PARIS, Thursday, May 1.
Now comes somewhat of a return to the more prosaic side of life. We made an excursion to the famous iron and steel works of the Schneider Company at Creuzot. What a concern this is, and how small we all are upon the other side of the Atlantic! Fifteen thousand five hundred men are employed here. We saw fifteen steam hammers in one shop. The mill for rolling only is 1,500 by 350 feet, filled with trains. The giant, however, is the 80-ton steam hammer, with its huge appliances. Masses of steel 35 tons in weight are handled as readily as we move a rail ingot. One ingot of steel weighing 120 tons was shown to us. This monster hammer is required only for armor plate and guns - war material. The happier demands of peaceful industry are met with ordinary machinery. Long may it be, therefore, before America can boast an engine of even half the size. Our visit to Creuzot was both interesting and instructive. Mr. Schneider and his officers were most cordial and attentive to us.
We spend a few days in Paris, which shows even more than the other cities we have revisited the march of improvement. It is farther beyond competition in its line than it ever was. I appreciate its attractions more than I have done upon previous visits; but one must be exceptionally strong who can persist in leading an earnest and useful life here, where so much exists to persuade one that after all amusement is the principal thing to be sought for. Most of the American residents seem to me to sink naturally to the level of thinking most - or certainly talking most - of the newest opera, or even the best ballet, or where is to be found the best table d'hote; but, after all, what can a man do who leaves his own country, and the duties incumbent upon him there, to become a man about town here, with no work in the world to do. Good Americans come here when they die, it is said. I think it would be well for most of them if they did postpone their journey until then.
As we have travelled through France bands of the "Reserves" have been constantly seen repairing to their camps. Every Frenchman now, without exception, must serve as a soldier and drill at least one month every year. No substitutes are allowed. Soldiers! soldiers everywhere! Not a petty town at which we have stayed over night but has its barracks - its troops who parade its streets every morning. The entire male population is being trained so as most skilfully to murder, upon the first favorable opportunity, such of their fellow-Christians who may happen to be called Germans, while in Germany a similar state of affairs is rendered necessary to prevent the success of their "brothers'" intention. You see there was a frontier that was not "scientific," and it was "rectified" a few years ago; but these rectifications, of all things in the world, never remain rectified, and so we are to awake some fine morning to find the "civilized" Christian (!) nations (save the mark!) nobly engaged in butchering each other, even if this is the nineteenth century and we all worship Christ and have the same Father in heaven. That thoughtful educated people, even in England and America, can still deliberately send a son "to the army," to be taught the butchering trade, his victims being human, always saddens me when I think of it. The progress of the world has not only been slow but small, till the profession of arms, as it is called, is held to be unfit except for men of brutal natures.
In Italy it is much the same. She has 600,000 men under arms, and is drilling others, while Russia has just ordered an addition to her hosts exceeding five-fold the entire American army. England's war expenditure this year exceeds that of only five years ago by $30,000,000, which is more than America spends for her army altogether. And so the whole of Europe is armed and arming, as if conscious that a storm is about to burst, or at least that such a stupendous drain upon her productive resources has to be endured to insure safety. Happy America! she alone seems to occupy a position free from grave and imminent dangers.
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