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ROUND THE CAULDRON

No. 11. (For the 1 Evening Star’—Copyright.) [By E. S. Hole.] It is 2 fc<tlock. Thursday morning. and I write it the waiting room of the station at Mcutout. where 1 have just arrived from .Marseilles, and whence I depart, at 6 o'clock for Vbiiimilla. on the Italian frontier a few miles hence. I left Paris at midnight on Monday, and arrived at Marseilles at 8.30 on Wednesday morning, and left Marseilles at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. I have thus reached this waiting room with only on? break of seven and a-half hours since leaving Paris, and the trains have religiously stopped at every station on the whole length of tho route. As I writ* T am surrounded by Italian men, women, and children, whom the ptesoni situation cabs or drives back to Italy, and as 1 hear the crying children, rce the heaps of bags and boxes containing the effects of these poor people, and watch the sprawling forme of men and wenien_ spread over the benches of this room i feel m\ heart moved l» a. move passionate anger ilia never against that mad Imperial hum tic, that political " peaky blinder" whese ymK egotism is the prime cause of ail this turmoil and anguish which lias passe*! before my eyes in these Lied few days, and all the far mure terrible sufferings wliieh ate ro near, ‘‘.lam satis'’ I could cry' with all my soul, but know' that there is mere and worse to come. And thou, oh France, how can I over ho ( .e to express all that I have felt as I passed across the entire breadth of thy fair and teiTie bosom I It om imt to (w-uth. from Boulogne to Mentone, these eyes have everywhere seen signs of fervent. active, unlhnitlug effort in unison cowards the rum great common end. It is impossible for this mind of mine to predict what success awaits, ihy arms in the Helds which yet lie 1.-eiore them, but this poor pen of mine can at Inst pay its humble tribute to the united patriotic j fervor and unseltish, unstinting, uugtudg- ; ing, and unremitting saeritices of a people j I find to be far greater than I ever t calked ; before. A nation's whole manhood under j inns, bullishy suspended. crops jeopar- i jised. everything place*! far subordinate to j the call of ' ha- Paine." On the whole 1 length of this journey these eyes have | seen every bridge, every station, e\erv | tunnel guarded by the weapoued bauds and watchful eyes of patient sentries. In the darkness oi midnight the lights from the Russian train have disclosed the silent, patient figure of the lonely sentry in the old familiar "Culottes Hougrt?" and the blue overcoat, which seems not t<> have changed a button since the days of Petit Gaporal." A cal mand a thoughtful reserve has fallen mi thee, O Marianne, a.nd 1 recognise in thee iho greatness of true motherh*x)d. In my passage hither I have spoken with j many men ami women, (due and all have conveyed an impression of tense earnestness and serious confidence, )>nt not one tangle word or sign of braggadocio have I heard or seen. Occasionally a passing train of troops bound for the frontier has been covered by the humorous chalk inscriptions conveying the sentiments of its occupants, being mostly variations upon i the theme “ train do plainer a. Berlin, ’’ but 1 nil such manifestations of national determination are mono than justifiable, and whether they got, to Berlin or not the spirit which designates them " trains de plaisir” ia a truly great one. France has not desired this war, it has entered upon it with a spirit of half-wistful recognition of the fact that it must win, and it acts accordingly. I here is a national elan which grows visibly stronger with each passing hour, and it only needs the man who is big enough to say " A lions, m-s enfants," and I know that 40 Germanics would prove as weak as tissue paper against the shock. Daily the personality of (General Jotli-e grows more and mow fascinating to the French, and I have a halfiomred conviction that be is the. man who can achieve this miracle, and one great victory ale no will enable bln: To do it. Ardent is the word which I would apply to every soldier with whom I have spok-n, and it is impossible for me to convey the spirit of intense determination which lie--- j l*hind these men. The Latin and Teuton ino at death’s grips, and bath recognise it. The one great thought which I find to he universal among the French is the fixed idea that Germany thought if had ••caught France sleeping," whereas it was never move wide awake and never belter prepared. For the hist time in its history as a nation the whole of 'French manhood is armed and accoutred, ami •-very man between the ages of 18 and 48 j* now a soldier of his country, except those whom alwwluto necessity retains in other employment. But. those are very few, am! this few envies those who are about the armed service of the motherland. There is something strangely feline about the whole general impression conveyed by the national and military spirit here, just os there is something canine about the corresponding impression of Germany. In 1870 tho dog having managed at one bite to grip the cat by the "scruff of tinneck,’’ the resultant combat was bad tor the cat; but. this time, fighting with care-fully-guarded neck, it is probable that the rapid execution of both feline teeth mid feline daws will (.tagger and battle the somewhat stodgy canine opponent. The sacrifices which Franco is making in tide trouble are enormous. To me they at© incalculable. The whole fair country is an armed camp. There is no thought other than that of victory over tho aggressor. Cost what it may. such victory must and shall be. won. Those things on which the Frenchman prides himself ate now neglected, and of no importance. " Aux n,rir.es, citoyv-ns.” rrsounds everywhere, and everywhere is a happy and ungrudging response. At Dijon, Chalons, Lyons, Avignon. and other intervening stations the platforms resounded with tin- clank of arms, and at the smaller stations sonic draft or contingent stood ready to depart. At one station I saw a record of the numbers which had gone forward from various centres that day (the 17th day of ■niohilisationl. and the figures surprised me. Every available man is apparently being rushed into the fighting line in the one treat storm centre, with adequate guard Left over for the interna! strategic points and lines of communication. In the British Army we used to recognise two styles of discipline. There was the " regim-ental” style, and there was another style- which wo eloquently designated ’’ Batfei tv's rules.” Now. ! have always regarded the French army ae being run on the "Rafferty’s rules." but I now discern that behind the apparent laxity which _ applies only to inessentials there is a form of discipline of a higher typo than that of the mere machine-drilled automaton. It. is a discipline begoiWii of voluntary and complete recognition, of a unity of purpose between troops and officers, and a common love for the great motherland, a-nd it is a form ot discipline which tho battlefield will try and not find wanting. An acute observer has written that the greatest tragedy in French history lias been the accidental rhyming of the words " (Moire” and " Victoire.” But in this unsought war I believe that the tragic effect, of these words will be far secondary to their real value, and let us hope they mar bo rhvmed ad infinitum m the songs which shall be written after the war Is over. It is of note, by the way, worthy that tho French Government have mad© arrangements for the costless repatriation of destitute aliens, and also for the free transport of those whom the war has found at a distance from districts in which they have friends or relations who cohmT assist them. In actual operations fhfe is a real economy both for the Goi vermnent and local relief authorities, and ; some modification of tho same idea might ■well be applied to England. Further, the sole of absinthe has been forbidden in Paris during the war, and the same ordinance Is being adopted by local authorities throughout the country. The mooiliaarion of foreign corps of volunteers wHEng: to serve France for the war will commence on the 21st of August., and bids fair to become a strong fighting force in the campaign. The actual organisation fa being undertaken by voluntary associations. .Kentone, September 18.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141030.2.16

Bibliographic details

ROUND THE CAULDRON, Issue 15637, 30 October 1914

Word Count
1,455

ROUND THE CAULDRON Issue 15637, 30 October 1914

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