Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

7 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



THE HOMES OF FRANCE. Their Glory and Their Grandeur. [BY CAPT. D. D. SHEEHAN, M.P.] I had heard much of French thrift and industry before the war, but if I had not seen it for myself I could never have believed that any people in the world could be so intensely practical and so thoroughly hard-working. We are so occupied with ourselves and our own difficulties of food production and rationing and the like that we scarcely ever stop to think how is it faring with our Allies? How are the French situated as regards these things, and has the Minister of Agriculture the same diffi- culties that try the soul of our own Mr. Prothero? During the two years I was in France I never saw any lack of home-grown food in any part of it, and the Northof France particularly was beautifully cultivated. There was scarcely a rood of land that was not under the plough. Of course, agri- cultural conditions there are far different from what they are in this benighted land, where the farmer and landowner alike have been left to rule it along in the good old, stolid, indifferent British fashion. France is a nation of small peasant proprietors, who are bred and brought up to the business of extracting the last possible ounce of productivity out of the soil. It is of the industry and activities of the French peasantry I would write. When we had done,our turn of duty in the trenches, we were frequently sent to rest and recuperate in what are colloquially termed back billets." The men were for the most part distributed in the barns and unoccupied houses of the place, whilst the officers, more favoured, were billeted in the homes of the people. And so it came to pass that we became very intimate with their manner of living. We got to understand their habits and their customs. We saw them under every changing cir- cumstance of their daily routine and, speaking for myself, a great respect, esteem, and, I may add, even affection sprung up within me for those hardy, wholesome, untiring folk, who knew the value of work and who seamed to find in the performance of duty its own absolute and sufficient blessing. I am all for giving Labour in this O country its due and proper reward. I fwear against sweated conditions, imposed by an inhuman shark for his own aggran- disement. But what do these wonderful Frerch people do voluntarily and as the i merest matter of course? Summer and winter they are up at five o'clock in the morning, and sometimes earlier. They are tending their cattle, and looking after their household affairs. They are up and about! And their children, down to a very young age, share and assist in their labours. The discipline of the young by the French mother must be seen to be believed. I do not know how the children of France regard the tie of fatherhood. The fathers were all away at the wars in my experience. But the mothers exact the most implicit obedience, and will not hesitate to visit an offender with chastise- ment, even in the presence of a stranger. And it is the mothers and the children and the grandfathers who have tilled the land of France whilst the fathers and the sons and the brothers and the sweethearts are away doing the soldier's duty-fight- ing for the beloved Motherland. The soul of France is a beautiful thing, and I have often wondered who keep it most vivified with the light of eternal and unfading grandeur—the men who so gloriously lay down their lives or the women who so gladly and grandly give the offering of their daily and nightly service that France may live and liberty endure Enough that these things are, and that we should take inspiration from them. The best that we can do-let there be no mistake or misunderstanding about it- will not outrival the commonplace cf French life as I saw it in war-time. The French live well and wholesomely. They never sti-it themselves or their children of 2'ood and sufficient food. Cafe au lait. Well. I winder how our Tommies are going to do without it when they come back to dear Old England for good and all ? Ard hew would our British mothers relish the thought of giving their children a glass of good red wine for dinner and supper? I can imagine them thinking of the delicate stomachs of their dear ones, or perhaps speculating upon the danger? that an early acquaintance with drink is likely to provoke. But what is the fact ? France, whose children have their daily glass or two of wine, is the most sober country in the world, and is also the most vivacious. It understands life, and it has the joy cf life—and, be it noted, there is no nation in the world readier to sacrifice for great cadres when the great call comes. These, however, are digressions. My purpose was to let those who will read thip which I write know that the women cf France have literally put their hands to the plough when their men-folk were rot there to do fO. Thev have cared for the Foil, and watered the kine, and tended the herd? and flocks, and kept the windmills ever merrilv goirg with the corn that they reaped. Their labours, have borne fruit abundantly. A new France, a glorious France, a ftainless France, must arise out cf the 1 dust of this awful conflict. May we, emulating the women and children of France in their humility as well as in their glory of labour, and in the uncomplaining way in which they bear their burden, be equally worthy of a great destiny, l


_.----------BY THE WAY.