Page:Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1892).djvu/690

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682
THROUGH FRANCE.

assault and easy to defend. These all tell of the troublous times in which they were erected, when homes were castles, palaces were prisons, and men held their lives and property by the might of the strongest. Here met the old and the new, and here was fought out the irrepressible conflict between European civilization and barbarism.

As the traveler moyes eastward and southward between those two great cities, he will observe an increase of black hair, black eyes, full lips, and dark complexions. He will observe a Southern and Eastern style of dress; gay colors, startling jewelry, and an outdoor free-and-easy movement of the people.

I have seen it alleged that the habit of carrying the burdens on the head is a mark of inferiority peculiar to the negro. It was not necessary that I should go to Europe to be able to refute this allegation, yet I was glad to see, both in Italy and the south of France, that this custom is about as common there as it is among the dusky daughters of the Nile. Even if originated by the negro, it has been well copied by some of the best types of the Caucasian. In any case it may be welcomed as a proof of a common brotherhood.

In other respects I saw in France and Italy evidences of a common identity with the African. In Africa the people congregate at night in their towns and villages, while their living is made by tilling the soil outside. We saw few farm-houses in the south of France. Beautiful fields and vineyards are there, but few farmhouses. The village has taken the place of the farmhouse, and the peasants sometimes go several miles from their villages to work their vineyards. They may be seen in gangs in the morning going to their work, and returning in gangs in the evening from their work. Men and women share this toil alike, and one of the