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In a Walled Garden. Belloc, Bessie Rayner, 1829–1925.
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page: 179

A CHAPTER OF WAR.

WHEN the sun sets behind the long line of the Aqueduct of Marly, a profound peace falls upon one of the most beautiful home prospects in the world. An ancient village lying in a fold of the hills behind Mont Valerien sends up a faint smoke from its chimneys; the first spurs of the hills of Normandy can be seen, line beyond line, in the far distance, and the great flat plain through which the Seine winds and doubles is dotted with the lights of innumerable villages—the leafy suburbs lying between Paris and St. Germains. Paris itself is unseen, but a walk through the woods brings within range the electric gleam of the summit of the Eiffel Tower shining like a star. To a dweller in the village the exceeding antiquity of every association, covering full a thousand years, affects the imagination with a silent background of past generations. Yet page: 180 over this cluster of dwellings, this house, these steep green banks and groves of secular chestnuts, rolled the full tide of war five‐and‐twenty years ago.

Looking back to the early months of 1870, I can recall no portent, no slightest cloud upon the horizon. Invasion seemed as far from us in France as it seems from us in England now; and France was very prosperous. Commerce made no complaint; the corn and the wine and the oil of that land of many climates were poured forth into the markets as from an abundant cornucopia. Literature was still sending out fresh shoots, and Victor Hugo survived as a magnificent oak‐tree of the past. There were scarcely any beggars to be seen, and the innumerable works of charity were unvexed by opposition. Near our village the Empress had specially favoured the great convalescent hospital at Le Vesinet, and omnibuses rolled constantly to and fro between its gates and those of the Paris hospitals. So far as I could see the huge machines of the State worked smoothly: we had great doctors in the wards and great lawyers at the Bar. Not only was there an Imperial follow‐ page: 181 ing following of unquestioned zeal, but the Opposition numbered in its ranks men such as a Thiers and a Gambetta, and a great following of respectable and thoughtful men of the professional classes. Parties, however much opposed, were of a firm consistence, and political aspirations were reasonably expressed and definite in shape. The household whose experiences I am about to describe had then been settled in the village for forty years. They had bought houses and a little land, and children had grown to maturity and settled in life. The surviving elders, who had been very young under the First Empire, were not Imperialist, but were personally attached to the House of Orleans; and the men of the next succeeding generation had interests connected with the Second Empire, and one of them, who ten years later occupied a public office of eminence, was a consistent Republican of a moderate type. The growing lads had of course taken their baccalauréat at Paris Lycées, and one of them had just won the Premier Prix of the year 1867, and was therefore exempt from all military service. So that this family might fairly be considered to page: 182 be in touch with the varied elements of French life.

But there were two things which they did not know. They had no social link with the Tuilleries or Compiègne, and the low thunder of the democratic growl was unheard by one and all. Once, two years before the war, the English member of this family had dined in Paris at the house of an Inspector of Schools who had risen from the ranks, and at this table there arose a whisper of a likely rising among the workmen of Lyons, a whisper nervously hushed, and which was until later forgotten by the hearer. Who remembers the sheet lightning of the previous evening in the broad light of a stormy day?

In the spring of 1870 the sense of security was exceptionally strong, for the Emperor, vexed by parliamentary opposition, and aware of smouldering embers in the great towns of which the outer world knew nothing, called a Plébiscite in the month of May. The result was an overwhelming vote of confidence. We happened to be at La Rochelle on the day of the vote, and spent the evening at a villa on the shore belong‐ page: 183 ing belonging to the mayor of the town. One of the official tellers hurried out with the yet unpublished result. He whispered in the ear of our hostess the one word “Splendide!” in a tone of the deepest exultation. And from every quarter of France during that week came up similar returns from all the Mairies. I have never doubted the essential veracity of that popular vote, which counted by millions, and which no tampering could have caused to swerve in an appreciable degree.

It is not true that provincial France distrusted the Empire. Whatever may have been the state of feeling among the workmen of the great towns, no one who really knows the departments of that immense country can imagine that the great wine‐growers in the south, or the farmers of La Beauce, or the fishers of Brittany desired a change of government. France is so very much larger than England, and its farming peasants have so great a stake in the soil, that they form a huge, steady, horizontal mass of workers, up at four in the morning and in bed by nine in the evening, devoted to their children and to the accumulation of five‐franc pieces or coupons de page: 184 rente, which are four‐pound divisions of the National Debt, and constitute an immense savings bank, reposing on the stability of public institutions. These French millions have less to complain of than any other labouring millions in Europe, and in spite of difficulties in manufacturing centres, and in the Parliament sitting in Paris, it is difficult to believe that the shock would in our generation have come from within if it had not previously come from without. Never for twenty years did Napoleon the Third appear to sit more firmly on his throne than in May, 1870.

The month of June was very hot; the temperature of the north of France, unsoftened by the Gulf Stream, is more acute in heat and cold than that of our island. The shutters on the south side of the house were all closed, we literally barricaded out the sun, and sat in a small strip of garden to the north, the maids and the ladies sewing and reading in the profound stillness. The white fruit blossoms had fallen from the apple and pear trees, the Spanish chestnuts were filling out their crop, and nothing more wildly improbable could have been sug‐ page: 185 gested suggested than that the one or the other should be plucked and eaten by armed warriors of another nation, with spiked helmets and the accents of a tongue absolutely unknown to our people. Then came the Hohenzollern incident, which did not seem much to concern us; and then the half‐ironical quarrel of the ambassadors, which as told in the newspapers read like the dramatic insult:—

I, sir?”

“Yes, you, sir!”

And then all in a moment the unlikely thing happened, and war was declared. But though the telegrams were read with eager interest, they did not seem to immediately concern the village. The coffee was roasted as usual out of doors, perfuming the air with an odour which is one of the most characteristic of rural France. French nursery rhymes were sung in the shrill accents of Tarbes, and the village crier delivered his usual warning about mad dogs. We knew that the French troops had shot across the frontier on their way to Berlin, and one of the newspapers published a map of the seat of war, which we pinned up, and on which the advance was daily marked in page: 186 blue paint. Then came anxious letters from London—“You do not know what is happening. Come back, come back, and bring your belongings.” But it seemed useless to dislodge a very complicated household of old people and young children, and servants who were practically Basques; and so the days passed on, and July was out, and Saturday the 7th of August dawned upon us—the last peaceful day we were to know for many a month.

This Saturday evening stands out in my memory because of a visit from Paris. A very young man, not yet twenty‐one, the “Premier Prix,” who, as I have said, was thereby exempt from conscription, came out to dinner; and an hour later the heavy shutters were unbarred, and the windows of the drawing‐room thrown open on the balcony. The fading sunset filled the room in the cool of the evening, and a little child lay asleep in a cot while the servants were dining. It was a time of special stillness; but that sun had set on the battle‐field of Wœrth, the first great defeat of the war. MacMahon was wounded, and the sons of many mothers lay dead before their time.

page: 187

This news did not reach us till 8 o’clock the next morning, and then it came thirty miles across country viâ Versailles, although we were much nearer to Paris. It had been brought by the late train overnight to a still lonelier village near Mont l’hèry, by a wealthy gentleman connected with the Paris Bourse, and travelled in an omnibus starting at six o’clock in the morning from Mont l’hèry to our neighbourhood. I doubt if the dread reality appeared in the morning newspapers until twenty‐four hours later.

We knew, then, on the Sunday morning that the tide had turned, and that the Germans were chasing the French. Still, not a soul believed that they would get to Paris, or that the zone of country in which we lay could be in the smallest danger; and for three weeks we remained quietly, trusting absolutely to the great battle which was to be fought between Paris and the frontier. Meanwhile, the young child was baptized in the village church, and the youthful cousin and godfather came in the new uniform of a Garde Mobile. All the men under forty were being enrolled in some volunteer corps.

All through August the Germans seemed to page: 188 us to be not so much advancing as concentrating in huge masses between us and the frontier. They were still a hundred miles away, and I cannot now remember what gave the first bad alarm; but one day an order was given to make ready for the blowing up of all the bridges on the Seine outside Paris. This was afterwards said to have been absolutely useless. The Germans were coming from the east, the Seine running from Paris to the sea turns north and west, doubling like a riband, and is so comparatively narrow that it could oppose small hindrance to the passage of troops. But the order was given, and our old stone bridge at Bougival was to be prepared by excavating a huge hole in the central buttress and the filling of the same with powder. This sight for the first time struck terror into the country people; and as we went on the following day down the steep hill, a mile in length, between our house and the river, we found literally every woman in Bougival sitting on her doorstep crying, with her children round her—not only the poorer inhabitants, but the most respectable shop‐keepers and bourgeois were in the street, filled with a prevision of what page: 189 was really coming, for three weeks later every soul was turned out of house and home and Bougival evacuated in four hours. Meantime we watched the men working at the hole in the bridge, the first symbol of the coming ruin.

We now began to feel it unwise for a family containing very old and very young members to remain in an isolated house on the outskirts of a village absolutely without defence, and, strange to say, we made up our minds to move into Paris, and all our neighbours who had apartments in the city did the same; but this was not easily accomplished. Some fresh panic struck the general courage on the 27th of August, and on the 28th, St. Augustine’s Day, and a Sunday, high mass was said as usual at ten o’clock, and in the afternoon everybody who could procure a vehicle got to the railway station of St. Cloud, a distance of five miles, at four o’clock. There the scene was most extraordinary. No luggage could be taken, and the terrified crowd was dressed with the usual precision of the French on Sunday. Nobody showed any panic in their outward attire. Streams of well‐dressed people came to the page: 190 station from all sides, the train was hopelessly late, the service disorganized with the strain. The tired children cried, and when at last the train came up, the people were packed in as best could be done, and we steamed away to Paris; our boxes with personal luggage were brought in next day. Everything else had to be left to its fate; that is to say, the house was put into complete order, securely barred and locked, and the keys deposited with the village schoolmaster. We were by this time aware that the dozen dwellings of the gentry would be occupied, if ever the German army approached Paris, but nobody knew anything about the customs of war, or had any notion of havoc being wrought by regular troops. It is amazing now to reflect upon that extreme ignorance. In any case, however, it would have been hopeless to attempt any sort of guard, for every valid man was enrolled in some corps, and the farmers and gardeners and tradespeople of the locality were all too fearful for their own property to pay any attention to ours.

So we went into Paris, to a small apartment near the Luxembourg, where, with a sigh of page: 191 relief, we felt ourselves perfectly safe! And an English lady, who was in very weak health, told me that she sat under the trees in the Luxembourg with a Tauchnitz volume of Miss Yonge’s “Daisy Chain”; she felt it soothing to her nerves!

But this delusion did not last many days. A regiment of young mobiles who had been stationed somewhere in the Eastern Departments, were returned upon Paris. They marched through the streets looking thoroughly tired and depressed, and made more impression on their fellow‐citizens than a hundred telegrams from the seat of war. Urgent letters from England implored us to come over without delay, and the French newspapers told us of the victualling of Paris and the closing of the railways. As I look back on that five days, the last we were to see of Imperial Paris, I wish that we had taken one more glance at the Tuilleries—had walked once again round the Hotel de Ville! But every hour was taken up with inexorable family duties, and we had to get away by a line we had never travelled before; for the Northern Railway was no longer available. It was late on the Friday evening when our party of three elders and two page: 192 young children got off from the station of St. Lazare, and as we passed the line of the fortifications, bands of navvies were piling earth upon the road, leaving only the one line of rails on which our train rolled. Their bent heads in the fading sunset was the last we saw of Paris and its people for many a long month. We embarked at Havre for Southampton, and as we passed through a wicket, which must have been put up to check the stream of passengers passing on to the steamer, one of our party vexatiously gave in the dark a ten‐franc piece instead of half a franc to the toll‐man. By this time it was past midnight, and Saturday the 3rd of September. At Southampton we found the German vessels in the harbour dressed out with flags in honour of Sedan!

I will now return to the village and to the silent, dark house where we had left so many treasures. It may perhaps be said, with astonishment, why were they left there, since we had had so long a warning of the Prussian advance? It seems as if we might have filled up the Paris apartments with our household goods. Assuredly, if we had had any conception page: 193 of what war means, we should have done our utmost to get a van, and to place at least the pictures in safety. But while we did not dream of spoliations, and believed that the worst which could happen would be the billeting of German officers in the house, it would, unless we had taken the alarm in the very beginning of August, have been extremely difficult to get the larger pictures conveyed twelve miles into Paris. I was not the actual mistress of the house, and the real and most dear mistress was in acute anxiety for her grandsons, exposed to constant danger; and for the younger children, who might have been caught in some place where they would not be able to get proper food, and, above all, milk. So many children were thus sacrificed in the siege of Paris. Their number will never be known. But what might have been undoubtedly saved were the miniatures and bronzes; and in particular two of the former, which had been given over into my care. Their date was about 1750, and their subjects in full costume. I had pinned them by their faded loops of ribbon to the velvet border of a mirror in the drawing‐room on the day they came from page: 194 an old house in the provinces. It is a sore vexation to me to think that I packed up the silver spoons and forgot these treasured great‐great‐grandparents. Nay, still more astounding was it that during the week we spent in Paris, one of the servants (they were sisters, and extremely intelligent women from the south) went out to the village, walking for many miles; and after assuring herself that all was right and safe within the house, she filled a large clothes basket with our apples and pears, which it vexed her frugal soul (she was the cook) to leave wasting on the trees. She then cast about how to get them into Paris, and thought herself very fortunate to find a washerwoman with a cart. The two women hoisted up the basket, and then jogged back to Paris in a leisurely way!

Of the other houses in the village summary mention can be made. The Chateau, a noble old pile of Louis the 14th’s date, was left with servants, and ultimately used to lodge an Etât Majeur. It was not ill‐treated. A large handsome villa on the summit of the hill was quite spoilt internally. A small house belonging to a relative was occupied, knocked about, but not page: 195 destroyed; but the house next to this, where I remember an old lady with a white cat and much handsome Indian china, was entirely gutted. From the floor of the salon, where the great tall Aladdin jars had proudly stood, the visitor looked up to the roof, with a view of the three fireplaces left in the wall one above the other.

I do not know by which route the Germans came into the village, whether by the lower road from Bougival, or by the upper road from Versailles; but the date was the 19th of September, when the gardens are in gorgeous array, and the woods are untouched. I only know that they must have fetched the keys of our house from the schoolmaster, and that they started with good intentions, for the commanding officer caused an inventory to be taken of everything in the house. Sixty soldiers were lodged in it, who must have indeed been in tight quarters. The officer settled into one of the two largest bedrooms; he had the drawing‐room curtains brought upstairs to drape his broad window; he also transferred the drawing‐room clock to his mantelshelf, and to this we owe its preservation. Even the large bell glass page: 196 which protected it was unbroken, when a smaller clock of white marble and ormolu was broken to pieces with a hammer, and the works taken away. To this unknown officer I feel that we owe gratitude for his good intentions, though he was in the sequel quite unable to carry them out, for it seems that the troops were constantly shifted.

When the German army had been in occupation on our hills for about a month, the sortie of the 13th of October took place. So far as we are able to understand what happened, the French poured out of Paris by way of Rueil and Mont Valerien, and met the Prussians somewhere near Bougival, from which all the inhabitants had been summarily sent away in the course of an afternoon. They were given four hours in which to pack and go. The French seem to have surged up through the steep little town, and to have fought desperately on the broad road below our house. The four nuns who keep our village school stuck gallantly to their dwelling, which they turned into a hospital. They were respectfully treated by the German soldiers, and the good women took in the wounded of both sides. Sœur Marie told me afterwards that fifteen legs page: 197 were amputated in one night. In our cemetery is a lonely grave, marked only with the initials and the regimental number of three German soldiers, and with the fatal date, the 13th of October. I believe this was the one occasion on which there was actual desperate fighting in our immediate neighbourhood, though bombs came flying over the village, and one shot by Mont Valerien whizzed over miles of tree‐tops and fell on a small room on the ground floor of the Chateau. The staff officer who sat writing at a bureau threw himself flat upon the floor, and while the window, the mantelshelf, and yards of the wall flew into splinters, he was unhurt.

Week after week went by, the scarlet geraniums died in the garden, the vine leaves became scanty on the wall, the frost of late autumn deepened in intensity, and the troops packed into our house began to suffer from cold. They cut away for firewood the upper part of an outside staircase which was sheltered under the deep eaves of a chalet standing on part of our ground; and then, when they wanted three little attic rooms under the roof, they set up a tree against the wall and climbed up like bears page: 198 at the Zoo. They wrenched an arm off several chairs, as handy to light up the fires, and they piled up such a quantity of wood in the fireplace of the drawing‐room that the parquet was literally charred in a great semicircle, and it was a miracle that on the day this happened the whole house was not burnt down. Another day they wrenched off a dressing‐room door, and a great piece of the wall came down with it. The village doctor, who remained through the whole time, told us afterwards that jorums of brandy were served out to the men in the worst of the weather. This filled his French medical mind with astonishment, and perhaps accounts for the strange things which occurred. For instance, they tore away one marble jamb of the dining‐room mantel, and with it they appeared to have pounded something on the tiled floor. They burnt the cupboard doors, and they carefully extracted every map of France wherever they found one, particularly from Murray’s Handbook in which were several! But I think that the strangest record of their presence was the condition of a small chandelier brought from Vienna by my dear friend the author of “Gossip page: 199 of the Century.” It was of Bohemian glass, a bowl with pendants, and very prettily coloured. Being of small size, it hung high on a hook in the centre of the ceiling. I found the pendants broken and the bowl intact! What sort of strange popgun had been employed by the idle troops, and what wonderful marksmen they must have been!

That our house was substantially preserved, was owing, I believe, to the presence of Dr. Russell, the correspondent of the Times at the headquarters at Versailles, to whom I wrote begging for his intercession. In spite of the strange ruin which fell upon our interior, not a single mirror was broken, nor were the pictures stolen with one exception. But a magnificent portrait en pied now in the French Gallery of the Louvre was stabbed five times on the black velvet robe, and another smaller portrait of a venerable ancestress was badly scratched by being wedged against a broken window to keep out the draught. Our fruit trees were not cut down, and a general intention had obtained of not gutting us for firewood! The mischief was of a smaller kind, and infinite in detail. For page: 200 instance, a polished bed of walnut wood was scarred with innumerable fine cuts, and on our return we wondered who had ornamented it, till we learned that the officers invariably lay down “booted and spurred.” More intentional, on the part of some idle trooper, was the running of a sharp knife up the kind face of Mrs. Beecher Stowe, on an engraving given by herself. It took the exact middle of the nose in perfect accuracy. As to the books, they were torn in an extraordinary manner. A large volume of biographies of literary ladies of all countries, executed in America and sent over to France by enthusiastic friends, was torn, defaced, and here and there adorned with flourishing moustaches! A similar volume of American “Queens of Society,” of which the frontispiece had been a beautiful engraving of Mrs. Martha Washington, was entirely despoiled. Presentation copies of works by Victor Hugo and Thiers, and a set of Byron given by Mr. Murray, were torn and injured. One precious object, a brown paper first edition of “Hernani,” with Victor Hugo’s autograph respects, did escape. It was found tossing in a cupboard in an attic, saved by its page: 201 shabby look and ancient date. But piles of autograph letters from nearly every writer of eminence in France, and from very many in England, carefully sorted, laid in a secretaire, and put aside by the mistress of the house for a literary grandson, were hopelessly sacrificed. They were found lying about in fragments in the garden, dirtied, torn, and charred. It was decided by those who first returned to the home that none of them could be picked up. They were shovelled aside and burnt.

Of the people who remained valiantly in the village a few strange and painful incidents may be recorded. I have already said that the nuns were well and respectfully treated. One of them having to go to Versailles for food and medicine, told me she had been carefully and politely driven over by a soldier. But when the beloved old curé was turned out of his presbytery and sent off to Versailles by night, some wretched wag tied two of his hens round the old man’s neck! The village doctor remained in his solitary house, and two officers were billeted upon him.

The first of his military inmates cleared off all his cups and saucers, and he laid in a fresh stock; page: 202 two more officers succeeded, and they also packed up and went off with his crockery, which seemed to be an article in much request; the third time he received new inmates he said he had no money, and they had to buy their dishes. When we came back the following June we found that Dr. Lemaire, who had always been a particularly trim, clean‐shaven elderly gentleman, had grown a long white beard. We looked with wonder at this unprofessional adjunct, and he told us that “his officers” had a trick (which sounded like a queer joke) of insisting on his procuring legs of mutton, not only for their own consumption, but for other favoured friends. When he assured them that he could get neither sheep nor special joints, they frowned ferociously, and said, “Take him out and shoot him.” Six times he was taken out, and respited! “After which,” said he, “I grew my white beard, thinking that it might soften their hearts.” Finally, when peace was made, the two last officers quartered upon him wished him good‐bye with effusion, hoped to see him if he ever travelled so far as Berlin, and solemnly presented their cards “for the ladies of the family” (who were safe at St. page: 203 Valery). The old doctor replied, wrathfully, “Oh! Ç’a non.” Which said in a certain manner is very like an expletive!

During the later weeks of the siege a very malignant form of small‐pox became epidemic at St. Germains, three miles off. A village woman caught it, and the Prussians nailed her up in a cottage, and vowed instant vengeance on anybody who should dare to break in. Our good Sœur Marie crept out at night and got soup and medicine through the crevices. The patient recovered; and it is fair to say that the officers had probably a shrewd notion that the nuns would manage the matter somehow in spite of their prohibition. Not so fortunate was the village innkeeper, a man of substance, whose chief customers had been wealthy Parisians coming out to dine on Sundays under the spreading limes in a picturesque courtyard. This well‐known inn was called the Tourne‐Bride. On the first appearance of the Prussians, an officer requisitioned the whole of the cellar. The wine was worth 10,000 francs, £400 of English money. Its loss and the stoppage of the business meant ruin to the unfortunate man. He moved with page: 204 his good wife into a small tavern two miles away, but it broke his heart, and he died at the end of a year.

Endless were the stories told us by our humbler friends. One woman who took her daughters off to her own family in Normandy, buried all her linen, which she had no means of carrying away, in a great tub. Of course it was discovered and dug up, and the linen was nowhere on her return. But the worst trouble of all happened at Bougival when François Duberg was taken for cutting the telegraph wires, tried by a court‐martial at Beauregard (a Chateau once in royal occupation, and a nursery for the children of France), and shot on a field above our house. He was a gardener by trade, carried no arms, but said, “he would do it again.” At the obelisk raised to his memory on the road, a discourse is every year pronounced in the early days of November. His wife, poor soul, went mad.

I have now set down after the lapse of five and twenty years the things which I saw and the things which were told me by my neighbours, and they are mostly such as do not pertain to page: 205 the great tragedies of war. Of these there were no lack, but I mostly heard of them by letter or read of them in print, and I have as yet strictly confined myself to my immediate oral knowledge. But one young friend of mine, a Breton of a noble family which sent five members to the field, contracted fever in the retreat from Orleans, and got back to his wife and to his old mother, just to die. He left two orphan children. Of our family, a cousin was dragged out dead from a heap at Sedan; both our own young mobiles suffered severely in health, and our “Premier Prix” felt the effect for years. Typhoid fever and lingering ill‐health are apt to strike lads suddenly deprived of proper food and exposed to days and nights of inclement weather. Another friend, a middle‐aged man, sent his young family away, but remained in Paris with an elder daughter who was dying of consumption and could not be moved. He nursed her to the end, and buried her, and sickened himself of small‐pox, of which he died. His wife and younger children at St. Valery knew nothing of what had happened for three weeks, and were in an agony of suspense, receiving no more balloon letters from Paris. At last a page: 206 cautious word reached them in a circuitous way from Belgium, and the wife nearly lost her reason. This unfortunate man was son‐in‐law to our excellent doctor, who, being himself outside Paris in our village, could only write to his daughter and his own old wife that he had “no news.”

Finally, of the very worst side of war a much younger medical man who afterwards succeeded Dr. Lemaire spoke to me with shuddering horror. He had been employed in an ambulance corps on the frontier, and at forty was an ageing grey‐haired man. He published a volume of reminiscences which for ghastliness is unsurpassed, for he possessed literary talent, in addition to medical skill. He said to me, apropos of his book, “Of course I would go through it again if necessary; but I look back on those weeks not only with unimaginable horror, but with unutterable disgust.”

And this I believe was the real impression left by the Franco‐German war. France certainly did not want it; and though Prince Bismark did want if, and planned how best to prick on an excitable people, it is impossible to page: 207 believe that the Germans wanted it. There were practically no wrongs to revenge; or whatever wrongs had formerly been done could be laid on the shoulders of that great Captain who cost us all so much blood and treasure that even the son of Queen Louise of Prussia was not justified in avenging them on peasants and shopkeepers sixty years after. War between two highly‐civilized nations is not only cruel, but profoundly shocking, and yet ever since the world’s literature began, there has existed a conspiracy of silence in favour of recording only the heroic aspects of war; but the reports of the English newspaper correspondents and the publication of even one book such as Doctor Pierre Boyer’s, have brought the truth nearer to the apprehension of general readers. A well‐dressed, intelligent woman whom I met in a railway carriage, and who seemed to be engaged in some successful commerce, said to me, with an expression of extreme disgust, apropos of the war, “Ce n’est plus dans nos mœurs”; and this feeling obtained far and wide. The French people did fight to the bitter end, and would do it again, but it would be with a reluctant anger difficult to describe. It would be unnatural page: 208 to expect that the Services, whose advancement and reputation depend on getting some one to fight with them, should share this feeling; but it is true of the vast masses of provincial French people, busy on their own concerns, prosperous in affairs, doting on their children, scrupulously particular in their dress, in their cooking, and in the conduct of all their ceremonies, marriages, baptisms, and funerals—people who are extremely civilized, from Boulogne in the north to Nice in the south, and who have no love either for the anarchist or the long‐haired Bohemian—these comfortable millions, though they will fight like lions when their blood is up, certainly feel that the bloodshed, the dirt and destruction, and the many abominable incidents of war ne sont plus dans leur mœurs.

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