Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

but beaten in battle, she would be all interested quite as much as the head, right again within two years, for her ma- French mothers might: perhaps jump at terial elasticity is prodigious, and her re- the new sensation which they would expecuperative power almost unlimited. But rience by setting the example, as far as in her malady is graver than defeat — it is in them lay, of a change in the exis ing forms the very heart-blood of her people. They of example and teaching. French women have gone in for money-making, and for of our generation are not, however, Roman easy pleasurable existence with small ex- matrons. They attach a vastly higher pen-e. They have been pursuing little price to the conservation of home joys, as things and little ends, and they have grown they view them, than to the salvation of incapable of big ones. They have suddenly the State. The latter, according to their been overwhelmed by a staggering disas- appreciation, concerns the Governinent. ter, and they can neither face it coolly Centralization has suffocated patriotizm, nor deal with it practically. Two gener- in the real meaning of the word. Mothers atious of vitiated education have led them strive to make good sons, not to make unknowingly to this. The late Emperor good citizens or solid men. The affections confirmed the debasing system, but he did are placed upon an altar in France : all not originate it. It came in with Lou's that can contribute to their development Philippe. if not with Charles X. If France and their display is sought for not only is content to produce agreeable men and eagerly, but naturally; all that can charming women, to show Europe how to strengt hen and adorn their manifestation talk and dress, and to set up science and is carefully watched and practised — so art as the objects of her public life, then much so, indeed, that notwithstanding the she can go on as she is, without a change: indisputable sincerity of family attachbut if she wants to seize her place once inents in France, there almost seems to be more as a great political power; if she a certain amount of acting in the way in wishes to regain the respect and esteem which they are exhibited. Emotions may of the world, instead of asking only for its be said to have become the object of existsympathy; if she desires to reign, and not ence; and emotions imply so much exterto amuse and please, then she must be- nal exposition, especially where they are gin by remodelling the whole education unchecked, that whether their direction be of her boys. There is no reason why her tragic or coinic, they often assume a somehome life should be affected by such a what theatrical character, which may inchange: it would not necessarily become duce the erroneous impression that they graver or less lightsome; there would not are put on more than they are really felt. be less laughter or less love; the boys | If this powerful leverage could be applied need not lose their present merits be- for a healthy purpose; if, by a reaction cause they would acquire new ones. consequent upon bitter experience, it

If so radical a modification in the whole could be set to work to elevate principles tendencies and habits of the nation can be to the rank of sensations; if thereby pure brought about at all, it is far more likely duty could be raised to a par with love, to be effected by the women than by the and manly self-devotion to an equality

Frenchwoinen, as has been already with tenderness, then we might hope to observed, are generally capable of noble see France rally. There seems to be no action; they are singularly unselfish; and, other way out of the iness into which she despite their sensibility, they would not has fallen: the first step towards a solurest content with their present highly- tion must be made by the mothers. strained adoration of the gentler elements If we turn from these considerations to of character, if ever they could be led to the purely home aspect of the question, see that something higher could be added we must acknowledge that it presents a to it in their sons. It is to them, to their very different picture. On that side of aid, that the true friends of France should the subject nearly everything is pleasant appeal. They cannot themselves upset and attractive. The French get out of the unworthy schools where their boys are their home ties pretty nearly all that now taught how not to become real men; home can give ; and if they do not attain but they can so agitate the question that perfection the fault does not lie with them, their bu-bands will be forced to take it up or with their system, but in the impossiand deal with it. The influence of women bility of making anything complete by huneed not be purely social and moral : in man means. The importance assigned to moments of national crisis it ought to be children, their early and constant interexercised for other ends; and in the par- mingling with their parents' daily existicular case before us, where the heart is 'tence, the rapid growth them of the

men.

we

qualities which repay and consequently and their villages ? Will any one mainstimulate affection, --- all this is practical tain that they came and drew up in lines as well as charıning. Boys and girls alike facing our guns for their private satisfacare taught that 'home is a nest in which tion, with an officer behind them, pistol in they are cherished, and which all its in- hand, to shoot them in the back if they mates are bound to adorn to the best of gave way? Do you suppose they found their ahility; and if we could forget that any amusement in this ? Come now, was all this enfeebles men, and renders them not his excellency Monsieur Ollivier the unfit for the outside struggle, we might, only man who went into war, as he himnot unjustly, say that the French plan is self said, “ with a light heart?” He was the right one. But we cannot forget; the safe to come back, he was he had not facts and the results glare at us too dis much to fear; he is quite well; he made a tinctly. We can acknowledge, if our in- fortune in a very short time! But the lads dividual prejudices enable us to do so, of our neighborhood, Mathias, Heitz, Jean that the system looks excellent for girls ; Baptiste Werner, my son Jacob, and hunbut we must maintain our conviction that dreds of others, were in no such hurry it is deplorable for boys, and that to it they would much rather have stayed in must be assigned a large part of the re- their villages. sponsibility of the past disasters and pres- Later on it was another matter, when ent disorder of France.

you were fighting for your country; then, of course, many went off as a matter of duty, without being summoned, whilst Monsieur Ollivier and his friends were bid

ing. God knows where! But at that parFrom The Cornhill Magazine.

ticular moment, when all our misfortunes

might have been averted, it is a falsehood STORY OF THE PLEBISCITE.

to say that we went enthusiastically to TOLD BY ONE OF THE SEVEN MILLION FIVE HUN- have ourselves cut to pieces for a pack of DRED THOUSAND WHO VOTED " YES. intriguers and stage-players, whom

were just beginning to find out.

When we saw our son Jacob, in bis The day following this declaration, blouse, his bundle under his arm, come Cousin George, who could never look upon into the mill, saying, "Now, father, I am anything cheerfully started for Belfort. going; you must not forget to pull up the He had ordered some wine at Dijon, and dam in half-an-hour for the water will he wished to stop it from coming. It was be up:" when he said this to me, I tell the 22nd July — George only returned five you my heart trembled; the cries of his days after, on the 27th, having had the inother in the room behind male my hair greatest difficulty in getting there in stand on end; I could have wished to say time.

a few words, to cheer up the lad, but my During these five days I had a hard tongue refused to move; and if I had hetů time. Orders were coming every hour to his excellency, M. Ollivier or his respected hurry on the reserves and the Gardes master by the throat in the corner, they Mobiles, and to cancel renewable fur- would have made a queer figure – I loughs ; the gendarmerie had no rest. The should have strangled them in a moment! Government gazette told us of the enthu- At last Jacob went. siasm of the nation for the war - it was All the young men of Sarrebourg, of pitiable; cannot you imagine young men Château Salins, and our neighbourhood, sitting quietly at home, thinking: “In five fifteen or sixteen hundred in number, were or six months I shall be exempt from ser- at Phalsbourg to relieve the 81th, who at vice, I may marry, settle, earn money ; any moment might expect to be called and who, without either rhyme or reason, away, and who were complaining of their all at once become enthusiastic to go and colonel for not claiming the foremost rank knock over men they know nothing of, for his regiment. The officers were afraid and to risk their own bones against them. of arriving too late; they wanted pronoIs there a shadow of good sense in such tion, crosses, medals; fighting was their notions?

trade. And the Germans! Will any one per- What I have said upon enthusiasm is suade us that they came for their own true - it is equally true of the Germans pleasure, all these thousands of workmen, and the French; they had no desire to extradesmen, manufacturers, good citizens, terminate one another. Bisinarck and our who were living in peace in their towns 'honest man alone are responsible ; at their

IV.

[ocr errors]

use.

door lies all the blood that has been of the Prussians carries further and is shed.

worked more rapidly than ours, which Cousin George returned from Belfort on would enable the Germans to dismount the 27th in the evening. I fancy I still our batteries and our mitrailleuses withsee him entering our room at nightfall; out getting any harm themselves. It Grédel had returned to us the day before, seems that our great man never thought and we were at supper, with the tin lamp of that." upon the table; froin my place, on the Then George began to laugh, and, as we right, near the window, I was able to said nothing, he went on : " And the enemy watch the mill-dam. George arrived. the Prussians, Bavarians, Badeners,

“ Ah! cousin, here yon are back again ! Wurtembergers, the Courrier du Bas-Rhin Did you get on all right???

declares that they are coming by regiments Yes, I have nothing to complain of,” and divisions from Frankfort and Munich said he, taking a chair. “ I arrived just in to Rastadt, with guns, munitions, and protime to countermand my order, but it was visions in abundance ; that all the country only by good luck. What confusion all swarms with them from Karlsruhe to Bathe way from Belfort to Strasbourg ! the den; that they have blown up the bridge troops, the recruits, the guns, the horses, of Kehl, to prevent us from outflanking the munitions of war, the barrels of bis-them; that there are not troops enough cuits, all are arriving at the railway in at Wissembourg. But what is the use of heaps. You would not know the country. complaining ? Our commander-in-chief Orders are asked for everywhere. The knows better than the Courrier du Bastelegraph-wires are no longer for private Rhin; he is an iron-clad fellow, who takes

The commissaries don't know where no advice : a man must have some courage to find their stores, colonels are looking to offer him advice !” for their regiments, generals for their And all at once, stopping short, “ Chrisbrigades and divisions. They are seeking tian, I have come to give you advice.” for salt, sugar, coffee, bacon, meat, saddles " What? and bridles — and they are getting charts “ Hide all the money you have got; for, of the Baltic for a campaign in the Vosges ! from what I have seen down there, in a Ob!” cried my cousin, uplifting his hands, few days the enemy will be in Alsace.” " is it possible? Have we come to that- Imagine my astonishment at hearing we! we! Now it will be seen bow expen- these words. George was not the man to sive is a government of thieves! I warn joke about serious matterį, nor was he a you, Christian, it will be a failure! Per- timid man; on the contrary, you would haps there will not even be found rifles in have to go far to find a braver man. the arsenals after the hundreds of millions Therefore, fancy my wife's and Grédel's voted to get rifles. You will see will see !"

What, George,” said I, “ do you think He had begun to stride to and fro ex- that possible? citedly; and we, sitting on our chairs, “ Listen to me," said he. “When on were looking at him open-mouthed, staring the one side rou see none but empty befirst right and then left. His anger rose ings, without education, without judgment, higher and higher, and he said, “ Here is prudence, or method; and on the other the genius of our honest man! He con- men who for fifty years have been preparducts everything; he is our Commander-ing a mortal blow — anything is possible. in-Chief. A retired artillery captain, with Yes, I believe it; and in a fortnight the whom I travelled from Schlestadt to Stras- Germans will be in Alsace. Our mounbourg, told me that in consequence of the tains will check them, the fortresses of bad organization of our force, we should Bitche, of Petite Pierre, of Phalsbourg and be unable to place more than two hundred Lichtenberg, the abattis and the intrenchand fifty thousand men in line along our ments which will be formed in the passes, frontier from Luxembourg to Switzerland; the ambuscades of every kind which will and that the Germans, with their superior be set, the bridges and the railway tunnels and long-prepared organization, could op- that they will blow up – all this will prepose to us, in eight days, a force of five to vent them from going further for three or six hundred thousand men, so that they four months until winter; but, in the will be more than two to one at the out- meantime, they will send this way reconset; and they will crush us in spite of the noitring parties — Uhlans, hussarz, brigvalour of our men. This old Officer, full ands of every kind — who will snap up of good sense, and who has travelled in everything, pillage everywhere – wheat, Germany, told me besides that the artillery 'flour, bay, straw, bacon, cattle, and prin

- you alarm.

[ocr errors]

cipally money. War will be made upon! Michel. This man told me that the Moour backs. We Alsacians and Lorrainers, biles had not yet been called out, and that we shall have to pay the bill. I know all they were lounging from one public-house about it. I have been all over the coun- to another in gangs to kill time; that they try-side : believe me. Hide everything; had received no rifles; that they were not that is what I mean to do; and, if any- quartered in the barracks; and that they thing happens, at least it will not be our did not get a farthing for their food. fault. I would not go to bed without giv- This disorder disgusted me; and I reing you this warning; so good-night, flected that an Emperor who sends for all Christian - good-night, everybody!" the young men in harvest-time, ought at

He left us, and we sat a few moments least to feed them, and not leave them to gazing stupidly at each other. My wife be an expense to their parents. For all and Grédel wanted to hide everything that that I sent money to Jacob. I could not very night. Grédel, ever since she had got allow him to suffer hunger; but it was a her Jean Baptiste Werner into her head, trouble to my mind to keep him down thought of nothing but her marriage-por- there with my money, sauntering about tion. She knew that we had about a hun- with his hands in his pockets, whilst I, at dred louis in cent-sous pieces in a basket at my age, was obliged to carry sacks up the bottom of the cupboard: she said to into the loft, to fetch them down again, to herself, · That's my marriage-portion !" load the carts alone, and, besides, to watch And this troubled her more than anything. the mill; for no one could be met with She even grew bolder, and wanted to keep yow, and the old day-labourer, Donadieu, the keys herself; but her mother is not a quite a cripple, was all the help I had. woman to be led. Every minute she cried: After that, only imagine our anxiety, our “ Take care, Grédell mind what you are fatigue, and our embarrassment to know about!”

what to do. She looked daggers at her; and I was The other people in the village were continually obliged to come and maintain not in better spirits than ourselves. The peace between them, for Catherine is not old men and women thought of their sons gifted with patience. And so all our shut up in the town, and the great drought troubles came together.

continuing, we could rely upon nothing. But, in spite of what George_had just The small-pox had broken out too. Nothbeen saying, I was not afraid. The Ger- ing would sell, nothing could be sent by mans were less than sixteen leagues from railway – planks, beams, felled timber, us, it is true, but they would have first to building-stone, all lay there at the saw-pits cross the Rhine; then we knew that at or the stone-quarry. The sous-préfet kept Niederbronn the people were complaining on troubling me to search and find out of the troops cantoned in the villages : this three or four scamps who had not reportwas a proof that there was no lack of sol-ed themselves, and the consequence of all diers; and then MicMahon was at Stras- this was that I did not get to Saverne that bourg; the Turcos, the Zouaves, and the week. Chasseurs d'Afrique were coming up.

Then it was announced that at last the So I said to my wife that there was no Emperor had just quitted Paris, to place hnrry yet; that Cousin George had long himself at the head of his armies; and five detested the Emperor; but that all that or six days after came the news of his did not mean much; and that it was bet- great victory at Sarrebrück, where the ter to see things for oneself; that I should mitrailleuses had mown down the Prusgo to Saverne market, and, if things sians; where the little Prince had picked looked bad, then I would sell all our corn up bullets, “ which made old soldiers shed and flour, which would come to a hundred tears of emotion." louis, and which we would bury directly On learning this the people became with the rest.

crazy with joy. On all sides were heard My wife took courage; and if I had not cries of “ Vive l’Empereur!” and Monhad a great deal to grind for the bakers in sieur le Curé preached the extermination our village, I should have gone next day of the heretic Prussians. Never had the to Saverne, and I should have seen what like been seen. That very day, towards was going on. Unfortunately, ever since evening, just after stopping the mill, all at Frantz and Jacob had left, the mill was on once I heard in the distance, towards the my hands, and I scarcely had time to turn road, cries of “ Aux armes, citoyens ! formez round.

vos bataillons !Jacob was a great trouble to me be- The dust from the road rose up into the sides, asking for money by the postman clouds. It was the 84th departing from

[merged small][ocr errors]

Phalsbourg; they were going to Metz, took the place of honour - everybody
and the people who were working in the wanted to treat them.
fields, near the road, said, in returning at I had never before seen any of these
night, that the poor soldiers, with their men; their yellow skins, their thick lips, the
knapsacks on their shoulders, could scarce- conspicuous whites of their eyes, surprised
ly march for the heat, that the people me; and I said to myself, seeing the long
were treating them with eau-de-vie and strides they took with their thin legs, that
wine at all the doors in Metting, and that the Germans would find them unpleasant
they said, “ Good-bye ! long life to you!” neighbours. Their officers, too, with their
that the officers, too, were shaking hands swords at their sides, and their pointed
with everybody, whilst the people shouted, beards, looked splendid soldiers. At every
* Vive l'Empereur !"

public-house door, a few Chasseurs d'Af Yes, this victory of Sarrebrück had rique had tied their small light horses, changed the face of things in our villages; all alike, and beautifully formed like deer. the love of war was returning. War is No one refused them anything; and in all always popular when it is profitable, and directions, in the inns, the talk was of amthere is a prospect of extending our own bulances and collections for the wounded. territory into other people's countries. Well, seeing all this, George's ideas

That night, about nine o'clock, I went seemed to me more and more opposed to caution my cousin to hold his tongue; to sound sense, and I felt sure that we for after this great victory one word were going to crush all resistance. against the dynasty might send him a very About two o'clock, having dined at the long way off. He was alone with his wife, Bæuf. I took the way to the village through and said to me, “ Thank you, Christian, I Phalsbourg, to see Jacob in passing. As I have seen the despatch. A few brave fel- went up the hill, soinething glittered from lows have been killed, and they have time to time on the slope through the shown the young Prince to the army. woods, when all at once hundreds of That poor little weakly creature has picked cuirassiers came out upon the road by the up a few bullets on the battle-field. He Alsace fountain. They advanced at a slow is the heir of bis uncle, the terrible captain pace by twos, their helmets and their of Jena and Austerlitzi Only one officer has cuirasses threw back flashes of light upon been killed; it is not much; but if the heir all the trees, and the trampling of their of the dynasty had had but a scratch, the hoofs rolled like the rush of a mighty gazettes would have shed tears, and it river. would have been our duty to fall fainting.” Then I drew my waggon to one side to

" Do try to be quiet,” said I, looking to see all these men march past me, sitting see if the windows were all close. “Do immovable in their saddles as if they were take care, George. Don't commit your sleeping, the head inclined forward, and self to Placiard and the gendarmes.” the moustaches hanging, riding strong,

* Yes,” said he, “the enemies of the dy- square-built horses, the canvas bag susnasty are at this moment in worse danger pended from the side, aud the sabre ringthan the little Prince. If victories go on, ing against the boot. Thus they filed past they will run the risk of being feathered me for half-an-hour. They extended their pretty closely. I am quite aware of that, long lines, and stretched on yet to the my cousin ; and so I thank you for having Schlittenbach. I thought there would be come to warn me."

no end to them. Yet these were only two This is all that he said to me, and I re- regiments; two others were encamped turned home full of thoughts.

| upon the glacis of Phalsbourg, where I arNext day, Thursday, market-day, I rived about five in the afternoon. They drove my first two wagon-loads of flour to were driving the pickets into the turf with Saverne, and sold them at a good figure. axes; they were lighting fires for cooking; That day I observed the tremendous move- the horses were neighing, and the townsment along the railroads of which cousin people — men, women, and children George had spoken: the carriage of mi- were standing gazing at them. trailleuses, guns, chests of biscuits, and I passed on my way, reflecting upon the the enthusiasm of the people pouring out strength of such an army, and pitying, by wine for the soldiers.

anticipation, the ill-fated Germans whom It was just like a fair in the principal they were going to enconnter. Entering street, from the château to the station- a through the gate of Germany; I saw the fair of little white loaves and sausages ; officers looking for lodging3, the Gardes but the Turcos, with their blue jackets, Mobile, in blouses, mounting guard. They their linen trousers, and their scarlet caps,'had received their rifles that morning; and

VOL. XXIV. 1112

LIVIXG AGE.

« ZurückWeiter »