The old Austria is dead, and from her grave, which Italian hands have dug, are rising up new nations, the future comrades of the old nations and of Italy, who in these bloody years has grown from youth to full manhood. It has been said that a nation is a friendship, and the common life of nations in the future must also be a friendship, necessarily less intimate but in no way less real. The youth of the world must never be called to swim again, with old age on its back, through seas of needless death to the steep and distant cliffs of military victory. There must be no more secret plots, nor seeming justification of plots, by little groups of elderly men against the lives and happiness of young men everywhere. The world must be made safe for justice and for youth.
* * * * *
Youth was rejoicing that night in Italy, when the war against Austria ended. And not youth only, nor Italians only. The British troops loudly and healthily and almost riotously sang also, all the temporary soldiers and nearly all the regulars. Yet here and there were gloom, and drab, wet blankets, trying to make smoulder those raging fires of joy. In a few officers’ Messes, especially among the more exalted units, men of forty years and more croaked like ravens over their impending loss of pay and rank, Brigadier Generals who would soon be Colonels again, and Colonels who would soon be Majors. To have been, through long uneventful unmental years, a peace-time soldier puts the imagination in jeopardy and is apt to breed a self-centred fatuity, which the inexperienced may easily mistake for deliberate naughtiness. Yet these brave men, who hate peace and despise civilians, have many human qualities. They are generally polite to women, and they are kind to animals and to those of their inferiors who show them proper deference and salute them briskly. It is not always easy to judge them fairly. And that night one did not try. They jarred intolerably. They seemed a portent, though in truth they were something less. They found themselves left alone to their private griefs, ruminating regretfully over the golden age that had suddenly ended, gazing into the blackness of a future without hope.
IN THE EUGANEAN HILLS
November 12th, 1918
It is all over. For a few days it seemed possible that we might be sent northward, through redeemed Trento and over the Brenner and the crest of the Alps and down through Innsbruck, to open a new front against Germany along the frontier of Bavaria. But that will not be necessary now. It is all over.