An outright theft from Ches: his translation of an extract from Bernanos Les Grands Cimetières sous la lune
Down there in Majorca I saw passing by on la Rambla lorries full of men. They rolled along with a sound like thunder […] They were grey with the dust of the road, and the men they carried were grey also, seated four by four, their grey caps on backwards, their hands outstretched on their rough trousers, like little boys. They were rounded up each evening from remote villages whenever they came back from the fields. Then they left for their final trip, their shirts stuck to their backs with sweat, their arms still heavy with the labours of the day, leaving their soup on the kitchen table. A wife would run to the end of the garden, out of breath, with their things bundled in a new towel: A Dios, recuerdos!
You’re being sentimental, you tell me. God forbid. I simply repeat – I will never tire of repeating – that those people had neither killed nor harmed anyone. They were peasants, like those you know, or rather like those your fathers knew, and who had shaken hands with your fathers. For they were very much like those tough nuts you find in our French villages, trained in Gambettist propaganda, or like those wine makers of the Var to whom the old cynic Georges Clemenceau once took the message of Science and Human Progress.
“We don’t doubt they were sound chaps,” the Spanish bishops will no doubt reply, “because most of them converted in extremis. According to our brother bishop in Majorca, only ten percent of them refused the sacraments before being dispatched by our brave soldiers.” That’s quite a percentage, I admit, which does great honour to his Lordship. May God reward him for it. For the moment at least, I make no judgment about this form of the apostolate. But supposing we soon adopted it on this side of the border in France, you must admit I’m right to wonder what we French Catholics might expect from it. Let’s suppose for example that on his return from Salamanca, where Mr Charles Maurras cannot fail one of these days to go in order to say hello to General Franco, the author of ‘Athinea’ undertook a preventative purgation of his native town, I doubt that the parish priest of Martigues could hope for such good results. They would probably have to be a lot tougher.
Now I have to read Bernados. Many thanks, Raven.