On Friday week there was an interesting debate in the
French Chamber on the national defences. Public confidence in France has been a good deal shaken lately by the ominous warnings of General Langlois, and particularly by an alarmist book, written by M. Charles Humbert, called " Sommes-nous Defendus ? " M. Messimy, the Reporter en the War Budget, made a reassuring statement declaring that the pessimism of the critics was based on generalisations from exceptional instances. He had himself visited the fortresses of the eastern frontier, which were the particular object of criticism, and he had come to the conclusion that they were amply strong enough when their power was considered in conjunction with the progress in efficiency of the covering troops. The new defences of the four great fortified places would cost £4,800,000, and if the minor fortresses had also been undertaken the cost would have been trebled. General Picquart, the Minister for War, supported M. Messimy's statement, and denied the assertion of General Langlois that the Army was disaffected and dis- organised. In the end the Chamber passed a vote of con- fidence in the Government by 400 votes to 80.