War and the future: Italy, France and Britain at war eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 218 pages of information about War and the future.

I have a peculiar affection for Verona and certain things in Verona.  Italians must forgive us English this little streak of impertinent proprietorship in the beautiful things of their abundant land.  It is quite open to them to revenge themselves by professing a tenderness for Liverpool or Leeds.  It was, for instance, with a peculiar and personal indignation that I saw where an Austrian air bomb had killed five-and-thirty people in the Piazza Erbe.  Somehow in that jolly old place, a place that have very much of the quality of a very pretty and cheerful old woman, it seemed exceptionally an outrage.  And I made a special pilgrimage to see how it was with that monument of Can Grande, the equestrian Scaliger with the sidelong grin, for whom I confess a ridiculous admiration.  Can Grande, I rejoice to say, has retired into a case of brickwork, surmounted by a steep roof of thick iron plates; no aeroplane exists to carry bombs enough to smash that covering; there he will smile securely in the darkness until peace comes again.

All over Venetia the Austrian seaplanes are making the same sort of idiot raid on lighted places that the Zeppelins have been making over England.  These raids do no effective military work.  What conceivable military advantage can there be in dropping bombs into a marketing crowd?  It is a sort of anti-Teutonic propaganda by the Central Powers to which they seem to have been incited by their own evil genius.  It is as if they could convince us that there is an essential malignity in Germans, that until the German powers are stamped down into the mud they will continue to do evil things.  All of the Allies have borne the thrusting and boasting of Germany with exemplary patience for half a century; England gave her Heligoland and stood out of the way of her colonial expansion, Italy was a happy hunting ground for her business enterprise, France had come near resignation on the score of Alsace-Lorraine.  And then over and above the great outrage of the war come these incessant mean-spirited atrocities.  A great and simple wickedness it is possible to forgive; the war itself, had it been fought greatly by Austria and Germany, would have made no such deep and enduring breach as these silly, futile assassinations have down between the Austro-Germans and the rest of the civilised world.  One great misdeed is a thing understandable and forgivable; what grows upon the consciousness of the world is the persuasion that here we fight not a national sin but a national insanity; that we dare not leave the German the power to attack other nations any more for ever....

Venice has suffered particularly from this ape-like impulse to hurt and terrorise enemy non-combatants.  Venice has indeed suffered from this war far more than any other town in Italy.  Her trade has largely ceased; she has no visitors.  I woke up on my way to Udine and found my train at Venice with an hour to spare; after much examining and stamping of my passport I was allowed outside the station wicket to get coffee in the refreshment room and a glimpse of a very sad and silent Grand Canal.  There was nothing doing; a black despondent remnant of the old crowd of gondolas browsed dreamily among against the quay to stare at me the better.  The empty palaces seemed to be sleeping in the morning sunshine because it was not worth while to wake up....

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War and the future: Italy, France and Britain at war from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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