Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/73

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69
EUROPE'S DYNASTIC SLAUGHTER HOUSE

a bastioned work of the first class, but that the French burrowing in the ground are holding off the enemy to so great a distance that effective batteries can not be planted.

For many months the question of food supplies will not be pressing for the Germans. But in time this will bear its part in the final catastrophe, by adding to the distress that is certain to come. In times of peace the empire is almost—but not quite—self supporting. With war on both—or all—borders forbidding any considerable importation of provisions, the deficit greatly augmented by war’s inevitable waste, will result in scarcity, eventually in localized deprivation or even a degree of actual famine.

How the end will come, or when it will come, is beyond all human foresight, or possibility of even approximate prediction. That it will come is certain. When at last—in a year, two years, or after many years, after incidents perhaps of horror beyond scrutiny or imagination—when Germany lies prostrate and defenseless, what then will happen?

Europe was once before similarly afflicted, similarly desolated. From first to last the history of the Parisian revolt against the excesses of the Bourbons, striking—as revolution often does—at the least excessive of them all, is before us. We know the rise of the plebeian, Bonaparte; his good work for French liberty; his misplaced advancement of French “glory,” his futile “militarism,” finally crushed by counter-militarism vaster in numbers. After Waterloo (or La Belle Alliance) the victorious allies of 1814 dictated at Paris terms that restored a system not a whit an improvement upon the past of Louis XVI., but which yet was compelled to accept or adopt improvements. Even with Napoleon at St. Helena, his work—because it advanced the cause of human freedom—lived and grew; it had life abiding in it.

This portentous precedent, with many others more remote, are before us. Guided by them alone it would not be difficult to approximate to the onerous and degrading terms which it has been the invariable habit of victory to impose—enormous money compensation, extending to virtual impoverishment, even the enforced elimination of the Hohenzollerns and the total dismemberment of the empire. That indemnities will be exacted in huge amounts, mortgaging the prosperity of the Germanic people for many decades, even generations, is hardly doubtful. The provinces of Alsace and Lorraine will naturally be restored, Russia will probably acquire whatever additional Slavic territory may seem to her desirable; and Belgium be recompensed for her loyalty and losses by donations of Luxemburg and of sufficient of Rhenish Prussia most amply to compensate her. That Schleswig and Holstein, filched from Denmark in 1864, may be restored is highly probable, of course under rigid guarantees of international usage of the Kiel canal. Italy’s position is easier to define than her prospects to risk prophesying; to-day neutral