Page:Above the battle.djvu/28
Above the Battle
I am glad to think that in the Latin countries this sacred duty has always been regarded as paramount. Our France which bleeds with so many other wounds, has suffered nothing more cruel than the attack against her Parthenon, the Cathedral of Rheims, "Our Lady of France." Letters which I have received from sorely tried families, and from soldiers who for two months have borne every hardship, show me (and I am proud of it for them and for my people) that there was no burden heavier for them to bear. It is because we put spirit above flesh. Very different is the case of the German intellectuals, who, to my reproaches for the sacrilegious acts of their devastating armies, have all replied with one voice, "Perish every chef-d'œuvre rather than one German soldier!"
A piece of architecture like Rheims is much more than one life: it is a people—whose centuries vibrate like a symphony in this organ of stone. It is their memories of joy, of glory, and of grief; their meditations, ironies, dreams. It is the tree of the race, whose roots plunge to the profoundest depths of its soil, and whose branches stretch with a sublime élan towards the sky. It is still more: its beauty which soars above the struggles of nations is the harmonious response made by the