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ney must proceed. None can be left out. He must neither slacken nor be weary. As he draws near at length, and we too bend at his approach, we can see the perspiration standing out in beads upon his forehead. The crowd about us thrills to the approaching wave of ecstasy. But for him it has been the wave's crest all the way along. And yet it is just this, as he tells us afterwards, that robs him of any thought of bodily fatigue. He is borne upwards upon it as upon a sea of visible and passionate belief. And he himself is supported by the very exaltation of all these ten thousand worshippers, that it has been his high privilege to arouse. Afterwards, in the quiet of the hotel, he may encounter the inevitable weariness of reaction, but out here his mission holds him tireless. So, finally, and to an ever-deepening note of almost agonized entreaty, he completes the long round, moves up towards the platform at the top, takes his stand before the assembled body of men and priests, and pronounces above the whole kneeling concourse the words of his last benediction. An immediate stillness falls over us, pro longs itself for a moment, and then, from a far corner there comes a sudden odd cry. The multitude of faces swings round like a leaf to the wind. A meek-faced little woman, who has been bed-ridden for fourteen years. rises up from her invalid chair, totters a few steps into the open space. Behold, she is a miraculée.
A few minutes later we are enabled to make our way through the surging crowd about the Bureau des Contesttations, the little room near the Grotto, where the doctors, always in attendance, receive and set down the testimonies of the patients, examine the evidences, laugh away gently the tooready protestations of a cure that are so frequently made, and admit to the records such as seem worthy of their
place. The crowd beats against the door, but inside there is a comparative calm, and we are allowed to examine the miraculées at our leisure, all women to-day, four of them, emerged from the thousands. The little meek-faced woman, with the rapture of her devotion still shining in her eyes, rises and shakes hands with us. The evidence of her bedridden years seems satisfactory, although we note that there appears to be no obviously insuperable physical reason why she should not have walked before. But no matter. The controversial side of Lourdes and its cures have been fought out on many arenas; and if we construe the miracle after another fashion we can still congratulate her very heartily upon the happy consummation. We stay a little while with the doctors, chatting about their work, impressed with the unfailing tenderness and sense of humanity with which they strike the practical note, that must inevitably come as something of an anti-climax to the scene that we have just been witnessing.
On the road to the hotel we overtake the bishop, wending a leisurely way back to dinner. Two Belgian women kneel down to kiss the big amethyst ring that is the sign of his office, the bond of their common Catholicity lying too deep for any interference of race or language. Must we believe these things? We know already that to do so is no essential canon of the Catholic faith, and this bishop, humblest of prelates, is yet something of a statesman. No doubt, he assures us, for every temporal blessing these poor folk receive they will receive twenty spiritual ones; and how can so great a faith be spent in vain? So we return together rather silently, and one of us, at any rate, with the conviction that he has been admitted to the inner sanctum of a great and vital creed. The details might have jarred perhaps upon a too
æsthetic purist; even the objective of it all, to the large majority, this apparently whimsical interference of the Divine Pity, after much beseeching, in the humdrum earthly ailments of so tiny a proportion, might have seemed crude beyond belief. Yet we knew that, for all that, these acres of sunbaked gravel had still been holy ground; while if this afternoon had been in any degree typical, then its consecration rested upon a tradition scarcely less sacred perhaps than that assigned to it by its most literal believers.
And yet perhaps, of all hours spent at Lourdes, it will not be this, but one later, that will remain longest in the memory of a brief visit-an hour that struck a note no less ardent than that of its predecessors, but with a certain added quality of rejoicing, that came as a fitting crown upon the day's devotion. Between eight and nine o'clock, as we drank our after-dinner coffee in the little boulevard, there came up to us the first bars of the Lourdes hymn, and presently between the trees we could see a growing myriad of tiny lights flashing about the Grotto. The hymn waxed stronger, Are, Are, Ave Maria-Ave, Ave, Ave Maria, with a slow and almost barbaric, yet joyful, monotony. And as we went down towards the scene of the afternoon's service, we could see it gathering shape, this giant procession of candle-bearers, men, women and children-French, Flemish, English, American, priests, peasants and gentry-moving towards us with no semblance of confusion, but after a settled plan, a river of light in the soft June darkness.
Above it the outlines of the Basilica had already been pencilled out in electric lights, its delicate spire, in a haze of pale-blue radiance, lifting itself up The Cornhill Magazine.
against the deepening violet of the sky. At the opposite end of the dim aren: the head of the carved Virgin was surrounded with a bright halo of tiny lamps; and upon the summit of the Pic du Ger, three thousand feet high over the little town, there blazed out among the stars a flaming cross, the last word, if one may so put it, in the stage-management, as though the very heavens themselves had declared themselves in worship. For an hour we stood there, while they filed past us, rank upon rank, each separate battalion of singers, renewing the melody of the hymn in all manner of different keys, and with a hundred varying accents, but never conveying the least impression of discord-a spectacle and chorus unique surely in two hemispheres. They were still singing when the bells struck nine, and it must have been nearly ten o'clock when at last the whole vast gathering assembled before the Rosary Chapel to recite the Credo with such an intensity of unquestioning conviction that our young priest of the morning, if he were present, must have felt his very being leap out to embrace them. It would have been the day's last note for him, no doubt--a note of triumphant justification. For ourselves, as we returned finally to our hotel there remained perhaps another one. In a shady corner, yet stil! in the very heart of all that had been taking place, we came accidentally upon a lover and his sweetheart. We saw him stooping in the act of bestowing upon her a very leisurely embrace -not an uncommon sight, perhaps, but one that gave us just then a distinct sensation of shock. It served, at any rate, to remind us how far, in twentyfour hours, we had diverged from a normal humanity.
H. H. Bashford.
THE INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON ROADS.
The first International Road Congress was held in Paris during the week which ended on Saturday, October 17. On the whole the congress may be pronounced a success, chiefly on account of the large number of interested visitors present, and from the fact that on certain points there was a strong consensus of opinion that roads can now be constructed to stand modern automobile traffic at slight additional cost, and that the two nuisances dust in summer and mud in winter can be greatly minimized in their extent.
The congress, though not wholly official, received the support of the French Government. The letters of invitation and explanatory circulars were sent out from the general secretary of the Ministère de Travaux publics; consequently the invitations were not confined to delegates sent by the Governments of the various countries represented, but were sent to representative public bodies, road authorities, automobile clubs, and to engineers and other members of the public who are likely to have knowledge and be interested in the great question of road communications.
The attendance at the meetings was generally very good; the rooms were crowded. As is usual, the hospitality shown by the French in the way of fêtes and excursions made the week very enjoyable to the French provincial visitors as well as to the foreign visitors. The first reception was at the Sorbonne, afterwards a grand evening reception at the Hôtel des Invalides, a gala performance at the Comédie Française, and a final sitting at the Sorbonne on Saturday morning announcing the results obtained.
The general procedure was as follows. Early in the year requests were
sent to all the interested countries that contributions should be submitted in the form of short papers, which would be printed and circulated previous to the congress, the substance of which would be collected by a reporter of each of the groups, and on which discussions would take place. The subjects on which these memoirs were invited were the following:-General reports on the construction and maintenance of existing roads, special reports on the cost of road-bed and methods of construction of roads; special reports on maintenance questions-on this group of construction and maintenance of roads thirty-two papers were Beceived, of which seven were by English contributors.
The second group of questions related to that part of road construction and maintenance which was rightly named at the congress "the present struggle against the wear and the dust." These included methods of cleaning and washing, and questions were specially put asking for experience in the use of tar or similar insoluble binding materials. Twenty-two papers were received in this group, five of them by English authors. Another group was on the roads of the future. On this question fifteen papers were received, none of them by English authors.
The remaining questions were those relating to traffic, damage caused to the roads by speed or by the weight of the vehicles, by pneumatic tyres, antiskidding devices and similar matters. To this question sixteen papers were specially addressed, half of them by Englishmen. Then came seven papers, all by Frenchmen, on road signalling and milestones; and finally six papers on public vehicles used on the roadway, including tramway services. Five of
these were by Frenchmen and one by a Spanish engineer.
Altogether ninety-eight papers were contributed, printed and circulated previous to the congress to all the subscribing members. This part of the work was splendidly done. The papers were sent in in their original language; in many cases they were completely translated; in some cases summaries were made in more than one language. It will be seen that about one-fifth of the whole of the papers came from England.
The discussions were divided into two sections, first those chiefly relating to road construction, and second those relating to the use of the roads and the vehicles running on them. They were held in the old tennis court at the corner of the Tuileries Gardens next to the Place de la Concorde, and on the plateau immediately surrounding this building were grouped a large number of modern appliances used on the roads, such as road rollers, road repairing machines, machinery for brushing and watering by horse-power and by automobile power, and lastly, a long array of machines for distributing tar or other bituminous compounds on the road to render it waterproof and dustless. Inside the building a number of smaller exhibits were shown of various road materials and specimens cut out of existing roads, the latter being chiefly found on a collective English exhibit.
The number of English professional visitors was very large. Among the English visitors were found chairmen of the county councils, many of the most prominent county engineers, with a large sprinkling of municipal men and of surveyors of the various rural districts. As might be expected, a very considerable number of these gentlemen were not sufficiently familiar with French to follow the debates, which for the most part were conducted in French.
At an early stage it became evident that the knowledge possessed by some of the English visitors was very valuable to the congress, but that there was a great risk of their experience being lost, so that it was decided to hold supplementary meetings of the English-speaking, i. e. the English and American, visitors, previous to the regular meetings, and this course, although at first sight it might have seemed as if the English-speaking races wished to be exclusive, turned out to be of use. The results of the discussions by the English-speaking sections were delegated to one or two speakers, who afterwards communicated them during the main debates. In this way some useful resolutions were carried which cannot now be given, as they were not printed or agreed to in detail when the writer left Paris immediately after the final sitting on Saturday; but, speaking generally, it may be said that a great many of these resolutions are of but small importance to us in England, as they relate to such well understood and generally agreed to subjects as the necessity of providing substantial concrete foundations underneath paved roadways, a form of construction which has been generally adopted in England for the last quarter of a century, and to methods of drainage and similar matters equally understood by us.
On a matter, however, of common
interest, that is, the substitution of tar or bituminous binding material in place of the water hitherto used to consolidate and hold together the road material, and which is conveniently dealt with under the French name “Goudronnage," the congress practically gave a unanimous answer. This was to the effect that if goudronnage be properly carried out; if the tar or similar material be chosen with reasonable care to avoid matter soluble in water. such as ammoniacal liquor remaining mixed in the tar so that it can be subsequently washed out by the rain or dried out in the form of crystals which might afterwards form an irritating dust; if the tar be put on in the correct quantity, and this quantity the smallest required to hold the individual stones of the road metal firmly in position, so that they never roll or move in relation to one another, and their upper surfaces are allowed to wear themselves bare of tar, it is not a difficult matter to obtain, at quite a moderate expense, a waterproof road which will not do any damage to vegetation, which will be practicallly dustless if it be swept at reasonable intervals from horse droppings or dust blown upon it from the adjoining land, and which need not be slippery, either to horse or to automobile traffic, whether the surface be wet or dry.
It appears certain also that by so dealing with the roadways their wear can be so greatly reduced that the annual cost of upkeep of roads so treated will be considerably less than the cost of the existing water-bound roads, of which so much of the material is lost by being blown away as dust in summer or washed away as mud in winter.
There can be no doubt that all engineers, English and Continental, are at one on this important question, and this in spite of the fact that many paragraphs, obviously inspired by those who wish to recommend other binding
materials, were widely circulated in the journals during the progress of the congress. It had been roundly asserted that tar was a palliative, but that on the whole its defects were greater than its advantages. Those who were present at the congress know that this is an incorrect statement; that such damage as has occurred to trees and vegetation, or inconvenience to passengers, such as irritation of the eyes and throat, which followed on the early applications of tar to the French roads during the Grand Prix race, was due to well understood causes, that is to say, to the use of crude tar and its application to a road surface which had already broken up, both of which faults the congress unanimously condemned.
It may be here remarked that owing to the cautiousness, and hence the reticence, of some of the most important of our road authorities, the true position of England, which now possesses the greatest lengths of carefully waterproofed roads of any country in the world, was not put forward so much as might have been the case.
It was interesting to converse with American engineers, who, on account of the importance of road development in America, are studying this question very closely, and to hear from them how much more they could learn by visiting our English roads than anywhere in France, at any rate near the capital. French engineers, although they have practised goudronnage to a considerable extent, have not been careful enough in excluding the ammoniacal liquor, and in many cases have put on the tar irregularly and in far too great a quantity; wherever this is the case softening in hot weather and slipping in wet weather is likely to follow.
Before the congress closed the question of the next congress was talked of. and it appears likely to be held in