearly seen at the beginning of March, 1889, as 
soon as the traveller was back in Paris. This is the year 
of resolutions, or — to use the language of spirituality — of 
election. What was he going to do? 

Since his conversion he read still more than befofe, but 
other books, and his reading made him enter into the world 
of doctrine, morals, and religious history. He marvelled 
to see how simple and how reasonable truth is ; he won- 
dered how he could formerly have been so upset as to doubt 
religion, as to cast it away for objections so long ago 
answered and so easy to clear up. He learned the first of 
the sciences — that of the conduct of life. On the advice of 
Abh6 Huvelin, he went to Mass every morning, and after 
beginning with frequent communion, it became his daily 
bread. 

We know the care he had given to the preparation of his 
main journey. He wished all the more to prepare for the 
vocation which increasingly attracted him. From the very 
moment of his conversion, he felt himself called to the re- 
ligious life. But there are numerous Orders. If they are 
all meant to lead to heaven, the men who enrol themselves 
in them are diff'erent ; each has his own temperament, even 
in the service of God, and ought to have a road of his own. 
Which should he take ? 

In order to find out, in that same year Charles made no 



HIS CONVERSION 75 

less than four retreats. He approached in succession the 
living Rule of three great Orders. At Easter he was with 
the Benedictines at Solesmes ; at Trinity he started for the 
Grande-Trappe ; on October 20 he went up to Notre-Dame- 
des-Neiges and spent a whole week in meditation, after 
which he came to no decision. At last, in the second half 
of November, under the direction of a Jesuit at Clamart, 
having again taken up the examination of the first truths 
and the study of his religious vocation, the former lieutenant 
of Chasseurs d'Afrique, the explorer of yesterday, wrote to 
his sister : 

" I returned from Clamart yesterday, and I have at last, 
in great security and great peace, on the formal counsel of 
the Father who directed me, taken entire and without 
reserve the resolution of which I have been thinking for a 
long time; it is to enter La Trappe. It is now a settled 
thing : I have been thinking of it for a long time. I have 
been in four monasteries : in the four retreats, I was told 
that God called me, and that he called me to La Trappe. 
Inwardly I feel drawn to the same place, my director is of 
the same opinion. ... It is something determined, and 
I tell you of it as such. I shall enter the monastery of 
Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, where I was some time ago. . . . 
When ? It is not yet settled ; I have several things to put 
straight; I have, above all, to go and bid you farewell. . . . 
But, indeed, that will not take very long. 

"When I start, I shall say I am off on some journey, 
and not at all that I am entering, or thinking in the least of 
entering, the religious life." 

He had obtained the consent of the Abbot of Notre-Dame- 
des-Neiges. But in his letter of application, he had named 
La Trappe at Akbes, in Syria, and begged that after some 
months of probation and novitiate, he might be sent to 
that distant house, " if that is, as I think it is, the holy will 
of our Father who is in heaven." 

Alone, the nearest relations were advised of the great 
decision. The days were henceforth counted. Charles 
started on December 11 for Dijon: with his sister and 
M. de Blic he spent a week, the last he could give them 
before his retirement, solitude, and silence. Then he re- 
turned to Paris to settle some business, notably the leav- 
ing of his property to his sister. 

He went away poor, the world was to see him no more. 
One of his friends saw him on the top of an omnibus and 
was very much astonished. A few days later the letters of 
invitation addressed to Vicomte de Foucauld remained with- 



76 CHAIRLES DE FOUCAULD 

out an answer. One of his cousins asked him to come and 
partake of some Alsatian venison, venison from Saverne, 
and Charles, habitually punctilious, gave no sign of life. 
They made inquiries, and learnt that he had left Paris. 
On January 14, 1890, he sent his sister a farewell letter : 

" Au revoir, my good Mimi. I leave Paris to-morrow. 
About 2 p.m. I shall be at Notre-Dame-des-Neiges. Pray 
for me. I shall pray for you and yours. We do not forget 
one another in drawing nearer to God. ..." 

He had said, at Dijon, a few weeks earlier : " Let us be 
sad, but let us thank God for our sadness." 



CHAPTER V 
The Trappist 

TO understand the extraordinary life of Father de 
Foucauld, v/e must consider two spiritual facts upon 
which all was built ; first, his passion for the East, which 
was far from a mere love of colour and picturesqueness — 
it was primarily a preference for solitude and silence, and 
for such extreme simplicity of dress, food, and lodging as 
one can adopt without singularity; secondly, the energy, 
the inward dominance of will, that strove for evangelical 
perfection with the same ardour, the same tenacity, the 
same absence of all fear as were seen in the young officer 
undertaking his journey to Morocco. 

The conversion was thorough. Charles de Foucauld 
abandoned himself entirely to the divine will, to be what it 
desired. He already knew that he had to serve it in charity 
and obscurity. Step by step he learnt the rest; he went 
where the most neglected souls on earth were to call him, 
and, hard on the flesh which had ruled him in the past, 
tried by love to bring himself down to the poverty of God 
made man. 

At the time, all that came after was hidden from him ; he 
had only one thing shining clear : the resolve to obey, and 
his passionate desire for the best. Likewise, around him, 
nobody suspected into what exceptional ways he was one 
day to be led. And if we are astonished that so experienced 
and sagacious a counsellor as Abb6 Huvelin foresaw 
nothing of it, it may be answered that the best endowed of 
us cannot disclose the future ; that just as the world was 
created in six days, so does God act in transforming a soul, 
which is also a world ; that He exercises consideration for 
our weakness, and does not at once adapt our circumstances 
to certain dreams of perfection, which no doubt do not dis- 
please, and may even come from Him, but which He wishes 
us to attain by degrees, when the practice of patience has 
made us more prudent and stronger. 

I decided to visit La Trappe of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges. 
It is built on the high plateaux of the heights of the 
Vivarais, in a wild country, which formerly belonged to 
Languedoc.^ When you reach the wind-swept, heather- 

* Situated in the commune of Saint-Laurent les Bains (Ardeche), the 
Abbey of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges has its station and post-office at the 
Bastide-Saint- Laurent (Lozere). 

77 



78 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

clad summits that surround the monastery, you see all 
around in the far distance only peaks of about the same 
height, stretching their rocky ridges and meagre verdure 
upwards into the light, separated from one another by the 
violet shadows of the ravines. There are, one may say, 
no farms on the heights; or just one or two, with squat 
walls and crouching roofs, made to bear six months' snow 
and storm. I came from afar, by a road which follows the 
hill-tops. The road descended a little; the motor entered 
an avenue bordered by two woods of pine and beeches, 
then, suddenly, coming out of the shade, the wide spaces 
again stretched out in the sun. Before me, half-way up 
the slope, stood the monastery of white granite with its 
barns, cellars, cow-houses, and stables ; a forest sown by 
the monks covered the slopes of the mountain opposite, 
and the whole valley between the two great woods was but 
an undulating river of ripe oats and wheat. 

The monastery, such as it is to-day, is no longer the one 
into which Charles de Foucauld was received. The monks' 
cells, the chapter-house, and the church were destroyed by 
fire on January 27, 1912, but these monks, the sowers of 
forests, are also builders. On a more elevated and much 
more beautiful site than the former one, 3,500 feet up, they 
have built a new and plain abbey, on sober lines, in which 
the clock alone speaks, where Cistercian peace and work 
take shelter.^ 

When Charles de Foucauld presented himself at Notre- 
Dame-des-Neiges to be admitted among the novices, he 
was questioned. The rule of St. Benedict orders the 
Superiors to examine the postulants carefully, and in ques- 
tioning them to test them, so as to know the character of 
the future Brother well, and the motives which have brought 
him to the abbey door. Dom Martin, Abbot of this com- 
munity of silent workers, knew that the man who speaks 
willingly of himself thus declares himself inclined to self- 
satisfaction and boasting. He asked : 

"What can you do?" 

"Not much." 

"Read?" 

"A little."^ 

The Abbot saw by this, as well as by many other replies 
in the same tone, that this lieutenant of Chasseurs d'Afrique 

^ The first inhabitants of this new house were the soldiers wounded 
in the Great War of 1914. During this war the Trappists of Notre- 
Dame-des-Nciges had twenty-two of their members in the first line at 
the front ; seven fell for France. 



THE TRAPPIST 79 

was, on the contrary, no great talker, and so far very 
modest. Having finished questioning him, he asked him 
to sweep a little, so as to see. He perceived at the first 
sweep of the broom that the postulant had had no practice. 
His education would have to be completed. 

It was thus the Vicomte Charles de Foucauld entered the 
novitiate of La Trappe of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges to be- 
come Brother Marie-Alb6ric. 

The Brothers of this great Order afterwards recollected 
him as a monk ever ready to help, very pious, almost 
excessive in his austerity, but a man of balanced judgment : 
in a word, they recollected a personality and a saint. I 
employ these terms as all those who knew Father de 
Foucauld do ; these monks, soldiers, and travellers knew 
very well that the Church alone has the right to judge of 
holiness. Waiting for her decision, if she one day does 
decide, they followed the custom of the world and said : " I 
have seen a saint." And how could we express better and 
more briefly our admiration for a man in whom we think an 
uncommon virtue lives ? Brother Marie-Alb^ric edified the 
monastery, above all, by his humility. He was perfectly 
simple, and he knew what to do, being a man of the best 
society, whom virtue led to take the lowest place. Educa- 
tion is useful for everything, even for getting oneself for- 
gotten and unnoticed, or for trying to be so. One of these 
monks, a reaper of wheat, a driver of oxen, whom I ques- 
tioned, gave me this remarkable reply : 

" Sir, I talked to him as I should to a peasant !" He 
added : 

'* I saw him every day : he never refused to do anything 
for anyone : he was as good as a second Francis of Assisi !" 

The regimen of La Trappe tested more than one solidly 
built novice. Brother Alb^ric had a constitution of iron 
and a will of the same metal. He declared many times that 
neither fasting, nor vigils, nor work ever inconvenienced 
him. The only thing that was difficult for him was 
obedience, and here again we seize a feature of his proud 
impetuous nature, made and accustomed to command, 
which only yielded to grace. ^ 

I shall now quote a certain number of letters written from 

^ It is necessary, however, to beware of believing legends which have 
singularly exaggerated the severities of the Trappist rule. Penance, 
with the monks, as with all Christians, is but a means of moral perfec- 
tion ; it would exceed its intent if the body became a weak and sickly 
servant of the soul. A subjugated body; a soul consequently more 
free : the austerity allowed does not go beyond that point — i.e., equili- 
brium. It should also be known that in the course of time there was 



8o CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

Notre-Dame-des-Neiges by Brother Alb^ric, either to his 
sister or to other members of his family. They will show 
better than a story the thoughts of the novice in his solitude 
under the rule of a very capable monk, a worthy son of 
St. Bernard, Abbot Martin. 

He entered the novitiate on January i6, 1890, and the 
same day wrote in the sorrow of separation : 

" I must get strength from my weakness, employ this 
weakness itself for God, thank Him for this suffering and 
offer it to Him. ... I ask Him from the bottom of my 
heart to increase my suffering if I can bear a heavier load, 
so that it may afford Him a little more compensation and 
do His children a little more good : that He may diminish 
it if it is not for His glory and according to His will, but 
I am sure it is the will of Him who wept for Lazarus. . . ." 

In the second letter he says that he will take the Trappist 
habit on January 26, the feast of St. Alberic : 

"It is probable that I shall send in my resignation as a 
Reserve officer, giving Akbes as my residence, which will 
simplify everything. 

" I continue to be in the best of health. From the first 
day I have led the regular life . . . and how goes my soul ? 
Less badly than I expected : the good God let me find un- 
expected consolation in solitude and silence. I am con- 
stantly, absolutely constantly, with Him, and with those 
whom I love. This continual life with all that is dear to 
me in heaven and on earth, without filling the void, has 
afforded me consolation, but, indeed, God has Himself 
upheld me during these first days. . . . Manual work 
does not prevent meditation ; I am recommended to work 
steadily so as to be able to meditate. 

" I have not suffered at all from cold ; up to the present it 
has not snowed, and it is sunny. No doubt hard moments 
will come, but as yet there are none; neither have I suffered 
from hunger,^ and, thanks to the variety of work and 
exercises, I did not feel hungry before sitting down to table. 
This is to "tell you that the material side of the life has not 
cost me the shadow of a sacrifice. 

some mitigation of the rigour which appeared quite simple to our 
fathers, undoubtedly more robust than we are. And to quote only 
the most recent : in 1892 Pope Leo XIII united in a single order 
— that of the reformed Cistercians — the divers congregations of Trap- 
pists, and ordered that fasts were never to be prolonged beyond 
midday. 

^ The chief meal at La Trappe \va.s then at half-past 2 in the after- 
noon ; the time of rising 2 in the morning, and of going to bed 7 in the 
evening. 



THE TRAPPIST 8i 

" Up to now I have carried branches, made wreaths for 
the perpetual adoration, swept the church, and polished the 
candlesticks; nothing hard, you see." 

" February 6, 1890. — In this sad w^orld, we have a real 
happiness which neither the saints nor the angels have — 
that of suffering with our Well-Beloved, for our Well- 
Beloved. However hard this life may be, however long 
these sad days may be, however consoling the thought of 
this good valley of Josaphat may be, let us not be more 
eager than God wishes to quit the foot of the Cross. . . . 
'Good Cross,' said St. Andrew. Since our Master has 
deigned to make us feel, if not always the sweetness of it, 
at least its beauty and necessity for him who desires to love 
Him, let us not wish to be freed from it sooner than He 
wishes. . . . However, God knows that the day when 
this exile ends will be welcome, for there is more strength 
in my words than in my heart. "^ 

He read St. Bernard, learnt the Psalms by heart, and 
how to make use of the breviary ; he studied the Holy Scrip- 
tures for an hour and read Abbe Fouard, Bossuet, the 
Imitation, the Gospels, the Life of St. Gertrude, and the 
works of St. Teresa. 

*' February 18, iSgo. — About myself, I have little to tell 
you. No rumour from outside reaches us ; here are solitude 
and silence with God. The time is divided between prayer, 
readings bringing one nearer to God, manual labour done 
in imitation of Him and in union with Him. That fills 
every day, except Sundays and feasts, when work ceases. 
I could live long thus without having to talk much of 
myself. . . . They are very good to me, with a charity 
full of tenderness; a great charity reigns in the convent : I 
thus, and in many other ways, receive examples which I 
must beg God to turn to my advantage." 

"Easter Monday, 1890. — I must not say that I bore the 
fast and cold well ; I did not feel them ... of the Lenten 
diet (a single meal a day at half-past four^) I can only say 
one thing : I found it pleasant and comfortable, and I did 

^ He expressed this noble feeling for the Cross in another letter of 
the same period : 

" I desired to enter the religious life to keep our Lord company in 
His sufferings as much as possible." 

2 Now the Trappists take their principal meal in Lent at noon, and 
partake of a collation in the evening. 

6 



82 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

not feel hungry a single day. However, I did not gorge too 
much. 

" As for my soul, it is absolutely in the same state as at 
the time of my last letter ; the only difference is that the good 
God upholds me still more; He sustains both my soul and 
body; I have nothing to bear : He bears all. I should be 
very ungrateful towards this loving Father, towards our 
gentle Lord Jesus, if I did not tell you how He holds me in 
His hand, putting me in His peace, keeping trouble away 
from me, driving it away, driving off depression as soon as 
it tries to draw near. . . . This state of things is too un- 
expected for me to be able to attribute it to any other than 
Him. What is this peace, this consolation? It is nothing 
extraordinary ; it is a union of every moment in prayer, 
reading, worK, in all, with our Lord, with the Holy Virgin, 
with all the Saints who surrounded Him in His life. . . . 
The offices, holy Mass, prayer in which my dryness was so 
painful to me, are, in spite of the innumerable distractions 
of which I am guilty, very sweet to me. . . . Manual 
labour is a consolation through its likeness to our Lord's, 
and it is a continual meditation (it ought to be, but I am 
very apt to idle)." 

t 

In this letter and in some other records, we have already 
been able to note the minute care with which Brother Alberic 
analyzes the motions of his mind and heart. No doubt, it 
is more than a first effort and a novelty ; it is a habit he had 
acquired in the solitudes during his great journeys, and 
which the religious life had perfected. He complains, like 
all souls given to spirituality, of moments of dryness, and 
declares that he is unworthy of the consolations which 
follow. 

" Whit-Stmday, 1890. — The origin of this dryness is 
almost always in the slackness with which I resist tempta- 
tions, especially temptations against obedience in spirit : I 
find it hard to subject the senses — that will not astonish 
you ; however that is a trifle. I do not accept gladly enough 
the manual labours assigned me, and this shows a great 
want of love; if I felt how they bring me near to our Lord, 
how happy should I be in everything. ... ' May the will 
of our Lord be done, not mine ' ; this I say to Him with my 
whole heart; I tell Him, at least, that I want to say this to 
Him with my whole heart, for I fear I only say it to Him 
with my lips; ... it is, however, true that I solely desire 
HisAvill." 



THE TRAPPIST 83 

Yes, surel3% he desired the will of God, and no doubt he 
wrote these lines to prepare the family at Dijon, and also 
in Paris, and those still farther away, for the more com- 
plete separation which had just been decided upon. 

Why did Brother Alberic leave La Trappe of Notre- 
Dame-des-Neiges ? I have said that from the beginning 
he had asked to be sent to the poorest and most distant 
monastery in Asia Minor; was it his desire for absolute 
solitude ? To be nothing but a name, one of whom people 
say, " He is away yonder, we don't know where " ? Was 
it his recollection of the horizons he had loved ? No doubt, 
but the time was past when the East was to him only his 
favourite land of travel, investigation, and dreams. Other 
attractions, of an austere and mysterious kind, led him to 
the monastery of Akbes, now that he had determined to 
bring under his long dominant body and to do penance. 
He went to the East to be still poorer there ; to feel nearer 
to the Holy Land, where the Son of God had suffered and 
worked; he went moved by a compassion for the peoples 
sunk in error, a feeling which was to carry him much far- 
ther away ; in short, he went to this new dwelling because it 
was hard for him to leave France. " I shall not say to you 
that I am not downcast at this time," he wrote in the month 
of June; " it will be hard to watch the coast fading away." 
Everything is prepared for the departure. A place re- 
served, for Alexandretta, on a vessel which sails from Mar- 
seilles on the 27th. On the eve. Brother Marie-Alberic bids 
adieu to his Brothers of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges. He 
writes to his family : 

" I find m)'self on the boat which will carry me away 
to-morrow ; it seems to me that I shall feel each wave, one 
after the other, taking me farther away. ... It appears 
to me that my only help will be to think of each as one step 
nearer to the end of life. . . . 

"From Marseilles to Alexandretta I shall be alone; the 
Brother who was to leave with me remains. I am satisfied 
with this solitude ; I shall be able to think without check. 
My address is : Trappe de Notre-Dame-du-Sacre-Coeur, via 
Alexandretta (Syria). I shall reach Alexandretta on the 
thirteenth day of the voyage. I set out tiext day for Notre- 
Dame-du-Sacre-Coeur, and after two days' travel, get 
there in the evening of the next day." 

And when the voyage is nearly done, he pens these 
words, a real cry of loving anguish : " To-morrow I shall 
be at Alexandretta, and I shall say good-bye to this sea, the 
last link with the country where you all live." 



84 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

He landed. The journey to the mountains began at 
once. Brother Marie-Alberic set out from Alexandretta in 
the afternoon of July lo, with a Father of Notre-Dame-du 
Sacre-Coeur who had come the night before to fetch him. 
" Except for a five hours' halt we rode all night and the 
next day, mounted on mules, escorted by three armed 
Turks : on Friday at 6 o'clock we arrived at Notre-Dame- 
du-Sacre-Coeur, a mass of small houses of boards and pis6, 
covered with thatch, a sort of Jules Verne establishment, a 
tangle of barns, cattle and little houses crowding quite close 
to one another for fear of raids and robbers ; it is shaded by 
tall trees and watered by a spring which comes out of the 
rock ; but the outside only is in Jules Verne style, the inside 
is better : our Lord is within. . . . 

"... The house is made up of a score of religious and 
about fifteen orphans from six to twelve years of age, with- 
out speaking of birds of passage." 

What was this monastery of Notre-Dame-du-Sacre-Coeur, 
a summary description of which we have just read? An 
improvised abbey, founded in 1882 as a refuge in the moun- 
tains by the Trappists of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, in case 
they happened to have to leave France. The domain is 
called She'ikhle (pronounced Shirley) and forms part of the 
province (vilayet) of Adana. To get there, you leave 
Alexandretta by the Aleppo road. It ascends a little at 
first, then the ascent becomes very difficult. Indeed, you 
must cross the chain of the Amanus. The windings 
increase. On the road cut out of the rock, and without any 
parapets, rows of pack-camels, teams, and people riding or 
walking descend or climb up. In five hours you arrive at 
the Bailan Pass, a famous spot passed through by all the 
invaders of this part of Asia : the Assyrians, the armies of 
Darius, of Alexander, the armies of the Romans, of the 
Arab Sultans and of the Crusaders, when seeking the plain 
of Antioch. The ruins of mediaeval castles are still used 
as quarries by the people of the country. You come to a 
stop at Bailan, the frontier between the vilayets of Aleppo 
and Adana, for the Turks have placed a Custom-house 
there. It is here that travellers coming from the interior 
and intending to go to the coast have to give their arms 
back to the zapties (police), or, at least, as the Kurds and 
Circassians are seldom absent, thrust or hide their pistols 
or daggers between the folds of their girdles. Beyond the 
village the descent begins. The bridges over the torrents 
are not so safe as the fords. The Aleppo road is left only 
at the foot of the mountain, to take to the left a simple track 



THE TRAPPISr 85 

through the forests, moors or arable land, and it hardly 
swerves away from the lowest slopes of the Amanus and 
winds round the spurs of the mountain. After a long 
march, a very jagged cleft in the mountain is reached. 

There is the little town of Akbes with the Lazarist mis- 
sion. Travellers, like Brother Alberic and his companion, 
who wish to go on to La Trappe of Sheikhle, then enter the 
ravine, go up it for two hours, and then descend a little to 
reach the bottom of a high valley quite wonderful in its 
formation and scenery. 

Imagine a circle of mountains surrounding it, all covered 
with tall parasol pines, under which oaks and other trees 
and shrubs grow. It is itself cultivated, tilled and sown 
like the country in France or Italy, since there are monks 
of St. Bernard in this wild corner of Turkey. Gushing 
springs water it and form a stream which has ended in 
cutting through the mountain-side and falls in cascades. 
In the distance through this cutting stretches away the 
waving expanse towards Killis and Aleppo. It is the only 
opening on the world. Outside the gap, there is nothing 
but verdure and blue sky. 

The monastery was built in haste. One really cannot 
imagine a poorer one. A fence limits and protects it 
against prowlers, but it is made of dry thorn and stakes. 
No church is to be seen, with its roof and spire dominatfng 
the other buildings as in our Western abbeys. The entrance 
gate of the Sheikhle Trappe opens on to a farmyard. All 
along the right are the mules' stables and the cowhouses; 
on the left, a bakery, kitchen, forge, and a shed where the 
agricultural implements are put up ; at the farther end, the 
chapter-hall, refectory, and the Prior's room. Several 
other buildings to the left were grouped as required — 
chapel, joiners' shop, wood-house, rooms for study, library 
and linen-room ; but stone having been reserved for the 
chapel, the chapter-hall and the stables, the rest were built 
with cob-walls and roofed with boards or thatch. The 
appearance had none of the beautiful order that the word 
" monastery " conveys to us. To live there, men had to be 
stout in limb and heart. For, not to speak of always pos- 
sible incursions of bands of brigands tempted by the 
granaries, or excited by fanaticism, comfort was necessarily 
lacking and necessaries habitually. For example, in sum- 
mer the monks slept in a loft over the stables, the worn and 
badly joined lath floor of which let through the noise and 
odour of the animals. In winter they had as their dormi- 
tory another loft, over the chapter-hall and refectory, but 



86 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

they slept scarcely any better there than in the other one, 
when the snow covered the sheet-iron roof which was very 
near their moss-stuffed mattresses. The bed-clothes did not 
give much protection from the bite of the cold. In addition 
to this, if the domain sufficed to support those who cultivated 
it, it did not raise funds enough to build a real abbey. The 
land had been cleared eight years ago, and produced fine 
crops of wheat, barley, and cotton ; the kitchen-garden fur- 
nished an abundance of vegetables ; the well-kept and 
selected varieties of vines, at the end of the summer, 
promised a delicious white wine, but the distance from the 
markets rendered the sale almost useless, and carriage ate 
up the profits. 

Such were the place, scene, and material state of life in 
which Brother Alberic went on with his Trappist novitiate. 
His time was no longer spent in quite the same way. 

"The manual labour here was to gather cotton, carry 
away stones in the fields and make a heap of them where 
they are not in the way, to wash and saw wood; we never 
know beforehand what work we shall have to do. At the. 
hour for work a wooden slab is struck. The choir-monks 
assemble in a small room where the aprons and sabots are, 
and the Superior assigns each man his work. Since I have 
been here, I have spent two, sometimes three days a week, 
washing, the remainder in working in the fields; there my 
ordinary work is to clear the soil of the stones which 
encumber it and to carry them in baskets into heaps. . . . 
When there is particular work, crops to gather, I am sent 
to do it. I spent eight or ten days in gathering potatoes, two 
or three at the vintage, nearly three weeks at the cotton har- 
vest. Besides, novices have the pleasing duty of sweeping 
the church twice a week. . . . 

"Our orphans are Catholic children of Akbes, where 
three Lazarist missionaries have converted eight hundred 
schismatics in the last twenty years." 

Who are the neighbours of this monastery lost in the 
mountains of Asia Minor and what may be expected from 
them ? Comte Louis de Houcauld asked his cousin. 

" You wish to know," replied Brother Marie-Alberic, 
" whether I am in contact with the Musulmans : not much. 
It appears to me that this mixture of Kurds, Syrians, Turks, 
and Armenians would make a brave, laborious, and honest 
people if they were educated, governed, and above all con- 
verted. For the moment, they are mercilessly overtaxed, 
profoundly ignorant, and the Musulman religion has its sad 
influence on morals : our region is a corner of brigands. It 



THE TRAPPIST 87 

is for us to make the future of these peoples. The future, 
the only true future, is life eternal : this life is but the short 
trial which prepares for the next. The conversion of these 
people depends on God, on them, and on us Christians. 
God always gives grace abundantly : they are free to receive, 
or not to receive, the Faith : preaching in Musulman coun- 
tries is difficult, but the missionaries of so many centuries 
past have overcome many other difficulties. We have to be 
the successors of the first Apostles, the first evangelists. 
The Word is much, but example, love, and prayer are a 
thousand times more. Let us give them the example of a 
perfect life, of a superior and divine life : let us love them 
with that all-powerful love which makes itself beloved ; let 
us pray for them with a heart warm enough to draw down 
on them from God a superabundance of graces, and we shall 
infallibly convert them. . . ."^ 

" November 10, 1890. — The principal difference from 
Notre-Dame-des-Neiges is that here I am given the order 
to work with all my strength, though meditation should lose 
thereby; that is more conformable with poverty, with our 
Lord's example. But up to the present God has not willed 
meditation to lose by it; on the contrary, He gives me 
during work the faithful thought of Him and of those I love, 
which forms my life." 

He adds that he has not taken advantage of any exception. 
" It is true," he says, " that I have asked for nothing. "^ 
"Our mountains are entirely wooded with tall parasol 
pines under which grow oak-trees, holm-oaks and wild 
olives, and amidst which great masses of grey, cavernous 
rocks rise up in places. They swarm with partridges and 
deer; in winter, wolves, panthers, bears, and wild boars, 
which are very numerous in the neighbourhood, venture 
into them." 

" April. — Holy Communion is my great support, my all. 
I dare not ask for it every day : my unworthiness is infinite." 

''Easter Tuesday, 1890. — We should be joyful, for our 
Lord is risen ; our Well-Beloved, our Betrothed, the divine 
Spouse of our soul is infinitely happy, and His reign will 

^ Letter of November 28, 1892. 

^ He said : " To ask for nothing, unless in great necessity, is a maxim of 
St. Teresa which I try to put into practice, and each time that I do so I 
find myself the better for it." ' 



88 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

have no end; . . . this is the true foundation of our joy. . . . 
However sad I may be when 1 kneel at the foot of the aUar, 
and say to our Lord, ' Lord, Thou art infinitely happy and 
dost want for nothing,' I cannot do otherwise than add: 
' Then I too am happy, and in want of nothing ; Thy happi- 
ness suffices me.' . . ." 

July 14, 1890. — The foundation is going on very well : 
there are many novices, and some come from France, others 
from this country. ... I hope that God will bless this 
monastery, that can do so much good in the midst of a 
Musulman population among whom there is a certain num- 
ber of schismatic Christians. 

"... Exercises follow each other at short intervals, and 
one can hardly do the same thing long; it is this that 
after, and with the grace of God, makes life here so easy 
materially ; the great diversity of exercises, prayer, read- 
ing, and work follow one another. ... I am coming from 
church ; I am going, I think, to the fields ; and thus it is all 
day long. . . . We are now in the season of hard work; 
the wheat is being threshed ; for husbandmen, for Trappists, 
it is a big business. 

*' November 11, 1890. — Here God gives me a novice- 
master whose knowledge and example are admirable; he is 
a retired Abbot. A former Abbot of Notre-Dame-des- 
Neiges, he has come here to finish his already long re- 
ligious career; he is the real founder of this house, and does 
an immense amount of good in it."^ 

"January 3, 1891. — To-day, I write to you particularly 
to make you a gift of all my fiat in Paris contains : hence- 
forth it is yours, do what you please with it, sell, give, order 
what you like; it is just yours. . . . Except what is left 
as a souvenir, which Raymond will give back in my name, 
you will find most, and even all the things we cared for as 
coming from grandfather and our parents."- 

"... You ask to hear about me. My soul enjoys a 
profound peace, which has not ceased since coming here. 
It grows stronger every day, although I feel how little it 
comes from myself, how much it is a pure gift from God. 
It is a peace which increases faith, which calls for gratitude. 
Give thanks for me, so that I may be less ungrateful. . . . 

^ This monk was called Dom Polycarpe. 
^ In a later letter are these words written to his sister : 
"The greatest joy that my little possessions have given me will lie to 
get rid of them and to have them no longer." 



THE TRAPPIST 89 

I feel more every day that I am where God wishes me to be. 
In a few days it will be a year since I have been atLaTrappe. 
I am only overwhelmed by the infinite goodness of our 
Lord Jesus, who has thus called and led and overwhelmed 
me with so many graces. In a year I shall make my profes- 
sion. My heart is longing to be bound by vows, but I am 
already so by all my desires. 

"Think much of the poor, my good Mimi, during this 
hard winter. If you only knew how I regret not having 
done more for them when I was in the world ! I know well 
you need not have the same regrets, but I think I am right 
to tell you this, for here in La Trappe, though we don't 
suffer ourselves, we can imagine what they must suffer when 
they have not what we have." 

" July 3, 1881. — You ask me for news of my convent and 
of our work; we are about a score of Trappists, novices 
included. We are installed, as you see by the photographs, 
in a pretty extensive range of huts. There are live-stock; 
oxen, goats, horses, and asses — all that is required for culti- 
vation on a big scale. In our huts we board from fifteen to 
twenty Catholic orphans, between five and fifteen years of 
age ; there are at least ten or fifteen lay-workmen also shel- 
tered by us ; lastly, guests whose number varies ; you know 
monks are essentially hospitable. You will also get a very 
good idea of our life by reading Les Moines d'Occident by 
Montalembert. However, there is a difference : the monks 
of whom he speaks studied more than we, busied them- 
selves more than we with certain work, such as copying of 
manuscripts. Our great work is field labour; this dis- 
tinguishes the Order of St. Bernard, to which we belong, 
from the old monks. Thus, in autumn there was the vin- 
tage and the clearing of the fields ; in winter, sawing wood ; 
in spring, working with picks at the vine; in summer, har- 
vesting the hay. The harvest was finished the day before 
yesterday. It is peasants' work, a toil infinitely salutary 
for the soul ; while employing the body, it leaves the soul 
free to pray and meditate. Then this work, harder than 
you think if you have never done it, gives you such com- 
passion for the poor, such charity towards workmen and 
labourers ! You understand the cost of a piece of bread so 
well, when you see for yourself how much trouble it takes 
to produce it ! You feel so much pity for all who work, 
when you share in that work ! . . . 

" You wish me to describe one of our days. We get up 
at two in the morning, run to church, where we remain two 



90 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

hours reciting- the Psalms aloud in the choir; then, for an 
hour or an hour and a half we are free, we read and pray ; 
and the priests say Mass. Towards half-past five we go 
back to the choir, we again say some Psalms ; it is the first 
canonical hour; and we assist at Mass in common. From 
there we go to the chapter and say some prayers ; the 
Superior comments on a passage of the Rule ; and if any 
one has committed a fault, he then confesses it in public, and 
is given a penance (not generally very hard, far from it). 
Another three-quarters of an hour free for reading or 
prayer; again in the choir we say the little office of Terce; 
then about seven, work begins ; the Superior assigns it to 
each man after Terce. We remain at work till about eleven 
o'clock ; we then say Sext, and go to the refectory at half- 
past eleven. 

" After lunch (the monks' dinner) we go up to the dormi- 
tory, where we sleep till half-past one. The office of None 
is at half-past one. An interval of three-quarters of an hour 
for privates prayers or reading. At half-past two Vespers. 
After Vespers, work till a quarter to six. At six o'clock 
prayer ; at a quarter past six, supper ; a little free time ; at a 
quarter past seven, reading for the whole community in 
chapter; then Compline, singing of the Salve and to bed. 
We go to bed at eight. 

" Have I spoken enough to you about myself, dear Mimi ? 
I hope you are satisfied." 

*' October 29, 1891. — . . . Thanks for having thought 
of me on the 15th of September; on that day I was thirty- 
three; the years pass, may they bring us nearer to God in 
every way ! Let us pray for each other, in order to be 
faithful to what God desires from us each in our own lives. 
They appear very different, but it is only in appearance ; 
when God makes the foundation of life as it ought to be, 
all lives resemble each other, the rest is of little importance." 

The ceremony of Brother Marie-Alberic's religious pro- 
fession took place on Candlemas Day, February 2, 1892. It 
was presided over by Dom Martin, Abbot of Notre-Dame- 
des-Neiges, who was in the East for the regular visit. 

The newly professed monk wrote next day : " From yes- 
terday I belong entirely to our Lord. About seven o'clock 
I made my vows; about eleven o'clock a few locks of my 
hair were cut off in the church, then my head was shaved, 
leaving the monastic crown. And now I no longer belong 
to myself in any way. ... I am in a state I have never 
experienced, except just a little on my return from Jeru- 



THE TRAPPIST 91 

salem ... It is a craving for meditation and silence, for 
lying at God's feet and looking at Him almost in silence. 
One feels, and would like to go on indefinitely feeling, that 
one belongs all to God, and that He is all our own. The 
' Is it, then, nothing to belong all to God?' of St. Teresa, 
furnishes the prayer. . . ."^ 

Around him, admiration increased. " Our Brother Marie- 
Alberic appears like an angel amidst us," said the Abbot of 
Notre-Dame-des-Neiges ; "he wants nothing but wings." 
The Prior of the Sheikhle Trappe, Dom Louis de Gon- 
zague, wrote the same way to Madame de Blic, the day 
after the religious profession : " You know. Madam, what 
a holy companion on our journey to heaven we have taken 
to ourselves to-day ! His spiritual director, our venerable 
Father Dom Polycarpe, who will soon have had fifty years 
of religious profession and has been a Superior more than 
thirty years, assures me that, in his long life, he has not 
yet met with a soul so entirely given to God. Allow me to 
make a little disclosure with regard to this dear and holy 
soul. ... I should naturally like to get Father Marie- 
Alberic to make his theological studies here, so that he may 
some day be promoted to the priesthood. I have not yet 
spoken to him of this intention, but I foresee very well that 
I shall have to maintain a serious struggle against his 
humility, and finally, it is a thing that, in our Order, we 
cannot command in virtue of obedience. ... In spite 
of his marvellous austerities, his health remains excel- 
lent. . . ."2 

A little later on, when back in France after his journey in 
Syria, Dom Martin, giving to the General Chapter an 
account of the visit he had paid to Akbes, named Charles 
de Foucauld among the monks who might one day be 
appointed Superiors of that foundation. 

Brother Marie-Alberic forbore thinking of the future. But 
it is so difficult for us to live entirely in the present, that he 
happened to ask himself: "What will they do with me? 
If only they don't take me away from the common life of 
the Brothers who are wood-choppers, weeders of wheat 
and grass, harvesters, grape-gatherers, according to the 
seasons!" He disclosed his perplexity to Abbe Huvelin, 
and, to meet the reply, prepared his defence against digni- 
ties and offices : "If they speak to me of studies, I shall 
show that I have a great liking for being neck-deep in 
wheat and wood, and a strong repugnance for everything 

^ Letter of January 2, 1892. 
2 Letter of February 4, 1892. 



92 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

that would take me away from the lowest place which 1 
came to find, from the abjection in which I desire to be 
buried ever deeper and deeper, following our Lord's 
example, and then, after all, I shall obey. . . . But what 
I tell you here is a stroll in the forbidden garden; God is 
with us to-day : is not that enough ?" 

He was bidden to begin his theological studies a few 
months after his profession. 

" August 22, 1892. — This week the Lazarite Father 
Superior of Akbes comes back. ... It appears that, over 
a year ago, it was arranged that he should teach me 
theology : he was professor of theology at Montpellier and 
is very learned. He is a Neapolitan (M. Destino). On 
being told this, I did not conceal my lack of attraction for 
this new vocation. I also pointed out my great ignorance 
of monastic things. They replied that it was settled, and 
that I should soon begin : so I did not persist." 

In fact, he became initiated in many other employments, 
for, having had a slight illness in the course of that year, 
Brother Marie-Alberic was provisionally exempted from 
work in the open air, and confided to the linen-Brother, who 
taught him how to mend and darn. 

" July 5, 1892. — Why can't I give you a little of my taste 
for solitude? I, indeed, love it more every day, and think 
there is never enough of it. 

" I am always thinking of our Lord and the Blessed 
Virgin . . . and I live happy in their dear society. When 
I am mending the little orphans' clothes, I say to myself, 
how happy I am in doing this work, so familiar in the 
house at Nazareth. . . . How unworthy I am of these 
graces ! Fancy me, for three days last week working at a 
strange job : the orphans' nurse was indisposed, and I was 
told to take his place by day. Just think how strange it 
was to find myself all at once in charge of nine little Turks 
from six to fifteen years old ! When I saw myself in the 
midst of this little family, I could not help thinking of those 
who say that one enters religion to avoid the cares of life. 
One has not the same cares, but very happy ones when God 
wishes it. As for me, on account of my great weakness, 
He has given me nothing but peace. . . . These poor 
little ones were as good as possible." 

"Afay 21, 1893. — The studies interest me. Holy Scrip- 
ture above all — it is the Word of our heavenly Father. Dog- 
matic theology, too ; it is the study of what we must believe 



THE TRAPPIST 93 

about the Holy Trinity, our Lord and the Church ; that, too, 
brings us much nearer to God : moral theology less. . . . 
But these studies . . . have not the same value as the prac- 
tice of poverty, abjection, mortification, and finally the 
imitation of our Lord which manual labour provides. How- 
ever, since I do them through obedience, having resisted as 
much as I ought, this is evidently what God desires of me 
now." 

Yes, he felt sure of not being mistaken in rejecting the 
world and becoming a monk, but a long road remained for 
him to travel, and sometimes his peace was disturbed, and 
a call came from the heart of God to this man of good-will, 
splitting wood, patching breeches, or bending over a theo- 
logical treatise, and a voice said to him : " Go farther into 
solitude!" The temptations against obedience continued 
to exercise the virtue of the still young religious ; the spirit 
of mistrust tried him, leading him to think his Superiors 
were surely making a mistake and did not know how to guide 
everyone, and that it would be very easy to name a novice 
whose real inclinations they had overlooked. Brother 
Marie-Alberic silenced this tempting voice ; but the other 
that said, "Go farther" he always heard. Very resolute 
not to swerve from obedience, he waited, without knowing 
where it wished to lead him, for a certain sign of the will 
which was drawing him outside. It was then that he wrote 
to his cousin Comte Louis de Foucauld : "I relish the 
charms of solitude more and more, and I am trying to find 
out how to enter into a deeper and deeper solitude." Three 
lines of another intimate letter show even more clearly this 
extraordinary attraction, which makes him wish for an 
Order still more strict than the strictest of religious Orders. 
He told a friend, on June 27, 1893, that the Trappists of 
Notre-Dame-des-Neiges had received the new constitutions 
of the Cistercian Order: "It is all very pious," he said, 
" very austere, very good in every way ; however, be it said 
between you and me, there is not all the poverty I wish for, 
nor the abjection I long for : my desires in that direction 
are not satisfied." 

Here was a sort of excess and singularity which could not 
fail to puzzle the most learned and experienced of directors. 
For the ideal of poverty, humility, mortification and 
charity has been attained by a great number of holy monks 
and nuns, in all the recognized Orders, under divers rules. 
For centuries all religious life has tended that way, even in 
the world. The obstacles are in ourselves much more than in 



94 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

the exterior circumstances and equipment of life. He was 
deceived as to the motives which were driving him out of 
La Trappe : he conceived a project which he was never to 
accompHsh — that of grouping around him "a few souls 
with which he could form a beginning of a little congrega- 
tion," answering to the longings of a mind which did not 
cease to be haunted by the vision of Nazareth. What would 
be the aim of this new company ? What would be its essen- 
tial rule? From this moment Brother Marie-Alberic sets it 
forth thus : " To lead the life of our Lord as closely as pos- 
sible, living solely by the work of their hands, without 
accepting any gift, either spontaneous or asked for, and 
following to the letter all His counsels, possessing nothing, 
giving to all who ask, claiming nothing, stinting them- 
selves as much as possible . . . adding to this work much 
prayer; . . . forming small groups only; . . . scattered, 
above all, through infidel and neglected lands, in which it 
would be so pleasing to increase the love and service of 
Jesus Christ."^ 

Souls chosen, like Charles de Foucauld, for an excep- 
tional life, are led through darkness less and less dense to 
light. Here the desire of devoting all his forces to the 
salvation of infidel lands appears, and his often expressed 
thought of being the most destitute and unknown of men 
again shows itself. He feels himself urged along by an 
increasing interior force towards an undefined and dan- 
gerous future. For oh one point he has no illusions : 
perhaps he will be long alone. He trembles at the thought, 
but does not change the desire: "being in a boat, I am 
afraid of jumping into the sea." But his shrinking does 
not disquiet him, and his uncertainty does not reach the 
higher self where peace rules untouched. And the explana- 
tion of the wonder was quite simple : Brother Marie-Alb^ric 
left the decision of his extreme difficulty to the greatest of 
all authorities, to the authority which puts God before us 
in our Order, and self afterwards : obedience. This enabled 
him to overcome everything and persuade everyone. 

Look at this Trappist who has pronounced his first vows. 
He believes he is called to leave the Order, not to return to 
secular life, which would not be without precedent, but to 
follow an entirely personal, and even strange, inspiration, 
which urges him to disappear still more completely than in 
a Syrian monastery. He has gained the sympathy and 
aroused even the admiration of his Superiors and Brothers : 
and he wants to leave these friends, and theirs is the 
^ Letter of October 4, 1893. 



THE TRAPPIST 95 

decision he asks for I In France, in Paris, very far away, 
he had a director who was a curate at Saint Augustine's; 
and this prudent Parisian with his distrust of the excep- 
tional, a moderate man by temperament and experience, as 
anxious as a mother, he had to convince and bring to utter 
this decision: "Yes, my child, go to that wonderful un- 
known that you long for." 

To put one's trust in one who is worthy of it, to speak 
out freely, not to shirk owning up, to be patient only after- 
wards, and if one must : men have found no better means 
of driving away the clouds which uncertainty and conflict- 
ing reasons gather within them. It is an honest, prompt, 
and military method. It was Charles de Foucauld's. He 
therefore began, about the middle of September, to speak 
of his trouble to Dom Polycarpe, whom he had chosen as 
his confessor, and asked him : 

" Does this come from God, the devil, or my imagina- 
tion?" 

"Think no more about it," was substantially the prior's 
reply, " and wait in peace, for the good God, if it comes 
from Him, will well know how to provide the occasion." 

He wrote at the same time to Abb^ Huvelin. We have 
not these letters, but, in a sort of journal addressed to a 
friend, he summarized them. They showed an entire liberty 
of procedure and judgment. 

Then Abb6 Huvelin, who understood his patient very 
well and was very fond of him, became uneasy. Without 
retaining the least hope of keeping this man, with his 
extreme yearnings, a neophyte in whom he observed a sort 
of agitated seeking after perfection, at La Trappe, he tried 
to retard the denouement of the inward crisis. The idea 
that Charles de Foucauld might be called to follow the 
vocation of the Fathers of the desert by degrees entered his 
mind, but before he was persuaded of it, before saying so, 
he had to oppose a project which appeared to be an adven- 
ture, one of those adventures into which he knew the best 
endowed souls may in good faith throw themselves and 
perish. Here are a few fragments of the numerous letters 
that he wrote in the months which follow Brother Marie- 
Alberic's disclosure. They tell of the suffering brought 
upon this tender-hearted priest by the event the shad'ow 
of which, like that of a storm-cloud, he already felt draw 
near. 

" January 29, 1894. — Go on with your theological studies, 
at least up to the diaconate; cultivate the interior virtues, 



96 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

and above all self-annihilation ; as for the exterior virtues, 
practise them in the perfection of obedience to the rule and 
to your Superiors; for the rest we shall see later on. Be- 
sides, you are not made, not at all made, to lead others." 

" July 29, 1895 (to a third party). — Evidently he will not 
stay. He will take his idea more and more for the voice 
of God speaking. The beauty of the end to which he 
believes himself called will veil all the rest, and above all the 
unattainable. . . ." 

''July 30, 1895 (to a third party). — How alarmed I am 
about the life which he wishes to lead, about Nazareth 
where he wishes to go and live, about the band which he 
wants to gather around him ! But I do not hope to keep 
him at La Trappe." 

" September 30, 1897. — I fi^d that he wishes for too many 
things, and therein I fear some uneasiness of mind, and 
that constant striving for the best which upsets a soul." 

Thus thought the two advisers to whom Brother Marie- 
Alberic had appealed. And what was he thinking about 
during these months of waiting? This, which he had 
revealed to Abbe Huvelin, and probably to his Trappist 
confessor : he wished to be a choir-monk no longer, to lead 
outside of La Trappe what he calls " the life of Nazareth," 
and, more definitely, to become " a simple inmate, a simple 
day-labourer in some convent."^ Besides, he had resolved 
to undertake nothing, as long as the guides, whose very 
clear advice we have just seen, would not encourage him 
to change his condition, rule, domicile, and habit. "As 
long as my directors refuse their permission, I should think 
I was disobeying God, whatever I did.^ 

" The Abbe (Huvelin) tells me to find out whether I could 
not discover what God expects of me, here, in this life where 
I am. . . . You know with what respect and affection I 
listen to this word : but everything calls me in an opposite 
direction. . . . Time or death, and in any case God will 
arrange the rest. But I always hope He will allow me to 
follow Him in the way He points out to me."^ 

We shall presently see how these difficulties were un- 
ravelled, how, without laying aside all apprehension, men 
of entire sincerity and men of prayer were led to change 
their mind and give an authorization that Charles de 
Foucauld waited for in perfect obedience. 

^ Letter of March 19, 1896. ^ Letter of January 3, 1894. 

" Letter of August 30, 1895. 



THE TRAPPIST 97 

While these things were taking place unknown to the 
world, two events attracted the attention, not of a great 
number of men, but of some, to La Trappe of Akbes. In 
the first place, at the beginning of 1894 it ceased to be 
attached to the Abbey of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, and was 
placed under that of Staueli, which, having more impor- 
tant farms and vineyards in full produce, could more easily 
bring help to the very poor Trappe of Syria. The second 
event was the period of massacres that the Sultan permitted 
or ordered. Once more Armenia was the victim, Armenia 
and all the undefined fringe of countries which border 
upon it. 

" It is not the Kurds who stir, it is the Armenian Chris- 
tians, and the Turks take advantage of this to commit ter- 
rible massacres, and to do as much harm as they can, not 
only to the Armenians, but to all Christians, Catholic or 
others, who are still so numerous in these countries. . . . 
Around us there were horrors, a number of massacres, burn- 
ings and lootings. Many of the Christians were really 
martyrs, for they died voluntarily, without defending them- 
selves, rather than deny their Faith. . . . There is fright- 
ful misery in this unfortunate country. The winter is very 
hard ; I do not know what these poor unfortunates, all of 
whose possessions have been seized and their houses burned, 
will do not to die of hunger and cold. ... I write to you 
to ask for alms ; not for us, God forbid, for I shall never be 
poor enough, but for the victims of the persecutions. In 
the last few months nearly 140,000 Christians were mur- 
dered by the Sultan's orders. ... In the nearest town 
from here, at Marache, the garrison killed 4,500 Christians 
in two days. We at Akbes, and all the Christians within 
two days of us, ought to have perished. I was not 
worthy. . . . Pray for my conversion, and that next time, 
in spite of my misery, I shall no longer be thrust back from 
the already half-open gates of heaven. 

"Europeans are protected by the Turkish Government, 
so that we are in safety : a guard was put at our gate, so 
that no harm might be done to us. It is miserable to be 
in such favour with those who slaughter our brethren ; it 
were better to suffer with them than to be protected by their 
persecutors. . . . It is shameful for Europe; with a word, 
she could have prevented these horrors, and she did not say 
it. It is true that the world knew so little about what was 
happening here, the Turkish Government having bought 
up the press, having given enormous sums to certain jour- 
nals not to publish any despatches which did not come from 



98 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

itself. But the Governments know the whole truth through 
the ambassadors and consuls. What punishments from 
God are they not preparing for themselves by such igno- 
minies ! I come to call you to our help, to aid us to give 
relief, to prevent several thousand Christians who escaped 
from the massacres and took refuge in our mountains from 
perishing of hunger; they do not dare to leave their retreat 
for fear of being massacred, and they have no means. It is 
our imperative duty to stint ourselves of everything for 
them, but whatever we do we cannot satisfy such needs. "^ 

Finally, to complete the portrait of Charles de Foucauld 
during this period so troubled in so many ways ; and since 
our souls are a mystery to ourselves, since they can be 
happy and suffer at the same time, since they are a vast 
domain, with the storm below, some mist farther up, and a 
clear sky over all ; I shall quote this note, written by Brother 
Marie-Alberic to M. de Blic, recently settled in Burgundy, 
in the castle of Barberey : 

*' It is the happiness of the country to be able to surround 
ourselves with all those we love ... to have always round 
us those we love, this indeed is sweet. . . . Why did 
I go so far away, you will say to me, if I feel this happiness 
so keenly? I have in no wise sought joy, I have sought 
to follow 'by the odour of His perfumes,' Jesus, who 
has loved us so much . . . and if I have found my 
delight in following Him, it is without having sought it. 
But this delight does not prevent me from feeling pro- 
foundly the sorrow of being separated from all those I 
love."2 

Days and months went by. The time came when the 
fifth anniversary of the simple vows would be fulfilled. At 
this date, February 2, 1897, solemn vows had to be taken, 
or a dispensation requested, and the Order of St. Bernard 
must surely be left. Brother Marie-Alb^ric's heart was 
always troubled by the same obsession : 

" I am very eager, indeed, to follow the life that I have 
been seeking for seven years . . . which I caught a glimpse 
of and divined in walking through the streets of Nazareth, 
where our Lord's feet had trodden, when He was a poor 
artisan, lost in abjection and obscurity."^ 

Then the consent of Abb^ Huvelin, hoped for but 
unexpected, arrived in the Sheikhlc^ Trappe. 

* Letters of November 20, 1895 > Februar}' 21, 1896 ; June 24, 1896. 
' Letter of June 18, 1894. ' Letter of June 24, 1896. 



THE TRAPPIST 99 

" Paris, June 15, 1896. — My dear child, I read and re- 
read your letter. I have made you wait long for my answer, 
when you were so thirsty ! But I thought that you would 
not lose your time by studying theology and getting from 
it sure and broad ideas, and thus preparing, in that teach- 
ing, your mind and heart for a sure mysticism, free from 
illusions. . . . 

" I had hoped, my dear child, that you would find in La 
Trappe what you were seeking, that you would find enough 
poverty, humility and obedience, to be able to follow our 
Lord in His life of Nazareth. I thought you might have 
said on entering it : Hcec requies mea in scBCuluni scbcuU! 
I still regret that it is not so. There is a too deep-seated 
urge towards another ideal, and through the strength of this 
impulse you get out of your framework and find yourself 
dislocated. I don't think, indeed, that you can get rid of 
this impulse. Say so to your Superiors at La Trappe, at 
Staueli. Tell them your thought simply. Tell them also 
of your profound esteem for the life you see around you, 
and of the invincible impulse which, in spite of all your 
endeavours, has so long urged you towards another 
ideal. . . . Not that I think you are called higher. . . . 
I do not see you higher up ; no, indeed, I see that you feel 
yourself uplifted in another direction. I won't make you 
wait any longer. Show my letter, speak. Write to 
Staueli.^ I should have liked to keep you in a family 
where you are loved, to which you would have been able to 
give so much ! I think, my child, that you have been well 
directed and formed in La Trappe; but inevitably, you see 
something else. Oh ! how I pray for you ! . . . 

" I have been a priest twenty-nine years to-day ! How I 
should have liked to have seen you, too, a priest !" 

No sooner had Brother Marie-Alberic ascertained the con- 
tents of this happy letter than he submitted to his director 
the sketch of a rule for the future community of the Petits 
Fr^res de J^sus — a voluminous work, in which the extreme 
austerity of the convert and monk was given full scope. 
He hoped for approbation, but the reply was not in that 
sense. In an intimate note, Abbe Huvelin sets down 
clearly what he had in mind: "I have just received the 
letter. It is accompanied by a long rule of the community 
of the Petits Freres de J^sus, which you hope to found. 
The rule is impossible, and it contains everything but dis- 
cretion. I am broken-hearted." And, as he is a very firm 

^ A Trappe near Algiers, no longer in existence. 



loo CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

adviser, able to check his penitent where required, with a 
sure hand now that he is carried away by ardour to the point 
of judging" others by himself and their strength by his own, 
the Abbe repHes in no less clear terms as follows : 

" FoNTAiNEBLEAU, Sunday, August 2, 1896. — If your 
Superiors ask you to make another attempt, make it loyally ! 
What would above all frighten me, my dear child, is not 
the life of which you are thinking for yourself, if you remain 
isolated . . . but it is to see you found, or think of founding 
something. . . . Your rule is absolutely impracticable. . . . 

"The Pope hesitated to give his approbation to the 
Franciscan rule ; he thought it too severe ; but this rule ! to 
tell you the truth it terrified me I Live at the door of a com- 
munity, in what abjection you like, but draw up no rule, I 
beg you !" 

Hence no foundation, no company. Henceforth Charles 
de Foucauld appears in the eyes of this priest, who is a con- 
noisseur of souls, as a born solitary. A single permission 
was accorded to him ; that of trying to live, outside the 
Trappe, a hidden life, in some corner of Syria or Palestine. 
Furthermore, before taking up so singular a part, he was to 
submit to the test of obedience and the study that his 
Superiors would doubtless require of him. But, on the 
main point of his vocation, of his attraction to complete 
solitude, Abb^ Huvelin no longer hesitated, and he again 
said : " Yes, my child, I see the East with your eyes." 

Therefore Brother Marie-Alb6ric wrote to the Father- 
General of the Trappists in Rome, praying him to obtain 
the necessary dispensations from the Pope. The reply 
arrived about the end of the month of August. The 
Superior-General of the Order, before deciding, imposed a 
trial on Brother Marie-Alberic ; he ordered the latter first to 
go to La Trappe of Staueli, where instructions would be sent. 

The monk replied that he submitted with all his heart to 
what might be ordered, and set out by the next steamer. 

" Algiers, September 25. — Reached Marseilles on Wed- 
nesday at 5 o'clock in the evening. I left there again an 
hour after, on the Algiers boat. Think of the time I spent 
in Algeria, and the life I led there, of my absolute impiety 
at that time, and beg for me to be forgiven." 

He went at once to the Staueli Trappe, and this is what 
he learnt : 

" October 12, 1896. — I want to tell you immediately of 
some news which will give you much joy : . . . the test 



THE TRAPPIST loi 

laid upon me is to go and study theology in Rome for about 
two )^ears. 

" I start in a fortnight, about the 25th. It was P^re 
Louis de Gonzague who settled that in his great affection 
for me. It is a great blessing to make me thus drink at the 
purest fountain of religious teaching, and this favour is 
rarely accorded in our Order. ... I shall be in Rome 
with seven other monks at the General's house, where we 
shall live under the supervision of the most reverend Father- 
General and council ; from there we shall go and attend the 
lectures at the Roman College. 

" You know that my desires are by no means changed, 
they are steadier than ever : but I obey with simplicity, 
with extreme gratitude, and with confidence that after this 
long trial the will of God will be manifested very clearly to 
all of us who have but one sole desire — to know the will of 
God in order to do it, whatever it may be, and to throw our- 
selves into it with our whole heart and strength." 

His obedience and simplicity of heart shone forth in his 
acceptance of the trial imposed on him. This was all the 
Father-General was in quest of, as the event consequently 
proved. But Charles de Foucauld knew nothing of that. 
He had asked to leave the Order, and before according any 
dispensation, two years' waiting were imposed on his 
ardent nature. He obeyed, not only without murmuring, 
but with gratitude : he agreed to be kept under the Trappist 
Rule long after the fifth anniversary of his vows. 

How long did he remain at Staueli ? A few weeks. 
And at once he formed friendships : he was immediately 
venerated by his Brethren : they still recollect his passage 
as one of the more important events. After over twenty 
years one of these witnesses, questioned on the subject of 
Father de Foucauld, was moved at the thought of Brother 
Marie-Alb^ric, and replied : 

" I was a novice then. How he edified the whole com- 
munity ! In church, his eyes were always fixed on the 
Blessed Sacrament. He did not believe, he saw. He 
lived on nothing, being satisfied with the vegetables he 
found in the soup, not touching the soup itself or anything 
else; and that only once a day at noon. He only slept two 
hours. He used to sit up till midnight, in a little infirmary 
chapel whence he could see the Blessed Sacrament. At 
midnight, he went and took a little rest, and at 2 o'clock 
he was in the choir with the community."^ 

Letter from Father Yves, February 16, 1917. 



102 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

Some days passed : and he was in Rome. He lived in 
the Father-General's house, 95, Via San Giovanni in 
Laterano. There, he did everything that he was told to 
do; he became a student again amongst clergy younger 
than he ; his strong will held him under obedience and, in 
truth, saved him. 

" November ig, 1896. — Old and ignorant, and unfamiliar 
with Latin, I find it very hard to follow the lectures. . . . 
I shall be as great an ass in theology as in everything else." 

''^December 7, 1896. — Please God, I shall most probably 
spend three years here : this year, I am only taking philo- 
sophy. I take that as a trial which I am endeavouring to 
accomplish as well as possible, with obedience and grati- 
tude . . . yet desiring another life with increasing 
ardour. . . . 

" Pardon me if my replies are not long. In conscience, 
I am obliged to study hard, — and with my bad memory, my 
thirty-eight years of age, and but little time, it is tough 
work getting through, and I must try to benefit by the sacri- 
fices which my Superiors are making for me through a very 
pure and disinterested kindness, since they are fully 
acquainted with my desires." 

At Staueli, Brother Marie-Alberic became intimately 
acquainted with Father Jerome : the letters which he sent 
him from Rome are invaluable records. He seems to 
deliver his soul fully in them ; they reveal it in his thoughts 
in his regular prayer, and they also disclose all the charac- 
teristics of a friendship which rarely flourishes except in the 
cloister or on the mountains near it. 

" Rome, November 8, 1896. — After leaving Algiers, 
which was so sorrowful for all, but had the blessing of 
affording us the opportunity of offering a sacrifice to God — 
and that is still the greatest blessing, the only true one there 
is in life, the one which unites us most to our blessed Saviour 
— when one loves, what is sweeter than to give something 
to the beloved; above all, to give Him something to which 
we are attached, to suffer for love of Him, to give Him all 
our heart's blood? ... I wanted to speak to you of our 
arrival in Rome, but here I am, still at the departure from 
Algiers. ... It was so sorrowful for me ! But blessed 
be God for it and blessed be all sorrow I 

" We reached Rome on Friday at half-past i in the after- 
noon : we did not get out at San Paolo Station, which is 



THE TRAPPIST 103 

near St. Peter's; it was not very feasible, and we thanked 
God for that ; if we had got out there, we should have had 
to take cab after cab, and it would have really grieved me 
to enter, with so little poverty, the city into which St. Peter 
and St. Paul both walked so poor and miserable, and 
St. Peter in chains. . . . We therefore went on foot from 
the station to the procurator, and stopped on our way at two 
churches where we adored the Holy Sacrament on our first 
steps in Rome, in order to ask Him that we might live there 
according to His will. ..." 

He says that he frequently passed before the Colosseum, 
"where so many martyrs gave their blood for our Lord 
Jesus with such joy and love ! How our Lord has been 
loved within these walls ! What flames of love rose up to 
heaven! What are we in comparison with such souls? 
However, we have hearts like theirs, our Lord loves us as 
much as them, and we can and ought to love Him as much. 
Oh, Father, how we ought to love ! How you and I must 
try to love this divine Spouse of our souls ! If our hearts 
are capable of loving passionately, and they are, let us 
drown ourselves in this love ! The Colosseum is quite 
close to us : I can see it from my window ; it is there that 
St. Ignatius joyfully let himself be crushed for our Lord ! 
How these stones speak ! What a strain of love still rises 
thence to heaven ! 

" I did my best to commend you at the same time as 
myself to St. Paul, to that Apostle who loved Jesus so 
much, who worked so much for Him, who suffered so much 
for Him. May he draw you and me after him, and teach 
us to love !" 

" November 29, 1896. — Dearest Father, how right you 
are to speak to me at length of our Lord ! If there are two 
persons on earth who should speak only of God, are they 
not we in whose friendship there is nothing terrestrial ? Let 
our conversation be, then, that of the angels, my dearest 
Father. . . . But whilst the angels have tongues of gold 
and hearts of fire, we stammer and are lukewarm ; let us do 
what we can . . . that will be a reason for helping each 
other, for praying much for one another, for loving each 
other all the more because we are weaker, for having to 
sustain one another from afar, in order to follow, like our 
Lord, the sorrowful way which He has shown us : "Take 
up your cross and follow Me." I send you a little flower 
that I gathered while praying for you in the catacomb of 



I04 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

St. Cecilia on the border of her tomb, on her feast; may 
this flower of martyrs recall to you, as to me, what the 
saints suflferfed, and what we ought to desire to suffer. . . . 
This is our advantage over the angels ! . . . At least we 
have tears, sorrows, perhaps — would to God it were so — 
blood to offer to our Lord, in union with His tears and sor- 
rows and blood ! 

" Manual labour is necessarily put into the second place 
at present because you, like myself, are in the period of 
infancy ; we are not yet old enough to work with St. Joseph ; 
we are still with Jesus the little child on the Virgin's knees, 
learning to read. But later on, humble, vile, despised 
manual labour will again take its great place, and then, 
with Holy Communion, the lives of the saints, prayer, the 
humble work of our hands, humiliation, suffering, and if it 
please God, at last, the death of St. Cecilia and so many 
others ! With that we shall have the life of our Lord and 
well-beloved Master Jesus. . . . Permit one who has no 
right to give you the shadow of a counsel, one who is 
neither priest nor learned nor anything but a sinner, never- 
theless to give you a hint. There is only one thing that 
authorizes me to do so — the fraternal love I have for you in 
our Lord; it is to consult your director in everything, about 
everything, even little things. I tell you this because I 
was always the better for doing so, and the worse for doing 
otherwise; I wish you to profit by my experience. This 
habit of asking what one should do, even in little things, 
has a thousand good effects : it gives peace ; it accustoms 
you to conquer yourself ; it makes you look upon the things 
of this earth as nothing : it gets one to make a host of acts 
of love : to obey is to love ; it is the purest, the most per- 
fect, the highest, the most disinterested, the most adoring 
act of love ; it makes one, especially at first, perform not a 
few acts of mortification. ..." 

" Rome, December 21, 1896. — I do not want the feast of 
Christmas to pass without telling you that I shall do my 
best to be united with you at the feet of our Lord Jesus in 
these days of benediction. . . . Behold, then, our Lord 
on the way to Bethlehem ; probably five days' journey, the 
last of two or three hours : from Nazareth to En-Gannin, 
from there to Sichar, from there to Bethel, from Bethel to 
Jerusalem, lastly from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. With 
what love, what meditation, the Virgin must have made 
this journey ! With what burning desire for the salvation 
of men, for whom the Son of God had come down unto her 



THE TRAP PI ST 105 

womb ! Every moment of this journey, our Lord saw not 
only His Mother and St. Joseph, and the angels adoring 
Him : He saw the present and the future, and every 
moment in the lives of all men; and His Sacred Heart 
already felt that immense sorrow which was His lot during 
all His mortal life at the sight of the sins, ingratitude, and 
damnation of so many souls. And He felt also along with 
the deep consolation afforded Him by His Mother's holi- 
ness a lesser but real consolation at the sight of many holy 
souls, of all the souls who had loved Him and would one 
day love Him, of all the hearts which unite with that of Mary 
to try and throb only for Him. . . . Shall we be of these, 
dear Father? Shall we be a consolation or a sorrow to our 
Blessed Saviour? If Christmas is the beginning of our 
joys, it is the beginning of the sorrows of Jesus. . . . 
Christmas is only eight days from the Circumcision. . . . 
Bethlehem is onl}^ 8 kilometres from Jerusalem. When 
one is in Palestine that strikes one painfully : after hav- 
ing spent the Christmas of 1888 at Bethlehem, having heard 
midnight Mass and received Holy Communion in the 
grotto; after two or three days, I returned to Jerusalem. 

" The sweetness that I had experienced in praying in 
that grotto which had resounded with the voices of Jesus, 
Mary and Joseph, and where I was so near them, had been 
inexpressible. . . . But, alas ! after an hour's walk, the 
dome of the Holy Sepulchre, Calvary, and the Mount of 
Olives rose up before me. I was obliged, whether I wished 
it or not, to change my thoughts and find myself once more 
at the foot of the Cross." 

The study of theology, some walks in Rome, letters like 
those which we have just read or shall read later on, along 
with prayer, took up the end of 1896 and the two first 
months of 1897. Still, however firmly he might be anchored 
in obedience, he could not fail to perceive the dates coming 
closer on which a change would occur, an order be given 
determining his future. Brother Marie-Alb^ric thought of 
the 2nd of February. And, shortly before that anniver- 
sary, to a friend, this time not Father Jerome, he set 
forth the suppositions and the probabilities on which he 
reckoned : 

"The end of this month and the beginning of next are 
critical for me ; on the 2nd of February five years ago I took 
my first vows. By the terms of the constitution, on that 
date I am to take my solemn vows or leave the Order. . . . 
To remain in the Order two years and a half more without 



io6 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

taking my solemn vows, a dispensation of the Holy See, 
only granted for strong reasons, would be necessary. My 
novice master does not think that in this case there 
are sufficient motives to ask for a dispensation. It might 
happen that in a few days from now I may be obliged to 
come to a definite decision . . . that will depend upon the 
most reverend Father General, who will be here to-morrow 
or the day after. . . . The day on which my vocation is 
clearly known to my Father General and the novice master, 
and that it appears clear to them that God does not want me 
at La Trappe (at least as a Father), they will tell me, and 
ask me to retire, for they are too conscientious to wish to 
retain me a single day, when they see the will of God is 
otherwise.^ 

He consented to live thus for three years ! His Superiors 
had no need of so long a trial to be sure that so humble a 
virtue could vanquish the dangers of a solitary life among 
men. By the perfection of his obedience, they recognized 
that the call he heard since the first days of his entrance to 
La Trappe was not that of a masked pride. 

The General of the Order, who was travelling, reached 
Rome on January i6, 1897. Immediately, he made it his 
business to get a decision on the case of Brother Marie- 
Alberic by the members of his council. The latter suspected 
nothing. The General sent for him, and told him that the 
moment had come to inquire what were God's designs for 
his servant Charles de Foucauld ; and that, if the Fathers, 
after prayer, study, and reflection, recognized that the latter 
had an exceptional vocation, outside the Rule of St. Bene- 
dict and St. Bernard, he must follow it without delay and 
with his whole heart. 

" I laid before him in writing the state of my soul ; then 
he gathered his council, and there, before God, having no 
longer but one thing in view. His will, the Father General 
and all the members of the council declared unanimously 
that the good God called me to a particular life of poverty 
and abjection, and that I should enter it without further 
delay. Consequently, I am to be given a dispensation, and 
all doors are open for me to follow God's call immediately. 
Our good Father General told me that yesterday. He at 
the same time said that he thought I ought to remain under 
obedience as to the matter of my vocation, but in that and 
in all, it was best for me to refer not to him, but to the Abb^. 
I wrote to him yesterday evening. As soon as I have his 

* Letter to a friend, January 15, 1N97. 



THE TRAPPISr 107 

answer, I shall set out. You know that I wish to be a ser- 
vant in an Eastern convent, the Abb6 will indicate which, 
and I shall go there. "^ 

" My dear child," M. Huvelin replied, " I fear another 
Trappe for you, where I should prefer to see you neverthe- 
less. The same thought will come to you there, the same 
comparison between the life you see and the life you follow 
after. I prefer Capharnaum or Nazareth, or some such 
Franciscan convent ; not in the convent, but only under the 
shadow of the convent ; asking only for spiritual assistance, 
living in poverty at the gate. Do not think of banding 
any souls around you, nor, above all, of giving them a rule. 
Live your life, then ; if any souls come, live the same life 
together, without making any regulations. On this point 
I am quite clear. 

" I admire the goodness and simplicity of the Father 
General ; I admire the charity of the good Fathers, who love 
you and part with you. I am touched by their way of treat- 
ing you." 

The Trappists paid him the courtesy, the exquisite atten- 
tion, of offering him a ticket on the boat, though he ceased 
to be Brother Marie-Alberic, and of conveying him thus to 
the door of the " Franciscan Convent." 

" What a favour God bestows on me !" replied Charles 
de Foucauld. " How good He is to have made me come 
so far, to Rome, to give my vocation the very fullest and 
most entire confirmation that is possible in this world. I 
thought I came to Rome to study : I came here to be sent, 
without asking, by the very hand of our General, to follow 
the attraction which has been drawing me for so long." 

The news that Brother Marie-Alberic had left La Trappe 
circulated quickly from the Convent of Rome to the other 
convents where he was known. It made more than one old 
monk weep. One of them, the former Prior of Notre-Dame 
at Akbes, who had become Prior of Staueli, even wrote ; 
" In leaving us, he has given me the greatest pain that I 
have ever felt in my life."^ 

Charles de Foucauld had spent seven years in La Trappe. 
All his life he preserved the greatest respect and gratitude 
for the venerable Order he left ; later on he was to return 

^ Letter of January 24, 1897. 

2 Letter of Dom Louis de Gonzague to M. de Blic. The same monk 
had thus judged Brother Marie-Alberic in a letter dated the month of 
the preceding October : '* For almost seven years I have seen him 
a Trappist, and faithful to all his religious duties, and I was wont to 
look upon him as a real saint ; it is also the impression that he has left 
here amongst a community of eight hundred after a month's short stay. 



io8 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

and ask the Trappe of Notre-Dames-des-Neiges to receive 
him, for several months, as guest and friend. 

One of his first cares, henceforward, was to advise Father 
Jerome of the great event whicli had transformed Brother 
Marie-Alb^ric into a secular, and was to make him change 
habit, rule, and scene. 

" Rome, January 24, 1897. — ^ believe it is my vocation to 
come down ... all the doors are open to me, in order to 
cease being a choir-monk and go down to the rank of ser- 
vant and menial. Yesterday I received this news from the 
very mouth of my good and excellent Father General, whose 
goodness to me touches me so deeply ! . . . But I needed 
obedience before he came to a decision ; I had promised God 
to do all that my most Reverend Father told me, after under- 
taking the examination of my vocation, and also all my con- 
fessor told me. So that had I been told : ' You are going 
to take your solemn vows in ten days, and afterwards 
receive Holy Orders, I should have obeyed with joy, being 
certain that I was doing the will of God. . . . And even 
now I am in the hands of God and obedience. I asked 
where I must go on leaving here in a few days : it will be 
to the East; but in what house I don't know at all. God 
will tell me by the voice of my director. . . . You see I 
need my Brother's prayers. ... I am bringing you down 
too, my dearest Brother, to be the Brother of a domestic, a 
servant, a menial ; this is not glorious in the eyes of the 
world. . . . But you are dead to the world, and nothing 
can make you blush. . . . 

*' Thanks for having opened your heart to me about your 
desires for the priesthood : I thank God with all my soul for 
inspiring you with that desire : I do not for a moment doubt 
that it is your vocation, and, from the bottom of my heart, 
I thank God for it. . . . There is no vocation in the world 
as great as a priest's; and in truth, it is not of the world, 
it is, even here, of heaven. . . . The priest is something 
transcendent, exceeding all. . . . What a vocation, my 
dear Brother, and how much I praise God for having given 
it to you. . . . Once, I regretted not receiving it, regretted 
not to be clothed in that sacred character ; it was at the 
height of the Armenian persecutions. ... I should have 
wished to be a priest, to know the language of the poor 
persecuted Christians, and to be able to go from village to 
village to encourage them to die for their God. ... I was 
not worthy of it. . . . But you, who knows what God 
reserves for you ? . . . The future is so unknown ! God 



THE TRAPPIST 109 

leads us by such unexpected paths ! . . . If ever obedience 
brings you to these distant shores where so many souls are 
lost for want of priests, where the harvest abounds and 
perishes for want of workers, thank God, without measure. 
Wherever one can do most good to others, there one is best : 
entire forgetful ness of self, entire devotion to the children 
of our heavenly Father, that is our Lord's life, the life of all 
true Christians, that is above all the priest's life. . . . Also, 
if ever you are called to these 'countries where the people 
are seated in the shadow of death, thank God without 
measure, and give yourself up body and soul to make the 
light of Christ shine amongst these souls watered with His 
blood; you can do it in the Trappe with wonderful results; 
obedience will furnish you with the means. ..." 

Charles de Foucauld, in announcing his early departure 
for the East to his brother-in-law, asked him to keep it 
secret : 

'* The new life that I am going to begin will be much 
more hidden, much more solitary than that which I am 
leaving. I want you alone to know where I am ; do not 
therefore say that I am in the Holy Land; say only that I 
am in the East, leading a very retired life, writing to 
nobody, and not wanting anyone to know where I am." 

Charles de Foucauld left Rome in the beginning of 
February, to embark at Brindisi. He was going to lead 
the life he had longed for; it was to be an extraordinary 
one, a life adapted to him. Naturally, he was convinced 
that he was going into Asia for ever, where his bones would 
rest later on beside the dust of the Patriarchs. He was 
mistaken ; other and wilder countries were awaiting him, 
and other labours. Nazareth and Jerusalem were to be for 
him only splendid experiments, two steps of the Scala 
Santa that he had commenced to climb. 



CHAPTER VI 

Nazareth and Jerusalem 

♦' r^LESSED are the poor; that is the beatitude I 
j_J want. I have already been offered a corner 
where I beheve my soul will be well. In any case, 
He who assigns each leaf its place can put me in mine," 
Charles de Foucauld wrote to his sister, when he was leav- 
ing Italy for the East. The boat was one of those calling 
at Alexandria, then at Jaffa, before going on to Constanti- 
nople. The pilgrim landed on the shore which is bordered 
by a semi-circle of square painted houses in filth at the 
bottom, but with very beautiful gardens of orange-trees ex- 
tending at the back. He neither stayed in the houses nor 
in the shade of their gardens, and at once set out on foot, to 
reach by stages the town where he wanted to live ; 
Nazareth. Having passed through Ramleh, Acre, Bethle- 
hem, Jerusalem, and Sichar, on March 5, 1897, and quite 
unknown, like the poor who still stand at the town gates, 
he entered Nazareth the blessed. A week later the leaf 
had found its place. Charles de Foucauld wrote to his 
counsin, Colonel Louis de Foucauld, who had just been 
appointed military attache at Berlin : 

•'I am settled in Nazareth henceforth; there you may 
henceforth write to the following address : Charles de 
Foucauld, Nazareth, Holy Land, poste restante. The good 
God has let me find here, to the fullest extent, what I 
wanted : poverty, solitude, abjection, very humble work, 
complete obscurity, as perfect an imitation as possible of 
the life of our Lord Jesus in this same Nazareth. Love 
imitates, love wants to conform with its beloved ; it tends to 
unite everything, their souls in the same feelings, all the 
moments of existence in a kind of identity of life; that is 
why I am here. La Trappe made me ascend, made me a 
life of study, an honoured life. That is why I left it and 
embraced here the humble and hidden life of the divine 
workman of Nazareth. 

" Keep my secrets; they are love-secrets that I entrust to 
you. I am very happy; my heart has what it yearned for 
so many years. Nothing remains now beyond going to 
heaven."^ 

^ Letter to Comte Louis de Foucauld, April 12, 1897. 
no 



NAZARETH AND JERUSALEM iii 

What had happened, and what employment had he 
found? 

Charles de Foucauld had at first presented himself to the 
Franciscan Fathers who gave hospitality to pilgrims to the 
Holy Land, and had asked them to accept him as a servant 
to the religious. They had no need of his services. He 
had therefore decided to live in the Franciscan house, Casa- 
Nova, for three days as an ordinary guest, but after making 
his confession to one of the religious, a chaplain of the 
Poor Clares of Nazareth, he looked so perplexed that his 
confessor said to him : " I shall speak of you at St. Clare's ; 
they will perhaps find you a place." But already the 
traveller had been recognized by the Brother Guest-master 
of Casa-Nova, who remembered perfectly having seen him 
some years before in Nazareth, in quite another turn-out. 
The Abbess was therefore warned that a strange pilgrim 
would come to the monastery and offer himself as servant, 
and that this pilgrim, vowed to penance, was named the 
Vicomte de Foucauld. She was a woman to understand 
the greatness as well as the singularity of such a conjunc- 
ture, and then to contrive all for the soul's peace. 

On the feast of St. Colette, at the exposition of the Blessed 
Sacrament, they saw a man still young come into the chapel 
of the Poor Clares, dressed in such a way that no one could 
tell to what nation he belonged, unless it were to that 
of the poor, which is immense and of all countries. He 
knelt down some way off before the altar, and remained 
there without stirring, for one, two, three hours, so that 
the attendant Sister, an Arabian, was quite anxious, and 
said to one of her companions : " I must watch that man, 
who does not leave the chapel. I fear he may steal some- 
thing." The unknown one went out after doing nothing 
beyond praying a great deal. But three days later he came 
back and asked to speak to the Abbess of St. Clare's, the 
reverend Mother St. Michael. 

To understand the sequel of this story, you must know 
that Charles de Foucauld, on disembarking in the Holy 
Land, had adopted a costume which might have some kin- 
ship with the clothes of certain Orientals — people of so many 
races are met with in the eastern crowds — but which caused 
astonishment even in that country. He wore a long hooded 
blouse with white and blue stripes, blue cotton trousers, 
and on his head a very thick white woollen cap, around 
which he had rolled a strip of fabric in the form of a turban. 
He had only sandals on his feet. A rosary of big beads 
hung from the leather girdle which tightened his tunic. In 



112 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

adopting this dress, no doubt the solitary meant to expiate 
the smartness of former days, and to excite to some extent 
the scorn of the passers-by and the mockery of the children 
in the street, and to take all this gladly. He knew the 
saying of St. Ignatius, used by so many saints of all 
ages : "I prefer to be regarded as a nobody and a 
madman for Christ, who was thus looked upon before 
me." He imagined that everybody would take him for 
what he was not — a poor beggar, without name, education 
or style. But the delicacy of his features, his accent and 
involuntary choice of words, his easy gestures and pose 
which just altered some fold or line — that is to say, nearly 
everything in the look of his dress — betrayed him. That is 
what happened when he was called to the parlour to inter- 
view the Abbess of Nazareth standing on the other side of 
the enclosure. She did not see him, but heard him. 

The i\bbess had no sooner questioned this visitor than she 
understood that she had not been misled. We can fancy 
her smiling whilst the pilgrim was asking for work, any job 
they liked to give him, provided they left him time to pray ; 
a hut under the shadow of the monastery, and the guaran- 
teed wage of just a slice of bread. As she was not only 
acute but advanced in spirituality, she very clearly felt that 
the man was sincere, and that he must be helped in the 
exceptional work he was undertaking. 

" Very well," she said. " Nearly all the work within the 
enclosure is done by the Sisters : but we indeed want a 
sacristan, a man who will take our orders to the post and do 
other little jobs. You will be the man, and you will get the 
wages you ask for." 

She had thought of giving him a gardener's quarters. 
He blankly refused, and looking round he saw a log-hut 
outside the yard about a hundred yards off. It was used as 
a lumber-room, and looked quite like a sentry-box covered 
with tiles. This cabin leant against a wall and was situated 
on the border of land belonging to the Poor Clares. 

'• That will do for me," he said, " I shall stay there." 

They gave him two trestles, two boards, a straw mattress, 
a woollen wrapper stuffed with rags to use as a coverlet : this 
was all the hovel could hold. When the mattress and 
planks had to be lifted up, the pilgrim was too worn out by 
his journey to do it. His swollen and sore feet gave way 
under the weight ; and he was obliged to drag his bed to 
the hut. 

Here he is now a hermit, apparently lost in his often 
longed-for Nazareth. 



NAZARETH AND JERUSALEM 113 

To meet his wishes, some Httle jobs were given him in 
the days which followed ; he was asked to pick lentils ; then 
to repair the enclosure wall, which threatened falling in 
several places, with dry stone ; then to dig a few beds in the 
garden. The attempts were generally not very successful. 
The Abbess soon saw that her guest was not accustomed to 
such work. She let him serve Mass, sweep the chapel, pray 
bowed and motionless in a corner as long as he wanted to 
do so ; and then shut himself up in the hut, where he gave 
very few hours to sleep, and many to meditation, reading 
and writing. She learned by degrees that he was studying 
theology, and composing several works, especially medita- 
tions on the Gospels. 

Being quite sure that she had received a holy man, she 
gave him more and more freedom to live as he was inspired 
to live, and ordered him to be given only the errands which 
the attendants could not do as well as he. Lastly, the Sisters 
were discreet enough to let him long remain ignorant of the 
fact that they knew his real name and something of his 
history. 

He himself related his start in life in the East. To 
Colonel de Foucauld he revealed the place of his hermitage, 
to Monsieur and Madame de Blic he details " his use of 
his time." 

" Coming here without knowing any trade, without a testi- 
monial, with no other papers than my passport, on the sixth 
day I found out not only how to gain my living, but to gain it 
in such conditions that I have absolutely what I have longed 
to have for so many years, and one would say that this place 
was waiting for me; and, in fact, it was waiting for me, for 
nothing happens by chance and everything that takes place 
has been prepared by God : I am a domestic, servant, and 
menial of a poor religious community. 

" You ask me for the details of my life. 

" I live in a solitary little house, situated in a close belong- 
ing to the Sisters whose happy servant I am. I am there 
quite alone on the border of the little town : on one side is 
the Sisters' enclosure, on the other the country, fields, and 
hillocks ; it is a delightful and perfectly solitary her- 
mitage. ... I get up when my good angel wakens me, 
and I pray till the Angelus ; at the Angelus I go to the 
Franciscan convent ; then I go down into the grotto which 
formed part of the house of the Holy Family ; I remain there 
till about 6 o'clock in the morning, saying my Rosary and 
hearing the Masses which are said in that adorably holy 
place, where God became incarnate, where the voices of 



114 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

Jesus, Mary and Joseph echoed for thirty years. It is sweet 
to feel one is looking at the walls of rock on which the eyes 
of Jesus rested and which His hands touched. 

" At 6 o'clock I go to the Sisters, who are so good to me 
that they are really my inothers. In the sacristy and chapel 
I prepare what is necessary for Mass and pray. ... At 
7 o'clock I serve Mass. . . . After thanksgiving I put the 
sacristy and chapel in order. When sweeping is required 
(on Saturday only) I sweep. On Thursday and Sunday I 
go and fetch the letters (there is no postman, everybody goes 
and fetches his letters); I am the Sisters' postman. . . . 
By the way, put poste restante on the addresses no longer ; 
put simply ' Nazareth.' Then I do what I am told, now one 
little job, now another; very often I draw little pictures 
(mere elementary drawings), the Sisters want them and get 
me to do them. . . . 

" If there is a little errand, I do it, but it is very rare; in 
general I spend my whole day doing little jobs in my little 
room, near the sacristy; about 5 o'clock I prepare whatever 
is wanted for Benediction, when there is any, which is very 
often, thank God. 

" From then I remain in the chapel till half-past 7 in the 
evening. Then I return to my hermitage, where I read till 
9 o'clock. At 9 o'clock the bell announces evening prayers ; 
I say them and go to bed. I read during my meals ; I take 
them quite alone. I am the only servant, which is very 
pleasant for me; I see nobody in the world but my con- 
fessor every week for confession, and the Sisters when they 
have something to say to me; which is rare, for they are 
very silent. 

"Besides I spend half an hour before 11 o'clock, and 
half an hour at 3 o'clock, in the chapel ; they are the hours of 
Sext, None, and Vespers. 

"The Sisters supply me with all the books I want; they 
are infinitely good to me. 

"The more you give to God, the more He renders. I 
thought I gave up all in leaving the world and entering 
La Trappe, I received more than I had given. . . . Once 
more I thought I had given all in leaving La Trappe : I 
have been loaded and overloaded without measure. ... I 
infinitely enjoy being poor, dressed as a workman, a ser- 
vant, in that low condition which was that of Jesus our 
Lord; and by an overplus of exceptional grace, to be all 
that in Nazareth."^ 

^ Letters to M. do Blic, April 24 and November 35, 1897. 



NAZARETH AND JERUSALEM 115 

He was no longer a religious, but he always lived like 
one. It must also be added that after being dispensed from 
his Trappist vows, at Rome he had taken the vow of per- 
petual chastity under his confessor — a Trappist of Rome ; 
and also this — never to have in his possession or for his own 
use more than a poor workman has. 

In landing, he had brought no luggage. In the her- 
mitage only the smallest amount of furniture could have 
been listed : a few pictures, a much cherished crucifix inlaid 
with a piece of the true Cross, then a few books, given or 
borrowed. Perhaps the number of books exceeded that 
which would be found in a workman's library, but it might 
be replied that they were tools. 

As to the table, it was neither abundant nor varied. The 
hermit adopted the diet of the Poor Clares. On Sundays 
and feast-days a few almonds and dried figs were added. 
But Charles de Foucauld did not eat any of them. One day 
one of the lay-sisters found, in one of the chapel stalls, 
a box in which he had put away the almonds and figs in 
view of distributing them to the children in the street 
or country when he went out. At first they readily used 
to mock the foreigner who walked with downcast eyes and 
a big rosary at his girdle. Soon they ran after him, 
begging the dainties which he had for them in his pocket, 
and with their naked uplifted arms and dancing eyes, 
they surrounded him with brightness. The other poor 
soon came to know his charity. They came to find him in 
his hut, knocking at the door behind which the hermit was 
studying or praying. One Sunday, towards evening, while 
the sun was still strong, but when the first fresh breath of 
night was passing over the stifled earth, three ragged travel- 
lers from goodness knows where, going right on begging 
for everything, stopped before the hermit and said to him : 
" We have nothing left to clothe us. See, the night will 
be cold." He looked at them, was moved with pity, 
thought of St. Martin, and taking his knife, he cut in two 
the great woollen mantle which he wore. Then, seizing the 
spare tunic which was hanging on a nail, he beckoned to 
the third beggar, the one who had received nothing : 
" Come along with me." They both went into the monas- 
tery yard, before the portress's lodge. 

"Sister," Charles de Foucauld said to the lay-sister, I 
pray you fit my garment to this unfortunate man ; a cut or 
two of the scissors and a few stitches will do." 

" But, Brother Charles, it is Sunday to-day 1" 

" I will help you ; I will cut and then you will sew; we 



it6 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

may work a little, because these poor people are in such 
need." 

Every time he was asked by the rare passers-by, or by 
the chaplain or Sisters, he put himself out of the way and 
tried to oblige his neighbours. It was thus that one day 
he agreed to lie in wait. A jackal was robbing the Poor 
Clares' poultry-yard. It used to slip into the garden by a 
certain well-known path between two rocks, and carry off a 
still cackling hen ; the next day it would be off with the best 
layer, and if there followed a little respite, it was because 
the fine fellow with the long pointed ears had paid a visit 
to a neighbour's hen-roost. The country must be rid of this 
offensive and thieving brute. And who would do it more 
easily than an ex-cavalry officer? A gun was borrowed 
from a consular agent ; Charles de Foucauld lay hiding, at 
a good distance from the rock, and began to wait for the 
jackal. But no sooner was he seated with the loaded gun 
on his knees than he began reciting the rosary according 
to the custom which he loved, and to meditate upon the 
joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries. Time passed 
delightfully for him. The eyes of the solitary wandered 
on to the terraces of the town which was going to sleep. 
He saw before him houses like one another and like our 
Saviour's former workman's home. He was happy and 
absent-minded. Mr. Jackal asked for nothing more. He 
came trotting along, stopped before showing himself, ob- 
served that the enemy's mind was elsewhere, entered the 
poultry-3^ard, killed a selected hen right off, and then gal- 
loped away with it. When the lay-sisters came to question 
Brother Charles, and ask him about the hunt : 

" I have seen nothing," he replied. 

This was his first and last lying in wait for game in the 
hills of Nazareth. 

These stories and many others which are told of him, the 
singularity of his costume, his politeness, his charity, and 
his long daily prayers attracted the attention of all who 
lived in Nazareth or spent any time there. He came to be 
highly regarded : they tried to know why he had come to 
the country from so far; and as the idea of power, in the 
popular imagination, rarely goes without gold or precious 
stones, he was represented as a very rich man, and this 
gave him a place apart among the servants of the charitable 
establishments of the town. For instance, at the, post-office 
he met a lay-brother of a Salesian house at Nazareth, and 
was accosted by him. 

" Excuse me," said the brother ; "they say lots of things 



NAZARETH AND JERUSALEM 117 

about you. I should like to know whether they are 
true?" 

"What's the good?" 

" It is said that vou had a good position in France. . . ." 

"What position?" 

"A Count's." 

Brother Charles smiled, and replied carelessly : 

" I am an old soldier." 

His letters during this period of his life are particularly 
affectionate. He writes only to his relatives. How often 
lost in silence, the door of his hut open, gazing at the 
Eastern heavens, better jewelled with more numerous stars 
than ours, he thought of his sister and of his sister's 
children, of the peaceful hills of Barbirey, of his cousin 
Louis de Foucauld, of his cousins in Paris and Abbe 
Huvelin, of that little group of dear ones who knew his place 
of retreat, and wrote regularly to Brother Charles of Jesus, 
Nazareth. For he finally adopted that name, which hid his 
own, but disclosed his love. He was in infinite peace. Let 
me make a sort of psalm with the phrases of joy which are 
scattered through his letters : 

" I am in infinite peace, flooded with peace overflowing. 

" If you knew the joys of the religious life, and all the 
jubilation of my soul ! 

" How does God repay even here a hundredfold in inward 
grace what we give unto Him. 

" The more I gave up all comforts, the more happiness I 
have found ! 

" I praise God daily for the life He has ordained for me, 
and I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Give thanks and 
praise with me !" 

News comes from France, from the scattered family. He, 
the hermit, has none to give in return, but he sings the 
psalm that I have just spoken; and he replies promptly, 
letting speak each of his childhood's affections, which are 
now as lively as ever and always referred to God by some 
quotation betraying the practice of meditation. 

He heard that one of his nieces was going to make her 
first communion : " How I shall be with you on that day !" 
he wrote. " Look for me quite close to you, in church ; before 
and after and at home. I shall be with you everywhere." 

His sister was going to leave Dijon to live in the country : 

" My little Mimi, don't be frightened of going to Barbirey 
or of anything in the world. Fear not to find depression 



1 18 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

there : believe the experience of your old brother : God is 
the master of our hearts as well as our bodies : He gives us, 
as He wills, joy and sorrow, as well as health and sickness. 
Believe indeed that it is folly to say to yourself : ' This will 
make me happy, that unhappy ' ; for happiness or depres- 
sion do not depend on this or that, but on God, who has a 
host of means of filling us with joy or sorrow." 

His brother-in-law informed him of the birth of a child. 
" My dear friend," Brother Charles replies, "how great 
and wonderful is a soul ! Such a soul is your child's, and, 
after its time of trial it will live for ever in the glory, 
radiance, beatitude, and ineffable perfection of the elect at 
the feet of God ! . . . I am settled in Nazareth. ... I 
am as happy as one can be down here, in my life of a labour- 
ing son of Mary, endeavouring to follow, as far as my moral 
poverty permits, the vanishing and hidden life of our well- 
beloved Jesus, in whom I love you with my whole heart." 

The envelope contained a second letter for Comte Louis 
de Foucauld. And Brother Charles added, as a post- 
script, this recommendation : "Be good enough, I beg 
you, to forward this letter to Louis de Foucauld. It worries 
me to make known to the persons who take my letters to the 
post, the names of those to whom I write : I am solitary, 
silent and unknown." 

The little child of whom I have just spoken died a few 
months after its birth. Brother Charles consoled the father 
and mother, as his custom was, by setting heaven's gates 
ajar. He says how well he understands the parents' sorrow, 
and then tells them of their son's eternal happiness : " How 
great he is compared with you and with all of us ! how high 
he is over us ! . . . None of your children love you as 
much as he does, because he drinks deeply of the torrent of 
divine love. ... I have already familiarly invoked my 
little nephew-saint. . . . Pray to him constantly, dear 
Marie, and thank God well for making you the mother of a 
saint. A mother lives in her children : you are partly in 
heaven already ! More than ever henceforth you will have 
' your conversation in heaven.' " 

All the correspondence of this period is in words thus 
" winged." I should like to quote at full length a very fine 
series of letters to a Trappist, on monastic obedience. I 
cannot interrupt my story too often. It ought to picture a 
life hastening on, and, above all, its example must be made 
plain. 

I shall therefore only say that, during his hermit-life in 
the Holy Land, the requests for books and the thanks for 



NAZARETH AND JERUSALEM 119 

books sent, are numerous. Brother Charles asked his sister 
to forward to the East the German translation of the Vulgate 
and also a history of the Catholic Church in German (he 
wished to lend them to some German Protestants who were 
then living- in Nazareth); the last edition of two courses of 
Philosophy in Latin by Father de Mandato and Father 
Feretti, both Jesuits : the Roman Ordo for the breviary and 
the Mass — " I say the breviary," he added, and in my great 
love of Rome, as I am not bound to anything, I want to say 
it as Roman priests say it"; — four volumes by Abbe 
Darras; a "good " St. John Chrysostom ; a little later on 
he took delight in a New Testament and a prayer-book in 
Arabic. Prayer, study, and solitude, these were to bring 
upon him the grace of God. 

He was accustomed from the beginning of his conversion 
and while wath the Trappists to go into retreats. He went 
on a twelve days' retreat at Nazareth, not to speak of one or 
two shorter ones. It took place at the beginning of Novem- 
ber, 1897. The meditations were all written down; I have 
the text of them before me. They give some idea of his 
fervour and faith and power of self-analysis. I here give 
one of them, and reading it reminds one of certain chapters 
of the Confessions of St. Augustine: the same ardour of 
contrition, the same gratitude, the same frankness. 

Myself and my Past Life — God's Mercy. 
{The Fourteenth Meditation of the Retreat.) 

'* Lord Jesus, make Thou my thoughts and words. If 
I was weak in previous meditations, how much more so in 
this ! . . . It is not material that is wanting ... on the 
contrary, it overwhelms me ! What mercies there are, 
God, mercies of yesterday, of to-day, of every moment of 
my life ; before my birth and before time itself ! I am sub- 
merged in them, flooded by them ; they cover and enclose 
me on all sides. . . . Ah, my God, we have all to sing of 
Thy mercies, we who are all of us created for eternal glory 
and redeemed by the blood of Jesus, by Thy blood, dear 
Lord Jesus, who art close to me in this Tabernacle; but if 
all of us owe it Thee, how much do I, who have been from 
my infancy surrounded by so many graces, the son of a holy 
mother, learning from her to know Thee, to love Thee and 
to pray to Thee as soon as I could understand a word ! Is 
not my first recollection that of the prayer she made me 
recite morning and evening : ' O God, bless papa, mamma, 
grandpapa, grandmamma, Grandmamma Foucauld, and 



I20 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

my little sister ' ? And that pious bringing up ! . . . those 
visits to churches . . . those flowers placed beneath the 
crosses, the Christmas cribs, the months of Mary; the little 
altar in my room, kept for me as long as I had a room to 
myself at home, and which outlived my faith ! the cate- 
chisms, the first confessions seen to by a Christian grand- 
father . . . the examples of piety given in my family — 
I see myself going to church with my father (how long ago 
that is), with my grandfather ; I see my grandmother and 
my cousins going to Mass every day. . . . And that first 
communion, after a long and careful preparation sur- 
rounded with the graces and encouragement of a whole 
Christian family, under the eyes of those I loved most in all 
the world, so that all was united together in one day to make 
me taste all the sweetness of it. . . . And then the Cate- 
chism of Perseverance under the direction of a good, pious, 
intelligent, and zealous priest, my grandfather always 
encouraging me by word and example in the paths of piety ; 
the most pious and most beautiful souls of my family load- 
ing me with encouragement and kindness, and Thou, my 
God, planting in my heart an attachment for them which 
the storms that followed could not uproot, and which Thou 
madest use of later on to save me when I was dead and 
drowned in evil. . . . And then when I began to stray away 
from Thee, in spite of so many graces, with what gentleness 
didst Thou recall me to Thee by the voice of my grand- 
father, with what mercy didst Thou prevent me from falling 
into extreme excesses by keeping in my heart my affection 
for him ! But in spite of all that, unfortunately I forsook 
Thee more and more, my Lord and my Life — and my own 
life, too, began to be a death, or rather it was a death in 
Thine eyes. . . . And in that state of death Thou didst 
still preserve me. . . . Thou didst preserve my memories 
of the past, my esteem of virtue, my friendship — sleeping 
like fire under ashes, but always existing — for certain beau- 
tiful and pious souls, my respect for the Catholic religion 
and priests : all faith had disappeared, but my respect and 
esteem remained intact. . . . Thou gavest me other 
graces, O God — Thou didst preserve in me the liking for 
study, serious reading, beautiful things, the dislike of 
vice and ugliness. ... I did evil, but neither approved 
nor loved it. . . . Thou madest me feel a sorrowful void, 
a depression that I experienced then only ; ... it used to 
come upon me every evening, when I was alone in my 
rooms; ... it kept me dumb and oppressed during so- 
called fetes : I organized them, but when the time came I 



NAZARETH AND JERUSALEM 121 

spent them in dumbness, distaste, and infinite boredom. . . . 
Thou gavest me the vague uneasiness of a bad conscience, 
which was all asleep yet not quite dead. I never felt 
such depression, so ill at ease, such anxiety till then. O 
God, it must have been a gift from Thee ; . . . how far I 
was from suspecting it ! . . . How good Thou art. . . . 
And by this invention of Thy love, at the same time as Thou 
didst prevent my soul from drowning beyond recovery, 
Thou didst take care of my body : for had I then died, I 
should have been in hell. . . . Riding accidents, miracu- 
lously avoided and averted ! The duels that Thou didst 
prevent ! During expeditions, the perils that Thou didst 
turn aside ! The many and great dangers of travelling, 
through which Thou hast brought me as if by a miracle. 
My health unaffected even in the most unwholesome places, 
and despite such great fatigue ! . . . O God, how Thy 
hand was upon me, and how little I felt it ! how good Thou 
art ! How didst Thou watch over me ! How didst Thou 
cover me with Thy wings when I did not even believe in 
Thine existence ! And whilst Thou wert thus guarding me 
Thou didst deem it was now time for me to return to the 
fold. . . . Thou didst unloose in my despite all the evil 
ties that would have kept me far from Thee. . . . Thou 
didst even untie the good bonds which would have pre- 
vented me re-entering into the bosom of that family, in 
which Thou desiredst to make me find salvation, and which 
would have hindered me from being one day all Thine, . . . 
At the same time, Thou gavest me a life of serious studies, 
a hidden life, solitary and poor. . . . My heart and mind 
were far from Thee, but yet I lived in a less tainted 
atmosphere; not in the light nor in goodness, far from 
it ; . . . but the mire was no longer so deep, nor the evil 
so odious ; . . . the place was being cleared out little by 
little; . . . the water of the deluge still covered the earth, 
but it was subsiding more and more, and the rain was no 
longer falling. . . . Thou hadst broken the obstacles, 
softened the soul, prepared the ground by burning the 
thorns and bushes. ... By stress of circumstances didst 
Thou force me to be chaste, and soon, at the end of the 
winter of '86, didst Thou bring me back to my family in 
Paris, and chastity became my delight and my heart's 
desire. It is Thou, O God, who didst that, Thou alone; 
unhappily, I had nothing to do in it. How good hast 
Thou been ! From what sad and guilty relapses hast Thou 
mercifully saved me ! In all this, Thv hand alone wrought 
the beginning, the middle, and the end. How good Thou 



122 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

art ! It was necessary in order to prepare my soul for the 
truth; the devil's power is too great over an unchaste soul 
for the truth to enter in. . . . Thou, O God, couldst not 
enter a soul where the demon of uncleanness held the mas- 
tery. . . . Thou desiredst to enter mine, O Good Shep- 
herd, and Thou thyself didst drive out Thine enemy, . . . 
and after having driven him out by force, in spite of me, 
seeing my infirmity and how incapable I was of myself to 
keep my soul pure, Thou didst set a good guardian to guard 
it, so strong and so gentle that not only did he not leave 
the least entrance for the demon of impurity, but made me 
feel the need and the charm of the delights of chastity. . . . 
O God, how shall I praise Thy mercies ! . . . And after 
having emptied my soul of its filth and having entrusted it 
to Thine angels, Thou wouldst return to it anew, O God ! 
For after receiving all these graces, it yet knew Thee not ! 
Thou didst continually work in it and on it. Thou didst 
transform it with a sovereign power and astonishing 
rapidity, and it was completely ignorant of Thee. . . . 
Then didst Thou inspire it with a taste for virtue, for pagan 
virtue ; Thou madest me seek it in the books of pagan 
philosophers, and I found there nothing but emptiness and 
dislike. . . . Then didst Thou let me see a few pages of 
a Christian book, and madest me feel their warmth and 
beauty. . . . Thou madest me suspect that perhaps I 
should there find, if not the truth (I did not think that men 
could know it), at least the teachings of virtue, and Thou 
inspiredst me to seek lessons of an altogether pagan virtue 
in Christian books. . . . Thus didst Thou familiarize me 
with the mysteries of religion. ... At the same time. 
Thou didst knit more and more closely the bonds which 
united me to finer souls; Thou broughtest me back to the 
family, to which I was passionately attached in my young 
days, in childhood. . . . For these souls Thou madest me 
feel again my old admiration, and them Thou didst 
inspire to receive me as the prodigal son who was not even 
made to feel that he had ever abandoned the paternal roof. 
Thou madest them as kind to me as I might have expected 
had I never erred. ... I drew nearer and nearer to this 
well-beloved family. There I lived in such an atmosphere 
of virtue that my life recovered visibly ; it was spring restor- 
ing life to earth after the winter; ... it is in that gentle 
sun that the desire for goodness grew, and the dislike of 
evil, the impossibility of backsliding into certain faults, 
the striving after goodness. . . . Thou hadst driven evil 
out of my heart ; my good angel came back, and Thou 



NAZARETH AND JERUSALEM 123 

gavest me a terrestrial angel as well. ... At the begin- 
ning of October, '86, after six months of family life, I 
admired and desired goodness, but Thee I knew not. . . . 
What devices, O God of goodness, didst Thou use to reveal 
Thyself to me ! What circuitous ways ! What gentle 
and strong outward means ? What a series of astonishing 
circumstances, where all united to urge me towards Thee; 
unexpected solitude, emotions, illnesses of beloved ones, 
ardent feelings of the heart, the return to Paris after an 
amazing event. . . . And what interior graces ! the desire 
for solitude, meditation, pious reading, the desire to go into 
Thy churches, though I did not believe in Thee, the trouble 
of my soul, the anguish, the striving after truth, the prayer : 
' O God, if Thou dost exist, make me know it.' All that 
was Thy work, O God, Thy work. Thine alone. ... A 
fine soul was helping Thee, but by its silence, its gentle- 
ness, goodness, and perfection : it let itself be seen, it was 
good and exhaled its attractive perfume, but it did not act. 
Thou, O Jesus my Saviour, Thou didst all within me as well 
as without. Thou drewest me to virtue by the beauty of a 
soul in which virtue appeared so beautiful that it ravished 
my heart for ever. . . . Thou drewest me to the truth by 
the beauty of this soul. Thou then gavest me four graces : 
the first was to inspire me with this thought : Since this 
man is so intelligent, the religion which he believes so 
firmly could not be the folly I think it. The second was to 
inspire me with this thought : Since religion is not a folly, 
is the truth which on the earth is in no other nor in any 
philosophical system perhaps there? The third was to say 
to myself : ' Let us then examine this religion; let us take 
a professor of the Catholic religion, a learned priest, and 
let us see what it is, and whether we must believe what it 
says.' The fourth was the incomparable grace of apply- 
ing to M. Huvelin for my religious lessons. In making me 
enter his confessional, between the 27th and 30th, I think 
that Thou, O God, gavest me every kind of good. If there 
is joy in heaven over one sinner being converted, there was 
joy when I entered that confessional ! . . . What a 
blessed day, what a day of benediction ! . . . And since 
that day, my whole life has been only a chain of benedic- 
tions ! Thou didst put me under the wings of that saint, 
and I remained there. Thou didst open the door by his 
hand, and there has been only grace upon grace. I 
asked for religious lessons; he made me kneel down and 
make my confession, and on the spot sent me to com- 
munion. ... I cannot help crying when I think of it, I 



124 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

don't want to check these tears, they are only too fitting, O 
God ! What streams of tears ought to flow from my eyes 
at the thought of so many mercies ! How good Thou hast 
been ! How happy I am ! What have I done for this ? 
Since then, O God, there has been nothing but a chain of 
ever-increasing graces— a rising tide, always rising ; direc- 
tion, and such direction ! prayer, holy reading, daily attend- 
ance at Mass laid down from the first day of my new life ; 
frequent communion, frequent confessions every few weeks ; 
direction becoming more and more intimate and frequent, 
enveloping my whole life and making it a life of obedience 
in the smallest things, and obedience to such a master ! 
Communion becoming almost daily, . . . the desire for 
the religious life growing, gaining strength, . . . exterior 
events independent of my will forcing me to detach myself 
from material things which had a great deal of charm for 
me, and which would have held back my soul, would have 
bound it to the earth. Thou didst violently shatter these 
bonds as well as many others. My God, how good Thou 
art to have shattered all around me, to have so reduced to 
nothing all that would have prevented me from being Thine 
alone! . . . The deepening feeling of the vanity, the false- 
ness of the worldly life, and of the distance which exists 
between the perfect evangelical life and that which one leads 
in the world. . . . The tender and increasing love of 
Thee, Lord Jesus, the taste for prayer, the faith in Thy 
word, the deep sense of the duty of almsgiving, the desire 
to follow Thee, the words of M. Huvelin's sermon : ' Thou 
hast so taken the lowest place that no one can snatch it from 
Thee !' so inviolably graven on my soul ; the thirst to offer 
Thee the greatest sacrifice I could possibly offer Thee by 
leaving for ever a family in which all my happiness was 
centred and by going far away from it to live and to die ; . . . 
the striving after a life like Thine, in which I can com- 
pletely partake of Thy abjection, poverty, humble labour, 
burial, Thy hiddenness, a striving so clearly shown in a 
last retreat at Clamart. . . . On January 15, 1890, the 
sacrifice accomplished, and that great grace being given 
me by Thy hand. ... La Trappe, . . . daily com- 
munion, . . . what I learned during seven years of re- 
ligious life, . . . the graces of Notre-Dames-des-Neiges, 
the graces of Nolre-Dame-du-Sacre-Coeur, . . . the graces 
of vStaueli, . . . the graces of Rome, the town of St. Peter and 
the martyrs, the Holy Father, the Basilicas, the churches, 
the thousand marks of the Apostles and Martyrs, . . . 
theology, philosophy, readings, the exceptional vocation to 



NAZARETH AND JERUSALEM 125 

a life of abjection and obscurity. After three and a half 
years waiting the Very Reverend General told me, on 
January 23, 1897, that God's will is for me to follow the 
attraction which urges me to leave the Trappist Order 
for the life of abjection, humble toil and deep obscurity, of 
which I have had the vision for so long, . . . My 
departure for the Holy Land, . . . the pilgrimage, the 
arrival in Nazareth, . . . the first Wednesday that I spent 
there, O God, through the intercession of St. Joseph, Thou 
madest me a menial at the convent of St. Clare. . . . The 
peace, the happiness, consolations, graces, and marvellous 
felicity which I feel. . ; . Misericordias Domini in 
CBternum cantabo. . . . Venite et videte, quoniavi suavis 
est Dominus. ... O God, I can only tremble at such 
mercies ; I can only beg the Holy Virgin and all the Saints 
and holy souls to give thanks for me, for I faint beneath the 
load of graces. . . . Oh ! my Spouse, what hast Thou not 
done for me ! What then wouldst Thou have of me that 
Thou hast thus overwhelmed me ? What dost Thou expect 
of me to have thus overpowered me ? O God, thank Thy- 
self within me, within me do Thou Thvself create gratitude, 
thanks, fidelity, and love ; I succumb, I swoon, O God ; 
transform my thoughts and words and works, so that 
everything may thank and glorify Thee in me. Amen, 
amen, amen." 

Thus the summer, autumn, and winter of 1897 were spent 
in Nazareth. About this period the renown of Brother 
Charles of Jesus reached as far as Jerusalem. The Abbess 
of the Poor Clares of Nazareth had written to the Abbess of 
Jerusalem about the benevolent servant, who dressed like a 
pauper, spoke and wrote like a scholar and prayed like a 
saint. Mother Elizabeth du Calvaire wished to see and ques- 
tion him. She had founded two monasteries and was, indeed, 
a sort of Superioress-General. They therefore hastened to 
obey her. She was a most prudent woman, and, in the 
circumstances, feared that the Nazareth community might 
be the victim of an adventurer. She would judge the case. 
Brother Charles was therefore sent by Mother St. Michael, 
who commissioned him to carry an important letter to the 
Poor Clares of Jerusalem. He at once assented, and said 
that he was ready to start : he had no business to settle, no 
luggage to prepare. They suggested that he should take 
some provisions with him. He refused, saying that he 
knew the language of the country, and would beg his bread 
in the villages. 

He left as he had come, alone on foot, and passed through 



126 CHARLES BE FOUCAULD 

Galilee and Samaria, thinking of the Master who had made 
this long journey so many times for him and for us all. 
Christians gave him the bread and water he asked for ; they 
put him up, nor did the Turks refuse him. Very tired, he 
came in sight of the walls on June 24, the feast of St. John 
the Baptist, but as night was falling he slept on the ground 
in a field near the convent. 

Next day he was received by the Abbess, whose distrust 
did not last long after he had spoken for only five minutes. 
They could not think of letting the traveller, whose feet 
had been made sore by a bad pair of sandals, set out again 
for some time. There, too, he had an empty hut outside 
the enclosure, and built at some distance from another, in 
which lived a negro and his wife. As guardians of the 
Sisters' little ground, Brother Charles asked to be allowed 
to be the neighbour of these poor people, and to stop in 
the empty hut. He refused to lodge in the chaplain's rooms, 
which the Abbess placed at his disposal for a few days. 

To explain this offer, we must say that Mother Elizabeth 
du Calvaire knew by the letter from Nazareth whom she 
was receiving, and that from her first meeting with Brother 
Charles, he saw that he was known, and had spoken of 
himself more fully than usual, telling what trials he had 
undergone and for what he had come to the East. He had 
related some incidents of his infancy, his conversion, his 
years in La Trappe, and let it just be seen that the hardest 
sacrifice for him had been, and still was, his separation 
from an excellent and beloved and united family. Then 
suddenly he ceased speaking. The man of silence re- 
appeared. The servant had taken leave of the Abbess and 
begged permission to lodge outside the enclosure, not far 
from the negro guardian, in the country near the Holy 
Town. 

In the evening Mother Elizabeth, speaking to her daugh- 
ters, said to them : " Nazareth was not mistaken : he is 
truly a man of God ; we have a saint in the house." 

This venerable and highly spiritual woman was, as we 
shall see, to have a decisive influence in the determination 
to which Charles de Foucauld came less than two years 
later, to prepare for the priesthood. 

He was at Jerusalem for some weeks at least; he led the 
same life there in the same conditions as at Nazareth, and 
he wrote to his relations in France : " I have just received 
your letter at Jerusalem, where I have definitely settled 
down in the Convent of the Poor Clares. The Mother 
Abbess of the Jerusalem Convent, who is the foundress of 



NAZARETH AND JERUSALEM 127 

the two monasteries, asked me to come here. I do not 
know why she made me come, for I am not much good; 
I beheve it is simply for her to be able to show charity 
towards me and to overwhelm me with kindness. She is a 
saint. . . . How beautiful God makes souls, and how 
good He is to let me see them ! What treasures of moral 
beauty there are in the depths of these cloisters, and what 
fair flowers blossom there, for God alone ! . . . I have a 
little house with its back against the great wall of the 
enclosure. ... I live like a hermit, or an independent 
workman, getting all I ask for, and working as and when 
I wish at very easy work that they have been so considerate 
as to give me, so that I may say that I gain my bread. . . . 

" My life here is exactly the same as at Nazareth with 
this difference, that I am still more solitary — that is to say, 
better. The convent is over a mile from Jerusalem on the 
Bethania road, in an admirable position, on the border of 
the Vale of Cedron, opposite the Mount of Olives. From 
my windows I see all Jerusalem, Gethsemane, all the Mount 
of Olives, Bethania, and, in the distance, the mountains of 
Moab and Edom, which rise up like a dark wall on the 
other side of the Jordan; it is extremely beautiful. . . . 
On the other side of the convent you can see the hills of 
Bethlehem to the South and those of St. John the Baptist 
(his birthplace and the deserts in which he lived) to the 
West. . . . The Cenacle, the road that Jesus took with 
His Apostles after the wedding-feast to go to the Garden 
of the Agony, the garden itself, the palace of the High 
Priest to which He was led after having been bound, 
Herod's Palace, Calvary, the cupola of the basilica of the 
Holy Sepulchre, the place of the Ascension, dear and 
beloved Bethania, the sole place in which our Lord was 
always well received, the whole road which leads from 
Jerusalem to Bethania which our Lord followed so often, 
Bethphage the temple in which Jesus so often taught, Siloe 
with the pool in which the man blind from birth bathed his 
eyes : all this is under our eyes and cries aloud, singing 
without ceasing of Jesus. . . . 

" Why cannot you come here? how you would enjoy it ! 
how touched you would feel and happy to know that Jesus 
was speaking to your heart ! 

" I never go into the town, nobody comes to the convent ; 
I have therefore a marvellous solitude which I profoundly 
enjoy. . . . God is good ! . . . The farther I go, the 
more joy I find. I must humble myself for it : it shows I 
am not strong enough to endure crosses, but I must also be 



128 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

grateful to God, who, in His tender care, is so good as to 
save this poor shorn Iamb from the least wind."^ 

Brother Charles rarely left his solitude except to go to the 
chapel. He used to say : " I have quite the life of a monk, 
except the habit." 

He soon returned to Nazareth, but he really considered 
himself as a servant of both monasteries, and as Mother 
Elizabeth du Calvaire had expressed the desire that he 
would come back and live in Jerusalem, he returned there 
before the end of the year. What did it matter to him to 
be here or there, as the life was similar and the soul in 
safety ? 

No one escapes entirely from his neighbour's eye. How- 
ever hidden Charles de Foucauld might be, he was esteemed. 
He spoke very little ; he avoided entering into conversa- 
tion with the few people whom he met on his way ; the 
Abbess, remaining in the enclosure, only spoke to him on 
rare occasions and if he wanted a permission of her ; never- 
theless, as at Nazareth, a murmured opinion at the outset, 
made up of astonishment, of hesitating admiration, of 
restrained but keen esteem, was being formed around this 
mysterious person. Like one of the poor he was seen going 
daily to fetch his meals from the monastery door and then 
returning without ceasing to read a book which he invari- 
ably carried; he was seen taking Holy Communion each 
morning, serving Masses, scrupulously doing the little jobs 
which were given him, spending an hour and a half after 
his midday dinner in the chapel, going back in the even- 
ing, if there was a service; they knew that he slept on two 
boards covered with a mat, with a stone for pillow, as at 
Nazareth ; that he slept barely more than two hours a night ; 
that he was extremely temperate and equally charitable. 
The Arabic or French speaking people who had conversed 
with him remembered his very kind eyes and his brotherly 
ways. They also wondered at the joy which they detected 
in this homeless man, without relations, riches, and with- 
out position. 

Several in the country about Jerusalem and the town 
called him " the Poor Clares' holy hermit." Some inquired 
if they might consult him. The poor tried to get in his 
path when he went out. 

At the French Consulate, where he sometimes went to 
transact business for the community, he was received with 
honour, and at once shown into the drawing-room in spite 
of his extraordinary and unprepossessing costume. 

^ Letters of October 15, and November 10, 1898. 



NAZARETH AND JERUSALEM 129 

The negro himself and his wife, neighbours of the hut, 
whom he always called "brother or sister," treated him 
with a great deal of consideration. One day, in order to 
try him, the Abbess said to the guardian : "Take this to 
the workman." " To the gentleman," quickly replied the 
negro. 

A short time after he had settled in Jerusalem, and at the 
end of a retreat he had just made. Brother Charles declared 
that he would henceforth take to the Trappists' diet ; at 
midday, milk-soup, figs, and some honey; in the evening, 
a piece of bread of the same weight as a Poor Clare's — 180 
grammes.^ During Advent of 1898 and Lent of 1899, he 
contented himself with a piece of bread at midday and in 
the evening. Some nuns of the monasteries in the Holy 
Land remembered these things, and have written of them 
to me. One of them remarks by the way : " Trappist he 
remained in the full sense of the term ; in all circumstances 
he used to remark, 'As the Trappist Rule says,' and this 
Rule he always carried about him." 

Let it not be imagined, as certain people in the world 
might perhaps think, that piety and regular meditation had 
made of Charles de Foucauld a mawkish, insipid, and 
formal man. The man who lived the life of which I have 
just spoken proved that he had the gift of strength. Gen- 
erally he exercised it in subduing himself; on some occa- 
sions, and when it was necessary, he showed hardness to 
others. One day a troop of Italian beggars succeeded in 
getting into the lay-sisters' yard ; they made a great uproar 
because the Sisters rightly refused to give them dinner. 
The poor girls, insulted and threatened, did not know what 
to do, when Charles happened to arrive. Without reflect- 
ing, without saying a word, he threw himself on one of the 
worst fellows, seized him round the body and put him 
out; then it was the turn of a second and a third. With 
incredible and masterly skill, he succeeded in this little 
police operation in one minute. His eyes were blazing. 

Next moment Brother Charles passed before the lay- 
sisters' lodge : 

" Perhaps I have disedified you !" he said. 

'* Oh no; you have delivered us. Thank you !" 

When she had seen him live thus for several months, 
and was sure of his great intelligence and singular 
virtue, Mother Elizabeth began to exhort him to take Holy 
Orders. She showed him that he would do much more 
good by becoming a missionary ; but he changed the con- 
^ About six ounces. 



I30 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

versation, and went back to the hermitage. As she was a 
woman of very strong will and accustomed to guide souls 
that do not give in to every argument, but only to one, she 
returned to the subject, and observed to Brother Charles 
that, if he became a priest, there would daily be one more 
Mass in the world, and an infinite number of graces for 
men ; that it was then in his power to pour down a fresh 
blessing on the earth, or to keep it in heaven. If he had 
received gifts, which he had increased by study and a long 
spiritual work, was it to make use of them for himself 
alone? Brother Charles, whom the thought of honouring 
still more the Blessed Sacrament had moved to the depths 
of his soul, reflected on the words which had been said to 
him, and then replied: "To be a priest is to put myself 
forward, and I am made for the hidden life." 

The Abbess decided to procure one more holy priest for 
the Church, and set her daughters to pray, and, after some 
time, the solitary, having seen her again, said to her ; 
" Write yourself to my director," and this was done. 

Now, at this time an evil dispute had arisen with the Poor 
Clares of Nazareth, about a piece of land which belonged 
to them — the piece, I suppose, on which was situated 
the hut that Brother Charles had lived in. They wrote, 
begging the latter to retake possession of this disputed 
piece of their ground, to till it a little, and to undertake to 
arrange the difference, for no one could succeed in it as 
well as he. 

He at once set out, accompanied by a priest who was 
going down to preach a retreat there. The travellers went 
from Jerusalem to Jaffa, where they embarked for Haifa, 
and, from there, reached Nazareth at the beginning of 1899. 

Abbe Huvelin had been told of all these things by his 
penitent, who asked him for counsel. He had long thought 
that Charles de Foucauld was intended for the priesthood, 
and he had let him know it. In the little hut at Nazareth, 
Brother Charles had at last formed the resolution of pre- 
paring himself for Holy Orders. But he could not deny 
his particular vocation, studied, meditated, and proved for 
so many years ; it was necessary to find a solution to the 
problem : to live as a priest, and also as a hermit. Where 
could he live thus ? and how ? 

This man, tormented by an overflowing imagination 
which was at times chimerical, always grandiose in the 
choice of its dream, would have quickly made his decision; 
he would have bought the Mount of the Beatitudes ; he 
would have set up a hermitage on the summit, and there 



NAZARETH AND JERUSALEM 131 

quite alone — or perhaps with a few Little Brothers whose 
coming he always hoped for — he would have guarded that 
sacred spot; he would have adored the Blessed Sacrament, 
having brought it among fierce populations ; he would have 
received the passing Bedouins and the pilgrims who 
ascended in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. A contemplative, 
unprotected, austere, and charitable priest, " he would have 
preached the Gospel in silence." 

The book of intimate notes is here very touching. One 
finds in it the purity of intention, the generosity of this 
solitary who, in his log-hut, meditating on the near future, 
was only concerned with his own eflFacement and the glory 
of God. Here is what he writes : 

" I believe it my duty to try and buy the probable site of 
the Mount of the Beatitudes. Clearly seeing that, either 
on account of obstacles placed by the Turkish Government, 
or on account of their actual burdens, the Franciscans can- 
not take upon themselves to set up immediately, nor in a 
fiven time, an altar with a tabernacle and a chaplain, . . . 
cannot make any better suggestion to them than to take 
upon myself to maintain on the top of the mount an altar 
and a tabernacle in which the Blessed Sacrament will be 
reserved, and a chaplain entrusted to say Mass there every 
day, on condition that, whenever the Franciscans wish to 
take upon themselves the keeping up of the altar, taber- 
nacle, and chaplain, the place shall immediately be handed 
over to them by me or my heirs. 

" I had at first thought of setting up a hermit chaplain 
there, in a poor room, and to settle down near him, to serve 
him as servant and sacristan. But I find that I cannot on 
any account impose these charges on my family. Another 
means must therefore be found. I see only one : it is to be 
myself the poor chaplain of. this poor sanctuary." 

Brother Charles, continuing his meditation upon this 
subject, asks himself whether he will thus fill his vocation 
better, which is "to imitate, in the most possible and 
perfect way, our Lord Jesus in His hidden life." And 
he replies allfirmatively, comparing what he does in 
Nazareth with what he would do on the Mount of the 
Beatitudes. 

" Faith in the word of God and of His Church can be 
practised equally well everywhere, but there, on the Mount 
of the Beatitudes, in destitution, isolation, in the midst of 
very malevolent Arabs, I shall, so as not to lose courage, 
need a firm and constant faith in these words : Seek ye the 
kingdom of God, and all things shall be added unto you. . , . 



132 CHARLES DE FOVCAULD 

Here, on the contrary, I lack nothing, and am safe. It is 
there then that my faith will be best exercised. 

"There I shall be able to do infinitely more for my 
neighbour by the sole offering up of the holy sacrifice, . . . 
by setting up a tabernacle which will invisibly sanctify the 
environs by the simple presence of the Holy Sacrament, as 
our Saviour in His mother's womb sanctified the house of 
John, ... or else by pilgrimages, ... or by hospitality, 
alms, and the charity I shall strive to give to all. 

" Here, my condition is lower in itself; there, it will be, 
in my eyes, of an infinite height, for nothing in the world 
seems to me greater than a priest. But where is there a 
closer imitation of our Lord? The priest more perfectly 
imitates our Lord, the Most High Priest, who offers Him- 
self up daily. I must put humility where our Lord put 
it, ... I must practise it in the priesthood as He did. 

" Here I have more distractions through my surround- 
ings. . . . There I can be much more before the Holy 
Sacrament, for I shall be able to keep at His feet part of 
the night. . . . 

" Although here the abjection of my state be, at first 
sight, greater, there I shall be subject to ever so many more 
humiliations. Here, in my own eyes, I am above my 
rank; . . . there, an ignorant and incapable priest, I shall 
be far beneath my ofifice in my own opinion. . . . Appear- 
ing in a strange habit, asking to live a special life, to set 
up a tabernacle in a holy place, the authenticity of which is 
disputable (though I have no doubt about it), from the first 
I shall be the butt of all sorts of mockeries, rebuffs, and con- 
tradictions. . . . Alone in a desert, with an indispensable 
native Christian, in the midst of a wild and hostile popu- 
lation, . . . courage will find much more field for its 
exercise." 

He ends his "election " by giving a definition of him- 
self. Who is it, he asks, who thus weighs the pros and 
cons? "A sinner, an unworthy, poor, ignorant fellow, 
yet a soul of good-will, desiring all that God desires, and 
that alone." 

Such are the principal ends that Brother Charles pro- 
posed to himself, when he thought of buying the Mount of 
the Beatitudes. They are those of a great soul. In the 
sequel, if he pursued them otherwise and in other countries, 
one observes that they never ceased to be present in his 
mind. In other places he was what he contemplated being 
on the Mount where our Lord preached the eight Beatitudes 
of which the world knew not. 



NAZARETH AND JERUSALEM 133 

In June, igoo, Brother Charles, having come to a 
decision, set out and reached Jerusalem. He reached that 
town on the eve of the Feast of the Sacred Heart. 

He wished to see Mgr. L. Piavi, for the authority to set 
up as a hermit priest on the top of the Mount of the Beati- 
tudes could only be given by the Patriarch. No doubt in 
this interview he could also get the proposed Rule which 
he had drawn up for himself and the future " Little Brothers 
of the Sacred Heart" approved. Abb^ Huvelin had only 
reluctantly accepted this idea. He knew he had the care 
of an extraordinary soul which " upset all estimates," and 
that is why he dare not go so far as a formal veto. But 
the terms which he used involved a forcible warning. He 
refused to decide: " My dear child, I have no light about 
that, and only see the objections; and I fear there is self- 
will beneath your self-sacrifice and piety." 

The day after his arrival in Jerusalem, Brother Charles 
Vv^ent up early to Calvary and heard a Mass ; then he directed 
his steps to the patriarchate. In what a dress and in how 
pitiable a condition ! He was not a traveller who had a 
change of dress in a bag, or possessed the wherewithal to 
buy a new one. On the way his sandals must have given 
out on the road ; he had replaced them by mere bits of wood 
strapped together. Bands of thick paper tied up with 
string hid the holes in his breeches, broken at both knees. 
Besides, the poor traveller, walking all day long in the 
height of summer, without any precaution, had had a ter- 
rible sunstroke ; his eyelids, forehead, and cheeks were 
swollen and freckled. When such a ragamuffin asked to 
be received by Mgr. Piavi, the staff of the patriarchate 
naturally offered some objections. It was only after wait- 
ing a long time, and on his renewed affirmation that he 
wished to speak to the Patriarch himself, that Brother 
Charles was admitted to his Beatitude. 

Mgr. Piavi listened to him ; then, imagining that he had 
to do with one of the visionaries who are often found in the 
East and elsewhere, and not suspecting that before him was 
a man of powerful mind and heroic virtue, he replied : " I 
will think about it, and now withdraw for a while." 

He reflected indeed and made inquiries ; he heard some- 
thing of Brother Charles's exceptional life, and tried to get 
this queer petitioner to return to the patriarchate. But the 
dream was over. Brother Charles considered the rebuff a 
sign of the divine will. He therefore returned to Nazareth. 
At the same time, and whilst he yet thought himself actually 
in possession of the Mount of the Beatitudes, he discovered 



134 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

that he had been tricked by the seller, and that the latter — a 
born German — had sold the land on which the altar and 
cabin were to be raised without having any rights. The 
cash paid was lost. 

Brother Charles tells us in his letters how he bore these 
deceptions and humiliations ; and in doing so unsuspect- 
ingly sings his own praise. 

" I saw the Patriarch, and I told him what I had to say 
to him. And, although he dismissed me quickly enough, 
I am very pleased. ... I am in deep peace and great 
joy: I have but one thing to fear; being unfaithful to 
grace. . . ."^ 

" My desire for Holy Orders is stedfast, but all the rest 
is in doubt. ... Be very certain of one thing, my dear; 
it is that the will of God will be done : either by men, or 
despite of them. He will do for us what is best. Don't be 
grieved because I shall not go to France this year. Per- 
haps, without knowing it, I am on the point of going 
there. . . ."^ 

*' Do not let us attach importance to the events of this 
life, nor to material things ; they are but as dreams after a 
night's carousal. . . . What is left us at the hour of 
death, save our merits and our sins?"' 

Abb^ Huvelin encouraged his penitent to prepare for the 
priesthood ; he thought that the preparation would be short, 
on account of the philosophy and theology already learnt, 
and he hoped, as the idea had struck Brother Charles, it 
would take place at La Trappe of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges. 
Since the attempt made on Mgr. Piavi had not succeeded, 
yes, indubitably until the priesthood, it would be wise to 
ask the Vivarais Abbey, where the training was perfect, for 
a refuge. Besides, there was no hurry; he himself pro- 
posed in good time to take the necessary steps with the 
Father Abbot and the Bishop. The poor curate of Saint 
Augustine's was very poorly indeed, and, as he said, 
" enclosed in a network of pains." He wrote pretty fre- 
quent notes, in which abandoned plans and present ones 
were passed in review one after another. But the slowness 
of the mails, the impossibility of making themselves entirely 
understood at such distances, the violent instinctive need 
which urges us to seize upon the fringe of the morrow 
before us, overcame Charles de Foucauld's patience. He 
hastened things; he sent a note to tell Abb6 Huvelin, and 
started for France. 

^ Letter to a friend, June 28, 1900. 

* Letter to Madame de Blic, July 10, 1900. ^ Ibid., July 21, 1900. 



NAZARETH AND JERUSALEM 135 

He left the Holy Land at the beginning of August, igoo, 
taking with him only a breviary and an old basket contain- 
ing his food. He crossed the sea on deck, in the fourth 
class, and no doubt unknown. He went where he was 
called by a will which only unfolds its secrets little by little, 
but which clearly and with suavity orders what is essential 
for each day. He felt sure that he ought, henceforth, to 
accept the priesthood from which the thought of his un- 
worthiness at first and for long had kept him away ; he was 
sure that his vocation was to bear the Host into wild coun- 
tries, among infidels, and to live ever adoring it in silence, 
but preaching only by the heroic charity which it instilled 
into his heart. But as he watched the houses of Jaffa and 
the land behind them fade away, he was in the deepest 
ignorance as to the country and people to whom he would 
soon be sent. The time for that revelation had not yet 
come. 

In Palestine and Judea the renown of Brother Charles 
remained. Already legend had taken possession of the 
story of the hermit of Nazareth and Jerusalem and em- 
bellished it with its flowers, so often unprofitable and vain. 
It was rumoured in the villages that Brother Charles liked 
to be let down to the bottom of dried-up wells, and, being 
quite sure of being undisturbed there, prayed and medi- 
tated for hours. There was no truth in the story nor in 
several others like it, except the veneration which had 
inspired them. 

The long years spent in the East were a time of prepara- 
tion for Charles de Foucauld. They had accustomed 
him to a solitary life, to discipline without witnesses, to 
work without a set programme. He had served his appren- 
ticeship, which would permit him to support much harder 
trials without weakness, with the joy of the one who obeys 
his vocation. But he did not know these things; he only 
went forward to meet them with confidence. 



CHAPTER VII 
Charles de Foucauld a Priest— The Desert Road 

THE direction of a soul, two thousand five hundred 
miles away, is no easy thing. 

What was Abbe Huvelin going to think of this sudden 
return to France? His advice had not been followed; the 
journey had been undertaken in spite of a telegram saying : 
" Remain at Nazareth." He was at first displeased and 
troubled, but he had hardly seen his terrible penitent again, 
when he, like the others, submitted to the charm, and recog- 
nized his utter good faith and, what was much more and 
much better, the mysterious and certain call which Charles 
de Foucauld had obeyed. 

At first, and when he had in hand Charles de Foucauld's 
letter telling of his coming, Abb6 Huvelin, always quickly 
roused and smart at repartee, exclaimed: "The ball is 
shot ; who will stop it ?" Another letter came on August i6. 
Brother Charles had landed at Marseilles, and following the 
attraction of a former devotion, had run to Sainte-Baume, 
so as to pray to Mary Magdalen ; he was now going to take 
one of the first trains for Paris, and, if he did not find 
M. Huvelin at Rue de Laborde, he would go to Fontaine- 
bleau, where, in fact, the Abb6 was ill as usual and tor- 
mented with gout, M. Huvelin then decided to go back to 
Paris; he received the dear, strangely dressed hermit, who 
looked very tired — as anyone would be. He scolded him 
a little and then listened to him. Not having seen one 
another for so many years, they had a thousand things to 
say to each other. Twenty-four hours were not too many 
to tell, explain, and arrange everything. On seeing his 
penitent going away, Abb6 Huvelin wrote these lines : " He 
dined, slept in the house, and had breakfast with me, and 
took the road to Notre-Dame-des-Neiges and Rome. . . . 
He is a very holy soul. He wants to be a priest. I showed 
him how. He had little, too little money : I gave him a 
little. He knew my mind very well. I had told him about 
it in a telegram ; but something stronger drives him on, and 
one can only admire and love him." 

I can imagine Brother Charles, in his third-class car- 
riage, on this journey. He is sitting near a window. 

136 



CHARLES DE FOUCAULD A PRIEST 137 

Already reassured and quieted by the approbation he has 
received and the undiminished affection of his guide, he at 
times stops praying to look at the landscape. How this 
fresh scenery touches the traveller, how sweetly it speaks to 
him of former days ! He is going down the valley of the 
Rhone; in his sensitive soul he finds an image of one 
of our great rivers which flow, reflecting the countryside, 
green even in summer; he beholds a picture of the 
mountains in the distance, the mist of which always softens 
the ridges and the line of the heights. I see him getting 
out of the express, and taking a slow train, accustomed to 
long delays, and about to enter into the valleys and slopes 
of the Ardeche. Those around him are astonished; they 
wonder who is this singular man, half monk, half lay- 
man, bareheaded and untonsured, dressed in a whitish 
cotton robe, with a rosary round his waist. He looks like 
a very poor man, hollow-featured ; he goes along with down- 
cast eyes, without bothering about the sun, or the laughter, 
or the raillery, or the pity, perhaps, that he excites in 
passing. 

At what station did he stop to climb the last slopes which 
lead to Notre-Dame-des-Neiges? One can go as far as 
La Bastide-Saint-Laurent. But he who followed the coun- 
sels of poverty and mortification in the least things, must, I 
imagine, have got off the train long before Saint-Laurent, 
to make the long climb while thinking of Calvary, and of 
his approaching priesthood, of the years spent in La Trappe, 
and, now and then, of the splendour of the high plateaux of 
heather and rocks which, at this hour of sunset, displayed 
for a solitary traveller and God their treasures of colour, 
outline, and perfume. He was mistaken in thinking that 
he was alone in these great open spaces. Poor people like 
him, but who had always been so — wanderers more or less 
steady, more or less crippled, young or old, whose favourite 
trade is going from one shake-down to another with out- 
stretched hand — were travelling by the same road or moun- 
tain paths. He, when he came in, altogether done up and 
brown with dust, found more than half a dozen of them at 
the abbey door, between the long low fa9ade and the full- 
grown trees planted by the old monks. The brother-porter 
was not expecting him. He had not known Charles de 
Foucauld, a novice of Notre-Dame, ten years earlier. 
When he came out of his lodge, at the hour provided for by 
the regulations, to count the guests that the monastery 
would receive that evening for the charity of Christ, if he 
noticed in the darkness that one of the poor people was 



138 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

whiter than the others, it was to smile at his get-up. He 
had seen all sorts of them. So he only counted his boarders 
and said : 

" Come in, my friends ; you will get some soup, and then 
a nice corner to sleep in." 

Brother Charles, glad of such an opportunity for follow- 
ing his Master, took good care not to give his name. Like 
the others, he ate his bowl of hot soup, slept with them in 
the barn, and only made himself known next morning when 
the convent bell rang for first Mass. 

There, the incident is still fresh in all memories. To the 
old Brother who told me of it I remarked that the porter was 
really not very clear-sighted to be so mistaken. 

"Ha!" he replied, laughing heartily, "Father de 
Foucauld looked so pitiful : he was dusty to the shoulders, 
and around his body, sir, a rosary long and big and heavy 
enough for tethering a calf !" 

The laugh was very frank, but edification pervaded it. 

Dom Martin welcomed ex-Brother Marie-Alb^ric, and at 
once zealously set to work to get the Bishop of Viviers to 
have him amongst the clergy of the diocese. He succeeded ; 
for testimonials sought from several quarters represented 
Charles de Foucauld as a man of high virtue. Between the 
Abbot of La Trappe and de Foucauld, it was agreed that 
after a short stay in Rome he should return to Notre-Dame- 
des-Neiges, and there prepare for the priesthood. What 
was he going to do in Rome? At the moment of taking 
Holy Orders and of choosing his final abode, from which 
perhaps he would never return, he wanted to speak to some 
whom he had known there : and I hardly doubt that 
among the subjects about which he proposed to talk to them, 
the principal one was that dear foundation of the Little 
Brothers of the Sacred Heart, his dream now seven years 
old, the hope in which he took delight ; that the hermitage 
amongst the Musulmans, the difficult and hard enterprise 
of poor Charles of Jesus, might not die with him. 

Dom Martin let him go, after making him give up cos- 
tumes more or less Eastern while travelling in Europe, and 
giving him one of the black habits which the La Trappe 
lay-brothers wear. 

At the beginning of September, Brother Charles, having 
made a short stay in Milan, was in Rome. 

" I am at Rome, in a little nook that God seems to have 
prepared on purpose; just opposite the Fathers of the Holy 
Sacrament, who have It exposed day and night at Saint- 
Claude-des-Bourguignons. These good Fathers whom I 



CHARLES DE FOUCAULD A PRIEST 139 

asked for hospitality and who could not give it me for 
want of room, found me a cabin in a very pious house, 
where I am as tranquil and solitary as possible, and can 
enjoy the Blessed Sacrament with as much facility as if 
I were in the convent itself. 

" I think that I wrote you that it is no longer a question 
of my living on the Mount of the Beatitudes : according to 
the Abba's advice, after being ordained priest, I shall return 
to Nazareth, where I shall continue to live as a priest, but 
in the shade. "^ 

Even in Rome he led a hermit's life, hardly going out of 
the church close by, in which, day and night, the Blessed 
Sacrament was exposed. He studied theology there; he 
usually read on his knees the big books that he brought in ; 
from time to time he raised his eyes towards Him of whom 
the books spoke to him ; he prayed by way of relaxation, 
and from the morning Angelus to the evening Angelus, 
the hours passed as calmly as at Nazareth. He would 
have liked the desert : at any rate he found out and made 
himself a solitude everywhere. Two of the professors he 
wished to consult were in Rome. He saw them. A third 
religious, his friend, came back about September 20. Then, 
when it was time to leave the Holy City for shutting himself 
up in La Trappe, Charles de Foucauld impatiently awaited 
an answer from Abb^ Huvelin : permission to stop on the 
way back, to go up to Barbirey. For ten years he had not 
seen his sister, nor his nephews and nieces whom he did 
not know, nor the nook in the hills of Burgundy, where 
he had only been in spirit. 

** I do not yet know," he writes to Madame de Blic, 
"whether it is the will of God, or whether He prefers me 
to mortify myself by making this sacrifice. I shall do what 
I am told to be most perfect. ... If I am told to go and 
see you, what joy it will be ! How happy shall I be to 
embrace you, to find myself in your little nest, between you, 
Raymond, and your children !" 

The reply came : M. Huvelin gave permission. Brother 
Charles left Rome and took the road to Burgundy. The 
whole family was overjoyed. Everyone knew that these 
days so long dreamt of, to be so long remembered, would 
perhaps pass more quickly than the rest, and that the sweet- 
ness of meeting again from the outset was already 
diminished by the nearness of the farewell. 

He had to set out quickly for the Vivarais mountains, to 

^ Letter to a friend, September 3, 1900. He was lodging at Madame 
Marie Basetti's, 105, Via Pozetto, on the third floor. 



I40 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD ' 

cross the pine-woods, to knock at the Abbey door, and go 
into retreat. 

The latter began on September 29, 1900. From that date 
and for nearly a year the eternal traveller remained in the 
enclosure of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges. It was in the monas- 
tery chapel that, on the feast of the Holy Rosary, October 7, 
he received the minor orders. The oldest Fathers, the 
oldest Brothers, still speak of the affection which they all 
had for Charles de Foucauld, and of the daily edification 
they received from him. The day after the feast Dom 
Martin wrote: "I cannot tell you how happy we were to 
possess our dear and holy hermit for some time. He is 
rather jaded just now, and we do not know how to set about 
taking care of him. ... I had the happiness of con- 
ferring minor orders on him on the feast of the Holy 
Rosary; perhaps it is the greatest happiness of my life." 

It had been decided to abridge, as much as possible, any 
delays in ordaining the candidate, for he had already studied 
so much, prayed so much, and so amply proved his voca- 
tion. On December 22 he was made subdeacon, at Viviers. 
Almost at once he went again into retreat for the sake of the 
diaconate. His life glided on in continual meditation. All 
day long he perused the Gospel, the Bible, and the writings 
of the Fathers. Accustomed to soar, his soul was carried 
away as if on wings by the sacred text, and far above the 
world blossomed forth fully in the divine light. We have 
books in which this assiduous annotator wrote certain of his 
thoughts and resolutions. Promptly enough, the question 
presented itself to him; "What shall I be?" and plans 
were outlined, and the way grew clear. 

Recapitulating this period, he afterwards wrote: "My 
retreats for the diaconate and priesthood made me see that 
the life of Nazareth which appeared to be my vocation must 
be led not in my beloved Holy Land, but among souls most 
in need of the physician, sheep most in need of a shepherd. 
The heavenly feast of which I was about to be a minister 
must be offered not to kinsmen and rich neighbours, but to 
the halt, the blind, and the poor — that is to say, to souls 
lacking priests. In my youth I travelled over Algeria and 
Morocco. In Morocco, as large as France, with ten million 
inhabitants, there was not a single priest in the interior;^ 
in the Sahara, seven or eight times as large as France and 

* Letter to Abbe Caron, Vicar-General of Versailles, April 8, 1905. 
To-day the French Franciscans and nuns of the same Order have 
begun the establishment of missionary posts and charitable institutions 
in Morocco. 



CHARLES DE FOUCAULD A PRIEST 141 

much more populous than was formerly thought, are a 
dozen missionaries ! No people seemed to me more aban- 
doned than those." 

Above the walls, blackened by the burning of the former 
chapel, they took pleasure in showing me the window of 
the cell which Brother Charles had chosen when preparing 
for Holy Orders. It could only be reached by going up to 
the top of the arches. But the door opened out on a gallery 
from which you could see the altar, and the future priest 
used to spend many hours there. 

In his cell under the roof Brother Charles used to do his 
cooking, which was very simple — a plate of haricot beans or 
a boiled cabbage. There, as at Nazareth and Jerusalem, 
he had his hermitage. His only walk was from the cell to 
the chapel. As the end of 1900 drew near, he resolved to 
pray very much for the world which was changing centuries. 
He spent the two last nights of the closing century and the 
two first of the new one before the Blessed Sacrament. How 
many others did as much ? 

It was just when the French Church was being severely 
and unjustly treated by public authorities. He was grieved 
by it, because weaker souls fall in times of persecution, and 
because it was an offence to Jesus, the raising of whose 
hand alone maintains France. He used to say: "But 
Jesus remains the Master; the more He seems to die, the 
more He rises again as God and Lord : Stat crux duni 
volvitur orbis." He also said : " But how unfortunate are 
the fortunate !" Without allowing himself to be dejected, 
he endeavoured to employ well every minute given him, 
"little bits of the examination which mortal life is." He 
was ordained deacon on the eve of Passion Sunday. 

In May, 1901, began the thirty days' retreat, which ended 
his preparation for the priesthood. His ordination took 
place at Viviers on June 9. Charles de Foucauld was 
ordained by Mgr. Mont^ty, in the presence of Mgr. Bonnet. 
The night before the Father Abbot Dom Martin said to 
him : 

"I shall accompany you; make provision for us both." 
The two travellers set out a few minutes afterwards. When 
lunch-time came, Charles de Foucauld drew a little parcel 
out of his pocket, opened the envelope, and on the Abbot's 
robe put three figs for each of them, two walnuts, and a 
bottle of water. 

Several of the clergy at Viviers were amused when told 
of this incident, and wondered : " What is he going to do 
at Monseigneur's, who has invited him to lunch after the 



142 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

ceremony ?" He did as everyone else, and was not singular 
in any way. 

The same evening the new priest regained the Ard^che 
mountains, so as to say his first Mass, on June lo, at Notre- 
Dame-des-Neiges. His sister had preceded him. She 
lodged outside the monastery in a little house where this 
letter from her brother was handed to her on her arrival : 

" Best and Dearest, 

" Thanks for coming, your arrival touches me to the 
bottom of my heart. I shall get there on the night between 
Sunday and Monday about midnight or i in the morning. 
Take care not to wait for me ; rather go to bed very early, 
like the Trappists, at 8 o'clock. On my arrival, I shall go 
straight to church to worship the Blessed Sacrament, to 
whom I owe my first visit ; and I shall remain in silence and 
adoration till the day after my first Mass. You cannot 
speak to me before my first Mass, but afterwards we shall 
make up for it, my dear; the community Mass is sung at 
half-past 6, before the most Blessed Sacrament exposed ; 
I shall act as deacon. ... As soon as High Mass is 
finished, I shall go to the sacristy and put on a chasuble, 
and shall reappear at the same altar as where High Mass 
was celebrated, to say my first Mass. I shall give you Holy 
Communion there, through one of the gratings of the little 
chapel where you will be. After the thanksgivings of my 
first Mass (three-quarters of an hour or an hour after) I 
shall go and spend a good long time with you. . . . Wait 
for me in your room then : take care to have a good break- 
fast after communion. Be assured that your arrival here is 
a real joy for the whole community, which is full of illusions 
about me and loves me a thousand times more than I 
deserve, and in particular good Father Abbot, who is going 
to Viviers on purpose to accompany me, though he is very 
busy. . . . 

" Welcome, my dear, and thanks for coming. I embrace 
you as I love you : with all my heart in the heart of Jesus. 

" *i* Fr. Alberic." 

From consideration, and during his stay at La Trappe, 
Charles de Foucauld had retaken his former Trappist name. 
After his ordination he continued to live in his cell at Notre- 
Dame-des-Neiges until the end of the negotiations, which 
were to prepare for the establishment in North Africa. 
They were of two, kinds : they had to obtain the permission 
of the religious authorities, and those of the General 
Government and of the military chiefs. 



CHARLES DE FOUCAULD A PRIEST 143 

The letters which I am going to quote are to my mind 
bea. 'ful for their honesty, clear-sightedness and affection, 
when ihey speak of Charles de Foucauld; and for their 
humility and ardour, when signed by him. It seems to me 
that any unbiassed mind must admire the priests of France, 
whether in him who offers himself for an unprecedented 
mission, or in those who commend him. By a mistake the 
first letters were addressed to Mgr. Bazin ; it was quickly 
seen that Mgr. Gu6rin, the Prefect Apostolic of the Sahara, 
should have been written to, as well as Mgr. Livinhac, 
Superior-General of the White Fathers. 

M. I' Abbe Huvelin to Mgr. Basin. 

" Martigny-les-Bains, 

" August 25, 1901. 
" MONSEIGNEUR, 

" M. le Vicomte Charles de Foucauld, long a lieu- 
tenant in the African Army, then an intrepid and skilful 
traveller in Morocco, then a novice with the Trappist 
Fathers of Akbes, in Syria, afterwards devoted to the ser- 
vice of the Poor Clares of Nazareth, lastly returned to the 
Trappist monastery of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, where he 
has just received Holy Orders and the priesthood, asks me 
to commend him to your Grace. 

" When you see him, you will judge that my recommen- 
dation is quite unnecessary, for he is himself his own recom- 
mendation. 

" You will find in him heroic self-sacrifice, unlimited 
endurance, a vocation to influence the Musulman world, 
humble and patient zeal, obedience in his zeal and en- 
thusiasm, the spirit of penance without any thought of 
fault-finding and condemnation for anyone else. 

" I have been his spiritual Father for fifteen years. I 
have always followed him, I have always found him, even 
in the midst of his enthusiasm and transports, prudent and 
knowing how to wait, taking refuge in prayer when action 
was forbidden him. I admire and I love him, as do the 
Trappist Fathers who testify to you for him. The Reverend 
Father Abbot of Staueli had a most real affection for him, 
and saw in him a hope for his Order, even after he had 
left it. 

"M. de Foucauld's difficulty was the question of Holy 
Orders. In his humility he long refused to take them; he 
required clear enlightenment to show him that his way lay 
in mission work sustained by prayer. 



144 CHARLES DE FOUCAVLD 

" It is a simple portrait I am sending you, not flattering, 
but true to life. I am unknown to your Grace, but I ' ope 
you will find an appearance of truth in my words, and 
will see in the priest who presents himself to you a help and 
benediction for work in Africa. . . ," 

Abbe Huvelin, 

" Honorary Canon of Paris ; Curate of 
Saint-Augustine's." 

The Rev. Father Martin, Abbot of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, 
to Mgr. Bazin. 

" Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, 

"/illy 15, 1901. 

" I send you the enclosed letter of my dear and holy 
friend, for the Bishop of the Sahara. 

*' I have neither to judge nor to weigh pious plans : 
Spiritus Sanctus posuit Episcopos regere Ecclesiam Dei, 
and not Abbots. But what I can affirm is that I have inti- 
mately known M. Charles de Foucauld for eleven years, 
and that never in my life have I seen a man realizing so 
fully the ideal of holiness. Never, except in books, have 
I seen such prodigies of penance, humility, poverty, and 
of the love of God. 

" I will add, what is less important, that this former pupil 
of Saint-Cyr, a cavalry officer, was an explorer of the 
highest rank in Morocco, Algeria and Tunis, that he 
belongs to a very noble family, and that he is connected 
with the best families in France." 



Charles de Foucauld to Mgr. Bazin. 

" La Trappe de Notre-Dame-des-Neiges. 
" August 22, 1901. 
'* MONSEIGNEUR, 

" I throw myself at your Grace's feet. . . . The 
remembrance of my companions who died without the 
Sacrament and without a priest, twenty years ago, in the 
expeditions in which I took part, against Bu-Amama, urges 
me strongly to set out for the Sahara, as soon as you have 
accorded me the necessary faculties, without a single day's 
delay, since a gain of one day may mean the salvation of 
the soul of one of our soldiers. I also look upon it as a 
duty of charity to write to you again, in order to be able to 
set out as soon as possible. 

" I humbly ask your Grace for two things : (i) The 



CHARLES DE FOUCAULD A PRIEST 145 

faculty of setting up between Ain Sefra and the Twat, in 
one of the French garrisons which has no priest, a little 
public oratory, with the Sacrament reserved for the needs of 
the sick, and to reside and administer the Sacraments there ; 
(2) authorization to associate with me companions, priests 
or laymen, if Jesus sends them, and with them to practise 
adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed. 

" If you deign to grant me this twofold request I shall 
reside there as chaplain of this humble oratory without the 
title of parish priest or curate or chaplain, and without any 
emolument, living as a monk, following the Rule of 
St. Augustine, either alone or with Brethren, in prayer, 
poverty, work and charity, without preaching, and not 
going out except to administer the Sacraments, in silence 
and enclosed. 

" The object is to give spiritual help to our soldiers, to 
prevent their souls being lost for want of the Last Sacra- 
ments, and above all to sanctify the infidel populations by 
bringing into their midst Jesus present in the most Blessed 
Sacrament, as Mary sanctified the house of St. John the 
Baptist by bringing Jesus into it. 

" I promise your Grace with all my heart to endeavour 
with God's help, despite my misery, never to be an occasion 
of scandal, and never to be a cause of expense nor material 
burden to your delegation ; with my whole heart I promise 
you beforehand filial love and the most faithful obedience. 

" I take the liberty of adding that the presence of your 
unworthy servant in the Sahara, although he be very poor, 
will probably save several souls who will otherwise die with- 
out the Sacraments, and that it will give your delegation 
one more tabernacle, and one more holy sacrifice daily. 

" If your Grace wishes to speak to me, on a word from 
you, by post or telegram, I shall immediately go to Algiers. 

" I am with the most profound respect, Monseigneur, 

"Charles de Foucauld, 

" An unworthy priest." 

M. VAhbS Huvelin to Mgf. Livinhac. 

" Sunday, September 1, 
"Monseigneur, 

"A week ago I sent to Mgr. Bazin, of the White 
Fathers, all the information about M. de Foucauld for which 
you ask me. He asked me to send it to Mgr. Bazin. 

" What I can tell your Grace is good in every way : he 
has much enthusiasm, but wisdom — much zeal, but much 

10 



146 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

obedience — love of a hard life with the minimum of allevia- 
tion^ but under direction — his love of mortification is a' need 
resulting from his love of God. 

"His vocation always drew him to the Musulman 
world. His sojourn in Algeria, his journey in the interior 
of Morocco, his years spent in Palestine, have prepared 
and hardened him for this mission. I saw the coming of 
his vocation. I saw him grow wiser through it, more 
humble, more simple, and obedient. When I bade him to 
put it aside as chimerical, he put it aside, but it returned 
stronger and more imperious. In my soul and conscience, 
I believe it comes from God. Love of silence and hidden 
action you will find in him. . . . His difficulties in 
La Trappe all came from his repugnance to receive Holy 
Orders. He dare not ! 

"Nothing queer or extraordinary, but an irresistibly 
urging force, a hard instrument for tough work — that is 
what your Grace will find in M. de Foucauld. 

" How often have all the objections which occur to you 
occurred to me ! I gave in only after trial and many tests. 

" Stedfastness, a desire to go to the end in love and in 
the gift of self — to bear all the consequences — never dis- 
couragement, never; a little harshness formerly — but now 
much mitigated ! 

" Let him come, and then see for yourself. I regret hav- 
ing destroyed the admirable letter in which he very humbly 
asked me to give you information about him. It is in all 
conscience that I am sending you this, which will complete 
what I gave Mgr. Bazin a week ago. Get him to come at 
his own risk and peril ; see him at work and judge. 

" Receive, Monseigneur, my respect, and my profound 
and religious devotion, and give me your blessing. 

" I cannot tell you how touched and stirred I was by your 
letter, in which I felt the Spirit of God. You will quickly 
discern Who is leading my dear child. 

" L'Abbe Huvelin." 

Dam Henri, Prior of Notre-Dame of Staueli, to Mgr. 
Guerin, Prefect Apostolic of the Sahara. 

"September 5, 1901. 
" Father Duflfourd spoke to me of a business you had to 
discuss verbally with a former officer of the province of 
Oran, who desired to go back to it. . . . I think it is a 
question of our former Father Alb^ric (Charles de Foucauld 
— or rather Charles of Jesus). I forward you the last letter 



CHARLES DE FOUCAULD A PRIEST 147 

I had from him. If you have the good-fortune to have him 
as a collaborator I shall be very happy both for you and 
for him. He is the finest soul I know : with incredible 
generosity he advances with giant strides on the path of 
sacrifice, and he has an insatiable desire to devote himself 
to the work of redeeming the infidels. He can do every- 
thing, but perhaps he cannot follow direction if it is too 
narrow. The Reverend Dom Martin must have recom- 
mended him to Mgr. Livinhac : all that I can add is that, 
having lived intimately with him for ten months, I was pro- 
foundly edified by his heroic virtue. There is in him the 
material of many saints. His sole presence is a most 
eloquent sermon, and in spite of the apparent singularity of 
the mission to which he believes himself called, you may 
quite safely receive him into your apostolic prefecture. . . ." 

The Bishop of Viviers to Mgr. Livinhac. 

" Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, 

" September 5, 1901. 
" MONSEIGNEUR, 

" I recommend to your benevolence the humble and 
holy priest who comes to bring you his co-operation, and I 
beg you be good enough to accept him. 

" Abb^ de Foucauld is an old and brilliant officer, who 
broke off his career to give himself more completely to God 
in the priesthood. I had him ordained priest ; he is my sub- 
ject, and I hold it a great favour for my diocese to have 
possessed for some time a priest of such merit and char- 
acter. If a vocation of too long standing and too urgent 
did not call him to devote himself to the conversion of the 
Musulmans, I should be happy to give him employment in 
my ministry. . . . Here he has acquired the reputation of 
a saint, and our priests beg the happiness of having access 
to him for a few moments as a great favour. 

"All this will tell you, Monseigneur, in what esteem I 
hold the priest who is going to you, and how obliged I 
should be to you to receive him with great kindness. 

"►J< J. M. Frederic, 

" Bishop of Viviers.'* 

At the beginning of September, Charles de Foucauld 
bade farewell to the Fathers of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges. 
The boxes in which the Brothers had put the provisions and 
all the furniture that the hermit would take with him were 
already nailed down and labelled. What did they contain ? 



148 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

What was wanted for the chapel, a small number of books, 
over 50 yards of rope with a small bucket to draw water from 
the desert wells, some strong cloth to make a tent, and some 
sacks cut up for carpets. 

The poor luggage was put in a cart. The former Brother 
Marie-Alb^ric received a last blessing from the Abbot and 
went away, much affected. A few days afterguards he 
crossed the sea, and landed in Africa, his Africa. At 
Maison Carree he was received by Mgr. Livinhac, " the 
Bishop of the Sahara " ; he was given the necessary author- 
ization to set up in the south of Oran, near Morocco. While 
he was waiting for the second authorization, that of the 
Governor of Algeria, to reach him — an old friend. Com- 
mandant Lacroix, one of the best known Africains, had 
taken the necessary steps^ — he was invited to spend a few 
days at the Staueli Trappe. There he again found the 
monks so long devoted to him. New and immediately 
intimate friendships sprang up between him and the mis- 
sionaries of Maison Carr6e. He was full of hopes and 
plans. *' At Beni-Abbes, I shall actually be alone as 
priest," he writes, " two hundred and fifty miles from the 
nearest one.^ My Prefect Apostolic, Mgr. Gu^rin, allows 
me to have companions !" On his side, Mgr. Gu^rin said : 
" I have only known Charles de Foucauld since the begin- 
ning of September, but it did not take me long to esteem 
him as he merits and to recognize his wonderful goodness. 
I regard as a blessing from God the coming of this holy 
priest into the territory of the prefecture entrusted to me. 
A real saint, like Charles of Jesus, necessarily does good. 
He cannot help radiating round him some of the sweetness 
and goodness of Jesus, who is henceforth his whole life." 

The favourable reply from the Governor-General and 
General in Command of the army corps came on October 14, 
and the start for Oran, and then the south, took place next 
day. The officers of the posts ^chelonned on the route 
from Oran to Beni-Abbes had learned that the celebrated 
explorer, their old comrade, now a monk, was on his way, 
he too following the call of the desert, but from other 
motives. They were waiting for him at the stations of the 
little strategic railway, at present laid down for two hundred 

^ Head of native affairs to the gouvcruement general at Algiers ; one 
of the authors of that remarkable work, La p^ndraiion Saharienne, by 
Augustin Bernard and Commandant Lacroix, M. Augustin Bernard, 
who was at that period professor at the Ecole Snp/rieure dcs Letires of 
Algiers, is at present professor at the Sorbonnc. 

* The nearest points at which a priest could be found were : Ain 
Sefra, F21-Golca, Timbuctoo. 



CHARLES DE FOUCAULD A PRIEST 149 

and fifty miles from Oran, and in 1901, ending at Ain 
Sefra; and they came to greet him, some bringing him pro- 
visions for the journey. At Ain Sefra, the little white 
town at the foot of the dunes, he might have found an inn. 
But General Cauchemez took him to the Arab Office, a 
white castle among European trees, and gave him a room, 
in which Charles de Foucauld lodged, we may be sure, but 
that the hermit-explorer had slept on the floor during the two 
or three days he stayed with his friend. He expressed much 
gratitude to the officers of all ranks who had welcomed him. 
And so as not to annoy them, after intending to go on foot 
to Beni-Abbes, he reluctantly agreed to start with Lieu- 
tenant Huot, who was returning from leave, and conse- 
quently to undertake on horseback — on a maghzen cavalry 
mount — and with an escort, the long route from Ain Sefra 
to Beni-Abbes. 

They entered the desert regions. 

About half-way are the oasis of Taghit and the redoubt, 
which commands a dangerous region frequently overrun 
by marauding bands. As the French travellers and their 
little escort approached Taghit, they saw a troop of horse- 
men coming. It was Captain de Susbielle, commander of 
the post, at the head of his maghzen. Hearing that the old 
lieutenant of the Chasseurs d'Afrique was coming soon, he 
was there to meet the man who had given himself up to 
the poor of the desert for ever. On his way he said to his 
men : " You are going to see a French marabout ; he comes 
through love of you : receive him with honour." Foucauld, 
recognizing France, advanced at a gallop towards her, his 
white robe flying in the wind. He stopped his horse within 
three yards of the officer, and replied to M. de Susbielle's 
salute. At the same time, the fifteen troopers, faithful to 
native politeness, dismounted and surrounded the mara- 
bout, "who came for Iovq of them," and several together 
bowed and kissed the hem of his gandourah. 

This was the Sahara's welcome. 

Brother Charles stopped for a few hours at Taghit. On 
October 24, before remounting, he celebrated Mass before 
the Frenchmen of the garrison. " It is the first Mass since 
the occupation," he said. " Probably no priest has ever 
been here. I am very much affected at bringing down 
Jesus into these places, where, in all probability. He has 
never been corporally." 

Four days later, in the evening of a hot day, the travellers 
saw the first palm-trees of Beni-Abbes. 



CHAPTER VIII 
Beni-Abbes 

BENI is an oasis of seven to eight thousand palm-trees. 
They grow on the left bank of the Saura in earth and 
sand in which are numerous fountains, and they form a 
long thick forest close up against a cliff which rises high 
above it. The Saura itself is no other than the Zusfana, 
coming from Figig, which, at twenty-five miles to the north 
of the oasis, mingles with a more abundant river, the Wady 
Guir, which comes down from the plateaux of the great 
Moroccan Atlas. After the manner of Saharan rivers, their 
mingled waters burrow so as not to be drunk up by the sun ; 
they cross the deserts through tunnels ; they only come to 
light at the entrance of the palm plantation, the border of 
which they follow — the right bank being almost without 
verdure — for over a mile, then disappear again, perhaps, a 
long way off, mysteriously to swell the course of the Upper 
Niger. ^ 

Travellers coming from Colomb-B^char and following 
the wide valley have a long ride across pebbles, between 
the dried-up bed of the Saura and the dunes which bound 
the desert to the left. When they have got beyond the 
Mazzer palm grove, with their feet deep in the sand they 
have to cross successive spurs of dunes, which edge the 
horizon in front of them. It is only from the top of the 
last dune that they suddenly see between the two cliffs, close 
to them, the bending river, the first small strips of water, 
the first waving tops of a large green palm plantation, a 
high plateau on the right, a high plateau on the left, and 
on the crest of the latter the white crenellated walls of the 
borj of the Native Office. You emerge from aridity and 
enter the region of shade, springs, cultivation, and life. 
The interval between the cliffs which hold the oasis in their 
arms is narrow at first, and then opens out like the bulge of 
a ewer ; it is more than a wooded corridor — it is a little plain 
they embrace, divided by the river, without trees on the 
right bank, covered on the left bank with palms which 
shelter apricot, peach and fig trees and Vines. There, 

^ It is probable that the Niger formerly had no connection with 
the sea. This immense river rose and was lost in the African Continent. 
Its waters filled the depression of the desert in which the Taudeni 
salt-mines are worked, and there formed a second Lake Chad. 

150 



BENI-ABBES 151 

towards the centre of the forest, is a fortified town into 
which one enters by a single gate, in which the streets are 
almost everywhere covered in ; a village peopled by free 
men, who consider themselves as the aborigines of the place, 
the Abbabsa. Farther on towards the end is a second vil- 
lage with very high walls like those of a feudal castle, and 
it is inhabited by Arabs of the Rehamna tribe, who graze 
their camels and asses on the poor pasture-lands of the 
region. Negro gardeners, sowers, and barley-reapers 
lodge on the borders of the palm grove, along a ravine 
which gives access to the borj plateau. And the native 
population, divided thus into three groups, numbers from 
twelve to fifteen hundred souls. 

Brother Charles had chosen this place for his apostolate 
because of the wretchedness to be found there, which no 
priest had been able to relieve ; also on account of the near- 
ness of his much loved Morocco, which he hoped some day 
to enter as missionary ; he knew also that Beni-Abbes passed 
for one of the most beautiful of the South Algerian oases, 
the most beautiful part of the long avenue of palms which 
begins at Figig and ends at In-Salah. At the time of his 
arrival, there was not the great redoubt which commands 
the entry of the palm groves ; a smaller one, now destroyed, 
was a little farther away on the crest of the cliff, and it 
sheltered the garrison.^ He followed the track made by the 
feet of men and beasts. Hardly had he climbed the steep 
slope, bordered by huts, which leads to the top of the 
plateau, than he was struck with admiration. To the north 
and east Beni-Abbes was enveloped to some distance by 
the rose-coloured or golden sand-waves of the western Erg, 
the great mingled dunes sweeping away, several of which 
rose from 500 to more than 600 feet, whilst to the west, 
beyond the cleft of the ravine and palm groves, stretched 
the second plateau — a rocky, rigid tableland, without a 
tree, apparently without end. The traveller found himself 
at a junction point between the two Saharan deserts, be- 
tween the sandy desert that covers the whole of the south of 
Oran, and the rocky Hamada, which goes to the frontier of 
Morocco. Splendour of light, poverty of soil, purity and 
silence of night, how often will Brother Charles make 
use of them in his meditations, and unfold the eternal mean- 
ing hidden in the most humble or most magnificent land- 
scape ! 

He immediately sought a place in which to fix his abode, 

^ The first troops of occupation comprised three companies of African 
sharpshooters and a company of light infantry. 



152 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

and, on the plateaux of the left bank, not on the edge but 
over 200 yards back, bought three little humps which he 
called mountains, and two untilled hollows which he called 
valleys, where several wild palms grew. Of course the 
price was excessive. Brother Charles paid 1,170 francs for 
these 22 or 24 acres of desert. The whole was shaped like 
a bent pumpkin. It was the " tillage land " of the future 
" Fraternity." Fortunately there was water, or at least 
some possibility of getting it. The property contained 
several springs and old wells. The wells were dug, the 
springs cleared. Brother Charles, with his lively imagina- 
tion and his mind a day, month, or year ahead of the present 
moment, was delighted with this new residence, and was 
half a hermit already when he thought of living there, and 
he fancied that the fruit and vegetables of the garden would 
be abundant, that he would be able to give some away, and 
that famine would be thus avoided in years of great drought, 
and that he would be the foster-father, comforter and friend 
of many of the poor, particularly of French soldiers and 
slaves. 

At first he lodged in the building of the Arab Office. 
In the morning he set out, with some willing sharpshooters 
placed at his disposal, to build the hermitage. This was 
never anything but a poor collection of earth huts, without 
any artistic feature, built in a ravine, and quite fragile : if 
they very nearly kept off the sun, they would have melted 
under two days' rain. Fortunately, it rains barely more 
than once a year in the Saura district, and sometimes it 
may not rain at all. Stones gleaned on the plateau, but 
chiefly bricks of dried clay, were used for building; a little 
earth mixed with water was the mortar ; porous planks of 
palms did duty for beams ; the veins of large leaves and 
reeds made the roofing. 

Naturally the chapel held a place of favour, and was built 
first. Brother Charles describes it lovingly in a letter to a 
friend : "The roof is horizontal, of big palm beams in the 
rough, covered with mats of palm branches : it is very 
rustic, very poor, but harmonious and pretty. To carry the 
beams, there are four upright palm stems in the middle; in 
their rusticity they produce a very good effect and frame 
the altar very well; from the one which is near the Gospel 
corner is hung a petroleum lamp which lights me at night, 
and throws a great deal of light on the altar. ... A tent- 
like canopy of heavy dark green canvas, absolutely water- 
proof, is hung from the ceiling to protect the altar and its 
steps from the rain." 



BENI-ABBES I53 

An officer of the garrison drew four large figures of 
Saints for the chapel. Still, the principal decorator was 
the architect, Brother Charles. He painted on fabric — in 
the most modern manner, i.e., just a few lines of the finest 
accuracy, which he so often exemplified in illustrating La 
Reconnaissance au Maroc — a picture representing Christ 
"stretching out His arms to embrace, to press closer and 
to call all men to Him, and to give Himself for all." On 
the Gospel side was a St. Joseph, from the Father's " fac- 
tory." On the walls of the " nave " hung the fourteen pic- 
tures of the Stations of the Cross, drawn in black, blue, or 
red ink, not on canvas or paper, but on the boards of the 
boxes which Brother Charles had cut and planed a little. 
He never ceased adorning this Saharan chapel, of which he 
says: " It suits me perfectly; it is pious, poor and clean, 
and very contemplative," On the Epistle side, in a niche, 
he put an alarum — the Fraternity clock. 

There he was to spend many an hour of the day and night 
in adoration or meditation : there at first he was to sleep, 
alone in this isolated hut. He lay down at length, and 
fully dressed, on the altar steps. He slept near the taber- 
nacle, like a dog at his master's feet. Yet he thought him- 
self unworthy of such a favour. As soon as the first build- 
ings, which were to go along with the chapel, were begun, 
a non-commissioned officer of the sharpshooters, M. J., who 
was a friend of his, having got up very early to come to 
the hermitage, found the Father lying down under the 
shelter of an unfinished wall. 

" What," he said to him, " have you given up sleeping in 
the chapel?" 

"Yes." 

" You told me yesterday that you were all right there !" 

" That is just why I have left it." 

A little later. Father de Foucauld chose the chapel sacristy 
to sleep in. Now, the little room that he called the sacristy 
was not long enough for a man to lie down at full length 
on the sand in it. The same adjutant of sharpshooters 
observed this to the Father, who replied, " Jesus did not lie 
down at full length on the Cross." 

The workmen went on working. Beyond the sacristy, 
they erected brick and dry mud huts, which were named 
the cells of St. Peter and St. Paul, and these little 
buildings, being perpendicular to the apse of the chapel, 
formed a right angle with the nave. At the back a court- 
yard soon extended, called the "Retreat Courtyard." 
Brother Charles built a few more huts, " the non-Christian 



154 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

guest-room," an infirmary to which the sick of Beni-Abbes 
and neighbouring tents came to be taken care of, a lumber- 
house, and the walls of a second courtyard, the " Almonry 
Yard," on the Epistle side. He hoped that some day, per- 
haps soon, an unknown priest, called by the same vocation 
which had urged the former cavalry lieutenant towards the 
souls of the poor people of the oasis, would come and join 
him at Beni-Abbes, and that the hermitage would number 
two companions while waiting for something better. The 
workmen and troopers were much younger than he, and 
worked deftly and willingly for one as poor as themselves. 
They felt he was better than they were, and his goodness 
secretly touched them. He never left them when his Rule 
bound him to manual labour ; even at noon and when the 
heat was extreme, he was seen going with them over the 
waste ground around the hermitage, and stooping down, 
picking up and lifting stones which might do for the 
foundations, and generally the last to join the file and return 
to the workyard. Sometimes the stone he was carrying 
back on his shoulder was not very big, and he would make 
excuses. "My dear fellows, "he would say, laughing, 
" I know very well that I am the fly on the wheel, but I 
work up to my strength." 

Thoughtful care of the least details was one of the notes 
of Brother Charles's mind. Must not those who entered the 
house be brought to God, and the walls tell something of 
Jesus Christ and His teaching? While he was finishing 
the building of the hermitage. Brother Charles adorned the 
completed rooms with "texts" appropriate to their use. 
He gave the thoughts which were his strength and joy to 
himself and others for meditation. 

The texts in the sacristy were: "Follow Me!" "If 
any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take 
up his cross, and follow Me!" "Live to-day as if you 
were to die a martyr to-night." "Be all to all, with the 
sole desire of giving Jesus to all." 

Those in St. Paul's Cell : "I have come to cast fire on 
the earth." " I have come to save those who were lost." 
" Whatever ye do for one of these little ones ye do for Me." 
" Our Father, who is in heaven, willeth not that one of 
these little ones should perish." "Go ye into the whole 
world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." 

Those in St. Peter's Cell : " Other sheep I have that are 
not of this fold; them also I must bring : there shall be one 
fold and one shepherd." "That they may be one, as we 
are one." 



BENI-ABBES 155 

After the chapel and the rooms, an enclosure wall was 
made around the Almonry Yard; then Brother Charles 
thought he ought to bound and close the Fraternity grounds, 
for he had resolved to live in seclusion, and not to go out 
of bounds without very grave reason. In the beginning he 
was satisfied to mark the boundaries of his ground with 
lines of pebbles about the size of an egg. One of the sol- 
diers who had most to do with him just then told me that 
he sometimes returned to the camp after sunset. Studious 
to win souls of good-will, and more polite and obliging to 
the humble and disregarded than to the great and powerful, 
Brother Charles used to accompany him. He chatted 
amicably; he would speak of God and the beauty of the 
night. Around them were absolute silence and the desert, 
above an immense sky which did not conceal a single star. 
The hot air rose from the sand, and the former officer and 
the soldier went along on a barely visible track, each thank- 
ing God for an unexpected friendship, of which He was the 
origin and end. And that would last some minutes. Then 
Brother Charles bent down and felt the ground with his 
hand to see whether he had reached the boundary. When 
he touched the row of pebbles, he used to say : " I cannot 
bring you any further, here is the enclosure; good-bye; we 
shall soon meet again." 

Far, far away from their families and country, we can 
tell how touched the soldiers were by a friendship such as 
this ! Their sensitive French hearts with an old-time polite- 
ness which survives many counter-influences, made them 
fear to take any advantage of it. Can one go and talk thus, 
almost as a friend, with a former officer, with a monk who 
after all has his business, and, as they clearly felt, with a 
highly educated man whom a sharpshooter's conversation 
could not always interest ? They made excuses for not 
returning.; they deprived themselves of a pleasant hour, in 
order not to take it from him. Then he wrote them letters 
like this ; 

" Dear Friend, 

" You told me that you are depressed at night and 
that your evenings are dull. . . . Will you — if you are 
allowed to leave the camp, which I do not know — come and 
spend the evenings regularly with me? We shall make 
them as long as you like, chatting fraternally of the future, 
of your children and your plans ... of what you and those 
you love more than yourself want and hope for. . . . You 
will find a brother's heart, if nothing else. 



156 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

" You would have liked a short account of St. Paul. . . . 
I should have liked to send you it, but I cannot, I have 
other urgent things to write at this moment. ... I could 
tell you about it by mixing my poor words with passages 
from his letters. I have them and they are wonderful. . . . 

" The poor man offers you what he has. What he offers 
you, above all, is his very tender and brotherly affection, his 
profound devotion in the Heart of Jesus. 

" Brother Charles of Jesus." 

The natives, who were inquisitive, insinuating, tormented 
with hunger and thirst, and therefore ready pilferers, 
showed a kind of respect for Brother Charles's enclosure 
almost from the outset. Not that they stood upon cere- 
mony as to entering the grounds and coming to visit the 
"marabout," but the reputation of holiness of the latter 
rendered sacred to them the things they found on the way 
and in the interior of the enclosure. The nomad unloaded 
his camel on the other side of the pebble boundary ; the poor 
Arab woman, returning with her daily load of wood, threw 
her faggot down there ; the butcher put down his bundle of 
blood-stained kid-skins; and, even if he had to be several 
hours or a whole night away, the caravaneer found his 
goods untouched, the woman her load of palm roots, the 
butcher his bale of fresh leather. Afterwards, the row of 
pebbles was replaced by a row of stakes, more or less 
twisted, on which were fixed two lines of barbed wire. 
Seven stout posts, with two sticks across on top of each, 
were set at intervals as props for the slight enclosure and 
as standards for the man of God. 

The farming made very slow progress. It is no slight 
undertaking to hollow out a piece of desert which has 
perhaps never been dug ; to secure w^ater — that is to say, 
life — for the trees one plants and the seed one sows, when 
the temperature, as at Beni-Abbes, is always 86° from 
October to June, and afterwards rises to 122°! Brother 
Charles, as I said, began by deepening the abandoned 
wells of his property ; he hollowed out irrigating canals to 
bring the water of the springs to the feet of the palm-trees 
which grew at hazard and were half covered with sand by 
the south wind. The work was of a kind that the poor 
gardener of Nazareth could not continue without help, for 
the most energetic will does not suffice — men learn it quickly 
— to be everything to all men and to all things. After a few 
trials. Father de Foucauld engaged two harratins^ who were 

^ Arabs and negro half-breeds found in all the oases, whose social 
position is intermediate between that of the slave and the free m.m. 



BENI-ABBES 157 

not lacking at Beni-Abbes, and he called them gardeners 
for the work he required them to do. Perhaps, after all, 
they knew better than the master of the property what care 
to give the palm-trees and the infinite precautions which 
must be taken in hot countries to keep the vegetable seed- 
plot from being at once burned up by the sun, after putting 
forth its first leaves. With but little supervision these 
blacks had to do with so good a master that they remained 
faithful to him a long time. He only found that they lost 
many hours daily in going from the hermitage to the oasis 
ksar and back. He would have liked to keep them and feed 
them at the hermitage. The blacks wanted nothing better. 
They were surely not used to dainty cooking, nor even to 
eat according to their hunger. But when they had shared 
in Father de Foucauld's fare several days following, they 
declared they might die but not live on that diet, for the 
marabout lunched on a piece of barley broad soaked in a 
decoction of a Saharan plant which bears the innocent name 
of '* desert tea," and in the evening he dined on a bowl of 
the same tea to which he added a little condensed milk. The 
harratins went on as outside gardeners. By degrees their 
labour improved the land, and made a sensible distribution 
of the water. In the sand there were some young palm- 
trees, the promise of a few fig-trees, and even olive-trees 
and vines. Some years later, the name of "garden," at 
first given to these attempts at cultivation, began to be 
deserved. But just then the hermit quitted Beni-Abbes, 
and returned there on rare occasions only. 

Sometimes Brother Charles accepted the invitations which 
the officers, his comrades, frequently sent him, and came 
out of the enclosure to go and dine with them at the borj. 
He seldom did so except to salute in passing a Saharan 
chief, like Laperrine or Lyautey, or a scholar sent on a 
mission into this desolate country, but which leads to all 
others, and where, as at an enormous cross-road, all the 
riches of Africa may one day meet. On those evenings he 
did not take a place of honour, but the lowest one, beside 
the youngest officer. They tried to get him to talk, and 
did not fail to question him about Morocco, which was quite 
near, and which he alone knew well. But the fear of pride 
made him dumb on that subject. To all other questions he 
replied, but without carrying on the conversation. His 
vocation was silence, self-effacement and retirement. He 
only agreed to appear in a circle of men of the world so as 
not to seem wanting in courtesy, or, somehow, in the dis- 
cipline of his former profession. The story of military 



158 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

doings interested him in the highest degree. Brother 
Charles kept watch over himself less narrowly, if he was 
asked his opinion on a police operation which had just been 
executed, or that was contemplated. If the news came, for 
instance, of some movement of pillagers carrying off flocks 
and women, assassinating and mutilating men, at once 
reappeared the ardent chief, the lover of justice seen in the 
pursuit of Bu-Amama. "You must catch them up," he 
said, "and set about it vigorously." Next moment, he 
saw a mouse caught by a dog in the dining-room : " Poor 
little thing, what a pity!" he murmured. He withdrew 
early; he lit his lantern, and reached the hermitage, going 
through the dark by himself. 

I should not Be a faithful historian, did I not also say 
that, as soon as the chapel was built. Brother Charles dug 
his own grave in a corner of the garden, and blessed it for 
his own burial. He did the same afterwards in the various 
parts of the Sahara in which he stayed a little while. 

Such were the frame and outward trappings of this un- 
precedented life, ordered by a powerful will. The rest was 
almost entirely hidden from men. Had they tried, they 
could hardly have found out the division of the hours 
between charitable duties, manual labour, reading, and 
the duties of prayer : the Rule to which Father de Foucauld 
had bound himself. They would miss the soul. Every 
soul is more or less of a secret to others. The mystery is 
greater when souls are great, when they turn aside from our 
pleasures and work, and from our ordinary thoughts which 
are hardly anything but ourselves; and when they give 
themselves to God for Him to set at the service of His poor. 
Then we see only what they bring us, their goodness, their 
fraternal works, the faint reflection of themselves on their 
faces and in their eyes. But with what efforts they keep 
themselves apart from the common life, in the constant 
presence of Him whose smile and peace are lost by a single 
little thought ; what graces they have had, what combats, 
what delights, what dreams : all that, we know not. 

His rule of life was unchanged from this period to the 
end. Brother Charles has himself set it forth in a letter 
addressed to the Prefect Apostolic of the Sahara.^ 

"... Get up at four (when I hear the alarum, which is 

* This letter of September 30, 1902, reproduces the Rule almost as 
it may be read in a former letter to a friend (December 13, 1901). The 
sole difference to be noted is that the hour of gettin,^ up, originally 
fixed at three, is altered by an hour in 1902. I am inclined to believe 
that this was a concession asked for by Ptbre (nierin. 



BENI-ABBES 159 

not always !). Angelus, Veni Creator, Prime and Terce, 
Mass, Thanksgiving. 

"At six, a few dates or figs and the discipHne; im- 
mediately afterwards, an hour's adoration of the Most 
Blessed Sacrament. Then manual labour (or its equivalent : 
correspondence, copies of various things, extracts of authors 
to be kept, readings aloud, or explanation of the Catechism 
to anyone), until eleven. At eleven Sext and None, short 
mental prayer, particular examen until half-past eleven. 

" At half-past eleven dinner. 

" Midday, Angelus, and Veni Creator (this latter is sung. 
You will laugh when you hear me singing ! Uninten- 
tionally, I have certainly invented a new air.) 

"The afternoon is given entirely to God, to the Blessed 
Sacrament, except an hour devoted to necessary conversa- 
tion, to various replies, to cooking, the sacristy, etc., neces- 
sary housework, and to alms ; this hour is divided up 
throughout the whole day. 

"From noon to half-past twelve, adoration; from half- 
past twelve to half-past one. Stations of the Cross, some 
vocal prayers, the reading of a chapter of the Old and New 
Testaments, a chapter of the Imitation and a few pages of 
a spiritual author (St. Teresa, St. John Chrysostom, St. 
John of the Cross, perpetually follow one another). 

' ' From one to two, written meditation on the Holy Gospel . 

" From two to half-past two, moral or dogmatic theology. 

" From half-past two to half-past three, reserved for the 
catechumens. 

" From half-past three to half-past five, adoration; after 
Mass and the night, this is the best moment of the day; 
work is over, I say to myself, I have only to look to Jesus 
. . . this is an hour full of sweetness. 

"At half-past five. Vespers. 

" At six, collation. . . . 

"At seven, explanation of the Holy Gospel to some 
soldiers, prayer and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament 
with the holy ciborium, followed by the Angelus, Veni 
Creator. Then the soldiers leave after a short conversation 
in the open air. I say the rosary (and I say Compline, if I 
have not been able to say it before the short explanation of 
the Holy Gospel), and I go to sleep in my turn about half- 
past eight. 

" At midnight I get up (when I hear the alarum), and 
sing the Veni Creator, recite Matins and Lauds : this is 
also a very sweet moment : alone with the Spouse, in the 
profound silence of the Sahara, under the vast sky, this 



i6o CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

hour of tete-a-tete is a supreme comfort. I go back to bed 
at one. 

Thus he had six hours' sleep, divided by an hour's 
vigil, and prayer held the first place. The work of charity 
alone upset the Rule. This was a most acute trial for 
Brother Charles, whose contemplative soul thirsted for 
meditation. He accepted it, however. He was one who 
gave a fraternal welcome to the poorest and most unknown 
and undeserving of neighbours, who never let it be sus- 
pected that he was put out, and was willing to waste his 
time for talking with God upon unreliable nomads, cor- 
rupt slaves, beggars and bores. Every minute somebody 
would come and open the door, and Brother Charles ap- 
peared with his beautiful eyes full of serenity, his head 
bent forward a little, and his hand already held out. He 
wore a white gandourah, fastened with a girdle on which 
there was worked a heart surmounted by a cross in red 
cloth ; he had sandals on his feet. As to the headgear, it 
was his own invention — it was made of a cap which he 
had stripped of its peak and covered with a white pugaree 
to shield the back of his neck. The picture of the Cross 
and the Sacred Heart told from a distance what this white 
man's Faith was. Nobody could fail to see it. That is 
why, on some desert post, many years after the time of 
Beni-Abb6s, when General Laperrine read an article repre- 
senting Charles de Foucauld as a priest who never spoke 
of his beliefs or did much preaching of the Faith, he seized 
his pen and angrily scribbled in his notebook : " What of 
his conversations? and his dress?" He wrote the truth : 
his habit was a sermon and, besides, Brother Charles's 
whole life proclaimed the Gospel. The natives were never 
mistaken about it. 

We can now follow the events which marked his stay at 
Beni-Abbes, and, in order to do so, we shall only have to 
consult that most accurate and assiduous taker of notes, 
Father de Foucauld himself, who studiously entered in 
what he called his "diary" the little happenings of the 
day, his accounts, and even the names of his visitors. 

''October 29, 1901. — Celebrated Mass for the first time 
at Beni-Abbes. Ex voto to Our Lady of Africa. 

''November 5. — Erection of the first Stations of the 
Cross." 

"November 30. — Formal opening of the Chapel of the 
Fraternity of the Sacred Heart." 



BENI-ABBES i6i 

"December 25. — First exposition of the Blessed Sacra- 
ment for over ten hours." 

This man had given himself up to being forsaken so that 
in the far-off Sahara Jesus Christ at any rate might not 
be forsaken. The religious ceremonies of the first Christ- 
mas at Beni-Abbes therefore delighted him, and he wrote 
of them to his friends in France : 

" We have had the Blessed Sacrament exposed from 
midnight to 7 o'clock in the evening. We shall have it on 
New Year's Day from 7 o'clock in the morning till 7 in 
the evening. I was far from hoping there would be enough 
adorers for it to be possible. Jesus provided them. 

"The good-will, the unhoped-for piety of the poor sol- 
diers round me enable me to give a reading and explana- 
tion of the Holy Gospel every evening (I cannot get over 
my surprise at their willingness to come and listen to me); 
Benediction is followed by a very short evening prayer. . . . 
This Benediction and Holy Mass are both a consolation 
and an infinite joy." 

About twenty years ago a handful of Algerian sharp- 
shooters who formerly had been taught the Catechism and 
had not forgotten it, assisted at the first Catholic offices 
celebrated in the earthen chapel of Beni-Abbes. They still 
speak of it readily. One of them who I met in Paris said 
to me : 

" I was one of the faithful of Father de Foucauld. He 
used to say Mass when it suited us. If you asked him 
to say it at four o'clock in the morning or at noon he would 
always say yes. And what a Mass ! If you were never at 
his Mass you don't know what Mass is. When he said the 
Domine non sum dignus it was in such a tone that you 
wanted to weep with him." 

"January 9, 1902. — First slave ransomed; Joseph of the 
Sacred Heart. . . . This afternoon there was very little 
hope of freeing this child; his master refused to sell him 
at any price ; but yesterday, Wednesday, the d&y of good 
St. Joseph, I had changed the name of the child to that 
of Joseph of the Sacred Heart and promised St. Joseph to 
erect an altar to him in the bay on the Gospel side, and 
one to the Blessed Virgin in the one on the Epistle side, 
if he obtained the liberation of the child for me. To this 
good Father everything is easy : at 5 in the evening, the 
master came to claim the child for the last time, and in two 



i62 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

minutes accepted the price I offered him. I paid it on the 
spot, and you would have been deHghted at the joy of poor 
' Joseph of the Sacred Heart ' reiterating that ' God was 
his only master.' . . . He is a Musulman, but more in 
name than in fact. I hope that, naturally and of himself 
(I shall avoid anything like pressure — he will be quite free) 
he will go to Jesus and to the Heart which willed him to be 
free." 

This young man of twenty, very much touched by Father 
de Foucauld's charity and seeing his life, soon felt that re- 
ligion was the principle of such great perfection, and asked 
of his own accord to be instructed in the Catholic Faith. 
He began at the hermitage; then, at the end of a month, 
finding an opportunity of getting out of the country and 
escaping from the influence of the society in which he 
lived, he went to Algiers, where the White Fathers looked 
after him. "He already looked upon himself as a Chris- 
tian," the hermit wrote. It was a fine work of piety, 
mixed with some imprudence, for slaves were numerous 
around Brother Charles. Many must have begged him to 
set them free like Joseph. " It breaks my heart to have to 
leave them with their masters," he said. And he gave way 
more than once, as often as he had the means. After 
Joseph he redeemed a youth of fifteen whom he called Paul, 
and whom we shall meet with again later on.^ 

No doubt he must also have ransomed the little negro 
aged four, who is seen in several photographs seated on 
the Father's knees, or standing beside him and gambolling. 
Anyhow, we know that he freed other captives. 

To buy back Saharan slaves, to feed the hungry, Father 
Charles would not have liked to ruin his friends; but he 
shrank less from troubling them a little. He collected 
small sums, but often. His family got used to it and 
lovingly let him do as he pleased ; the White Fathers from 
time to time silently settled any arrears of heroic charity; 
the officers of the Beni-Abbes club, moved to pity for the 
slave, took their share of the purchase money ; the safe of 
the Arab Office remained closed, decidedly distrustful. 
The liberator quite understood that wanting to ransom 
slaves ruined his credit; that political economy put him in 
the wrong, and that, perhaps, strict reason was on the same 
side. He then examined his conscience. 

"I could get a small sum," he wrote, "by taking 
stipends for Masses. The good Father Abbot of Notre- 

* Paul entered the Fraternity about October 15, 1902. Fourteen 
years later he was the chief witness of Father Foucauld's death. 



BENUABBES 163 

Dame-des-Neiges has offered me some, and if I have no 
means of hving and paying my debts, I shall make use of 
it; but as long as a glimmer of hope of my being able to 
do without it exists, I shall do so because I believe that 
much more perfect : I live on bread and water, which costs 
me seven francs a month. ... As for clothes, Staueli 
gave me a coat and two shirts with twelve napkins, a rug, 
and a cloak ; these are a gift of good Father Henry, or 
rather a loan, because he has only lent me therri, so that 
I may not give them away ; a very nice officer here, Captain 

d'U- offered me so graciously a rug and two small 

knitted vests that I could not refuse ; you see I am well set 
up. . . . For myself I want nothing. To help me to get 
the slaves, travellers, and the poor together to tell them of 
Jesus and induce them to love Him, I want a small sum to 

buy barley ; \ asked C for thirty francs a month, for the 

slaves' barley, and M for twenty for that of the 

travellers. ... I confess I must also pay for the ground 
I bought, and go to some expense in planting some dates 
which, in three years will provide food for me and the poor, 
please God. My only capital on leaving France was what 
it still is, the word of Jesus : ' Seek ye therefore first the 
kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall 
be added unto you.' I was quite at ease here up to the last 
few days ; the purchase and freeing of Joseph of the Sacred 
Heart made me get to the bottom of my little purse, but our 
heavenly Father's is still full." 

Again he wrote : " I wish to accustom all the inhabitants, 
Christians, Musulmans, Jews and idolaters, to look upon 
me as their brother, the universal brother. . . . They 
begin to call the house the Fraternity (the Khaua, in 
Arabic), and I am delighted." 

This beautiful word suits our missionary and might 
describe him : he was truly the universal brother, not in 
words, but in deeds; he did not scatter political formulae, 
or promises which only add to the weight of wretchedness, 
but he forgot himself for the sake of his nearest neigh- 
bours, he spent beyond his means to feed them and to 
ransom them if ransomed they could be. His way was the 
silent way. Before living four months in Beni-Abb^s, he 
had already reckoned up all the material and moral 
wretchedness there which found no alleviation. In his 
long meditations before the altar, or while carrying his 
stone along with the hermitage masons, he forthwith 
planned out a better Beni-Abbes, but in his plan his own 
share of the ^ork and self-sacrifice were to be the greatest. 



i64 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

Always building the ideal he asked himself : " What good 
can others, better than I, do for these people, and what 
above all can I do, who am but a wretched good-for- 
nothing?" In a letter addressed to a friend in France, 
thus does he distribute the roles. He confessed to this 
friend his great desire to obtain some Sisters of St. Vincent 
de Paul for the oasis of Beni-Abbes. " I am heartbroken 
when I see the children of the town idling at haphazard 
with nothing to do, without teachers or religious education. 
A place of sanctuary would do so much good ! It is just 
what we want for spreading the Gospel. . . . With God's 
help a few good sisters of Charity would soon give all this 
country to Jesus." Then, putting all his thoughts on this 
subject together, he draws up a regular memorandum and 
sends it to Pere Gu^rin, Prefect Apostolic of the Sahara. 
In it we see his great heart, and the minutiae which never 
leave him, even in his dreams. He goes beyond the 
present, beyond the good immediately possible, and the 
complaint of this Christian thrown among so many infidels 
gains a thrilling greatness from the slenderness of the 
means at his disposal and the breadth of the imagined con- 
quest. From Beni-Abbes in the Sahara, he sends to his 
spiritual head his report for getting the world forward. I 
am obliged to condense these pages of boundless charity. 

The first charity to undertake, according to the hermit, 
would be "slave relief work." They are miserable in 
every way, treated in the hardest possible manner by the 
Arabs and especially by the marabouts ; they have every 
vice and neither hope nor friends. But they would soon 
consider the Christians who did them good as saviours, and 
perhaps they would be the first Saharans to become Chris- 
tians, as the first Christians of Rome were largely made of 
slaves. The second charity would be meant to give a 
shelter and a meal to poor travellers, who sleep in the open 
when it is so cold at night. Also Christian teaching for 
the children must be thought of. There is no school in the 
whole oasis except a Musulman one. A crowd of children 
run about all day long, idle vagabonds and quickly per- 
verted ; it would at least be necessary to have a shelter 
where they could learn reading, writing, French, sacred 
history, and the Catechism, where they would be given a 
few dates in the morning and a little cooked barley at noon. 
This would cost at most " two sous a day." No doubt 
there would be few Arab children in this Christian school, 
but the little Berbers, children of a mild race and quite 
ready to take to the Latin they once knew, would all come 



BENI-ABBES 165 

to it. The Berbers are neither fanatics nor scornful. One 
may expect in the future that " when the Berbers are settled 
in the Faith, that will prepare and induce the Arabs to 
embrace it." 

The memoir continued to enumerate the necessary 
charitable organizations : a civil hospital, a military hos- 
pital, visiting the sick in their homes, the distribution of 
remedies and alms at the Fraternity door, zeal for the souls 
of the soldiers, officers, Musulmans of all sorts, Jews, "of 
all the inhabitants of the country, of the prefecture, of the 
world and purgatory." There are fifteen paragraphs out- 
lining fifteen projects. 

Having thus described the work to be organized, Brother 
Charles sets forth for Mgr. Gu6rin the work he had done : 

"... I am alone for this immense task. . . . 

" For the slaves, I have a little room in which I gather 
them and where they always find a lodging, a reception, 
daily bread and friendship ; by degrees I teach them to pray 
to Jesus. Since January 15, the day on which their little 
room was finished, 1 have had some every night at the 
Fraternity. Sometimes I see twenty slaves a day. 

" The poor travellers also find a humble shelter and a 
poor meal at the Fraternity, with a good reception and a 
few words to bring them to goodness and to Jesus; but the 
place is so small, the virtue of the monk and his skill are 
still less ; more virtue, intelligence and means, would allow 
of much more good being done. . . . Sometimes I see 
thirty or forty travellers a day. 

" The infirm and aged here find a shelter with a 
roof, food and attention when forsaken . . . but what 
inadequate care and what poor food ! . . . And for want 
of separate places, I can only take in those who get on with 
the others, and women not at all ; yet the women, even 
more than the men, need a home for old people. 

"For the Christian teaching of the children I do abso- 
lutely nothing; it seems to me that I can do nothing. I 
sometimes see as many as sixty children in a single day at 
the Fraternity, and with a heart full of sorrow have to 
send them away without doing anything for them." And 
the list of replies continues; the military hospital, the civil 
hospital for the natives, visiting the sick at their homes, 
" are beyond my power and vocation; nuns are required." 
So it is with the visits to the homes of the poor. Doubtless 
he daily distributes remedies to ten or fifteen people, but 
he is very cautious, having little confidence in his talents. 
There is a doctor at the Arab Office, he is very good, 



i66 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

but women and children cannot go to him — they come to 
the Fraternity, and the men themselves prefer applying to 
the marabout. What is to be done? Nuns would do all 
the good that he can only look on at, estimate and plan. 
At the hermitage gate, in a single day, taken at hazard, 
he has counted seventy-five poor people. He begins to 
know his people; but how much help was wanted ! What 
need there was of intelligent almoners for such great 
poverty and so many outstretched hands ! 

" If I do not ask you to send any White Sisters out here, 
it is because I know that you will settle them wherever you 
can, and never have enough to put wherever they are 
required. . . . 

" I am still alone : I am not faithful enough for Jesus to 
give me a companion, still less ... I follow to the best 
of my abilities the little Rule you know. . . ." 

This report, like all the correspondence of Father de 
Foucauld, shows the extreme humility of the man to whom 
were wanting neither pretexts nor opportunities for seem- 
ing proud. Race, fortune, superior intelligence, relations, 
the gift of sympathy were his, and he could have chosen a 
brittle branch on which to perch and sing his own praises. 
The very sacrifice he had made in leaving the world might 
have done for self-adoration, which can entrench itself 
among the ruins, provided they rise high enough. Instead 
of that, he showed a most respectful tone, promptness in 
obedience, a liking for checking inclination almost to the 
point of indifference, a great esteem for others, a great con- 
tempt of himself, and a great astonishment at being em- 
ployed in a work that demands saints for workmen. Bro- 
ther Charles never ceased blaming himself for the slow 
progress of his apostleship ; if he were less unworthy, all 
the Musulmans, Jews, and bad Christians would have 
already been, or have again been, converted. At any rate 
he would have had help, instead of wearing himself out in 
solitude. He declared that his own conversion was evidently 
the condition of his converting others. But how far was 
he from it ! He begged prayers from all to whom he 
wrote. The remembrance of the sins of his past life was 
rarely even alluded to, but it was always present. " I have 
all I need to do immense good," he exclaims, " except 
myself." 

Charles de Foucauld was a humble man, and I firmly 
believe that his prime virtue, the principle of his influence 
over infidels and Christians, lay in that. This judgment 
may surprise. We readily imagine that humility breaks 



BENI-ABBES 167 

the ardour of nature, and that such an impulse as pride can 
do no more. But we do not observe that humility, if it 
destroys one energy, replaces it at once by another which 
is far higher. It consists in knowing the limits of one's 
powers, which is a reasonable thing to do, and to expect 
less of such weak powers than of God's. Hence no enter- 
prise seemed to him impossible, no check held him back. 
Humility has nothing to do with timidity. Let us reckon 
up the audacity there was in the programme which Father 
de Foucauld had just laid down. A poor priest, lost in an 
oasis of the Sahara, proposed to found more institutions 
than a monastery quite full of heroes of charity could main- 
tain ; in his zeal he forgot no one ; he allowed himself to 
be carried away far beyond the palm-trees of Beni-Abb6s ; 
he wished for and aimed at the conversion of the whole of 
Africa, of the entire world. Was he, then, a madman? 
No : a very humble man, who knew the power of God. 

The reply which P6re Guerin sent to this long report is 
not textually known to us. It certainly counselled Brother 
Charles to ransom slaves only in rare cases, otherwise the 
poor hermit would get himself intolerably into debt. 

" May, 1903. — Thirty years ago to-day I made my first 
communion and received my God for the first time. . . . 
This is the first time that I celebrate the Holy Mass on that 
day. . . . What graces I have received in these thirty 
years ! How good God has been I How many times I 
have received Jesus with these unworthy lips ! And lo, 
here I hold Him in my poor hands ! He puts Himself into 
my hands ! And now I ofificiate at an oratory ; night and 
day, I have the holy tabernacle — I possess it, so to speak, 
as mine alone I Now, every morning I consecrate the 
Holy Eucharist, every evening I give Benediction with it ! 
And here at last and above all I have the permission to 
make a foundation ! What graces !" 

The foundation to which he alludes is that of the " Little 
Brothers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus," the future religious 
family which he already contemplated in Palestine, an 
enclosed family, destined to adore the perpetually exposed 
Holy Eucharist day and night, and to live in a missionary 
country, in poverty and work. 

This congregation of missionaries would not therefore 
directly preach the Gospel, but would make it known, 
admired, and loved by the life of prayer, charity, and 
poverty that the monks would lead among Musulmans. 
The Little Brothers of the Sacred Heart would be primarily 



i68 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

adorers, bringing their Master into the midst of infidels. 
Brother Charles wished to establish them in groups 
wherever possible ; he wished, not one oratory at Beni- 
Abbes, but a great number of them to be raised, whence 
the Blessed Eucharist and Sacred Heart should shine as 
the light of the world, upon many infidel regions, for ages. 

A magnificent thought, which he never ceased to express 
all his life long ! When he undertook some new journey, 
he rejoiced, as he did at Taghit, in consecrating the body 
of Christ in places where no priest had been for two 
thousand years. Thinking of Rome, he exclaimed: "I 
love Rome so much ! That is where there are most taber- 
nacles, where Jesus is most present corporally. One of my 
aspirations would have been to restore worship in the little 
chapel Domine Quo vadis, via Appia."^ 

Here, at Beni-Abbes, if he asked for help, for com- 
panions to be sent him, it was because he wanted first of all 
to multiply the Real Hresence among those who had no 
tabernacle or Host. He constantly thought of the immense 
peoples around him and among whom the Saviour did not 
dwell. He wanted to give Him to them. " For men die 
every day and souls fall into hell, souls redeemed at so great 
a price, dyed in the blood of Jesus, which St. Colette saw 
falling into hell, as thick as the snowflakes in a winter 
storm." 

We shall soon see what came of these plans of founda- 
tions. I shall only note now that Father de Foucauld has 
entered into the life of recollection so long desired, and 
declares himself the happiest man in the world. When 
we compare his happiness with that which some of us 
pursue, we are confounded as to ourselves, and many 
of us have so little elevation of soul, that we can barely 
imagine the exultation of the hermit of Beni-Abbes. Did 
he eat and drink to sate hunger and thirst, since these 
satisfactions are called happiness? We know he did not. 
Did he keep any past habits of luxury or self-pleasing? 
Not the least. Did he try to find in the books he brought into 
the desert a diversion from the monotony of his days, with 
their servile tasks and boring conversations? With his 
artistic temperament he doubtless enjoyed certain pages of 
St. Chrysostom, and in more than one point he was too 
like St. Augustine not to be moved by the human beauty 
of the City of God or the Confessions : but his happiness 
was far above such pleasures as these. May it not be that 

^ Letter to a friend, December 20, 1903. 



BEN I- ABBES 169 

exceptional graces were granted him, and that in com- 
munion or meditation, or in the evening, when he could 
go on no longer through working so hard and giving conso- 
lation to so many, and grain and dates, and when suffering 
from the torrid heat, some sudden nameless immeasurable 
sweetness came down into his heart and filled it with 
delight? I hardly doubt it, although nowhere, to my 
knowledge, has this humble servant explicitly spoken of 
any heavenly favours bestowed upon him. But he spoke 
of his joy, and extolled it. Indeed it was the purest, the 
most detached from all that is human that anyone could 
experience. We can know no more. 

At La Trappe, at Nazareth, he experienced periods of 
interior trials, and something like darkness. " I only 
managed to get through by entire obedience to the Abb^, 
even in little things : I clung to him like a child to its 
mother's dress. ... At present I am in great peace. 
That will last as long as Jesus wills. I have the Blessed 
Sacrament, the love of Jesus ; others have the earth, I have 
the good God. . . . When I am sad, this is my recipe : 
I recite the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, and I say 
to myself : what does it matter after all if I am miserable, 
and if I get none of the good I want? All that does not 
prevent my well-beloved Jesus — who wants it a thousand 
times more than T do — from being blessed, eternally and 
infinitely blessed. 

" Our Well-Beloved is blessed : what do we lack? You 
know that to love is to forget yourself for another whom 
you love a thousand times more than yourself, that to love 
is to give up working and wishing to be happy, and to 
desire solely and with all the strength of your heart the 
happiness of the Beloved : well, we have what we desire. 
Our beloved Jesus is blessed, so we lack nothing ! If we 
love Him, let us praise God without end, for our wishes 
are granted : He is happy I"^ 

Brother Charles was self-forgetful to a point which some- 
times made his friends anxious. He had fever, rheumatism, 
and was utterly tired out. Some officers had to write to 
his family about it. One of Brother Charles's relations, 
thinking that the diet of bread and herb-tea was insufficient 
for a man still young, asked the missionary to accept a 
small sum monthly, on condition that this money should 
be used to buy some extra food. He replied: "I accept 
the ten francs, and so that you may know the menu, I tell 

^ Letter to Count Louis de P'oucauld, September 3, 1902 ; letters to a 
friend, dated March 21, April 4, September 3, 1902. 



170 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

you that I am adding some dates, which are very good and 
nourishing fruit, to my bread." 

A short time after, his director, Abb6 Huvehn, counselled 
moderation as follows : 

" My dear friend, my dear child, bear with yourself ! 
Be humble and patient with yourself, less anxious to over- 
come sleep than restlessness and that anxious striving after 
the best which torments you. Be at peace, in order to 
receive God's graces, and, if you have and keep your hatred 
of yourself, let it be a hatred as calm as deep water. . . . 
Possess your own soul ; do not cut yourself down too much ; 
eat a little; sleep as long as action requires." 

Pere Gu^rin wrote to him in the same strain, and I 
believe this was the finishing stroke for the " desert tea." 
In a letter of Brother Charles " cous-cous " is spoken of at 
the midday meal : perhaps it was on the great feasts. 

Brother Charles's attack of fever had stirred the little 
military colony of Beni-Abbes. Immediately all flocked 
to the Fraternity : " the doctor with his advice and reme- 
dies, all the officers and non-commissioned officers, goats' 
milk, jam, coffee, tea, and I don't know what besides !" 

And he was astonished that they did so much for him. 

What is to be feared by such souls as this holding the 

'highest within them above the world? Absolutely nothing. 

In the summer of 1902, one of his friends told him he feared 

that the Berbers might attack Beni-Abbes, and Brother 

Charles did not deny the danger, but rejoiced in it. 

'* I thank you for what you have told me about possible 
dangers ; . . . I regard them with the peace of God's 
children. ... If you knew how I desire to end my poor and 
miserable life, so badly begun and so empty, according to 
our Lord's saying on the night of the Last Supper : 
' Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down 
his life for his friends!' I am unworthy of it, but how 
much I desire it I Reports of war are reviving ; ... it is 
very sweet to feel oneself always so near, on the threshold of 
eternity ; it is extremely sweet and also good for one's 
soul." 

"/w/y 4. — There is nothing new in my life; oh yes, there 
is ! I have had the great joy of being able to buy and free 
a slave; he is staying with me provisionally as a guest, 
and working in the garden ; ... he appears to be twenty- 
five years of age. . . . Pray for his conversion I Pray 
also for that of a good Musulman Turco who is most 
devoted to me . . . and pray for mine!" 



BEN l- ABBES 171 

The slave of whom Brother Charles here speaks was a 
Beraber, carried off in a raid by the Doni Meuia, who were 
not then very reliable friends, and a party of them were 
camping on the Beni- Abbes plateau. Moved by pity of 
this fine young captive, Brother Charles said to a French 
non-commissioned officer : " We must buy him from his 
master. But, if they hear that it is I who wish to free the 
slave, they will ask a price I cannot pay. Go, then, as if 
for yourself, to buy the captive and keep me informed of 
the negotiations." These lasted three days. We have 
still the notes he addressed to the adjutant. " Add another 

douro or two, my dear J , but I can't give any more ; 

indeed, I can't." 

Next day, a fresh letter : " Well, yes, go up to 400 francs, 
and don't hesitate or haggle. . . . Our brother's freedom 
is priceless. . . . Jesus might have redeemed us by a 
word, but willed to do it with all His blood to show His 
love by the price He paid. Let us follow God's example." 

At last the master gave way. The slave went to thank 
the great Christian marabout who had delivered him. They 
chatted for a moment, then Brother Charles said to the 
Beraber : 

" Now you are free; what are you going to do ?" 

" Say good-bve to my captors." 

"And then?'"' 

" I shall go back to my first master, who treated me 
well. My wife is still there." 

" June 28, 1902. — Saturday is the day for giving out the 
barley distribution. We must make our Sundays and 
feast-days known. It is a very inferior way, but just now 
the only practical method, I believe, of evangelizing." 

"July 12, 1902. — First baptism at Beni-Abb6s : Marie- 
Joseph Abdjesu Carita, a little negro of three and a half."^ 

"July 21. — Four soldiers of the garrison have died this 
month of extreme heat. Not one of them refused the 
Sacraments ; two died very piously after a long illness. . . ." 

"August 13. — I am still alone — the only religious — with 
Abdjesu, a negro of twenty-five redeemed and liberated 
some time ago; an artilleryman who serves my Mass; some 

^"Abdjesu" means, in Arabic, "servant of Jesus"; as " Abd 
Ennebi," "servant of the prophet." 



172 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

sharpshooters who are repairing the chapel, the roof of 
which is getting weak. The Fraternity, very silent at 
night and from lo to 3 in the afternoon, is a beehive from 
5 to 9 in the morning ; and from 4 to 8 in the evening. I 
never stop talking and seeing people ; slaves, poor people, 
invalids, soldiers, travellers, and inquirers; the latter — 
inquirers — I have but rarely, but the slaves, invalids, and 
poor increase. ... I celebrate Mass, except on Sundays 
and great Festivals — I say it, on those days, when the mili- 
tary desire — to which nobody ever comes on weekdays, 
before daybreak, so as not to be too much disturbed by the 
noise, and to make my thanksgiving in some peace; but 
however early I may be, I am always called three or four 
times while making my thanksgiving." 

*' September 12. — What are wonderful here are the sun- 
sets, the evenings, and the nights. . . . The evenings are 
so calm, the nights so serene; the great sky and the vast 
horizons half lit by the stars are so peaceful, and in silence 
thrill the soul by hymning the eternal, the infinite, and the 
beyond, so that one could spend entire nights in such con- 
templation ; however, I curtail it and return after spending 
a few moments before the tabernacle, for there is more in 
the humble tabernacle : nothing is nothing, compared to 
the Well-Beloved." 

i4.th. — Ransomed two slaves : a father of a family and 
a young man of fifteen, whom Brother Charles provision- 
ally named Paul. 

" November 5, 1902. — It has rained twice, so I hide the 
altar furniture under the altar; and the altar, as soon as 
the sky grows cloudy, under a waterproof covering — a little 
tarpaulin. At the Fraternity, as at the camp and in the 
village, it rains as much inside the rooms (and chapel) as 
outside. The roofs protect only from the sun. That, far 
from hindering, contributes to happiness : in making the 
inclemencies of the weather felt, God reminds us that Jesus 
had not a stone whereon to lay His head. All that makes 
us like the Well-Beloved unites us to Him and is perfect 
happiness. . . . The very sight of my nothingness, 
instead of afflicting me, helps me to forget myself and to 
think only of Him who is all." 

The end of the year came. The buildings and repairs of 
the poor hermitage were finished — waiting for the Brothers 
to tell of their early coming and thus bring the workmen 
back to the workyard. Ordinary and regular life was, no 
doubt, beginning. It must be as strict as possible, and 



BEN I- ABBES 173 

Brother Charles, thinking of this obhgation of his calling, 
thought it better to do without the daily help of a soldier 
who had been his "housekeeper." They told him he was 
overdone, but he maintained his decision ; he gave this 
noble and witty reply ; "Jesus had no orderly." 

His only anxiety was for souls. Thanks to the two blacks 
he had redeemed, he could have exposition of the Blessed 
Sacrament in the not quite empty chapel when the soldiers 
were kept in camp. And then, on Christmas Day and the 
day after, he had an "immense joy"; some Moroccans 
came to pay him a visit. With what friendship he must 
have received them, and with what dreams beyond their 
understanding he must have followed them ! 

On these same days, he had surprises of another sort. 
For many centuries Christmas has been a season when 
friends have been accustomed to exchange gifts. Brother 
Charles saw a porter coming to the hermitage carrying a 
light parcel, carefully tied, that the ass-driver postmen had 
delivered at the Native Office. 

" Where does it come from? The East? Do they still 
remember me?" 

They remembered him so well that the nuns of a convent 
in the Holy Land where he had spent some time, wishing 
to give pleasure to the hermit whom they had known as 
gardener, porter, and messenger, sent him a Christmas 
present. But what can one give a hermit, when one is 
oneself poor? First of all relics for the chapel. There 
were several in the parcel : relics of the Saints, particles of 
the Holy Sepulchre or of the Nativity cave. The donors 
had added some flowers from Palestine, arranged as a 
bouquet and pasted on vellum ; then, having sought such 
small things as a Father of the Thebaid might want for his 
household, they had put into one envelope a wooden spoon, 
a mousetrap, and a yard of white cloth. The man who 
brought the parcel, seeing this remnant and also Father de 
Foucauld's poor threadbare and tattered gandourah full of 
holes, surmised that pieces much needed by his friend's 
tunic might be cut out of this fine white cloth. No sooner 
was he back in camp than he went to the army tailor, and 
told him to go quickly to the hermitage. The tailor did 
not loiter much on the way. Perhaps he wanted to wait 
till the worst heat of the afternoon was over. Anyhow, a 
little before sunset he was back in camp, with discomfited 
expression. 

"Nothing doing." 

" What? won't he have his gandourah mended?" 



174 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

" Not quite that; but he had no more of the cloth; he 
has given it away." 

In fact, on the still burning plateau, they could see a little 
negro, running round with pride and showing himself to 
his comrades. He had just come from the hermitage clad 
in a sack as white as snow. 

About the same time — perhaps a little sooner — an officer, 
who had to do with sending supplies to the oasis posts, 
remarked on the platform of Oran station a little cask 
addressed to the R^v6rend P^re de Foucauld at Beni- 
Abbes. " Altar wine," he thought, " and it cannot fail to 
turn sour; the journey and the heat must already have 
damaged it. In what state will it reach the poor Father?" 
As soon as the discovery was made, they hastened to put 
the cask in the shade in a store. A man of good-will, 
who knew what to do for wine in danger, poured several 
buckets of water on the barrel, which was given into the 
charge of the guards of the train from Oran to Beni-Unif, 
and sprinkled two or three times en route. At Beni-Unif, 
when the time came to form the convoy for revictualling 
Beni-Abbes, the cask was put on the camel's back, and, as 
everyone was a great friend of Father de Foucauld, never 
was a parcel more closely looked after, better covered with 
wool while on the way, or unloaded with more care when 
the caravan in the evening halted for the night. At last 
the precious barrel was brought to the hermitage. 

" Here is your altar wine, Father." 

" But I have not ordered any." 

" They have sent you some; look at the address." 

Brother Charles decided to open the cask. It was then 
perceived that it was a bell, with a clapper well wrapped in 
rags, which had travelled under chestnut staves and had 
been refreshed with such touching care. It was hung from 
the top of a sort of small rectangular tower — I should say 
campanile, if the word here did not suggest immoderate 
ambition — at the side of the chapel. And it rang, a wit- 
ness told me: "It used to ring oftener than we wanted 
sometimes, not only in the day, but at night, at lo, at mid- 
night, at 4 in the morning. The sound, through the clear 
desert air, reached us in the redoubt, as if we had been 
under the clapper. It was Brother Charles summoning 
himself to say his Office."^ 

^ At the same time (end of 1902), at the other end of the cHff of Bcni- 
Abbes, the soldiers were building a monumental Arab Office, lo which 
a redoubt was added. This is the vast mass of buildings surrounded 
by ramparts that )'Ou see to-day on your left as you enter llie oasis. 



BENI-ABBES 175 

''January 20, 1903. — Two harraiins of Anfid, the fakir 
Barka ben Zian, and the fakir Ombarek, known for their 
honesty, ask me to instruct them in our holy rehgion, and 
they seem sincere." 

"January 21, 1903. — A child of thirteen, a native of 
Twat, a slave for six years, has been ransomed, and 
declares even before his ransom that he wishes to follow 
the religion of Jesus and stay with me. Ransomed to-day 
at noon, he immediately enters the catechumenate under 
the name of Peter." 

In March came the visit of a former comrade, Henri 
Laperrine.^ He reached Beni-Abbes on the 6th. He is 
chief in command of the Saharan oases — that is to say, of 
Gurara, Twat, and Tidikelt. 

Henry Laperrine, who here reappears by the side of 
Charles de Foucauld, had been a sub-lieutenant in the 
Fourth Chasseurs d'Afrique. Of middle height, with a 
supple and muscular body, a pale and lean face, refined 
features, short fan-shaped light auburn beard, bright eyes 
— generally roguish, at moments hard — he was already re- 
garded, at the time of his arrival, on his round as chief at 
Beni-Abbes, as an accomplished type of the colonial 
cavalryman. He was hardly ever seen wearing the linen 
helmet or dressed in Arab fashion or as a Tuareg. He 
allowed such fancies — and others — to his subordinates, in 
their stopping places. Under the blazing sun he wore his 
cloth cap cocked over his left ear, and the regulation 
uniform. He would ride for ten hours, with the ther- 
mometer at 102°, and reach the halting-place with his collar 
buttoned up and sitting bolt upright in the saddle. Few 
bushrangers were such men of the world as he in the desert. 
He made up for it by shunning towns and their ceremony, 
detested official visits, and used to declare that between sub- 
mitting to an hour's wait in the antechamber of a minister 
and enduring a sandstorm, he would choose the storm. His 
good-humour was well known. He liked lively, even light 

' Born at Castelnaudary on September 29, i860, consequently two 
years younger than Charles de Foucauld. A pupil of the ficole speciale 
Militaire, October 25, 1878 ; sub-lieutenant pupil at the ificole d'Applica- 
tion de Cavalerie, October i, 1880 ; sub-lieutenant in the 4th Regiment 
of Chasseurs d'Afrique, September 10, 1881 ; lieutenant in the ist Regi- 
ment of the Spahis, July 29, 1885 ; of the squadron of Senegal, March 22, 
1889; captain in the 2nd Dragoons, November i, 1891 ; in the 2nd 
squadron of Spahis Soudanais, September 13, 1893 ; in the squadron of 
the mounted mehari Saharan Spahis, November 6, 1897 ; squadron 
comrnander in the 7th Regiment of Chasseurs, October 7 ; Commander- 
in-Chief of the Saharan oasis, July 6, 1901. 



176 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

stories, preferably those which introduced the people of 
the bled. But he was subject to sudden changes. This 
impressionable, spirited, absent-minded man had twenty 
and often thirty times a day reason for losing patience or 
being angry. The only thing he did not forgive was deceit. 
You won his confidence once, not twice. As for the rest, 
he easily forgot the wrongs of others and his own ; he pos- 
sessed in perfection the gift of sympathy, which in a man 
of feeling becomes an art. All good workers, all energetic 
servants of the cause — that is to say, of France in Africa — 
loved Laperrine. He could be amiable without being 
familiar. He had his rank in his look, gesture, and soul. 
In the desert he used to make his non-commissioned officers 
sit round the burnous spread out on the ground and used 
as a tablecloth for lunch. His officers on mission corre- 
sponded, in private letters, with their chief, even in service 
matters, each giving news of himself and telling stories, 
and commenting and complaining if there were reason to 
do so. He replied in the same way. His energy was pro- 
digious, his exactness equally so. Hardly was he off his 
horse or mehari, after a ride of thirty or forty, and some- 
times fifty miles, before having his work-table set up; he 
then drank a cup of tea, and set about writing. The mes- 
sengers who joined him en route could set out again the 
same evening with his reply. During the siesta there was 
often only one man who was not asleep — Laperrine. There, 
in the desert, he was in his kingdom, the whole of which 
he knew, men and things. One of his disciples and friends 
said: "He was fully himself only from the moment he 
placed his bare foot on the supple neck of his mehari." 
His authority over so many of the tribes of Algeria, the 
Soudan and the Sahara, was obtained by the certainty, 
established by a hundred proofs in the hearts of the natives, 
that this great chief was not their enemy. Laperrine 
wished neither to humiliate nor impose on them; he wished 
to conciliate them, to get them to enter, as proteges, helpers, 
and friends, an extended France. 

This constitutional liberalism, which was victorious 
and has brought France a much envied colonial empire, he 
expounded neither in a treatise of military art nor in an 
account of his campaigns. " It is in his correspondence 
as military commander that an historian, enamoured of the 
things of the Sahara, will go sooner or later to find the 
principles of civilizing the desert. If it be true that a man 
writes as he thinks, there is Laperrine in his entirety. The 
big books of instructions and orders are in his own firm and 



BENI-ABBES i77 

expressive handwriting; his matter sets aside the accessory 
to get to the essential. Even the jumbled spelling — Laper- 
rine, like Madame de Sevigne, had a disdain for academic 
conventions — all reveals his inner fire. Everywhere one 
finds the impress left on Laperrine's mind by his youthful 
years. He adapted himself to his surroundings, became a 
nomad with the nomad, a counter-raider with the raiders, 
took from the native all the instinctive experience he could 
give, and surpassed him in moral ascendency, reasoning, 
and conscience."^ 

The vocations of Laperrine and de Foucauld were sisters, 
not similar nor of the same character, but both varieties 
of the same species, very French and very Christian. Their 
friendship, during forty years, is explained by their 
common understanding of the civilizing role of France. 
But I believe other elements formed and maintained it. 
Foucauld admired in Laperrine a loyal and ardent soul, 
capable of sacrificing to the ideal all his ease, repose, 
health, life itself and, what is more rare, promotion. 
Laperrine in Foucauld admired gifts similar to his own, 
placed at the service of a still grander ideal : his personal 
holiness and radiation of holiness among the natives. 

Colonial military life, which is not that of a girls' board- 
ing-school, the remoteness of Christian society, the pre- 
occupation of a mind always on the strain or brought back 
to military duty, may have turned Laperrine away from 
religious practice. But this pupil of the Dominicans of 
Soreze remained a believer at heart. His two dearest 
friends were priests, with whom he kept up a most con- 
stant correspondence — viz. : his brother Mgr. Laperrine of 
Hautpoul, and Father de Foucauld. And if any sally of 
his can be quoted to lead one to suppose that he had no 
faith, great care must be taken not to draw from so slight 
a cause, so grave and distressing a conclusion. We ought 
to accord quite another credit to some positive facts which 
shall, in their place, be related in this book, and to the 
affirmation of one of his intimates, who said to me : " On 
all serious occasions he used to speak of the things of 
religion with wonderful respect." 

I should give a very incomplete sketch of this great 
Frenchman if I did not further say that he was generous. 
His purse was easily opened. On a journey he used to 
share his commander's provisions with the officers and non- 
commissioned officers whom he had invited ; he was fond of 

* " Notes sur le General Laperrine" (Bull, dc I'A/Hque frau^aise, Mai, 

IQ20). 

12 



178 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

distributing presents among the tribes, and one cannot 
think, without emotion, that many years after the one I 
am now speaking of, when setting out for that air journey 
to Hoggar which was to be his last, Laperrine brought as 
his luggage on board the aeroplane a little parcel of light 
silks for the Tuareg women and children. 

Such was the visitor whose coming was a great joy to 
Brother Charles. They must have had a long talk, a little 
of the past, much of the future of their Africa. However, 
the diary makes no mention of it. Neither the arrival of 
this military detachment on the Beni- Abbes plateau, nor 
the reception given to this already legendary Commander, 
nor Laperrine's words, nor the conversation of the two 
friends, are related. How little of a romancer this Brother 
Charles was ! Just a simple note, very short, a confidential 
intimation : " A few days ago he [Laperrine] had obtained 
authority for undertaking a triple operation next spring : 
ist, to go from In-Salah to Timbuctoo, and definitively and 
militarily to join Tidikelt to the Soudan by force, if neces- 
sary ; 2nd, to conquer the Hoggar and to push on as far as 
Agades ; 3rd, to gain the Atlantic Ocean to the South of 
Dra, occupying Tabelbalet and Tinduf . But, after having 
thus given him authority, they have now almost imme- 
diately withdrawn it." 

And Laperrine continued his round. 

Days and months went by ; but de Foucauld was always 
entirely alone, I mean in his apostolate. No other man 
offered to share the life of him who had gone out to be vox 
clamantis in deserto, like John the Baptist. The Baptist well 
knew he would have no companion : Brother Charles hoped 
to find one, and surely in the hardest days, when the body 
droops with weariness and the mind begins to ask cui bono, 
he took refuge in the hope of this help to come. How often 
is the flight of time, the lack of continuance which is one 
of the infirmities of our state, a consolation to us. But 
poor Brother Charles felt this trial keenly. Loving soli- 
tude, he did not suffer from it for himself, but for his fellow- 
men. Working by himself amidst total corruption, total 
ignorance, in which he never encountered even the glim- 
mers, the veiled regrets, the power of resurrection felt to 
be latent in the souls of the baptized, he had tried in the 
course of years to induce a few Little Brothers or Sisters to 
prepare for the future community. His letters and 
cautiously distributed regulations did not seem to touch 
any heart. Can any generous idea fail to germinate in 
France? How could such a thing take place? 



BEN 1- ABBES 179 

The answers may vary. Persons ever so little acquainted 
with ecclesiastical history will doubtless observe that re- 
ligious Orders are not born in the abstract; that constitu- 
tions are not made a priori^ but at first lived, tried, and 
proved by a band of men or women drawn together by the 
moral strength of their future chief. Others will point out that 
the regulations of Brother Charles overstep the mark, do too 
much violence to human weakness, presuppose a vigour of 
temperament and a power of will rarely associated. We shall 
see this opinion firmly, even hardly expressed by the Prior 
of a Trappe, who had not forgotten Brother Marie-Alb^ric, 
considering him an eminently holy man, but who believed 
he was not called to govern a community. We have arrived 
at that point of Father de Foucauld's " Life " where it will 
be necessary to explain why he so eagerly desired — as he 
does to the end — other priests, like himself, to become Little 
Brothers of the Sacred Heart, and to break into the Moham- 
medan countries. He had sought solitude; he had bought 
it dearly ; he held to it. But the workman plunged into the 
harvest, and seeing the immensity of the task, was dejected 
at not belonging to a band. He did more, he accused him- 
self unceasingly; in his correspondence and intimate notes 
he declares that his unworthiness is the cause of the isola- 
tion in which he lives. 

" I am still alone at Beni-Abbes," he wrote to the 
Marchioness de Foucauld.^ " More than ever I believe Beni- 
Abbes favourable for a community of poor solitaries, living 
to adore the Blessed Sacrament and for manual labour; 
it is so solitary and so central, between Algeria, Morocco, 
and the Sahara ! Pray that my infidelities may not in any 
way hinder the designs of the Sacred Heart." 

He was always lamenting such shortcomings. We find 
the same thought, the same fervour of contrition and sup- 
plication, in his diary, at Easter, 1903. 

" Not a single postulant, novice, or Sister. . . . Unless 
the grain of wheat die, it remains alone. Lord Jesus, 
pardon my innumerable infidelities and slacknesses ! Help 
me, Holy Virgin, St. Magdalen, Blessed Margaret Mary ! 
Reign in me. Heart of Jesus, that I may at last die to 
myself, to the world, and to all that is not Thee and Thy 
will, and bear fruit for Thy glory. 

" After great misdeeds the catechumen Paul has left me; 
the catechumen Peter has left me : he desired to return 
to his parents, and I have sent him to them ; the cate- 
chumen Joseph of the Sacred Heart, sent to the White 
^ Letter of November 15, 1903. 



i8o CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

Fathers at Algiers in February 1902, and brought back 
by them to the Soudan in October, has left me, and his 
was a bad leaving". . . . Two persons only remain with 
me at the Fraternity : the little Christian Abdjesu and the 
old blind catechumen Marie." 

All at once it looked as if those men of mortification, 
prayer, example, and charity, whose coming Brother 
Charles implores, are going to be sent him. Two Fathers 
and two Brothers of La Trappe of Staoueli have spoken — 
no doubt vaguely enough — of imitating Father de Foucauld 
and putting themselves under his obedience. But look at 
him and see him as he is : he does not seek to attract them ; 
he tests them from the beginning ; he writes to one of them : 

" Dear and Venerated Father, 

" M. de la H tells me that you and another 

Father and two Trappist Brothers feel yourselves urged to 
share in my poor, abject, and solitary life of the hidden 
Jesus, the life which He put before us for thirty years at 
Nazareth. . . . 

"My very dear Father, what all of you have to do is 
simple. Jesus never asks us to do things that are com- 
plicated, but He asks all of us to combine childlike sim- 
plicity with great prudence, which consists, as St. Paul 
says, in seeking carefully, by sure means, what is the will 
of God, so as to do it without mistake. 

"It is enough for you and for each of the other three 
of you, the Father and Brothers, to know God's will, and 
then to do it, cost what it may. 

" There is but one infallible way of knowing the divine 
will in such a question; it is by spiritual direction : open 
your soul fully to a conscientious, learned, intelligent, 
nie'diiative, unprejudiced director; and take his reply as the 
divine will of the present moment, in virtue of the promise : 
* He that heareth you, heareth Me'; that is the infallible 
means of doing the will of Jesus in this case and in all 
others ; . . . If he says to you : ' Jesus calls you to leave 
La Trappe and join Brother Charles,' come, my arms and 
heart are open to you, I shall receive you as brought by 
the hand of Jesus. If he says to you : * Wait,' obey and 
wait. If he says : ' vStay in La Trappe,' obey; in this last 
case, if, while obeying, you continue to feel yourself 
interiorly urged to come and follow Jesus in His poverty, 
abjection, solitude, and hidden life, again, tell him so from 
time to time, always keeping your soul open to him. 

" But (o know if you are called by God to share my 



BENI-ABBES i8i 

humble kind of life, you must know exactly what it is : it 
is fixed now by constitutions and a Rule which I sub- 
mitted to my Prefect Apostolic : the latter permitting me 
to establish myself in his prefecture has also permitted me 
to gather round me a certain number of priests and lay- 
men according to these constitutions and this Rule. When 
we are numerous enough, final authority will be sought for 
from Rome. 

" Forewarn them well as to dura et aspera. Show them 
this letter, the constitutions and the passing of the pre- 
liminaries of the Rule. . . . Tell them frankly that 
besides what is generally demanded of postulants — -namely, 
the good-will to practise the constitutions and the Rule to 
the best of their ability — I ask for three things as the first 
stones of this little building : ist, readiness to have one's 
head cut off; 2nd, readiness to die of hunger; 3rd, to obey 
me in spite of my unworthiness, until there are a few of us 
and we can have an election (which, I hope, will replace 
me by one more worthy than I am, and put me, as I deserve, 
in the lowest place). . . . 

" My thought is that, since we are accepted in the apos- 
tolic prefecture of the Sahara, where I have at the present 
time a little land, enough to feed from twenty to twenty- 
five monks, and the beginning of a monastery capable of 
being finished in a few weeks at very little cost, and where, 
what is more, an enormous amount of good can be done 
to the populations of the Sahara as well as to those of 
Morocco — sheep more lost than any — the best thing is for 
both Brothers and Sisters to concentrate and be trained 
here, if it is possible. . . ." 

He was never to have, with one exception for a very short 
time, a missionary companion. Already the hope of the 
early establishment of some nuns at Beni-Abbes was aban- 
doned. Brother Charles had corresponded, on this sub- 
ject, with Pere Guerin, and in one of his letters accepted 
the reply given him : "As for the Sisters, yes, it is very 
just and wise, not to send them to me here, as long as I am 
the only priest. You are a thousand times right." 

The reason of the refusal must have been, I suppose, that 
the Sisters would be compelled to take the only priest there 
was within three hundred miles, as their spiritual director. 
Ecclesiastical law respects the liberty of souls, and prevents 
this sort of constraint as far as possible. 

Therefore, no Sisters for the refuge, none for the little 
negroes or for the girls who lived in the oasis. He was 



i82 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

with still more reason obliged to put off until later, till 
much later, the foundation of those Little Sisters of the 
Sacred Heart, for whom he had also thought out and 
written the sketch of a Rule. 

As to the Little Brothers of the Sacred Heart, the reply 
was also in the negative, but Brother Charles did not know 
it. Some months previously Mgr. Gu^rin, desirous of 
helping him and sending him companions, had corre- 
sponded with the Father Abbot of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges. 
The latter replied : 

"... You exhort me to give him a helper, a com- 
panion. For the moment I cannot, but could I do so, I 
should still hesitate. You know, Monseigneur, I have the 
deepest esteem for the heroic virtues of Father Alberic, and 
it is well rooted by twelve years of intimate companionship. 
The only thing at which I am astonished is that he does 
not perform miracles. I have never seen, outside of books, 
such holiness on the earth. But I must confess that I am 
a little doubtful of his prudence and discretion. The 
austerities he practises, and which he thinks of demanding 
of his companions, are such that I am inclined to believe 
that neophytes would soon succumb to them. Moreover, 
the intensity of mind that he imposes on himself and wishes 
to impose on his disciples, appears to me so superhuman 
as to make me dread lest such excessive tension of mind 
might drive his disciple mad before he had been killed with 
the excess of austerities. 

" If you think that we may entrust anyone to him with- 
out danger for his head and for his life, I shall blindly 
agree with your decision, and shall set to work to find him 
a companion as soon as possible." 

Staoueli said the same. One of the monks of that Abbey 
at the beginning of 1902 — questioned, no doubt, by Com- 
mandant Lacroix — delivered himself with the same frank- 
ness about the desired companions. 

" Our holy frie.nd is at the height of his desires; thanks 
to your fraternal support, all the personnel of Beni-Abbes 
is devoted to him. . . . You can rely on him as on a 
perfect instrument of pacification and moralization. He 
will do yonder on a small scale what the great cardinal did 
in Tunis for French influence. My only regret is not to 
have anybody to send to second him. His life is so austere, 
that those among the Superiors of our Order who have the 
sincerest affection for him judge him more admirable than 
imitable, and fear to throw into discouragement any dis- 
ciples they might be able to procure him. He will there- 



BENI-ABBES 183 

fore be probably obliged to live alone, or by degrees recruit, 
on the spot, the elements of his future community."^ 

Brother Charles never read these letters. He continued 
to wait and be resigned. He had not to make his sacrifice 
just once ; he made it yearly, perhaps every month, as 
long as he lived, seeing clearly that nobody came to relieve 
him. And how did he take this hard trial? Perfectly. 
It is proved by the lines which he chanced to write, not 
knowing what was thought of his plans : 

" As for companions, I shall, my very dear Father, from 
the bottom of my heart, be perfectly content, whatever 
may happen. If one day I have some, I shall be satisfied 
to see in that the accomplishment of God's will and His 
name glorified. If I have none ... I shall say to myself 
that He is glorified in so many other ways, and that His 
beatitude so little needs our poor praises and hearts ! If 
I could — but I cannot — do otherwise than lose myself 
totally in union with His divine will, I should prefer for 
myself total failure and perpetual solitude and defeats all 
round : elegi abjectus esse. There we see the union with 
the abjection and the Cross of our divine Well-Beloved, 
which to me has always seemed most desirable of all. I 
do all I can to have companions ; the means of getting them 
is, in my eyes, to sanctify myself in silence. If I had some, 
I should rejoice in many annoyances and crosses : having 
none, I am perfectly joyful." 

Indeed, nature cannot be more completely overcome, 
and this soul is great among the great. Men suspected it : 
even during his life they called Brother Charles a paladin, 
and they spoke truly. But several added, a paladin who 
mistook his century. A quip which marks an era. The 
war proved it; never were so many paladins seen as in the 
twentieth century, and in each province of France, and in 
the most humble families. And these were thoroughly 
men of their time 1 So was Charles de Foucauld. In other 
circumstances calling for devotion and self-sacrifice, he was 
one of them, born before them. And, if he had no disciples, 
who could say that they will not come to him, now that 
death is over, and the experiment has been made ? For 
heroes are not lacking : it is the causes which have need of 
them that they want to know. 

^ Letter of January 5, 1902. It will be remembared that Abbe 
Hiivelin, at the time of the hermitages in the Holy Land, had expressed 
himself in the same manner as the Abbot of Notre- Dame-des Neiges 
and the Trappist of Staueli. 



i84 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

" May 5, 1903.— The old catechumen Marie is very ill. 
The doctor is away. Fearing that she might die, I bap- 
tized her, on her very clearly expressed desire, after having 
made her recite, in Arabic, the Pater, the Credo, the acts 
of faith, hope, charity and contrition, and having got her, 
once more, formally to ask for baptism." 

This baptism of the poor Musulman negress was a mis- 
sionary's joy. Brother Charles communicates the news to a 
priest whom he knows to be very devoted to the Saharan 
work; it gives him an opportunity of humiliating himself.^ 

" I ask your prayers for the poor old negress whose soul 
is so white, who would this evening be in Paradise were she 
to die now. I had much better ask them for the old sinner 
now writing to you. 

" Indeed, Monsieur I'Abbe, it is a sinner who thanks you. 
One thing alone equals and surpasses the sins of my youth 
— the infidelities, the cowardice, the lukewarmness of my 
riper years, my daily wretchedness : it is the graces and 
the mercies with which God overwhelms and confounds 
me. Pray, I beg you, that I may at last be faithful. 
Pray that I may love and serve. Pray that my life may 
be all alleluias and obedience. . . . Pray that this little 
atom that I am may accomplish, in the midst of these mil- 
lions of souls which have never heard Jesus spoken of, the 
work for which He sent me. Pray for Morocco and for 
the Sahara, which are unhappily a sealed tomb. Pray 
that, like the Angels, we may work with all our strength 
for the salvation of men, rejoicing with our whole soul in 
the happiness of God." 

The hermit was going to receive another visit. P^re 
Guerin, who had set out from Ghardaia, and was making a 
" round of inspection " of the White Fathers' stations, 
was expected at Beni-Abbes from the first weeks of the 
year 1903. Brother Charles was delighted; Captain Reg- 
nault, his friend, chief of the Arab Office, planned to 
go as far as Ksabi to meet the traveller — a desert politeness 
which recalls the time of the stage-coaches, when our fathers 
used to go as far as the next posting-station to meet a friend. 
But the journey was lengthened ; after Tidikelt, the Prefect 
Apostolic of the Soudan visited Twat, Gurara ; there he 
stopped, and Brother Charles's letters followed him as best 
they could. I will quote some fragments of this correspon- 
dence, because they show even better than others the ardent 
soul of the solitary, all affection, prayer, hope, and re- 
pentance. 

^ Letter of May 25, 1903, to Abbe Laurain. 



BENI-ABBES 185 

He wrote on February 27 : 

"My very dear and Reverend Father, 

" With my whole heart I follow you, with thought and 
prayer on your journey. . . . Oh, yes, with my whole soul 
I consent, in spite of my ardent desire to see you, to your 
arrival being delayed beyond anticipation, if a journey far- 
ther to the South is to cause this delay : Adveniat regnum 
tuum. . . . My beloved Father, I am poor to the last 
degree, yet, seek ac I will, I find no other desire within me 
than this: Adveniat regnum tuum! Sanctificetur nomen 
tuum! Do not think that in my kind of life the hope of 
enjoying sooner the vision of the Well-Beloved stands for 
anything : no, I wish for one thing only : it is to do what 
pleases Him most. If I love fasting and watching, it is 
because Jesus loved them so much : I envy His nights of 
prayer on the mountain-tops : I would like to keep Him 
company : night is the time for the tete-a-tete. . . . Alas ! 
I am so cold that I dare not say I love : but, I want to love ! 
That is why I love w^atching. Unhappily, less and less am 
I able to watch. . . . As to the fasting, in obedience to 
your letter, I shall mitigate it with all my might. I shall 
eat better and drink some milk : besides, in conformity with 
Abbe Huvelin's order, I have for several months been tak- 
ing great care of myself, using condensed milk, and I eat 
according to my hunger. ... Be certain that your letter 
and recommendations will have an immediate and serious 
effect on my sleep and food. . . . 

" Thanks for what you tell me of my big negro Paul : you 
will judge. ... I do not think there is any reason to bring 
him here; he is not trustworthy. ... I am not surprised 
at Joseph's flight [another young ransomed slave] : the. 
most encouraging example, which I call to mind at every 
moment in order to guide me, is that of our Lord's behaviour 
towards Judas Iscariot. We are surrounded with nothing 
but negroes, Arabs, and revellers. I think also of the 
Epistles to the Corinthians, which show the Christians of 
St. Paul in a very sorry light. It was for our hope that 
those lines were written : for, seeing what surrounds us, we 
are terrified. What is impossible for us is possible for 
God : let us pray to Him to send His angel to roll the stone 
away from the tomb. ..." 

This sets us thinking : is it not a pity for a man of such 
worth to condemn himself to live among such people ? But 
Brother Charles is right : it is just these beautiful souls so 



i86 CHARLES I)E FOUCAULD 

closely akin to Jesus Christ that are required to draw 
together and reconcile the most unfortunate. 

While Father Gu^rin continued his journey, raids 
increased round Beni-Abbes. That home of gossip, the 
desert, talked about the exploits of the Berbers, who were 
attacking convoys and sometimes carrying them off. The 
Zusfana tracks were not very safe. More than one sign 
suggested agitation amongst the tribes ; the Governor- 
General of Algeria, M. Revoil, had just sent in his resigna- 
tion ; the news from France was depressing; religious per- 
secutions were spreading; both men's Orders and women's 
were upset; irreproachable Frenchmen were being unjustly 
stripped of their property, deprived of the free choice of a 
vocation, and driven to leave their dear fatherland ; it was 
to be feared that similar measures would be taken against 
the Algerian missionaries and Sisters. Charles de Foucauld 
went on writing the journal of the poor Christians of Beni- 
Abbes for Father Guerin. 

The Father's arrival was at last announced for the end 
of May. Brother Charles rejoiced, and asked God to bless 
the journey. " May He let you long enjoy His little taber- 
nacle at Beni-Abbes, and long enjoy your adoration 
therein ! I dream of many days and nights for you here 
before the Most Blessed Sacrament exposed. It must be 
long since you enjoyed hours of silence at the feet of the 
Sacred Host." 

On May 17 another letter gave the arrangements made 
and final advice. " Do not let yourself be monopolized by 
the others ! They will want to receive you ! There are even 
three officers, at this moment, messing together at Beni- 
Abbes. The first two days they will quarrel about your 
visit. ... It goes without saying that you and your suite — 
mehara included — will lodge at the Fraternity. There you 
are at home. Captain Regnault strongly insisted on putting 
you up at the borj of the Arab Office, where you might be 
more comfortable, but I told him your place was under the 
roof of the Blessed Sacrament, and he understood. But 
your cook will not take a holiday. You would have only 
me, if your cook did not lend a hand, and I do not wish to 
kill you with my cooking. 

" I shall receive you as a poor man receives his dearly 
beloved father — that is to say, very poorly ; but you will do 
whatever you like, you will be the master : if you wish, I 
will be your guest. I shall not press you in any way, you 
will have complete liberty, you will be at home. 

" Abdjesu and Marie — who did not die, I believe you 



BENI-ABBES 187 

will find her alive — are impatiently awaiting you. Ten 
times a day, Abdjesu asks me where is the Pope now, 
Charles ? Do what I will, he will not give up calling you 
the Pope. 

" . . . It goes without saying, that on your arrival I 
shall first of all get you to go into the chapel to the feet of 
the Master, of the All." 

Father Guerin and his companion, Father Villard, re- 
mained five days at Beni-Abbes, from May 27 to the even- 
ing of June I. We can imagine what must have been the 
first meeting, the prayers in common, then the conversa- 
tions of these monks brought together for a moment in the 
course of the long journeys which were their vocation. 
They can hardly have spoken of what other travellers will- 
ingly relate — their impressions of the route, of the misery 
or discomfort of the resting-places, of the beauty of the 
landscape : they were taken up with the subject that was, 
is, and shall be, the greatest ; with souls, with the ignorant 
and hostile multitude which they met in dry mud houses 
and under tents, and with the share of eternal life which is 
nevertheless promised to every one of these poor people. 

We know that on May 31, Whit-Sunday, Father Guerin 
celebrated the principal Mass, and the diary bears this 
note; "The first time for many centuries, absolutely the 
first time, perhaps, three priests are at Beni-Abbes." 
Presently we shall see a few of the observations that Father 
Guerin made in reference to the missionary methods of 
Father de Foucauld. I will first quote the letter which the 
latter wrote to his Superior, two days after P^re Guerin had 
quitted the hermitage plateau and descended the bank of 
the Zusfana in the evenhing, taking the track which leads in 
the direction of Taghit. He had just heard that a lady 
named Tavernier, a kinswoman of Pere Gu6rin — he did 
not know how close — had just died, and to console him he 
sent him such condolences as only one near to God can 
give or receive. What a distance between our formulae, 
our efforts to console our neighbour, our poor inventions, 
even those into which we have put our whole heart, and 
this sort of hymn of probation and alleluia of suffering, 
written hastily on a small sheet of paper by Father de 
Foucauld from his renewed solitude : 

" Well-beloved and much venerated Father, 

" Sorrows follow closely upon joys. . . . It is in sorrow 
that I write to you to-day, for I know that your sojourn in 
Taghit will not be spent without sadness. ... It is by 



i88 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

the Cross that Jesus wished to save men, and by it he con- 
tinues to save them; His apostles, who carry on His Hfe 
here below, do good in proportion to their holiness, but 
only on condition of suffering and according to their suffer- 
ings. ... In order to be an alter Jesus, if %ve are no longer 
to live, but Jesus live in us; we must above all things be 
holy, before all burn with love like His Heart ; we must also 
carry the cross and be crowned with the crown of thorns. 

" The trial which you feel is a divine dew for the Sahara 
mission : all your sorrows, all your tears are souls. . . . 
It is by the crosses which Jesus sends us, much more than 
by mortifications of our own choice, that we drink of the 
chalice of the Spouse and shall be baptized with His bap- 
tism, for He knows much better than we how to crucify 
us. . . . 

"Well-beloved Father, I do not say to you: Be 
resigned ; I say : Bless and thank God, lose yourself in 
thanksgiving; Jesus is giving you souls; your suffering is 
their salvation. ... If you could only suffer much in 
order to save many ! . . . If you could only die of grief 
to save the greatest number possible ! . . . How good 
Jesus is to share His chalice with us; how good He is to 
mark the month of His Heart by piercing yours ; how good 
He is to hear your prayer and make you suffer in order to 
make you a saviour ! 

" I don't know if you feel as I do : separated so long 
from souls so dear, when I hear of the departure of one of 
them for the fatherland, it seems to me that it is not a 
separation, but the beginning of reunion; I can speak to 
them and they hear me ; pray to them, and I hope they help 
me; it is the beginning of eternal union. 

" I felt myself alone for the first time for many years, 
on Monday evening, when you gradually disappeared 
in the dusk. I then understood and felt that I was a 
hermit. . . . Then I remembered that I had Jesus, and I 
said: 'Jesus, I love You.' . . . Well-beloved Father, 
how much I thank you for your visit, for the good you have 
done me. ... I shall do my best to conform to all you 
said in order to mend, improve, and correct myself accord- 
ing to your wishes and desires. 

" P.S. — Tell Abdjesu that I embrace and bless him, 
complexans eos, et iniponens manus super illos. ... If he 
ever asks my name, tell him that I am called Abdjesu. Pray 
that I may be so I 

"Yesterday, a long visit from two men of Tafilelt, two 



BENI-ABBES 189 

marabouts. They heard you spoken of, and asked me 
whether you had gone to Tafilelt. ' No, he will go another 
time I' — ' Marhaba ! Does he travel on foot?' — ' No, on a 
camel.' — This question asked by marabouts, made me 
reflect. . . . They went on foot, leading their asses. . . . 
We are disciples of Jesus, we want Jesus to live in us, 
Christianus alter Christus, and we are always talking of 
poverty . . . they are disciples of Mahomet. I turn to the 
example of our brethren tne Apostles. . . . We are in 
such infidel countries as St. Peter and St. Paul were in. . . . 
If we wish to do their work, let us follow their example. . . . 
" Every time I pray to Jesus, the same answer seems to 
come back : ' Do miracles for Me, and I will do them for 
thee.' . . ." 

Now that the Vicar-Apostolic of the Sahara has left Beni- 
Abbes, let us again open the diary, and we shall know 
what were the conversations of Fathers Gu^rin and de 
Foucauld. 

"/wwe I, 1903. — Mgr. Gu^rin left for Taghit. Here are 
some of his remarks : 

" ist. Talk a good deal to the natives, and not of things 
commonplace, but always bring the talk back to God; if 
we cannot preach Jesus to them because they would cer- 
tainly not accept such teaching, prepare them little by little 
to receive it, by unceasingly preaching natural religion in 
our talks. . . . Speak much and .always so as to improve 
and uplift and bring souls nearer to God, and prepare the 
ground for the Gospel. 

" 2nd. Arrange benches and shelters in the yards, make 
visitors sit down, and don't leave them standing. . . . 
When people are sitting conversation more easily takes a 
serious and intimate turn. 

" 3rd. Make temporal alms help the soul by speaking of 
God, and give the spiritual alms of good instruction to 
those to whom you are giving material alms. 

**4th. The work of evangelists in Musulman countries 
is not only to take children and try and inculcate Christian 
principles in them, but also to convert grown men as far as 
possible. . . . Children will not be able to make the 
evangelical seed cast into their souls germinate, if they do 
not find the society in which they live somewhat prepared 
beforehand and well disposed. Besides, all men are made 
for the light, for Jesus; all are His heritage, and not one, 
if he has good-will, is incapable of knowing and loving 



I90 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

Him. . . . Musulmans are then by no means unfitted for 
conversion. . . . Let us try fiard to evangelize men of 
riper years, first by conversations turning only to God and 
natural religion ; then, according to circumstances, giving 
to each such truth as we hope to get him to accept. 

"5th. While evangelizing the poor, do not neglect the 
rich. Our Lord did not neglect them ; neither did St. Paul, 
His imitator. On account of their influence their reforma- 
tion is a blessing to the poor. Their sincerity is less doubt- 
ful, there is less reason to fear that they are ' soupers ' 
listening to Christian truths only for material interests. 

" 6th. I build too much : stop, don't go on building. . . . 

"7th. The Musulmans of the Sahara receive their false 
religion solely through confidence in their ancestors, in 
their marabouts, in those who surround them, solely 
through the authority which these have over them, and 
without a shadow of reasoning or verification. . . . We 
ought, then, to try more to gain their confidence, and to 
acquire more authority than those who surround them and 
indoctrinate them. For that, three things are necessary : 
1st, to be very holy; 2nd, to show ourselves to the natives 
a great deal ; and 3rd, to speak a good deal to them. Holi- 
ness, which is the main thing, will sooner or later give us 
the authority and inspire confidence. Constantly seeing 
us will bring' them round to our cause, and, if we are holy, 
that will be preaching without words, and strengthening 
our authority. 

"8th. To bring Musulmans to God, must we try to 
make them esteem us by excelling in things which they 
esteem ; for instance, by being audacious, a good horseman, 
a good shot, and slightly ostentatious in liberality, etc., 
or by practising the Gospel in its abjection and poverty, 
going about on foot and without luggage, working with 
our hands as Jesus in Nazareth, living poorly, like a petty 
workman ? It is not from the Chambaa that we ought to 
learn to live, but from Jesus. . . . We ought not to take 
lessons from them, but to give them some. Jesus said to 
us : * Follow Me.' St. Paul said to us : ' Be ye imitators 
of me as I also am of Christ.' . . . Jesus knew the best 
way of bringing souls to Himself, and St. Paul was His 
incomparable disciple. Do we hope to do better than 
they? Musulmans do not make a mistake. Of a priest 
who is a good horseman, a good shot, etc., they say : ' He 
is an excellent rider, none shoot better than he ' ; and may- 
be they will add, ' He would be worthy of being a Chambi !' 
They do not say : ' He is a saint.' Let a missionary lead 



BENl-ABBES 191 

the life of St. Anthony in the desert, they will all say : ' He 
is a saint.' For natural reasons they will often give their 
friendship to the first, to the Chambi ; if they give their 
confidence in matters of the soul, they will only give it to 
the second." 

The question thus treated between Fathers Gu^rin and 
de Foucauld is of great importance : it is, besides, for 
France and other nations, the first of colonial questions. I 
must therefore stop a little and say, in the first place, that 
it is but little known, and that, generally, it is answered 
off-hand. 

In drawing rooms and at meetings, if there is talk of the 
better administration of our African possessions, one is 
certain to hear this opinion expressed: " Musulmans are 
incapable of conversion"; or, as they used to say at the 
beginning of the nineteenth century : " You can't asso- 
ciate or mingle with them." It became a maxim. Un- 
doubtedly, it grieves, it galls several of those who hear it, 
but it finds few contradictors among them. Unhappily, 
the immense world which it condemns and despairs of is 
far from our eyes. We do not see clearly enough the injus- 
tice we help to commit by thus keeping silence. Those 
whose purely worldly interests nearly always direct such 
efforts do not measure the danger that the very development 
of our colonial power makes us run, if we do not know how 
to conciliate men's minds and hearts. Or even, in spite of 
many warnings, they imagine— and it is an infirmity of 
the intelligence called "practical " — that mechanical and 
economic civilization has the power of changing men funda- 
mentally, and of transforming into faithful friends nations 
whose religion stirs them up, to despise and curse us, and 
who learn, in the tent or earth-walled house, to repeat the 
proverb : " Kiss the hand you cannot cut off." 

Yet note how inhuman and uncharitable is this wide- 
spread opinion ! Several hundred millions of men must 
therefore find it impossible to know the truth and rise to 
true civilization. The Musulman must be perpetually an 
inferior being. There must be on earth two sorts of men, 
pagan, Jewish, and Buddhists, who can perceive the 
transcendent beauty of the Christian religion, be converted 
and fraternize with Christ's people, and then the Musul- 
mans, incapable of understanding or incapable of the act 
of will which enters into all conversions? Can we grant 
this ? Can so great an insult be offered to men ? x 

Is it not in the first place offered to God ? Does it not 



192 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

deny His power, His grace, His express word, since He 
ordered the Gospel to be preached to all nations ? Reason, 
and revelation, which exceeds and satisfies it, forbid us to 
condemn any human race, any followers of a false religion, 
so cruelly. 

Such is the objection on principle. I shall presently 
return to that which they claim to draw from experience. 
What is beyond doubt is that successive French govern- 
ments in the last century and in this, have acted as if it were 
certain, a priori, that Musulmans cannot become Christians. 

Ninety-one years ago France began to conquer Algeria. 
Since then an immense territory has been added to the first 
coasts on which French troops landed in 1830. Since then, 
also, many efforts have been made to assimilate the natives. 
The African empire has been provided with roads, railways, 
tramways, post and telegraph offices ; the French have 
spread new crops or new agricultural methods, established 
hospitals and dispensaries, built schools where everything 
is taught except the Christian religion. Are the natives 
nearer to them in mind than at the beginning of the con- 
quest ? Readily making use of several of the advantages 
which their civilization has brought them, have they 
accepted it, and can it be said that they consider themselves 
as the faithful subjects of France and for ever ? 

It is enough to know slightly the history of the last thirty 
or forty years, not to speak of the regions recently annexed, 
but only of the three old departments — Algiers, Oran, and 
Constantine — to reply : No. Even less is enough ; just 
walk for an hour in the midst of Musulman crowds, and 
read their looks. Doubtless, during the Great War, thou- 
sands of Arabs or Berbers, French subjects, came and 
fought alongside of our metropolitan troops, and many 
died for our salvation. 

In that there is a proof of loyalty which will never be 
forgotten. But many tribes and nations, since the world 
has been a world, have made war to uphold causes which 
were not those of their heart, but rather of their courage, 
interest, or pride. It would be false, and therefore dan- 
gerous, to believe that, since 1914, the Musulman popula- 
tions of North Africa have become assimilated to us or 
simply come near to us, and that between them and us 
there are the only durable bonds of understanding, esteem, 
and friendship. 

The fault of this belongs to the men of very different 
origin and talents but similar in their illusions or prejudices, 
who have guided our African policy during the last hun- 



BEN I. ABBES 193 

dred years. They have never understood that our civiliza- 
tion is essentially Christian. Some of them have never 
been able to cast aside all religion for themselves; they 
cannot prevent all our national history being Catholic ; our 
feeling, habits, manners, and charity from showing the stamp 
of our Faith. In our present state, if they fail to recognize 
this truth, it appears evident to the Musulmans, the in- 
habitants of our colonies, who call all Frenchmen Christians. 
In this the Musulmans are in the right against the very 
short-sighted politicians. They think that this historic power, 
against which theirs has in the past clashed more than once, 
has remained fundamentally the same. We are for them 
the Roumis. Our State neutrality, our acts of persecution 
and speeches, even the favours imprudently accorded to 
Islamism, do not prevent them from seeing that the voca- 
tion of France has not changed. And besides, if ever — 
of which there is no appearance — the French were to 
abjure the Catholic Faith, they would gain nothing from the 
African Musulmans, and more surely and irretrievably earn 
the contempt of such religious races. 

This ignoring or negation of souls is an error with such 
inevitable consequences that, in seeking to conciliate the 
natives, we have often worked against our own interests. 

I will give two proofs only : 

In the first place, we made mistakes in organizing the 
schools. The evidence abounds : I quote only one of the 
most recent. In its number of December 11, 1920, a French 
Review, La Renaissance, published an article on " La Poli- 
tique musulmane," by an African. The author denounces 
this sort of " educational fury " which everywhere for the 
children of the primitive races in Algeria has set up 
schools, the main business of which is to exalt " liberty, 
the rights of citizens, the electorate, and the whole con- 
sidered as the supreme good"; an ideology baneful in 
France, and still more so between the sea and desert. What 
results could we expect from a teaching so inappropriate? 
Exactly such as have followed. " In a general way ex- 
perience has shown, that the more the natives had acquired 
French culture, the more they had a tendency, in secret or 
openly, to hate us : this manifestly disappointing statement 
represents the unanimous opinion of those who have im- 
partially watched the results." 

Publicists, witnesses acquainted with the errors com- 
mitted, and foreseeing the dangers ahead, have proposed 
this remedy : that the education given to the natives should 
be henceforth quite elementary. That is not worthy of a 

13 



194 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

nation such as ours. Besides, we do not see how the Httle 
Arabs, remaining ignorant or nearly so, would love us so 
much better because they had learned less. The evil com- 
plained of would not be cured. It lies in the very principle 
of the education given. Exalting the rights of the indi- 
vidual, and offering him as a first truth the proud and fal- 
lacious notion of equality, no wonder it promotes still fur- 
ther the Arabs' spirit of insubordination. It spreads 
amongst their sons scorn of their environment and ordinary 
calling, and urges them to leave home surroundings for 
what is called " a good place." It thus makes a great num- 
ber of nondescripts, who will be the disillusioned of to- 
morrow and next day, the irreconcilable enemies of the 
French authorities.^ Lastly, as it furnishes the little 
Arabs with no morality beyond an ensemble of precepts 
without obligation or sanction, it cannot seriously correct 
any fault. It leaves him provided with a collection of 
proverbs, hygienic recommendations, fragments of elec- 
tion speeches, in presence of all the passions, all the cupidi- 
ties, all the temptations of revolt that he has in his blood, 
through his age, race, and religion ; and if he succumbs, as 
almost necessarily he will, we have provided him with the 
means of being socially more dangerous than his fathers, 
since he will be better educated. 

The other error consists in favouring and spreading 
Mohammedanism. That we have deliberately done it, no 
examples are needed to show; they abound, and the Mufti 
of Algiers could reasonably say to a friend of his : "Our 
religion is the only one recognized by the French State." 
Now, the history of fourteen centuries and the daily ex- 
perience of those who live among Musulman populations 
tell us that animosity against the Christian is, in fact, 
developed and taught in the law of the Koran. One of 
the men who is an authority on these questions, the Dutch- 
man Snouck Hurgronje, said not long ago (1911) in one 
of his celebrated lectures at the Academy of the adminis- 
trators of the Dutch Indies : " According to the letter and 
spirit of the sacred laws [of the Musulmans], it is in violent 
measures that the very best means of propagating the faith 
are to be sought. This faith considers all unbelievers as 
enemies of Allah. A small party of Mohammedans actually 
appear, it is true, as partisans of the adaptation of Islam to 

1 M. Jules Cambon, then Governor-General of Algeria, said in the 
Senate, January 8, 1894 : " I have asked myself if, in developing [primary 
instruction] beyond measure in a people which is not yet fitted to 
receive it, we are not going to make a lot of wasters." 



BENI-ABBES i95 

modern conceptions, but they represent as little the religion 
of which they are adepts by birth, as Modernists do that of 
the Catholic Church. On this question no divergencies are 
found between learned legists of the different schools in 
successive periods." We may conclude from this that any 
act of public authority which tends to develop the teaching 
of the Koran is directed against ourselves. It is enough 
not to infringe the religious liberty of Musulmans, to leave 
them their worship and customs, to be perfectly just and 
good to them : ^ if we go any farther, we are weak, and 
even rather more than weak. 

When these truths of common sense have been recognized 
by those who direct the Musulman policy of France, what 
ought to be done ? Neither our heart nor interest counsel 
us to restrict our ambition to some inferior and precarious 
economic alliance with the Musulman peoples who live in 
the French possessions. As the Dutchman quoted a 
moment ago said finely, " Material annexation must be 
followed by spiritual annexation." Now that is an aspira- 
tion one may make without being a Catholic. From the 
day on which the Musulman understands the beauty of 
Catholicism, he will have understood France; and in pro- 
portion as he admires Christian charity, he will love us. 

Does this mean that we should just try what can be done 
to convert the Musulmans and make them Christians? The 
prescription would be ambiguous : it would not specify 
how slowly, gently, and fraternally such a conversion, if 
God permits it, is to be accomplished. It is better to say 
this : France, being responsible for a numerous colonial 
family, must at last take cognizance of her whole maternal 
mission ; and that Musulman, as well as pagan, subjects of 
a great nation — Catholic by its history, its genius, by its 
whole soul, and even by its trials — must be able to know 
Catholicism and come to it, if they wish. 

At any rate, they will know it, and that, in the first place, 
by its charity. Charity will be its ambassador. So let 
charity go to them ; let it not be shackled and suspected, but 

^ The Palestinian law of the Crusaders shows the dispositions inspired 
in our fathers by this spirit of justice, and by the respect of rehgious 
men for the word of rehgious men, Thus the oath of the Sai-acen, 
taken on the Koran in the commercial court, was as good^as the oath of 
the Christian on the Gospels or of the Jew or Samaritan on the Penta- 
teuch. In case of a dispute between a Saracen and a Frank, the 
^Saracen got his discharge by swearing on the Koran {Assises dc Jeru- 
salem, t. xi., chap. 241 and 60). This example is all the more significant 
as in ordinary Musulman law the testimony of a Christian or a Jew is 
not received against a Musulman. 



196 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

amicably supported. In our own possessions, we are in 
the presence of an immense population, compacted of errors, 
agelong furies and hatreds, some of which are justified. 
The first work to be done is "to break in the Musulmans," 
according to the expression of Father de Foucauld and his 
friend General Laperrine, who so often led " training 
tours " in the desert. In doing that our officials and officers 
can play a magnificent role. Through them may the justice 
of France — that is to say. Christian justice, the kindness 
of France — that is to say, Christian kindness, become 
manifest to those who thirst for something more than water 
from the wells. But let charity, both adroit and mighty, 
for two thousand years familiar with all human suffer- 
ing, be also free to console, care, heal, and endure, as 
evil and suffering endure, by self-renewal. Let it found its 
asylums and schools, its dispensaries and hospitals, its 
orphanages for young boys and girls, its homes for the old 
who have been left in the lurch by all men. It will take in 
the unfortunate without testimonials of character and con- 
duct, without asking for police records, nor concern itself 
with the beliefs of its clients. It will preach its God 
silently, if it is so splendid that they cannot help seeing 
that its radiancy is divine. That will take years, perhaps 
many years. It has all the years before it, and so has 
France : they can wait. 

Surely, combining its efforts with those I have already 
spoken of, it will win this grand triumph : that the Musul- 
man peoples, without yet accepting Christian doctrine, 
will at least have the knowledge, the esteem, and here and 
there the secret desire of it. And if, later, Musulmans, thus 
persuaded that there is nothing in Islam which is as good 
as charitable and religious France, came to say: " If the 
disciple is thus, what must the Master be ? Teach us the 
law which makes you so great of heart." What a gain it 
would be to the State, what a victory for France in Northern 
Africa ! It would mean a regenerated world, a greater 
France, our authority recognized, our future assured, the 
highest glory that a civilized nation can desire and obtain : 
creation in its own likeness I 

Here we come into collision with the commonplace 
objection : Musulmans, in fact, do not get converted ; there 
is, so to speak, no example of it. This is a less grave 
error than to pretend that they cannot be converted ; but it 
is one. 

All the apostolic life of Father de Foucauld was founded 
on the conviction that it is possible, by prayer and example, 



BENI-ABBES 197 

and by preaching which takes into account the inveterate- 
ness of their errors and the weakness of poor human 
wills wrestling with the centuries and with a whole popu- 
lation, to lead Musulmans gradually into the full grace 
of Christ. 

He shared the hope which had sustained Cardinal 
Lavigerie; the hope of the Church shown in that letter 
of Pope Leo IX, conferring on the Bishop of Carthage, 
at the moment of the worst Arab persecutions, the title 
of "first Archbishop after the Roman Pontiff, and 
Major Metropolitan of all Africa," and proclaiming that 
this privilege would last till the end of time, "whether 
ruined Carthage remain a desert or one day revive in 
glory."^ 

The difficulty is not so much in persuading a Musulman 
of the truth of the Christian religion, as of ensuring the 
perseverance of the convert. Arabs who become Chris- 
tians can no longer live where they used to live. They are 
outlawed. Everything is put in motion to make them 
abandon the Faith ; even their life is threatened, and the 
fear of seeing them apostatize — that is to say, loaded 
with a monstrous crime — is the reason which often prevents 
the request of catechumens from being granted, and their 
being baptized. The time of collective preparation for 
receiving the Faith cannot be short. The public mind 
must be changed before achieving individual conversions. 
Dwelling in centres of Musulman population, self-sacri- 
fice, charity, the school, and conversation on high points 
open to reason, ought to prepare the preaching of revealed 
doctrine. Those who have most loved Africa have not 
ceased recommending this method. They did not pretend 
that the Musulman was unconvertible. 

After having made a summary of Father Guerin's coun- 
sels. Father de Foucauld quoted in his diary passages from 
the life of St. Peter Claver, who, in Cartagena of the 
Indies, devoted himself to the conversion of the Moors. 
The book relates that the Saint by his charity vanquished 
many of these fierce and hostile souls. " As soon as 
Father Claver heard of the arrival of any fleet loaded with 
Moors, he at once went to find them, either on the vessels, 
or in houses in the town ; he tried by degrees to make 

^ The text is inscribed in gilt capitals on the walls of the new basilica 
of Carthage, as Louis Bertrand reminds us in his fine book, Les Villes d'Or, 
in which he is one of the first to urge with such force, that " in 
re-entering Africa we are only recovering a lost province of Latinity." 
(Paris, 1921. 



198 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

friends with them, interested himself in their affairs, asked 
them if they needed anything. At the same time, he gave 
them to understand that they could make use of him, and 
that he was ready to help them in anything that depended 
upon him. In a word, he did so well, by his persever- 
ance and services, that he won them insensibly to Jesus 
Christ." 

The history of the Franciscan missions, of the Trini-, 
tarians and of St. Vincent de Paul, a captive of Barbary 
pirates, would no doubt afford similar examples. We could 
easily name Musulmans converted by a sort of miracle of 
grace, or through meditation on Christian dogmas, or 
by the study of mysticism, or through admiration for 
the superior morals of Christians. There were conver- 
sions of entire Musulman families (the families of Emirs 
Chehab and Bellama in Syria at the end of the eighteenth 
century). There were mass conversions of Musulman 
colonies — often Berbers — in various Spanish provinces, 
the conversion of the Maragatos around Leon and Astorga 
in the tenth and eleventh centuries ; of the husbandmen of 
Majorca in the thirteenth ; of those of Jaen in the four- 
teenth, thanks to the preaching and example of St. Peter 
Paschasius; and the same in Italy and Crete. In our time, 
an Orthodox Russian Society devoted itself to the conver- 
sion of the Kazan Musulmans, and succeeded by a method 
which approaches that of Father de Foucauld. But have 
we not, quite near us, the spectacle of groups of Kabyle 
Christians round the stations of the White Fathers ? Be- 
ginnings, no doubt, small Christian societies disseminated 
amidst eleven often distant points of this mountainous 
country, each composed of thirty, forty, or fifty families, 
but the living proof that it is possible to bring Musulmans 
to Catholicism. I visited in Upper Kabylia one of these 
missionary posts, that of Beni-Mengallet. I heard High 
Mass amidst a congregation of eighty people. The men 
and little boys occupied the upper, the women and young 
girls the lower part of the chapel. I looked at these young 
Berber husbandmen, white-faced, with moustaches, solid, 
grave, attentive, and I found them, except their costume, 
very like our French peasants. After Mass, I chatted 
with them, for they know French, In the eyes of most, I 
read that welcome, that confidence prepared from afar, in 
which one is not deceived. The mission began about 
thirty years ago. There, as elsewhere, it has been favoured 
but little by the authorities which stand for France in 
Algeria ; it has often been thwarted by the general policy 



BENI-ABBES 199 

of our country ; for various reasons the governors did not 
understand, or did not appear to understand that African 
peace will be the certain sequel and reward of the con- 
version of A*frica, and that all other means, force and 
weakness, repression and flattery, the abundance of riches 
and inventions, will not bring closer to us a nation which 
looks upon us only as pagans, and so calls us. It must 
perceive the greatest, the most essential, the highest of all 
things — religion. It is to hearts won by holiness that it will 
one day be possible to explain our teaching. 

We have seen that St. Peter Claver acted thus. The 
founder of the White Fathers, Cardinal Lavigerie, ex- 
plained his views in known documents, dated Septem- 
ber 24, 1871, April 3 and July 6, 1873, and December 15, 
1880. He had no illusions about the duration of this first 
period, all of sacrifice, in which the best workmen would 
perish and be replaced by others who would die in their 
turn, without either of them having the joy, which comes 
yearly to tillers of the land, of seeing the corn turn yellow. 
In a retreat lecture he said to his missionaries : " Before 
beginning the preaching of the Gospel among them (the 
Musulmans) it is necessary to prepare for conversion en 
masse. This preparation will perhaps last a century. I 
am a bishop ; I have a crosier and mitre : well, it is no use 
to put my mitre on top of my crosier, and lift my arm as 
high as possible; I shall disappear with you in the founda- 
tions of the new African Church." 

Let us go back to the Gospel : our Saviour did not 
employ any other method. He also addressed an obstinate 
race which was far from recognizing the Messias in the 
Man who was going to be and was already the Man of 
sorrows. He did not begin by teaching dogmas. He dis- 
closed His divinity only by degrees ; having such a splendid 
message to transmit, He delays doing it. He fears to 
scare and repel his friends the Jews. But he begins with 
preaching what can best touch, uplift, open, and attract 
souls : charity, humility, fraternity, the forgiving of 
injuries, and disdain of riches. The Sermon on the Mount 
gathers up all these features of Christ's first preaching. 
And it is the Sermon on the Mount that Father de Foucauld 
repeated all his life to the Musulmans.^ 

If we do not change our present methods of colonization, 
this very French and reliable witness does not hesitate to 

* See Le Dieii Vivant, by Jules Lebreton, professor of the history of 
Christian origins at the Institut Catholique de Paris, pp. 76 if. (Paris : 
Beauchesne, 1919.) 



200 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

foretell that within fifty years we shall be driven out of 
North Africa. 1 

''June 21, 1903. — A few days ago I received from Com- 
mander Laperrine d'Hautpoul, chief in command of the 
Saharan oases, a letter containing the following passages : 
* At the time of the massacre of the Flatters mission, a 
Tuareg woman of a "noble" family took up a splendid 
position, opposing the killing of the wounded, receiving 
and looking after them in her own house, shutting her 
door against Attisi, who, returning wounded from the 
battle of Amguid against Dianoux, wished to finish them 
off himself, and when they were healed she had them sent 
back to Tripoli. She is now from forty to forty-three 
years of age, regarded as having a great deal of influence, 
and is renowned for her charity.' 

" Is not this soul," continues Father de Foucauld, " ready 
for the Gospel ? Would there not be grounds for writing 
to tell her that the charity she practises so often, and with 
which, twenty years ago, she received, took care of,' 
defended and sent back to their country the wounded of 
the French mission, is known to us, and we are filled 
with joy and gratitude to God? ... ' God says : " The 
first commandment is to love thy God with thy whole 
heart. The second is to love thy neighbour as thyself." 
Wondering and returning thanks to God on seeing you 
practise charity so well towards men, we write this letter 
to tell you that among Christians there are hundreds of 
thousands of souls, men and women, renouncing marriage 
and terrestrial riches, consecrating their lives to prayer, 
meditating the Word of God and habitually doing good, 
and all these monks and nuns on hearing of you will bless 
and praise God for your virtues, and will pray to Him to 
overwhelm you with graces in this world and glory in 
heaven. . . . We write to you also to ask you very 
earnestly to pray for us, certain that God, who has put in 
your heart the will to love Him, will listen to the prayers 
you address to Him. We beg of you to pray for us and 
all men so that we may all love Him and obey Him with 
all our soul. To Him be glory, benediction, honour and 
praise, now and for ever. Amen.' 

" I have just sent a copy of this draft of a letter to 
Mgr. Gu^rin, asking him whether he wishes to write him- 
self, or if he desires me to write, offering — if intercourse 

^ See Father de Foucauld's letter to me on July 16, 1916, given in the 
last chapter of this book. 



BEN I- ABBES 201 

is opened up and if I remain alone — to go on foot and pay 
this lady a visit." 

The man of the world and the Christian, courtesy and 
charity, have together dictated this letter to a "lady" of 
the Tuareg Red Cross. 

Brother Charles even had had the idea of asking the 
Pope to write himself to this charitable nomad. And why 
not? It was too great a liberty to venture on. 

Here we see revealed for the first time the still secret 
resolution which the hermit formed of pentrating as far as 
the regions inhabited by the Tuaregs, and of winning to 
Christian civilization, then to the Christian religion, this 
nation of Berber race said to be proud, intelligent, and much 
less fanatic than the Arabs. Charles de Foucauld had cer- 
tainly heard about the Tuaregs through Duveyrier in 
Paris when drawing up the notes of his Reconnaissance au 
Maroc. He lived among African officers, the people of 
the oasis, the caravaneers, hawkers of the stories and 
legends of the tribes : lastly he had recently conversed with 
Commander Laperrine, who was haunted by the military 
and poetic dream of a great Prankish Kingdom, of an 
Africa renewed by French genius, and they had spoken of 
Hoggar as much as of Tidikelt and Timbuctoo. Wherever 
the officer had wished the civilization of France, in a dur- 
able peace, to be established — how fine these conversations 
of which nothing remains must have been — Brother Charles 
had promised himself to bring the prayer and charity of 
the missionary nation. Laperrine had persuaded him, as 
the diary thus testifies. 

'^ Feast of St. Mary Magdalen. — Seeing that, in conse- 
quence of religious persecutions, the Prefect Apostolic 
could send no priest to the Tuaregs, nor to Tidikelt, Twat, 
Gurara, nor into the Saura and Zusfana, I wrote on 
June 24 to Mgr. Guerin, to ask his permission to go — until 
he is able to send priests — and settle among the Tyaregs, 
and as much as possible in the heart of the country ; I shall 
pray there, study the language, and translate the Holy 
Gospel: I shall get into intercourse with the Tuaregs; I 
shall live among them without enclosure. Every year I 
shall go up North to confession.^ On the way I shall 
administer the Sacraments at all the stations, and talk to 
the natives of God. I shall wait for M. Huvelin's 
authorization. ..." > 

^ " Next October will be two years since my last confession " (letter 
to a friend, March 16, 1903). 



202 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

" June 29. — I am writing to Commandant Laperrine, 
communicating this project to him, and asking his authori- 
zation to execute it." 

'* July 13. — Received letter of authorization from M. 
HuveHn." 

"July 22. — Letter of authorization from Commandant 
Laperrine." 

" August I. — Letter from Mgr. Gu^rin, asking for time 
to reflect." 

Brother Charles, hermit and missionary, depending on 
Providence, waits for permission to set to work. In the 
reply of his Superiors, he will see God's command. He is 
deeply imbued with Father de Caussade's doctrine: "The 
present moment is always like an ambassador, declaring 
God's command. All our learning consists in recognizing 
His command in the present moment." Assuredly the 
ardent imagination of a Charles de Foucauld dreams, 
demands, and prepares great plans ; but hearkening to 
every complaint, and also to every bit of news coming 
from the world in which he lives, he is always ready 
to respond and to consider himself as under orders. The 
summer of 1903 suddenly offered him the opportunity 
of bringing the help of religion to Frenchmen in danger 
of death. He was the only priest in these vast regions; 
our stations had no chaplains ; although the highest 
virtue of obedience and sacrifice was expected of them, 
their souls had been neglected. He did not hesitate a 
minute : he was off, and fulfilled one of the great offices 
for which he went deep into the Sahara. Here are the 
facts : 

The attacks on convoys or posts were increasing ; the 
agitation might at any moment turn to revolt. The sub- 
dued tribes had just risen ; a serious defeat would have 
meant their defection. Were not the French military forces 
scattered in small parties over so vast a space, and likely 
to be surprised, surrounded and forced to surrender in 
detail ; was this not the expected opportunity, the signal for 
all the horse and foot of the Sahara to rise and bundle 
us out ? 

On July 16, at 3 in the morning, a reszu of 200 Berabers, 
mounted on meharis, attacked a detachment of fifty 
Algerian riflemen of the Adrar company, which lost 



BENI-ABBES 203 

twenty-two men, and under a non-commissioned officer 
beat a retreat, fighting all the way. The counter-thrust 
was prompt. Nine days after, Captain Regnault, chief of 
the Arab Office of Beni-Abbes, set out as soon as the 
news was received with forty-five men of his makhzen and 
forty meharistes of the Timimun Company ; took up the 
fresh traces of the rezsu in the Tabelbala dunes, to the 
south-west of Beni-Abbes ; surprised the Berabers near the 
Bu-Kheila wells, killed thirty of their combatants, and 
put the others to flight. 

Soon much greater enterprises were going to be 
attempted against us and the allied tribes. This was 
known. Information flowed in from all parts. What was 
not known was which of our posts of the Zusfana or 
Saura would be first attacked. Would it be Beni-Unif? 
Taghit? Beni-Abbes? Brother Charles was told of these 
rumours which were flying about the desert. Priest and 
ex-officer, he was thoroughly roused and demanded to serve. 
He conjectured and calculated that the Taghit post was 
more threatened than the others ; a company of riflemen, a 
company of the African battalion and three score horsemen 
of the makhzen made up a very feeble garrison ; besides, 
the post was dominated on several sides. There would be 
killed and wounded ; there would be danger. Certainly, 
there his duty lay. Brother Charles wrote on August 12 
to Captain de Susbielle, commander of the Arab Office 
of Taghit, asking him : " Could you send for me? They 
will not let me set out alone, because the roads are not 
safe." He was ready and expecting every moment to leave 
Beni-Abbes, and by way of precaution, took the Blessed 
Sacrament out of the tabernacle of his little church. All at 
once news broke down. For six days no courier reached 
Beni-Abbes. 

The great storm-cloud was on its way. A harka, an 
expeditionary column composed of 9,000 men, women, and 
children from all the divisions of the Berabers, from all the 
districts upon the Moorish district of Tafilelt, were going to 
fall upon the Zusfana. It was commanded by one of our 
most determined enemies, Muley Mostapha, Sherif of 
Matrara. It numbered nearly 6,000 combatants, of whom 
500 were on meharis ; most of them were armed with breech- 
loading guns ; there were 600 pack-camels loaded with 
stores. 

Captain de Susbielle had the village of Taghit, where 
some subdued tribes of our proteg<^s had taken refuge, put 
into a state of defence. They could only muster 470 men 



204 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

and two small mountain-guns against a whole army of 
enemies. On the morning of the 17th the column was 
signalled, and Lieutenant de Ganay went out first at the 
head of a cavalry detachment of makhsen, to reconnoitre 
the enormous gathering, which he forced to deploy. The 
shells threw the Moroccan masses into disorder, and they 
retired to the shelter of the dunes and into the palm grove, 
two miles from Taghit. But next day, the battle began 
again. On the i8th, 19th, and 20th of August furious 
assaults were delivered. Taghit defended itself victori- 
ously ; its small garrison performed prodigies, and — a 
marvel which might give courage to the least brave — it was 
relieved. Once more the young Saharan officers had dis- 
played a decision which saved both honour and life at 
stake. On the 8th at dawn Lieutenant Pointurier arrived 
from El-Morra with his mounted company of the foreign 
legion which had covered forty miles in the night; on the 
20th came Lieutenant de Lachaux, hastening up to the gun, 
riding in at a gallop under fire with his forty troopers from 
Beni-Abbes who had set out from Igli on the evening of 
the previous day. 

The harka was decimated, and raised camp on the 
2ist. It had 1,200 men hors de combat. It went back to 
the north-west, carrying away the arms and clothes of its 
dead, instead of the expected plunder. The success of our 
arms was splendid. " It is the finest feat of arms in Algeria 
for forty years!" says Brother Charles, in a letter to the 
Marchioness de Foucauld. 

He rejoiced at the victory, but regret tormented him at 
not having been there. Among the defenders, nine were 
killed, twenty-one wounded. And he, the chaplain of the 
Sahara, could not console, absolve, and bless ! A less deli- 
cate and humble conscience would not have been disturbed. 
Had he not asked to set out, spoken to officers on the spot, 
written to those out yonder? No doubt, but he was not at 
ease. He ought to have done without an escort. " I must 
draw lessons from the difficulties I have had in doing my 
duty," he jotted in his journal. And at once he made 
resolutions. Henceforth he will " accustom himself by 
hard work to walking," so as not to need a mount; he 
meant to be the poorest of travellers ; he would go on foot, 
without a servant, and, since he must have a guide, he 
would make sure of finding someone, even in hours of 
danger, by showing redoubled kindness to everybody. 

The danger was, in fact, only averted ; it was not over. 
The marabouts continued to preach the holy war, and the 



BEN I- ABBES 205 

revolted tribes were roving over the sandy and stony desert. 
On vSeptember 2, twenty miles to the north of Taghit, and 
at the hour of the long halt — that is to say, about 9 in the 
morning — a half-company of the mounted squadron of the 
2nd Foreign Legion, escorting a convoy, were suddenly 
attacked on a level with El-Mungar by a band of several 
hundred robbers. These, Ulad Jerir, old supporters of 
Bu-Amama, after becoming detached from the harka vic- 
toriously repulsed from Taghit on August 20, had hidden 
in the dunes, waiting for an opportunity of taking their 
revenge. They attacked the convoy on the plateau between 
the Wady Zusfana and the great sands. The first dis- 
charge from the bandits brought down, killed or wounded, 
the two officers of the mounted company, all the non-com- 
missioned officers and a great number of soldiers. The 
survivors banded together on a projection of the ground 
and, under the overpowering heat which was increasing 
from minute to minute, decided to fight to death. Two 
spahis, from a quarter of a company which completed the 
escort were able to cut a passage through the enemy and, 
at a gallop, went to give the alarm to the Taghit garrison. 
Half an hour after being informed. Captain de Susbielle left 
the post, bringing all his makhsen and spahis, and, at top 
speed, in the height of the afternoon, went to relieve our 
encircled soldiers. 

He arrived on the scene of battle at 5 o'clock. As 
soon as they perceived the dust made by the troopers 
launched against them, the robbers disbanded and took 
refuge in the dunes. It was time to relieve the besieged, 
who were reduced to a handful of men exhausted with 
thirst. They were about thirty, commanded by a wounded 
soldier, Quartermaster-Sergeant Tisserant, who had been 
hit by two bullets. They continued to fire on the Moors 
scattered around them, hidden behind the smallest undula- 
tions of the ground, and thus protected, besides their own 
lives, forty-nine wounded lying around them. A detach- 
ment was sent to a distance to bring water. Tisserant, 
with his head covered with blood, stood upright to fulfil 
his duty as quartermaster. He wen.t from one to the other 
of the wounded, made out a list, picked up cartridges and 
arms which had fallen on the ground, and before leaving 
the place of battle, in a loud voice called the roll of the 
killed. During the night the forty-nine wounded were 
transported to Taghit. 

Three days after, at 7 in the morning, the news of the 
battle reached Beni-Abbes. Brother Charles ran to the 



2o6 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

Native Office. He renewed his demand. This time it was 
granted. The chaplain of the Sahara might go to the 
wounded. He was given a burnous and spurs ; one of the 
Mokhazenis lent him a horse. At the last moment, someone 
there tried to stop what he thought was a mad adventure. 

" How can we allow the Father to go without an escort? 
He will be killed on the way !" 

" I shall get through," said the Father quite simply. 

"Yes, he will get through; let him go," replied the 
Captain of the Arab Office, who just then came on the 
scene. " He can't tell you so, but he can go right through 
the whole of the rebel country unarmed; nobody will lift 
a hand against him; he is sacred." 

At ID o'clock Brother Charles was in the saddle and 
started with the courier. On the way he met two horse- 
men bringing him a letter from Captain de Susbielle, ask- 
ing him to come immediately to the wounded. They 
travelled all day and night; they covered as fast as pos- 
sible the seventy-five miles between Beni-Abbes and 
Taghit, where they arrived about 9 in the morning. 

No sooner had he dismounted than without the slightest 
thought of the fatigue of such a ride Father de Foucauld 
first said Mass. Then he asked to be taken to the wounded, 
who were assembled in two rooms of the redoubt, and 
began his mission of friend and priest. Witnesses 
of this apostolate of Father de Foucauld with the Taghit 
wounded exist, and those witnesses have spoken to me. 
During the twenty-five days that he spent in the redoubt, 
Father de Foucauld, to whom one of the officers' rooms 
had been given, did not for a single night sleep in the bed 
that was kept for him. All his time, except the few hours 
given to sleep — and those not every night — and the time 
for his Mass and rapid meals, the Father devoted to the 
wounded. He chatted with each of them, spoke to them 
of their country and families, and wrote their letters. 
When he entered one of the ambulance rooms, all the 
wounded called out to him with one voice : " Good-morn- 
ing, Father," and each wished to be the first to receive the 
visit of the friend of all. They recognized one who loved 
the soldier and understood him. Certainly, most of these 
legionaries were not accustomed to speak to a priest ; piety 
was not their dominant characteristic; but the sweetness, 
the affable and sprightly manner, the self-sacrifice of this 
priest who devoted every instant of his time to them, 
rapidly conquered them one after the other. The presence 



BENI-ABBES 207 

of this monk became indispensable to them. An officer of 
the post, whom I questioned, said to me: "It is beyond 
doubt that his influence on their morale had a great deal to 
do with this singular fact : of these forty-nine wounded, 
of whom several were seriously injured and with many 
wounds, only one succumbed. I remember a certain 
legionary, of German origin, whom we considered a 
not very commendable subject. At El-Mungar he had 
had a bullet through his chest. Father de Foucauld took 
him in hand as the most seriously wounded and the least 
sympathetic, indeed, quite the reverse. Received at first 
more than coolly, with his patience and sweetness he 
ended in conciliating this poor man to such a point that 
the latter called for him at every moment, and related to 
him the intimate history — not always edifying — of an old 
African soldier. I believe I may affirm that all the forty- 
nine wounded, each in turn, received communion from the 
hands of Father de Foucauld." 

Only once did Father de Foucauld leave them. It was 
on September 18. That day, accompanied by some officers 
and non-commissioned officers and a company of the 
makhzen, he went to the battlefield of El-Mungar, and 
blessed the tombs of the two officers, and the grave in which 
the other victims had been buried. 

He took the road to Beni-Abbes once more on Septem- 
ber 30. 

In the two following months he again returned to pay 
his Taghit convalescents a visit. Then, towards the end 
of the year, he went into retreat. The retreats of Father de 
Foucauld, as we have already seen, were for him occasions 
for the most minute examination of conscience, and of the 
most genuine resolutions. This time he wrote to his 
director, Abb^ Huvelin : ",The three principal things for 
which I have to ask pardon of Jesus, for the year 1903, are : 
sensuality, lack of charity toward my neighbour, luke- 
warmness to God." Now he never ate according to his 
hunger, he prayed night and day, and refused none of 
those who importuned him. But to advance, the perfect 
need — humility. 

A very grave question occupied his mind, and with- 
out doubt, in that retreat at the end of 1903, he had 
studied it in its inmost recesses, putting, according to 
St. Ignatius' method, the reasons for and against in juxta- 
position. 

It will be remembered that Brother Charles had requested 



2o8 CHARLES DE FOUCAVLD 

M. Huvelin, Commander Laperrine and Mgr. Guerin, each 
having a particular right to be asked, for permission to go 
on reconnaissance into Twat and Tidikelt, and to settle 
eventually amongst the Tuaregs or elsewhere, without 
altogether abandoning Beni-Abbes, to which he would 
return and make visits. The hermit would have several 
hostelries in the desert. The last authorization had reached 
him on August 29. A few days earlier he had received a 
letter from Commander Laperrine, urging him to start, 
and adding : " I believe there is a great deal of good to be 
done, for if we may not hope for immediate conversions 
and to get doctrine accepted, we can, by example and 
daily contact, put in evidence the Christian morale and 
spread it." 

The battles of Taghit and El-Mungar did not allow 
Brother Charles to carry out the plan. He was obliged to 
launch out on a trail which was not that of the Hoggar 
country. But at the end of the year, when he came out of 
retreat, the rebellion appeared to be quelled, and he asked 
himself anew : " Where is my duty?" Contrary to what 
we should have expected, the idea of plunging deeper into 
the desert did not please him ; the conquest of souls, above 
all the high ambition of bringing Jesus to new nations, 
tempted the imagination and the great heart of the apostle, 
but regret at leaving Beni-Abbes pulled him back. What 
would the natives and soldiers who loved him say ? And 
what would become of the work begun ? He wrote to 
Abbe Huvelin : 

" I am in great uncertainty about the journey that I had 
planned to the south, to the oases of Twat and Tidikelt 
which are absolutely without a priest, where our soldiers 
never hear Mass, the Musulmans never see a minister 
of Jesus. . . . You remember that after receiving the 
three authorizations from you, Mgr. Guerin and the mili- 
tary authorities, I was going to set out in September when 
I was called to Taghit for the wounded. . . . Now that 
peace seems re-established, ought I to carry out my plan ? 
This is a big note of interrogation for me. I know before- 
hand that Mgr. Guerin leaves me free; it is from you, 
therefore, that I ask for advice. 

" If Mgr. Guerin could and would send another priest 
there, I would certainly not go : my very clear duty would 
be to remain at Beni-Abbes. But I believe he will send 
nobody there, I even believe he cannot send anybody. 

'* In those conditions, ought I not to set out, found a 



BENI-ABBES 209 

pied-d-terre, so to say, in the far South, which would 
enable me to go every year and spend two, three, or four 
months there, and use the journey to administer or at least 
offer the Sacraments in the garrisons, and show the Cross 
and the Sacred Heart to the Musulmans, speaking a little 
about our holy religion to them ? . . . 

"Nothing is, just now, easier for me than that. I am 
invited and expected. Nature is excessively opposed to 
it. I shudder — I am ashamed to say — at the thought of 
leaving Beni-Abbes, the quiet at the foot of the altar, and 
at flinging myself into journeys, of which I have now an 
excessive horror. If I did not believe, with all my strength, 
that such words as sweet, painful, joy, sacrifice, should be 
crossed out of my dictionary, I should say that I am rather 
sorry to absent myself from Beni-Abbes. 

'* Reason, too, shows many drawbacks : leaving the 
tabernacle at Beni-Abbes empty, going away from here, 
where perhaps, if not very probably, there will be fights ; 
getting dissipated by journeys which are not good for the 
soul. Should I not glorify God more by adoring Him as a 
solitary ? 

" Although reason and nature oppose it, I feel myself 
extremely, and more and more interiorly, urged to this' 
journey. 

" A convoy starts for the South on January 10; ought I 
to take it ? Ought I to wait for another ? Therfe will 
perhaps be none for several months, and I have reasons 
for fearing that I shall then not find the same facilities 
as now. 

'* Ought I not to start at all ? 

** I feel quite clearly that I ought to set out on January 10. 

*' I beg you to write me a line on this subject. I shall 
obey you. 

" If I get nothing from you before January 10, I shall 
probably set out." 

January 10 passed. M. Huvelin's reply had not come. 
On the 13th a convoy was to set out for the Twat and 
Tidikelt. Brother Charles, considering that he had 
a chance of visiting these regions, and that " perhaps 
no other priest would have one for several years," decided 
to undertake the journey which cost him so much. He 
writes, on January 13, 1904: "This morning I take the 
reserved Sacrament from the tabernacle, and at eight I start 
from Adrar, the capital of Twat." He thus began a new 
phase of his career. He was going towards the unknown, 

14 



2IO CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

the Tuaregs of the Hoggar who were to have the greater 
portion of his friendship and apostolate, and with whom his 
sacrifice would one day be consummated. As he wrote to 
his Superior, Father Guerin : " You ask me whether I am 
ready to go anywhere else than Beni-Abbes for the propa- 
gation of the Gospel ? For that I am ready to go to the 
end of the world and to live till the last judgment." He 
often used to say : " Dread is the sign of duty." 



CHAPTER IX 
Training Tours^ 

THEY set out on the morning of January 13, 1904. 
Brother Charles joined a big caravan escorted by fifty 
soldiers, commanded by Lieutenant Yvart of the Second 
Chasseurs d'Afrique. They started, as one of his letters 
neatly phrased it. with the catechumen Paul, " an ass 
carrying the chapel and provisions, her foal carrying 
nothing, some new sandals, and two pairs of esparto shoes." 

His friend, Captain Regnault, fearing the fatigue of 
such a journey for him — above all, that of the first stage — 
had ordered two mokhazenis to accompany the convoy for a 
little while, and had provided them with a led horse, on 
which Brother Charles could mount in case of need. But 
they soon came back, saying that the marabout had per- 
severed in his idea, and stood the tramp like a young man, 
behind the ass and her foal. 

We have the precise information of the diary as to the 
route of the column. The first considerable cluster of 
humans towards which they directed their steps was Adrar, 
the capital of Touat. But, on the way, Brother Charles 
notes in his pocket-book all the points at which they halted 
for the night, the little ksours he visited, the encampments, 
wells, and even the palms he met with and the distance 
traversed. Wherever he could he entered into relations 
with the natives, distributed remedies and alms, and re- 
gretted not having any vegetable seeds to give these poor 
people. He chatted with them. He was well received. The 
soldiers gave him their confidence. Mass wa's celebrated 
every morning in a tent. He rejoiced at the good he was 
able to do in various ways to his wandering parishioners, to 
Christians and others. 

After eighteen days on the road the convoy, on 
February i, entered Adrar. " I find," writes Father de 
Foucauld, " Commandant Laperrine there ; in his own house 
he gives me a room which I have transformed into a chapel. 
The Commandant informs me that, of the six large divi- 
sions which make up the Tuareg people — Azjers, near 
Rat; Kel-Ui (Ahir) ; Hoggar (Jebel Ahaggar) ; Ta'itok 

^ Les Tournees d'apprivoisemeut — i.e., "civilizing rounds" for breaking 
in the wild tribes. 

211 



212 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

(Ahnet) ; Iforas (East Adrar) ; Illemeden (on the banks of 
the Niger) — three have this year given their submission 
into his hands; that is to say, in the last twelve months, 
the Iforas, Taitok, and Hoggar. The chief of the latter, 
the most important, the most warlike of the six divisions, 
the one that massacred Colonel Flatters and has, up to the 
present, shown itself the greatest enemy of the Christians, 
is at this very moment at In-Salah, where he has just 
arrived with eighty Hoggar notables to make his submis- 
sion and present that of his tribe. This news is very im- 
portant, for it shows the whole Tuareg country, hitherto 
so closed against Christians, is open from to-day. Com- 
mandant Laperrine is disposed to facilitate with all his 
influence my entry, journeys, and establishment. He 
voluntarily offers me to go with him on the very important 
tour he intends to take among his new subjects of Ahmet, 
Adrar, and Hoggar. I believe he will not accord these 
facilities to any other priest but me. I therefore accept, 
thanking God for the good He has given me to do, and 
begging Him to render me faithful. Perhaps in his next 
tour, which will begin in five or six weeks, Commander 
Laperrine will push on to Timbuctoo. If he does so, I 
shall accompany him, for the more I travel, the more 
natives I shall see, the more also I shall be known to them, 
and I hope to obtain their friendship and confidence. . . . 
The best place to study Tuareg (Tamahak) is Akabli, 
where all the inhabitants speak it, and where there are con- 
stant Tuareg caravans.^ It is therefore decided that I am 
to go there and study Tuareg as hard as I can, until Com- 
mandant Laperrine comes and takes me with him on his 
tour." 

Brother Charles then set out for In-Salah, whence he 
went to Akabli, the place for study. He went with another 
officer. Lieutenant Besset, and the diary again takes up 
the enumeration of the stages, 20, 21, 25, 28, 38 miles long, 
and of the stopping-points which in this region are described 
five times out of the six days' journey as " desert." He 
only stopped thirty-six hours at In-Salah, and went on to 
Tit, where he makes a note of the visits he paid to the 
caid, the marabout Sidi-Ali, and settles down at Akabli on 
February 20. His first care was to see Sergeant Brun, 
commanding the detachment of the Aulef Saharans, the 
sergeant commanding the well-sinkers, the caid, his calif, 
and others ; and next day he began to take Tamachek 

^ Tamahak, or Tamachek, is the spoken language ; Tifinar, the 
written language. 



TRAINING TOURS 213 

lessons from a Settaf man who had travelled for a long 
time among" the Tuaregs. 

The sojourn at Akabli lasted a little more than three 
weeks. Brother Charles was worried at having to give so 
many alms in the journeys that he was about to undertake 
in quite new and, just lately, hostile countries, and at having 
to buy both an express and a pack camel in order to accom- 
pany Laperrine. Where was the money to be found? 
The best thing to do was to write to the family and beg 
for it; in fact, who would be the chosen almoner? He 
reflected, made up his mind, and jotted down the argu- 
ments which had determined his choice, and, perfectly cer- 
tain that, in six months at most, the amount demanded 
would have reached his treasury, the chief of the Arab 
Office of Beni-Abbes, he committed to his travelling 
diary the extraordinary permissions Father Guerin had 
given him for the celebration of Mass on long jour- 
neys. Permission to celebrate Mass an hour after mid- 
night ; to employ any lights, if beeswax is lacking ; to 
celebrate even without lights in the very remote regions 
which do not produce olives and where no supplies for 
lamps are to be found. These Latin prescriptions, taken 
from canon law, give a curious touch of civilization to the 
pages of a diary full of barbarous names. 

The weeks in Akabli were weeks of work and meditation. 
Brother Charles was all his life an extraordinary worker. 
He never lost an hour. His notes contain nothing of the 
picturesque; he writes: "The populations of this region, 
like those of Morocco, speak less Arabic than Berber, the 
old language of Africa and Palestine, which the Car- 
thaginians spoke and so did St. Monica, whose Berber and 
not Greek name signifies ' queen.' I learnt it formerly, 
and then forgot it; I am tackling it again, so as to be able 
to talk with everybody." But this great worker was before 
all a priest. His notebooks as well as his letters were 
always marked with the sign of the cross. The thought of 
Christ made science of greater value, and poverty dearer 
in his eyes. " Among other comforts, there is one that I 
have been asking of Jesus for a long time ; it is, for "the 
love of Him, to be in similar conditions, as to well-being, 
to those in which I was in Morocco for my pleasure. Here 
my establishment is just the same." 

On March 14, Commandant Laperrine, faithful to the 
rendezvous, left Akabli with his companion and friend, 
who, this time, rode on a mehari. He intended to push 
on as far as Timbuctoo. He would pass through In-Sis, 



214 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

Ahmet, Adrar, Timissao, In-Uzal, Mabruk ; stop a few 
days in Timbuctoo and return by Adrar and Hoggar. " If 
public opinion is ripe for it," wrote Father de Foucauld, 
"our idea is that, on the return journey, I shall be left 
with the Hoggars and settle down there." Under his 
orders Laperrine had Lieutenants Bricogne, Nieger, and 
Besset. 

On the first day they only travelled seven miles and a 
half and stopped in the desert. On the evening of the 
15th they camped in the bed of the Wady Keraan in the 
desert, after a thirty-mile ride; on the i6th in the desert, 
near the Tin-Tenai wells; on the 17th in the desert; the 
1 8th in the desert, where they bivouac for a day; on the 
20th still in the desert; on the 23rd at the Tinagart wells 
the Commander received the visit of Aziouel, the nominated 
successor of the amenokal of Tai'tok. Near other wells, 
they were visited by Taitok or Kel Ahnet warriors ; during 
the great heat they stayed near a nomad encampment. 
" A pacific paternal tour for training and encouragement, 
for winning confidence and friendship, a true episcopal 
round." This is French policy, the only one worthy of a 
nation which dominates a country solely to pacify it, a 
strange race solely to elevate it, and which has no sooner 
ceased fighting, punishing, subjecting, than it lays aside all, 
and even legitimate, anger, and employs its genius only to 
make itself beloved. Brother Charles had not given up his 
hope that one day the Little Brothers of the Sacred Heart — 
no matter whether he were dead or alive — would undertake 
to give these poor people of the desert the most beautiful 
present that Erance can bring them, Jesus Christ. On Good 
Friday evening, April i, stopping at the Wady In-Sis, 
two and a half miles from the wells, he thus meditates and 
dreams: "The In-Sis well is in the rock; and at the 
bottom of it there is always a spring of excellent and abun- 
dant water. Every caravan can always get water there. 
We met two caravans there, going from Gogo to Akabli : 
one from Iforas, the other of Akabli people : each composed 
of five or six men, a few camels and some sheep. When it 
rains, the Wady In-Sis is covered with abundant vege- 
tation. Four years ago, after the rains, 500 tents — 
Hoggar, Ahnet, and Iforas — spent several weeks there 
drinking from the well. It is a place in which a fraternity 
might be founded, for it is : rst, very desert; 2nd, a place 
of passage for travellers ; 3rd, always sufficiently supplied 
with water for them to drink; 4th, sufficiently provided 
with earth for a few small gardens." 



TRAINING TOURS 215 

He had the same desire a few days later, on April 6, 
when the column stopped at the Timissao well, the finest 
they had come across, a well at which any caravan could 
draw water " not only without drying it up but without 
the water becoming less limpid. It would be a still better 
place to establish a fraternity — yes, preferable to In-Sis, 
for everything is ready, water, ground easy to cultivate 
near the well, and almost a place for lodging, since at a 
little distance, in the perpendicular side of a rock, there is 
a very large natural grotto covered with inscriptions, and 
surrounded by several lesser ones . . . which would make 
an excellent lodging for the Brothers, as long as they were 
not very numerous. . . . Settle in the grotto with dates 
and flour, begin a small garden, cover the well with a 
dome; always have halters at the disposal of travellers, 
and some dates or a little flour for the poor." 

In proportion as the mission went deeper into this region, 
it received more numerous visits from native Tuaregs, 
friendly tribes, Iforas, Taitok, or Hoggar. One evening, 
one of our most implacable enemies, the marabout Abidin, 
who had long fought against us, sent a rather insolent 
peace message to the Commander ; he would not come him- 
self; but he sent his messenger to salute the great chief. 
Laperrine understood the desert, and sent back word to 
the marabout that he would grant him peace, aman (safety), 
and pardon. The other then promised a visit, which he 
would pay soon with the prince, the arnenokal Musa ag 
Amastane. 

I picture the Commander bringing his mehari to the 
right of Brother Charles's and speaking to his friend about 
the Hoggar country, into which the mission was to enter in 
a few weeks. For the notes dispersed through the diary, 
and summarized hereafter, were jotted down in the note- 
book in the evening after the conversations on the ride. 
They give us the living words. And who could be a better 
master or as reliable an informant as Laperrine ? 

" Hoggar is a country of mountains and high plateaux. 
The temperature is therefore cooler than that which we 
sometimes expect to kill us here. In the greater number 
of deep hollows, valleys and ravines, there are trees, above 
all gum, and ethel trees; some of them were splendid. 
Hoggar extends in width from Jebel-Udan to the village 
of Tamanrasset; in length, from Wady Igharghar to 
Abalessa. It has what might be called four gates : In- 
Amadgel is the northern gate, Abalessa the western, 
Tazeruk to the east, Tamanrasset to the south. The vil- 



2i6 CHARLES DE FOUCAULl) 

lage of Tit is the centre; a village famous for Lieutenant 
Cottenest's fight with the Hoggars, which led to the sub- 
mission of the whole country. Among these shepherds 
you will find some features which recall our Middle Ages; 
a few poor nobles; the Dag-Rali, vassal tribes much re- 
duced by the losses Cottenest inflicted on them ; a relatively 
large and wealthy division which is neither noble nor 
vassal, a kind of nomad bourgeoisie, and the harratins, 
negroes of Twat or Tidikelt, freed slaves or the descendants 
of the freed, and these are the only ones who do a little tillage 
of the ground. However, they cannot be compared with 
our former serfs attached to the soil : they are free to leave 
the country; they may be considered as foreign workmen. 
They have no share in public affairs. These are all more 
or less subject to the a7nenokal, a king without pomp, with- 
out personal retinue, who, as sign of his authority, has 
only a big drum placed before his tent, an authority as 
variable as that of the first Capetians, depending on the 
valour of the man and the number of his vassals. I shall 
introduce Musa, the present ayyienokal, to you and tell 
you his story." 

Thus the mission goes very peacefully until April i6. 
That day, at the Timiauin well in the desert, Commandant 
Laperrine's troop, arriving towards evening, met a French 
column composed of twenty-five Soudan sharpshooters, 
ten Kenata auxiliaries, and commanded by two officers. 
This troop had set out from Timbuctoo when informed of 
the Commander's march ; it had passed through Aslar, Suk, 
Attalia, and Tessalit ; it came to make him abandon the 
plan of crossing the vSahara to Timbuctoo. Strange as 
such an enterprise may appear, yet the French from the 
Niger colony lay claim to prevent the French of the 
Algerian colony from travelling in the southern territories, 
in the region which they consider as a dependency of the 
Timbuctoo post. The limits had not been fixed by the 
higher authority of Algiers or Paris. Therefore, the 
South had resolved to defend its morsel of the Sahara. 
They had got excited. In these extreme climates, jealousies 
become ferocious, dissensions degenerate into obsessions, 
the worst of fancies may fasten upon an honest man and, 
if he does not react, dominate him entirely. After the first 
salute, Commandant Laperrine saw that he must show a 
more plentiful discretion. Fully master of himself, he 
parleyed with his comrades from the Niger. He observed 
that the latter had not even forgiven the Iforas for having 
submitted to France through the intermediary of Algeria. 



TRAINING TOURS 217 

According to them, that tribe should have asked for peace 
from the Nigerian authorities. The difference was so 
serious that calm discussion was impossible. And night 
was coming on. Laperrine broke off the discussion 
and made arrangements to prevent any fighting between 
the two opposing troops, and then reflected. He would 
have no violence or outburst at any price. He would give 
way however hard the sacrifice might be. At daybreak 
the two troops had already parted, and the Com.mandant, 
renouncing the coveted glory of crossing the desert in 
peace from one side to the other, retraced his steps. But 
he had got the Commandant of the Nigerian force on his 
side to retire immediately, without molesting or disturbing 
the Iforas who had submitted. The question of the zones 
of influence would, later on, be settled by the minister. 
And this was done.^ 

Father de Foucauld, on this occasion, restrained himself 
with difficulty. It was not the traveller suddenly stopped 
and obliged to retrace his steps who showed his vexation : 
it v/as the ex-officer, the colonizer, the friend of the Saharan 
nomads, the priest, who judged this wayside incident with 
a severity of which his pen shows no other example. 

However, he succeeded in concealing his condemnation. 
He wished to keep silent, and he did. The officers from 
the South misused their strength — that was his principal 
grievance — in going through the camp of the Iforas. He 
privately made a note of it that evening in his diary, and 
ended thus: "After fraternally shaking hands with them 
on their arrival, to-morrow I shall set off without bidding 
them adieu. ... I shall not utter a single word of 
reproach to them : ist, because it would do them no good; 
2nd, because it might estrange them from religion; 3rd, 
because that might make a row between them and Com- 
mandant Laperrine's officers." 

The latter gave up his hope, changed his course, and 
arranged to march first to the East, as far as Tin-Zauaten, 
by 19° 57' North Latitude, where he met several Tuareg 
chiefs and conferred with them. They had crossed the 
Ahnet ; they returned by the Adrar and the Hoggar. It 
was a year of drought, and after the column had resumed 
its road northwards, Brother Charles noted that it took 
sixtv hours to water 150 camels and fill 150 goat-skin 
bottles at the Tinghaor wells. Everywhere, for several 
weeks, the word " desert " recurs in the diary. One day 

^ The line of demarcation adopted gives the South Saharan territories 
to the Nigerian colony, and the rest to Algeria. 



2i8 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

Brother Charles wrote that he could not say Mass on 
account of a storm of wind. Another day, after a halt, he 
celebrated it at noon ! On May 17, the feast of St. Pascal 
Baylon, he prayed thus : "I put under your protection, 
O Protector of all Eucharistic associations and families, 
the sanctuary and the Fraternity of the Sacred Heart of 
Jesus, which I should like to found in the heart of the 
Tuareg country. With my whole soul I recommend the 
conversion of the Tuaregs to you. I offer you my life for 
them." Then Brother Charles set forth the various points 
of his meditation : " If I can stay in the Tuareg country, 
how am I to act ? Who am I ? What ought I to set myself to 
do? Where shall I settle? What helpers shall I find?" and 
then Brother Charles enumerates: "Jesus, the Blessed 
Virgin, St. Joseph, St. Margaret, St. Pascal Baylon, 
St. Augustine, all the Saints, all the Angels, all the souls 
in Purgatory whom I now supplicate, all good souls living 
in this world who help me with their prayers, counsels, 
commands, and with all sorts of good." " Why should I 
settle in this country ? How?" And he replied :" Silently, 
secretly, like Jesus at Nazareth ; obscurely like Him ; 
gently, disarmed and mute before injustice like Him ; 
allowing myself to be shorn and immolated like Him, with- 
out resisting or speaking." 

At every moment, in this journey of discovery, an abun- 
dant well, as at Silet; a fairly good crop of w^heat, as at 
Abalessa ; a group of palm trees, here or there suggesting 
a former palm grove ; the crossing of frequented tracks, 
awakened in Brother Charles the idea of founding a Fra- 
ternity or mission, of rebuilding a village, or even of erect- 
ing a convent. 

Small sketches are jotted down on the margin of the 
diary, minute signs of the sites of habitations, of the best 
methods of civilizing, of the most profitable kind of example 
to give. Here a dispensary would be of assistance; there 
an agricultural or, still better, a horticultural centre. Here 
two Brothers could do the work ; there ten at least and ten 
Sisters would be wanted. All along the route Father de 
Foucauld placed subjects of an Order then non-existent. 
Inspired with charity, he imagined and then built. Like 
the great monastic pioneers, he already saw a new civiliza- 
tion growing up amidst these wild countries; he was alone 
and did not despair : the boldness of his purposes would 
justly be called madness, if it belonged to those whose 
trust is only human. 

They stopped for five days in Abalessa. On Whit-vSun- 



TRAINING TOURS 219 

day, May 22, " with great emotion " he celebrated Mass 
there in the presence of Laperrine and several officers. 
There the Commandant was visited by two notables of the 
Kel-Rela, coming by forced marches and bringing a letter 
from Musa ag Amastane. One of these notables, a very 
near relation of the amenokal and his designated successor 
Soua, was the brother of the young girl whom Musa 
loved and could not marry. — This romance of the desert 
was known yonder. — In this letter, the Hoggar chief showed 
himself very well disposed and declared that he was a friend 
of France, so much so that Brother Charles asked himself 
whether it was not time for the hermit to stop and found a 
hermitage in the village of Tit, which was reached on 
May 26, and was the most central of the Hoggar. Laper- 
rine considered it safer not to grant permission then. They 
therefore continued the enormous round riding on camels. 
Each day the diary mentions the presence of some native 
in a big tent. On June 7 it was a woman's, a Taitoq, 
Tarichat Ult Ibdakan, the very woman who had been so 
courageous at the time of the massacre of the Flatter 
column, taking in and protecting our wounded. Brother 
Charles had formerly wished to pay her a visit ; he met and 
thanked her. The diary, which does not tell a story, and 
was not written for curiosity, recorded only this : " She is 
from forty to fifty years of age, distinguee, talking little, of 
simple and modest attitude, very nice in every way and 
speaks Arabic fairly well." However, a few pages far- 
ther on, so as not to be too incomplete, and without doubt 
to remember better the fulfilling of the commission he 
accepted, Brother Charles, at the moment of quitting the 
encampment where Tarichat's tents were, added these 
words: "She commissioned me to write in her name to 
rifleman Amer, whom she had saved and sent back to his 
own country. He promised her her weight in silver, and 
never sent her anything. She has debts : and 50 or 100 
douros would give her great pleasure." 

His mind was always busy with what might help his 
Tuareg brothers, and he took advantage of this halt in the 
desert to write a very long note, in which he summarized 
the experience which he had just had in this five months' 
travel, visits, conversations with the natives and Saharan 
officers, and he entitled this note : Observations on mis- 
sionary journeys in the Sahara. It may be said that every- 
thing is found in it and in proper order. What ought the 
missionary to do to keep his soul right? What provisions 
should he take with him, and how choose his mehari and 



220 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

pack-camel ? What place should the missionary take in 
the military or civilian convoy? Ought he to eat with the 
officers? etc. I commence by giving the replies to these 
last questions : " Let the missionaries be alone whenever 
possible," says Father de Foucauld. " Let them eat alone, 
to lose less time, and to have more for spiritual exercises 
and good works, in order not to be obliged to listen often 
to bad talk, not to lose popular respect by showing their 
defects, and to be more accessible to the poor. But when 
the good of souls requires, the Brothers will eat with the 
officers." 

Other questions are treated in this practical and un- 
biassed spirit which directs everything invariably to one 
end — the good of souls. Father de Foucauld appears to be 
writing the constitutions which were to be followed by his 
missionary successors, the civilizers whom his experience 
and thought will bring forth from that inexhaustible 
treasury of mission work- — France. 

Of these observations, one may also say that they are a 
kind of portrait of Father de Foucauld painted by himself. 
I shall therefore reproduce some of them. 

In the first place take these lines on the use of camels by 
the missionary : 

" As on a journey, one may have to go very long stages, 
and cross long distances without water, the missionaries 
and their servants must be mounted. That will not prevent 
both doing the greater part of the stages on foot, in order 
to imitate our Lord, by penitence, abjection, poverty, and 
to save their animals as well as the money belonging to 
Jesus and the poor." 

And now, "what ought the missionary to do for the 
souls of others" — of Christians, native soldiers and 
civilians ; of the inhabitants, particularly those of the 
Saoura? The counsels are marvellously graduated, and 
I regret giving only fragments of them. 

" Christians. — Talk a good deal with them ; be the friend 
of all, good and bad. . . . Render them every service 
compatible with your state, with perfection. . . . 

"Native Soldiers. — Always speak seriously and gravely 
to them of heavenly things, never of temporal ; be easy of 
access and very civil to them, but not familiar, not talking 
aimlessly, and accept no presents ; give them helpful advice 
in family matters, if they ask for it. Never give them any 
advice as to temporal business. 

" Other Natives. — You must first gain their esteem by 
an exemplary and holy life, then obtain their friendship by 



TRAINING TOURS 221 

kindness, patience, and all sorts of little services that you 
can render to all, small alms, remedies, and hospitality. . . . 
Try to have as much intercourse as possible with them ; 
. . . but be discreet, reserved, without excessive eagerness, 
so as to draw them to you, rather than go to them ; . . . 
don't enter their villages, tents, or houses unnecessarily, 
unless you are called there. . . . Live as much as pos- 
sible as they do; try to be friendly with all, rich and poor; 
but go, above all and first of all, to the poor according to 
the Gospel tradition. In speaking to them, take great care 
not to go too quickly into such matters as are rather new 
to them. Try to make them ask questions, and lead them 
to be the first to speak of what you want to talk about. . . . 
Avoid theological discussions at present; more curiosity 
than good-will would enter into it ; reply briefly, without 
admitting discussion ; keep to natural theology and, except 
for special reasons, don't set forth Christian dogmas. In 
most cases, now is the time to say : Cast not your pearls 
before swine. 

Slaves. — Father de Foucauld ascertained that in general 
the slaves were better treated by the Tuaregs than in the 
Saoura. " Nevertheless, their condition is worthy of pity 
and their dignity as human beings totally unacknowledged. 
There is neither family nor chastity, nor probity, nor truth, 
nor goodness, among the greater part of the slaves. The 
young negro servant-girls are all put to immoral uses by the 
Tuaregs : it is the same, more or less, in all the other parts 
of the Sahara. The Tuaregs generally have only one wife, 
but when their fortune allows it they also have several 
young negresses as concubines. We must therefore work 
with all our might to suppress slavery very quietly, pro- 
gressively, and really, so as to improve not only the material 
condition, but the minds of the slaves. The best way seems 
to be to spread the method of Commandant M^tois in 
Tidikelt. He permits all slaves to redeem themselves by 
paying the master back the amount they cost or what they 
are considered to be worth ; and in order that they may be 
able to procure this sum, he gets those who ask for it 
enough work to do to wipe out in wages the ransom re- 
quired. . . . Freedom is obtained by degrees, and the 
slaves trained to work. . . . With the slaves thus liberated 
Commandant M6tois then makes new villages, beside 
freshly worked springs. All this is excellent and worthy 
of imitation.** 

What means, then, are best for starting the moral edu- 
cation of this poor Musulman people, and what part will 



222 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

the Gospel have in our first intercourse with them ? Father 
de Foucauld's experience is too full, his authority too con- 
siderable, not to put on record his observations intended 
for those who may continue or imitate his work. 

" The Saura and Tuareg. — It is somewhat difficult to 
have religious talks with the people of the Saharan oases, 
or of the Saura ; they tend to become embittered, and to 
set a gulf between us instead of strengthening the bonds of 
charity. The best is to keep to short but reiterated advice 
on natural religion and Christian morals. . . . Read them 
from the Holy Gospels some of the clearest passages about 
natural religion, but do not put the whole book into their 
hands ; . . . when they esteem us, we can have long re- 
ligious talks, without fear of estrangement, with those whom 
we know to be serious and men of good-will. In certain 
cases that may be done soon ; when they reach this point 
we must be ready to put the Holy Gospels before them. 
It seems, therefore, that it would be a very good thing to 
prepare a translation immediately in Algerian Arabic, to 
read to them or make them read, and this even the least 
educated will understand. 

" The same order is to be followed with the Tuaregs. . . . 
Prepare at once a Tamahak translation for them. Above 
all, this translation should be read to them. . . . There 
is no reason in trying to teach the Tuaregs Arabic, which 
brings them nearer the Koran ; it is, on the contrarv, neces- 
sary that they should be diverted from it. They must be 
taught Tamahak, an excellent and very easy language, 
and by degrees we must provide it with words indispensable 
for the expression of religious ideas and Christian virtues, 
and improve, without changing, its system of writing. . . . 
Read them passages about natural religion or morals, such 
as the parables of the prodigal son, of the good Samaritan, 
pf the last judgment ; comparing it with a shepherd separ- 
ating the sheep from the goats, etc. It goes without saying 
that, as soon as conversions begin to take place, we must 
have a Tamahak catechism." 

Commander Laperrine's column was at Aseksen on 
June 12, when it was rejoined by a detachment of the 
Tidikelt company, commanded by Lieutenant Roussel. 
While the Commander returned to In-Salah, Lieutenant 
Roussel with Quartermaster Duillier, two corporals, and 
seventy-five native rn'eharistes were ordered to continue the 
" training tour." They were to spend three months 
amongst the Hoggar Tuaregs, to go slowly and stop from 
time to time. Brother Charles was much perplexed, and 



TRAINING TOURS 223 

wrote in his notebook: "Sacred Heart of Jesus, I have 
something to ask You : ought I to go with him (Roussel), if 
I am allowed ? Or ought I to visit Twat, Gurara, and go 
and spend some time at Ghardaia with Father Guerin, and 
return to the Saura, continuing to study Tamahak and 
translate the Holy Gospels which I began to do a few days 
ago? What does Your Heart wish?" according to his 
custom, Brother Charles made a parallel of the pros and 
cons, and, after choosing what he thought best — that is to 
say, the most divinely useful — noted in his diary on 
June 14: "This morning 1 asked Laperrine to permit me 
to stay with Roussel, as long as Roussel is out of In-Salah. 
He gladly gave me permission, and himself told M. 
Roussel, if he sees Musa, to try to arrange with him for 
my actual and immediate settlement in Hoggar. He is 
leaving me, after having loaded me for five months with all 
sorts of kindnesses for which I can never be grateful 
enough, and telling me that it is in Hoggar he hopes to 
see me again." 

Thus started a second pacific mission, and Father de 
Foucauld along with it. On June 22, they cleared twenty- 
five miles, and the troop stopped for the night between 
Aseksen and Tin Tunin. For most of these travellers the 
route was new ; they met unknown faces ; the programme 
was the same ; they opened up intercourse, lessened preju- 
dice, and even won, if they could, some friendship for far- 
off France. A magnificent work, which presupposed in 
our Saharan officers, even in the youngest, qualities of 
tact, diplomatic patience and kindness, and also an educa- 
tion which would not be so easily found in all armies. 
This mission of Lieutenant Roussel was to succeed in 
every way. Father de Foucauld, writing to a friend on 
July 3, thus defined the character and conduct of this 
journey : 

" We go from spring to spring, to the pasturages most 
frequented by nomads, settling amidst them and spend- 
ing several days there. With Holy Mass, prayers, 
the needs of one's body of death, the frequent tramping, 
and the time given to one's neighbour, my days are taken 
up with the study of the language of this country — a very 
pure Berber tongue — and with translating the Gospels into 
that language. 

"The natives receive us well; not sincerely : they yield 
to necessity. How long will it be before their feelings are 
what they pretend to be? Perhaps they will never be. 



224 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

If some day they are so, it will be when they have become 
Christians. Will they know how to distinguish soldiers 
from priests, to see in us God's servants, ministers of 
peace and charity, universal brothers? I do not know. 
If I do my duty, Jesus will pour down abundant graces, 
and they will understand." 

However distrustful, however malevolent these "sus- 
picious brothers " of the Hoggar often appeared to him, he 
judged them " much less separated from us than the 
Arabs," and the idea of settling down in this milieu con- 
tinued to haunt his mind. However, he recognized that 
the hour had not yet come. He was to return with the mis- 
sion to the Saharan towns of the North. 

At this point I shall only give short passages from the 
diary or letters, which may complete the knowledge we 
already have of this great apostolic soul, and I shall leave 
to others, as occasion requires, the care of noting the 
thousand details of river-geography, essays on tillage, 
temperature, habits and the names of tribes and divisions 
of tribes, which frequently recalled the celebrated work, 
Reconnaissance au Maroc. The traveller of 1904 was still 
the careful scientist who would record only the most certain 
observations, the ardent geographer, the psychologist who, 
in the eyes, gestures and words, quickly discovered the 
secret thoughts of those who came to him ; but a singular 
nobility was superadded to all that; a heart athirst for 
justice, full of charity, ready to sacrifice itself for each of 
his unknown and hostile brothers, animated these humble 
jottings, and interspersed learned notes with prayers, 
desires, and aspirations. 

" Amra, July 2. — Feast of the Visitation. Patronal 
feast of all the fraternities of the Little Brothers and Little 
Sisters of the Heart of Jesus. Dearest Mother, ... do to 
all, by visiting with heavenly grace and by the visits of 
holy monks and nuns and holy souls, what you did in 
visiting St. John the Baptist I Continue your Visitation; 
visit the Tuaregs, Morocco, the Sahara, the infidels, and 
all souls, . . . unworthy me ; visit me, beloved mother ; 
convert me, I ask you on my knees. ..." 

" July 8. — As our stay is prolonged, I have the happiness 
of putting the reserved Host in the tabernacle for the first 
time in the Tuareg country. We have built a chapel of 
branches, surmounted by a wooden cross : a tent pitched 
underneath forms a dais over the altar and protects it from 
the dust. . . . Sacred Heart of Jesus, thanks for this 



TRAINING TOURS 225 

first tabernacle in the Tuareg country ! May it be the pre- 
lude to many others and foretell the salvation of many 
souls ! Shine from within this tabernacle on the people 
who surround You without knowing You ! Send saints 
and numerous Gospel workers wherever they are wanted 
here!" 

" Wady Agelil, in the Desert, July 22. — Feast of 
St, Magdalen. St. Magdalen, I lay at your feet the inten- 
tions of my soul ; inspire me. Are there any resolutions 
that please the Heart of Jesus which I ought to make? In 
what must I correct myself? What must I do?" 

On August 3 they were in the village of Tazeruk, at an 
altitude of over 6,000 feet. There was then some talk of 
returning. "These are the probabilities," writes Brother 
Charles to a friend. " I shall be back in In-Salah about 
September 20 ; I shall not stop there, but shall go through 
Tidikelt, Twat, and Gurara quietly, stopping at each 
village — there are 300 of them — leaving at each a few reme- 
dies, some words : from there I shall go to Ghardaia, then 
to Beni-Abbes." 

The extreme fatigue of so long a journey, and in the 
hardest season, impaired Brother Charles's health. A 
photograph taken at that period shows us that he was 
evidently exhausted, his eyes sunk in their sockets, his face 
thin and ploughed with deep wrinkles. He would not 
acknowledge it. To a friend of his in France who inquired 
for news of him he replied : " Yes, I need rest, but not in 
the sense you think; it is not spiritual solitude that weighs 
upon me, it is the lack of material solitude : a few days' 
silence at the foot of the tabernacle, that is what I feel the 
need of!" 

The better to assert his will to accomplish the second part 
of the journey " as a workman of the Holy Gospel," he 
recorded in his diary how much to give to the poor vil- 
lagers. " I intend to give an alms of seven francs in each 
small or average ksar, fourteen in every larger village, and 
twenty-one in every very large one." 

His forecasts were right. On September 20 Father de 
Foucauld was at In-Salah, where the troops took up their 
country quarters again : he did not stay there. Hence- 
forth without convoy or armed force, with a single native 
soldier as his guide, he continued his journey through 
Inghar, Aulet, Adrar. According to promise, wherever 
there was a tent, a group of huts (gurbis) or mud houses, 
he stopped to let the wild people of Africa see what the 

15 



226 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

heart of a Christian Frenchman is like. At Timimun, 
" populous, rich, accustomed to Europeans, and a prospec- 
tively flourishing mission centre," he remained three days. 
Then, with his guide, he resumed his solitary journey, 
sleeping in the open air, during the whole week encoun- 
tering only one inhabited place. Fort MacMahon, where 
there were some Christian soldiers, and some Musulmans, 
" and a native chief who gave me a good welcome." He 
hardly stopped at all at El-Golea, where three White Fathers 
welcomed him : he was in a hurry to reach the Ghardaia 
mission station again, and his great friend, the Prefect 
Apostolic of the Sahara. The latter was impatiently awaiting 
the traveller, and went to meet him. They met at Metlili, 
a day's walk from the residence, and conversed on the 
way. When at last the two companions hove in sight, it 
was hard to believe that this poor lame ragged pedestrian, 
who was also leading his camel by the head, was their old 
officer of the Chasseurs. He looked like some dervish 
beggar. But his eyes were full of joy, and his smile be- 
trayed him. 

Ghardaia was his resting-place. Brother Charles lived 
for six weeks, from November 12 to the day after Christ- 
mas, 1904, in this small town, the capital of Mzab. " I am 
resting in silence and solitude, in the pleasant friendship 
of P^re Guerin and his missionaries." There were many 
questions to settle with his Superior and friend. He gave 
him the whole of the finished translation of the four gospels 
in the Tuareg language, at which he did not cease to work 
while on the march, or even at night in his tent. He laid 
before the missionaries his principal observations on the 
new countries through which he had just passed, and gave 
them advice on the future evangelization of the people who 
lived there or passed through. And, after leaving "a 
report of many little things " in this connexion in order 
to complete and recall his conversations, he made his annual 
retreat. 

Among the resolutions he took in those days of self- 
examination, there were two which reveal his deep interior 
life. He thought of his constant stream of visitors at 
Beni-Abbes, of the many journeys or doings which inter- 
rupted meditation, and he notes: "Take care: ist, to 
make a spiritual communion every time I go into chapel, 
or talk to anyone, or write to anyone; 2nd, in all goings 
and comings, and travels, when I am not making any other 
spiritual exercise, recite some Aves for the universal reign 
of the Heart of Jesus: also during manual work; when I 



TRAINING TOURS 227 

wake at night; lastly, whenever my mind is not engaged 
in some other duty." 

During his stay at Ghardaia he avoided appearing as 
much as possible among those houses and hovels, those 
narrow streets and half-covered little squares — sol y sombra 
— in which the curiosity of inhabitants and nomads is 
always on the watch, and always murmuring. But a man 
of his holiness and renown could not pass unnoticed. 
Although the people of the Mzab were of a close disposi- 
tion and distrustful of Europeans, notables came to solicit 
the favour of a reception by " him who had sold this world 
for the other " : the little people, who dared not do any 
more, tried to see "the great marabout," at work or in 
prayer, at least through the window. One of those who 
paid a visit to Father de Foucauld, one of the most im- 
portant bourgeois in the town, said : " When I went in, he 
said to me. The Lord be with thee! and that moved my 
heart." There were always children on the watch near his 
house, and they used to get up on each others' shoulders 
so as to be able to boast of having seen him. 

On December 26, very much touched by the reception of 
his friends and the people of the Mzab, he left Ghardaia. 
Two White Fathers went with him from Ghardaia to 
El-Golea. He knew the road and, always walking by his 
mehari so as not to be distracted in his meditations and 
prayers, he went on in front like the caravan guides who 
always go on fifty yards ahead. Not having a watch, he 
had asked one of the Fathers, while the light lasted, to tell 
him when a new hour began. And every time the hand 
arrived at the top of the dial, the timekeeper, mounted on 
his camel, struck a few blows on a pot or tin can. The 
noise was carried along by the hot air, which was other- 
wise soundless. Then, far ahead, the perpetual walker 
never stopped but turned round and made a bow of thanks. 

They reached El-Golea on January i, 1905. Brother 
Charles there found his friend Laperrine appointed Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel, and wished him a happy New Year. Two 
days later he set out with him for Adrar, " where there was 
a chance of going to Beni-Abbes." I see by the diary that 
between them en route there was often talk of Saharan 
missions. At last, on January 24, Father de Foucauld 
again took possession of his dear hermitage. He did not 
find Captain Regnault, who had been appointed to another 
post and was replaced by Captain Martin. But many other 
friends welcomed and made much of him ! They thought 
he was lost : he came back. He at once resumed his former 



228 CHARLES DE FOUCAVLD 

Rule : he did not mislead anybody when he told officers, 
soldiers, native alms-collectors, invalids or visitors, that 
he wished never more to leave the enclosure nor the cabin 
of sun-roasted earth, which he had made his grounds and 
enclosure. " I return," he said, " without meaning to go 
away again ; above all, with the great desire that the White 
Fathers in the future may do what I have done this year, 
with the great desire of staying in this dear Fraternity, 
which only lacks one thing : Brothers amidst whom I can 
disappear. . . . Being alone, every moment I am obliged 
to run to the door, reply and talk. Terrestrial troubles are 
sent in order to make us feel our exile, to make us sigh after 
the Fatherland. . . . Jesus chooses for each the kind of 
suffering which He sees best suited to sanctify him, and 
often the cross He imposes is the one that we would have 
refused had we dared, while accepting all the rest. The one 
He gives is the one that we least understand. . . . He directs 
us into bitter pastures which He knows to be good for us. 
Poor sheep, we are so blind !" 

No sooner had he arrived than he received a telegram 
telling of the death of the mother of the Prefect Apostolic 
of the Sahara : He wrote at once to Mgr. Gu^rin : 

" Beni-Abbes, 

''January 28, 1905. 

' ' Very dear and venerable Father, 

" My Mass was for that soul so very dear to you, 
much dearer to the Heart of Jesus. We love with the poor 
hearts of sinners, He loves with His divine Heart. She is 
in good hands in a good place, the place where you so much 
desire to be, where one day you will be with her and with 
Him whom she taught you to love. She is at rest. Yet 
she has no need of rest. She has entered into the abun- 
dance of peace, where there is no longer either wind or 
winter, because these things have passed away. When 
shall we be there? . . . For myself I hardly dare think of 
that resting-place of which I am so unworthy. Should 
we dare have hope if God did not make it our duty ? Hope 
is faith in His Heart. Our conversation will be more and 
more in heaven. There you will find not only the only 
adored One, but also your dear mother. Henceforth for 
her no more distance, no more absence : night and day she 
will hear you, watch over you, reply to your questions, 
your demands, by her prayers : for her the barrier is 
passed, the wall broken down, the night over. . . . How 
happy she is ! . . . For the few years which perhaps 



TRAINING rOURS 229 

remain to you of life, the separation is a cross — a cross 
you accepted with all the rest, when you told Jesus that 
you loved Him. An apparent cross, for joy at the happi- 
ness of that much loved soul, daily more intimate and con- 
tinual conversation with her, increasing aspiration for 
total union with Jesus, and growing weariness of the life 
of earth, will soon leave you only the joy of feeling her 
near Jesus and the desire of rejoining her there. . . . Let 
us kiss the cross that Jesus sends. One can, in this life, 
only embrace Jesus by embracing His Cross. And let us 
praise Him for the happiness of her beloved soul. 

" I meant to write you a long letter. . . . General 
Lyautey's visit to Beni-Abbes prevented me doing so. He 
got here to-day and is going off again to-morrow to Ain- 
Sefra." 

This beautiful letter was therefore cut short because there 
was a guest of mark at Beni-Abbes, and that day courtesy 
had to make devotions and silence give way, and many 
things that one would have liked to finish had to be let go. 

Marshal Lyautey remembers this meeting at Beni-Abbes 
very well indeed. He spoke of it like this : " We dined 
together with the officers, on Saturday, in the redoubt. 
After dinner a phonograph gave us some songs of Mont- 
martre. I looked at Foucauld, saying to myself, ' He will 
go out.* He did not; he even laughed. The next day, 
Sunday, at 7 o'clock, the officers and I heard Mass in the 
hermitage. A hovel, this hermitage ! his chapel, a miser- 
able corridor with rush-covered columns. For its altar, a 
plank ! For decoration it had a calico panel with a picture 
of Christ, and tin candlesticks ! Our feet were in the sand. 
Well ! I have never heard a Mass said as Father de 
Foucauld said his. I believed myself in the Thebaid. It 
is one of the greatest impressions of my life." 

Father de Foucauld had again taken up the sedentary 
life he led a year before. The bell again began to be heard 
at midnight on the desert plateau. The natives were more 
numerous than ever in begging the marabout's sous, dates, 
and barley, and in endlessly telling him of their com- 
plicated affairs. 

However, he was no longer as robust as before the great 
journey which he had just finished, and he confesses it. 

*' I'm not ill," he says. " I celebrate Holy Mass; I am 
up, but I have great headaches and some fever, and a lot of 
ailments. I don't think they are serious." 

His strength returned, but he had no help. It was again 



230 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

suggested that he should go back to the Hoggar, and he 
was authorized to settle as the first priest among the 
Tuaregs, whose language he was almost the only one to 
speak and write well. He left his first chosen residence 
with its poor and beloved chapel and the silence of hours 
set apart to plunge still deeper into the desert and recom- 
mence elsewhere the now promising work begun at Beni- 
Abbes. 

For a vocation is a terrible thing to one who obeys it 
resolutely with a virile will. While waiting he rejoiced to 
be in the hermitage once more. He wrote to Commandant 
Lacroix : " You are at the top of the heights, I am at the 
bottom of the well ; my place is the easier and pleasanter. 
I would far rather be at the Hoggar, or in the dunes, than 
at Algiers. Oh ! how good is solitude !" 



CHAPTER X 
The Settlement in Hoggar 

THE invitation to return to Hoggar also came from 
Commandant Laperrine. By two letters, of April i 
and 8, 1905, he proposed to Father de Foucauld to go and 
spend the summer at Hoggar with Captain Dinaux, chief of 
annexation of In-Salah, commanding the Saharan company 
of Tidikelt. The latter was to start at the beginning of 
May, and go over Ahnet, and Adrar of the Iforas and Air. 

Brother Charles at first replied that he could not leave the 
Saoura before autumn. At that moment he would decide 
either to live finally enclosed at Beni-Abbes, or to divide 
his life as a travelling priest between the Saura, Gurara, 
Twat, Tidikelt, and the Tuaregs. 

At heart he was extremely troubled. He wrote to Abbe 
Huvelin, and one gathers from his letter that the hope of 
at last attracting some Little Brother of the Sacred Heart 
to the Fraternity of Beni-Abbes, to transform his personal 
and precarious work into a durable foundation, went for a 
great deal in the uncertain reply given to Laperrine. 
Though so quick to conceive and so ardent and firm in 
execution, he was slow to make up his mind, through love 
of perfection. He also hinted that such great journeys were 
not free from fatigue. Nevertheless he would do what his 
director and Father Gu6rin advised. 

On April 22 he received from Father Gu^rin, then in 
France, a telegram which expressed the opinion of the 
Prefect Apostolic and Abbe Huvelin : " We should be 
inclined to accept invitation." 

Brother Charles at once made inquiries. He learnt that 
Captain Dinaux would not leave Akabli before May 15. 
There was time to get there. On May 3 he set out for Adrar 
with Paul. At the two first stops, twenty-two miles from 
Beni-Abbes, at the village of Tametert where he slept, then 
forty-four miles off at Geurzim where he breakfasted and 
spent the hours of the great heat, he was welcomed. His 
many sacrifices were not made without some return, and 
the distant stranger sometimes gave thanks for neighbourly 
charity. 

The words " very well received " occur again and again 
in the diary, coupled to the names of the ksurs at which 

231 



232 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

the traveller asked hospitality for a night. On June 5 in 
one of these villages Brother Charles met Aziuel, the future 
successor of the amenokal of the Taitok, " quite changed 
since last year, full of confidence, quite civilized." 

Three days later, near a well in the Twat region he at last 
found Captain Dinaux, who had four French " civilians " 
as companions, three at least of whom were very well 
known: M. E. Gautier, an explorer and geographer; M. 
Chudeau, a geologist ; a writer, M. Pierre Mille ; and a post 
and telegraph inspector on mission, M. Etiennot. The 
conversations between these men, so different in tempera- 
ment, studies, and in their spirit of inquiry, must have been 
more than once worthy of being recorded. Their words are 
still in the desert. The order of the march joined Brother 
Charles to M. Etiennot, whom fifteen men mounted on 
meharis escorted; but he was often found elsewhere apart, 
according to the precept he had himself drawn up, going 
along on foot, with his head down, keeping silence, the 
better to hold his soul in peace. " Poor dear Father de 
Foucauld," Pierre Mille said to me, " I believe we all recog- 
nized his worth : he was an admirable man and a saint, 
tinged, perhaps, with Orientalism : we loved him. We 
used sometimes to smile at his extraordinary love of the 
desert. With the freedom of youth we used to call him 
between ourselves " The man who can't stand tramways." 

War chief, scientists, artists, and religious, each one went 
seeking his own good, and all desired, too, the good of 
France. They usually set out under the stars, so as to cover 
more road before the extreme heat stopped the doleful steps 
of man and beast. Father de Foucauld frequently said his 
Mass at 2 o'clock in the morning ; then he would fold his 
tent, to prevent delay and to inconvenience nobody. When- 
ever possible, tents were pitched as soon as evening drew 
near. On June 23, while the mounted men were driving 
the tent-pegs near the In-Uzel well under the eyes of two 
young Tuaregs of about ten years of age and two slaves who 
were grazing a flock of camels, a man was signalled as 
coming, the only one in sight. He was quickening his 
mehari. He was soon recognized. He was a courier sent 
by Captain Dinaux in search of the new amenokal of 
Hoggar. He found the latter at Tin-Zauaten. He was 
bringing a letter from Musa ag Amastane announcing 
the approaching arrival of the chief of the Hoggar Tuaregs. 
In fact, two days after Musa entered the camp and saluted 
the French Commander. Brother Charles thought well of 
him. " He is a good fellow," he says, " very intelligent, 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 233 

very open, a very pious Musulman, willing the good as a 
liberal Musulman, but at the same time ambitious and 
loving money, pleasure and honour, like Mahomet, in his 
eyes the most perfect of men. He is entirely devoted to the 
Bey of Attalia, from whom he says he has received every- 
thing.^ . . . Upon the whole, Musa is a good and pious 
Musulman, having the ideas and life, the qualities and vices 
of a logical Musulman, and at the same time as broad- 
minded as possible. He very much wants to go to Algiers 
and France. ... As agreed with him, my setting up in 
Hoggar is decided." 

For a fortnight the young chief — he was about thirty-five 
— accompanied the Dinaux mission. There was mutual 
instruction from which all learnt something. Then the 
column grew thinner. Musa went off as a nomad, I know 
not where, M. E. Gautier and Pierre Mille, escorted and 
guided by three chiefs of the Tuareg Ifors, undertook 
to cross the south of the Sahara, reached Gao and Tim- 
buctoo, and got back to France after visiting Senegal. 
Captain Dinaux continued his expedition towards the lofty 
Hoggar plateaux, and twenty-eight days later entered the 
valley of Tamanrasset. 

This name of Tamanrasset, underlined three times on the 
margin of the diary, is followed by these lines in which 
Father de Foucauld's emotion is plain : " By the grace of 
the divine Well-Beloved Jesus, it is possible for me to 
settle down in Tamanrasset or any other place in Hoggar, 
to have a house and garden, and to get established there 
for ever. ... I choose Tamanrasset, a village of twenty 
homes, right in the mountain in the heart of Hoggar 
and of the Dag-Rali, the principal tribe, far from all 
important centres. I don't think that there is ever likely 
to be a garrison, telegraph station, or a European here : it 
will be long before there is any mission : I choose this 
abandoned place, and here I stick." 

Thus speaks charity. Then the colonist comes out. He 
would like to attract and settle in Hoggar (the list is curious, 
and an economist would not perhaps have drawn it up so 
well): "a nurseryman; a well-sinker; a doctor; a few 
women weavers of wool, cotton, and camel-hair ; then one 
or two traders in cotton goods, hardware, sugar, and salt ; 
but honest folks who would get us blessed and not cursed." 

The only fault the hermit finds with Tamanrasset is the 
absence of any priest in the neighbourhood, or even within 
a reasonable distance. " At an ordinary pace, it takes sixty 
^ A marabout of the family of the Kunta, residing in Attalia. 



234 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

days to get to Beni-Unif, the only point at which I can 
conveniently find a priest. I do not think the precept [of 
confession] is binding in such conditions. In spite of my 
misery, I am tranquil and in great peace." 

As at Beni-Abbes, so at Tamanrasset, Brother Charles 
began building a " house," or rather a sort of corridor, 
twenty feet long by six feet wide, to be the chapel and 
sacristy. Eor himself he first had a rush hut some way 
off to work and sleep in ; then he lengthened the corridor, 
and separated the chapel from the library and room with a 
curtain. He celebrated his first Mass in Hoggar on Septem- 
ber 7, 1905. He reckoned to stay there until the autumn of 
1906, then to set out for Beni-Abbes, where he would spend 
the autumn and winter, then go back to Tamanrasset at the 
beginning of the summer of 1907. He would thus divide 
himself between the two hermitages. He would be a 
wandering monk with two huts, the friend of two 
neglected peoples. At least such was the plan, God 
willing. 

What country, what people could he see from his cabin 
door? The high plateau of Tamanrasset is at an altitude 
of about five thousand feet. The dry bed of a fairly wide 
river crosses it, and it is only there, in a depression of the 
ground, that there were some very primitive and poor 
attempts at cultivation when Charles de Foucauld built his 
oratory and hut near the left bank. All around was undu- 
lating stony ground, in which grew tufts of hard grass at 
every ten yards ; guettaf, whitish saltworts, a yard high ; 
um rokba, of a yellowish-green, not quite so tall; diss, a 
kind of rush somewhat similar to alfa : in a word, rather 
poor camel pasture. The faded tint of its growth does not 
rest the eyes and does not give them any pleasure. The 
beauty of the valley, its grandeur, is given by its frame of 
mountains, for on the north, within from two to three miles 
of the hermitage, the solid mass of the Kudiat rises up 
dominated by the Ilaman peak, ten thousand feet high, 
bare, heaped-up and rocky mountains, coloured by the sun, 
above all towards evening, with rose or fawn, with gloomy 
or dark purple tints, undimmed by mist or dust : to the 
east, and closer, is the little Hageran chain : to the 
west the undulations through which the In-Salah track 
penetrates and winds : on the south the split rock of 
Mt. Hadrian, famous in Tuareg legend.^ At these great 
heights the air is of such perfect transparency as our 

^ The legend relates that long ago the giant Elias split the mountain 
witli a blow of his sword. 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 235 

eyes have never seen. Autumn is the fine season; the 
days are mildly warm, the nights sparkling with stars : one 
has not to go a long way up to see the Southern Cross. 
What a magic name ! The very mention of this heavenly 
jewel gives plenty of food for imagination, and allows us to 
reckon how far infinite charity has led Father de Foucauld 
from Europe. 

He is there on the threshold of his cabin, dressed in his 
white robe, which bears a red heart and cross on the breast. 
If he looks again into the plain, he will see but a single 
tree there, an ethel, a sort of enormous round tamarisk, 
which grew in the bed of the wady. In the shade of this 
only spot of verdure he suspended his barometers and 
thermometers, except the large mercury barometer over six 
feet high, brought with so much difficulty on camel-back, 
and now hung up in the hermitage. At that period a single 
tree and no house, only a few zeribas, rush huts similar to 
his own, half hidden in the bed of the Wady Tamanrasset, 
in which lived some harratins, who grew a little barley, 
carrots, and red Guinea pepper. They were his ordinary 
companions. There were others who passed by. In the 
expanse, except in the great droughts, Tuareg shepherds, 
dwellers in great tents, guarding troops of camels, asses, 
sheep and goats, were nearly always wandering about. 
One morning, without any noise having revealed the march 
of a caravan, appears the ungainly outline in shadow of a 
few extra camels, whose feet and bellies make windows, and 
not far away are three or four hillocks which were not visible 
the evening before, brown molehills made of animals' skins 
under which the nomads sleep. These " masters of the 
desert," as the Tuaregs are often called, lead the most 
nomadic life possible. They fill the desert with their 
name, but they are not very numerous. Tamanrasset 
ordinarily only numbered about sixty inhabitants. Father 
de Eoucauld estimated the various Kel-Ahaggar tribes at 
from eight to nine hundred families, whilst other groups 
of tribes of the same people — the Iforas, for instance — 
amounted to at least two thousand families. Summer drives 
them away and compels them to convey their cattle to 
immense distances, as far as the Sudan, where they pay 
very high for pasturage. They also travel for commerce. ' 
Caravans set forth to sell sheep and goats in the markets of 
Tidikelt, and bring back cotton goods, dates, and millet. 
Other Tuaregs carry on traffic with Rhat and Rhadames : 
others lead their camels loaded with salt from the celebrated 
mines of Taudeni as far as Timbuctoo. 



23b CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

A wretched people, on the whole, often tormented with 
hunger and thirst. It does not know whence it comes, nor 
through what event it was obliged to retire into so rude a 
region. For a long time the legend of the European origin 
of the Tuaregs was upheld, on account of the whiteness of 
their skin, and the cross which they carry as an ornament 
on the pommels of their saddles and on their clothes. It is 
now thought that they are Berbers thrust back by Arab 
invasions into the depths of the desert, "simply Libyans, 
the last survivors," says M. E. Gautier. And Father de 
Foucauld, who studied them more closely than anyone, was 
of the same opinion. "They are," he wrote, "certainly 
Hamites; their language shows it clearly. When of pure 
type they have the physiognomy of the ancient Egyptians : 
very white, slender, long-faced, regular features, large eyes, 
slightly receding forehead, arms and legs rather long and 
thin — the Egyptians of the old sculptures. Their customs 
are very different from those of the Arabs. They are 
Musulmans with a great deal of faith but no practice or 
education."^ The Middle Ages seem to have known them : 
annals of the time of the Crusaders speak of veiled men, the 
Multimin. They have, in fact, their faces veiled up to 
the eyes by a blue bandage, the litham. Their pride is 
immense, their coquetry greater than that of women. When 
these tall thin devils, leaning on their lance, approach a 
stranger they hold their heads straighter, they affect a 
more solemn walk than if they were princes of former 
times. 

Up to the beginning of our century war and expeditions 
of vengeance and plunder were the most lucrative in- 
dustry of the Tuareg tribes : the free man does not work. 
Emile Gautier describes the warrior thus : " The accoutre- 
ments of the Tuareg warriors are well known : the long fine 
lance, all of iron, inlaid with brass, with fierce barbs; the 
great long straight sword, with round point and cross-hilt, 
. . . the antelope-skin shield, painted with barbarous 
figures. They are dreadfully 'poor,' far beyond our usual 
conception of the word : the cost of a Winchester rifle 
and its annual supply of cartridges, doubled or tripled by 
the carriage across a thousand miles of desert, is about as 

^ Letter to Comte de Foucauld, April 3, 1906. The Tuaregs believe 
in God, but do not observe the Ramadan fast, nor say the five daily 
prayers. E. Gautier said : " Nowhere in the rest of the Berber world 
does the primitive man appear under so superficial and scaly a varnish 
of Islam." No doubt that was one of the reasons which decided Father 
dc Foucauld to settle in Hoggar. 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 237 

disproportioned to the resources of an average Tuareg as, 
for instance, the upkeep of a 6o-h.p. motor-car to the income 
of a rural postman." 

The fighting men, when they go on an expedition and it 
is time for the night halt, bring several shields together 
and sleep thus under shelter. The family tent is not quite 
so primitive. " A big skin made of an infinite number of 
sheepskins sewn together, fixed by cords to twelve stakes, 
a long central pole which raises the skin, and there your 
Tuareg family lodges," says a traveller who recently visited 
Hoggar.^ " The Dag Rali that I visited were rich, and had 
tents of fine skins and carved stakes. To complete their 
dwellings, through which the wind passes without meeting 
any obstacle, the tent is surrounded by a sort of screen 
formed of fibre mats which the Tuaregs make themselves. 
At night the tent is closed by the mat; in the day the mat 
is rolled up. . . . The furniture is reduced to nothing : a 
few coverlets, kitchen utensils, the rahla to mount the camel, 
the woman's violin (inizad), and arms — that is all. Of 
course, they have no beds : all sleep on the ground. . . . 
Around the tents negro and negress slaves attend to the 
household duties. The men, at least at this season, do 
nothing, spend their time in palaver or sword-fencing with 
great skin shields. The women are busy with the children 
and cooking, which is really too inadequate; they play the 
imsad and make visits in the evening." 

The nomad women not only pay visits to one another. 
Frequently at the end of the afternoon, before the hour for 
milking the animals, they go to a gallant party which brings 
together the young girls, the young widows or those cast 
off, the young or comparatively young and unmarried men. 
There is great liberty of speech. Sometimes the ahdl is 
held in the shade of a tree, if there is one, or a rock ; at other 
times, under the tent of a woman living alone, or a tent 
put up on purpose. They sit beside one another. They 
meet old friends, they chat, invent witticisms, a woman 
plays the imsad, a violin with one string, the men accom- 
panying in an undertone : the men often recite poetry of 
their own composition or poems that have been handed 
down in the family or tribe from generation to generation. 
Young Tuareg warriors sometimes go from 60 to 120 miles 
to be at an ahdl of a woman reputed for her beauty or wit. 
A traditional etiquette regulates everything in this corner 

^ Doctor Vermale, Au Sahara pendant la guerre europ/ene, 1913-1917 
(written notes). Doctor Vermale was killed by the Tuaregs in the battle 
of Ain-el-Hajaj, February 13, 1917. He was twenty-nine years of age. 



238 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

of the desert en fete. " Clothes, behaviour, and conversa- 
tion are all governed by a graded worldly code, discreet, 
absurd, and inflexible. Flirting is naturally the great 
occupation."^ 

The Hoggar confederation, like the other Tuareg con- 
federations, is commanded by an elected chief, the amenokal 
chosen among the nobles :^ each tribe obeys an amrar. We 
already know that when Father de Foucauld began to build 
his hermitage at Tamanrasset, the Hoggar amenokal was 
Musa ag Amastane. He succeeded two declared enemies 
of the French : Ahitarel, who governed the confederation 
at the time of the massacre of the Flatter mission ; then 
Attisi, who had himself taken part in the massacre. More 
clever and also more intelligent than his predecessors, 
Musa entered into negotiation with the military chiefs of 
the oases even before his election as chief of his nation. At 
the beginning of 1904 he concluded a treaty of friendship 
with the French at In-Salah, had himself recognized chief 
of the Hoggar Tuaregs, and — cleverest of all in the chief 
of a band — obtained from France pardon for the former 
amenokal Attisi, who had become unpopular and retired 
towards the south-east, to the Azjer Tuaregs. 

Such was the country in which Father de Foucauld pro- 
posed to live, such were the Tuaregs whom he was going 
to have as companions and witnesses. He could still 
change his mind and go back north. That was proposed 
to him. Captain Dinaux, who had followed his journey 
and run over the A'ir region, again at the end of five weeks 
passed through Tamanrasset on October 15, 1905. He 
inquired about the hermit's plans : they had not changed. 
Then he bade him adieu, put in his report this memorable 
fact that a civilized man had asked as a great favour to be 
left in Hoggar, and added : " He will remain thus alone in 
the midst of the Tuaregs, 425 miles from In-Salah, and will 
be united to us only by the monthly courier which we are 
going to try to inaugurate." 

What faith and what moral energy to support such a 
trial victoriously I No one of his race and education. No 
help for body or soul ! No hope for years and years of 
altogether winning a people to his Faith across such a 
distance and so many obstacles ! He knew for a certainty 
that he would die before getting the reward — that is to say, 
before securing the full conversion of a single soul to the 

^ Emile Gautier, La Conqucte du Sahara. 

* The Hoggar noble tribes are the Kel Rela and the Taitok : both 
have vassal tribes. 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 239 

law of salvation and Christian civilization. And yet, not 
to doubt, not to hesitate, to offer himself resolutely for a 
task which no human attraction recommended, to break 
with all that he loved on earth and in the mind of Europe, 
to obtain the difficult, the uncertain distrustful sympathy of 
nomad shepherds, of warriors accustomed to robbery, and 
of miserable negroes — that is the life which Father de 
Foucauld chose. Most men, even of the stoutest type, would 
have succumbed to one or other of these temptations : dis- 
couragement or corruption. He remained pure : he made 
progress in the art of sacrifice, the longest of all to learn 
and the one the mastery of which is never assured ; he 
rendered France the incomparable service of allowing a 
glimpse of her to be caught, for she was present and recog- 
nizable in him ; he rendered other services to science ; he 
prepared a whole people for missionaries to come ; he was 
the great solitary sower whose steps nobody has been able 
to count. He never counted them himself. I believe the 
words of one of his near relations are quite right : " Hoggar. 
This is the period of his life in which Charles showed all 
he could do." 

His self-surrender was apparently complete : yet it was 
to be much greater. 

Eaithful to his unchangeable resolution to prepare for the 
conversion of the infidels. Father de Foucauld, as soon as 
he had taken possession of his hermitage, made his retreat, 
and noted in his diary the means he would use for such a 
blessing. 

" Do my utmost for the salvation of the infidel peoples 
of these countries by the total forgetfulness of self. 

" Every year make a round of the arrhem^ of Hoggar; 
accept invitations to journeys in the Sahara, if they are 
useful ; if possible, spend a few days every year in the tents 
of the Hoggars." 

With the help of Abd en Nebi, a Tamanrasset harratin, 
whom he paid twenty centimes a lesson — a price which was 
then and there sufficient — he at once undertook the transla- 
tion into Tuareg of extracts from the Holy Scriptures. 

Total forgetfulness of self, a life of prayer, charity, and 
study : how could a man faithful to such an ideal be unsuc- 
cessful in gaining the sympathy of these camel-drivers and 
savage traders, even of giving them a glimpse of the moral 
superiority of Christians ? How doubt that France, of 
whom he was a model son, would benefit by such an exile ? 
Captain Dinaux, the refined and cultivated officer who had 
^ Little colonies of agriculturists are thus described. 



240 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

brought him to Hoggar and then left him there, said in his 
report to the Governor-General of Algeria : " The Father's 
reputation for holiness, the results he has clearly obtained 
in curing the sick, will do more for the extension of our 
influence and the rallying to our ideas, than a permanent 
occupation of the country. . . . The manner in which he 
was received and installed is a characteristic proof of 
Musa's good dispositions." He added these lines, which 
do him honour, and which should be remembered: "On 
the same grounds, we should encourage the establishment 
of the half-nomadic White Sisters as much as possible : the 
position of the Tuareg woman would further the improve- 
ment of their race by contact with European women. . . . 
Their devotion, their kindness, and spirit of sacrifice would 
have the happiest influence on the Tuaregs." 

Father de Foucauld's Rule was still the same as that of 
the Little Brothers of the Sacred Heart, but he was obliged 
to make two modifications in them : he devoted a great 
deal of time to the study of Tamachek, and at first he had 
to leave the enclosure, in order " to be in contact " with his 
changing neighbours. " He had to take the first steps :" 
the Tuaregs would not come of themselves when there was 
no material profit to be hoped for. Brother Charles would 
therefore go into the gardens where the harratins were 
working : he would go and chat with the shepherds and 
their slaves around the tents scattered in the plain. He 
gave out remedies and little presents of coloured pictures, 
and above all needles that women riding on donkeys came 
from very far to beg for, since the greater part of the time 
they had to sew with thorns, to the end of which they 
fastened a piece of thread. Later on he learnt to knit, so 
as to give them knitting lessons : he thought of the great 
material and moral gain of establishing little workrooms 
managed by French Sisters in this country, " where they 
work so little and talk so much," and where the women 
" die of idleness." If only they could be taught to weave 
wool ! When the sheep falls, unfortunately its wool 
along with the camel's hair are carried off by the wind. 
" Nobody makes anything of them : a little goat's hair is 
used to make cords, the rest is unused." The thought of 
" his people" never left this colonizing monk. 

He also saw Musa ag Amastane, and spoke of him in 
his letters, and the opening sketch of the amenokal's face 
helps us to a much clearer idea of him. 

'* I again saw a lot of Tuaregs whom I saw last year : we 
are on very good terms. As to the natives, I see no other 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 241 

duty than that of praying for them, and making them like 
me, and, should an opportunity offer, giving them good 
advice very discreetly. ... I endeavour to prepare the 
way for others, praying to Jesus to send them. It seems 
to me that at present the most necessary things in Hoggar 
are education and the reconstitution of the family ; their 
ignorance is so profound as to render them incapable of 
distinguishing the true from the false, and the looseness of 
family life, the sequel to that of morals and numerous 
divorces, leaves the children to grow up as chance may 
decide and without education. . . . 

" The setting up of French authority among the Hoggar 
and the Taitok has made great progress since last 
year. 

" As long as France has not a European war, we seem to 
be safe. If there is a European war, there would probably 
be risings in the whole South and here as elsewhere. . . . 

" Actually both are entirely subject and pay 'France 
tribute : the amrar of the Taitok and the amenokal of the 
Hoggar were solemnly invested with their authority in the 
name of France by the chief of the dependency of In-Salah, 
to whom they are subordinate. The Taitok has an amrar 
Gidi ag Geraji, an intelligent old man but without great 
authority, and not a very responsible character. The 
Hoggar have Musa ag Amastane as amenokal; he is a 
very intelligent man, animated with good intentions, seek- 
ing solely the welfare of the Musulmans and Tuaregs ; 
large-minded, he devotes his life to make peace reign among 
the Tuaregs, to protect the weak against the violence of 
the strong, and by that acquires, as well as by his liberality, 
piety, amiability, and courage, a universal veneration from 
In-Salah to Timbuctoo; the good he does, his efforts for 
peace and justice, are not restricted to Hoggar, but ex- 
tend to the neighbouring tribes — Azjers, Kel-Ui, Taitok, 
Aulimmiden : his moderation, his spirit of peace, and his 
constancy in upholding the poor and oppressed against 
injustice, are remarkable ; he is open-minded, wise, and 
moderate ; if God gives him life, his influence will go on 
increasing and will last for a long time. It is very interest- 
ing to see this mixture of great natural gifts and profound 
ignorance in this man who, from certain points of view, is 
a savage, and, from others, has a right to esteem and con- 
sideration ; for his justice, his courage, and the elevation of 
his character have made for him a peerless position from 
Twat and Rhat as far as the Niger. My relations with him 
are excellent. I had not seen him last year ; this vear I have 

16 



242 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

not left him for four months ; he is here even now ; he has no 
residence, and is a nomad like all his compatriots. Do his 
fine qualities exclude ambition, sensuality, and disdain and 
hatred in his heart for non-Musulmans ? I do not think so, 
but he seems to have enough real piety, so that striving for 
the general good influences his conduct more than private 
interest, and he is intelligent enough to change to good 
whatever is false and bad in his mind and heart. "^ 

This detailed analysis of Musa ag Amastane's character 
shows frequent intercourse between him and Father de 
Foucauld. The above letter alludes to it, but does not give 
any detailed account. What subjects were approached in 
these conversations between the European Christian and the 
African Musulman ? The happy influence of Father de 
Foucauld, even his moral authority over the Hoggar chief, 
is undeniable. It will be clearly seen later, when I have to 
speak of the last moments and last words of the amenokal. 
But what sort of talks went on with the hermit of Taman- 
rasset when he paid or received visits from the chief ? In 
spite of his personal fervour, did he confine himself to 
vague counsels with distant or discreetly veiled references 
to the law of Christ ? This has been maintained, because 
many require positive proofs in order to believe in goodness, 
especially in a certain courage in which they are wanting; 
and so far these proofs could not be given. But now we 
have them. 

After Father de Foucauld's death in his hermitage at 
Tamanrasset, among many other papers dispersed and 
thrown in the dust was found a pocket-book of intimate 
notes, a sort of memento, which I have under my eyes in 
writing these lines. Several pages are headed : Things to 
say and letters written to Musa. These things were not 
said or written at the beginning of his stay at Tamanrasset, 
but they are clearness itself ; they reply to a question still 
more general than the one which has been put. About 
what did Father de Foucauld speak to the Tuaregs and, in 
a more general way, to Musulmans ; and up to what point 
did he use that right of counsel which he bought so dearly 
and which his strict duty forbade him to drop ? Here it is. 
I shall reproduce the greater part of the two documents, of 
which the first is dated Easter, 1912, the second 1914, but 
which both explain the whole of his dwelling at Taman- 
rasset, and reveal the secret of an action, always French, 
but also essentially and always religious. 

^ Letter to Mgr. Livinhac, October 26, 1905. 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 243 

" Tell Musa: 

" I. Surround yourself with worthy people, keep no 
good-for-nothings about you. 

*' 2. Keep away all strange Arabs who only come to 
settle here in order to eat up the country and to eat up you, 
Musa. 

"3. Encourage settlers. 

" 4. Reduce expenses. Be humble. God alone is great. 
He who thinks himself great, or who seeks to be great, does 
not know God. 

"5. First of all, love God with your whole heart and 
above all things ; next, love all men as yourself. From the 
love of your neighbour as yourself follows the triple law of 
fraternity, equality {imrad), liberty (slaves). ' When Adam 
delved and Eve span, where was then the gentleman ?* 
Where was the imrad, where the slave ? 

"6. If he wants to know how the prophets think, speak, 
and act, he must come to see me. I shall read the Gospels 
to him. 

"7. Don't ask for, and don't accept presents. By ask- 
ing for presents from his friends, he burdens them heavily ; 
by accepting presents from anyone, he becomes the slave of 
the riff-raff, 

"8. Pay all debts and don't incur new ones: don't 
borrow of friends, because that is unworthy of you and will 
weigh heavily upon them. Don't borrow of unknown 
people, for that will make 3'ou their slave. In the holy 
books, God often tells chiefs not to take gifts. If the man 
from whom they have taken a gift asks them for an unjust 
thing, they find it hard to refuse; if he does wrong, they 
find it hard to punish him ; it is to be feared that they will 
prefer him to others, who have given nothing, as good or 
better than them. 

" 9. Don't give presents or hospitality without necessity, 
otherwise you will always be : (i) in money difficulties and 
debts; (2) surrounded by riff-raff, for it is they and not 
worthy people whom hospitality attracts; (3) to provide for 
it you will have to get considerable presents given you by 
those of the imrad who are most devoted to you, and they 
will end by hating you on account of your requests for 
money, for your waste and his bad company. 

" 10. Have fewer slaves; a band of wasteful good-for- 
nothings who make you ridiculous are no good to you. 

"11. When you are near an officer, go frequently to see 
him quite alone; many things are better treated in a tete- 
a-tete; and speak to him without an interpreter, quite 



244 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

frankly as to a real friend ; never tell the shade of an un- 
truth. Treat all grave affairs always in a tete-a-tete with 
the officer without interpreter. 

" 12. Never lie to anybody ; all untruth is hateful tcGod, 
for God is truth. 

" 13. Always furnish thoroughly good men as guides, 
because often all the other Tuaregs get judged by them. 

" 14. Never praise a person to his face; when one loves 
and esteems anyone, that is shown by confidence and acts ; 
there is no use in talking about it; to flatter is a low thing 
good enough for the Arabian thalebs. 

" 15. Don't be slow and lazy, manage to husband your 
time. 

** 16. Try hard to get your people to learn French, to 
become naturalized French, not to become our subjects but 
our equals, to be everywhere on the same footing as we, so 
as to be everywhere free from annoyance. That will come 
sooner or later ; those who see what is coming prepare for it ; 
thanks to that, and probably in a short time, all the military 
and employes of Ahaggar will be natives. 

" 17. Never make a real present to any Frenchman; that 
rather annoys than pleases those to whom you give them ; for 
it is an expense to you (which they wish to spare you), and 
also to the receiver (who will always make a present in 
return) ; when a Frenchman takes a gift, it is only through 
politeness and with regret. Never ask the captain for 
sugar, tea, or anything ; bring what is necessary, and if 
you lack anything, put up with it. If you ask, you get 
what you want, but at the same time you obtain what you 
don't wish for — contempt." 

"Letters to Musa: 

" Love God above all things, with your whole heart, your 
whole strength, and your whole mind. 

" Love all men as yourself, for the love of God. 

" Do unto all men what you wish they would do unto 
you. 

" Do to none what you would not wish them to do unto 
you. 

'* Abase yourself inwardly : God alone is great; all men 
are little : the man who is puffed up is mad, for he knows 
not whether he is going to heaven or hell. 

" God sees all your thoughts, words, and deeds; remem- 
ber and do them all as in His sight. 

" Do each act as you would have it done at the hour of 
death . 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 245 

" The hour of death is unknown : let your soul be as you 
would have it at the hour of death. 

'* Each evening reflect on the thoughts, words, and deeds 
of the day; ask pardon of God for those that are bad and 
for all the sins of your life, as if you were going to die in 
the night, and say to God from the bottom of your heart : 

" ' O God, I love Thee with my whole heart, above all 
things. 

" ' O God, Thy will in all things is mine. 

" ' My God, all that Thou wiliest me to do, I will do.' " 

Is not that the summary of all evangelical morality, and 
is it necessary to remark that such teaching, commented 
on by frequent conversations, either with Musa, or with 
the Tuaregs and harratins of Hoggar, was excellently 
calculated to prepare the chief and his people to receive 
and understand Catholic dogma? Is not the poor Saharan 
who undertakes to examine his conscience and say the 
above prayer in the best dispositions for deserving and 
desiring to know the whole truth? And how near us he 
would be ! And how much better would treaties hold 
with men thus taught ! 

Brother Charles, living in the midst of them, and having 
intercourse only with them, quickly judges the Tuaregs. 
He compares them to the Arabs ; in both cases there are 
the same ignorance and violence. But the ignorance of 
the Tuaregs can be more easily combated and overcome, 
because they are of a more amiable nature, and more 
inquisitive. Their greatest fault is pride. These nomads 
of a Saharan tribe, "the proudest of men," look upon us 
as savages. They esteem themselves as the most perfect of 
mankind, "the best on earth." They even take us for 
know-nothings, and no doubt this would be a sign of mad- 
ness if they had not some slight excuse — pride is con- 
tented with little and sometimes even with nothing — in 
their manner of life, and in their extreme remoteness, and 
in the obstacles of all sorts which make their country so 
inaccessible. One of the best-known officers of our African 
Army, an expert in all Saharan questions, whom I ques- 
tioned in Algiers about the incredible contempt for us 
which the natives feel or affect, replied: "They feel that 
we are at their mercy whenever we ask them to act as 
guides in the desert, or advise us about a police operation. 
The natives think we are their inferiors in their own sur- 
roundings, and that is enough. Our machinery makes 
little impression upon them. A picture or a legend seems 



246 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

an explanation to them, and satisfies their very superficial 
desire for knowledge. Thus, to them an aeroplane is only 
a ' tent that flies ' ; the wireless, the utilization of the wind 
which we send from one post to another; the motor, an 
iron box in which we have imprisoned the genii of fire. It 
is the genii that make the wheels turn. And the proof is 
the drubbing (the turning of the crank-handle) we give 
them at starting, to force them to work. When once a 
native has heard these poor explanations, he considers 
himself well-informed, and as he feels no need to change 
his customs, the camel caravans seem to him the best means 
of transporting dates, millet, and salt, just as do runners 
for sending news; he agrees to use our inventions but does 
not esteem us on account of them, having been able to 
live at less expense, freely and as he pleased, before they 
were known." 

That is not the whole explanation of the natives' pride. 
They were told, and thought there were manv signs that 
Europeans, and particularly the French, were unbelievers. 
It is another error, another want of knowledge, more 
serious than the first, but which is explained by our fault, 
and they say : " You have the earth, but we have heaven." 

Father de Foucauld, who was familiar with the subject, 
might then quite rightly conclude thus : 

" Our civilized nations — which have among them many 
savages, many who are ignorant of primary truths and as 
violent as the Tuaregs — are very guilty for not spreading 
the light and propagating the right, education and laws of 
peace, in these backward countries. How easy that would 
be ! But instead of that, they waste their substance in 
follies, or wars, or mad contradictions."^ 

Such were the companions among whom it may be said 
Father de Foucauld lived in solitude. He had his refuge 
in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the celebra- 
tion of Mass. But the consecration of the Body of Christ 
demanded some one to serve Mass along with the priest. 
Now, a letter to Father Guerin, on April 2, 1906, let it be 
seen that the negro, the former slave brought from Beni- 
Abbes to Ahaggar, would have to go : " Paul goes from 
bad to worse — morally — the impossibility of saying Mass 
without him alone makes me keep him. If I were obliged 
to part with him, or if he, of his own accord, leaves me, 
might I say Holy Mass, every fortnight, alone, in order to 
renew the holy species? Might I myself communicate 
daily as priests in prison do? . . . Thanks be to God! 
^ Letter to the Comte de Foucauld, April 3, 1906, 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 247 

I am the happiest of men ; solitude with Jesus is a deHcious 
tete-d-tete, but I should like good to be done, to spread 
and be propagated; nevertheless, non mea voluntas, sed 
tua fiat! . . . My soul is in great peace. I am full of 
miseries, but without any serious thing tormenting me. I 
am happy and peaceable at the feet of the Well-Beloved I" 

The will of God was that trial should come and the 
courage of His priest appear with more splendour. On 
May 17 the diary tells us that Paul left the Fraternity of 
Tamanrasset. Brother Charles gives no explanation ; he 
has only a cry for pity : " O God, make me go on cele- 
brating the holy Sacrifice ! Let me not lose my soul ! 
Save it." 

In his letters he spoke of a coming visit to Hoggar : " I 
am expecting the visit of my old and good friend, 
Motylinski, a former army interpreter, one of the most 
learned men in Algeria, who has asked to spend the 
summer with me, in order to study Tamachek. ... I 
am preparing a grammar, a Tamachek-French and a 
French-Tamachek lexicon, and a translation of extracts 
from the Bible, making both an abridged Bible-history and 
a collection of the most useful passages for this place, from 
poetic, sapiential, and prophetic books. All that is fairly 
forward, and may be finished two or three months from 
now." 

On Whit-Sunday, June 3, 1906, Motylinski arrived. 
"A very good-hearted man," wrote Father de Foucauld, 
"and he will contribute to making the Tuaregs our 
friends." And Motylinski agreed to serve Mass. "The 
good God has sent him here just in the nick of time to 
allow me to continue to say it." 

M. de Motylinski 's stay in Hoggar lasted three months, 
during which the linguistic work made great progress. At 
the beginning of September the two friends set out for the 
" north," as the extreme south Oranais is here called. 
Father de Foucauld wished to see Beni- Abbes again. 
There he received a welcome which, in his modesty, he did 
not expect. " I was very satisfied with what I found at 
Beni-Abbes : the French, beyond all expression, and the 
natives of the Saura beyond all hope, were just perfect to 
me." It was a very rapid journey : Father de Foucauld, 
whom Motylinski had left at El-Golea — on the way to 
Ghardai'a and Biskra — went farther north, spent a few days 
at Maison Carree with Father Guerin and his friends the 
White Fathers, and then hastily returned to Hoggar. 
" Hoggar is still so new," he said, " so little accustomed to 



248 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

our presence, that I think it very desirable to be absent the 
shortest time possible." And he set out from Algiers on 
December lo, with the intention of spending a few weeks 
at Beni-Abbes, then of going full speed to the South and 
regaining Tamanrasset. 

For a wonder, the hermit had a companion, not an ex- 
ploring amateur or scientist, but a companion who said he 
meant to follow him into the desert. This was a young 
Breton, a fisherman's son, who had spent three years with 
the White Fathers, then three years in a Zouaves' regiment 
in Africa. He was seeking his final career, and believed 
he had found it when he heard all about Father de 
Foucauld's mission. They therefore set out together. 
After having spent the whole evening and night with the 
natives in one of the compartments of the little train which 
starts from Oran and nears the Moroccan frontier and 
touches it at Beni-Unif, the Father and Brother Michael, 
dressed in Arab fashion, got off at Ain-Sefra Station, the 
chief town of the military sub-division. It is a large 
village built on the left of the railway, beyond a wide 
space where the sand flies; bright houses, the Information 
Office and club built in Moorish style ; the little shops 
of a southern station ; among the roofs, tufts of trees ; 
and quite in the background are seen the projecting 
spurs of the great dunes, and a mountain. About fifteen 
officers had come to the station to wait for their former 
comrade, among them General Lyautey, who offered him 
hospitality. " I found him," the Marshal told me, 
" poor and neglected, though he used to be so refined. 
And that was intentional. Nothing was left of the former 
Foucauld. Yes, something : his eyes, which were beau- 
tiful, illumined. The officers adored him. He rode with 
them barefooted. I had given him a room. Next day 
when he left us, I just received a telegram announcing 
that friends were coming. I said to the orderly : 

" Hurry up and get the room ready !" 

" It will be ready very quickly, sir." 

"Why?" 

"The bed has not been touched; not a thing has been 
moved; he slept on the floor." 

It had become a habit. 

From Ai'n-Sefra, the two travellers gained Colomb- 
Bechar by train. They stopped, however, twenty-four 
hours at IBeni-Unif, and, at the invitation of Commander 
Pariel, who was already popular and quite safe in the 
Moroccan oasis, visited Figig, where the Governor-General 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 249 

of Algeria had been welcomed with rifle-shots three or four 
years earlier. It was but a little thing-, a walk under the 
palms and in the ksurs, a few minutes' conversation with 
the natives, looking white in the blue shadow of the wind- 
ing-streets, a salute, a friendly word, an alms. However, 
certain people have a mysterious power : they pass, and he 
who has only seen, touched, or heard them for a moment, 
cannot forget them. After over thirteen years, in the 
spring of 1920 I found the recollection of Father de 
Foucauld's visit very enduring at Figig. One of the sol- 
diers of the maghsen, a magnificent trooper in his high- 
coloured costume, a man with a serious and mild face, 
when I questioned him, replied : 

" You are speaking of the Christian marabout? Yes, I 
remember him." 

" What did you think of him?" 

" What everybody thought : he was a good man." 

After Colomb-Bechar, there was no railway or road to 
Beni-i\bbes, and the companion began his real appren- 
ticeship in Saharan travel. He wrote his impressions; he 
formed his opinion of his "Superior," and the pages he 
wrote are one of the most informing records of Father de 
Foucauld's life on the tramp through the desert or at 
Beni-Abbes. 

Brother Michael's Story. 

" We reached Colomb-Bechar, the railway terminus. 
At the station the French officers of the garrison again 
came to seek my venerated Superior, who received hos- 
pitality at the house of one of them, whilst I went and 
lodged, as agreed, in a modest hotel. On our arrival, the 
first care of the Father was to hire a servant who could be 
trusted to lead and take care of the two camels that carried 
our luggage and provisions across the Sahara. He was a 
big boy of thirty, a negro, a former slave in Timbuctoo, 
called Ubargua, a drinker and stubborn, vain, a liar, 
lazy and greedy, repulsively dirty and without any re- 
ligion. Thinking the Father was very rich, he had joy- 
fully agreed to serve him in the hope of having abundant 
and delicate food, and also very little work. At the end 
of a few days his disappointment was great, when he saw 
that instead of good cheer he had only just enough. He 
had also made up his mind to leave his place with us as 
soon as he found another in which he would be better fed. 

" The next day we entered the desert, escorted by five 
or six African privates under a sergeant. The soldiers 



250 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

were always a few paces ahead of us, searching carefully 
every bush, every bit of cover in the land, to see they did 
not conceal any caravan robbers. After three days' march 
without any disagreeable encounter, we at last reached 
Beni-Abbes, where the Father had established what he 
called his first hermitage, and where we were to rest for a 
few days. It was a very modest convent, built with earth 
and wood, like all the cabins in the country. The cells, to 
the number of seven or eight, intended for the future 
monks, were so low that a man of ordinary stature touched 
the roof on raising his hand a little over his head, so narrow 
that in stretching out one's arms in the form of a cross 
one could touch the wall on the right and left. No bed, 
seat, table, or a prie-dieu to kneel on ; one had to sleep, 
fully dressed, on a palm mat spread out on the floor. The 
sacristy was large enough and did for the Father's library 
and store, bedroom and study. The chapel was built like 
'all the rest with wood and earth and surmounted by a 
dome; inside there was no other furniture than a very 
simple altar and two prie-dieu ; therefore, during the long 
offices and the daily and nightly exercises of piety, one had 
to stand, or kneel, or sit on the mats. Near the sacristy 
there was a fine room, completely empty, which the Father 
intended to keep for passing strangers, for the Prefect Apos- 
tolic, for officers and other distinguished people who might 
come to visit him. . . . We spent every Christmas in this 
hermitage. At midnight Mass there were a hundred 
present, all officers, non-commissioned officers or soldiers, 
who filled not only the church but also the sacristy. I 
remarked a single woman in this numerous assembly. She 
was an old mulatto, very poor, quite blind, a beautiful 
soul enshrined in an ugly body, whom the Father had bap- 
tized three or four months ago, and whom he kept alive by 
his alms. She spent all her days in prayer and did not 
fail to go to communion every time that the holy Sacri- 
fice of the Mass was offered at Beni-Abbes. At the de- 
parture of her benefactor, she wept bitter tears and uttered 
cries of grief. 

" Here is the Rule we followed during the ten days we 
spent at the hermitage. As we had no lamps to light us, 
and were obliged to economize the wax and candles for the 
long and frequent liturgical ceremonies; our rising and 
going to bed were regulated by the sun. The Father loved 
punctuality, and himself fulfilled the difficult office of time- 
keeper, assigned in most communities to the youngest and 
least worthy. In the morning he came and wakened me 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 251 

at daybreak. As we slept fully dressed, our toilet was 
quickly finished, and a few minutes after getting up I said 
the Angelus in my cell. At the sound of the bell I went 
to church. My Superior then recited a long prayer, half in 
Latin, half in French, which I answered; he exposed the 
Blessed Sacrament, singing the Tantum ergo, then cele- 
brated holy Mass, which I served, and during which I 
communicated. We remained in silence and adoration for 
more than two hours. The thanksgiving and meditation 
over, the Father said his breviary in a low voice, while I 
said some Paters and Aves. Before leaving the chapel 
the Father gave Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament 
and shut the holy ciborium up in the tabernacle. About 
9 o'clock we went each to our work : my Superior shut 
himself up in the sacristy, where his books and manuscripts 
are, and wrote letters, or worked at his dictionary of the 
Tuareg language, always writing, for want of a table, on a 
simple box. As for me, I retired to my cell, the only one 
that had a chimney, and which served at once as workshop, 
kitchen, and refectory. There I read a pious book; then I 
set to work, either grinding wheat between two stones, as 
the people of the country do, crushing dates with a pestle 
and mortar, baking thick flat cakes in the ashes, or cook- 
ing. At 1 1 o'clock we had our meal, preceded by the read- 
ing of a chapter of the New Testament and particular 
examen. After saying grace, the Father stood up and 
read aloud two or three passages from a chapter of the 
Imitation; then we all sat on our mats around the saucepan 
placed on the ground, just off the fire, the Father, our 
negro servant and myself, and we ate in the greatest silence, 
fishing food out of the dish with a spoon, and drinking 
water out of the same vessel. The menu varied very little ; 
it was composed now of a dish of rice cooked in water and, 
very exceptionally, with condensed milk, sometimes mixed 
with carrots and turnips which grow in the desert sand, 
sometimes with a sort of marmalade of a fairly pleasant 
flavour made with wheat-flour, crushed dates, and water. 
There were no napkins, table-cloth, plates, or knives or 
forks with which to eat this slight collation. We stood up 
at the end of a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes, and 
after thanksgiving and grace, both went to the chapel 
chanting the Miserere, to pay a visit to the Blessed Sacra- 
ment, and for spiritual reading in common. About 2 o'clock 
we returned, each on our own side, to our usual occupa- 
tions, the Father to his studies, and I to manual work. At 
6 in the evening we had supper with only one course, like 



252 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

the other meal. It was taken in the same way and 
despatched with the same rapidity. About half-past 6 we 
went to church for mental prayer before the Blessed Sacra- 
ment exposed, then a long evening prayer followed by 
Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament. We finished the 
day with the hymn Veni Creator. Bedtime was regularly 
fixed by twilight, but it was always dark when we went to 
rest. 

" We remained more than a week in the oasis of Beni- 
Abbes, faithful observers of the austere Rule which I have 
just described. On December 27, 1906, we continued our 
journey, accompanied by several officers, among others the 
paptain who commanded the garrison, and two native sol- 
diers. The officers accompanied us for a whole day. In 
the afternoon a herd of gazelles passed before our caravan, 
at a fair distance, and stopped to look at us. One of our 
men on vieharis at once aimed at one and brought it down. 
It was cut up and roasted. The supper was a real feast, 
in which all took part, even my venerated Superior. 

" Next morning the officers left us, after an exchange 
of good wishes and hearty handshaking, giving us two 
native soldiers to protect us. The Father at the moment 
of parting gave the keys of his Beni-Abbes hermitage to 
the captain, saying to him : ' Watch well over the house 
of God; I entrust it to you.' 

" During the whole crossing of the desert, which took 
place in winter, the day temperature was from 59° to 68°, 
that of night from four or five degrees below freezing-point. 
In the morning we sometimes found frozen water in the 
cruet, and the ground covered with a thin coat of ice. From 
time to time a violent wind blew and made thick clouds of 
dust, driving sand into our eyes and small pebbles into 
our faces. When we arrived in a village at night, we 
were always offered hospitality, and we passed the night in 
a house. More often we slept under the canopy of heaven 
without any fire, in a hole large enough to lodge a man's 
body, which we ourselves hollowed out with our hands in 
the sand, and which served us as a bed. Benumbed with 
cold, rolled up in our camp blankets, we turned and turned 
again and again on our mats all night, to warm ourselves 
and induce sleep, but without succeeding. Towards noon 
we used to halt for a good hour, which enabled us to light 
a fire for cooking our dinner; a little before sunset at the 
place where we were to camp, we had supper. The menu 
of these two meals was that of the hermitage, to which a 
cup of coffee was added. One day the Father invited some 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 253 

officers to his table as a joke. They accepted the challenge ; 
but during the whole meal they appeared very ill at ease, 
ate with extreme repugnance, and were soon satisfied : 
they had no wish, I presume, to accept a second invitation 
to such a feast. 

*' In the depths of silent nature, in this dead land, where 
never had human being fixed his abode, it was easy for 
us to lead the life of solitude and contemplation. The 
Father did not once miss celebrating the holy Mysteries 
on a portable altar at sunrise, generally in the open air, 
only three or four times in the tent we had pitched the 
evening before, so as not to suffer from the gusty 
squalls. 

" Like Moses, I was only to see the promised land from 
a distance. Already anything but well at our departure 
from Algiers, I felt seriously ill a little more than two 
months after our departure from Beni-Abbes, and I felt 
incapable of continuing so toilsome a journey' on foot in 
the sands. I was obliged to stop at In-Salah, and, to my 
great regret, renounce the Tuareg mission. The good 
Father at first tried to keep me, but having been examined 
by the garrison doctor, . . . seeing very clearly, too, that 
my strength was exhausted and that I should be rather a 
hindrance than a help, he gave me a good sum of money 
and abundant provisions, and confided me to two trust- 
worthy men. . . . 

'* I remained with the Reverend Father Charles de Jesus 
from December 2 or 3, 1906, to March 10, 1907. I there- 
fore lived with him in the greatest intimacy for three 
months. I can affirm under oath that he always edified 
me greatly by his tender devotion to the Sacred Heart, to 
the Most Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin 
Mary ; by his ardent zeal for souls and his charity towards 
his fellow-men ; by his spirit of faith, his firm hope, and 
his complete detachment from worldly goods ; by his pro- 
found humility, his imperturbable patience under trials; 
and above all, by his terrible mortification. To tell the 
whole truth, I ought, however, to point out one imperfec- 
tion, common enough in men who have for a long time 
exercised authority, that I perceived in my worthy Superior. 
From time to time, when things did not go as he wished, 
he betrayed a sign of impatience, but it was promptly 
checked. Apart from this slight fault, which he must have 
corrected, I esteem that Father Charles practised to an 
heroic degree the three theological and the four cardinal 
virtues, as well as the moral virtues which belong to them. 



254 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

" Charity towards God. — He passionately loved Jesus 
Christ, his God, Brother, and Friend, and his great happi- 
ness was to converse with the Prisoner of love, really 
present in the tabernacle. Prayer was his delight, it was 
truly his life and the breath of his soul. He spent the greater 
part of his days and nights kneeling before the Blessed 
Sacrament, adoring, supplicating, giving thanks, and mak- 
ing reparation. As, on Christmas night, he did not quit 
our church for a single instant, I was bold enough to ask 
him next day how he could remain awake so long in the 
darkness : ' One has no need of seeing clearly,' he replied, 
' to speak to Him who is the Sun of justice and the Light 
of the world.' 

" Desire of Martyrdom. — He would have wished to give 
to Jesus Christ the greatest proof of affection that a friend 
can give to a friend, by dying for Him as He died for us. 
He desired and earnestly begged martyrdom from God as 
the greatest of all favours. The prospect of immolation, 
the beauty and greatness of which exalted his generous 
faith, transformed his always bold and ardent speech into 
true hymns of joy. 'To be killed by pagans,' he used to 
exclaim, 'what a beautiful death ! My very dear brother, 
how honoured and happy should I be if God hearkened 
to me I ' 

''Humility. — This old pupil of Saint-Cyr was the most 
humble of men. I never heard him speak to his own 
advantage. One had to question him to learn anything of 
his family, his past, and his successes. One day I asked 
him how many pagans he had converted. ' A single one,' 
he replied modestly : ' the old mulatto woman you saw at 
Beni-Abbes hermitage.' 

" ' Have you not made other conquests?' 

" ' Yes, it is true I also baptized a little child in danger 
of death, who had the happiness of almost immediately 
leaving this world to fly to heaven. Indeed, I adminis- 
tered baptism to a boy of thirteen, but it was not I who con- 
verted him. He was presented to me by a French sergeant, 
who had taught him the Catechism and had prepared him 
to receive the Sacraments. You see, my dear brother, 
that I am truly an unprofitable servant.' 

" He loves, he seeks affronts, derision and insults by an 
outward get-up that he strives to make extravagant. He 
always walks in rough sandals, his feet bare and chapped 
by the cold. He wears an unbleached linen robe, always 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 255 

too short and often stained and torn. He cuts his own 
beard and hair without using a glass. How does it matter 
what people say and think about him ? Provided he 
pleases God, he is not going to put himself out for what 
men think of him. 

" Mortification. — Like all the Saints, Father Charles of 
Jesus never stopped crucifying his flesh. On the railway 
he always chooses a third-class carriage ; in the sandy 
plains of the Sahara, he always goes on foot, although he 
is an excellent horseman. When the soldiers who escorted 
us dismounted to stretch themselves, they offered us their 
mounts : once the Father was extremely fatigued, and con- 
sented, on my urging him to ride. When we halted, jaded 
and covered with perspiration, he would give me his 
burnous to cover me, while he, wearing nothing but his 
light linen robe, trembled with cold. I never saw him 
drink wine or liquors, and he never allowed me to accept 
any when the officers oflfered me some. On this point of 
his Rule he was inexorable, and declared that he would 
never give me a dispensation. He only once ate meat in 
my presence, with all who belonged to the caravan. During 
our stay at Beni-Abbes I never saw him breakfast in the 
morning; he was satisfied with dinner at eleven o'clock and 
supper at six in the evening, of which I have given the menu. 
He made me, on the contrary, break off" mental prayer and 
go out of the chapel for ten minutes every day about seven 
in the morning, to take a cup of coffee and a piece of thin 
cake. 

"Poverty. — He never went to any expense without 
absolute necessity. As he travelled about six months in 
the year, I advised him to buy a third camel, which he 
could use as a mount instead of going on foot. *No,' 
he said energetically; 'I live at my family's expense; 
besides, I must help the poor. I have no right to go to 
that expense. I have two camels, necessary to carry our 
travelling provisions and baggage; a third would be 
superfluous.'^ 

^ " He made use of everything : packing-cases took the place of 
bookcases for the books, and of cupboards to put away our two poor 
ornaments for Mass and other things needed for divine worship. When 
one of his robes was so used that it was past mending, he used to cut it 
into several pieces, and these rags we used as handkerchiefs and towels. 
Instead of throwing the envelopes, letters, and prospectuses that he re- 
ceived into the waste paper-basket, he collected them carefully and used 
them as scribbling-paper and for making notes." 



256 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

" I shall remember till the end of my life Father Charles's 
Mass, which I so often had the happiness of serving. He 
said it without slowness as without precipitation, devoutly, 
with dignity and humility, with faith and an air of com- 
punction which greatly impressed me. 

'* Generosity. — This nobleman . . . was generous to 
prodigality, and gave without reckoning. When we 
entered a village, which happened nearly every day, and 
even from time to time twice in the same day, the inhabi- 
tants in great numbers, the caid at their head, attracted by 
the reputation of holiness of the great monk, came to meet 
him, and pressed round him to see and hear him. They 
saluted the Father with veneration, kissed his hand, and 
gave him the title of Sidi Marabout. Sometimes a Euro- 
pean with a photographic apparatus slipped into the crowd, 
and tried to take a portrait of this extraordinary man. 
Above all, a multitude of beggars ran up and besieged 
him whom they called their benefactor, to get alms. The 
Father then distributed, in small coins, a sum of fifteen to 
twenty francs, to those who seemed to him the least 
poverty-stricken ; to those who were ragged and almost 
naked he gave pieces of material, recommending them to 
make it into a garment. 

" Work. — Father Charles meant to earn his bread by 
the sweat of his brow ; there was no unemployed moment 
in his day. In the desert, at the hours of halt, instead of 
taking the siesta or resting, even when he was weakened 
by a long tramp in the sun, he used to work at his dic- 
tionary which ' he had at heart to finish before his death to 
facilitate the work of future missionaries.' I can declare 
that he never smoked, even when he was in the company 
of members of his family or of his former regimental com- 
rades. . . . 

" During our stay at the hermitage, when he was not 
praying in the chapel, I was sure to find him in the sacristy, 
with a pen or a book in his hand. I never saw him take a 
walk outside the enclosure, or in our garden. He never 
took any recreation. To rest after prayer and study, he 
used to make little wooden crosses which formed the sole 
decoration of the poor cells : he painted pictures of the 
Sacred Heart or the Blessed Virgin, and drew all sorts of 
religious emblems with which he adorned our modest 
chapel and sacristy : he wrote on placards in a fine round 
hand or in Gothic characters the most edifying sentences 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 257 

from the ancient Fathers of the Thebaid, the maxims of 
holy doctors or holy martyrs the most likely to inspire the 
spirit of sacrifice, and placed them on all the walls. 

" It has been most agreeable for me to speak of the 
reverend Father Charles of Jesus, who gave me so often 
such beautiful examples of all the virtues during the too 
short time I had the happiness of living in his intimacy. I 
was his first and last disciple. God grant me to imitate him 
according to my strength." 

The slight hope of having a mission companion, perhaps 
a successor, went north with Brother Michael.^ 

At the same time Colonel Laperrine, passing through 
In-Salah, informed Father de Foucauld of the death of 
M. de MotylTnski, which took place on March 2, 1907. 
This sorrow and the disappointment which preceded it did 
not discourage the energetic Brother Charles, but he 
thought of the precariousness of his work. He soon wrote 
to Father Voillard (May 6, 1907) : "I am getting old. I 
should like to see someone better than I replace me at 
Tamanrasset, another better than I installed at Beni-Abbes, 
so that Jesus may continue to reside in those places, and 
that souls may get more and more there." 

While waiting for the joy of a working successor who 
was always farther off. Brother Charles " sets up " — which 
is rather a big word for an owner with no furniture — a little 
house at In-Salah. It cost him 160 francs. He chose it in 
the middle of the native quarter, in the Ksar-el-Arab, quite 
close to the dunes. " One must foresee and prepare one's 
halting-places, because," he said, " if I am not a parish 
priest, this corner of the earth, which is as it were my 
parish, is 1,250 miles from north to south and 625 miles 
from east to west, with 100,000 souls scattered over it." 
During his stay at In-Salah, he continued his studies of 
the Tuareg language with Ben Messis, whom his pupil's 
extraordinary energy for work astonished and fatigued a 
little. M'ahmed Ben Messis was one of the most intelli- 
gent and sympathetic persons in the Sahara. The son of a 
Chambi father and a Tuareg mother of a noble tribe of the 
Azjers, he was considered by the Tuaregs as one of them, 
in spite of the lively enmity that he met among them, the 
cause of which was Ben Messis' devotion to France. It 
was Ben Messis who denounced the greater part of the 
assassins of the Marquis de Mores ; he, again, who served 
as guide to the 150 African troops of Lieutenant Cottenest, 

* The latter is at present a monk in a foreign Carthusian monastery. 

^7 



258 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

when the latter, on May 7, 1902, defeated 300 Tuaregs at 
Tit, and brought about the submission of several tribes. 
No native of those regions spoke Tamachek better, none 
knew the traditions of the country better. He was a very 
devoted friend to Father de Foucauld.^ 

So, when a detachment of eighty men, commanded by 
Captain Dinaux, left In-Salah on March 8, going by 
short daily stages through Adrar and Hoggar, father de 
Foucauld, who highly esteemed the captain, and was also 
sure of travelling with the Tuareg Ben Messis, willingly 
agreed to make the tour. He therefore set out as both a 
missionary and a philologist. We know how he was accus- 
tomed to work during his marches and halts, and even at 
night by candlelight, if the wind did not blow : he did 
not alter his habits. As the journey was for training the 
natives, stays were made near shepherds' encampments, 
and they were fine weeks for a scholar who wished to collect 
traditions, and also poetry which nobody had written, and 
which men have only kept in memory. " Precious records 
for grammar and lexicon ; one gets examples for the 
grammar, when in doubt ; one gets many words not often 
used in conversation for the lexicon. On arriving here — 
it was at Durit, 100 kilometres to the south of Timiauin — 
I promised a small payment for the verses which might be 
brought me ; this promise, at a time when the country is 
poor, sufficed to fill my tent for a month. I was also told, 
by neighbouring douars, that they wished for a visit from 
me, so that the women, too, could give me some poetry. I 
have therefore been several times in the douars, spending 
hours under a tree or in a tent, in the midst of all the children 
and women, writing verses and giving little presents. I 
am very happy about my training work, which is getting 
on ; it is only a first step, very small and humble, but, in 
fine, it had to be taken to break down a great deal of preju- 
dice, antagonism, and suspicion. I shall do all in my 
power to finish the Tuareg-French lexicon this year. I 
begged Laperrine to get published by anyone he likes, as 
if they were his and belonged to the military commander of 
the oases, the Tuareg grammar and the French-Tuareg 
lexicon, which are finished, as well as the Tuareg-French 
lexicon at which I am working, and the pieces of poetry 
which I collected on the sole condition that my name does 
not appear, and that I remain entirely unknown and 
ignored. Next year, I should like to have nothing to do 

* M'ahmed Ben Messis, decorated with the mihtai)' medal and the 
Legion of Honour, died at In-Salah in 1919. 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 259 

but correct the holy Gospels and Bible extracts previously- 
translated, and after that no other work except giving the 
example of a life of prayer and manual labour, an example 
of which the Tuaregs are so much in need."^ 

A little later he reiterated his express injunction : " I wish 
to remain unknown." His extreme humility revolted at 
the idea that the work he composed might bring him some 
reputation. "These are not the means God. gave us to 
continue the work of the world's salvation. The means 
which He employed in the manger, at Nazareth, and on the 
Cross are : poverty, abjection, humiliation, abandonment, 
persecution, suffering, the Cross. Behold our aims ! We 
shall not find anything better than He, and He is not 
outworn. "2 

Brother Charles promised one sou a verse, and all the 
war and love-songs of the Tuaregs, those of distant and 
uncertain date, and those of to-day, those of famous and of 
unknown poets, fell once more from the lips of the reciter, 
and were set down in writing by a scholar. Their fate was 
changed, they escaped oblivion, and were born to book-life, 
which would carry them elsewhere. A learned work, no 
doubt, but a missionary work in intention. Father de 
Foucauld's correspondence shows proofs in abundance of 
his considered purpose, which he retained to the end, not 
to regard the gaining and vulgarizing of the Tuareg 
language as his goal. He always had in view the far-away 
people who were the parish of his desire : for them to be 
better known, more loved, and one day more easily evan- 
gelized, he translated their poetry ; to enable them to under- 
stand revealed truth better, he undertook the translation of 
the Holy Scriptures ; for them, and for those who followed 
him as teachers and preachers, he compiled his grammar 
and lexicon. In the letters of this period, it appears clearly 
that he worked in the hope that the White Fathers would 
soon begin to evangelize those whom he had brought nearer 
to them. The little house in In-Salah would provide them 
with quarters on the way, as well as a home for himself. 

On the whole, the Adrar and Hoggar tour was very 
fortunate. " I spent a few days more in the pastureland 
with the detachment, in order to make use of Ben Messis 
and push on my Tuareg studies with him : in four or five 
days he sets out for In-Salah with Captain Dinaux, who is 
always very good to me, like all the French in the detach- 
ment. I shall at once take the road to Tamanrasset. 

^ Letter to Pere Guerin, May 31, 1907. 
2 Ibid., Christmas, 1907. 



26o CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

"Thanks to the French in the detachment, never since 
my departure from In-Salah have I lacked someone to serve 
Mass. How shall I manage in Tamanrass^^t? It is for the 
divine Master to arrange things. . . ."^ 

The rest of this letter to Pere Guerin is a reply, and we 
shall see how far charity carries a missionary — i.e., as to the 
point of giving up Mass from which as a priest he drew 
strength to meet his daily trials. 

"The question which you put: Is it better to live in 
Hoggar without being able to celebrate Holy Mass, or to 
celebrate it and not go there? I have often put to myself. 
Being the only priest able to go to Hoggar, while many 
can celebrate the Holy Sacrifice, I believe it is, after all, 
better to go to Hoggar, leaving to God the care of giving 
me the means of celebrating, if He wishes (which up to the 
present He has always done in the most various ways). 
FiOrmerly I was inclined to see, on one hand, the Infinite, 
the Holy Sacrifice ; on the other, the finite, all that was not 
It, and always to sacrifice everything to the celebration of 
Holy Mass. But this reasoning must be faulty somewhere, 
since, from the time of the Apostles, in certain circum- 
stances, the greatest Saints have sacrificed the possibility 
of celebrating to works of spiritual charity, such as travel- 
ling, etc. If experience proved that I must make very long 
stops at Tamanrasset without celebrating, I think there 
might be means of shortening them, and of not binding 
myself to keep company with detachments, which is not at 
all the same thing as residing alone. Residing alone in the 
country is good ; one has some influence even without doing 
much, because one ' belongs to the country ' ; one is so 
accessible there and so * very small ' ! . . . Then, at 
Tamanrasset, even without daily Mass, there is the Blessed 
Sacrament, regular prayer, much time for adoration, and 
I get great silence and recollection, and grace for the whole 
country upon which the Sacred Host shines. 

" I considered the establishment at In-Salah as a great 
blessing, rather thinking of the future and of you than of 
myself. No doubt in going to and fro I shall spend more 
time there than in the past, and shall try to have some inter- 
course with the poor and accustom them to have confidence 
in the marabout, but I am a monk and not a missionary, 
made for silence, not for preaching ; and in order to have 
influence in In-Salah, there must be intercourse and going 
about and visiting, which is not my vocation : I only 

* Letter to Pere Guerin, July 2, 1907. 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 261 

try to prepare the way a little for what will be your 
work."^ 

Brother Charles again found a plain and mountain 
horizon at Tamanrasset. They came at once to beg alms, 
for Hoggar was suffering from a great famine. The hermit 
had a provision of wheat : he quickly raided it and gave it 
out to the poor women who held out their empty porringers ; 
he arranged little dinners for the children, and each day 
brought the little ones together to satisfy their hunger. He 
waited on them and forgot to keep a part for himself. 

One thing made him uneasy, and justly so : Musa's 
efforts to islamize Hoggar. " Taking advantage of our 
organization of Hoggar being so far rather nebulous and 
uncertain, rather that of a little self-governing kingdom 
than of a country directly governed by us, he hastened to 
organize it as a Musulman country. 

" Two years ago there was complete anarchy : no rule, 
no submission to rule, robbery everywhere, religion no- 
where. To-day Musa is obeyed ; he assesses the taxes, 
names the subordinate chiefs, makes himself obeyed, 
raises armed forces, prohibits, under very severe penalties, 
robbery, theft, and murder ; he has set up a cadi to judge all 
according to Musulman law. He is going to build a mosque 
and zaouia at Tamanrasset, which he makes his capital. 
Must I flee to a more deserted place, or see the hand of 
Jesus extending my influence more easily ? The religious 
tithe is to be raised throughout Hoggar for the upkeep of 
this zaouia, in which the cadi will probably preside, and 
the tholbas of Tidikelt or Twat teach the Koran, religion, 
and Arabic to the young Tuaregs. It means the islamizing 
of Hoggar, and also of the Ta'itok. It is most serious. Up 
to the present the Tuaregs, not very fervent Musulmans, 
easily made acquaintance with us, becoming very familiar 
and frank. If once this very bad, narrow, close spirit of the 
people of Twat and Tidikelt, which is so full of antipathy 

^ This letter of July 2, 1907, contains this passage, relating to the 
publication of works that were ready : " For twenty-five or thirty years 
Motylinski was attached to M. Basset, director of the li^cole des Lettres 
at Algiers, a scholar of great merit in all Arabian and Berber matters. 
Believing that he was going to publish the records gathered by my dear 
friend, I wrote to him as soon as I learned the sad news, putting myself 
at his disposal to send him, as I did to Motylinski, all information needed 
to complete the work. I have just received his reply : it is he indeed 
who is to publish everything in Motylinski's works ; he will publish a 
little grammar, lexicons, dialogues and texts. You know what I feel 
and think, and how I rejoice in it. I have demanded that my name 
shall not be mentioned anywhere, and that I shall be treated as if I did 
not exist." 



262 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

towards us, takes hold of them, the tholbas teaching the 
children, it will be very different, and it is to be feared that 
in a few years the population of Hoggar may be much 
more hostile than to-day. To-day it is distrustful, fearful, 
and wild; in a few years, if the Musulman influence of 
Twat gains the upper hand, it will mean a deep and lasting 
hostility. 

" As I said to you, Tamanrasset tends to become the 
Musulman centre of Hoggar, Musa's capital. Musa is 
carrying on big tillage works : he now has his fields and 
gardens there ; he usually pitches his camp close by ; . . . 
he is going to set up a regular market there with shops. "^ 

Brother Charles, watching these efforts at organization 
and Islamitic teaching, and suffering, therefore, through 
his love of Catholic truth and dear colonizing France ; 
Brother Charles spending months without any news from 
Europe, for the posts are still very irregular; Brother 
Charles without Mass, because there are no servers, writes 
to his brother-in-law on December 9, 1907 : " I am happy, 
happy in resorting to the presence of the Blessed Sacrament 
at any time, happy in the great solitude of the place, happy 
to be and do — excepting my sins and miseries — whatever 
Jesus wishes ; happy, above all, in the infinite happiness of 
God. If there were not this inexhaustible source of happi- 
ness and peace, the eternal, immutable, and infinite happi- 
ness and peace of the Well-Beloved, the evil that one sees 
around one on all sides, and also the miseries one sees in 
oneself, would quickly lead one to depression. If, in 
Christian countries, there is so much good and so much 
evil, think what these countries can be, in which there is, 
so to speak, nothing but evil, where good is almost totally 
absent : here all is lies, duplicity, cunning, all kinds of 
covetousness and violence, and how much ignorance and 
barbarism I The grace of God can do all things, but in 
face of so many moral miseries . . . one sees clearly that 
human means are powerless, and that God alone can effect 
so great a transformation. Prayer and penance I The 
farther I go, the more I see that these are the principal 
means of acting upon these poor souls. What am I doing 
in the midst of them ? The great good that I do is that 
my presence procures that of the Blessed Sacrament. . . . 
Yes, there is at least one soul between Timbuctoo and El- 
Golea who adores Jesus. Lastly, my presence in the midst 
of the natives familiarizes them with Christians and par- 
ticularly with priests. . . . Those who will follow me will 
Letter to Father Guerin, July 22, 1907. 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 2(53 

find men's minds less distrustful and better disposed. It is 
very little ; it is all that can be done at present ; to wish to do 
more would compromise everything in the future." 

His will to stay there did not change; despite the ordeal 
he never tried to go to places in the Sahara where there 
were Christians, servers, and talk according to his mind. 
Obstinate in doing his duty, he refused proposals of travel : 
" May the will of the Well-Beloved be blessed in every- 
thing I As for me, I see clearly that it is His will that I 
remain here until the lexicon is finished, because it is a work 
of the first necessity for those who come after me. . . . 
Besides, it produces an unexpected good : shut up from 
sunrise to sunset with a very intelligent and talkative Tuareg 
(the Khoja of Musa), I learn many things, and have the 
opportunity of teaching him many, and of rectifying not 
only his own ideas on many points, but those of others, for 
words run. May the Well-Beloved bless you from His 
manger ! May His will be done in Africa, as it is in 
heaven, after so long a night !"^ 

Nevertheless, though his inward peace set him above dis- 
couragement, he was not therefore insensible. He would 
not be human if he never uttered a groan. I open his diary 
or the letters at the end of 1907, and read there, like a 
refrain, the complaint of the priest who no longer enjoys 
the lofty privilege of consecrating the Body of Christ. On 
great Feasts above all, Brother Charles, while committing 
himself herein to God's grace, says : " Dost Thou not 
forget me?" 

" August 15. — Well-Beloved Mother, have pity on this 
people for whom your Son died ; give it your help ; your 
poor priest invokes you for this people." 

" September 8. — Two years ago to-day Thou didst deign 
to inhabit this poor chapel ! O Thou, who hast never been 
invoked in vain, convert, visit, and sanctify this people that 
is Thine. No Mass, for I am alone." 

"November 21. — Dwelling in Hoggar would be of an 
extreme sweetness, thanks to solitude, especially since I 
now have books ; if it were not for want of Mass. 

"I have always the Blessed Sacrament, to be sure; I 
renew the sacred species, when a Christian passes by, and 
I can say Mass. I never thought I had a right to give 
myself communion outside of Mass. If I am mistaken in 

* Letter to Mgr. Guerin, Christmas, 1907. 



264 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

that, be quick to tell me so; that would make an infinite 
change in my position, for this is a question of the Infinite." 

"December 25. — Christmas; no Mass, because I am 
alone." 

"January i, 1908. — Unite me to all the sacrifices offered 
up to-day. No Mass, because I am alone." 

While he was thus imploring, someone in Rome was 
asking the Pope for the extraordinary permission so much 
wished for. A petition had been prepared on choice vellum. 
The Prefect Apostolic of the Sahara, after summarizing 
Father de Foucauld's life in a few lines, told the Pope : " For 
six years this very holy priest has not ceased leading the 
most heroic and most admirable life in the apostolic pre- 
fecture of Ghardai'a. Actually he is absolutely alone in the 
midst of the savage Tuareg tribes, which he has succeeded 
in civilizing, and to which he does the greatest good by the 
example of his life of extreme poverty, of charity as unfail- 
ing, and of continual prayer. For long, no doubt, he will be 
the only priest to go into the midst of the Tuaregs. The 
Prefect Apostolic of Ghardai'a therefore most humbly sup- 
plicates your Holiness to consider both the eminent virtues 
of this servant of God and the very great good he is doing, 
and therefore to deign to accord him the very signal 
favour. . . ." 

The petition was not presented. In a private audience 
which he had obtained for other reasons, Father Burtin, 
Procureur of the White Fathers, asked for the privilege of 
celebrating Mass without a server, which was immediately 
accorded. 

It was by a letter from Colonel Laperrine, his great friend, 
that Iiather de Foucauld heard the news, on January 31, 
1908. "Deo Gratias! Deo Gratias! Deo Gratias! O 
God, how good Thou art !" sings the hermit : " To-morrow 
I shall be able to say Mass I Christmas I Christmas ! 
Thanks, my Godl"^ 

This joy came to him at the moment when illness obliged 
the relentless worker to cease all work, and one who never 
complained to speak of himself. Writing to Father 
Gu6rin, he confided to him, as a secret to be rigorously kept, 
that there was " a big hitch in his health " : general fatigue, 
complete loss of appetite, " then something in my chest, or 
rather heart, which made me pant so much at the slightest 

^ From the Diary. 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 265 

movement, that one might think the end was near." He 
had to keep quite motionless. To feed him, his friends the 
Tuaregs milked all the goats that had a little milk and 
brought it to the Christian marabout's cabin. 

To a friend in France, whom he told of everything, he 
wrote : 

'* At my age there is always something wrong; it is the 
Father's warning from above. ... I have no more teeth 
or hair ; my eyes are good for some way off, but weaker and 
weaker for anything close." But he wrote at the same time 
to others: "Don't be uneasy. I do not believe there is 
any reason for being so. But absolute rest and a month's 
entire cessation of work are ordered, and afterwards I shall 
have to set to work again rr^uch more moderately than in 
the past. ... I am getting the most varied sorts of food 
sent from In-Salah in order to recover my strength : con- 
densed milk, wine (!), dried vegetables, some jams; I am 
doing all that is necessary." 

In the same letter — and it suggests some doubt as to these 
fine resolutions to work less in future — Brother Charles asks 
the White Fathers to send him the Summa Theologica of 
St. Thomas, the Summa Contra Gentiles — that is to say, 
ten Latin octavo volumes — and three other volumes of 
philosophy. "The farther I go," he says in explanation 
of the request, " the more opportunities 1 have for carrying 
on serious conversations with the best natives." Then 
returning to his illness, and fearing they may be uneasy at 
Ghardaia and Algiers, he says: "Jesus is giving me a 
month of recollection and a very sweet retreat by this en- 
forced rest; I enjoy it at His feet." 

When he recovered from this rude shock he felt himself 
incapable of the least continued manual labour ; he could 
not therefore manage to work at leather-dressing or 
saddlery, as he intended, " and I regret it. For one thing, 
this humble and low work formed so intimate a part of 
Jesus of Nazareth's life, the model of monastic life; and 
then nothing could do more good than such an example 
amidst these races eaten up with pride and laziness I" The 
gravity of this illness, in spite of the precautions taken by 
Father de Foucauld, was soon suspected by the hermit's 
friends, and first of all by Colonel Laperrine, whom he had 
to tell that he could not go to In-Salah at the beginning 
of spring. One after the other, on February 3 and 13, 
Laperrine wrote to Father Gu^rin letters which he need not 
have signed, so far do the traits of the Saharan life and their 
lively and pleasant tone proclaim their author. 



266 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

" February 3. 

" Reverend Father, 

" I was going to reply to your letter of January 13, 
when I received a long one from de Foucauld ; he does not 
think he will be here before March 15, and yet he does not 
give that date as certain. He feels worn out. . . . This 
letter worries me very much, because if he admits he is 
worn out and asks me for condensed milk, he must be really 
ill. I do not yet know what to do. I am waiting for 
authorizations. But the actual situation inclines me pre- 
ferably towards the east, to come back by Ahaggar. I am 
going to read de Foucauld's letter again deliberately, and 
should such be the case, I shall make a loop to take in 
Ahaggar, or send the doctor there, if his condition gets 
worse. He must have wanted to push penance and fasting 
too far, but our strength has its limits. I am going to 
abuse him, and get your authority to tell him that penance 
up to the point of progressive suicide is not permitted. . . . 
The 15th of March following the 15th of February, which 
followed the 15th of November — these dates don't inspire 
me with confidence. If I send a detachment down, perhaps 
he had better stay there and have a few meals with the 
officer, so as to get into condition for the journey. Pardon 
this scribble, reverend Father. My respects to the Fathers 
at El-Golea. 

" Yours, etc., 

** H. Laperrine." 



"February 11. 

"Reverend Father, 

"A few lines at a gallop, to give you news of de 
Foucauld. He puts off his journey till October. He has 
been more ill than he admits ; he had fainting fits, and the 
Tuaregs who took great care of him are very anxious. He 
is better. I sent him a lecture, for I am strongly of opinion 
that his exaggerated penances have a great deal to do with 
his weakness, and the overworking at his dictionary did 
the rest. 

" As the lecture was not all that was wanted, w^ added 
three camels with provisions, condensed milk, sugar, tea, 
and various preserves. Besides, he felt he would have to 
cut boiled barley out of his regime, since he asks for 
milk. ... In any case, I think it indispensable that 
on his approaching return to the north, you put your 
grappling-irons on him and keep him a month or two at 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 267 

Ghardai'a or Maison Carrie, so that he may fill his hump 
again — excuse the Saharan expression."^ 

Colonel Laperrine's and Captain Nieger's stay^ at Taman- 
rasset was a great joy to Father de Foucauld, who for five 
months had received no news from Europe. 

His health improved by degrees. Letters from the 
invalid became more frequent. One of them, written 
during this period of convalescence, in reply to questions 
put by Father Gu^rin, illustrates his energy of will and 
ardent courage, qualities which a person so self-effacing 
only expresses in moments of surprise and provocation. It 
also acknowledges that he is the author of the works on the 
Tuareg language. The letter is divided into paragraphs as 
the interrogatory was. 

" I do not hesitate to prolong our talks and to let them last 
very long, when I see they are useful to souls ; I sometimes 
spend days in explaining and showing books of pious pic- 
tures, or in reading passages from the holy Gospel to the 
Tuaregs. It is with this idea that I intend, next year, 
entirely to revise, or rather renew — because they are no 
good — my translations of the Gospel and of part of the 
Bible in Tuareg. That will be of use to me now, and after- 
wards help others. 

" As to the question of signing the linguistic works with 
my name, in spite of the authority of Father Voillard, in 
whom I have so much respectful confidence, and in spite of 
yours, I have not changed my mind. What you and he 
say would probably be true of a White Father, but not of 
me, vowed as I am to a hidden life. . . . What determined 
me to write those works, to put the finishing touches to 
them, and to have them printed, is precisely because the' 
great good of their publication can be effected without my 
appearing or being named at all. . . . 

" The Well-Beloved has turned Musa's efforts to 
organize Hoggar into a regular and fervent Musulman 
kingdom to the good of souls. His efforts have totally and 
piteously failed ; not only failed, but produced an inverted 
effect. He nominated a cadi to whom he entrusted im- 
portant sums to build a mosque and zaouia, and gathered 
tithes for religion all over Hoggar. In three months his 
cadi had made himself hated of all, had dissipated all the 

* To ascertain a camel's state of health and vigour, one first sees 
whether its hump is full or flabby. 

* Colonel Laperrine, then chief in command at In-Salah, had as a 
companion, Captain Nieger, commanding the Saharan company of 
In-Salah, and another very dear friend of Father de Foucauld. 



268 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

sums entrusted to him, and built nothing ; the collection of 
tithe made everybody discontented ; so that now . . . only 
the recollection of a disagreeable adventure and the horror 
of cadis and tithes remain. Let us pray and do penance. 

" Had I been called up for the Moroccan expeditions, I 
should have started the same day, and I should have done 
seventy-five miles a day to arrive in time; but nobody gave 
me a sign of life. If they want me, they know I am ready 
to go. I told General Lyautey that in whatever place there 
was an important expedition, he had only to telegraph for 
me, and I would come directly." 

He, too, and from the beginning of his mission, had put 
to himself the very objection which they did not fail to 
make afterwards, when Father de Foucauld's w^ork got to 
be known : "Is the Sahara worth so many sacrifices, so 
much time and work ? Is it not too costly, to take so much 
trouble for a few wandering tribes, who do not ask to be 
converted?" Father de Foucauld replies on this point :^ 

" No doubt the Sahara is not one of the most inhabited 
countries, but after all the oases, including the Tuaregs, 
contain 100,000 people, who are born, live and die without 
any knowledge of Jesus who died for them nineteen hun- 
dred years ago. He gave His blood for each of them, and 
what are we doing? It seems to me that two things are 
necessary : (i) a sort of third Order, having for one of its 
objects the conversion of infidel peoples — a conversion 
which is, at the present time, a strict duty for Christian 
nations, whose position in the last seventy years has totally 
changed with regard to the infidels. On the one hand, the 
infidels are nearly all subjects of Christians ; on the other 
hand, the rapidity of communications, and the explora- 
tion of the entire world, now give comparatively easy 
access to all. From these two facts follows quite a strict 
duty — above all, for nations having colonies : the duty of 
christianizing. 

"(2) Not everywhere, but in countries where there are 
special difficulties, like yours, we ought to have mission- 
aries, d la Sainte-Priscille'^ of both sexes. They might be 
gleaned either here and there, or grouped in order to g-ive 
them a common preparation before sending them. The 
thought of a kind of third Order, having for one of its 
aims the conversion of infidels, came to me last September, 
at the time of my retreat. It has recurred to me very often 
since, with the consideration that it is a duty and not solely 
a work of zeal and counsel for Christian nations to work 
^ Letter to P^re Guerin, June i, 1908. * I.e., Catcchists. 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 269 

energetically for the conversion of infidels and, above all, 
of those of their colonies. There would, I think, be occa- 
sions for showing this duty to those who appear to have no 
suspicion of it, and for urging them to accomplish it. Dur- 
ing Holy Week and Easter Week I put down what the 
association might be. I am revising this and re-copying 
it. . . . I shall show it you in November. If you think 
it contains anything good, you will make use of it. But 
certainly there is something to be done. . . . For twenty 
years France has had an immense colonial empire, which 
imposes evangelizing duties on French Christians. . . . 
It is not with ten, fifteen, twenty, or thirty priests, even if 
you were given them, that you will convert the vast Sahara ; 
you must therefore find other auxiliaries. 

'* Pardon me, my well-beloved Father, getting mixed up 
in what is none of my business, and an old sinner and quite 
insignificant priest of very recent ordination, and still a 
poor sinner, who has never been able to attain anything, or 
even to get a companion, who has had nothing but desires 
without effect, and whose plan of life, constitutions and 
Rule are always but useless papers, daring to expose my 
thoughts and continuing to form plans. My excuse is the 
souls around me who are being lost and will perpetually 
remain in that state, if we do not try to find the means of 
acting efficaciously on them." 

In the summer of 1908 the military administration 
decided that a detachment of troops should be sent to and 
maintained in Hoggar ; from time to time it was to go on 
rounds there, and a fort was to be built. Laperrine wished 
to name it " Fort de Foucauld," but the hermit refused. It 
therefore became Fort Motylinski, over thirty miles from 
Tamanrasset. Brother Charles also heard that next year 
Musa ag Amastane would certainly be taken to France 
by an officer. He asked himself and Father Gu^rin 
whether it would not be a good thing if other Tuaregs 
were to travel in our country, to obtain some idea of a 
society so different from theirs, and live for a week in some 
French family, so as to bring back with them the con- 
viction that we are not pagans and savages at any rate : 
these were the names used in Hoggar to describe the 
French, and Europeans in general. 

Further news : the amenokal of Hoggar is getting an 
important house built in Tamanrasset — in sun-baked bricks 
and dry mud, of course; several of his near relations were 
imitating him. Laperrine was in the country; he saw 
Musa and rejoiced at his colonizing efforts ; he was specially 



270 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

glad to find his friend, Father de Foucauld, whom he looked 
upon as lost, in fine health. On July 22nd, 1908, he sent 
this good news to Father Guerin : 

" Reverend Father, 

" I send you a few lines from Tamanrasset, where I 
have been with de Foucauld since July 16. He came to 
meet me at twenty miles from Tarhauhaut on June 29, 
and we spent June 30 and July 1,2, and 3 together. He 
is very well, and glowing with health and gaiety. . . . 
On June 29 he came galloping into my camp like a sub- 
lieutenant at the head of a group of Tuareg riders. He is 
more popular than ever among them, and appreciates them 
more and more. On the other hand, he has very little 
esteem for the negroes settled here, who are all lazy, and of 
the lowest type. 

" I am leaving him this evening to return to In-Salah by 
the longest way. . . . De Foucauld intends to go and see 
you in November; I leave him here putting the finishing 
touches to the enormous Tamachek work which he under- 
took; this work will be thoroughly complete. 

** Yours, etc., 

" H. Laperrine." 

Several months ago Brother Charles had formed the 
plan to go and spend a few days at Ghardaia. Would he 
not go farther ? As far as Algiers ? Why not to Bur- 
gundy? It was one of the subjects of epistolary conversa- 
tion between him and Madame de Blic. The latter did not 
lack good arguments to prove to him that a visit to France 
was not only expected, but more than advantageous : it 
was quite necessary. Had he not been seven years absent? 
Was it not cruel that a brother and sister should live thus 
separated one from the other by thousands of miles? He 
was also an uncle; was not the family of nephews and 
nieces whom he hardly knew, growing up? The hermit 
tried to find an answer which might be accepted. " I am 
a monk," he said, "and monks ought not to travel for 
their pleasure. We shall together offer this sacrifice to 
the well-beloved Jesus. He offered up so much of all 
sorts ! How often did He leave His Mother alone during 
His life ! In what solitude did He leave her by dying ! 

" Perhaps we shall see each other again here below. 
God may, as He has already done, so dispose circum- 
stances that it will be more perfect to go and see you than 
to stint myself. Because if you say you would be happy 



THE SETTLEMENT IN HOGGAR 271 

to see me again, you so surrounded, how happy should I 
be, who am alone in the midst of savages ? Here no new 
love has come to take the place of the old ones. . . . You 
are deceiving yourself very much in believing that I should 
do good, my dear : I gain a great deal by not being seen, 
and from a distance I am thought better than I am. ..." 

Shaken by the earnest entreaties of "dear Marie," he 
finished by writing ; "If you wish me to come, ask God 
and M. I'Abbe Huvelin, my interpreter of His will." He 
wrote these things and many others on old envelopes, 
" because," he said, " I am a hundred miles from a paper 
dealer." 

When consulted, M. Huvelin replied: " My heart very 
much desires this little journey to France that you will take 
to see your family. ... I do not see any objection to 
your journey with or without a Tuareg." Mgr. Gu^rin 
was of the same opinion. 

In consequence. Brother Charles left Tamanrasset at 
noon on Christmas Day, alone, without any Tuareg, none 
being sufficiently prepared. On January 22, 1909, he 
arrived at El-Golea, where Fathers Richerd and Perier of 
the White Fathers were : a few days later he saw Mgr. 
Guerin, who had come from Ghardaia to meet him ; on 
February 13 he was at Maison Carrie, among his friends the 
White Fathers, who were under Mgr. Livinhac. He again 
saw the convent gardens, the Mediterranean, which he was 
about to cross, and beyond which was France. Maison 
Carree, as we know, is a small town to the east of Algiers, 
near the coast ; and the residence of the White Fathers, a 
little more to the east in the open country, has no hill or 
forest before it, which prevents it looking towards France. 
The garden, of orange and lemon trees, descends towards 
the market-gardeners' fields, which continue the dunes 
covered with locust-trees and rushes, asphodels and African 
marigold. The violet mountains of Kabyle bound the 
horizon on the east side ; on the west, Algiers, similar to a 
bright quarry of rose-and-white marble, raises the head- 
land of its Arab quarter above the sea. In this religious 
house, young men, under the direction of missionaries back 
from Central Africa, are preparing to conquer for Christ, 
for civilization here, for eternity afterwards, the blacks who 
surround Lakes Chad and Victoria Nyanza ; and other 
peoples, where the number of Christians is rapidly increas- 
ing : they are waiting for the Master of the world to be 
free to make known His incarnation. His passion, and 
His law to Musulmans. It is a place of prayer, work, 



272 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

and peace. Brother Charles loved it, and wished the 
house were always full of "workers" and of s]piecial 
workers for Musulman lan<;ls. 

I was told that during this stay at Maison Carrie he was 

with Father de Ch , a friend of his, and was talking 

to him, when the bell rang. 

" Excuse my leaving you alone," said Father de Ch . 

Without reflecting. Brother Charles replied : 

" Oh ! I am never alone !" 

Then, having said too much, he hung his head. 

Although he loved this great and brotherly house, he 
did not tarry there, and, in the same way, he only passed 
through France. The least Saharan tour took him ten 
times longer than he would give to his human joy. He 
had to resume divine work without the least delay. On 
January 17 he embarked at Marseilles, of course as deck 
passenger. His route in France comprised Paris, Nancy, 
Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, Toulon, and Grasse, where Father 
de Foucauld's sister was. Lastly, twenty days after 
leaving Africa, Brother Charles was back again, having 
given just enough time to his visit to escape being con- 
victed of " cruelty." 

For three weeks, then, he changed customs, costume, 
landscape, and the idioms of habitual conversation. I 
shall let him travel, and take advantage of his absence to 
quote some of the Tuareg proverbs he had collected, and 
some of those pieces of poetry he got recited to him at the 
doors of the nomads' tents. 



CHAPTER XI 
Poetry and Proverbs 

NOTHING is more sober than pride; it feeds upon 
nothing and slakes its thirst on the wind which 
blows. Do not let us be surprised that the inhabitants of 
the Sahara consider themselves the first of men ; the most 
beautiful, of course ; the most intelligent ; the only ones 
worthy to lead the world and to be its models. I am per- 
suaded that they consider their poets, not knowing any 
others, as the greatest of all. They will one day know 
they are mistaken. But we must acknowledge that these 
nomads without education are not without intelligence. 
They write verses, which sing of love, anxiety, defiance, the 
pride of youth and pluck, or of beauty and courtship ; 
poems on incidents which do not lack features, but in which 
the work of composition is to seek. It is a wild sourish 
grape, which does not produce any wine, but the fruit of 
which may be eaten, and more than one author whom 
our little reviews praise has not yet found as many happy 
expressions as a shepherd warrior of Hoggar puts into 
his verse, when rhyming his song for the next ahdl. 

Father de Foucauld said that among the Tuaregs " every- 
body writes verses : always rhymed and of various 
rhythms." Would free verse, therefore, be condemned in 
the Sahara? So his words seem to say, but the question 
of prosody in a tongue which is unknown to us, is one of 
those which prudence bids us avoid. Let us leave it to 
scholars. When the pieces collected, translated, and anno- 
tated by the Father are published,^ we shall be able to 
judge ; I think he has said everything. I will only tell here 
of one of the observations he made. 

" The usual subjects of the verse by the Kel-Ahaggar 
and the Kel-Azjer and Taitok are the same : love, war, 
camels, travel, and epigrams. Often the warlike poetry 
and epigrams give rise to answers ; an enemy poet or the 
person attacked replied in verse. A poetic duel was 
sometimes engaged : the pieces of verse, the attacks and 

* This collection as well as the other works of Pere de Foucauld and 
M. de Motylinski, will be published by the celebrated Berber scholar at 
the head of the Algerian Faculty of Letters, M. Rene Basset. 

273 18 



274 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

replies, followed one another in great numbers. In wars, 
poetic hostilities always accompanied armed hostilities. 

" There is no difference of language between verses by 
the Kel-Ahaggar, the Kel-Azjer and Taitok. As to 
groundwork and form, there is. 

*' The poetry of the Ahaggar is at times somewhat senti- 
mental and philosophic; that of the Kel-Azjer is full of 
ardent, warlike images; that of the Taitok, elegant in 
form, has little substance in thought; echoes of Islam are 
more frequently found in it than elsewhere.^ 

I have gone over a great number of sheets which were 
found dispersed in the room Father de Foucauld worked 
in at Tamanrasset. They were rough copies of the works 
he had finished. I shall cite some of the pieces which 
appeared to me charming, or curious, and, mixed with 
those, others which M. Henri Basset, deputy-lecturer to 
the Algiers Faculty of Letters, was good enough to com- 
municate to me. 

Successful Raid of Musa ag Amastane 

(Date: 1894.) 

Musa, son of Amastane, rides amidst the sandhills. 
We follow him as, with his foot, he urges on his enlisted 

niehari, 
Which has a (high) hump and is girthed with white 

muslin. 
On its flank rests his rifle. 
Musa has given him a great number of horses as com- 
panions. 

You have no honour left, O bad Imrad ! 

You have rejected Musa and let him go alone into 
Ahnet, the country of violins, to recruit his com- 
panions. 

In none of your men has awakened the sense of honour. 

Look ! all follow Musa, even the lame and the one- 
armed, but not you. 

* There is no really reliable census of the Tuareg populations. 
Around the so-called Tuaregs, we find tribes more or less tainted with 
black blood, and speaking Tamachek. Here is the statement of one of 
the officers best instructed in all things of the Sahara. Tuareg popula- 
tions speaking Tamachek : (i) Azjer Tuarcgs, Algerians and the people 
of Tripoli, about 5,000 ; (2) Hoggar Tuaregs, about 4,500 ; (3) Tuaregs 
of Air, about 17,000 ; (4) Tuaregs of Feuve (the Sudan Sahara), about 
38,000 ; (5) Tuaregs of the Niger loop, about 40,000 — or an approximate 
total of 105,000, speaking Tamachek. 



POETRY AND PROVERBS 275 

The lame Akamadu with his white-footed camel rides close 

by the side of Musa's, 
Kaima the one-armed with his bundle tramps side by side 

with Musa and his men. 
At the well of I-n-Eelren, there we left our women, 
Whose temples and cheeks are rimmed with indigo. 
Bekki, from whom shall I hide my love of thee? 
For it is not in my hand, from which a blow might dash 

it to the ground ; 
It is firmly fixed in the centre of my heart. 
Hekhu's skin is as sweet as the bread 
Of sugar that all young men love ; 
She is like an antelope fawn following along the River 

Tigi, going from gum-tree to gum-tree, browsing on 

their leaves through the summer nights. 

The Battle with the Iullemeden 

(Date: 1895.) 

I send a decree to all women who go to gallant parties, 
To those of this country and even to Arab women : 
Whenever you find the men who hid from the fray near 

you, 
Shower down your curses on the cowards. 
We saw them that day, in the morning. 
When the Iullemeden came straight on to the attack : 
Then took place a festival of powder and bullets. 
And the javelins flung in such hosts as to make a tent 

over the heads of the fighters. 
When the enemy fled, I took my sword in my hand, 
I struck at their legs, which flew off like jerjer stalks^ 
I defy them to use them hereafter on march. 

The Battle of Tit 

(One of Lieutenant Cottenest's disciplinary rounds 
in Ahaggar. Date: 1902.) 

I tell you so, women of sense. 

And all you who put blue between your mouth and 

nostrils : 
Amessara,^ there we fought on both sides to a finish 
With javelins, pagan rifles 
And the sword unsheathed. 

^ A plant the stalks of which are carried away by the wind of the 
desert. 

2 The valley of Amessara touches the Tit field of battle. 



276 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

I flew at the enemy; I smote, and was smitten, 
Even until blood covered me all over like a wrapping 
Inundating me from the shoulder down to the arms. 
The young women who gather round the violin will not 

hear it said of me that I hid in the rocks. 
Is it not true that after falling three times they had to lift 

me up, 
And that they bound me unconscious on a camel with 

cords ? 
On that account, 
Defeat is not dishonour : 
Even against the prophet himself, pagans have won the 

victory in days of yore. 



Starting for the '* Ahal " 

My parents had stopped me from starting for the ahdl; 

they had, it seems, no ulterior design. 
I remained, I shed tears, I went back to the tent ; 
I wrapped myself up and hid my face and lay down : 
Even that seemed to increase my sorrow. 
I could not rest : I put on my crossed sash ; I ran through 

the place where the camels were crouching : 
I seized a well-trained one ; 
I put the saddle on the top of his hump where the hair 

ends; 
I was evenly balanced on him, and made him go down 

into the valley of Isten. 
When I stopped short, on getting near the ahdl, they 

said to me: "What has happened?" 
I replied : " Nothing has happened 
But depression and a gloomy face." 
And now, There is but one God ! it is written : 
I shall see the maiden with the white teeth. 



Declaration 

One thing is no wise doubtful but certain. 
It is that if the torment of love could kill. 
By God I I should not live till this evening; 
The sun would no longer rise for me to see it. 
Gegge, thy love is hard for my heart : 
It has dissolved the marrow in my bones; 
It has drunk my blood and my flesh : I do not know what 
has become of them. 



POETRY AND PROVERBS 277 

I have only my bones which hold together 

And my breathing which heaves slowly and silently be- 
neath them. 

You have never yet seen a soul in which exists a whole 
town full 

Of torments, and yet alive 

Going to gallant parties, playing and laughing.^ 



To Amenokal Amud 

Kenua ult Amastan, a woman of the noble tribe of 
Taitok, is, of all the persons actually living with the Kel- 
Ahaggar and the Taitok, and all those who have lived 
there for half a century, the one who has the greatest 
reputation for poetic talent. 

Amud el Mektar, an important person, travelling 
among the Taitok, one day stopped to take his siesta near 
a tree, in the vicinity of Kenua's encampment. While 
he was resting with his companion under the shade of a 
burnous fastened to the branches, Kenua came and 
invited them to follow her to her tents ; she offered them 
hospitality, and put them up for two days. The day 
after their arrival, she composed this piece of poetry in 
honour of Amud : 

This year have I seen 

Dates such as the hand gives not to the tongue ; 

This year have I seen 

A green date-tree loaded with ripening dates; 

This year have I seen 

Gold and silver intertwined; 

This year have I seen 

Heaven ; I reached it, but did not sleep there ; 

This year have I seen 

Mecca ; I prayed, but did not spend the noon there ; 

This year have I seen 

Medina; I was there and did not take a meal there; 

This year have I seen 

The waters of Zemzem, but I did not drink thereof ; 

This year have I seen 

Tender young antelopes like children who speak in 

gentle tones; 
They were making a sunshade of wool under which 

they were having their midday nap : 

^ Communicated by M. Henri Basset. 



278 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

Made for play, capable of playing, 

They were in a bed of silk and silver. 

This year have I seen 

A colt whose love has wounded me. 

He is in a wheat-field, standing, grazing there. 

If only he were for sale, I should give for him 

A thousand young men ! . . . 



A Poem of Eberkau 
{A woman celebrated for her beauty and wit.) 

Shall I compare him to a white mehari, to a shield of 

Tarmai ? 
To a herd of Kita antelopes ? 
To the fringe of Jerba's red scarf? 
To grapes which have just ripened 
In a valley where alongside of them ripens the date? 
Amumen is the thread on which have been strung the 

pearls of my necklace. 
He is the cord on which are hung the talismans on my 

breast ; 
He is my life.^ 

Thanks 

A poor woman of a tribe belonging to the imrad, having 
received alms from the French officer, thanked him thus : 

I leave the tents after morning prayer, 

I take a walk full of anxious reflections ; 

I left Tekadeit and Lilli yonder, 

Hungry, exhausted, crying : 

Grasshoppers are the death of the poor. 

I went to the captain, who had pity on me : 

He is a young man who tries to do all good. 

He is valorous in war, he is benevolent ; 

He makes women shout with joy and wins merits 

in the eyes of God; 
His challenge none takes up. 
He excels above all the pagans. 

When one has read many improvisations by Tuareg 
poets, one remarks that they repeat themselves, and that 
in the Sahara more than elsewhere, certain metaphors, 
which at first amused or touched one, are tricks of style 

' Communicated by M. Henri Basset. 



POETRY AND PROVERBS 279 

and hackneyed. It matters little here. I wished simply 
to add a few features to the picture of the people among 
whom Father de Foucauld lived the last years of his life, 
to whom he was so devoted, whose traditions, customs, 
vocabulary, language, and poetry he had spent so many 
hours in studying. And with this same intention, I shall 
choose some Tuareg proverbs from those which he col- 
lected. In these we shall see still better the quick mind 
of these Ahaggar people, and their good sense, in which 
all the human hope of Charles de Foucauld must have been 
bound up. 

Tuareg Proverbs 

Part your tents, bring your hearts together. 

When you see a halo round the moon, a king is travel- 
ling by its light. 

Fear the noble if thou make little of him : fear the base 
man if thou honour him. 

He who drinks out of a jug (the sedentary) is no guide. 

However long a winter night may be, the sun follows it. 

The viper takes the colour of the country it lives in. 

Laugh at baked clay (terra cotta). 

Kiss the hand you cannot cut off. 

Whoever loves thee, even a dog, thou wilt also love. 

It is better to spend the night in anger than in repent- 
ance. 

Reasonings are the shackles of the coward. 

A single hand without a fellow will not untie a double 
knot, whatever it may do. 

When a noble spreads the rich material of his dress for 
thy carpet, sit not right in the middle. 

Hell itself holds dishonour in horror. 

Living people often meet. 

If a man puts a cord round his neck, God will provide 
someone to pull it. 

In your native land, birth ; in a foreign land, dress. 

The palm of your hand does not eclipse the sun. 

The beetle, in its mother's eyes, is a gazelle. 
The beaten path, even if it winds: the king, even if he 
is aged. 



CHAPTER XII 
Tamanrasset 

ON Passion Sunday, March 27, 1909, Father de 
Foucauld, travelling in great haste, again took 
possession of his first hermitage, so as to have Mass at 
Beni-Abbes on that day. He spent Eastertide there. To 
the last he wanted to be at the disposal of the Christian 
officers and soldiers who wished to make their Easter duties, 
and was visited by French, Berbers and Arabs, and, in the 
hours of solitude, put the finishing touches to the rules of 
the association for the development of the missionary spirit, 
according to the suggestions of Mgr. Bonnet who was 
interested in the project. It was, indeed, a fine idea of the 
great African monk to band the French and Algerian 
Christians together, especially the Saharans who belong to 
both countries, but also those who live at home and never 
cross the sea, and to get them to pray daily for the conver- 
sion of "our Musulman brothers" who are subjects of 
France. The idea is simple, too, and a practical one, which 
will deeply affect Christian France, accustomed, from time 
immemorial, to understand these sorts of fraternal and 
extended developments of the communion of saints. 
Already, although the work has remained humble and 
without means of propaganda, travellers, officers, sailors, 
parents and relations of missionaries, and communities 
of men and women have promised to intercede for the 
neglected peoples who belong to us. At the end of the 
book I shall tell what has been done, and what that very 
simple rule of this union of prayer is. Father de Foucauld's 
legacy to many who know nothing of it. 

After about a month's stay in the hermitage of Beni-Abbes, 
then the hermit became a pilgrim once more. He made or 
bought the two pairs of sandals required; he would put on 
the second when the stones had worn out the soles of the first 
pair, or the heat hardened and shrivelled up the leather; 
and now he was off on his journey. The reception given 
him everywhere was his reward. No doubt there were many 
beggars among those who came to the marabout. But to 
many he was the friend of whom they sought counsel. 
When walking by his camel, when going through a ksar, or 

280 



TAMANRASSET 281 

lying down for a midday siesta in the shade of a tree or rock, 
someone would slip close up to him and entrust him with 
some anxiety or trouble ; there were so many of them ! Here 
is an example of this sort of apostolate. About this time a 
soldier came to the Father. He was living with a negress, 
a slave that her Arab masters had been obliged to liberate, 
because they ill-treated her. This woman was looking 
forward in terror to the soldier's approaching return to 
France. The latter loved and esteemed her ; although he 
was living irregularly, he had at heart the faith of l^he old 
country, and perhaps a little through remorse, and because 
we are naturally missionaries, he had taught this woman 
the principles of the Christian religion. He even declared 
that she might already be regarded as being of our religion, 
her soul was so much disposed to receive it. But what would 
she do when he left her ? Knowing that she regarded the 
Arabs with horror and could not stay on where she had 
suffered so much at their hands, he was most perturbed. 
He laid the matter before the ambulant monk, the universal 
brother. The answer given him is to be found in a letter 
to Father Guerin : " I urged him to ask you to take this 
woman into your Ghardaia workroom. He was to take her 
and she was to remain there, living entirely with the Sisters, 
where her work would pay for her board. She looks very 
well, and the corporal esteems and loves her very much ; 
besides, it would be a soul's salvation. . . . She has 
always led a regular life ; when she was freed, the French- 
man received her ; according to her own ideas, her position 
has never ceased to be regular." What became of the poor 
" quiet and hard-working " negress of thirty? It is one of 
the countless stories of which we shall never know the end. 

Back in Tamanrasset, Father de Foucauld found his 
hermitage somewhat enlarged by the care of his friends, 
Motylinski and the village harratins. A young officer gave 
him the additional surprise of discovering amidst the 
lumber of the corridor he called his house, a bed, a camp- 
bed brought on camel-back. . . . He did not grumble, but 
acepted the gift with thanks, and for the first time in twenty- 
seven years, being thoroughly tired out, slept on canvas. 
As soon as he had got into the hermitage again he started 
with his old ardour on his works in the Tuareg language, 
and hastened to finish them, in order "to work more 
directly for the one end : to see more people, and to give 
more time to prayer and spiritual reading." 

This idea of progressive evangelization, which he never 
gave up, inspired all his acts and prompted him to draw up 



282 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

a few forms of prayer for his poor Saharans, and, in the 
same letter, he submitted to Father Gu^rin the sketch of a 
simplified rosary for the use of infidels. At the beginning 
they would make an act of charity, and then, in any 
language, say on the little beads : " My God, I love Thee " ; 
and on the big beads : " My God, I love Thee with my 
whole heart !" " Would you think it right," he concludes, 
" to ask for indulgences for this very simple rosary, which 
is also good for the use of Christians?" And this letter 
ends with this noble outburst, revealing the memories that 
helped this great soul in his poor life with its want of 
response in all around it : 

"To-day is the feast of SS Peter and Paul. It is 
delightful to write to you on this day. Let no difficulties 
daunt us ; they conquered many far greater ones, and they 
are always with us. Peter is always at the helm of the 
barque. If Jesus' disciples could have been discouraged, 
what a reason for discouragement Roman Christians had 
on the evening of the martyrdom of both ? I have often 
thought of that evening ; how sad it must have been, and 
how all must have appeared to have gone under, had it not 
been for the faith in their hearts ! There will always be 
struggles, and always real triumphs of the Cross in apparent 
defeat. So be it." 

He expected Colonel Laperrine from day to day ; he 
remarks, as a happy event, the nomination, as Musa's 
secretary, of a young man brought up at Tlemcen, speak- 
ing French well, having a good French and an excellent 
Arab education, very French in his ideas, and by no means 
fanatical. It is to be hoped that this new arrival will destroy 
the bad influence of the so-called thalebs, ignorant fanatics 
from Rhat. " When shall we rejoice at the arrival, not of 
Musulmans, but of Catholic priests?" he asked. "With 
what ardour I desire a priest as companion to instruct by 
example and daily talks, so as to lead souls by degrees to 
another teaching !" 

Laperrine, " after a very successful and fruitful round, 
pushed on as far as Gogo," spent a week at Tamanrasset, 
and took his friend Father de Foucauld with him ; they made 
the tour of Ahaggar in such a way as to see the principal 
inhabited cantons. This time he had resolved to take a 
fresh census of the Hoggar warriors, and to review the 
troops available against the Azjers, and had distributed 
rifles of the 1874 pattern. This was both a proof and an 
earnest of trust : Musa and the Colonel deliberated to- 
gether as to where to order the assembly, and decided on 



TAMANRASSET 283 

the high valley of the Wady Tmereri, which is " provided 
with water and pasturage," and covered with very fine 
ethels. 

On the day and hour agreed, Laperrine was on the 
summit of a hillock in the middle of the valley, and the 
valley was still deserted. Around him were Lieutenant 
Saint-Leger, Lieutenant Sigonney, Doctor H^risson, Father 
de Foucauld, and four orderlies. Near the French com- 
mander was the war-drum, the tehbel, which signals the 
call to arms. 

In a neighbouring valley, where he had convoked his 
warriors, Musa ag- Amastane began to make his troops 
pass into the Tmereri plain. Between the trees was seen 
the glitter of arms and moving shields, and outlines of the 
foremost warriors riding high, and meharis' heads. Then 
the Colonel had the tocsin beaten : the dust rose between 
the ethels, and 252 meharis of Musa dashed towards the 
great French chief, who was immobile but secretly 
delighted. 

After the fa^itasia there was a long chat. Laperrine spoke 
of the customs to be kept, of others to be given up — for 
instance, the raids. The rumour went round that he wished 
to forbid ahdls — that is to say, gallant and " fashionable " 
parties. Laperrine, who knew Tamachek imperfectly, 
turned his head, looking for a good interpreter* to contradict 
the report. "There was one," be says in his Annales de 
Geographie — " there was Father de I^oucauld, but I hardly 
dared ask him to do it. . . . He began to laugh, and after 
having told me that I was getting him to make very un- 
canonical interpretations, he translated my phrase to the 
great joy of all the young people, and in particular of 
Alkhammuk, who saw in it a splendid opportunity for 
teasing the Father on their long rides." 

On returning from this expedition towards the end of 
October, the Father was visited by Captain Nieger at 
Tamanrasset. Fort Motylinski was built. For a traveller 
like Brother Charles thirty miles was a walk, and when a 
French soldier fell seriously ill, the hermit was told of it. 
He at once left the hermitage, and heard the dying man's 
confession. "There is nothing new," he writes to Father 
Guerin, " in the country, which the presence of the officers 
is getting more and more in hand ; the farther we go, the 
more it is prepared for the arrival of your Fathers. At 
present, the officers' work is the best one can desire ; it opens 
up the ways, establishes contact, makes safety prevail, and 
gives a good opinion of us, for the Colonel, Captain Nieger, 



284 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

M. de Saint-L^ger and the others, are wonderfully good to 
the natives." 

So many efforts are not and cannot be vain. All the 
evidence agrees in proving that civilization had made a 
beginning in Hoggar. " Our training is making great 
strides." Father de Jioucauld gives all the honour of it to 
the officers, but we know that, in this beginning of civiliza- 
tion, he had a very considerable share. " Wherever an 
officer has been, the population, once wild and suspicious, 
has become friendly. ... A biennial fair has been started 
at Fort Motylinski (Tarhauhaut), in March and October ; 
people are invited from all sides, from Agades, Zinder, 
Air, as from In-Salah, Wargla, etc. The constant 
presence of a detachment of a hundred soldiers in Ahaggar 
has brought to light the resources of the country. This 
detachment finds all its supply of wheat, meat, vegetables, 
as well as barley for its horses, on the spot. Wheat fcosts 
40 francs a hundredweight, barley 30; a goat 7-50 francs, 
a sheep 10 francs, butter 1-50 francs a pound. All French 
vegetables are grown in the gardens ; their quality is excel- 
lent. Water and land are abundant; much more could be 
grown, only hands are lacking." 

To know the daily life of the hermit in detail, and just 
what he does not tell us, we took a few pages from Brother 
Michel, a passing guest of Beni-Abbes. To depict his life 
at Tamanrasset, we shall give the notes which Surgeon 
H^risson was good enough to put into my hands, referring 
to the years 1909 and 19 10. 

Doctor Herisson resided for many months in Hoggar as 
assistant Senior Surgeon of the Motylinski station, in 
charge of the medical mission among the Tuareg tribes. 
He, too, and in the sphere of science, was one of the in- 
valuable agents of the "training" system invented by 
Laperrine. 

He was in the Tripolitan oasis of Janet, when he received 
from the Colonel a service letter which rather surprised him. 
The Colonel wrote to him to go to Hoggar, and there to put 
himself at the disposal of Father de Foucauld, to receive 
instruction as to how to act with regard to the Tuaregs, and 
especially to ask him in what tribes, in agreement with 
Musa ag Amastane, it was advisable to vaccinate and pro- 
vide medical care. Father de Foucauld had hardly spoken 
to the young doctor, when he invited him, according to his 
custom, to come to Mass next day. M. Robert Herisson 
replied that he was a Protestant, and regretted he could not 
accept the invitation. 



TAMANRASSET 285 

" I addressed Father de fioucauld with curiosity and some 
reserve, knowing that he was going to be ' my instructor.' 

" I saw a man of sorry appearance at first sight, about 
fifty, simple, and modest. In spite of his habit, recalling 
that of the White Fathers, which I had seen in Wargla, 
there was nothing monastic in his gestures or attitude. 
Neither was there anything military. Beneath very great 
affability, simplicity and humility of heart, were the 
courtesy, the finesse and refinement of a man of the world. 
Although he appeared badly dressed, without any care for 
elegance, and though he was very accessible to all, French 
workmen or native corporals, the vivacity and penetration 
of his look, the height of his forehead, and his expression 
of intelligence made of him a ' somebody.' He was below 
middle height ; at first sight he looked of no account, but I 
had quickly the impression that Father de Foucauld was a 
highly intellectual man, both sensitive and tactful. . . . 
He was very winning. ... I felt myself attracted to him. 

" I saw he was adored by all the French who already 
knew him, and there was, even amongst the non-commis- 
sioned officers and artisans, a certain pride in talking with 
Father de Foucauld and in writing letters to him as 
familiarly as to one of their old comrades. 

"The Father was really singular. 

" ' What do you advise me to do about the Tuaregs, 
Father?' I said to him. *I am ordered to follow your 
instructions.' 

" He spoke at length. 

" * You must be simple, affable and good to the Tuaregs ; 
love them and make them feel they are loved, so as to be 
loved by them. 

" ' Don't be the assistant-surgeon, not even the doctor 
with them; don't take offence at their familiarities or their 
easy manners : be human, charitable, and always gay. You 
must always laugh even in saying the simplest things. I, 
as you see, am always laughing, showing very ugly teeth. 
Laughing puts the person who is talking to you in a good 
humour; it draws men closer together, allows them to 
understand each other better; it sometimes brightens up a 
gloomy character, it is a charity. When you are among 
the Tuaregs, you must always laugh. 

" ' Give them your medical assistance patiently, cure 
them ; they will get a high idea of our science, power, and 
kindness. If they ask you to attend a goat, don't be 
annoyed. 

*' ' In my opinion, you should reside long near a Tuareg 



286 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

encampment, not mixing with them, but on the edge, not 
to be in the way, but ready to receive them should they wish 
to come. Remain here, without stirring from the spot, for 
three weeks ; you will have time to cure them, and also to 
know them and to get known. 

"'They do not know us. Absurd legends about the 
French have been put in circulation. It is said we eat 
children, that at night we turn into animals, etc. 

*' ' Use an interpreter, to tell those who want to come and 
talk with you about our intimate family lives, our manners 
and customs, the birth and sponsorship, the religious educa- 
tion of our children, marriage, marriage laws, and duties 
between husband and wife and their children ; about deaths, 
ceremonies, legacies, wills, what deeds we honour, those we 
despise. . . .' 

" He advised me to show the Tuaregs verascopic photo- 
graphs, representing agricultural work in France, our 
flocks, country life, the rivers, farms, oxen, horses. . . . 
' Make them understand that a Frenchman's life is made up 
of peaceable honesty, work and production. Show them 
that the foundation of our peasants' lives is the same as 
theirs, that we resemble them, that we live in our country 
as they do, but in a more beautiful country. 

"'You will doubtless have leisure, for the country is 
very healthy, there are few patients and the population is 
very thinly scattered. What do you intend doing?' 

"'The Colonel,' I said, 'commissioned me to collect 
samples of plants and send them to Algiers to M. Trabut, 
the botanical professor, who will ascertain the species. I 
am also going to try and make a kitchen-garden at 
Tarhaouhaout.' 

" ' It would be interesting,' Father de Foucauld said to 
me, ' to know if any other race than the Tuaregs has in- 
habited the desert. There are very old tombs here — pagan 
tombs, anterior to Islam. They are very probably the 
Tuaregs' ancestors, but they will not acknowledge that. 
You would be able to make excavations. They will see no 
harm in your exhuming these bones. You can then ascer- 
tain the relationship of race existing between those pagans 
and the Tuaregs of the present day.' 

" Father de Foucauld vv^as the soul of Hoggar. Colonel 
Laperrine did nothing without taking his advice, and 
Musa ag Amastane did the same. 

"The natives held him in such esteem that they made 
him their judge. One morning I saw this very remarkable 
scene. He was before his door, slightly bent towards the 



TAMANRASSET 287 

ground, dressed in white : before him in the foreground 
were two immense Tuaregs dressed in black, their faces 
veiled with the litham, in full dress, with swords at their 
sides, with daggers on the left forearm, and lances in the 
right hand ; behind were four or five other Tuaregs, 
squatting, as witnesses or hearers. It was a story of camel 
robbery, and blows given to the negro, the owner's slave 
and guardian of the drove. 

" The one accused, the other denied. Both assumed the 
emphatic theatrical attitude of the Hoggars, the imperious 
gesture, the marked accentuation, though deadened by the 
litham, which acted as a slight gag. 

"Finally a Koran was brought; the accused protested 
his innocence by swearing on the Koran before Father de 
Foucauld- 

" About 10 o'clock every morning the Father used to call 
his negro ; he gave him a wooden bowl full of wheat, and 
a handful of dates. The day on which he invited me to lunch 
he warned me the menu would be detestable. I accepted 
through politeness and curiosity, but never again. 

" The negro went and ground the grain in a stone hand- 
mill, as the Berbers in the Atlas and the natives of the 
Moroccan countries do. This mill broke the grain but did 
not make flour of it. With the broken wheat, without any 
yeast, he made a flat round cake, which he put to bake 
under the ashes. In a little wrought-iron saucepan he had 
boiled some coarse dates, full of sand and camel-hair — and 
lunch was ready. 

" Father de Foucauld then took away the books and 
sheets of paper which were on the table, and laid two hollow 
plates and two wrought-iron spoons on it, and said to me : 

" * Have you ever eaten any khefis?' 

"No." 

" ' It is my usual food. I do not know whether you will 
find it good, but I can offer you nothing else. I had still 
a few little tins of "bully" (singe) that Saint-Leger's 
sergeant wanted to leave behind on his last visit; I gave 

them to Corporal X , who wanted to invite me when he 

was here. Khefis seems to me a perfect food, which is 
easily prepared and suits my poor teeth.' 

"Here is the recipe for khefis. You take the wheaten 
cake, break it up into small pieces, quite hot, and put it into 
the wrought-iron plate. Stone the dates, pour the stewed 
dates on the pieces of cake. Then take some old melted 
Arab butter and spread it over the cake and dates. Now 
take all this by the handful, triturate and crush it, and make 



288 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

a sort of putty of it. The taste is insipid, sugary, but not 
bad. 

" A glass of water and a cup of coffee complete the 
meal. 

"To-night we shall have a couscousou without meat — 
* my usual dinner, that will please you more.' 

" It was not good for much. 

" Before sunset the Father took an hour's recreation. He 
used to walk to and fro before his hermitage. Then he 
talked amiably of everything. We walked side by side. 
He put his hand on my shoulder, laughed, spoke about the 
Tuaregs and his memories. At first he used to ask me 
every time how I had spent the day. He got me to make 
a sort of examination of conscience, and blamed me if I 
had not attended some Tuaregs, learned Arabic or 
Tamachek. . . . 

"The day on which I saw Father de Foucauld really 
annoyed was when I confessed to him, a few months before 
my final departure from Hoggar, that I had not made any 
anthropological researches for seven to eight months. 

" I saw, I told him, that I was not going to get any 
result. I should be quite as ignorant as before as to what 
race those pagans belonged to. Were they the ancestors 
of the Hoggars, or were they another people? My work 
was condemned beforehand to mediocrity. 

" Father de Foucauld reproached me for being wanting 
in perseverance. ' The little that you would have done, 
and which you would have left to your successors, would 
have been work already done ; others, taking up the even 
negative results of your researches and going on with them, 
would have carried the matter further. By abstaining 
from following up your researches, you hinder the work. 
To be held up by the idea that your work would only be 
mediocre, is nothing else than pride. Your abandoning 
the pursuit of these researches may discourage at the outset 
those who come after you.' " 

" One had to work. One day while I was there, a 
negro came and asked him for alms. He was dying of 
hunger, he said. He was well set up, but appeared thin. 
He was about twenty-five years of age. Father de 
Foucauld asked him why he did not work in the Tit, 
Abalessa, and other centres of civilization. He replied that 
there was nothing to do there. Then Father de Foucauld, 
showing him a little wooden box which was used to mould 
bricks, said to him ; ' Make me twenty bricks, and I give 
you a measure of wheat.' There was hardly an hour's 



TAMANRASSET 289 

work : he had only to make twenty little pies such as 
children make at the seaside ; the negro refused. The 
Father held out, and gave him nothing, except advice to 
work for his living." 

On other occasions, there was a lesson for the Tuareg 
nobles. Surgeon Robert Herisson tells us, for instance, 
that one evening, at sunset — that is to say, at one of the 
hours of Musulman prayer — five or six Kel-Ahaggar and 
Kel-Rela were talking with Father de Foucauld and the 
amenokal. The latter, his cousin Akhammuk and Aflan, 
Dassine's husband, rose up, adjusted their blue lithams on 
their faces, and prepared to say the prayer. The other 
Tuaregs, indifferent, continued talking. But the Father 
stopped them sharply : 

"Well, don't you pray?" he said. 

He thus excited them to honour God in the only manner 
known and recognized by them. They understood, and 
at once got up to imitate Musa. 

Dr. Herisson saw Laperrine and Father de Foucauld 
live side by side in Tamanrasset. Between these two men 
there was fraternal affection and a great mutual esteem, 
with that little shade of deference that Laperrine knew how 
to show towards his great senior of Saint-Cyr, a cavalry- 
man like himself. When he was passing through Hoggar, 
they always took their meals in common. 

" For lunch or dinner, a big rug is spread on the ground 
in the shade of some tree if there is one, or in the Colonel's 
tent, which is quite large. Each gives his table-gear, can, 
and cup to the cook, who places them anyhow. There is 
no precedence. 

" When all is ready, they sit down to table, squatting 
like tailors on the edge of the rug. The cook brings the 
dish. Each man has his little wheaten cake cooked under 
the ashes. The Colonel calls upon anyone he likes to help 
himself the first. Then they talk away and there is no 
constraint. The Colonel always invites all the French in 
the neighbourhood to his table — quartermasters, corporals, 
gunsmiths and joiners. They will pay nothing to the 
mess. Sometimes he has them served first. They take 
any place whatever at table, just by chance. Father de 
Foucauld always comes at noon, with a bottle of white 
muscat, his sacramental wine. We drink a claret-glass 
of it at the end of the meal. We protest, and call out 
on seeing the bottle : ' Father, you will run out of stock ; 
it is too much, you will exhaust your supply : we won't 
drink it !' But he laughs and insists : ' You may drink it. 

19 



290 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

I only bring you what I can.' And, of course, we drink it 
with delight. 

" At table, we do not talk about serious things; we tell 
stories, jokes, and chaff the Colonel's cook. Father de 
Foucauld laughs. The Colonel has a very varied and 
amusing stock of stories, which he says are true. He is a 
very charming raconteur. Father de Foucauld smiles 
when everybody else laughs. But if the story goes a little 
beyond the limits of propriety, he hears nothing, he is 
deaf, and seems to be thinking of other things. Then 
someone remarks that the conversation has taken * a silly 
turn,' and that the Father must be scandalized; but if 
excuses are made, he protests that he was not listening and 
did not hear; no one was embarrassed. 

"During the 'rounds' he used to come with a negro 
servant and a hired camel, without tent or camp-bed. He 
slept on the ground in his blankets. The greater part of 
the time he took a pack-camel without a saddle (without a 
rahla). Not to lose time, he wanted us to go on, and to 
come and join us at the place agreed upon, doubling his 
stages, and doing fifty miles a day at three miles an hour, 
and, as far as possible, using a route still unexplored by 
the French. 

" He then arrived with little bits of paper full of notes 
and sketches, quite small, but very clear, like those of his 
Morocco exploration, and put them all into the Colonel's 
hands. 

" At meetings and palavers, he used to refuse to sit on a 
camp-stool alongside of the Colonel ; he wished to squat 
on the ground beside him. The Colonel made use of him 
as an interpreter. These Tuaregs, indeed, did not know 
the Arab language, or did not know it well. The Father 
not only understood them and expressed himself perfectly 
in set speech, but, by his knowledge of their char- 
acters and habits, he knew what had to be made clear 
to them, the doubts or apprehensions that might arise, etc. 
Lastly, his moral valour was held in such consideration 
and so highly esteemed that everything said by him car- 
ried greater weight. 

"The Tuaregs used to say: 'He knows our language 
better than ourselves.' 

" During evening recreation, when walking to and fro 
before his hermitage, at sunset, with his arm on my 
shoulder, he told me that personal distinction is not due 
to birth or education, but is innate, and that he had 
found amongst the simple at La Trappe a remarkable lofti- 



TAMANRASSET 291 

ness of feeling. ' We lived beside each other without 
knowing one another's origin or name, doing our work 
according to our aptitudes. There was a peasant without 
any education, who had inspirations, perfectly beautiful 
thoughts which came from his heart. He was unconscious 
of their worth. I was delighted to hear him. He was 
eloquent, and that without art, quite naturally and simply.' 

" Father de Foucauld, unlike what is said of celebrated 
men, became immeasurably greater when one saw him 
every day and close by." 

Do not these lines with which Doctor H^risson's manu- 
script ends, recall the judgments passed on the hermit 
when he lived at Beni-Abbes ? Did not these re-echo the 
many praises of Akbes, Nazareth, Jerusalem, and Notre- 
Dame-des-Neiges ? 

In 1910, two great friendships, two supports, were 
taken from Father de Foucauld. On May 14 the mail 
coming from In-Salah brought news of Father Guerin's 
death, at thirty-five, worn out by the fatigue of the Saharan 
life. The long voluminous correspondence between him 
and Father de Foucauld showed the respect that these two 
men had for one another. When two men, thanks to the 
faith which fills them, are almost free from self-love ; when 
they become, as much as nature permits, entirely noble 
influences, ever waiting to obey the slightest sign from 
God, the understanding between them is immediately 
perfect, whether silent or expressed, and the confidence 
which they have in each other surpasses all other friend- 
ship in sweetness. In their numerous letters there is not 
a trace of disagreement. On either side is the same cer- 
tainty that the friend addressed — one asking counsel, the 
other replying — was only thinking of the reign of the 
Sovereign Beauty over the world. Father de Foucauld 
submitted all his plans of journeys, and distant future 
foundations to his director-friend, and, if he did not render 
him an account, as he did to M. Huvelin, of his spiritual 
state, he nevertheless did not mark off" the limit between 
these two domains — the one outward, the other inward — 
and very often spiritual confidences, resolutions, hesita- 
tions, and passing depression found expression in the 
letters of the hermit of Beni-Abbes or Tamanrasset to the 
Prefect Apostolic of Ghardaia. 

" God has just inflicted a trial upon us both," he wrote 
to Father Voillard, two days after the news came. " You 
have lost a very good son, and I a very good Father; lost 
in appearance, for he is nearer to us than ever. ... I 



292 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

had never thought that he might not survive me, and I 
leant upon his friendship as if it would never fail me. 
You know the void that his departure has left me. Jesus 
remains : blessed be He in all things ! Blessed be He in 
having called our very dear Father Guerin to his reward ! 
Blessed be He also for having lent him to us for a few 
years ! 

" This unforeseen departure makes me wish all the more 
for the company of a priest who may continue the very 
small work begun here. He might live along with me, 
living the same life or not. I don't want to be his 
Superior, but his friend, ready to leave him alone as soon 
as he knows the routine. . . . 

" From 1905, Captain Dinaux, then Chief of the 
Arab Ofifice at In-Salah, asked for some White 
Sisters for Ahaggar : now that there is a permanent gar- 
rison, a French officer, a doctor, several French non-com- 
missioned officers and corporals, and a hundred native 
soldiers permanently in the country, with the mail twice a 
month, great security and the conveniences of life, we 
might reasonably think about it. Sisters are not sent 
apart from White Fathers ; but there might be grounds for 
considering the possibility of a foundation for the White 
Fathers. . . . The Tuaregs of Ahaggar are Musulmans 
only in name; they detest the Arabs. Their submission to 
France introduces into the country Arab Musulmans, 
Musulman Khojas in the service of France, as soldiers or 
interpreters. Arabs from Tidikelt and other countries are 
allowed to circulate freely, to carry on commerce without 
fear of being robbed ; whence will probably follow an 
islamic propaganda and a renewal of islamic fervour : it 
would be useful to be beforehand. . . . 

*' I am preparing for a greater spiritual activity by get- 
ting a little hermitage for two built about forty miles away 
in the heart of the highest mountains in Ahaggar, and 
where tents are quartered in larger numbers. There I 
shall be much more at the centre of the inhabitants than 
here. Next year I mean to divide myself between it and 
Tamanrasset. . . . 

" I ask you to pray for my director, M. I'Abb^ Huvelin; 
he has been my Father for twenty-four years; nothing 
could explain what he is to me and what I owe him. The 
news about his health is lamentable. At each mail I fear 
to learn that he, too, has fulfilled his time of exile." 

Less than two months later, in fact on July 10, Abb^^ 
Huvelin died. The one whom he had led back to God 



TAMANRASSET 293 

wept and then, like the best, raised his eyes to heaven, and 
there found immutable joy to comfort him. To one of the 
White Fathers expressing sympathy with him in the cir- 
cumstances, he replied : 

" Yes, Jesus is enough : where He is, nothing lacks. 
However dear be those in whom His likeness shines, it is 
He who is all. He is all in time and in eternity." 

As if all supports were to be taken away from the finished 
building, a third friend of Father de Foucauld was to leave 
Africa that same year. Colonel Laperrine, who had been 
in command of the oases for nine years, asked for the com- 
mand of a regiment in France; he left those territories 
organized by him in peace, and enlarged by the whole 
Tuareg country.^ 

Why did this great Saharan quit the Sahara? For the 
best of reasons. Brother Charles, his confidant, said in 
fact: " He is right; we must not seem to cling to office." 
Only the highest type of man thinks thus. The life and 
death of Laperrine justify us in thinking that Brother 
Charles was not mistaken. 

Laperrine never returned to Hoggar, until the middle of 
the Great War. He never again saw his friend alive. As 
almost always, it was an unconscious adieu. Foucauld 
not only had a tested love for the man who had been the 
comrade of his youth, he admired the commander who had 
done so much for the greatness of France in Africa — that 
is to say, for the civilization of the nations who are con- 
fided to us. A few months before his departure, he paid 
this tribute to him in a letter: "Laperrine spends himself 
beyond measure; he has impressed all who are under his 
orders with a wonderful energy and activity. The last 
six years, the amount of work the officers under his orders 
have done, and what has been effected from the military, 
administrative, geographical, and commercial points of 
view, are unheard of." 

On Laperrine's departure he summed up his colonial 
career thus: "Since the age of twenty-one he has not 
spent three years in France ; one summer as lieutenant, 
fifteen months as captain, and six months as commander ; 
all the rest in Algeria, Tunis, and above all Senegal, the 
Sudan and the Sahara. It is he who gave the Sahara to 
France, in spite of her, and at the risk of his career, and 
he it is who united our Algerian possessions with our 
colony in the Sudan." 

* He was appointed Colonel of the i8th Regiment of Chasseurs, on 
November 8, 1910. 



294 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

Before leaving Africa, the Colonel had decided on taking 
Musa ag Amastane to France. Some noble Tuaregs 
accompanied the amenokal; they were made to assist at 
gunnery experiments at Creusot; they visited the breed- 
ing studs, factories and towns, especially Paris and its 
" curiosities," among which was certainly one of the least 
Parisian and most cosmopolitan — the Moulin Rouge. It 
was a lightning visit of rapid skipping without respite, 
meant to astound rather than to appeal to the heart, a visit 
such as governors who have no paternal feeling of responsi- 
bility can order. Brother Charles received some news of 
this promenade, which was too official for his taste ; but he 
rejoiced at the thought of the good the Tuareg chief would 
nevertheless derive from this very partial experience of a 
superior civilization. "On his return," he wrote, "I 
shall try to make him understand that three things are 
necessary if he wishes to work for the eternal salvation of 
his people: (i) To get education for the children and 
youths, who are as neglected as animals. (2) To get a 
certain amount of instruction imparted to them. (3) To 
work to make his people settle down and give up the 
nomad life, while keeping their pastoral character. 

•' This third thing is the sine qua non of the two first, 
for education and instruction seem incompatible with the 
nomad life. 

" For the Kel-Ahaggar, or at least for most of them, 
the transition from the nomad to the settled life would be 
easy ; the strongest tribes are almost stationary ; the camels, 
under the care of a few shepherds, go and graze a long 
way off; but the tents with the families and the flocks of 
goats are almost settled— they only move within a circle of 
about twenty-five miles'. • • • Moreover, the peace of 
these three years of French occupation has already had 
the effect of stabilizing the inhabitants. On my arrival 
there was only one house in Tamanrasset, the other dwell- 
ings were huts; now there are fifteen or twenty houses; 
they are constantly being built; the huts will soon have 
disappeared; it is the same, they say, in the other vil- 
lages. . . . Tillage is increasing. Every Tuareg in 
slightly easy circumstances has fields. Unfortunately, 
they do not cultivate them themselves; they get them cul- 
tivated by the harratins of Tidikelt or negroes. The 
Tuaregs superintend the work, and harvesting, but they 
despise putting their hand to the hoe. The settlement in 
this country of monks cultivating with their own hands 
would be a great blessing. . . ." 



TAMANRASSET 295 

No sooner was the Hoggar chief back on African soil, 
than he wrote to his friend, Father de Foucauld ; and here 
is the letter he addressed him, on a sheet of the Hotel de 
r Oasis paper : 

" Praise be to the one God, and may God bless Mahomet. 

" From Algiers, for Hoggar, 

" September 20, 1910." 

" To his honoured excellency, our dear friend above all, 
Monsieur le Marabout Abed Aissa,^ the Sultan Musa 
ben Mastane salutes thee, and wishes thee the grace of the 
very high God and His benediction. How art thou? If 
thou wishest news of us, as we ask for thine, we are well, 
thank God, and we have only good news to give thee. 
Here we are arrived from Paris, after a good voyage. The 
Paris authorities were pleased with us. I saw thy sister 
and remained two days at her house ; I also saw thy 
brother-in-law. I visited their gardens and houses. And 
thou, thou art in Tamanrasset like the poor man P On 
my arrival, I shall give thee all the news in detail. 

" Wani ben Lemniz and Sughi ben Chitach salute 
thee. 

"Greeting I" 

The hermit remained at Tamanrasset until the end of the 
year, and at the beginning of 191 1 undertook a second 
journey to France, a little longer than the first. The latter 
lasted three weeks. In 191 1 Father de Foucauld took a 
month to get over the following complicated itinerary : 
Marseilles, Viviers, Nimes, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, Paris, 
Nancy, Luneville, Saverne, Paris, Bergerac, Angouleme, 
Paris, Barbirey, Lyons, Marseilles. 

On May 3 he was back in Tamanrasset, after having 
made a stop at Beni-Abbes, where he spent only three 
days. The calm of Hoggar appeared, after those four 
months travelling, very agreeable to him, and his recep- 
tion by the Tuaregs touched him. He wrote, on May 14, 
to Father Voillard, who had become his spiritual director 
since Abbe Huvelin's death : " At this moment, there are 
a great many people here on account of the harvest ; I shall 
remain here about three weeks more, to take advantage 
of their assembly, to see various people, to talk with 
Musa, and to give the poor of the neighbourhood 

^ Abed Aissa — servant of Jesus. 

2 El meskine is the poor man, an object of pity by lais destitution. 



296 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

their share of alms; then I shall go to Askrem, the 
mountain hermitage, for a year at least. I shall work 
there with all my might at my Tuareg books, so as to 
finish them in a year and a half from now. ... I was 
very well received by the whole population ; it is making 
progress in confidence and civilization, it is also making 
material progress ... an intellectual movement will cer- 
tainly follow." 

Summer came. Suddenly letters became less and less 
frequent. Father de Foucauld's correspondents must have 
thought that he was ill or lost in the Sahara. Lost would 
perhaps be nearly true. The man who had settled in one 
of the most unknown places in the world was tempted by 
the inaccessible. On July 5 he had set out for Askrem, 
where he dwelt in a hovel nearly ten thousand feet up, 
assuredly the highest point on earth where a hermit had 
ever lived. Must we think that he was led there by a 
whim, by some fanciful eccentricity of an adventurous 
nature? That would be to form a wrong opinion of him, 
and we already know it. His villeggiatura in Askrem is 
only fresh evidence of his charity and fearlessness. He 
went yonder to seek, through cold and storm, the souls 
whose wandering pastor he had made himself. The dry- 
ness drove the Tuaregs from the Ahaggar plateaux; they 
went and camped in the Kudiat valleys, where there was 
a little green grass for the flocks. And Brother Charles 
went up to them. They came not only from Tamanrasset 
and neighbourhood, but from several deserts around the 
Hoggar heights, and nomads of divers tribes were there 
for a short time, shivering, but no longer famishing. 

The road was long and rough. The last part could 
hardly be done except on foot : the camels stumbled on 
the fallen and broken stones. It took at least three days 
to reach Askrem, the citadel of the country — a plateau 
enveloped in a fantastic landscape of peaks and points and 
tabular heights, and grottos carved on the tops of the 
lower mountains. To the north and south nothing stops 
the view. Here and there are statues of men or animals 
upright in the limpid air, changing in colour, shading and 
expression, according to the height and secret power of the 
sun. In our European mountains there is rain; here is 
wind, always blowing the drifting sand; it has worn away 
the friable rocks, and leaves standing the harder pillars 
with resisting angles, and fine or enormous spires, like the 
Ilaman peak which dominates the rest. The Askrem 
plateau has not only this strange beauty : it reminds the 



TAMANRASSET 297 

scientist of the first ages of the world; it is the watershed. 
The great Saharan rivers, to-day dried up, flowed from its 
flanks. On all sides one can follow the beds which they 
have hollowed out, and which go, some towards the 
Taudeni basin, others towards the Atlantic, others, like 
the Wady Tamanrasset, towards the Niger. 

Father de Foucauld loved with all the ardour of his 
poetic and contemplative soul this extraordinary solitude. 
"It is," he said, " a beautiful place to adore the Creator. 
May His reign be established here. I have the advantage 
of having many souls around me, and of being very soli- 
tary on my summit. . . . 

" Since I was twenty I have always relished the sweetness 
of solitude, whenever I got it. Even in my non-Christian 
days, I loved the solitude of beautiful nature along with 
books, but now all the more when the sweetness of the 
invisible world prevents one's solitude from ever being 
lonely. The soul is not made for noise, but for medita- 
tion, and life ought to be a preparation for heaven — not 
only by meritorious works, but by peace and recollection 
in God. But man has launched out into endless discus- 
sions : the little happiness he finds in loud debates is 
enough to show how far they lead him away from his 
vocation." 

At Askrem as at Tamanrasset, he had chosen a com- 
manding position. His house was but a corridor, built 
in stone and earth, and so narrow that two men could not 
pass abreast. But in this poor refuge he had a chapel, 
and, beyond, a number of things in wonderful order, a 
great number of books, provisions, and packing-cases, 
opened and unopened. He slept on one of the latter. In 
the daytime he used it as a table. Around him the wind 
blew, with the noise of the sea when the tide is rising. 
Abb6 Huvelin had sent his friend two hundred francs, to 
help him build this shelter ; he had also given him the 
little altar for the chapel, and Brother Charles, enraptured 
and grateful, had exclaimed : " I hope Holy Mass will be 
said on this altar long after my death." 

There, more than once a week, he received the visits of 
Tuareg families; men, women, and children all came up 
together from the innumerable valleys hidden in the 
Kudiat. They were both pilgrimages and pleasure par- 
ties. They came a long way, at least one or two days' 
march. They had to rest up yonder, sup, and spend the 
night. Brother Charles joyfully spent his precious time 
in welcoming his guests ; he made them little presents ; he 



298 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

shared his meals with them. " One or two meals taken 
together, a day or half a day spent together, put us on far 
better terms with one another than a great number of visits 
of half an hour or an hour, as at Tamanrasset. Some of 
these families are comparatively good, as good as they can 
be without Christianity. These souls are directed by 
natural lights ; although Musulmans by faith, they are 
very ignorant of Islam, and have not been spoiled by it. 
In this direction, the work I am now doing is very good. 
Lastly, my presence is an opportunity for the officers to 
come into the very heart of the country."^ 

All the rest of the time — and there is plenty of time when 
one gets up long before the sun — Brother Charles prayed 
or worked. He brought with him a native whom he called 
his " Tuareg teacher"; he gave him five sous an hour to 
pay for his trouble, but as the sittings of questions and 
answers lasted on an average nine hours a day, the pupil 
found the professor's fees a heavy expense, and the latter 
that so much diligence wearied a nomad's head. 

This weariness, so new to an Ahaggar, the distance 
from the wells from which he used to go and fetch water 
every day, perhaps the austere solitude, perhaps the cold 
at njght, with winter coming on, made the "coadjutor" 
ask to be sent back to his country. Brother Charles, who 
had taken his provisions of books and preserves "like 
someone who plans a sixteen months' voyage without 
having to call at any harbour," was forced to give way and 
go down. At the beginning of December, he again entered 
the Tamanrasset hermitage. 

There he resumed his usual charitable and hidden life, 
answering the appeals of poverty, which is always great 
among the tribes. Brother Charles gave himself up 
entirely to almsgiving, and distributed his provisions. 
He just came to hear of news which was stale for the rest 
of the world : the war between the Italians and the Tri- 
politan Arabs. His friends were anxious about the re- 
action this war might have on the Sahara. " Don't be 
alarmed," he wrote to one of them, " about the preaching 
of a holy war. The Sahara is large, the Turks are certainly 
doing all they can to get the holy war preached among 
the Arab tribes of Tripoli, but that does not touch us. 
The Tuaregs, very lukewarm Musulmans, are equally 
indifferent about the holy war and about the Turks and 
Italians. It is all the same to them ; what solely interests 
them is their flocks, the grazing and the harvest. Before 
* Letter to F'ather Voillard, December 6, 191 1. 



TAMANRASSET 299 

their submission to France, they joined to these calHngs 
the profession of highwaymen ; now that is forbidden 
them, they devote themselves with all the more ardour to 
the others. 

" I found Tamanrasset and the neighbouring inhabi- 
tants in a terrible state of misery, and I thought 1 ought to 
give much more in alms than I foresaw. The reason of 
this misery is twofold: (i) drought has prevailed for 
twenty months : hence it follows that milk, butter, and 
butcher's meat, which are the principal riches of the 
country, have been lacking for twenty months; (2) in 191 1, 
the two harvests (there is a wheat harvest in spring and a 
millet harvest in autumn) were failures, owing to greenfly 
eating away the inside of the ears just before they ripened. 
Results : (i) there is nothing to eat in the country : I 
could not buy a litre of any grain whatever here (wheat, 
barley or millet) ; (2) nobody has any clothes, because they 
can only get them by selling butter, animals, etc. I have 
something to eat, because I have stores, but there are few 
people here who have two meals a day, and many who live 
entirely on wild roots. ... I cannot feed the people, but 
I have given much more clothes than I usually do ; it is 
the cold season. 

" Since my return, I have so far done little beyond pray- 
ing to God and receiving visits from my neighbours one 
after another. ... I have not yet taken the work of the 
lexicon and grammar up again : I shall set about it after 
New Year's Day : in the first place, I would like to be able 
to stay at the foot of the Crib during this holy Christmas- 
tide, then I must see all my poor neighbours who begin 
to be old friends, for I am in my seventh year at Taman- 
rasset." 

He brought back little presents which he distributed to 
his visitors of both sexes, and which were highly treasured 
in Hoggar. The most ordinary gifts were needles; fur- 
ther, there were safety pins, then boxes of matches ; 
scissors were kept for the great ladies, and knives for the 
more influential Tuaregs. 

As time went by and experience increased. Father 
Charles was strengthened in his conviction that his mis- 
sionary methods were not mistaken. Dwelling among the 
native camps in the high mountain provided him with 
fresh proofs of it. "I help as far as I can ; I try to show 
that I love. When the opportunity seems favourable, I 
speak of natural religion, of God's commandments, of His 
love, of union with His will and love of one's neigh- 



300 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

bour. . . . The Tuaregs have the character of our good 
rustics in France, of the best of our peasants : hke them, 
they are industrious, prudent, economical, opposed to 
novehies, and full of suspicion as to unknown persons 
and things. Ignorant as they are, they can receive the 
Gospel only by authority, and the authority necessary to 
make them adopt it and reject all they know, love and 
venerate, can only be acquired after long and intimate con- 
tact, by great virtue and God's blessing/ 

"Some — very few — seriously question me on religious 
matters ; in my counsels I keep to natural religion, insist- 
ing on avoiding sin, on night prayers with an examination 
of conscience, and acts of contrition and charity." 

These good countryfolk of the Sahara are not wanting 
in vices, which Brother Charles enumerates without dwell- 
ing on them, for fear of letting it be thought that he was 
in an evil neighbourhood. They were extremely violent, 
proud to the point of madness ; laxity of morals was 
general ; the Tuareg rules of honour allowed women, and 
even advised them, to do away with children born outside 
marriage, and there were so many infanticides that " per- 
haps a third of the children perish at birth." 

" Send some White Sisters," he wrote to Mgr. Livinhac ; 
" they will start a round for the newly-born, and that will 
be the remedy until conversion takes place." 

At each page in the voluminous correspondence of the 
Tamanrasset hermit, we find him thinking out the best 
human means of raising this people to whom he was the 
first missionary. He came with a complete civilization in 
his heart. For him civilization "consists of two things: 
education and gentleness." Nothing was indifferent to 
him if it helped to protect children, to free slaves, to teach 
the ignorant, to settle nomads and draw them closer to 
France. 

He preferred solitude, and we have heard his praises of 
it ; but for the good of the 100,000 souls in the Sahara, 
whose chaplain he was, that solitude had to be enlivened, 
that silence disturbed. Post and telegraph, railways, 
biennial fairs — he called for such "progress" with a 
county councillor's passion, though caring but little about 
it for himself. He rejoiced at the speedy coming of a 
mission of engineers, officers, and geologists charged with 
inquiring into the eventual line of a trans-Saharan railway 
to follow the great curve of Oran, Beni-Unif, Beni- 
Abbes, Twat, Aulef, Silet (forty-six miles west of 
» Letter to Father Voillaid, July 12, 1912. 



TAMANRASSET 301 

Tamanrasset), In-Gezzam, Agades, Chad. " I am very 
happy about it, for the railway in these regions is a power- 
ful means of civilization, and civilization a powerful 
help to christianization ; savages cannot be Christians.^ 
Above all, let them hasten to build the railway!" And 
immediately after that wish follows this sentence which 
shows the officer, the great and true Frenchman : " It is a 
necessity for the preservation of our African empire, but 
also for bringing all our forces, in case of need, to the 
Rhine." 

Fresh good news came in. Near Fort MotylinsKi had 
just arrived an officer, " who was charming and dis- 
tinguished, Lieutenant Depommier." There was also an 
" extremely nice " doctor. These were causes of joy to 
which was added a last one of another order, wished for, 
called for, and long expected : Morocco had come under 
the protection of France. Letters told Brother Charles of 
it. He at once replied in these lines, which are well worth 
reflecting on : " Here is our colonial empire greatly en- 
larged. If we are what we ought to be, if we civilize, 
instead of exploiting Algeria, Tunis and Morocco will, in 
fifty years, be an extension of France. If we do not fulfil 
our duty, if we exploit instead of civilizing, we shall lose 
everything, and our uniting these people will turn against 
ourselves." 

In the constant desire of civilizing which filled his mind 
with aspirations and plans, he contemplated making 
another journey to France in a few months, and taking 
with him a young Tuareg of an important bourgeois 
family, " if one may speak thus." He began to prepare 
Madame de Blic and his cousins in France to receive the 
tourist, dressed in a waistcloth, with plaited hair and 
cheeks covered with a blue veil. He introduced him by 
making a favourable portrait of him. According to Bro- 
ther Charles, no one in Ahaggar was equal to his candidate, 
who was " not only affectionate, intelligent, and gentle, 
but exceptionally steady. The son of one of the principal 
men of his tribe, first cousin to the chief, he has been 
half adopted by the latter, who had no children ; he entirely 
manages the material affairs of his adopted father, whose 
stepdaughter he is going to marry. He is nice in every 
way and of the best plebeian family. We are here in a 
country of castes ; there are plebeians and patricians, the 

* Letter to a friend, February i, 1912. The mission comprised four 
engineers of bridges and roads, a geologist (M. Rene Chudeau), and two 
captains, old Saharans ; it was commanded by Captain Nieger. 



302 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

first incomparably superior to the others in moral value, 
and making all the strength and hope of the country." 
But, before undertaking this journey, Brother Charles 
had many pages to write, and the fiance had to set out in 
a caravan, with the healthy men of the country, to fetch 
millet from Damergu. 

Spring, like winter and all the seasons, found Brother 
Charles shut up in his hermitage, bending over the pack- 
ing-case which he used as a table, surrounded by his 
manuscripts and books, in difficult passages consulting his 
"teacher," who had a headache. He finished the dic- 
tionary, and promised himself to send the work soon to 
M. Ren^ Basset, who would publish it "under the name 
of our common friend M. de Motylinski." The trans- 
Saharan mission traversed Ahaggar. It stopped at 
Tamanrasset. " Very well managed and well composed, 
it has accomplished an extraordinary amount of work. I 
saw the members of the mission ; several have long been 
my friends. They hope that in about a year the work will 
begin. What fields are opened for the holy Gospel : 
Morocco, the Sudan, and the Sahara!" There were fre- 
quent comings and goings between the camp and hermi- 
tage. Brother Charles mentions Captain Nieger, M. Ren6 
Chudeau, Captain Cortier of the colonial infantry, M. 
Mousserand (a mining engineer). He notes also that he 
receives numerous visits from Tuaregs, who have formed 
the habit of coming to see him at sunset on Sundays, a 
day during which they observed that the marabout re- 
ceived them still more willingly and chatted at greater 
length than on other days. 

The mission went away ; great heat fell upon the Tam- 
anrasset plateau. Suddenly a serious accident interrupted 
work. Charles de Foucauld was bitten by a horned viper. 
The bite is nearly always fatal. The shepherds and blacks 
in the vicinity of the hermitage heard of the occurrence. 
They ran up and found their friend lifeless. No Euro- 
pean doctor was there. They therefore nursed the mara- 
bout according to their custom, burning the wound brutally 
with hot irons, bandaging the arm to prevent the venom 
from spreading to the whole body, then, as the syncope 
persisted, they applied the red iron to the soles of his feet; 
a terrible blister, administered through compassion. The 
hermit at last came to himself. He was extremely weak; 
they searched everywhere in the valley for milk to feed 
him. But the heat was great, the goats no longer had any 
grass. Musa became anxious, and ordered two cows to 



TAMANRASSET 303 

be brought from very far away to Hoggar to save the 
marabout. Brother Charles was long unable to study or 
walk. He ended, however, by recovering from the viper's 
bite, and from the treatment which had saved him. 

He never dreamt of complaining. In that he was like 
my old professor of chemistry. When he caught a fever, 
and the doctor told him that the illness would be very 
serious, he joyfully exclaimed: "What luck; I shall be 
able to have a rest!" Charles de Foucauld rested a 
moment before his door, and long in his chapel — only one 
step away — in meditation and prayer. And we know that, 
in that autumn of 19 12 — autumn is the favourite season of 
Europeans who have lived in Ahaggar — two principal 
thoughts made his soul rejoice and his life of solitude light. 
The first was: "The farther I go, the more I enjoy the 
beauty of nature. How beautiful are the works of God ! 
Benedicite, omnia opera Domini, Domino!" And the 
second: "The time of Advent is always sweet, but par- 
ticularly so here. Tamanrasset, with its forty hearths of 
poor husbandmen, is very much what Nazareth and 
Bethlehem may have been in the time of our Lord." 

I ascribe to this period a story which I have not been 
able to date exactly. It was and is still being told all 
wrong. In the reviews or newspapers, one may read of 
" Musa ag Amastane's mother" falling very seriously 
ill, when Father de Foucauld was called in to her. To 
encourage her in the hour of death he found nothing better 
than to recite some suras from the Koran : " He came and 
fulfilled his office of comfort and laid the old woman to 
sleep in Allah, with appropriate verses from the Koran." 
When these lines fell under my eyes — many months ago — 
I at once felt that the truth must be otherwise. I thought 
that a Catholic priest might, indeed, have suggested to the 
dying woman to recite suras expressing timely truths — 
exhorting, for instance, to repentance or to hope in God. 
This would have simply meant translating an act of con- 
trition or Christian charity into the language most 
intelligible to the woman. But I could not believe 
that Father de Foucauld had done it, knowing how 
he dreaded the extension of Islam, and therefore that 
he would avoid quoting the Koran, even if appropriate, 
as much as possible. I wished to know whether I was 
right, and wrote to the amenokal of Hoggar. I asked him 
to call to mind the very words of his friend Father de 
Foucauld. He well understood the sense of the question I 
had put to him. Though uncivilized, he was intelligent. 



304 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

He answered me a few months later in the following 
letter : 

" Praise to the one God ! There is none but He ! 

" Tamanrasset, 

"5 Chaban, 1338, 

" April 25, 1920. 

*' To the most honoured of French scholars, R6ne Bazin, 
of the Academy. 

"To thee, thousands of greetings, a thousand divine 
favours ! firom the servant of France, the Emir Musa, 
son of Amastane, amenokal in Hoggar. 

" Thy letter reached me, in which thou askest me to give 
thee details about the great friend of the Hoggar-Tuaregs. 
So be it I Know that the marabout Charles held me in 
great esteem. God bless him, and make him dwell in 
Paradise, if it be His will. 

"Now, here are the details thou askest me for: about 
his life, in the first place. The people among the Hoggar- 
Tuaregs loved him deeply during his life, and now still they 
love his tomb as if he were alive. Thus the women, children, 
poor, and whoever passes near his tomb, salute it, saying : 
' May God raise the marabout higher in Paradise, for he 
did good to us during his life !' All the people of Hoggar 
also honour his tomb as if he were alive — yes, indeed, quite 
as much. 

"Then, thou askest me what took place when he was 
present at the illness of my mother — that is to say, my 
aunt (Tihit), my father's sister, at the time of the illness of 
which she died. The marabout Charles said to her in 
Tamachek : * Oksad massinin ' [fear God], and afterwards 
he left her. She died the next day. We carried the 
body to the tomb, and he was with us; whilst we were 
praying for her, he was standing, the colour [of his face] 
impaired on account of her death. He did not pray with 
us for her. When we placed her in her tomb, he kept 
standing on the edge, buried her with us, and said to us : 
' God increase your consolation on the subject of Tihit ! 
May God give her Paradise in her tomb !' 

" One of my days, a year before her death, she came to 
see him in his cell, and found him praying : she stood 
motionless behind him, waiting till he had finished his 
prayer, then she said to him : * I also pray to God, at the 
hour at which thou prayest.' 

"As to the fame of the marabout, it is always enduring 



TAMANRASSET 305 

in Hoggar, and the persons to whom, as to us, he did good 
— that is to say, all the people of Hoggar — honour his tomb 
as if he were living. 

"Such is the information that thou hast asked me for, 
given without fault. I hand this letter for thee to Captain 
Depommier, the commander-in-chief with us. 

" May God bless thee in thy life ! Mayest thou live in 
good health 1 Greeting. 

" (Seal of) MusA ag Amastane." 

The answer is clear; I was right. The incident helped 
Father de Foucauld's memory more than I expected. It 
led, indeed, Musa's thaleb, Ba-Hammu, who worked for 
ten years with Father de Foucauld, to make some most 
interesting statements, sent on to me by a witness along 
with the letter. Here they are : 

" We know well that the marabout could not tell us to 
say the shahada [the Musulman form of prayer] ; we 
are in no doubt about this. That was inconsistent with his 
office as a Catholic priest; we all know it. A fact well 
known to everyone here proves it. Father de Foucauld 
was continually visited by the poor, the aged, the sick, 
women, children, and numerous Tuaregs who came to ask 
for his help and counsel. At the beginning of his installa- 
tion, it happened that some of his visitors, coming out of 
his house at the Musulman hours of prayer, stopped near 
the hermitage to pray. Father de Foucauld amiably 
invited them to move away from the hermitage, telling them 
that they must understand that he did not want them to 
pray near his house, as they could not themselves want him 
to prav near a mosque. . . . He said these things in such 
an amiable and kindly way, that we all soon got to know 
them, and would not think of violating his wishes."^ 

The very well-informed witness who told to me these 
memories of the thaleb, added this personal reflection : " If 
we strip Father de Foucauld's intercourse with the Tuaregs 
of all purely formal considerations, it is absurd and untrue 
to sav that he ever did or said anything which did not aim 
at their evangelization, which was, after all, his object." 

The journey to France with a young Tuareg was one of 
the thousand means devised by his charity to diminish the 

^ In order to understand Father de Foucauld's words better, we must 
realize that the Tuaregs have no mosque, and that their religious 
memorials are only marked on the ground by lines of stones. Hence, 
the Musulman prayer, repeated frequently in the same place, and near 
the hermitage, might give rise to an unfortunate legend. 



3o6 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

distance between the Musulman tribes and Catholic France. 
Brother Charles expected a great deal of good from it. 

He had already obtained a favourable reply from his 
sister and other relations, who agreed to receive the young 
Tuareg in their houses. The African missionaries were 
told of the scheme, and also promised to offer hospitality to 
the two travellers at Maison Carree. Other letters were 
posted to France, asking his friends for the same favours 
or for introductions. It was touching to see Father de 
Foucauld, so hard upon himself, doing his best to arrange 
and settle everything, so that Uksem's journey might be 
as pleasant and friendly, and as little tiresome as possible. 
Would not the fate of many souls depend, at least to some 
extent, on the recollections of our civilization that this 
young barbarian would bring back? Such a journey " is 
the means of overthrowing a host of errors at a single 
stroke, of opening men's eyes, of bringing about a several 
months' tete-a-tete with a chosen soul. It goes without 
saying, there is to be no paying of visits to museums or 
curiosities ; he must be made to partake of the sweetness and 
affectionate atmosphere of family life in Christian society, 
and be given a glimpse of what Christian life is, and be 
shown how religion impregnates the whole of life." 

Among these letters there is one which I want to give 
almost entirely. In it Charles de Fouc£uld forcibly set 
forth ideas lightly touched on elsewhere. It is addressed 
to his friend the Due de Fitz-James, and dated Decem- 
ber II, 1912. 

It begins thus : "I won't fail to tell you when I am 
coming to Marseilles ; I shall be so delighted to see you 
again !" He then says that the journey is put off to the 
month of May, 1913. Uksem will hardly be ready to 
start before then, and, besides, " I do not wish to show 
him France in snow, cold, and north wind, without verdure 
and leaves ; it would even have been very imprudent to 
expose the Saharan's chest to our cold and damp winter. 
So I have decided to go to France only this summer. With 
my young companion, I shall land at Marseilles about the 
first fortrTight in May. ..." 

We French have two essential duties to fulfil in Africa : 
"The first thing is the administration and civilization of 
our North-West African Empire. Algeria, Morocco, 
Tunis, the Sahara, and the Sudan form an immense and 
magnificent empire in one lump, having this unity for the 
first time. . . . How are we to attach this empire to us? 
By civilizing it, by working to raise its inhabitants morally 



TAMANRASSET 307 

and intellectually as much as possible. The inhabitants of 
our African Empire are very varied : some, the Berbers, 
may rapidly become like us ; others, Arabs, are slower in 
progress ; the negroes are very different from each other ; 
but all are capable of progress. 

" The second thing is the evangelization of our colonies. 
. . . Now, what are we doing for the evangelization of our 
North- West African Empire? One might say, nothing. 
In Algeria, Tunis, and the Sahara, the only priests engaged 
in the evangelization of the natives are the White Fathers ; 
they are, according to their 1910-1911 report, fifty-six in 
North Africa, eleven in the Sahara. A drop of water. I 
can well understand that the White Fathers, seeing the 
evangelization of the Musulmans to be slow and difficult, 
have turned aside their efforts and sent the great majority 
of their missionaries into Equatorial Africa, where they are 
working wonders, and affecting conversions as rapid as 
they are numerous, and winning heaven for a host of souls. 
Here they would have saved few, there they save many : 
so I can understand their going there. It is nevertheless 
true that Algeria, Tunis, and Morocco (where there are 
only chaplains at the consulates) are entirely neglected. . . . 
This is a situation which French Christians ought to 
remedy. It will be a work of time, demanding self-sacri- 
fice, character, and constancy. We want good priests in 
fair quantity (not to preach : they would be received as 
Turks coming to preach Mahomet would be received in 
Breton villages, or much worse with the help of barbarism), 
but to establish contact, to make themselves loved, to inspire 
esteem, trust, and friendship ; then we should want good 
lay Christians of both sexes to fulfil the same role, to enter 
into still closer contact, to go where the priest hardly can — 
above all, to Musulmans' homes, to give an example of 
Christian virtue, to show the Christian life, family, and 
spirit : then we want good nuns to take care of the sick and 
to bring up the children, mingling much with the popula- 
tion, dispersed by twos or threes wherever there are priests 
and Christians. . . . That being done, conversions, at 
the end either of twenty-five, fifty, or a hundred years, will 
come of themselves, as fruit ripens, according to the spread 
of education. . . . But if these unfortunate Musulmans 
know no priest, see, as self-styled Christians, only unjust 
and tyrannical speculators giving an example of vice, how 
can they be converted ? How can they but hate our holy 
religion ? How are they not to become more and more 
hostile to us ? . . . 



3o8 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

" After drawing your attention to these two very 
important points, let me add a word : whether it be to 
administer and civilize our African empire, or to evangelize 
it, we must first get to know its population. But we know 
very little of it. That is partly due to Musulman customs, 
but that is an obstacle which can be overcome ; this deplor- 
able fact remains, that we are alarmingly ignorant of our 
native African population. I have hardly quitted North 
Africa for the last thirty-two years (except during the ten 
years, from 1890 to 1900, which I spent in Turkey in Asia, 
Armenia, and the Holy Land) ; I have seen noboay, neither 
officer, nor missionary, nor colonist or any other person 
who knows enough of the natives ; as for myself, I have a 
fair knowledge of my little corner of Tuaregs, but a very 
superficial acquaintance with the rest. . . . There is a vice 
which must be remedied ; our administrators, officers, and 
missionaries must have a much closer contact with the 
populations, long residence in the same stations (with pro- 
motion on the spot for administrators and officers), that 
they may know and instruct their Superiors correctly, and 
that the latter may get to know through them. ..." 

The diary goes on, mentioning the events which take 
place around the hermitage. There were great and small 
happenings. The great one was the arrival of General 
Bailloud at the beginning of 19 13, and the perfect success 
of the experiment with which he was entrusted. He was 
to secure the setting up of wireless communications between 
Tamanrasset and Paris. Attempts were made, and, to the 
satisfaction of Father de Foucauld, who clearly foresaw all 
the coming mechanical improvements, the capital of Ahaggar 
could *' talk " without difficulty with the Eiffel Tower. 

A little later a flight of storks passed over the hermitage, 
going from north to south. 

On March 9, General Bailloud, wishing to thank the 
inhabitants for the good reception he had met with, sent a 
female camel for the poor. Charles de Foucauld had it 
killed, and the meat distributed to all the unfortunate with- 
out exception, to all the wives of the harratins, to the 
artisans, to the shepherds, to the married women, to the 
widows, and to the cast-off. 

" On the morning of the i8th a thick damp fog and light 
south wind; it is the signal of spring. A man from In- 
Salah crosses the country. He tells me that the outer yard 
of my house yonder is buried under the sand, and that the 
rest of the house is threatened." Not a word of regret, not a 
syllable comes from the owner ; he will go and see. 



TAMANRASSET 309 

At last, after long delay, the most important of the 
caravans which set out yearly in September to go and fetch 
millet, returned to Tamanrasset. It was time : the popula- 
tion was beginning to suffer. Among the caravan chiefs 
was Uksem, the fiance, the candidate chosen for the journey 
to France. 

" I shall only be in Paris on May 25," wrote Brother 
Charles to a friend. "Pray for my little Uksem; he is 
going to be married to a flame of iiis childhood. It has 
long been settled; he is nearly twenty-two; Mile. Kaubeshi- 
sheka is eighteen. They are very near relations, and have 
been brought up together. She is very intelligent and has 
plenty of determination." 

Uksem's marriage took place at the beginning of April, 
and on the 28th Father de Foucauld jotted in his diary : 
" Set out for France at 6 o'clock in the morning with 
Uksem. The night before, his mother came to the hermi- 
tage and said : ' Say to your sister : Take great care of my 
child; I entrust him to you.' " 

To avoid the expense of a guide they travelled by the 
mail which took the Fort Motylinski despatches to In-Salah. 
The travellers were at Maison Carrie on June 8. They only 
stopped two days in this house and country where Brother 
Charles had so many friends. Nevertheless, he saw some 
of them, and even pushed on to Birmandreis, where the 
White Sisters had their chief foundation. Those acquainted 
with monasteries know that a traveller, if he is a Christian, 
rarely visits these houses without being invited to relate 
what is happening to Jesus Christ and His servants in the 
countries where he has been. Thus was it with Brother 
Charles in the house where the old nuns, back from the 
missions of the great lakes and Kabylia, train novices 
to go joyfully and live in the bush, catechize the negroes, 
bring up the cast-off children, attend the sick, comfort 
many sorts of wretchedness, and keep quite pure in centres 
which are not so. Brother Charles was asked to explain 
what he had done and what he wished to do in Beni-Abbes 
and Hoggar. He spoke in a white room to nuns dressed in 
white, listening closely to every word, whether lofty or 
entertaining, and bowing at the name of their Master, Jesus. 
He was not eloquent, but the life he described was eloquent. 
In finishing, it occurred to him to say : " Which of you. 
Sisters, would sacrifice herself for the Tuaregs?" Silently, 
all arose with one motion. 

We must, however, believe that the hour had not vet 
come. Brother Charles returned to Maison Carrie to find 



3IO CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

Uksem. On the loth they embarked on the Timgad, and 
the poor marabout, accustomed to the standard of deck 
passengers, now took first-class tickets to give pleasure to 
the infidel about to visit Christian countries ; on the 13th he 
made a pilgrimage to Sainte-Baume ; on the 15th, Mgr. 
Bonnet, Bishop of Viviers, received Father de Foucauld, a 
priest of his diocese, and Uksem — two very different 
examples of civilization — in his house set high on the 
ramparts of the old town, in the shadow of the cathedral. 
And from this summit, a place of prayer and mistral, the 
Tuareg, for whom rivers were but names and beds of sand 
and stone among pastures, perceived the full, strong, con- 
fined Rhone which came from the North between cultivated 
and quite green banks, which struggles and eddies and 
foams and, swirling with all its waters, passes out through 
the gates of Provence. 

He was merry and in good health. Everybody feted him. 
He understood a few words of French. He ate everything 
except fish and pork. 

F.rom Viviers they continued the journey by Lyons, 
where Father de Foucauld and Uksem became the guests 
of Colonel Laperrine; then they went into Burgundy. 
There they stopped for a few hours in a little valley with a 
canal in it and watered by a quick-flowing river, between 
two chains of wooded hills. If you cross, as the crow flies, 
a high undulating plateau to the north covered with wood 
and heaths, you land in the country of famous and rich 
slopes, where the villages are named Vougeot, Nuits, 
Musigny, Chambertin. But the Ouche flows through more 
shade ; a peaceful and humble recess of our pasture and 
tillage land. You leave the railway at Gissey. Over a 
mile off, adjoining the market-town of Barbirey, there is an 
ancient manor with two wings and covered with tiles, where 
M. de Blic lives. This time it was only an introduction. 
Uksem, received by the brother-in-law, sister, nephews 
and nieces of his protector and friend, began to see what a 
French and Christian family, a country-house and day in 
the countryside were like. He gazed with astonishment at 
the courtyard before the castle full of plants and flowers, 
the terrace behind, the meadow which falls away to the 
stream, and then rises by steep slopes to the hills, and above 
all at the extreme beauty and vigour of the trees planted in 
the hollow of the park : plane-trees, sycamores, firs, elms, 
all their branches and leaves new to him. Then they took 
leave, promising to stay at Barbirey, on their return, for at 
least a week. 



TAMANRASSET 311 

One after the other, Father de Foucauld's relations lent 
themselves to the plan he had made and received Uksem. 
First there was the Marquis de Foucauld at his castle of 
Bridoire, in Perigord. They still remember vividly more 
than one touching incident of that visit. " I remember," 
said one of the witnesses lately — " I remember the winsome 
youth and his admiration of the Father, and the Father's 
kindness to him. I see them both on all-fours in the 
smoking-room, cutting out on the floor with a carving-knife 
the trousers to be sewn by the young Tuareg during his 
leisure. I also see him, standing every night on the chapel 
steps, not daring to go in, through respect, his large eyes 
wet with tears during the household prayers." 

After the visit to the head of the family, they went, also 
in Perigord, to Count Louis de Eoucauld, at the Chateau 
de la Renaudie, then to Viscountess de Bondy, in villeggia- 
tura at Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Then, passing through Paris, 
the Father returned to Barbirey about July 20. Uksem 's 
" apprenticeship to the French way of life " was carried on 
in the gaiety of a numerous and united family. The Tuareg 
learned to knit, so as to give lessons to the women of his 
tribe later on ; he quickly became dexterous, whilst his 
guide, the marabout, got tangled up in the needles and 
stitches. Uksem rode a bicycle on the road to Autun, 
and, in order to help him to do this well, the Tuareg 
gandourah was transformed into zouave's breeches with the 
help of a few safety-pins. "Teach him French," the 
Father said to his nephew Edouard; "in return for your 
lessons, when you come to see me in Africa, he will teach 
you to ride a mehari, in which he is a past master." In 
the evening they chatted, Miles, de Blic sang songs by 
Botrel at the piano; they played at hunt-the-slipper and 
other traditional games. Uksem understood everything 
and laughed at the right moment. The experiment 
appeared to be successful. The Father showed no singu- 
larity in this family life. He was Charles at his sister 
Marie's. He ate what was served; he said his long prayers 
at night when he was sure that Uksem, "his child," was 
asleep. Worn out and aged by penance, and always hard 
upon himself, he seemed to have only one ambition — not 
to keep any of these young people from fully enjoying the 
holidays. One Sunday he was asked : 

" Will you go to Vespers?" 

"It is not obligatory." 

" But the people will be surprised if they don't see you 
there." 



312 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

•'Then I shall go." 

He was mainly engaged in civilizing Uksem, but he 
also promised himself to make known to a chosen few the 
pious association for the conversion of infidels who are 
French subjects. This affair was to take him to Cham- 
pagne and Lorraine ; he disclosed his plan to General 
Laperrine, to whose house he went on leaving Barbirey, 
and whose guests Uksem and he were. Laperrine, pro- 
moted to be a general since the preceding June 22, com- 
manded the Sixth Brigade of Dragoons at Lyons. Happy 
at seeing his friend de Foucauld again, he said to him : 
"Your Tuareg only knows his Ahaggar mountains; you 
must show him the Alps and go to Switzerland ; I shall be 
one of the party." He was so much so that his fine 
silhouette is seen in the corner of several photographs which 
represent Uksem beaming with admiration at the sea of 
ice, or climbing some peak of Mont Blanc. The travellers 
spent August 3 at Chamounix, the 4th at Lucerne, the 6th 
at Belfort. After the Swiss excursion there was a second 
stop at Barbirey — the longest; it lasted a fortnight. The 
young Tuareg, taken about everywhere, everywhere spoiled, 
was getting broken in. When he left Burgundy and took 
the train for Paris, he received from one of Father de 
Foucauld's friends a present with which he was delighted : 
a fowling-piece. He had to go out shooting at once and 
fire off his gun, and this letter was sent to one of M. de 
Blic's sons ; it was written in tifinar and translated by Uncle 
Charles : " This is me, Uksem, who says : I greet Edouard 
warmly ; I love thee very much ; the time seems long with- 
out thee. I killed a partridge, a hare, and a squirrel. I 
embrace thee." 

Some other visits, notably one to Berry, took up the last 
weeks. On September 25, Father de Foucauld, going down 
towards Marseilles, stopped at Viviers and spent the day 
with his dear bishop, Mgr. Bonnet, who authorized, " in 
the diocese, the little association (the confraternity), and 
encouraged it with a letter." Three days later, the 
travellers, finishing a journey of three months and a half 
in France, embarked for Africa, and Charles de Foucauld 
wrote to his sister : " Unless in exceptional circumstances, 
a missionary does not spend so long a time of rest with his 
relatives. In Uksem's voyage, God provided such an 
exceptional circumstance. I thank Him for it with my 
whole heart. . . . You also I thank, as well as Raymond 
and your children, for the pleasant weeks you made me 
spend, and for your extreme kindness to Uksem, kindness 



TAMANRASSET 313 

which does so much good to his soul ; I quite understand that 
his joy at meeting his own relations again is tempered very 
much by his grief at leaving those who received him so well 
in France. The apostolate of kindness is the best of all." 

These holidays — the only ones that Brother Charles 
believed he had the right to take during his career as a 
Christian — enabled him to see at leisure nearly all his 
family or friends once more. These were farewells ; perhaps 
he thought so. To several among them, and also to some 
pious souls — met here and there and at once recognized, 
eternal relations that God shows in an instant — he spoke of 
the association he so much wanted to promote, the associa- 
tion blessed by the Bishop of Viviers : and not only did 
they enter into the spirit of this higher charity which is 
ever ready to pray for or to put its spiritual treasures at the 
disposal of fresh misfortune, but some men of good-will 
apparently were quite glad to devote themselves to the 
salvation of " our Musulman brothers " in other ways. He 
may have been mistaken as to the time : he believed that 
a few laymen would soon become " missionaries d la 
Priscilla," as he said, and come to Africa to prepare by 
their example, by the care they gave to the sick and poor, 
for the evangelization of the Berbers and Arabs, which is 
the great duty of France. Then he wrote a very singular 
note to one of his relations, with this heading : " What does 
a Frenchwoman require to do good among the Tuaregs ?" 

" I. The will to live among them long enough to know 
their language (which is not difficult), and to be known by 
them, because you can only do good when you know and 
are known. 

"2. Much patience and gentleness : the Tuaregs cannot 
make fine distinctions; they cannot tell a person's quality, 
and pass quickly from barbarous behaviour to exaggerated 
familiarity. 

"3. An elementary knowledge of medicine — above all, 
of the complaints of young women and little children — so 
as to be able to attend to the sick without a doctor and 
dispensary. 

"4. Ability to vaccinate, and the wherewithal for 
vaccination. 

"5. Ability to bring up children abandoned by their 
mother at birth. 

" 6. Ability to impart the rudiments of hygiene. 

"7. Ability to wash in the simplest way, to iron a little 
(but not to starch), to cook a little, so as to teach it. 

" 8. Ability, both for yourself as well as to teach by 



314 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

example, to give the orders required for the laying out of 
a kitchen garden, a poultry-yard, and a stable containing 
a few goats. Goats are abundant in the country, but they 
don't know how to feed them on clover or garden herbs; 
there are hens, but of too small a kind, and they don't know 
how to protect them by wire-netting from birds of prey ; a 
few vegetables are cultivated, but without the necessary care, 
also their yield is very poor, whilst the soil and climate of 
Ahaggar would grow nearly all the vegetables and fruits of 
I^rance, and of as good a quality as at Algiers. 

" It would be well, but it is not indispensable, to know 
when and how to shear sheep and goats, how to spin their 
wool and hair, how common fabrics are made with the wool 
and hair thus spun ; a few days spent with the White Sisters 
of Laghuat or Ghardaia would do for learning all this. It 
would be an excellent thing to take with one a native woman 
of mature age, expert in such labours, and accustomed to 
do them for the White Sisters. 

"The Tuaregs have many goats and sheep, but they do 
not shear them, and let their hair and wool go to waste. 
None of them can weave. 

" It would also be well to be able to knit and crochet, so 
as to teach the women if need be. The women sew very 
well, prepare skins very well, and, with a great deal of 
cleverness and delicacy, do a lot of various leather-work. 
They look upon it as beneath them to spin, weave, knit, 
etc. Being extremely conservative, they are most antago- 
nistic to all new work. 

" N.B. — One of the things which it is most necessary to 
teach the Tuareg women, is personal cleanliness. They 
never wash themselves, and hardly ever wash their clothes ; 
they cover their hair with butter, have no fleas, for fleas do 
not exist in the country, but they have an abundance of other 
parasites. They say it makes them ill to wash ; there is 
some truth in this in the case of those who only wash them- 
selves in the open air without wiping themselves ; they must 
be taught to use a towel, and to do their toilet privately. 
A Frenchwoman in the Tuareg country will do well to have 
a good supply of Marseilles soap and very common towels, 
in order to give some to the women, 

"The Tuaregs are gay and childlike; if one wishes to 
know them quickly and be known by them, one must attract 
them. A gramophone, without great compositions, but 
with lively and gay tunes and songs, peals of laughter, 
animal cries, dance music, etc., is a means of attraction. 



TAMANRASSET 315 

It is the same with pictures : in that line nothing equals 
photographs viewed through a stereoscope ; not piioto- 
graphs of buildings, nor landscapes, but those of persons, 
animals, and animated scenes : the photographs they like 
best are those of their compatriots, taken in their own 
country. Bring a verascope, take plenty of photographs of 
Tuareg groups, and show them ; and you will get numerous 
visitors. A collection of coloured postcards representing 
persons and animals is also a good thing. 

" There is no lack of women who come and ask for a 
remedy to blacken the few white hairs which begin to show 
on their heads : bottles of jet-hlack dye might well find a 
place in the stock of drugs : this would be a charity and a 
way of winning faithful friends. 

" Several thousand sewing-needles of all sizes (very 
fine for the young, more or less coarse for the grown-ups 
and old women), and one or two thousand safety-pins a 
year, to give to the women^ are very useful things to have. 

"There is no need to establish a hospital, but a simple 
dispensary, with a place to bring up the children cast off at 
birth, and a ' turning-box ' with a bell in order to take them 
in discreetly." 

The return journey had to be made slowly for two 
reasons : the extreme heat that the travellers met with as 
soon as they had left the seaside ; then the lean condition of 
the saddle- and pack-camels, which during their absence 
had had little care; so much so that though the departure 
from Maison Carree took place at the end of September, 
the Father and his companion only came in sight of the 
hermitage on November 22. 

At the request of Uksem they had passed through 
Timmimun. Brother Charles had not seen the oasis for 
seven years, and was astounded at the progress made : " A 
great increase of commerce with the North and South, an 
increase of the native industry of woollen materials, the 
taking in hand and training of the population, the increase 
and decoration of the buildings : a well-kept native in- 
firmary ; a school kept by a French teacher, helped by an 
Arab monitor; the school has about eighty pupils." 

On November 22 they entered the Tamanrasset valley 
before daybreak. 

" I wished to get here before daylight," the Father 
explained to M. de Blic, " to get off the camel quietly with- 
out a crowd of people, and to have the whole day to put a 
little order into my hermitage, which has been uninhabited 
for seven months. Uksem was neither ill nor downcast 



3i6 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

for a minute during the whole journey ; he did not cease to 
be as nice as possible ; he found all his people here in good 
health. How many times has he spoken to me of you, 
Marie and your sons, of Barbirey and its fine verdure ! He 
has acquired a taste for French, and makes great efforts not 
to forget what he knows. He teaches a few words to some 
of his relations, who go into ecstasies on hearing him speak 
to me in my language; and he is going, I hope, to begin 
giving lessons in knitting and crochet ; he is recruiting 
pupils. This journey has had an effect which I see already 
beginning : it increases the trust they have in me, and 
consequently in all the French." 

A few days later he wrote again : " Poor Uksem spent 
only twenty days here. He has just set out again for six 
months, he is going 750 miles away from here towards 
Tahua right in the Sudan, to superintend the grazing of 
the family camels. During his first year of marriage he 
will have spent forty days with his wife. . . . When 
shall we win his soul altogether? He, his father, his 
father-in-law, his mother and others, are souls of good- 
will ; but to cease believing what one has always believed, 
what one has always seen believed around one, what is 
believed by all whom one loves and respects — this is 
difficult." 

In the first months of 1914, the visits of Uksem's father 
and sisters were almost daily, and in a letter to the Due de 
Fitz-James, Brother Charles says that since his return to 
Tamanrasset he has seen Frenchmen four times, officers or 
non-commissioned officers. 

Officers passing through quiet Ahaggar, now less 
opposed to the tastes of civilized folks, were a joy to Father 
de Foucauld. He made their visits an opportunity for a 
fete both of the natives and themselves. Nowhere does 
he tell of the "entertaining gatherings " which were held, 
not round the hermitage, but somewhat to the east, before 
the door of the "guest-house." Fortunately the young 
officers often took notes of their impressions, and two 
diaries of the road have been handed to me. 

On January 20, 1914, Commandant Meynier, Doctor 
Vermale (Assistant-Surgeon), and M. Lefranc (editor of 
the Temps) arrived at Tamanrasset, where they spent three 
days. 

"The great interest of Tamanrasset," says Doctor Ver- 
male,^ " is the presence of Father de Foucauld. Yester- 
day evening we had tea at his hermitage, and he takes all 

^ Manuscript notes. 



TAMANRASSET 317 

his meals with us. He has a wonderfully intelligent head. 
By his kindness, his sanctity and learning, he has won a 
great reputation among the population. I am promising 
myself to spend some interesting days with him. ... I 
was obliged to interrupt my written talk to go and lunch 
with Father de Foucauld, then to the grand fete of rejoic- 
ing given in our honour. It has quite a character of its 
own on account of the presence of women of the Dag-Rali 
tribe, which is now close to Tamanrasset. In our zeriba, 
they squat down in their most beautiful clothes; they are 
tall, and many of them pretty. Pre-eminent among them 
is the celebrated Dassine, the wife of Aflan, formerly re- 
nowned for her beauty, and retaining the very fine eyes 
of her glorious youth, and much wit and distinction. Gifts 
were distributed to them, then there was a prodigiously 
successful phonographic performance; the men's songs 
slightly puzzled them but interested them very much, be- 
cause the Tuareg never sings before women. Then a great 
doll lottery was got up, whilst outside the negroes gave 
themselves up to wild dances. All this lasted three hours." 

My second witness is Lieutenant L , whom I had 

the pleasure of seeing at Algiers. The detachment com- 
manded by Captain de Saint-Leger and Lieutenant L 

and entrusted with a mission to Hoggar in June, 1914, was 
composed, in addition to the officers, of ten mehari mounted 
men of the Saharan Company of Tidikelt, and Father de 
Foucauld's collaborator and friend of the French, 
M'ahmed Ben Messis. It set out from In-Salah on June 13 
and entered on the high Tamanrasset plateau on the morn- 
ing of July I. 

" At a few miles from the village we halted for a short 
space to do our toilet. For we are going to make our 
entry into the ' capital ' of Ahaggar, in which is the resi- 
dence of the amenokal Musa ag Amastane, where there 
are numerous Tuareg nobles, and where, above all, is one 
of the greatest propagators of French influence in the 
Sahara — the one who, by his example and persuasion, has 
been able to contribute in a large measure in rallying to 
our cause the Tuareg people hitherto reputed to be the 
most impervious to all notions of civilization. This is 
Father de Foucauld, who is as learned as he is modest, 
and he never feared exile in the midst of the Sahara at a 
stormy period. 

"At first view, Tamanrasset appears more important 
than the other centres already visited. Hardly any more 
seribas are seen ; they have disappeared to make room for 



3i8 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

numerous houses, like those that are built in the Tidikelt 
ksurs. These buildings give Tamanrasset the aspect of 
a little agricultural village, of a fairly important productive 
centre. 

"Some of these houses have even a European form, 
ornamented with terraces and galleries ; the prettiest is cer- 
tainly that of the amenokal Musa Ag Amastane, who 
has set up his residence in Tamanrasset, and who even pos- 
sesses a very well cultivated garden. This house which 
we visited at the invitation of Akhamuk, Musa's khoja, 
is situated a little apart; it serves as a point of support to 
other little buildings in which Musa's family live, Tuaregs 
nobles of the Kel-Rela, and particularly the celebrated 
Dassine, Musa's cousin, reputed in days of yore to be the 
most beautiful of Ahaggar women. 

"It is thanks to the Father de Foucauld that Taman- 
rasset is in a relatively flourishing condition ; it was his 
advice and example which led numerous Tuaregs to work 
the generous soil which gives them a livelihood. Among 
them the Dag-Rali and their chief Uksem are very espe- 
cially interested in agricultural work, and their persever- 
ance is to-day bearing its fruits. The Dag-Rali were 
essentially a nomad tribe ; the Kel-Rela imrad of Tuareg 
nobles, it was decimated at the time of the battle of Tit in 
1902. It is beginning to rise again; the young boys have 
become men who, under the energetic influence of their 
chief Uksem, have almost entirely renounced the nomad 
life, the long fruitless rounds in the desert, to become agri- 
culturists.'* 

During Captain de Saint-L^ger's and Lieutenant L 's 

stay at Tamanrasset there was a gathering of the notables 
in front of the guest-house. On the stone bench placed 
along the wall and which looks towards the west, the Cap- 
tain was seated; he had Father de Foucauld on his right 
and Lieutenant L on his left. . . . Before him, form- 
ing a half-circle, were the amenokal Musa ag Amastane, 
his khoja Akhammuk, the guide and interpreter Ben 
Messis, the poetess Dassine, and a good number of men 
and women whose tents formed brown molehills on the 
stony and burnt plain. What amusement do you think 
Father de Foucauld, their old friend, was offering them? 
A reading of La Fontaine's fables ! He had handed an 
illustrated copy of the fables to the Captain, who presided 
at the meeting. M. de Saint-L^ger began by translating 
the verses into Arabic, and commented on them. Ben 
Messis translated the Arabic into Tuareg, and he had not 



TAMANRASSET 319 

finished speaking when bursts of laughter arose on all 
sides. Talks began between members of the audience; 
those who understood best explained The Lion and the 
Rat, The Frog who wanted to become as big as an Ox, 
the Milkmaid and the Milk-jug, to the others. They 
came to the officer who had the volume on his knees, in 
order to see the pictures. After La Fontaine, an artist 
among artists who wrote for the simplest and most refined 
of men, had thus amused the assembly of Hoggar nomads, 
there was, as in Paris, "an hour's music." 

Fete-days were followed by ordinary days, days of over- 
work. One can judge of the undiminished ardour of the 
scholar and the piety of the monk by these simple lines 
which I take from his diary : 

" May 8, 1914. — Began to make a fair copy of the whole 
Tuareg-French dictionary." 

" Same date. — Received permission this evening, and put 
the reserved Host in the tabernacle." 

"July 31. — This evening reached page 385 of the dic- 
tionary." 

" August 31. — Reached page 550." 

Suddenly the great news reaches Hoggar : war is 
declared between Germany and France. The diary shows 
material proof of the emotion it caused; nothing but notes 
in telegraphic style. I copy a few, which tell of the 
first arrangements made by the young French officers in 
the Sahara, and the immediate attacks upon the natives 
friendly to us. 

" September 3rd, 5 a.m. — Express to hand from Fort 
Motylinski, telling me that Germany has declared war on 
France, invaded Belgium, attacked Liege. M. de La Roche 
(commander of the station) starts on the 4th or 5th for 
Adrar, with all his band. He orders Afegzag to muster a 
gum, and Musa to come with at least twenty men, into 
Ahaggar.^ 

"Saw Afegzag; he orders 10 Dag-Rali, 10 Iklam, 10 
Aguh-n-Tabli, 10 Ait-Lohen, 10 Kel-Tazulet, to muster 
immediately ; personally, he sets out this evening for Moty- 
linski, where he will be to-morrow morning. 

^ The amenokal was far away, in the Tassili of Hoggar, near Tin- 
Zauaten (to the south-west of Hoggar) ; he had only a very small 
number of his people with him. 



320 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

" September 7. — M. de La Roche and Corporal Garnier 
arrive at 9 a.m. M. de La Roche will set out to-morrow 
for Adrar." 

"September 9. — Received 1,500 cartridges of 1874 for 
Musa." 

''September 10. — Courier from In-Salah ; letter from de 
Saint-Leger and official news. I take note of it, and send 
at once to Fort Motylinski."^ 

" September 11. — Noon post to hand. Captain de Saint- 
L^ger orders M. de La Roche to remain at Ahaggar with 
his whole force. I forward the order by express. Bad 
news ; we are retreating all along the frontier, before 
superior forces. We cannot help Belgium. The Germans 
occupy Brussels." 

''September 24. — Received news on September 11 from 
In-Salah and on 3rd from Paris. Always falling back; 
Government sits at Bordeaux." 

"September 30. — This evening page 700 of the dic- 
tionary." 

"October 12. — Victory! a great victory, apparently 
decisive ! The Germans had driven our army of the north 
back to the Marne, even beyond the Marne. . . . Then 
from September 8 to 12, a general battle which lasted five 
days took place on the whole course of the Marne. . . ."^ 

Four days later a letter from Musa, written from Tin- 
Zaouaten and brought by a mehari rider, said that he was 
nearly carried off by a party of Uled-Jerir, which sur- 
rounded their camp with thorn branches and fired copper 
bullets. Warned by the messenger's sister who had 
escaped from their hands, the amenokal had set out in the 
night for the nearest Kel-Ahaggar encampment. He had 
only six men with him. He -left two of them as rear- 
guard, and sent on one in advance to tell his men to come 
and meet him. So he was saved. His opponents entered 
Tin-Zauaten, raided 400 camels, made ten prisoners, and 
then went away. But towards the middle of December, 
Musa started in pursuit of them. He caught them up 
and attacked them, twenty to twenty, on this side of Bir- 

* Captain de Saint-Leger at that time commanded the Saharan 
Company of In-Salah. 

2 Letter to Sergeant Garnier, of the Saharan Company of Tidikelt. 



TAMANRASSET 321 

Zemile, killed seven of their men, carried off all the cap- 
tured camels and meharis, and left his enemies to die of 
thirst in the desert. 

The attempt against Musa was only the precursor of 
more serious events and more direct attacks. Armed 
bands, recruited in Tripoli, would no doubt soon try to 
enter into our territories; emissaries would be launched 
across the Sahara preaching the holy war against us, and 
none of our friendly tribes who were faithful would escape 
temptation. From the first day Charles de Foucauld fore- 
saw it. What would he do? Would he shut himself up 
in the fortified post of Motylinski, as he was invited to do? 
Not for a moment did he think of it. His immediate duty 
was to stay where he was and to live just as he was living ; 
he had a smile for all, he gave to all as he had done, and 
suffered a great sorrow without anyone seeing it, 

" The Tuaregs do not know Germany even by name. . . . 
You know what it costs me to be so far away from our sol- 
diers and the frontier; but my duty is evidently to remain 
here, to help to keep the population calm. I shall not 
leave Tamanrasset until the peace. . . . Every nine days 
a special messenger, carrying official despatches, will be 
sent to us. The official despatches take twenty-five days 
to come from Paris, the letters and papers forty ; the latest 
letter to hand from Paris is yours of August 4, the last 
oflficial despatches (which come by telegraph as far as 
El-Golea) are of August 20. Nothing is changed out- 
wardly in my peaceful and regular life, because the natives 
must not see any show of excitement or of an unusual 
state of things. . . ."^ 

However, this man, ever haunted by the thought of the 
best, wanted to be confirmed in the resolution he had 
formed of staying at Ahaggar. No doubt his duty clearly 
seemed to be there, where none could replace him. But 
some friend or soldier might think otherwise. The hermit 
therefore wrote to General Laperrine, who was " prudent " 
and in the first line of battle, and also knew about things 
African. He asked : " Should I not do more good at the 
front as chaplain or stretcher-bearer? If you don't tell me 
to come, I shall wait here till peace comes ; if you tell me to 
come, I shall set out on the spot, and speedily."^ By 
return of post, two months later, he got this reply : 
•' Wait." 

The question was settled provisionally. I say provision- 

^ Letters of September 13 and October 5, 1914. 
2 Letter of December|i4. 

21 



322 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

ally, because a year later Charles de Foucauld heard that 
priests were fighting, and, supposing that a dispensation 
might have been granted, he asked again. " And shall I 
not be one of them? If only I might serve !" 

The correspondence between the two great Saharans, the 
monk and the soldier, began at the beginning of the war 
and went on till one of them disappeared. I have been 
through forty-one of Father de Foucauld's letters to his 
friend, from December, 1914, up to November 16, 1916, and 
which the General had carefully classified. They are quite 
military. They tell all he knows of the friendly and hos- 
tile tribes and their movements, of intrigues entered into 
by the Senussi, who were closely linked with the Turks 
of Tripoli and with the Germans ; of sudden attacks and 
the whole of the news of the desert. When opportunity 
offered, he took the side of his clients, the nomads, who 
complained of certain delays or excesses of the administra- 
tion. His decisions were always clear and firm. When 
the danger of a rising or an attack became pressing, he 
said : "This is what I should do." And no doubt in more 
than one case his advice was followed by Laperrine, who, 
from afar, exercised his right of counsel in our African 
matters. In any case, the great chief was warned. 

Letters addressed to others during this war period gave 
expression above all to his inner life. They were often 
very fine in their patriotic tone, their invariable and reso- 
lute hope, their note of authority, also in the secret and 
repressed anxiety they sometimes suggest. He said : " As 
soon as the post comes in, I count the days until the next 
one." I think that by selecting passages from these letters 
and arranging them in order of date, I shall give a picture 
of the two last years of Pere de Foucauld's life, free from 
repetition, and better than the most careful summary 
would be. 

" September 15, 1914. — In spirit and prayer I am at the 
frontier." 

" October 21, 1914. — This is the war for Europe's inde- 
pendence of Germany. And the way in which the war is 
carried on shows how necessary it was, how great was Ger- 
many's power, and how it was time to break the yoke 
before she became still more formidable ; it shows by what 
barbarians Europe was half enslaved, and near becoming 
completely so, and how necessary it is once for all to 
deprive of force a nation which uses it so badly and in 
such an immoral and dangerous way for others. It is Ger- 



TAMANRASSET 323 

many and Austria that wanted war, and it is they who 
deserved to have it made against them, and who, I hope, 
will receive a blow that will make them unable to do any 
harm for centuries." 

" December 7, 1914. — The Tripoli disturbance has not 
crossed the frontier. We cannot thank God enough for 
the numberless favours that He has bestowed on the eldest 
daughter of His Church ; not the least is the fidelity of our 
colonies. . . . 

" The confidence of the Tuaregs in me keeps on increas- 
ing. The work of the slow preparation for the Gospel is 
pursued. May the Almighty soon make the hour strike 
for you to send workers into this part of your field. . . ."^ 

" February 20, 1915. — The south of Tripoli is disturbed; 
Saint-L^ger and 200 or 300 soldiers are on the frontier, to 
prevent bands in revolt against the Italians from breaking 
into our territory. Only one French adjutant and six or 
seven native soldiers remain at Fort Motylinski. This 
adjutant is a capital fellow. We often write to each other, 
but we rarely see one another ; being alone, he cannot leave 
his post, and I, having a great deal to do, cannot move 
from here without serious reason. I have not been to 
Fort Motylinski for two years." 

'* February 21, 1915. — Like you, I find that the work (to 
pray for the conversion of our colonial infidels) is more 
indispensable than ever, now that so many of our infidel 
subjects give their blood for us. The loyalty and courage 
with which our subjects serve us show everyone that more 
must be done for them than we have done in the past. The 
first duty is the one we know — the salvation of souls ; but 
everything is bound up together, and many things which 
don't properly involve the action of priests and monks are 
very important for the good of souls : their education, their 
good civil administration, their close contact with honest 
French people, for some their settling down and an increase 
of material welfare. Also I should like our ' union,' which 
ought before everything to urge each of us to unite our- 
selves to our Lord and to be filled with His spirit, living 
according to His will and grace, also to urge each one to 
do, according to his conditions and means, all that he can 
for the salvation of the infidels of our colonies." 

" March 12, 1915. — Like you, I hope that from the great 
evil of this war will go forth a great blessing to souls — a 

/" * Letter to Mgr. Livinbac, Superior-General of the White Fathers. 



324 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

blessing in France, where the sight of death will inspire 
serious thoughts, and where the accomplishment of duty 
in the greatest sacrifices will uplift souls and purify them, 
bringing them nearer to Him who is the uncreated good, 
and make them more fit to see the truth and stronger to 
live in conformity with it ; — a blessing to our Allies, who 
in coming nearer to us come nearer to Catholicism, and 
whose souls, like ours, are purified by sacrifice — a blessing 
to our infidel subjects, who, fighting in crowds on our 
soil, learn to know us and get nearer to us, and whose loyal 
devotion will stir up the French to work for them more 
than in the past, and govern them better than in the past." 

** April 15, 1915. — Saint-Leger leaves In-Salah, and 
takes command of another Saharan company, that of 
Twat. . . . He is replaced by another friend, also very 
much liked, Captain Duclos, whom I knew there as lieu- 
tenant, an officer of great worth and fine character. ... I 
constantly see Uksem. Marie asks me if he knits : he 
knits wonderfully, and all the young people in his encamp- 
ment and village have begun to knit and crochet under his 
directions ; knitted socks, and crocheted vests and caps. 
That took a long time, but since his return, thanks to one 
of his sisters-in-law who set about it with a great deal of 
good-will, it started, and everybody is beginning it." 

" July 15, igi6. — St. Henry. — A happy feast to you, my 
dear Laperrine, I am thinking of you, and praying very 
much for you to-day. . . . 

" The Tuaregs here remember you, speak of you, and 
love you as if you had left the Sahara yesterday. 

" I am well; in spite of the drought and locusts, the 
gardens in Tamanrasset are increasing; there is not a 
single zareha now left; there are only houses, several of 
which have chimneys. Some harratins are beginning to 
learn a little FVench ; they come of their own accord and 
ask me, nearly every evening, how such or such a word is 
said. Nearly all the Dag-Rali women in the vicinity of 
Tamanrasset and a certain number of harratins know how 
to knit socks, caps, and vests, to the great joy of the old 
and of not a few of the young people. ..." 

•' August 2, 1915. — My dear Laperrine, thanks for your 
letter of June 14, which came last night. I am delighted 
to know that you are well. May God bless you and pro- 
tect France ! I lead my ordinary life in a great apparent 



TAMANRASSET 325 

calmness, but in spirit I am at the front with you and your 
soldiers. After the abridged Tuareg-French dictionary, 
and the dictionary of proper names, now the larger Tuareg- 
French dictionary is finished and ready to be printed. I 
have just begun copying poetry for the press. ... It 
seems strange at so grave a time to be spending my days 
copying out pieces of verse I 

" The Echo de Paris tells me of the enemy having killed 
Father Rivet, a Jesuit, professor at the Roman College, 
who in 1893 resigned his commission in the Chasseurs 
Alpins. ... It seems to me that he must at least be 
forty-five, and he must have served, not as a conscript, but 
as a volunteer : the paper says that he was made lieutenant 
to the legion. ... I did not think a priest was allowed 
by the laws of the Church to enlist, although he is obliged 
to go to the regiment when he is called up. There may 
have been recent pontifical decisions with which I am not 
acquainted. None could know better than Father Rivet, 
a professor of canon law.^ Should the laws of the Church 
permit me to enlist, would it be better for me to do so ? If 
so, how am I to set about enlisting and getting sent to the 
front (for it is much better to be here than in a depot or an 
office). Between the little unit that I am and zero, there is 
very little difference, but there are times when everybody 
ought to come forward. . . . Reply without delay ; by 
the same post I am writing to ask whether the Church 
authorizes anyone in my position to enlist." 

** August 2, 191 5. — A young negro who knows Ghardaia, 
the Fathers and Sisters, told me a few days ago : ' When 
the Sisters covie here I shall put my wife with them, so 
that she may learn to weave, and I shall ask to be their 
gardener.' . . . The time is near when the Sisters will 
be received by the natives with great gratitude, above all 
by the settled cultivators. . . . Will God arrange things 
in such a way as to bring the White Fathers and the White 
Sisters here?" 

''September 7, 1915. — To-morrow will be the feast of 
the nativity of the Blessed Virgin, ten years since my 
Tamanrasset hermitage was built and I have said Mass 

^ The information which reached Father de Foucauld was not correct. 
Father Rivet, a professor of canon law at Rome, was mobiUzed because 
his class was called up ; he had obeyed, but to show his respect for the 
ecclesiastical law which forbids Churchmen to shed blood, he had 
decided in attacks, as an officer could do, to go against the enemy with 
only a stick in his hand. 



326 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

in it. I owe much thanksgiving and gratitude to God for 
all the graces He has bestowed on me here." 

*' October 13, 1915. — Thank you, my dear Laperrine, 
for your letter of August 24, and for the very pretty tri- 
colour badge, ' the hope and salvation of France,' you have 
sent me ; it reached me safely, it is in front of me on my 
table, a souvenir of you in this great year." 

" November 19, 1915. — The courier from Azjer has not 
yet come in. But I hear this : the Dehibat post of Tunis is 
attacked by the Senussi, commanded by officers in khaki 
uniforms, with field-glasses and revolvers (Germans, no 
doubt). General Moinier has sent reinforcements. The 
situation is serious on all the Tunis-Tripoli frontier."^ 

" January, 19 16. — Never have I felt as much as now the 
happiness of being French ; we both know that there are 
many unhappy things in France; but in the present war 
she is defending the world and future generations against 
the moral barbarism of Germany. 

"For the first time I really understand the Crusades; 
the present war, like the preceding Crusades, will have the 
result of preventing our descendants from becoming bar- 
barians. It is a blessing that cannot be too dearly paid 
for."2 

" March 6, 1916. — Uksem is still far away, they have 
no more need of him to learn to crochet and knit ; all the 
young women and girls and the greater part of the children, 
and not a few men in the neighbourhood, know how to do 
it ; your parcel of wool and cotton has provided work for 
many fingers. ... 

"They are at present actively working at a road for 
motors between Wargla and In-Salah. 

" Besides this, in a year we shall have a wireless station 
at Motylinski. Militarily and administratively, this pro- 
gress is very favourable, and politically too; these works 
show the natives that nothing is changed in France, and 
that France carries on the war without difficulty or un- 
easiness." 

* Letter to' General Laperrine. Here I notice two things: the first 
that the General used to write to his friend by every mail. In the second 
place, that these mails reached Tamanrasset every eighteenth day, 
bringing news forty or sixty days old ; liut from the middle of 1916 they 
became a little more frequent, and a mail arrived every fortnight. 
Official itelegrams took about twenty -two days to reach Tamanrasset. 

* Letter to General Maze!. 



TAMANRASSET 327 

*' April 10, 1916. — My dear Laperrine, it appears that 
when you went with Musa to Fihrun's, on coming back 
from Niamey, Fihrun proposed to Musa to assassinate 
you with your escort. As Musa refused, Fihrun re- 
proached him with having no courage. Musa answered 
him : ' Thou followest thy way, I mine ; in a few years 
from now, we shall see which of the two is the better.' I 
heard this from Uksem, chief of the Dag-Rali ; I believe 
it is true, and my gratitude and affection for Musa is greatly 
increased." 

On April 1 1 there was another letter to the General. The 
French fort of Janet, on the Tripoli frontier, was sur- 
rounded at the beginning of March by more than 1,000 
Senussi armed with a cannon and mitrailleuses. Behind 
the ramparts there were only fifty men, commanded by 
Quartermaster Lapierre. It is rumoured in the desert that 
the little garrison held out as long as it could, and that, 
after eighteen days' siege, the outworks being destroyed, 
the soldiers nearly all wounded, the only well filled up, the 
non-commissioned officer in command had the fort blown 
up. "The Senussi have the road free to come here," 
adds Father de Foucauld. " By this word ' here ' I do not 
mean Tamanrasset, where I am alone, but Fort Motylinski, 
the capital of the country, which is thirty miles from 
Tamanrasset. If my advice is followed, we shall all come 
through if attacked. I have advised a retreat with all the 
munitions and stores to an impregnable place well supplied 
with water in the mountains, where we can hold out indefi- 
nitely and against which cannon is useless. If they do not 
follow my advice and are attacked, God knows what will 
happen. . . . But I think that they will follow my advice ; 
I shall do everything in my power to get them to do so. 
Don't be uneasy if you are without a letter for some time; 
it may happen that our messengers will be intercepted 
without any misfortune having happened to us for all that. 
I am in daily correspondence with the commander of Fort 
Motylinski, Sub-Lieutenant Constant. If I think it useful, 
I shall go and pay him short visits ; if he is attacked I shall 
join him. The population is all right. . . . We are in 
the hands of God; nothing happens except what He 
permits." 

A clear-sighted decision and worthy of Charles de 
Foucauld. Not to leave Tamanrasset, nor the poor har- 
ratins, for the insufficient reason that there may, from one 
moment to another, be an incursion attempted by the 
Senussi ; but if the soldiers of Fort Motylinski are the 



328 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

first to be attacked, to join them. In either case, to be at 
the danger-point. While awaiting probable events to seek 
a place in the mountains, easy to fortify and defend, even 
against cannon ; also while waiting, to make no change in 
his habits, "to keep confident and smiling." It is not 
only in France we see that Frenchmen kept smiling ; they 
did so in the Sahara, and that without getting the order of 
the day. 

The very next day Charles made the journey from 
Tamanrasset to Fort Motylinski, to choose the defensive 
position to which the little garrison of the borj would 
retire in case of attack. He had pointed out four of them, 
and he knew every stone in the country.^ With Sub-Lieu- 
tenant Constant he discovered a fifth only a few miles from 
Motylinski, and he reminded the General, the other great 
Saharan, of it thus : " Those narrow gorges, where the Tar- 
hauhaut valley is buried ; those gorges at the entrance of 
which there is a thick forest of berdis (that is to say, reeds), 
and then running water for over two miles between the 
very steep sides. It has been agreed that Constant will 
put the berdi in a state of defence, and a part of the gorges 
downstream, by means of trenches and firing shelters, and 
transport stores and munitions, and set a guard there, and 
betake himself there on the first alarm. Fortunately, 
Constant has at this moment four other Frenchmen — two 
good quartermasters, a corporal of the Engineer Corps, and 
a private soldier — and thirty native soldiers, one of whom 
is the excellent non-commissioned officer Belaid. iWith 
this number of rifles thus surrounded, and the strong posi- 
tion chosen, he can defend himself advantageously against 
very numerous enemies, and cannon has no power over 
him. "2 

Charles de Foucauld's absence only lasted forty-eight 
hours. He returned to his post without garrison or 
defence; to the hermitage. The news of the taking of 
Janet had already spread. The messenger, like all the 
desert messengers, was questioned, and, like a rural post- 
man, he told what he knew. The chief of the tribe of 
the Dag-Rali imrad at once hastened to the marabout's. 
Musa's representative followed him there. He was first 
of all upset, but a few words from Chief Uksem, and 
Father de Foucauld's tranquil countenance restored his 
confidence. The three men took counsel together and made 

^ These details and many others — in a word, the whole preparation 
for the defence — are given in a letter of April 9 to Commander Meynier. 
^ Letter to General Laperrine, April 27, n)i(). 



TAMANRASSET 329 

some preparations ; it was agreed, for instance, that vedette 
posts should be estabHshed in five places, so that Taman- 
rasset and Motylinski might be informed of the enemy's 
approach. 

By degrees more exact accounts of the taking of Janet 
reached the valley. No, Quartermaster Lapierre did not 
blow up the fort. After a fine defence of twenty-one days, 
having no more stores, no longer able to get to the well of 
the dismantled redoubt, he made a sortie, on the night of 
March 24. His little troop wandered about the desert for 
three days, hoping to meet some French detachment. After 
that it was surrounded by the Fellagas and captured. The 
quartermaster was ordered to pronounce the form of 
abjuration ; he refused. Nevertheless, he was not killed, 
but led into captivity, first into the Janet oasis, then to 
Rhat, afterguards to Fezzan. The story was more truthful, 
but danger was no less great on that account. The officers 
of our posts and Father de Foucauld expected that the tribes 
in revolt, proud of having captured a fortress from the 
French, and excited by agitators from Tripoli, were pre- 
paring fresh attacks. 

" May 15. — Complete victory is indispensable, otherwise 
everything would have to be begun over again in a few 
years, and probably under less favourable conditions, for 
God has visibly protected us. The resistance of Belgium, 
the alliance of England and Russia, the coming in of Italy, 
the fidelity of our colonies and the English colonies, are, 
among others, among many others, exceptional graces on 
which one cannot reckon. These graces ought to give us 
every hope, for God has without doubt bestowed them on 
us because He wills us to conquer and protect the world 
against the inundation of German paganism which 
threatened it ; what would become of our Latin nations, if 
victorious Germany imposed Germanic education on them ? 
What liberty would remain to the Church, if the German 
Emperor had triumphed ? The Allies, wishing it or not, 
knowing it or not, carry on a real crusade. They are fight- 
ing not only for the freedom of the world, but for the free- 
dom of the Church and the upholding of Christian morals 
in the world. ^ 

"May 30, 1916. — The Saint-Cyr commissions of my 
time are serving the fatherland well : Mazel, d'Urbal, and 
P^tain are among them. My seniors, too : Maud'huy, 
Serrail, Driant." 

1 Letter to M. de Blic. 



330 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

" Whit-Monday.^ — Every year the month of June brings 
in the anniversary of my ordination, and renews and 
increases my gratitude to you who adopted me and made 
me a priest of Jesus Christ. With my whole heart I pray 
for you. More than fifteen years ago you accepted me as 
a son, and I also pray for your beloved diocese of Viviers. 

" In body I am here, where I shall remain till peace 
comes, believing I am more useful here than elsewhere; 
but how often my spirit is in France at the front, where the 
struggle must be at this moment more ardent than ever, 
and behind the lines, where so many families are weeping 
for their most beloved, or are in mortal anxiety. 

" Around me, the native population is calm and faithful; 
its attitude is excellent. 

" I still greatly desire to see the confraternity started in 
France for the conversion of the French colonies, the 
scheme of which you were good enough to approve. 
During this Whitsuntide I think more than ever of the fifty 
millions of native infidels in our colonies. May the Holy 
Ghost set up His reign in their souls, and may the French, 
who ask for this help to defend their own temporal father- 
land, help them to obtain the eternal fatherland !" 

The threats were too serious for the military authorities 
not to think of protecting Father de Foucauld and the 
Tuaregs or their servants, who were friendly to us and 
inhabited Tamanrasset. At the beginning of 1916, on the 
plans and under the direction of the Father, they had begun 
the construction of a small fort. The hermit changed his 
abode on June 23. He thus went from the left to the right 
bank of the Wady Tamanrasset, and was nearer the village 
houses. We shall see that all precautions had been taken 
to enable the little fortress to stand a siege. 

It formed a square measuring about twenty feet on the 
sides, surrounded by a ditch two yards deep. At the angles 
it was strengthened by four bastions provided with em- 
brasures, the terrace of which was reached by a staircase. 
The walls, in toubes, were two yards thick at the base, and 
over sixteen feet high. There was no opening outside, 
except a very low door. The danger lay there; the door 
might be forced ; the enemy might slip into the place by 
surprise. This had been guarded against as much as 
possible. The first door prevented a man from entering 
upright ; he had to stoop ; besides, it did not give direct 
admission to the fort, but to a brick corridor, so narrow 

^ Letter to Mgr. P^onnet, Bishop of Viviers. 



TAMANRASSET 331 

that only one man could pass ; and it was closed by a 
second low door. Then, just opposite the outside opening, 
and to prevent attacks with stones or pikes, they had built 
a solid small wall on the platform, very close to the facade, 
so that it was impossible to fire from outside at a person 
in front of the entrance door. Furthermore, the latter was 
also defended by two bastions at the angles. A cross made 
of two tamarisk branches was planted on the top of the 
wall over the door. Lastly, for crossing the ditch there 
remained a ridge of earth ending to the left of the small 
protection wall. The inside was arranged so as to receive 
a considerable band of refugees and combatants. 

Lieutenant L , who was then staying at Taman- 

rasset, thus describes the various parts of the fortified 
hermitage ; ^ 

" In the centre of the yard, about thirteen feet square, 
was a well about twenty feet deep, covered with a thick 
door strengthened by plates of sheet-iron. Plenty of water. 
All around, pretty spacious rooms, all of them rectangular. 

"One was used by the Father as a chapel; another 
reserved for passing guests; another was used to store 
provisions, cotton stuffs, etc., which the Father reserved 
for the Tuaregs ; lastly, a fourth constituted the JTather's 
private apartment : it was at once bedroom, study, and 
dining-room, all on the same footing and giving their true 
meaning to the words as used by Father de Foucauld. 

" The study alone deserved its name : books everywhere, 
manuscripts scattered over the little table, made out of 
packing-cases, that served as a bureau. 

" Thus built, the little fort is impregnable against a band 
armed with rifles ; to scale it is almost impossible, and two 
men, or even one man armed with grenades, would be 
enough for its defence." 

"June 16, 1916. — The Senussi danger appears to be 
turned aside for the moment. Our Janet fort on the 
Tripoli frontier was taken by the Senussi on March 24, 
and retaken by our troops on May 16 : our soldiers pursued 
the flying enemy. As long as the Italians have not retaken 
all the south of Tripoli, which thev have evacuated, our 
Tripoli frontier will be threatened, and a serious watch will 
be necessary : let us hope it will be kept up. They are 
distant countries ; when the authorities who reside at Algiers 
are spoken to, they only half believe what they are told, 

^ The building was only finished on October 15. 



332 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

only grant half what is asked for, and consent to take the 
necessary measures only after an accident has happened." 

^' July i6, 1916. — Such isolated missionaries as I am are 
very few. Their role is to prepare the way, so that the 
missions which replace them will find a friendly and trust- 
ful population, souls somewhat prepared for Christianity, 
and, if possible, a few Christians. You have partly set 
forth their duties in your article in the Echo de Paris : ' The 
greatest service.'^ We must get ourselves accepted by the 
Musulmans, become their sure friends, to whom they 
come when in doubt or trouble ; on whose affection, wisdom, 
and justice they can absolutely rely. It is only when we 
arrive at this point that we shall come to do good to their 
souls. 

" Therefore my life consists in having the greatest 
possible intercourse with those who surround me, and in 
rendering all the services I can. As soon as intimacy is 
established, I speak, always or nearly always, in a tete-d- 
tete, of our good God, and briefly giving each man what he 
can bear : avoidance of sin, a perfect act of love, a perfect 
act of contrition, the two great commandments of the love 
of God and of our neighbour, examination of conscience, 
meditation on the last things, the creature's duty of thinking 
of God, etc., giving to each according to his strength, and 
going on slowly and prudently. 

"There are very few isolated missionaries fulfilling this 
pioneer work ; I wish there were many of them : every 
parish priest in Algeria, Tunis, or Morocco, every military 
chaplain, every pious catholic layman, could be one. The 
Government forbids the secular clergy to carry on anti- 
Musulman propaganda ; but it is not a question of open and 
more or less noisy propaganda ; friendly intercourse with 
many natives, tending to induce Musulmans slowly, gently, 
and silently to come closer to Christians and become their 
friends. This nobody can be forbidden to do. Every 
parish priest in our colonies could exert himself to train his 
male and female parishioners to be Priscillas and Aquilas. 
There is quite a loving and discreet propaganda to be carried 
on among the infidel natives — a propaganda which requires 
as great kindness, love and prudence, as when we wish to 
bring a relation who has lost the Faith back to God. . . . 

" Let us hope that when we have won the war our colonies 
will make fresh progress. What a beautiful mission for our 
younger sons of France, to go and colonize the African 

* Letter to Rene Bazin. 



TAMANRASSET 333 

territories of the mother-country, not to get rich, but to 
make France beloved, to make souls French, and above all 
to obtain eternal salvation for them. 

" I think that if the Musulmans of our colonial empire of 
North Africa are not converted gradually and gently, a 
national movement like that of Turkey will come about ; an 
intellectual elite will be formed in the large towns, educated 
a la Frangaise, but having neither the French mind nor 
heart, an ^lite which will have lost all the faith of Islam, 
but which will keep the label in order to be able to use it 
to influence the masses. On the other hand, the crowd of 
nomads and countrymen will remain ignorant, estranged 
from us, firmly Mahometan, incited to hatred and contempt 
of the French by their religion, their marabouts, and by 
their contact with the French (representatives of authority, 
colonists, merchants) — contacts which too often are not apt 
to make them love us. National or barbarian feeling will 
therefore become worked up in the educated ^lite; when it 
finds an opportunity — for instance, at a time of France's 
difficulties at home or abroad — it will make use of Islam as 
a lever to rouse the ignorant mass, and seek to create an 
independent Musulman African Empire. 

"The French North-West African Empire — Algeria, 
Morocco, Tunis, French Western Africa, etc. — has a 
population of thirty millions ; it will, thanks to peace, have 
double in fifty years. It will then be in full material pro- 
gress, rich, intersected with railways, inhabited by people 
trained to the use of arms, the elite of which will have 
received its education in our schools. If we have not been 
able to make these people French, they will drive us out. 
The only means of making them French is for them to 
become Christians."^ 

"August 31, 1916. — From here to In-Salah the motor- 
road is finished or very nearly finished. The first motor 
that comes here will be a joy to me : it puts a finish to our 
taking possession of the country. This road should be 
carried on to the Sudan : it is only four hundred and forty 
miles from here to Agades, the first Sudan post — the same 
distance as from here to In-Salah : four months' work.^ 
This would be an enormous advantage for administration 
and defence, and an enormous economy. 

1 The paragraph is the repetition, almost word for word, of a passage 
in a letter written in 191 2 to the Due de Fitz-James. His longer experi- 
ence only strengthened the conviction of the witness. 

2 The first motor reached In-Salah on August 11. 



334 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

"September i, 1916.^ — The corner of the Sahara from 
which I write to you, my dear Mazel, is still calm. How- 
ever, we are on the qui vive, on account of the increasing 
agitation of the Senussi in Tripoli ; our Tuaregs here are 
faithful, but we might be attacked by the Tripolitans. I 
have transformed my hermitage into a little fort ; there is 
nothing new under the sun. When I see my embrasures 
I think of the fortified convents and churches of the tenth 
century. How old things come back, and how what we 
thought had disappeared is for ever reappearing ! They 
have given me six cases of cartridges and thirty Gras rifles, 
which remind me of our youth. . . . 

" I am pleased that you have our brave Laperrine under 
your orders; I hope that you will long have him. It is to 
him we owe the peace of the Algerian Sahara : the wisdom 
and vigour of his acts, and the incomparable memory he 
left behind, are the cause of the fidelity of these reputedly 
troublesome populations. 

" Enclosed is the translation of a prayer of the ninth 
century, which has probably been said and sung more than 
once in Rheims Cathedral : 

" ' Almighty and eternal God, who hast established the 
empire of the Franks to do Thy holy will in the world, 
and to be the glory and rampart of Thy holy Church, let 
Thy heavenly light shine everywhere and always upon the 
praying sons of the Franks, so that they may see what they 
should do to extend Thy kingdom in the world, and that 
they may ever increase in charity and valour, to fulfil what 
Thy light hath shown them.' " 

"September 15, 1916. — Unfortunately, the news from 
the Tripoli frontier is bad. . . . Without having suffered 
a check, our troops are falling back before the Senussi : 
they are not now on the frontier, but a long way this side 
of it; after recapturing Janet, they have evacuated it; they 
have evacuated some other points. This retreat before a 
few hundred rifles is lamentable. There must be (how far 
up I don't know) some serious error in the command. It 
is clear that if we fall back without any fighting the 
Senussi will advance. If the method is not promptly 
changed, they will get here some day. I regret worrying 
you again, but dear truth wills that I should tell you this." 

"September 24, 1916. — A few days ago we had a great 
alarm. News came that we were to be attacked; but the 

^ To General Mazel, commanding the Fifth Army. 



TAMANRASSET 335 

news was false; nothing turned up, and yesterday's news 
shows that, on the contrary, the situation is very good. 
The alarm only served to prove the fidelity of the popula- 
tion ; far from looking like going over to the enemy, they 
gathered round the officer in command of the neighbouring 
fort, and round me, ready to defend the fort and the hermi- 
tage. This fidelity was very pleasing, and I am very grate- 
ful to these poor people, who might have taken refuge in 
the mountains where they had nothing to fear, and who 
preferred to shut themselves up in the neighbouring fort 
and my hermitage, although they knew the enemy had 
cannon and bombardment was certain. 

" Same Period. — By the crusade that He gets the eldest 
daughter of His Church to carry on, God provides the 
opportunity and grace for innumerable acts of virtue : acts 
of devotion, self-forgetfulness, charity, resignation, mercy ; 
the sacrifice of life, happiness, and all that is dear ; acts 
of love of God. No doubt there is also evil ; evil will 
be mixed with good up to the end of the world ; but for the 
two years that the war has lasted, an amount of heroic 
acts of virtue have been accomplished and a number of 
sacrifices offered to God in union with that of His Son, 
such as are usually produced only in a great number of 
years. Here is a total of merits and immolations which 
purify and raise France, and bring her nearer to God. I 
have great hope that she will come out, not only victorious, 
but better, much better, from this crusade."^ 

" October i, 1916. — I look upon the long months during 
which the war detains me in the Sahara as a time of 
retreat, during which I pray and reflect, asking Jesus to 
make known to me the final shape to be given to our 
confraternity." 

" October 15, 1916. — Musa, who is three hundred and 
seventy-five miles from here, hearing that the neighbouring 
fort was to be attacked, at once sent all the men he had with 
him that he could dispose of — about eighty — by forced 
marches, to help us to defend ourselves. . . . Since the 
beginning of the war Musa could not be better than he 
has unceasingly been. The condition of the people who 
surround me is enough to make one weep. They are so 
surrounded by evil and error ! It is difficult for them to 
lead even a naturally good life ! There are good natures, 

* Letter to Colonel P. Lero3\ 



336 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

but in the environment in which they are, and with their 
ignorance, how can they be saved?" 

"October 31, 1916. — In Azjer there has been only one 
mihtary event since my last letter. About September 20, a 
big revictualling convoy, led by Duclos, from Flatters to 
Polignac, was attacked on the way at Wady Ehen by three 
hundred Senussi commanded by an ex-corporal of the 
Tidikelt Company, for several years in revolt. The 
Senussi were defeated with serious losses ; all the loads of 
the convoy arrived safely at Polignac. On our side there 
were some killed and wounded; amongst the killed, an 
excellent adjutant, Lenoir, had a bullet through his heart : 
he was carried to Polignac and buried there. The defeated 
Senussi retired in haste in the direction of Admer. 

" Did I tell you that about forty days ago a little 
rezsu (twenty men) of Kel- Azjer operated on the Tefedest 
(Eastern Slope) at Amrah ? We were pretty long without 
any accurate details of it : I have just received some. It 
only raided a hundred of the Kel-Inrar camels and rapidly 
fell back. Up to the present there have been no other enemy 
rezsus against Ahaggar, and, if things go all right in Azjer, 
there will be none. 

" A rather big Senussi rezsu operated in the north of 
Ai'r; instead of raiding, they told the people to ' move and 
come and settle down altogether at Fezzan with us, and we 
shall do you no harm; if you refuse we shall raid you.' 
Some Kel-Air accepted and followed them in revolt ; the 
Sudan tirailleurs of Agades overtook them, beat the 
Senussi, and brought back the revolters. Some Kel- 
Ahaggar, who happened to be on the way of the Senussi's 
rezzu, pretended to accept their terms and followed them 
for a day or two ; then at night, eluding their watch, set out 
by forced marches towards Adrar and escaped them."^ 

" November 16, 1916. — How good God is to hide the 
future from us ! What a torture life would be were it less 
unknown to us ! and how good He is to make so clearly 
known to us the heaven hereafter which will follow our 
earthly time of trial !" 

The writer of these lines had only two weeks to live. He 
did not know it, but he was ready to receive death any day 
from the hands of those for whom he had so much prayed, 
walking so far over the sand and pebbles, suffering so 

* Letter to General Laperrine. 



TAMANRASSET 337 

severely from thirst and heat, working so many days and 
nights, in so much soHtude, and for whom, in short, he had 
toiled so hard with body and mind. The following letters 
express his last thoughts ; his resolution appears in them as 
well as his charity. These letters, among others, were 
found in the small fort at Tamanrasset after his assassina- 
tion : they must have been given on December i, 1916, to 
the mehari rider arriving from Motylinski, and going on 
to In-Salah, after stopping at the hermitage. 

''November 28, 1916 (to the Prioress of the Poor Clares 
of Nazareth, who had fled to Malta). — France, in spite of 
appearances, is still the France of Charlemagne, St. Louis, 
and Jeanne d'Arc ; the old soul of the nation lives on in our 
generation : the saints of France are always praying for 
her ; the gifts of God are without repentance, and the people 
of Saint-Remi and Clovis are still the people of Christ. . . . 
In choosing France for the birthplace of the devotion to the 
Sacred Heart and the apparitions of Lourdes, our Lord has 
clearly shown that He keeps France's rank of the first-born 
for her. 

" I can regularly say Holy Mass every day. I have 
another happiness : that of having the reserved Sacrament 
in my little chapel. I am always by myself. Some French- 
men come to see me from time to time : every thirty or forty 
days I see one of them on his way. 

" We live in days when the soul strongly feels the need of 
prayer. In the tempest which is blowing over Europe we 
feel the nothingness of the creature, and turn to the 
Creator. In the bark tossed about by the billows we turn 
to the divine Master, and implore Him who can give 
victory with a word, and restore a great and durable peace. 
We raise our hands to heaven as Moses did during the 
battle of his people, and where man is powerless we pray 
to Him who is almighty. Before the Blessed Sacrament 
we feel so clearly in the presence of real Being, when 
all that is created appears so plainly bordering upon 
nothingness ! 

" Pray very much, most Reverend Mother, for the poor 
infidels who surround me and for their poor missionary. 
With you, I pray for France." 

December i, 1916. — A reply to an officer, a military inter- 
preter of the army of the East, who had written from 
Monastir of his decision to go into a regiment of colonial 
infantry, and asked Father de Foucauld for a prayer : 



338 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

" Very dear Brother in Jesus, 

" I have this morning received your letters of Octo- 
ber 3 and 9, moved by the thought of the greater dangers 
that you are perhaps going to meet, that you probably are 
already incurring. You have done quite right in asking 
to join the troops. We must never hesitate to ask for posts 
in which danger, sacrifice, and devotion are greatest : let 
us leave honour to any who desire it, but let us always ask 
for danger and toil. As Christians we should give an 
example of self-sacrifice and devotion. It is a principle to 
which w6 must be faithful all our life, in simplicity, with- 
out asking ourselves whether pride does not enter into our 
conduct : it is our duty, let us do it, and ask the well- 
beloved Spouse of our soul that we may do it in all humility, 
in all love of God and our neighbour. . . . 

" Don't be anxious about your home. Trust yourself 
and it to God, and walk in peace. If God preserves your 
life, which with my whole heart I ask Him to do, your home 
will be more blessed because, sacrificing yourself more, you 
will be more united to Jesus, and will have a more super- 
natural life. If you die, God will keep your wife and son 
without you, as He would have kept them through you. 
Offer your life to God through the hands of our Mother, the 
most Blessed Virgin, in union with the sacrifice of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, and with all the intentions of His Heart, and 
walk in peace. Be sure that God will give you the best lot 
for His own glory, the best for your soul, the best for the 
souls of others, since that is all you ask of Him, since you 
will fully and without any reservation all that He wills for 
you. 

" Our corner of the Sahara is peaceful. I pray for you 
with my whole heart, and at the same time for your home. 

"This will reach you about Christmas and the ist of 
January. Look for me quite near you on those two days. 
A happy and holy New Year to you ; many holy New Years, 
if it be God's will ; and then heaven ! God guard you and 
protect France ! May Jesus, Mary and Joseph between 
them guard you in all your life on earth, at the hour of death, 
and in eternity. 

** I embrace you, as I love you in the Heart of Jesus. 

" Ch. de Foucauld." 

Father de Foucauld was certain he would be attacked, 
and he had long desired to die for his lost sheep. He con- 
tinued to live alone and in peace. Not a shadow of uneasi- 
ness dimmed the joyful expression of his face. He even 
spoke to his friends of plans far ahead, because we are made 



TAMANRASSET 339 

for constant rebirth and fresh starts, and we always arrange 
our lives for a longer time than we have to live. 

In the middle of 1915 he had finished the Tuareg-F'rench 
dictionary ; on October 28, 1916, the diary says : " Finished 
the Tuareg poems." The hermit had resolved to return to 
France as soon as he had heard of victory, and to remain 
there as many months as would be necessary to plant 
firmly the Confraternity of Prayer for the infidels in a 
generous land : then to return to Ahaggar and give himself 
up more completely and directly to the religious apostolate, 
to preparing the way of Christ, now that the tools of con- 
version were ready, the methods tried, and that he had per- 
ceived the first blades of the coming harvest. 

God had only made him for sowing. Charles de 
Foucauld never saw the victory ; he never saw France again ; 
he went among the good servants whom God receives and 
thanks, because they have saved their souls and taken care 
of the souls of others. 

In order to understand better the causes that led to the 
death of Father de Foucauld, we must recapitulate the 
political and military situation of the Eastern Sahara at this 
time. To the south of Tripoli, in Fezzan, Si Mohamed 
Labed, the Senussi religious chief, had his headquarters, 
and had assembled in his camp our enemies the Azjer 
Tuaregs. Senussi, Azjers, outlawed partisans, whom the 
Hoggars called by the common name of Fellagas, occu- 
pied Rhat, in Tripoli, a place abandoned by the Italians, 
where they found stores, material, and munitions of war. 
At some distance from Rhat, and in our own possessions, 
Janet, taken by the Fellagas, retaken by us, had been 
finally evacuated, on account of the insurmountable diffi- 
culty of re-victualling. A little more to the north Fort 
Polignac was also evacuated. A band of rebels operating 
on the Sudan region besieged Agades, under the command 
of Rhaussen. Except for a few tents scattered about the 
Hoggar mountains, most of the encampments depending on 
Musa ag Amastane were in this same region with the 
flocks. The mehari men of Fort Motylinski followed and 
protected them. The garrison of the Fort, thus reduced, 
was not very mobile, and incapable of helping Father de 
Foucauld and his harratins. 

On December i, a Friday, at nightfall, the Father was 
alone at home, and the door was bolted. His servant was 
in the village, as well as two mehari riders of the Motylinski 
post, who had come on service business, and were waiting 
for the night to regain the fort. 



340 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

Now, a score of Fellagas were, at that moment, near 
Tamanrasset, and were seeking to seize the marabout whom 
they would have kept as a hostage, and to plunder the fort- 
let in which they knew there were arms and provisions. As 
the country was denuded of troops, they were almost sure 
of succeeding. Nevertheless, for their coup de main, they 
recruited some Tuareg nomads and also some harratins, 
even among those whom the Father took care of, helped and 
treated as brothers, and, in particular, an Amsel husband- 
man called El Madani. The people of the reszu were 
armed with Italian repeating rifles (for five shots) ; all their 
auxiliaries were not armed. Together, some on foot, others 
on camels, advanced to within two hundred yards of the 
fortlet, made their camels crouch under the garden wall, 
and silently surrounded the dwelling of the " marabout of 
the Rumis." There were about forty of them. But they had 
to have a member of the Father's household with them to 
get the door opened. El Madani, knowing the habits and 
the password of his benefactor, approached the fortlet door 
and knocked. Soon the Father came and asked, as his 
custom was, who was there, and what he wanted. " It is 
the postman from Motylinski," was the reply. As it was, 
indeed, the day on which the mail went through, the Father 
opened the door and put out his hand. His hand was seized 
and firmly held. Immediately some Tuaregs, hidden close 
by, sprang forward and pulled the priest out of the little 
fort, and, with cries of victory, bound his hands behind his 
back and left him on the platform, between the door and 
the small wall that masked it, in the care of one of the men 
of the band, armed with a rifle. Father de Foucauld knelt 
down and remained motionless; he was praying. 

Here I set down and combine the evidence of Paul, the 
negro servant, and that of another harratin, as they were 
recorded in two official reports, and I shall complete them 
from statements in various records.^ 

" On December i, after having served the marabout's 
dinner, I went to my zariba, about five hundred yards from 
there. It was about 7 o'clock, and dark. 

" A short time afterwards, when I had myself finished my 

* Report of Captain dc La Roche, commanding that portion of 
Hoggar, to the Colonel Commanding, December 6, 1916 : the report 
of Captain Dcpommier, of September 11, 1917 ; the account of the 
assassination given to the Comtesse de P'oucauld in May, 1917, by 
Captain de La Roche ; information gathered at Iloggar by Lieutenant 
Proust ; information gathered by Sub-Lieutenant Rejot, of the Agurai 
post, near Mcknes, in January, 1918 ; various personal letters. 



TAMANRASSET 341 

meal, two armed Tuaregs sprang into the zariba and said to 
me : ' Are you Paul, the marabout's servant ? Why do 
you hide ? Come and see with your own eyes what is hap- 
pening : follow us 1' I replied that I was not hiding, and 
that what was happening was God's will. 

" On arriving near the marabout's house, I perceived the 
latter seated, his back to the wall, on the right of the door, 
his hands bound behind his back, looking straight in front 
of him. We did not exchange a single word. I crouched 
down as ordered, on the left of the door. Numerous 
Tuaregs surrounded the marabout ; they were speaking and 
gesticulating, congratulating and blessing the hartani El 
Madani, who had drawn the marabout into the trap, fore- 
telling a life of delights for him in the other world as a 
reward for his work. Some other Tuaregs were in the 
house, going in and coming out, carrying various things 
found in the interior — rifles, munitions, stores, chegga 
(cloth), etc. Those who surrounded the marabout pressed 
him with the following questions : ' When does the convoy 
come? Where is it? What is it bringing? Are there 
any soldiers in the bled? Where are they ? Have they set 
out? Where are the Motylinski soldiers ?' The marabout 
remained impassible, he did not utter a word. The same 
questions were then put to me, as well as to another hartani, 
who was passing in the wady and caught in the meantime. 

" The whole did not last half an hour. 

" The house was surrounded by sentinels. At this 
moment one of the sentinels gave the alarm, shouting : 
' Here are the Arabs ! Here are the Arabs (the soldiers of 
Motylinski).' At these cries, the Tuaregs, with the excep- 
tion of three, two of whom remained in front of me and the 
other standing on guard near the marabout, went towards 
the place whence the cries came. A lively fusillade broke 
out. The Tuareg who was near the marabout brought the 
muzzle of his rifle close to the head of the latter and fired. 
The marabout neither moved nor cried. I did not think he 
was wounded : it was only a few minutes afterwards that I 
saw the blood flow, and that the marabout's body slipped 
slowly down upon its side. He was dead.^ 

^ In Captain de La Roche's report there is a slight variation ; Paul 
expressed himself thus : " The hartani (whom they were questioning) 
said that there were two soldiers in the bled, who were to leave Taman- 
rasset that same evening for Tarhauhaut, and that they had perhaps 
already set out. He had no sooner said that, than the soldiers came on 
their camels ; they were coming to greet the marabout. The enemies 
entered the trenches which surround the Father's house, and all fired 



342 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

" The Tuaregs were not long in returning, after having 
killed the two soldiers who, on their way through Taman- 
rasset were coming, as usual, to greet the marabout 
before taking the road back to Motylinski. They entirely 
stripped the marabout of all his effects, and threw him 
into the ditch which surrounds the house. They then 
discussed what they were going to do with the body, and 
whether they were going to kill me or not, en kafer (un- 
believer) like my master. On the intervention of the bled 
harratins and their chief, who, at the noise of the firing, 
had run up, I was spared and set at liberty. As to the 
marabout, some wished to carry him off and hide him, 
others wanted to tie him to a tree which was not far from 
the house in the wady, and let him become the prey of the 
dogs of the Tuareg Chikkat of the Dag-Rali tribe, whom 
they knew to be the marabout's personal friend.-^ 

" Lastly, other Tuaregs, who took no interest in the ques- 
tion, and found enough in the victuals discovered in the 
house to satisfy their desires, put an end to the discussion, 
compelling everyone to look after his own share of the booty. 

" The marabout's body was momentarily forgotten. The 
assassins spent the night in eating and drinking. Next 
morning the discussion was renewed without a final solu- 
tion being reached, and the marabout's body was abandoned 
without being mutilated. 

" In the morning the Tuaregs were able to surprise and 
kill one more isolated soldier, who knew nothing of the 
drama, and came from Motylinski and was going to the 
marabout's with the mail from In-Salah. 

"They left Tamanrasset about noon, carrying off their 
plunder. The harratins then buried the marabout and 
soldiers. That evening I set out to go and inform the 
station at Fort Motylinski, where I arrived at noon on 
December 3."^ 

together. Bu Aisha fell at once ; Bujema Ben Brahim tried to run 
away, but he had hardly gone sixty yards when he fell. 

"The marabout, at tlie moment the mehari riders appeared, made an 
intuitive movement, foreseeing the fate that was reserved for them. 
Then . . ." 

^ " Father de Foucauld had indeed a great affection for Chikkat and 
his son Ukscm, whom he made one of his legatees : I cannot say that 
such noble feelings were reciprocated. In fact, Uksem participated 
very actively in the rebellious movement that broke out in February 
among the Hoggar, two months after the assassination of Father de 
Foucauld." (Note by Captain Depommier.) 

2 A different reading of the same evidence, according to Captain de 
La Roche's report : " They ate Ben Aisha's camel and slept there. In 



TAMANRASSET 343 

Captain Depommier added the following observations to 
Paul's account : 

" What was the object of the assassins? What feelings 
governed them ? 

" Among the primary feelings impelling the assassins, we 
must certainly put fanaticism, ' War on the Roumis.' For 
a long time, the propaganda of the Holy War had been 
active in the district ; many of its propagators came from 
the east from amongst the Senussi, and had gained to 
their cause the A'it-Lohen, a Hoggar tribe bordering on the 
Azjer region. Father de Foucauld knew all about this. 
(Father de Foucauld himself had knowledge of a plot for 
his assassination hatched in September by the hartanis of 
Amsel. Papers found after his death by Captain de La 
Roche prove it. Father de Foucauld never mentioned this 
to anybody.) However, that was probably not the only 
cause of the assassins' conduct. 

" Why did they attack Father de Foucauld alone and a 
priest, who had won, by a thousand acts of charity and kind- 
ness, the sympathy, if not the gratitude, of many of those 
who came to him ? Must we see in this only the work of 
fanatics, and think that the latter disregarded the precepts 
of the Koran, which recommends the sparing of priests ? 

" Another cause of the crime appears much simpler. It 
is this. Few things were hidden at Father de Foucauld's, 
and everybody knew he had rifles, carbines, and munitions 
in store ; it was a question of appropriating these arms ; 
perhaps they might also find a big sum of money in the 
house of this generous benefactor. Lastly, the band were 
not unaware that the Motylinski garrison had been reduced 
to a few men, and could do nothing against them. 

" But then, why did the robbers assassinate Father de 
Foucauld when the arms had been captured and the house 
was in their possession ? Some of the rumours brought in 
might lead us to believe that it was only a matter of chance, 
of circumstances. Father de Foucauld's guard would not 
have received the order to kill him ; on the contrarv, Ebeh, 
according to the instructions received from Si-Labed, his 
chief, would have recommended his being kept a prisoner, 

the morning they were preparing to go away when Kuider ben Lakhal, 
who was bringing the mail, arrived. The enemy took up positions, 
some in tlie ditch, others on the terrace ; they fired at him, but he was 
not hit. Suddenly his camel baraqued (knelt down), they then threw 
themselves on Kuider and held his hands and legs. One of them 
shot him from behind in the head. They tore up the sack and all the 
papers in the mail." 



342 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

" The Tuaregs were not long in returning, after having 
killed the two soldiers who, on their way through Taman- 
rasset were coming, as usual, to greet the marabout 
before taking the road back to Motylinski. They entirely 
stripped the marabout of all his effects, and threw him 
into the ditch which surrounds the house. They then 
discussed what they were going to do with the body, and 
whether they were going to kill me or not, en kafer (un- 
believer) like my master. On the intervention of the bled 
harratins and their chief, who, at the noise of the firing, 
had run up, I was spared and set at liberty. As to the 
marabout, some wished to carry him off and hide him, 
others wanted to tie him to a tree which was not far from 
the house in the wady, and let him become the prey of the 
dogs of the Tuareg Chikkat of the Dag-Rali tribe, whom 
they knew to be the marabout's personal friend.^ 

" Lastly, other Tuaregs, who took no interest in the ques- 
tion, and found enough in the victuals discovered in the 
house to satisfy their desires, put an end to the discussion, 
compelling everyone to look after his own share of the booty. 

" The marabout's body was momentarily forgotten. The 
assassins spent the night in eating and drinking. Next 
morning the discussion was renewed without a final solu- 
tion being reached, and the marabout's body was abandoned 
without being mutilated. 

" In the morning the Tuaregs were able to surprise and 
kill one more isolated soldier, who knew nothing of the 
drama, and came from Motylinski and was going to the 
marabout's with the mail from In-Salah. 

"They left Tamanrasset about noon, carrying off their 
plunder. The harratins then buried the marabout and 
soldiers. That evening I set out to go and inform the 
station at Fort Motylinski, where I arrived at noon on 
December 3."^ 

together. Bu Aisha fell at once ; Bujema Ben Brahim tried to run 
away, but he had hardly gone sixty yards when he fell. 

"The marabout, at the moment the mehari riders appeared, made an 
intuitive movement, foreseeing the fate that was reserved for them. 
Then . . ." 

1 " Father de Foucauld had indeed a great affection for Chikkat and 
his son Uksem, whom he made one of his legatees ; I cannot say that 
such noble feelings were reciprocated. In fact, Uksem participated 
very actively in the rebellious movement that broke out in February 
among the Hoggar, two months after the assassination of Father de 
Foucauld." (Note by Captain Depommier.) 

2 A different reading of the same evidence, according to Captain de 
La Roche's report : " They ate Ben Aisha's camel and slept there. In 



TAMANRASSET 343 

Captain Depommier added the following observations to 
Paul's account : 

" What was the object of the assassins? What feelings 
governed them ? 

" Among the primary feelings impelling the assassins, we 
must certainly put fanaticism, ' War on the Roumis.' For 
a long time, the propaganda of the Holy War had been 
active in the district; many of its propagators came from 
the east from amongst the Senussi, and had gained to 
their cause the Ait-Lohen, a Hoggar tribe bordering on the 
Azjer region. Father de Foucauld knew all about this. 
(Father de Foucauld himself had knowledge of a plot for 
his assassination hatched in September by the hartanis of 
Amsel. Papers found after his death by Captain de La 
Roche prove it. Father de Foucauld never mentioned this 
to anybody.) However, that was probably not the only 
cause of the assassins' conduct. 

" Why did they attack Father de Foucauld alone and a 
priest, who had won, by a thousand acts of charity and kind- 
ness, the sympathy, if not the gratitude, of many of those 
who came to him ? Must we see in this only the work of 
fanatics, and think that the latter disregarded the precepts 
of the Koran, which recommends the sparing of priests ? 

" Another cause of the crime appears much simpler. It 
is this. Few things were hidden at Father de Foucauld's, 
and everybody knew he had rifles, carbines, and munitions 
in store ; it was a question of appropriating these arms ; 
perhaps they might also find a big sum of money in the 
house of this generous benefactor. Lastly, the band were 
not unaware that the Motylinski garrison had been reduced 
to a few men, and could do nothing against them. 

" But then, why did the robbers assassinate Father de 
Foucauld when the arms had been captured and the house 
was in their possession ? Some of the rumours brought in 
might lead us to believe that it was only a matter of chance, 
of circumstances. Father de Foucauld's guard would not 
have received the order to kill him ; on the contrary, Ebeh, 
according to the instructions received from Si-Labed, his 
chief, would have recommended his being kept a prisoner, 

the morning they were preparing to go away when Kuider ben Lakhal, 
who was bringing the mail, arrived. The enemy took up positions, 
some in the ditch, others on the terrace ; they fired at him, but he was 
not hit. Suddenly his camel baraqucd (knelt down), they then threw 
themselves on Kuider and held his hands and legs. One of them 
shot him from behind in the head. They tore up the sack and all the 
papers in the mail." 



346 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

"Turkey, incited by Germany, wished to make the 
Tuaregs in the first place, then all the desert tribes, revolt 
against us. The agents of thq policy saw very quickly that 
their object could not be attained if Father de Foucauld 
remained in the midst of the Northern Tuaregs, whence his 
influence radiated. They decided to seize him and keep 
him as a hostage, but their resolution was not, according to 
the General, to put him to death. A band was launched 
towards Tamanrasset, etc." 

In fact, it seems quite probable that, as the Holy War was 
being preached in the whole of French Africa, the chief of 
the band who seized Father de Eoucauld wished to get rid 
of the principal cause which prevented the defection of the 
Hoggar Tuaregs — that is to say, the great and dominating 
influence of the beloved hermit of Tamanrasset. If it is 
contended that this chief was too poor a creature to 
allow himself to be led by considerations of a general char- 
acter, and that the allurement of gain suffices to explain his 
aggression and the ruffianly act of his troop, it is very easy 
to admit that the principal chiefs of the insurrection made 
use of these bandits of a second order, and associated them 
with vaster plans. We must think that the Musulman 
world obeys very well-informed chiefs, capable of very 
broad designs. 

I ought to make several other remarks on this last act of 
life, death, for which our whole life prepares us, if we will. 
Father de Foucauld, since his conversion, never for one day 
stopped thinking of that hour after which there are no 
others, and which is the supreme opportunity offered for our 
repentance and acquisition of merit. He died on the first 
Friday of December, the day consecrated to the Sacred 
Heart, and in the manner that he wished, having always 
desired a violent death dealt in hatred of the Christian name, 
accepted with love for the salvation of the infidels of his 
land of election — Africa. Betrayed and bound, he refused to 
reply to the insults as well as to the questions of those who 
surrounded him, and said not a word again, imitating in that 
his divine model : Jesus autem tacebat. May it be main- 
tained that he died a martyr, in the exact sense of that word, 
according to Catholic doctrine? Of this I shall say what 
I know. 

Two weeks after the assassination, when the information 
gathered was brought to In-Salah, the rumour went about 
that the assassins had ordered Father de Foucauld to 
apostatize and recite the shehada — that is to say, the form 
of Musulman prayer — and that he had refused : a letter 



TAMANRASSET 347 

addressed to M. de Blic, to announce his brother-in-law's 
death, is the proof. Neither Captain de La Roche's report 
nor that of Captain Depommier mentions it. But that 
Fatlier de Foucauld, during that half-hour of bad treatment 
and insults which he endured before being killed, was called 
upon to abjure, is very probable for two reasons : first, as 
a Saharan officer writes to me, because the contrary would 
be the exception with Musulmans who never separate death 
from the shehada; in the second place, because the con- 
versation reported by the negro Paul was repeated by him 
in 1921. I heard, indeed, that when questioned again on 
the subject of the murder. Father de Foucauld's servant 
replied: "In my presence, the enemy simply asked: 
' ^X''here is the convoy ? Where are the people ?' After de 
Foucauld's death, I heard them say between themselves : 
* He was asked to say the shehada, but he replied: "I a^n 
going to die." This last sentence was said by the Ait- 
Lohen, whose names I do not know." 

To-day it appears, therefore, probable that, according to 
custom. Father de Foucauld was called upon to abjure. It 
appears certain that the assassination did not immediately 
follow his refusal : the arrival of the Motylinski mehari 
riders was the determining cause of his death. The first 
idea was to make Father de Foucauld a prisoner ; an oppor- 
tunity of killing him was offered, and he was killed for fear 
that he might escape or be delivered. However, hatred of 
Christians cannot be considered as unconnected with this 
drama, and the domestic Paul is of this opinion, since, in 
his evidence, he says that he also was threatened with death, 
as an unbeliever. 

It must also be remarked that Father de Foucauld, having 
built the fortlet so that the poor people of the village might 
be sheltered with him, never would abandon them, and that 
it was therefore through his obstinate charity that he died. 

When the people of the rezzu had retired in the direction 
of Debnat (west of Fort Motylinski) the victims' bodies did 
not remain long abandoned. The harratins, being no 
longer afraid, approached and interred the victims in the 
ditch of the little fort, a few yards from the place where 
Father de Foucauld fell. His body was not freed from the 
bonds by which his arms were bound, but after having 
deposited it in the ditch, the harratins, who knew the Chris- 
tians put their dead into coffins, placed stones, sheets of 
paper, and fragments of wooden cases around the body. 
Then thev walled up the door of the fortlet. 

The first thing the commander of the Hoggar district did 



348 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

was to set off in pursuit of the band of Fellagas. The 
reszu was "hooked" on December 17, and lost several 
men.^ It was only on December 21 that Captain de La 
Roche was able to go to Tamanrasset. He came accom- 
panied by a sergeant and a soldier. Immediately on his 
arrival he went and examined the graves, and had the layer 
of earth which covered the bodies made thicker ; he planted 
a cross on the Father's grave ; and then had military honours 
paid to those who had died for France. Only then did the 
officer enter the fortified hermitage. 

" The inside of the kasha had been pillaged; the bandits 
carried off everything of any value. The remainder was 
thrown into disorder, torn and partly burned. The whole 
library and all the papers were scattered about the room 
which served as chapel and room. Here are the various 
things found : 

" Articles of worship and devotion and pious books; the 
four volumes of the dictionary and the two volumes of poetry 
could be reconstructed in their entirety ; stationery, a 
colonial helmet, a camp-table, a camp-bed, a big ther- 
mometer ; a certain number of letters written by the Father 
on December i, sealed and stamped, etc."^ 

Among the "articles of worship " and the "articles of 
devotion " found in the fortlet, there was the Father's 
rosary ; the Stations of the Cross made of little boards on 
which he had drawn, with the pen and very finely, scenes 
of the Passion ; a wooden cross, with a very finely drawn 
representation of the body of Christ. In stirring up with 
his foot the ground on which all sorts of things had 
been thrown, the young officer found in the sand a 
small monstrance in which the Host appeared to be still 
enclosed. He picked it up respectfully, wiped it, and 
enveloped it in a linen cloth. " I was very worried," he 
relates later, " for I felt it was not for me thus to carry the 
good God." 

When the time arrived to leave Tamanrasset, he 
took the little monstrance, put it in front of him on 
the saddle of his mehari, and thus did the thirty miles 

* Later on, in February, 1918, a detachment of Saharan troops, 
operating against the rebels, found in a camp at 188 miles to the 
east of Tamanrasset. sandals, kitchen utensils, scissors, and different 
things belonging to Father de Foucauld. In the fight seven men of the 
camp were killed. (Note of Sub-Lieutenant Bejot, of the Aguraii' 
station.) 

2 Report of December 27, 1916, to the Lieutenant-Colonel command- 
ing the oasis territory in the Azjer country. Communicated by the 
Governor-General of Algeria. 



TAMANRASSET 349 

which separate Tamanrasset from Fort Motylinski. This 
was the first procession of the Blessed Sacrament in the 
Sahara. When he arrived at the station his embarrassment 
was great. On the way M. de La Roche remembered a 
conversation that he had had one day with Father de 
Foucauld. When he said to him : " You have permission to 
keep the Blessed Sacrament ; but, if a misfortune happened 
to you, what should be done?" the Father replied : " There 
are two answers : make a perfect act of contrition, and 
administer communion to yourself, or send the consecrated 
Host to the White Fathers by post." He could not make 
up his mind to do the second. Having called a non- 
commissioned officer of the post, an old ecclesiastical 
student who was a fervent Christian, M. de La Roche held 
counsel with him. They thought it best for one of them 
to give himself communion. The officer " put on white 
gloves he had never worn " to open the cover of the 
monstrance and assure himself that he was not mistaken 
that the Host was there. It was there all right, just as the 
priest had consecrated and adored it. The two young men 
asked one another: "Will you receive it, or shall I?" 
Tlien the non-commissioned officer knelt down and made 
his communion.^ 

Of the numerous expressions of respect and admiration 
which were addressed to Father de Foucauld's family, I 
shall only publish the letter of the chief of the Hoggar 
Tuaregs, and those of the Bishop of Viviers. 

Letter of Musa ag Amastane to Madame de Blic. 

" Praise to the one God. 

*' To her Ladyship our friend Marie, the sister of Charles 
our marabout, whom traitors and deceivers, people of 
Azjer assassinated, from Tebeul Musa ag Amastane, 
umenokal of Hoggar. 

" Much greeting to our aforesaid friend Marie I As soon 
as I heard of the death of our friend, your brother Charles, 
my eyes closed ; all is dark to me : I wept and I shed many 
tears, and I am in great mourning. His death is a great 
grief to me. 

"I am far from where the thieving traitors and deceivers 
killed him ; that is to say, they killed him in Ahaggar ; and 
I am in Adrar, but, if it please God, we shall kill those who 

^ Statement made by Captain de La Roche to the Comtesse de 
Foucauld, May, 1917 ; statement also made at Maison Carree, and letter 
to M. de Blic, December 27, 1916. 



350 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

killed the marabout, until we have taken our vengeance to 
the full. 

" Say good-day for me to your daughters, your husband, 
and all your friends, and tell them : Charles the marabout 
has died not only for you, but for us all. May God have 
mercy on him, and may we meet him in paradise ! 

" The 20 ofSafar, 1335 {December 13, 1916). 

" Translated at Fort Motylimki, December 25, 1916."* 

Letter of Mgr. Bonnet, Bishop of Viviers, to Madame 

de Blic. 

" Episcopal Residence, Viviers, 
" January 17, 1917. 

" Madame, 

" The sorrow which afflicts you, touches me too pain- 
fully for me to keep from uniting my legitimate and pro- 
found regrets to yours. 

" I feel most acutely your loss in the person of the 
Reverend Father de Foucauld. In my long life I have 
known few more loving, sensitive, generous, and ardent 
souls than his. God had so entered into him, that his whole 
being overflowed with light and charity. 

*' You know better than I do what hold the great and holy 
love of Church, country, and family had on his heart and 
how great was his ardour ; you know how heroic was 
his zeal for the salvation of souls : his departure for 
heaven will be an irreparable misfortune for the countries 
whose return to the Faith he so skilfully and courageously 
prepared, unless the blood which has just watered them be 
for them a sowing of Christian seed. 

* The amenokal of Hoggar died at the end of ig20, and his last words 
were to recommend the people of Hoggar to be faithful to France. 
Thus he bore in mind Father de Foucauld's advice. The Father called 
him " my best friend among the Tuaregs." The letter which informed 
me of this event first told of Musa's illness, the cause of which was 
not known. On December 22, he rested more calmly than before, and 
his near relations left him with the hope that he would soon be cured ; 
but on December 23, at one in the morning, he asked to say his prayers, 
and repeated several times : " Follow the good road of the French," 
and expired in the presence of his two negroes, Othman and Ilbak. On 
December 23, at 7, the burial took place before the whole population in 
tears. 

" Musa Ag Amastane was Commander of the Legion of Honour, 
and military honours were paid him by the Saharan detachment com- 
manded by an officer. 

" Immediately after the ceremony, the nobles, imrad chiefs and 
notables went to the commander of the station and swore to follow 
Musa's counsels and to remain faithful to the French Government." 



TAMANRASSET 351 

** I should not be comforted in the misfortune which 
strikes you if I did not consider that your dear and 
venerated martyr is more living" than ever, that he has 
ceased to suffer, but does not cease to love us ; that he is 
nearer God, more powerful over His Heart, and that he 
may make Him merciful to our afflicted Church, to wounded 
France, to my diocese that petitions him, to his family 
which mourns him. 

"With, etc. . . . 

**J. M. Frederic, 

" Bishop of Viviers." 

The same year, thanking Madame de Blic for the 
memento he had received, Mgr. Bonnet wrote this second 
letter, dated All Saints' Day : 

" Episcopal Residence, Viviers, 

"November i, 1917. 

"The precious picture could not have reached me more 
opportunely than on the day when my thoughts turn to 
him in ardent memory and fervent prayer amongst the 
immense legion of saints that the Church proposes for our 
especial remembrance to-day. The public veneration that 
I give him along with others, I offer every day in the 
secret of my soul ; I owe him so much ! He so often 
prayed effectively for my diocese and me during his life, 
and I must be silent about all the favours he has granted 
me since he is nearer God."^ 

In December, 191 7, the Father's great friend, General 
Laperrine, passed through Hoggar. A few weeks later he 
wrote to Madame de Blic from Timbuctoo : 

" I called at Tamanrasset on December 9. I considered 
that the last wishes of your brother, saying that he wished 
to be buried where he fell, had been taken too literally, and 
he was left in the provisorv grave made by his servant Paul, 
in the ditch of the house, a ditch which risked being flooded 
with water at the first rains. 

*' On my return from Motylinski, on December 15, I had 
him exhumed and interred on the top of the hill on which 
his borj is, and about 200 yards to the west of this one 
(the hill is a simple undulation of the ground, but isolated 
in the middle of the plain, and is seen from very far). The 

^ Mgr. Bonnet, whom I questioned at Viviers on the subject of Father 
de Foucauld, thus summed up his judgment : " He was a great character, 
a great man, and a great saint." 



352 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

three native soldiers killed at the same time as he, two of 
whom were the involuntary cause of his death through try- 
ing to deliver him, are buried at his feet. The very simple 
grave, without any inscription, is surmounted by a black 
wooden cross, but larger and stouter than the one which was 
on the grave in the ditch. Moreover, from its position, it 
is seen from a long way off. 

" M. Lutaud, Governor-General of Algeria, got a sum 
voted to erect a monument to him at Tamanrasset; in order 
to do this without slighting his last wishes, I intend to 
leave the grave as it is, but about five yards off, on the 
ridge of the same undulation of the ground, I mean to put 
up a large cross of Hoggar granite, a kind of mission cross, 
a cross which will be seen from a great distance. 

" Your brother was, as it were, mummified when we 
exhumed him, and could still be recognized. The transla- 
tion was very moving." 

In another letter, addressed to Father Voillard, of the 
fWhite Fathers, the General said:^ "The ball entered 
behind the right ear and came out through the left eye. He 
was buried in the position in which he was killed ; kneeling, 
his elbows tied behind his back. We were obliged to inter 
him in that position, so as not to break his limbs : we simply 
wrapped him in a shroud." 

Whilst the last burial was being carried out by his friend, 
the General was very much affected ; he was astonished that 
the body was without any break and the face so recog- 
nizable, while what remained of the Arabs buried near him 
was only a little dust. One of the native soldiers then said 
to him : "Why are you astonished that he is thus preserved, 
General ? It is not astonishing, since he was a great 
marabout." 

These words were reported to me by a witness who heard 
them. 

When he thus gave Charles de Foucauld a final resting- 
place, and placed it under the sign of the cross, which alone 
explains the life and death of the hermit, the General did 
not suspect that he was marking the place of his own tomb. 
We know that this other great servant of his country, a con- 
queror who spared bloodshed to friends and foes, after 
having so many times, at the head of his mehari riders, 
crossed the Sahara which he had pacified, was led to attempt 
crossing his kingdom by way of the air in February, 1920. 
The aeroplane, which started from Tamanrasset and was to 
carry him in a few hours as far as Senegal, got lost among 
^ Letter of December 15, 1917. 



TAMANRASSET 353 

the fogs and fell in the desert. Wounded in the fall, hav- 
ing suffered without complaining for many days, exhausted 
by hunger and thirst, Laperrine died in the Anesberakka 
region on March 6, and his body, wrapped in the linen of 
the aeroplane, was put on the back of a camel, and again 
took the road to Tamanrasset. He was buried near his 
friend; Father de Foucauld took him in on his way. 

What has become of the hermitages inhabited by Father 
de Foucauld in various parts of the Sahara? I tried to find 
out, and some evidence has reached me. 

The "Fraternity" at Beni-Abbes was put under the 
custody of the French officers of the Arab Office. It is used 
as a shelter for poor nomads who cross the plateau. No 
doubt the chapel has lost its priest, who each morning bade 
Christ to com.e down to where He was more unknown than 
in Bethlehem. But the altar remains; the canvases on 
which Jesus, Mary, and Saints are represented, hang on 
the walls ; the thick close columns continue to support 
date-wood joists and the roof of leaves and earth which 
the rain had once got through. They have kept on the gar- 
dener Hajj ben Ahmed, who receives his wages regularly 
from France. Some vegetables grow in the garden, and 
the palm grove has prospered. 

At In-Salah, nothing is left. The pied-d-terre of the 
traveller is covered with the sand, which at present threatens 
the enclosure walls, and will break them down at the first 
simoom. 

I have also bad news of the Kudiat cabin. Some day 
Ave shall certainly hear of the Father's observatory being 
destroyed; in the month of March, 1920, it was very much 
damaged by field-mice, which swarm up there. 

The Tamanrasset fortlet has held out. France occupies 
and repairs it. It is used as lodgings for the lieutenant and 
a shelter for the bureaus of the detachment of the Saharan 
Company. The soldiers cultivate the garden; they have 
even sown flowers in it, which one of my friends, a traveller, 
saw blooming in February, 1920. 

We may hope that these relics of earth and stone will not 
disappear too quickly. But the memory of the man who 
did not seek, like the rest of men, a convenient house, 
defended against cold, heat, and the passer-by, will con- 
tinue and increase. The name of de Foucauld will be cited 
among those of the servants of God; he will be exalted in 
Christian communities which will not fail to rise up in the 
heart of Islam. Kabyles, Arabs, blacks, Hindoos, their 

23 



354 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

souls opened to the truth, and seeing what a price was paid 
for their ransom, will remember the apostles who worked 
for them in poverty, obscurity, and extreme indigence of 
consolation. May the new missionaries hasten on the work 
of evangelization prepared by Cardinal Lavigerie, by the 
White Fathers, by the great brotherly monk Charles de 
Foucauld, sent to Africa as a sign of mercy, and as the 
messenger of the salvation which is to be hers. 

Lord Jesus Christ, who art with us, be with the host of 
peoples and tribes that depend on us. Sole remedy of 
death, Living God, bring to Thyself the souls of the 
Musulmans so long left in error. And, for that, first touch 
some essentially missionar}^ hearts in France, a still un- 
dependable mother with too little affection for her millions 
of African and Asiatic children. Thy servant Charles de 
Foucauld has shown the way ; he endured their pride, their 
hardness, sometimes their treachery ; he implored Thee so 
much for them ; he was a monk without a monastery, a 
master without disciples, a penitent and a solitary, ever 
hoping for a time he was not to see. He died at his work. 
For his sake, have pity on them ! Give part of Thy riches 
to the poor of Islam, and forgive the nations of the baptized 
their inveterate love of money. 



APPEN DIX 



ASSOCIATION 

For the Growth of the Missionary Spirit; 
especially in our french colonies.^ 

TO found this Association was one of the constant 
thoughts of Father de Foucauld. " After the peace," 
he wrote to one of his friends,- " I shall do all in my 
power for the final establishment of our Union, going where 
necessary and remaining in France as long as necessary. 
May the will of Jesus Christ be done in this and in all 
things." 

The rules of this Union, drawn up in 1909, were abridged 
and simplified in 1913 and 1916. They are inspired by 
two essential ideas. The first is that at present a vigorous 
effort of evangelization of the infidels must be made, and 
that there is great negligence among Christians with respect 
to this primary duty, notably among us French people, 
who have not yet worked at the evangelization " of our 
Musulman brothers, who are French subjects." The 
second, which gives the Association its distinctive char- 
acter, is that this hard work will not be accomplished if we 
only try to get alms and prayers. We must also ask the 
greatest possible number of Catholics to bear the Infidels 
always in mind, to have a " missionary spirit." They will 
get it by a serioiisly Christian life which will maintain this 
thought and make it pass into action. The means to arrive 
at this sincere, profound, and active Christianity, is to bind 
ourselves to the observance of a rule, and organize our- 
selves into an Association. 

The thought of Father de Foucauld embraced all infidels. 
Consequentl}^ according to him, each mother-country 
should be called on to constitute a similar Union for its own 
colonial infidels, who could not ordinarily attain to the 
knowledge of the true religion except through the Christian 
peoples upon whom they depend. 

There is hardly a broader, more fraternal, or a more 
urgent idea. Approved first in 1909 by Mgr. Bonnet, 

^ I asked for this note from one of the men who were the friends of 
Father de Foucauld and talked with him about the Association, 
2 Letter to M. VA.hh€ Laurain, All Saints' Day, 1916. 

355 



556 CHARLES DE FOUCAULD 

Bishop of Viviers, and by Mgr. Livinhac, Superior-General 
of the White Fathers, then by Cardinal Amette in 1919, the 
Association has received the individual and collective 
adhesion of persons or communities. As soon as it is 
known it will, no doubt, attract many hearts.^ It is worthy 
to succeed from its breadth and generosity, from the very 
help with which it furnishes the clergy and faithful in set- 
ting forth a rule of life, a discipline, directed towards the 
apostolate under all its forms. It is the one legacy, the 
last word of Father de Foucauld to his friends. 

* The President of the Association is His Grace Mgr. Le Roy, 
Archbishop of Caria, Superior-General of the Fathers of the Holy 
Ghost. Apply for admission or information to the Secretary of the 
Association Foucauld, 30, Rue Lhommond, Paris, V. 



■w-