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ulation. What they could do was to prevent any sudden shock of invasion and any dislocation of their mobilization by adding to the number of men actually with the Colors, but this could only be done by increasing the time of service, and a Commission appointed by the Government decided that this period of service with the Colors should be increased from two years to three. It further determined (which is the crux of the whole matter) that the men who were to have been freed next Autumn should be kept with the Colors for another year. It asked that discredited organ of legislation, tbe Chamber of Deputies, to vote this policy in principle, and later to embody it in a law. The immediate effect of tbis proposal was to create a strong opposition within the Chamber. It furnished the first opportunity for division which the Parliamentarians had had since the Dreyfus business and the laws confiscating the property of such persons as might have taken religious vows in the Catholic Church. There bappened what always happens in a Parliament nowadays, a flood of talk beginning insincerely and becoming half sincere as it proceeded. Meanwhile, the discussion of the division having once been started, all those elements in the country which disapproved of the extension of military service rallied, and a genuine opposition formed amid the public. It includes no very great minority of the nation, but one sufficiently strong to make itself felt, and one the nature of which is complicated, because it does not so much divide one man from another as a part of each man from another part of himself.
To everyone in the country the law appears as an exceedingly grave and very hard measure. To the great majority of the country this hard and even cruel order-however necessarycomes from men whom the country
thoroughly despise, and from an organ of Government which has lost every shred of moral authority. The great bulk of Frenchmen are in a mood which a gust might turn against the national duty at this moment. But apart from this, there are certain bodies of opinion definitely opposed to the law. There are in the first place a great number of thoughtful men in the better educated and wealthier classes, who do not think that a full three years is necessary, and who believe tbat keeping the men now with the Colors for another six months, while the recruits are being trained, is all that need be asked for. It should be noted that this body of opinion includes not a few officers. Less important though very strictly organized, is the conscious Socialist vote of the country-using the word Socialist in the English sense of Collectivist and Internationalist. This body has not only got strict organization, but great wealth, and, what is of more value than either in any struggle, conviction.
Then you have the fact that to all the men actually subject to the extension of time that is, to the whole of the rank and file of the army, and especially to the second half, which has already served for nearly two years,the sense of oppression is almost intolerable. The whole of young man's life in France is calculated upon the date of his release from service, and the date is looked forward to and counted on with an eagerness that perhaps no other event in the life of most men can excite.
Finally, an argument has been used which has had great weight in the last few days. It has been said that the President of the Republic promised the Russian Government that the reform should go through, and that it is on account of this pledge that the Govern. ment will not listen to Opposition arguments. All nations resent foreign
interference, and it seems particularly next three years: Disarmament in harsh that these young men should be the West of Europe, or war. It is sacrificed for the interests of a Power quite impossible that civilized Europe that does not impose universal service should admit the threat of a large itself, and which is already possessed Prussian army organized for purposes of such huge armaments.
that bring good to no one, and only do This statement, however, must not evil to section after section of Eurobe taken as true. It may be true, pean life; should admit that threat but there is this to be said permanently, and should neither counagainst its authenticity, that it has ter-balance it nor attempt to destroy arisen and has been repeated in it. If Prussia had shown any capacity circles where lies are, so to speak, a for governing (and, therefore, recondaily food. It is in particular to be ciling) the populations she proposes to noticed that the printed sheets which oppress, and notably the Polish popurepeated it in England were the same lation upon the subjugation of which as those that printed the most glaring she has foolishly based her policy, a falsehoods during the separation of great numerical superiority in her Church and State in France, and this forces would be another matter. But sudden appearance of such statements, since every year that passes makes it especially in those sections of the Eng- more difficult for the Prussian Governlish Press, always means that they have ment to do as it wills in Poland, in been sent out by order from some the provinces annexed from France, secret international centre.
and, for that matter, in its internal To sum up, one may take it that with struggle against organized Catholicism, considerable friction, at the risk even since also its foreign policy consists in of rare mutiny and of very active and little more beyond further threats widespread disaffection, the men who against districts still free, an hegeshould have been released next Au- mony of the kind that is now sought tumn will be retained with the Colors for the first time in thirty years will at least until next April. But that is certainly not be admitted. On the the least certain, as it is the most other hand, it is equally certain that perilous part of the business.
the French have no intention of standThe second point is more certain, ing for very long this strain of the new and will be carried with less friction. military conditions. They will still The three years service for the young have a numerical superiority over the men who have not yet been summoned German forces for three years more; will certainly be imposed. The harsh- they will certainly have a superiority in ness of the measure will not be felt in their fortified works, an overwhelmanything like the same degree as the ing superiority in the efficiency of their retention in the barrack room of men artillery, and in each particular branch who have already suffered its severe of their service they are conscious of discipline for two years and were con- a similar superiority. Their one elefidently expecting release.
ment of weakness on the military side Now for the third point, which is the is that politically they are a Democmost important of all. It has been racy. In everything else, even in numstated before in these pages, and it is bers, they will, for just this short of capital importance to Englishmen. period, have the advantage, and it is This effort upon the part of the French impossible to believe that this will not means, as a matter of almost physical be utilized to relieve the strain one necessity, one of two things within the way or the other.
The New Witness.
VOICES OF THE NIGHT.
The majority of nocturnal animals, tractive bird of the two, is fully as more particularly those bent on spoli- interesting as its comrade of the sumation, are strangely silent. True, frogs mer darkness, and there should be no croak in the marshes, bats shrill over- difficulty in indicating the little that head at so high a pitch that some folks they have in common, as well as much cannot hear them, and owls hoot from wherein they differ, in both habits and their ruins in a fashion that some vote appearance. melodious and romantic, while others Both, then, are birds of sober attire. associate the sound rather with mid- Indeed, of the two, the nightjar, with night crime and dislike it accordingly. its soft and delicately pencilled plumThe badger, on the other hand, with age and the conspicuous white spots, the otter and fox-all of them sad is perhaps the handsomer, though, as thieves from our point of view-have it is seen only in the gloaming, its learnt, whatever their primeval habits, quiet beauty is but little appreciated. to go about their marauding in The unobtrusive dress of the nightinstealthy silence; and it is only in less gale, on the other hand, is familiar in settled regions that one hears the districts in which the bird abounds, jackals barking, the hyænas howling, and is commonly quoted, by contrast and the browsing deer whistling with its unrivalled voice, as the conthrough the night watches.
verse of the gaudy coloring of raucous There are, however, two of our inacaws and parrakeets. As has been native birds, or rather summer visitors, said, both these birds are summer misince they leave
in autumn. grants, the nightingale arriving on our closely associated with the warm shores about the middle of April, the June nights, the stillness of which nightjar perhaps a fortnight later. they break in very different fashion, Thenceforth,
their proand these are the nightingale and grammes are wholly divergent, for, nightjar. Each is of considerable in- whereas the nightjars proceed to terest in its own way. It is not to be scatter over the length and breadth of denied that the churring note of the Britain, penetrating even to Ireland in nightjar is, to ordinary ears, the re- the west and as far north as the Heverse of attractive, and the bird is not brides, the nightingale stops far short much more pleasing to the eye than to of these extremes and leaves whole the ear; while the nightingale, on the counties of England, as well as probcontrary, produces such sweet sounds ably the whole of Scotland, and ceras made Izaak Walton marvel what tainly the whole of Ireland, out of its music God could provide for His saints calculations. It is however well known in heaven when He gave such as this that its range is slowly but surely into sinners on earth. The suggestion creasing towards the west. was not wholly his own, since the This curiously restricted distribufather of angling borrowed it from a tion of the nightingale, indeed, within French writer; but he vastly improved the limits of its summer home is on the original, and the passage wili among the most remarkable of the long live in the hearts of thousands many problems confronting the stuwho care not a jot for his instructions dent of distribution, and successive inin respect of worms. At the same genious but unconvincing attempts to time, the nightjar, though the less at- explain its seeming eccentricity, or at any rate caprice, in the choice of its most ludicrous to include under the nesting range only make the confusion head of bird-song not only the music worse. Briefly, in spite of a number of the nightingale, but also the croak of doubtful and even suspicious reports of the raven and the booming note of of the bird's occurrence outside of the ostrich. Yet these also are the these boundaries, it is generally ve-songs of their kind, and the hen agreed by the soundest observers that ostrich doubtless finds more music in its travels do not extend much north the thunderous note of her lord than of the city of York, or much west of a in the faint melody of such song-birds line drawn through Exeter and Bir- as her native Africa provides. The mingham. By way of complicating nightingale sings to his mate while the argument, we know, on good she is sitting on her olive-green eggs, authority, that the nightingale's range perching on a low branch of the tree, is equally peculiar elsewhere; and that, at foot of which the slender nest is whereas it likewise shuns the depart- hidden in the undergrowth. So much ments in the extreme west of France, is known to every schoolboy, who is it occurs all over the Peninsula, a re- too often guided by the sound on his gion extending considerably farther errand of plunder; and why the song into the sunset than either Brittany or of this particular warbler should have Cornwall, in both of which it is un- been described by so many writers as known. No satisfactory explanation one of sadness, seeing that it is asof the little visitor's objection to sociated with the most joyous days in Wild Wales or Cornwall has been the bird's year, passes comprehension. found, and it may at once be stated So obviously is its object to hearten that its capricious distribution cannot the female in her long and patient be accounted for by any known facts vigil that, as soon as the young are of soil, climate, or vegetation, since hatched, the male's voice breaks, like the surroundings which it finds suit- that of other choristers, to a guttural able in Kent and Sussex are equally croak. It is said, indeed—though so to be found down in the West Country, cruel an experiment would not appeal to but fail to attract their share of night- many—that if the nest be destroyed ingales.
just as the young are hatched the bird The song of the nightingale, in recovers all his sweetness of voice and praise of which volumes have been sings anew while another home is written, is perhaps more beautiful than built. that of any other bird, though I have Although poetic license has heard wonderful efforts from
cribed the song to the female, it is the mocking-bird in the United States and male nightingale only that sings, and from the bulbuls along the banks of for the purpose afore-mentioned. The the Jordan. The latter are sometimes, note of the nightjar, on the other hand, more especially in poetry, regarded as is equally uttered by both sexes, and identical with the nightingale; and, both also have the curious habit of indeed, some ornithologists hold the repeatedly clapping the wings for two to be closely related. What a gap several minutes together. They morethere is between the sobbing cadences over share the business of incubation, of the nightingale and the rasping taking day and night duty on the eggs. note of the nightjar, which, with spe- which, two in number, are laid on the cific reference to a Colonial cousin of bare ground without any pretence at that bird, Tasmanians ingeniously a nest, and generally on open commons render as "more pork"! It seems al- in the neighborhood of patches of fern
brake. Like the owls, these birds sleep during the day and
active only when the sun goes down. It is this habit of seeking their insect food only in the gloaming which makes nightjars among the most difficult of birds to study from life, and all accounts of their feeding habits must therefore be received with caution, particularly that which compares the bristles on the mouth with baleen in whales, serving as a sort of strainer for the capture of minute flying prey. This is an interesting suggestion, and may even be sober fact; but its adoption would necessitate the bird flying open-mouthed among the oaks and other trees beneath which it finds the yellow underwings and cockchafers on which it feeds, and I have more than once watched it hunting its victims with the beak closed. I noticed this particularly when camping in the backwoods of Eastern Canada, where the bird goes by the name of “nighthawk.”
In all probability its food consists exclusively of insects, though exceptional cases have been noted in which the young birds had evidently been
fed on seeds. The popular error which charges it with stealing the milk of ewes and goats, from which it derives the undeserved name of "goat-sucker," with its equivalent in several Continental languages, is another result of the imperfect light in which it is commonly observed. Needless to say, there is no truth whatever in the accusation, for the nightjar would find
more pleasure in drinking milk than we should in eating moths.
Here, then, are two night-voices of very different calibre. These are not our only birds that break the silence on moonlight nights in June. The common thrush often sings far into: the night, and the sedge-warbler is a persistent caroller that has often been mistaken for the nightingale. The difference in this respect between the two subjects of these remarks is that the nightjar is invariably silent all through the day, whereas the nightin. gale sings joyously at all hours. It is only because his splendid music is more marked in the comparative silence of the night, with little or no competition, that his daylight concert is often overlooked.
F. G. Afialo.
THE LOWEST FORM OF INSPIRATION.
Man does not know much by instinct. Some men do not even know their own mind. It is one of the things no one can learn to know. It is a knowledge which comes naturally, or, to use an antithetic but in this case almost synonymous term, by inspiration. A vast number of people, as soon as they are grown up, plunge into the world, not knowing what they want out of it, just as many women plunge into shops. The good bargains of life are not for them. Does this piece of gratuitous knowledge-the
knowledge of what they want-imparted by Providence to about half one's acquaintance as a birthright, bring happiness or not? In the view of the present writer it is nearly impossible to say.
Those who know what they want and get it are, in spite of tbe instructions of our childhood, generally quite happy. Those who know and do not get it are often quite miserable. Those who do not know suffer the least. There can be no doubt of that. Unfortunately in this very strange world almost all the situations