Page:Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1892).djvu/691

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683
RURAL LIFE.

pleasantest sights to be seen in passing along are the groups of these people, seated along the roadside and taking their frugal meal of brown bread and sour wine, as cheerful and happy as if their fare was sumptuous and their raiment purple and fine linen. This sight, like many others, is a gratifying evidence that the poor often get as much happiness out of life as do the rich and great, and perhaps more. American ideas, however, would be unreconciled and shocked by the part borne by the women in the labors of the field. If an equal share in the hardships of life is desired by women, the battle for it has been already fought and won by the women of the Old World. Like men they go to the field, bright and early in the morning, and like the men they return to their villages late in the somber shades of evening, with faces browned by the sun and hands hardened by the hoe.

Leaving Paris and passing the famous grounds of Fontainebleau, one is reminded that they are no longer, as of yore, the proud abode of royalty. Like all else of imperial and monarchical possessions, the palace here has, under the Republic, passed from the hands of princes to the possession of the people. It is still kept in excellent condition. Its grounds conform in the strictest sense to French taste and skill, the main feature of which is perfect uniformity. Its trees and its walks conform to straight lines. The plummet and pruning-hook are employed with remorseless severity. No branch of a tree is permitted to be found longer than another, and the hedge seems to be trimmed by rule, compass, and square. But little liberty is allowed to nature in direction. Her crooked ways must be made straight, her bent forms made vertical, high must be made low, and all be cut down to a dead level. The houses, gardens, roads and bridges are all more or less