Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 87.djvu/147

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EUROPE had no finer human stock than that of France, and no modern people has suffered more from the ravages of war and glory. The Gauls, as they appear in early history, were a Celtic race. Conquest made them Gallo-Roman. Later, especially in the north and east, their blood was strengthened by Teutonic strains—the Normans from Scandinavia and the Franks from Central Germany. In later days a large influx from Germanic Alsace has made German names common in French society.

Through reversal of selection by war, the men of France lost in stature, and the nation in initiative. But a good stock possesses power of recuperation, and regenerative processes have been evident in France for the last twenty years. Peace and security, industry and economy enable the natural forces of selection to operate. This means race regeneration. The nation had been sorely wounded by her own sons. She has been making a healthy recovery.[1]

In the Wiertz gallery in Brussels is a striking painting, dating from the time of Napoleon, called "A Scene in Hell" ("Une Scène dans l'Enfer"). It represents the great marshal with folded arms and face unmoved descending slowly to the land of the shades. Before him filling all the background of the picture, their faces expressing every form of reproach, are the men sent to death before their time by his

  1. "Land, money, tradition and prestige," says Professor Albert Léon Guerard ("French Civilization in the Nineteenth Century," 1912), "would be naught if the people had lost its. soul. Their wealth would pass into stronger hands, and their prestige to contempt. Once, about twenty years ago, the French themselves wondered if it had not come to that. The cry of a decadence was raised by malevolent rivals, by sensationalists, by esthetics in quest of a new pose, by earnest patriots who had lost their star. When a belated echo of this reaches us now, how faint and strange and silly it sounds. For the one great asset of the French is their indomitable vitality. Even in wasteful conflict one can not fail to admire the evidence of power. In the twentieth century as ever before the French are among the pioneers.

    "I do not see France as a goddess, austere and remote. I see her intensely human, stained with indecencies and blasphemies, scarred with innumerable battles, often blinded and stumbling on the way, but fighting on undismayed, for ideals which she can not always define. An old nation? A wounded nation? Perhaps, but her mighty heart is throbbing with unconquerable life."