The Healing of Nations and the Hidden Sources of Their Strife eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 168 pages of information about The Healing of Nations and the Hidden Sources of Their Strife.

The British officer who the other day picked up a wounded German soldier and carried him across into the German lines, acted in quite the same spirit.  He saw that the man had been left accidentally when the Germans were clearing away their wounded; and quite simply he walked forward with the object of restoring him.  But it cost him his life; for the Germans, not at first perceiving his intention, fired and hit him in two or three places.  Nevertheless he lifted the man and succeeded in bearing him to the German trench.  The firing of course ceased, and the German colonel saluted and thanked the officer, and pinned a ribbon to his coat.  He returned to the British lines, but died shortly after of the wounds received.

“Ils sont superbes, ces braves!” said a French soldier in hospital to Mrs. Haden Guest, indicating the German wounded also there.  And a dying German whispered to her:  “I would never have fought against the French and English had I known how kind they were.  I was told that I was only going on manoeuvres!"[29]

The French are generous in the recognition of bravery.  A small company rushed a Prussian battery in the neighbourhood of the Aisne and put all the gunners out of action, except one who fought gamely to the last and would not give in till he was fairly surrounded and made prisoner. “Tu est chic, tu—­tu est bien chic” shouted the pioupious with one accord, and shook him cordially by the hand as they led him away.  How preposterous do such stories as these make warfare appear!—­and others, such as the two opposing forces tacitly agreeing to fetch water at the evening hour from an intervening stream without molestation on either side; or the two parties using an old mill as a post-office, by means of which letters could pass between France and Germany in defiance of all decent war-regulations!  How they illustrate the absolutely instinctive and necessary tendency of the natural man (notwithstanding occasional bouts of fury) to aid his fellow and fall into some sort of understanding with him!  Finally the fraternizations last Christmas between the opposing lines in Northern France almost threatened at one time to dissolve all the proprieties of official warfare.  If they had spread a little farther and lasted a little longer, who knows what might have happened?  High politics might have been utterly confounded, and the elaborate schemes of statesmen on both sides entirely frustrated.  Headquarters had, through the officers, to interfere and all such demonstrations of amity to be for the future forbidden.  Could anything more clearly show the beating of the great heart of Man beneath the thickly overlying husks of class and class-government?  When, oh! when indeed, will the real human creature emerge from its age-long chrysalis?


[27] And even the hundred and one humane Associations of to-day derive a great part of their enthusiasm and vitality from fighting each other!

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The Healing of Nations and the Hidden Sources of Their Strife from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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