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The Canvass for Dreyfus, The Prisoner of Devil's Island


Always select as favorable a place and opportunity as possible for showing the book to people, when by themselves at their residence or place of business. Do not try to get subscribers in a crowd or half a dozen or more persons.

Before calling on a person you should if possible learn his name, so as to address him by it. A man will pay more attention to you when you address him by name, and with self-possession. Preserve your own dignity, be courteous, and don't be afraid to speak out clearly and distinctly.

Begin your canvass with the most influential men in your territory. After you have secured the subscription of some prominent man you should get him to give you the names of such persons as he thinks might subscribe, and then when you call on them you can say you were recommended by Mr. _____, giving the gentleman's name. It frequently happens that you can more readily secure attention by thus coming partially introduced. On approaching a man you can then say: "Mr. _____, I am introducing into this community a new and valuable work, as you can see by the thickness of the back."

After you have read the title page distinctly, and have called attention to the high standing of the authors, you should turn to the large collection of fine engravings and show them one by one, reading the titles and at the same time giving your customer a good opportunity to look at them. Do not stop too long on any one, but keep up the interest by showing something new.



Your canvassing book contains a large number of these. They are remarkable engravings and are admired by all who see them. You can praise them to your customer to the highest degree; they will bear it.

Say to your customer: "Here is a portrait of Captain Dreyfus, taken during his trial at Renns. You will observe he has a very refined and intellectual face, and one that shows firmness and strength of character, not the face of a traitor, but that of an honest man, one who is determined to make a fight for his honor, integrity, his family and his life.

Then say to your customer: "You see what a finely illustrated work this is. Here is a history of the Dreyfus case before your eyes in pictures. You will observe portraits of all of the leading actors in the drama. Henry, the forger, who committed suicide (or as some reports intimate was murdered) after confessing his guilt; the leading French Generals who gave perjured testimony against Dreyfus; Esterhazy the author of the Bordereaux, Scheurer Kestner one of the first to agitiate the innocence of Dreyfus, Loubet, President of the French Republic, Col. Piquart in prison; this is the French officer who was put in prison for declaring that Dreyfus was unjustly condemmed, and he is the one who first discovered that Henry was a forger. Then we have photographs of the family of Dreyfus, his counsel, Labori, Demange, the Court Martial, Devil's Island, etc. Our artists show the cage wherein Dreyfus was confined; striking pictures of his return to France. Observe this engraving of the opening of the trial at Rennes, when Dreyfus so dramatically says, 'I am innocent.' All of these powerful pictures true to life, magnificently illustrate the book. They are taken from photographs and original drawings by expert artists, so there can be no doubt as to their accuracy. You know photographs must tell the truth, they cannot do otherwise.

"We now come to the text of the book. The first chapter gives an intelligent account of the feeling in France regarding the Jews as a class. Dreyfus is a Jew, and was a very brilliant and ambitious Captain of Artillery in the French Army. The hostility in France against the Jews was so intense that some of the hot-headed Frenchmen, if they could have had their way, would have massacred all of the Jews and their sympathizers. Hatred of the Jews meant hatred of Dreyfus.

"Chapter II is very interesting. It describes the political situation in France. Shows how important events were beginning to loom up, all tending to create suspicion that would further inflame the public mind. Chapters III, and IV, are very thrilling; scraps of paper are found in a waste basket at the German Embassy in Paris, and stolen from them by a spy. The finding of these pieces of paper led to the great scandal of the century. These fragments of were pasted together forming the document known as the Bordereaux, and this bordereaux was the principle weapon aganst Dreyfus. It contained military secrets sold to a foreign power, and you know that every government scrupulously guards all information concerning its army and navy, consequently whoever wrote the bordereaux was a traitor to France. A fac simile of a portion of the borderaux is given in Chapter III. Following the discovery came the arrest of Dreyfus.

"I do not need to ask you if you are interested in this stupendous conspiracy. If you have read any portion of the Dreyfus trial you must certainly admit that it is a most wonderful narrative of man's inhumanity to fellow-man.

"Commencing with Chapter V, the plot opens. Here is a fac simile of a test letter dictated to Dreyfus in order to compare his handwriting with that of the bordereaux, then follows in Chapters VI, VII, VIII, IX, and X, the account of the Court Martial, the first trial of Dreyfus, his conviction, his degradation from rank in the army, his sentence, and deportation to Devil's Island. Then the wheels of justice begin to turn. The friends and family if Dreyfus use all of their influence and wealth to move heaven and earth for a reversal of this unjust sentence, and slowly but surely powerful forces were put in motion to accomplish this result.

"Understand, I am only showing you specimen pages of this superb volume, and the meagre description I have thus far given only presents a slight account of what the book contains. Even more startling developments are to follow: Romances, Tragedy and Pathos, forming a vivid panorama, all of which is intensely interesting. The story of Dreyfus in his hut on Devil's Island, the letters written by him to his family, heartrending in the extreme, the decision of the French Ministry to review the case (all of which are found in chapters XI., XII., XIII., XIV., XV. and XVI.

"In chapter XVII. Col. Piquart comes to the front. He makes a startling discovery. He finds scraps of a torn postal card which, when placed together, throws suspicion on Major Esterhazy, a French officer of shady reputation. He immediately takes steps to ascertain who the traitor is. The pot begins to boil again. The friends of Dreyfus begin to take heart.

"Chapters XVIII, and XIX, relate how Col. Henry came to the rescue of his chiefs, forging documents to further implicate Dreyfus. Esterhazy has his trial and is acquitted. Zola, the great novelist, takes a hand, and publishes forman accusations against the Court Martial which tried Dreyfus and Esterhazy. His object is to force the government to arrest and try him, so that he can bring out the truth regarding the unjust condemnation of Dreyfus. In chapters XX., XXI. and XXII, we have th account of Henry's confession and suicide, the trial of Col. Piquart and his notable speech when his case was transferred to a Military instead of a Civil Court; the result of the finding of the Court of Cassation which decided that Dreyfus must be brought back to France.

"I will not take time to show all of the pages in this prospectus, but the remaining pages tell all about the return of Dreyfus, his final appeal for justice at his second trial, the herculean efforts of Labori in his behalf, the attempted asassination of Labori, the perjured testimony of the French generals, the final conviction and sentence of Dreyfus, the storm of indignant protest from the entire civilized world, Zola's magnificent and pitiless denunciation of the verdict, and finally the pardon of Dreyfus. In pardoning Dreyfus the French government virtually gave false testimony. The entire history of this remarkable trial is a most startling account of how an innocent man was hounded and persecuted by his enemies as was never man before." (Here call attention to a few opinions received from prominent men, and the dedication of the book which follows:)

Then say to your customer ; "You can see from these sample pages what the work really is. It is a complete, authentic, and I may say, official history of Dreyfus and his trial. Our author, Mr. Harding, is the cable editor of the Associated Press, and every atom of news regarding this trial passed through his hands. You will therefore admit that the book must be all that I claim it to be."

(Now show the subscription list, and say in a pleasant way:)

"Come, my dear sir, give me your subscription to this very valuable work. You will never regret it. It will be a source of satisfaction to yourself and your family. It is a grand book and you will be pleased with it."

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