Puslapio vaizdai

the war will end in a complete victory for the Allies; but this confidence is quite unlike London's hot fits of sanguine expectation. In London it was possible not so long ago to start a rumor in the morning that the British troops were through in Gallipoli and to find that half the town believed it in the evening. That has not been possible in Paris since Paris, in the autumn of 1914, attained to its present irrefragable serenity. It was not always true that the French public had a more level temper than the British. There was a time, indeed, when the French armies wondered whether civilian France might not collapse behind them, when the phrase ran through the trenches, pourvu les civils tiennent. But the whole French public has to-day a war sense which the British public has yet to acquire a sense which enables it to see every small success or defeat in perspective, and to keep at a constant level its appreciation of the ultimate chance of victory and of the efforts required to secure it.

So far the contrast between London and Paris has consisted mainly in points which would not so forcibly strike a neutral observer as it strikes one who comes out of the heart of the controversial life of the one city into the assured peace of the other. It is a contrast which upon a visitor who has passed every day of the war in the heart of London rumor and discussion has the instant effect of bracing the heart and soul. One is able to write home on the second day, "Now that I have seen Paris I know that we are going to win the war." Only when this instant and fresh sense of contrast has slightly faded is one free and able to perceive how wonderfully the war has stripped the French people of all disguise and shown. to the world the fundamental qualities of France-qualities as clear to-day in the streets of Paris as in the hospitals and encampments of the battle area.

The words for which we instinctively feel to describe France thus newly revealed all suggest rather the "budge doctors of the Stoic fur" than the rout of

Comus. We penetrate the outer rind of Parisian flippancy, elegance, and eroticism to the kernel of the Gallic temperament. All the world can now perceive what once was familiar only to observers of the sober practical and frugal life of provincial France; namely, that the Gallic temperament is essentially patient, thrifty, and equable. France in her life to-day illustrates at its best the precious talent of France for living graciously without ostentation or expense. A gracious economy lies at the heart of French life. That thrift need not imply constraint or poverty is for most English visitors to France a social discovery. The Frenchwoman knows, as few Englishwomen know, how to be sparing without being meager. Paris to-day appears to be living as by a miracle upon almost nothing at all. It is living upon almost nothing at all, and yet contriving to add to its living that infallible. comeliness which is too often lacking in the most sumptuously directed expenditure of cities which have never understood the art or honored the virtue of economy. Here again, in coming at the essential quality of life in France at this time, we are driven to realize how fundamentally the French and British temperaments are contrasted. The people of London could not, without a complete change in their standards and habits, live as France is living to-day. A lavish and sanguine expenditure is almost essential to the English nature. Whereas the French point to Harpagon as a warning and an example of the corruption of their supreme quality of thrift, the British point as constantly to the prodigal son. Nothing that the Chancellor of the Exchequer can say or that taxation can do has arrested the flow of British expenditure in war-time. There could be no more difficult task for a British statesman than to get into the brain and heart of England the lesson that economy is really a virtue. The Englishman, if he regards thrift as a virtue at all, regards it as a very inferior virtue. No Englishman likes his friends to think of him as being eminently a thrifty man. The description would imply a slur upon

his hospitality and manliness. He feels that thrift is never far off from meanness; and rather than be suspected of wishing to save his pence, he will pay more for a thing than he need. He will pay more than he can really afford rather than pay less than his neighbor. France always, and more particularly to-day, shows a fundamental difference of feeling in regard to the spending of money and in all matters of household economy. The French character is in this regard more rational and more practical. Paris can live well for a week, without feeling mean or stinted, upon resources which would not keep London without grumbling for a day. There is a fundamental austerity in the French character which enables Paris to "carry on" without discouragement or complaint, without an oppressive sense of poverty or open squalor, after most of the normal comforts and assurances of life have disappeared.

These things are obvious in the streets and restaurants of Paris; but one meets them perhaps most unmistakably in the hospitals of France. The patience and frugality which lie at the root of the French character, the philosophic will to endure with a shrug conditions which would rouse the more Sybaritic English temperament to a storm of rebellion, is shown in its most extreme degree in the French military hospitals. There could be no more unforgetable lesson in na tional temperament than to go from the luxurious hospitals organized by the British to the bleak wards of Val de Grâce.

No more moving experience can be conceived than to walk from room to room of this vast building, and to discover, in snatches of conversation with men in all stages of sickness and mutilation, how perfectly the rudeness of their shelter symbolizes their fortitude and simplicity. The English visitor, keenly sensible of the absence of all amenity and comfort, full of the British conception of the soldier as an heroic and exceptional adventurer, is humiliated and touched to the heart by a sudden realization that these soldiers of France ask almost nothing of their coun

try and are entirely unaware of any claim to special consideration or care. They do not rebel against the bleak austerity of their surroundings and the terrible monotony of their days. Their standard of comfort is less than our own. It is part of their racial genius to be patient. They have supremely the gift of taking things for granted, a phlegm and a naïve acceptance of things as they are, which move the spectator to a pity deeper than words

can utter.

Here, in a moving and striking fashion, we come into touch with the sang-froid of the French temperament, the matterof-fact, rational, and steady look of the French intelligence at things which meets the traveler in France to-day at every turn. One heard it tersely and imperishably expressed in the phrases of a wounded soldier quite unaware that his words were eloquent of his race. He was wearing the medaille militaire, and despite one's knowledge that he would dislike to be reminded. of his achievement, it was impossible to forbear a reference to the supreme distinction he had won. "Pour mon œil" (he had lost his eye in the fighting), was all the explanation he could give as to why his chief had decorated him, and, pressed further, he could only repeat "C'était la guerre." To think of modesty in this connection does not occur. This soldier simply had no idea that modesty was required of him. He had received his wound and his compensation with the same almost fatal acceptance of the whole business of war-an acceptance so complete that he hardly realized his case as a thing personal to himself. The thing he had done. -c'était la guerre! something outside himself which belonged to his time and country. He accepted his own performance as he accepted the competent, but unemotional, arrangements of Val de Grâce, and as his neighbor, with a hole in his back, accepted with philosophy the good fortune which had made him a clerk, and so had made it unnecessary for him to lift or carry a weight, which he would never again in this life be able to do.

Generations of patient labor, thrifti

ness, simple feeling, and brave thought lie behind the people of France in their fight to-day for an invaded land which cannot richly reward them with pageantry or comfort. British soldiers, when necessary, will meet their worst enemy, which is discomfort, along with the rest, and will put a brave face upon it; but normally they expect to be "done well" in war as in peace. The French soldier has a far lower standard, and has frequently stood in amazed contemplation of our field kitchens and Red Cross palaces. In the field, as in the streets of Paris and London, the same contrast is observed. London obviously is continuously and richly fed from rich shops and the army and navy stores, whereas Paris seems now to be fed by the


Passing out from Paris to the country behind the lines one's impressions are deepened. The quiet country surrounding the famous little town of Meaux presents in little the life of France to-day.

Meaux itself, lying in the valley of the Marne, in the shadow of its cathedral, was once known to the world as the ancient home of an illustrious bishop, and to the traveler as a town of the mill; but to-day it is wholly filled with echoes of the immortal history which was made in September, 1914. Monseigneur Marbeau, the present Bishop of Meaux, a little aware that he sits in the seat of Bossuet; unaffectedly proud and content that fate has allowed him the beau geste on behalf of himself, his country, and his church; not reluctant that the world should know how, when Meaux awaited the Germans for three anxious days, the church was tried and found faithful to her trustMonseigneur Marbeau has helped to make history as surely as his famous predecessor. As one hears him talk of the days when the Battle of the Marne raged upon every side of the town, when, after General Joffre had delivered his magnificent order of the day, the French armies made the names of Barcy, Entrepilly, and Chambry, all the little villages of the Marne, names to inspire generations of Frenchmen now unborn, one begins to

realize that here is something which history will put beside the immortal British retreat from Mons as a fruit of the national spirit equally enduring. It was in this quiet country about Meaux that the trust and patience of the retreating armies. were suddenly rewarded. General Joffre had hitherto asked of his soldiers endurance under continual reverse and disappointment. He had tested to breakingpoint a fortitude which few casual observers of the French temperament had divined in her soldiers. Finally he asked in plain terms for the highest sacrificeasked it, as of right, from Frenchmen on behalf of France. He asked them for their lives.

But the Battle of the Marne is a theme for France herself. One turns from a contemplation of the battle itself to note how quietly the town of Meaux made ready under its bishop to receive the German invaders and avoid all panic or confusion. One hears everywhere the same phrase, C'était la guerre; and finally one climbs far out of the town to find in the French country-side, behind the French and British armies, the same equable, austere good sense, frugality, and faith which prevailed in civilian Paris.

This impression becomes suddenly fixed and complete as one stands within the high orchard of the farm or château of Champfleury, holding at command the whole of the country-side where the most desperate fighting took place. It was here, under the eyes of Kluck, that the French and Germans came and went as the battle turned. Paris was in the scale, as Kluck well knew, and it is not difficult to imagine with what impatience and anxiety he watched the struggle from a spot which seemed specially designed by nature to serve for the spectators of one of the vaster spectacles of modern warfare. The German staff have wedged the iron garden chairs of the orchard high into the trees, and the French have left them there untouched, as they have left the German writing on the wall of the house, and the room where Kluck distracted himself with billiards. This is one of the historic spots

in the world's history; for here Paris was saved, and here the first great plan of the German military staff went astray. But it hardly requires a sense of the fatal and the momentous, or any reminder from the battered house and broken trees, to quicken in a watcher from this bleak hill a sense of the immense significance of the spectacle before him. As far as one can see, from Champfleury down to the spot where the French artillery was posted, there rests to-day only one conspicuous. trace of the terrible fighting which raged from point to point from the Marne to the Aisne. The shell-pits have been filled, the trenches are obliterated, all the trophies and litter of the contest have been removed; only the graves of the fallen remain.

The true significance of this at once appears. The pocked and scarred fields were required at once for the crops of the ensuing season. With a cool sense of France's need to be fed and sustained, the peasants, many of whose houses had been battered to pieces, whose land had been torn and trampled, set immediately to work to prepare the soil anew. The matter-of-fact way in which they go about this necessary work to-day right up to the line of fire would seem to argue a callosity of the imagination until we have appreciated its true character. Then we realize, what is the hardest thing for civilians in an uninvaded country to realize, what it means for a practical nation to come to plain terms with war. France's clear sanity is completely symbolized in the graves of her soldiers, marked from afar with the white cross and tricolor, lying at hazard among the growing crops, little patches of soil respected by the plow, but close bordered with a harvest which comes down to the extreme edge of their sacred inclosure.

Going down the road from Champ


fleury to Meaux one has time and motive enough for these thoughts to take hold and grow. At every turn of the road are the graves of the French, and, near them, marked in black, the graves of their invading enemies; and everywhere the peasants have carried their crops to the extreme edge. In passing you see one of them working in the fields, and watch him drawing near to a spot where many of the Chasseurs d'Afrique fell in a magnificent charge, the graves, side by side, of friend and enemy showing that here the fighting was à la baionette. The peasant there and equally the peasant beside one who drives, callously informative, through the haunted country-seems to be insensitive to what he sees. Then suddenly one notices that the peasant below has removed his cap. The other man, instinctively responding with a similar act of grace, mutters as he salutes the dead, "Ils le méritent."

France appears in that hour as a few recovered fields, tilled by her peasants and watched in death by the men who fell to recover them for their country's daily need. Of the noise and squalor of war nothing here remains save a few battered villages and torn trees, some marks upon the turf of a high bank where the German soldiers crouched and waited, or a high cemetery wall pierced and used as firingscreen first from this side, then from that, as the French and German armies came and went. But the whole country is astir with the tricolor above white crosses in the dusk and the slow movements of the peasants at work in the fields. So simple and calm an expression of a nation's struggle for existence and of her shrewd, heroic virtues as is offered by this homely and constant scene may possibly be regarded as inadequate, but it seemed that evening to contain all that France has uttered in all her generations.

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Portrait of Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, with Three of His Impersonations of Shaksperian Characters

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