|THE BLOOD OF THE NATION.|
XXV. Not long ago I visited the town of Novara, in northern Italy. There, in a wheatfield, the farmers have plowed up skulls of men till they have piled up a pyramid ten or twelve feet high. Over this pyramid some one has built a canopy to keep off the rain. These were the skulls of young men of Savoy, Sardinia and Austria—men of eighteen to thirty-five years of age, without physical blemish so far as may be, peasants from the farms and workmen from the shops, who met at Novara to kill each other over a matter in which they had very little concern. Should the Prince of Savoy sit on his unstable throne or yield it to some one else, this was the question. It matters not the decision. History doubtless records it, as she does many matters of less moment. But this fact concerns us—here in thousands they died. Farther on. Frenchmen, Austrians and Italians fell together at Magenta, in the same cause. You know the color that we call Magenta, the hue of the blood that flowed out under the olive trees. Go over Italy as you will, there is scarcely a spot not crimsoned by the blood of France, scarcely a railway station without its pile of French skulls. You can trace them across to Egypt, to the foot of the Pyramids. You will find them in Germany—at Jena and Leipzig, at Lützen and Bautzen and Austerlitz. You will find them in Russia, at Moscow; in Belgium, at Waterloo. 'A boy can stop a bullet, as well as a man,' said Napoleon; and with the rest are the skulls and bones of boys, 'ere evening to be trodden like the grass.' 'Born to be food for powder' was the grim epigram of the day, summing up the life of the French peasant. Read the dreary record of the glory of France, the slaughter at Waterloo, the wretched failure of Moscow, the miserable deeds of Sedan, the waste of Algiers, the poison of Madagascar, the crimes of Indo-China, the hideous results of barrack vice and its entail of disease and sterility, and you will understand the 'Man with the Hoe.' The man who is left, the man whom glory cannot use, becomes the father of the future men of France. As the long-horn cattle reappear in a neglected or abused herd of Durhams, so comes forth the aboriginal man, 'the man of the hoe,' in a wasted race of men.